Friday, June 2, 2023

DnA Newsletters

What's so Special about Vienna? What is Hip Hop Architecture? Are you a Maximalist or Minimalist?

Get answers to these questions and more in my twice-monthly newsletter for KCRW public radio station and its audience of design and architecture enthusiasts. It contains news, musings and a round-up of "Design Things To Do." 

To subscribe to the newsletter, click here

Read latest and past issues by clicking on the links, below:

November 7, 2023
Is "New Dork City" the answer to California's housing stalemate?; Design Things to Do: A+D Museum is back with a new home and fundraiser, KAOS Theory at Artform Studio and on Artbound film about Angel City Press, Common Ground at Construction Specifiers Institute, Design for Dignity at AIA/LA, David Netto at Arcana Books on the Arts, LAF hosts Under The Influence at Manola Court, It's About Time at Brand Library, Westedge Design Fair is back, Inglewood Cathedral at Arcane Space Gallery, Don't Call Me Ugly tour by LA Conservancy; What I'm Digging: "Lamb Mowers" in suburbia, Miranda on the Florentine Codex, Scott Power in convo with Prime and Man One.
October 24, 2023
Driven Angelenos and their future as California becomes a gerontocracy; Design Things to Do: Modeling Sound with Frank Gehry and Esa-Pekka Salonen at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on its twentieth birthday; Pictures in the Garden by Matt Wedel, at L.A. Louver gallery; Art in the Garden, by Chris Wolston, at Hotel Bel-Air; Judy Baca and artists paint another stretch of The Great Wall of Los Angeles, at LACMA; John Waters, Pope of Trash, on show at the Academy Museum; Hollywood Forever Cemetery adds the Gower Mausoleum and Columbarium; a "thereminist" named Armen Ra performs at Marta; What I'm Digging: the new no-brand Barnes & Noble; Bad Bunny in drag; the many accomplishments of Annie Philbin, including the latest Made in L.A., as she departs the Hammer Museum.

October 12, 2023:
Saving the Schindler House; Recalling Wayne Ratkovich, saver of fine buildings destined for the wrecking ball; Design Things to Do: The Beauty & Mischief of Blackman Cruz; Culver City Art Walk and Roll; Crossing Design Borders: A Conversation with Mark Rios; Dwell Time: Rose Lowinger talks with Carolina Miranda about her new memoir; Procession: Performances and Festival honor the history of the LA River; Crafty Fundraisers: FORT: LA at the Mosaic Mansion/Craft Contemporary to honor Suzanne Isken; What I'm Digging: Shetland TV series; Cold Plunges; Save Iconic Architecture.     
September 28, 2023
A riff on the topic as Simon Doonan's latest book Maximalism: Bold, Bedazzled, Gold, and Tasseled Interiors is published (Image above: staircase at Kips Bay Showhouse in NY, designed by Sasha Bikoff, photo by Nicholas Sargent); Design Things to Do: Darius Airo's work on show Casual Banter, at Face Guts; Parties to celebrate 102 Years of Nuestro Pueblo: The Watts Towers of Simon Rodia; The Good Future Design Alliance (GFDA) takes on Design Waste; Marina Otero and Liam Young in conversation at the Hollyhock House, at LA Forum's Under the Influence 002; OCMA First Anniversary Week of fun; What I'm Digging: Men Thinking About Rome; Philip Kennicott's brilliant take on A/C addiction; Five Places LA, featuring Shana Nys Dambrot and Laurie Lipton.

Live Long and Prosper!                                                                                                                        September 13, 2023

The Nimoy, formerly The Crest Theatre, opens with Musil-designed murals revived; Design Things to Do: Derrick Adams: Come As You Are opens at the Gagosian Beverly Hills; Adaptive Reuse at the California Club; Close to the Edge closes with two fun events (a talk with Prime; a symposium with Sekou Cooke); A Wondrous World of new shows at LACMA; Delightful Houses discussed with FF&P; Gary Leonard talks at Los Feliz Library; What I'm Digging: Shopping lists in the 17th century; Monique Birault's Cromolyn Collection of lamps; a fab Reggio school in Madrid, Spain, that teaches sustainability without being preachy.

Commune with the DNA of Los Angeles                                                                                               August 29, 2023

"Commune with the DNA of Los Angeles," says FORT: LA's Russell Brown as he captures Stilt Houses on Screen; the campaign to stop the Canyon Hills development as attitudes to land-use change; Beverly Hot Springs saved, for now; Design Things to Do: Alfredo Boulton at the Getty Center; Threading the Needle at Angel City Brewery; Solving the Puzzle of Adaptive Re-Use; Prime Time at Helms Bakery District; What I'm Digging: the anniversary of LA buses; a new playground at Nickerson Gardens; Zócalo's California-as-destroyer take on Barbenheimer; Falling Felines (and Sassy Chickens) delight.               

What a Load of Hot Air                                                                                                                            August 9, 2023

The case for more passive cooling, less air conditioning. Trees saved in Beverly Hills. Design Things to Do: Teena Apeles writes about 52 Things to Do, and I reflect on getting around LA on the Metro, while Design Things to Do includes: Bossa Nova and Brazilian Design at Sossego, Printed Matter’s 2023 LA Art Book Fair, Dominique Moody's Sacred Studio, Multifamily Glam Walking Tour with Yours Truly. What I'm Digging: the news about a Renter's Caucus in Sacramento, Homeowners Fighting in The Owners, Rapper's Delight and Feline Figures.

Trouble in Paradise                                                                                                                                       July 26, 2023

Is it Goodbye to Beverly Hot Springs? News: A beloved natural spa (in a delightful fake grotto) may be sacrificed to make way for new homes. Can't we have both? Design Things to Do: An Evening of Urbanism + Unearthing a Black Aesthetic; The Art of Ruth E. Carter; Interstellar Fun at Wende Museum; Black California Dreamin' at CAAM; Tiki Tales on Catalina. What I'm Digging: a "documentary" about NEOM; Swimming in the Seine; eating al fresco on the roof; and mourning the amazing Sinéad O'Connor.

From the Garden of Alla to Barbie's Dreamhouse                                                                                       July 13, 2023

Goodbye William Kelly, beautiful man who co-created a beautiful place; more coverage of Common Ground and why we should care about the second stair; Design Things to Do: A conversation about Vertical Shared Access Reform; An Evening of Urbanism; the remarkable Alla Nazimova, her legendary home and hotel, and a play about her at Theatre West; Museum as Medium for photographer Elizabeth Gill Lui; Fun with cardboard at Rediscover; Barbie, the movie, promises a design fantasia; What I'm Digging: Old Glory, Outlander and anything that supports green canopy; and the Lincoln Lawyer.

A Journey around my Own City                                                                                                                    June 29, 2023

Exploring the Regional Connector and the new public art; Design Things to Do: At LACMA, Women Defining Women in Contemporary Art of the Middle East and Beyond, Afro-Atlantic Histories, Coded: Art Enters the Computer Age, 1952–1982 and Sam Francis and Japan: Emptiness Overflowing; ALL CHILL brings "ice cream with a mission" to Leimert Park; The Flower Show celebrates the artistic view of flowers by Alison Saar, David Hockney, Henri Matisse, the architect Thom Mayne and more. What I'm Digging: Loren & Rose and Dolly Lowe.

Close to the Edge                                                                                                                                        June 15, 2023

Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip Hop Architecture, created by Sekou Cooke, comes to Helms Bakery District. If you are wondering if Hip Hop is a new architectural style, "how Hip-Hop Architecture is produced is more easily described than what it looks like,” says Cooke. Also, CicLAvia comes to South LA for Juneteenth; fabulous Oceanside Architecture is the topic of a conversation presented by FORT: LA at Sossego; LA Design Festival celebrates summer with "design for the people"; What I'm Digging: Donuts, the edible ones, and Doughnut, the economic theory. One Margherita.

What's so Special about Vienna?                                                                                                                June 1, 2023

A look at "Red Vienna" and its social housing program that has captivated housing experts from California; Adaptive Reuse 2.0: the City of Los Angeles expands the ordinance allowing the conversion of offices into housing/Design Things to Do: Kellndorfer at Neutra VDL House; Last Remaining Seats; Hammer considers L.A.’s Housing Crisis, with KCRW’s Anna Scott; Pride Week; Male Edition: The Art of Men’s Style; Los Angeles Design Festival/What I'm Digging: Bureau des Legendes; books by Eleanor Catton. And cats. 

Gloria Molina, remembered                                                                                                                       May 17, 2023 

Gloria Molina, remembered; protective trees both real and sculpted will memorialize murdered Chinese; Cassina opens supersize showroom; MyGBCE comes to SoLA Beehive; tarot card readings at the MAK Center and "collective care" at LA State Historic Park; California Photography Now at LA County Fair; Fun at Eurovision and Goodbye to Sumiko.

Staying Connected                                                                                                                                      May 3, 2023  

A meditation on loneliness and housing and land-use, prompted by the Surgeon General's "National Framework" on rebuilding social connection; MADE in Beverly Hills celebrates old Hollywood glamor; try out “conceptual scents” at the LA Scent Fair at Craft Contemporary; Legends 2023 comes to LACDQ; ceramics "converse" at LACMA; AIA/LA opens the doors to (W)rapper (and a talk with Eric Owen Moss) and other buildings at ArchFest; spring shows open to the public at SCI-Arc and Otis College of Art and Design; The Diplomat and Birnam Wood are What I'm Digging.

Hot Tips for a Busy Week                                                                                                                          April 18, 2023

A tribute to Mary Quant and her belief in the future; a “smog eating” mural is unveiled in East LA; Earth Day brings Seeding The City, a Climate Change conference and last sighting of Lauren Bon's Underland; the LA Times Festival of Book brings hundreds of authors and events to USC (including Yours Truly at the Angel City Press booth and on a panel about how to solve the housing crisis); MADE in Beverly Hills pulls lets people step over the threshhold of Hollywood landmarks including a tour of the swanky Trousdale Estates.

April Delights                                                                                                                                             April 4, 2023 

The Georgian makes a comeback, with a nod to Santa Monica's "Bay City" days; rewilded gardens are on show for all to see; more about Seeding The City as it brings Fairy Gardens, wild animal drawing classes to Helms Bakery District; AIA/LA invites emerging and established firms to show their creativity in designing denser housing for Los Angeles; a preview of the designers who'll turn Coachella into a public art pop-up; the Battle of the Oranges and more on (W)rapper.

Look at Me                                                                                                                                               March 21, 2023 

An argument for more "eyes on the train" as ridership drops on mass transit; a defense of Eric Owen Moss's "menacing cyberpunk" (W)rapper; a welcome to Bowie in the USSR at the Wende Museum; the PDC Spring Market; Design by Diversity Day, Small Infrastructures, Seeking Zohn, The Other Art Fair; Flowerboy Project/Sean Knibb's spectacular Digital Flowers, soon to go on show, up large, at Helms Bakery District.

News Galore                                                                                                                                            March 8, 2023 

David Chipperfield wins the Pritzker Prize; in Women's History month, a celebration of Marie Louise Schmidt, creator of the blockbuster -- and block-shaper! -- 1936 California House and Garden Exhibition; lessons from the demolition of Hotel Pennsylvania; Joe Osae-Addo back in LA; Clive Piercy on show; Puss in Boots a furry wonder.

Back in the Mix                                                                                                                                     February 22, 2023

Designers Yves Behar and Sebastian Errazuriz debate A.I. and how much it will impact their creativity; art, furniture and art-furniture goes on show in cool spaces at the Cody House and a Marta installation; Samara Joy, M3GAN uncut, and the "scary" 15-minute city.

Hello, I'm Back                                                                                                                                         February 7, 2023

Frieze and Modernism Week come to town; Livable Communities Initiative seeks ideas for the ideal street; designs for a Memorial to massacred Chinese people go in front of the public; in Black History Month, consider the semantics of African-American or Black?


Wednesday, April 12, 2023

On The Schedule, April 2022

Hello! April is a full month but here are three events I'm involved with that I hope you can fit into your busy schedule (an AIA/LA conversation about housing, Seeding The City, LA Times Festival of Books). Note: To stay connected on "Design Things to Do" in LA generally, please subscribe to this newsletter I'm writing for KCRW; click here to find back issues.

Seeding The City: Nature's Story

Earth Day, Saturday April 22, 12:00 - 8:00pm

There is a lot going on this Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, but I hope you will have time to join me at Helms Bakery District, for Seeding The City: Nature's Story, a packed afternoon and early evening of installations and pop-ups and visualizations intended to evoke the flora and fauna that are increasingly absent from our lives.

Some great talents will be there, including Sean Knibb, gifted landscape and interior designer (Line Hotel, Treehouse), whose latest project, with his team at Flowerboy Project, is these amazing Digital Flowers (see above). They are especially gorgeous in the dark, so at sunset we will blow them up large, and host a reception and talk between Sean and James Vincent, former CEO of Apple's Media Arts Lab, about fusing the natural and the digital. 

During the pandemic the landscape architect, Takako Tajima, create enchanting “fairy gardens" for her children (see top of page). At Seeding The City, she will show children and the young at heart how to make their own. Alexander Vidal, illustrator/writer of Wilds of the United States, will share his skill at drawing animals and the wilderness; Teena Appeles and Andrea Richards of Narrated Objects will work with kids on making nature notebooks, and Leslie Roberts and Anne LaForti will give a presentation on how to extract colors from soil and plants. 

That’s just for starters! Get all the attractions here.


See You at the LA Times Festival of Books!

Saturday, April 22/Sunday, April 23 (Book Talk, April 23, 12 pm)

It's time for the Literati's favorite weekend of the year: the LA Times Festival of Books, taking place at USC on the weekend of April 22 and 23. I’ll be there all-day on Sunday, April 23, at the Angel City Press booth, where I’ll be signing copies of Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles (recently shortlisted for this indie book award). 

At noon on Sunday I will head over to Wallis Annenberg Hall and join Ken Bernstein, author of Preserving Los Angeles: How Historic Places Can Transform America's Cities and Liz Falletta, author of By-Right, By-Design Housing Development versus Housing Design in Los Angeles for a conversation with housng scholar and planner Todd Gish about “Confronting L.A.’s Housing Crisis,” while drawing from L.A.'s underappreciated multifamily residential legacy.

Click here for details. 


Housing That Works for the Residents and the Neighborhood

Thursday, April 13, 5pm

Architects in the vanguard of multi-family housing design will share projects that are intended to be a boon for both the occupants and the larger community, in a fast-paced seminar at the office of RELM landscape architects in downtown Los Angeles. I'll moderate the event, which is organized by AIA/LA’s Urban Design Committee

The speakers are: Lorcan O’Herlihy (LOHA), Brian Lane (Koning Eizenberg Architecture), Lise Bornstein (KFA Architecture), Chris Torres (Agency Artifact), David Christensen (RELM), Aaron van Schaik (SuperLA®), Clayton Taylor (West of West). 

Click here for details.


Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Common Ground: The Conversation Continues

Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles was published in fall 2022 by Angel City Press.

This book, which makes the case for LA's admirable legacy of multifamily housing centered on shared social space (and, sometimes, ownership), is my most personal statement and deeply felt passion project to date. It arrived just as housing has become Topic A for many people, for many reasons. 

These include concerns over: how to create quality affordable housing, affordably; rising density in Los Angeles and the often generic buildings now appearing on our arterial routes; the impact of, and whether to build, ADUs; how and where to live as we age; options for young people in the face of outsize house prices; and desire for greater sense of community in a culture and economy that privileges single family homes.

By no means did Common Ground close the book on the topic. Rather it opened the door to learning much more (that will be developed in future writings). Since publication I've participated in many public conversations about housing in Los Angeles, at which I have met residents, designers and developers with new questions and perspectives. It has been an exhilarating education, if at times perplexing as I learn ever more about the complexity of realizing multifamily housing that feels and looks great, for a decent and stable cost to builder and resident.

Common Ground has also been covered in several publications, including:

Carolina Miranda wrote about Common Ground in the context of parking, and how much it dominates land use in America, in this essay in the LA Times, which also discussed Henry Grabar’s clever, tragi-comic book, Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World.

 Capital & Main, in which author Kelly Candaele focused on the "radicals and other visionaries" who "challenged the real estate industry by pushing bold public housing projects and alternative forms of ownership." 

The New York Times' Julie Lasky amplified the book's coverage of the great "examples of affordable multifamily buildings that look like anything but." 

I showed Oliver Wainwright some of the under-appreciated, classic Modern multifamily buildings by Irving Gill, Richard Neutra and others for The Guardian.  

I went on a tour of prime examples of socially centered living with Steve Chiotakis for his KCRW show, Greater LA

I talked with Larry Mantle on his show, Air Talk. about about his own childhood living in an apartment building in Baldwin Hills.

The book has also been covered in Metropolis, LA Daily News, and Forbes, as well as by many readers.

Finally, it was one of 15 books selected for The Architects Newspaper holiday gift guide, and garned a Foreword Reviews Book Gold award.

I am grateful to all who have shown interest in the book, and hope that it has contributed in a small way to current efforts to built shelter for the needs of people in the 21st century megalopolis that is Los Angeles.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

On the Schedule: December, 2022

This December please join me for at MOCA for "Staying Cool," a look at what architects and engineers Kulapat Yantrasast, Frederick Fisher, Lance Collins and Simone Paz are doing to lighten art's footprint in Art for Earth's Sake... come to talks with me about LA's multifamily housing at book events for Common Ground... join a workshop about "air," featuring artist Laurie Lipton and the team at NAHR at Helms Design Center... and hear from architect Moshe Safdie as I talk to him about his life at the Skirball Museum. Read on for details.


Common Ground: The Conversations

Now Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles is out, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to talk about the buildings, the residents and the issues around housing that I explore in the book, whether it’s the case for community centered housing in a time of social isolation; a celebration of historic courtyard buildings (like El Cabrillo, above, designed by Arthur and Nina Zwebell, photo by Art Gray) and the lessons they offer for new housing on our thoroughfares; or, simply, a validation of apartment living in a region that demeans it.

Please join me at the following events, open to all:  

On December 1 at 6pm I'll talk about the book with friends at GGA architecture firm in Pasadena.

On December 7 at 12pm I'll join Adrian Scott Fine for an online conversation hosted by the L.A. Conservancy.

Hope to see you there!


Tilt Up: A fundraiser to support the Kings Road House 

In 1922, R.M. Schindler and his wife Pauline, and Clyde Chace, an engineer, and his wife Marian took up residence in what was probably the world's most radical duplex: the King's Road House in West Hollywood. Made of tilt-up concrete slabs (with tips on this new construction system from Irving Gill), the building consisted of an S-shaped sequence of single, undefined rooms (one for each resident to use at will) wrapped round two grassy courts, with light penetrating from slender vertical windows, and expansive sliding wood-framed glass screens. There were sleeping baskets atop the structure, capping a building that was highly experimental structurally, socially and even in terms of bedroom planning! 100 years later this marvelous house, now a cultural center run by MAK, the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna, is suffering the ravages of age -- and needs a costly overhaul. So on Sunday, December 4, at  4:30 - 6:30 pm, the Friends of the Schindler House (FOSH) will host a fundraiser.

Enticements include drinks and appetizers under a tent on the grounds; access to purchase one-of-a-kind commemorative "classic napkin sketch" mementos created by the architect, design, and art community and a limited edition deck of 12 photo images of the Schindler House through the lens of six celebrated contemporary photographers.

Click here for details.


AIR: Commons, Chaotic Fluid, Inspiration

Last year the Nature, Art and Habitat Residency (NAHR) invited people working at the intersection of art and the environment to contemplate soil. For the 2023 Residency, the topic is air, specifically “AIR: Commons, Chaotic Fluid, Inspiration.”

On Thursday, December 8th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, come to the design center at Helms Bakery District for an evening conversation about the role of air as a connector, and help imagine future scenarios about how and what we will be breathing. Questions on the agenda include:

    How can human relationships with air help to stop or slow the climate crisis?
    What is our awareness of the ecology of air?
    How does air connect us and highlight issues of global justice?

NAHR's co-chairs Deborah Weintraub and Richard Molina and I will moderate the dialogue, following a keynote to be delivered by Laurie Lipton, remarkable artist of epic, dystopic visions of domestic and urban life today rendered in intense pencil drawings. Her latest opus is entitled, appropriately enough, Smoke.

Click here for details.

Art for Earth's Sake

Staying Cool: Designers Green Art Buildings

Museums and private collections can generate a high energy footprint, from the construction of new buildings to the climate-controlled storage. Add to that the emissions and waste generated by the production, installation and demolition of temporary exhibitions and art fairs. So what are architects and designers doing to lighten this impact? Does the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA itself offer clues–through its genesis as an adaptively reused, rather than new, building? What can we learn from “living buildings,” and how to keep museums cool as they use more and more computer technologies to tell their stories? 

Get answers on Sunday, Dec 11, starting at 3pm, when I talk with architects Kulapat Yantrasast of WHY Architecture, designer of permanent and temporary art spaces including David Kordansky Gallery, the Academy Museum, and the installation for Frieze LA; Frederick Fisher, whose firm has designed art spaces from MoMA P.S.1 to the expansion of the Los Angeles Natural History Museum; and Lance Collins, director at Partner Energy, provider of energy efficient engineering for buildings including the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, along with expertise in Environmental, Social, Governance and Resilience (ESGR). They will be joined on stage by Simone Paz, MOCA’s Associate Director of Sustainability.

Click here for details.


If Walls Could Speak: My Life in Architecture

Moshe Safdie in Conversation 

In 1967, Moshe Safdie stunned the architecture world when he designed Habitat, a landmark demonstration project for the 1967 Montreal World Exposition. The extraordinary superstructure was made of 365 prefab concrete modules containing 158 apartments of varying sizes that opened onto personal open spaces and garden terraces, typically found in single-family homes. 

Habitat pioneered a vision for high density urban housing, and Safdie went onto to forge a career spanning five decades, and including L.A.'s very own Skirball Cultural Center. 

On Sunday, December 11, starting at 6:00 pm, I will talk with Safdie about his new memoir, If Walls Could Speak, which "takes readers behind the veil of an essential yet mysterious profession to explain how an architect thinks and works—from the spark of imagination through the design process, the model-making, the politics, the engineering, and the materials." 

Safdie is a warm and lively conversationalist so I look forward to speaking with him, and hope you will join us.

Click here for details.


Thursday, November 3, 2022

On the Schedule: November 2022

This November please join me for at MOCA Art for Earth's Sake x 2 -- a look at art in which the medium is the message, and then the "dirty topic" of environmental injustice, captured by Los Angeles artists... come to talks about LA's multifamily housing at book events for Common Ground... an Art World 101 in smARTtalks at Helms Design Center, with Shana Nys Dambrot, Miles Regis, Ronnie Pirovino, Heidi Johnson, and Daniel Nomad... a tasty talk about The Menu with Evan Kleiman and Sang Yoon, hosted by KCRW...and a peon to the eternal modernist ethos with Michael Boyd and Michael Webb at Helms Design Center. Read on for details.


Art for Earth's Sake x 2

Dirty Topic: Environmental Justice in L.A. Art

On Sunday, November 20, Art for Earth's Sake considers environmental justice. Many Angelenos live in neighborhoods devastated by the environmental blights of polluted air (from refineries, manufacturing, shipping, freeway and air traffic) and toxic waste at brownfield sites. Some LA artists have found ways to bear witness to this environmental (in)justice. 

 Jennifer Swann, a reporter whose stories include coverage of an art biennale at Salton Sea, will lead a conversation between Eric Avila, scholar of the Chicano painters who captured Boyle Heights when it was destroyed by freeways, joins Kim Abeles, whose work address the invisible killer -- smog -- and Maru Garcia, maker of artworks about the lead-contaminated soil at the Exide battery plant in Southeast LA (her artwork Membrane Tensions, 2021, is shown above).  

How much can these testaments to inequity also serve as calls to action? Find out, at the Geffen at MOCA at 12pm, 11/20. 

That's followed right after by The G•Spot, a traveling festival organized with fashion designer Rio Uribe, and celebrating LA-based LGBTQ and BIPOC artists. Uribe will lead a panel entitled, Qué Onda: The New Wave of Chicanx Artists and Creators with Rafa Esparza, Willy Chavarria, Lupe Rosales, and Selena Ruiz. And while at the Geffen, check out Judith F. Baca: World Wall, nine panels from Baca's famed, utopian, collaborative, portable mural World Wall: A Vision of the Future Without Fear, begun in 1987.

Click here for details.

The Medium is the Message 

On Saturday, November 5, head down to the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA where we continue the series Art for Earth's Sake (that I've co-organized). Moderator Jason EC Wright, artists Lily Kwong and Julia Christensen, NRDC's director of art partnerships Elizabeth Corr, and bio-sonifier Modern Biology will consider art in which the Medium is the Message: Clean Artmaking from Earth to Outer Space. 

Forget toxic paints and glazes, fixatives and glues. Think installations made of plant materials that comment on our relationship with flora and fauna (Kwong, above); or a self-regenerating space ship conceptualized to raise awareness about e-waste and the upgrade economy (Christensen;) and, to conclude, a sound experience drawn from the plant life on display. But is this didactic art also good art? And how effective is its message? 

The convo kicks off at 3pm in the outdoor plaza but you should make an afternoon of it, and catch the unmissable Judith F. Baca: World. Wall and Garrett Bradley: American Rhapsody while you are at the museum. And then catch Henry Taylor: B Side at MOCA Grand Avenue, opening on the 6th!

Click here for details.


Common Ground: The Conversations

Now Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles is out, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to talk about the buildings, the people that live in them and the issues around housing that I explore in the book. Please join me at the following events, open to all:  

-- On November 1, at 12 noon, I'll join Jon Haeber and the California Preservation Foundation for an online conversation. Later on November 1 I will head to the welcoming community bookstore Village Well in Culver City to sit down with councilman Alex Fisch, currently running for reelection and a passionate advocate for housing for all.

-- On November 6 I will meet online with Sian Winship and friends at the Society of Architecture Historians

-- On November 10 I'll be at Santa Monica Museum with Tara Barauskas, Executive Director of the nonprofit Community Corporation of Santa Monica. We will focus on Santa Monica and its rich legacy of multifamily housing role as well as the innovative affordable housing by Community Corp (such as The Arroyo, designed by KEA, shown in photo above by Eric Staudenmaier). We will also screen this film about Community Corp at 40, that I co-produced.

-- On November 12 at 2:30pm I'll sit down with John Ripley and Juan Dela Cruz at Pasadena Heritage (John and Juan shared their invaluable knowledge about bungalow courts with me for the book), and then on November 12 at 5:00pm I will join architect Michael Folonis and photographer Art Gray and members of AIA/LA for a tour and book talk at Millennium Santa Monica. MSM is the new multifamily building whose side facade appears on the cover of the book and demonstrates how it is possible to create a very large and dense apartment building without double loaded corridors and with plenty of personal and shared outdoor spaces! 

On December 1 at 6pm I'll talk about the book with friends at GGA architecture firm in Pasadena.

On December 7 at 1pm I'll join Adrian Scott Fine for an online conversation hosted by the L.A. Conservancy; and then December 7 at 3pm, I'll talk about the book on Zoom with Cole Akers and friends of the Glass House.


smARTtalks 2022

Since cofounding Crewest Studio more than two decades ago, Scott "Sourdough" Power, Man One and their team have developed programs, podcasts, events and grants programs aimed at elevating artists and helping them thrive commercially. Now Power has co-created a series of talks to educate artists at every stage of their careers about the art world -- how to navigate it, how to think about the issues confronting it. The ticketed series takes place at Helms Design Center, starting September 24.

smARTtalk 2 takes place Saturday, November 12, with a terrific line up of industry insiders and critics who will take on two juicy topics: 

--The Power of Story in Selling Art: How Narrative Can Help Artists Drive Sales in a Social Media Landscape with speakers: Shana Nys Dambrot (above) and Miles Regis 

--Has Digital Art Finally Earned Respect? How Web3, NFTs, AR, VR, AI and The Metaverse Are Impacting The Art World with speakers: Ronnie Pirovino, Heidi Johnson, and Daniel Nomad 

Click here for details. 

The Menu

On Tuesday, November 15, I'll join Evan Kleiman, beloved host of KCRW's Good Food, and chef and restaurateur Sang Yoon for a tasty conversation about restaurant design, following a screening of the outrageously brilliant forthcoming new movie The Menu. Think of a ritualized foodie experience on the level of Vespertine, add madness and murder, and you get the picture.

Click here for details. 


Millennium Modern

Designer and composer Michael Boyd lives by Le Corbusier’s mantra: “To be modern is not a fashion, it is a state." Now he has created an opus to celebrate that state: the lavishly illustrated compendium of essentialist design, MILLENNIUM MODERN Living in Design. On Wednesday, November 16, I'll sit down with him and his friend and editor Michael Webb to discuss modernism as design philosophy and mode of being an in age of distraction. That's at 6:30pm at Helms Design Center.

Click here for details.






Sunday, October 16, 2022

On the Schedule: October 2022

October is busy, busy, busy, with the release of my book Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles... and an audio tour with Steve Chiotakis of three of the buildings in Common Ground, aired on KCRW.

Also launching this month: Community Corp at 40, a short film I co-produced about the Santa Monica-based affordable housing developer with a big impact...

...MOCA's new series Art for Earth's Sake (that I helped organize) opens 10/2 with Bonnie Brennan, President of Christie's Americas, being beamed in as a hologram (to save on travel!)... then on 10/22 hear from Charlotte Kent, Glenn Kaino and Nancy Baker Cahill on digital art and its energy impact IRL.

And my friends at FORT:LA (Friends of Residential Treasures) hold a Candy House fundraiser, with a performance by grand dame of punk Taquila Mockingbird, also on 10/22.

Then there are design fests at Palm Springs fall Modernism Week, opening 10/14, the AIA/LA Design Awards on 10/28, and starting 10/28, the Monterey Design Conference, co-emcee'ed by yours truly.


MOCA: Art for Earth's Sake

Sunday, October 2/Sunday, October 22; 5:00pm

Artists are increasingly exploring the climate crisis in their work. But what about the art world’s contribution to the climate crisis, from its boundless international travel to the growth of energy-intensive art forms and installations? Does tech have some answers?

MOCA considers the creative ways in which the art world is addressing its own environmental footprint in Art for Earth’s Sake, a series of public talks in the fall that I have helped organize, with Livia Mandoul. Invited artists, academics, activists, industry insiders and journalists will explore topics ranging from greening art facilities and art fairs to reckoning with environmental justice and considering whether holograms of art and artists might be the way to keep art local. Finally, the program will consider the impact of making the industry more sustainable on artistic expression itself.

The series kicks off on Sunday, October 2nd, at MOCA Grand Avenue, with "The Art World Meets the Crisis."Michael Wang, Deborah Scacco, Russell Fortmeyer, will set the stage with a conversation about artistic reflections on climate change along with the operational realities of transporting, displaying and making art. They will be joined by Bonnie Brennan, the New York-based President of Christie's Americas, beamed in as a hologram by David Nussbaum and Proto  -- demonstrating a tech solution to keeping a global industry local.

Then, on Saturday, October 22, also at MOCA Grand Avenue, artists Glenn Kaino ("A Forest for the Trees," above); Nancy Baker Cahill and moderator Charlotte Kent will meditate on Art on Screens and its Energy Impact IRL. Can the art world have its carbon cake and eat it? Is the Ethereum Merge a game-changer? Kaino and Cahill, two artists testing the potential of web3, will talk with Charlotte Kent, arts writer “with a particular interest in digital culture and the absurd,” about using tech creatively to solve the problems created by tech. 

This conversation is part of Grand Ave Arts All Access, an afternoon of free fun hosted by MOCA and neighboring institutions on Grand Avenue. In addition to the 5pm convo, at MOCA you can join an interactive workshop inspired by Cromosaturación (1965/2012) by Carlos Cruz-Diez, catch DJ sets from Sylmar Soundsystem b2b Langosta, Sanam, and Maral, a live performance by Soltera, and go gift-shopping at the store’s annual sidewalk sale.

Click here for more details.


Book launch: Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles

Think of "home" in Los Angeles and what comes to mind? Very likely the single family home in a large yard. But that is not the full picture. The region has also been a laboratory for marvelous experiments in multifamily living and over the past year I've been working on a book about some of them. 

Now Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles is done and will be published October 11 by Angel City Press. We will have a book party at Helms Bakery District on Saturday, October 1, at 2pm.

Common Ground is my valentine to an under-appreciated type of housing in Los Angeles: connected, mostly rental, centered on shared open space. In sum, a way of living that is a variant on the exalted SoCal single family home, and that can be lovely when stable, equitable and well-designed. It has been modeled in some marvelous complexes past and present -- from the bungalow courts and luxe apartment-hotels of the 1910s; through period-revival and modernist courtyard complexes, New Deal-era garden apartments; to contemporary, "affordable" and market rate housing complexes; and on to co-living and the return to low-rise backyard complexes.

Frank Gehry, architect of the apartment building I have lived in for many years that got me thinking about the design, history and politics of multifamily housing in LA, calls the book "part architectural memoir, part call to arms," and Russell Brown, founder of FORT: LA, found it "an engrossing urban journey peppered with fascinating human stories that presents a vision of Los Angeles that is unexpected and revelatory." It is full of fabulous photographs of great buildings and stories of the talents that made them and the people that live in them.


Please join me on Saturday, October 1, at the book party. Click here to register, and if you can't make it, there are plenty more book events coming up in November. 

Buy the book

Or, order a copy online here, and note that Angel City Press is offering a 30% discount on all its books through October, to celebrate its 30th birthday. Promo code: 30for30. That's for Common Ground or any other ACP books including Googie Modern: Architectural Drawings of Armet Davis Newlove, co-authored by Alan Hess; Regarding Paul R. Williams, the book of photographs of Williams' buildings by Janna Ireland; and Thomas Mann's Los Angeles. Or you can buy the book on If you you like the book, I'd be so grateful if you'd write a little review for that site.

Audio tour of the buildings

I took KCRW's Steve Chiotakis on a tour of three of the buildings featured in the book: Lincoln Place, Rose Apartments and the "3rd Street Compound." Catch his reactions and commentary from residents, property owners and the architect Angela Brooks, of Brooks + Scarpa (Rose Apartments.)

Click here to listen to the episode on KCRW's Greater LA.

FORT:LA Candy House Fundraiser

Saturday, October 22, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Appreciating architecture can be an earnest business, except when Russell Brown gets involved. Last year, the independent film-maker (whose latest, Loren & Rose, is a captivating conversation piece starring Jacqueline Bisset) and a group of friends founded Friends of Residential Treasures: Los Angeles, a nonprofit devoted to raising awareness of L.A. homes, through self-guided trails created by invited tourguides. Brown avoids the obvious, seeking a wide breadth of "treasures," such as lesser-known homes by Edla Muir and James Homer Garrott while reviving interest in the late Frank Israel. The trails are packaged with witty titles, catchy design and humor. 

FORT:LA has already garnered an award from the LA Conservancy and now will host a fundraiser to keep going. The Candy House Fundraiser takes place Saturday evening, October 22, at a fab Los Feliz Spanish-Colonial revival house (address delivered on ticket purchase), complete with performance by punk-jazz priestess Taquila Mockingbird, and an auction whose goodies include a signed copy of Common Ground, by yours truly, or better yet, a private tour by me of the "sweetest samples of Multifamily Housing in LA."

Click here for info and tickets.

Community Corp: 40 Years of Building Community

"Everything We Stand for in Just 13 Minutes"

While researching Common Ground, which includes a chapter on the masterfully designed affordable housing of the last few decades, I got to learn a lot about Community Corporation of Santa Monica, a nonprofit developer that got its start forty years ago amidst a battle over rising rents and housing instability in the Ocean Park neighborhood of Santa Monica. 

Under great leadership, the corporation set out to maintain, adapt and build new housing, and tapped some of LA's emerging architectural talent to do so -- including Ralph Mechur, Marc Appleton, Frederick Fisher & Partners, Koning Eizenberg, Brooks + Scarpa, Patrick Tighe, Stephen Kanner, Don Empakaris and many more. They modeled buildings centered on shared open space -- for passive energy savings and social reasons -- with distinctive design that offset their often challenging sites. Along the way they've forged a cohesive sense of belonging for the residents of the buildings.

On invitation from the current executive director Tara Barauskas, I got to tell their stories, along with the history and mission of Community Corp, in this video I made for Community Corp, in collaboration with videographer Hans Fjellestad, to mark the developer's 40th anniversary. Enjoy!


Also on the schedule this month...

Modernism Week, October 13 - 16. The ever-popular high desert Modernism shindig celebrates its fall preview -- now large enough to count almost as a Modernism week in itself.

AIA/LA Design Awards -- the party to celebrate its annual design awards winners and presidential honorees takes place on October 27, at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica. Congrats to Gabrielle Bullock, Shin Shin, Lance Collins and all the other honorees.

Monterey Design Conference, October 28 - 30. I'm honored to co-emcee this year's Monterey Design Conference, the annual archi-gathering at the beloved Asilomar, the complex of sixteen Arts & Crafts-infused “refuge by the sea,” designed by Julia Morgan. I'll be helping introduce luminaries including Leslie Lokko, Deborah Berke, Bijoy Jain and L.A.'s very own Lorcan O'Herlihy.

DnA Newsletters

What's so Special about Vienna? What is Hip Hop Architecture? Are you a Maximalist or Minimalist? Get answers to these questions and mor...