Category Archives: Spaces, Places & Architecture

ARCHITORTURE: GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY, WHERE TOURISTS AND NERDS COLLIDE

One of Los Angeles’s great landmarks is the Griffith Observatory, an architectural gem that mixes art-deco and Mayan aesthetics. It’s perched on a ridge in Hollywood Hills above Los Felix and provides a stunning, wide view the L.A. basin. It naturally is a major tourist draw, with thousands upon thousands of people winding their way up the hills and canyons each day to visit this icon of La La Land. It’s a functioning observatory and as such there are working scientists, astronomers, educators, and space enthusiasts, et. al. — nerds! — congregated and fussing about amid the tourist hordes snapping selfies along the viewing terraces.

ARCHITORTURE: ART-DECO MOVIE THEATER MAKES US WONDER IF WE’VE GONE BACK IN TIME

The Aero movie theater on tony Montana Avenue on Santa Monica’s northside is a Los Angeles treasure. A working cinema and a venue for retrospective film events, the Aero is a perfectly intact example of classic art-deco architecture and style. It’s a landmark that at night lights up its marquee and neon lights, a look that harkens back to a bygone era of L.A. and classic Hollywood.

SPACES: HIPSTER-MEXICO SURF CHIC

Salt Fish Surf Co is a surfy boutique in Venice, in Los Angeles, run by the effusive and friendly French surfer Romaine Goudinoux, who designs and sells branded t-shirts, caps, accessories, and leather-and-fabric surfboard bags hand-crafted in Mexico. But, to be clear, his  small second-floor store is not a surf shop. In fact, Salt Fish hardly feels like retail space at all, but rather a beautiful shabby-chic, hipster-surfer living room (dubbed “La Casa Saltfish“). It’s fillwd with Mexican blankets and rugs and a few surfboards propped up amid a tiny selection of merch for sale.  The space and vibe is so cozy and chill that you don’t ever want to leave.

 

BRUTALISTS IN LEGOLAND!

You, savvy reader, are probably a fan of architecture. If not of architecture in and of itself, then perhaps as an extension of being a fan of design. Or at the very least you appreciate architecture, after all, you most likely live in a building. 

Maybe you are an architecture tourist — an “architourist” — who seeks out contemporary, architecturally significant buildings on your globe-spanning travels. Such that when you visit, say, Barcelona, you get excited about going to take a look at the Torre Agbar, designed by Jean Nouvel, whereas the package tourist hordes are bee-lining for the popular cathedrals like Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.

You may have even read a few books about architecture. These books are not just enormously heavy coffee-table tomes filled with beautiful photos of great buildings, but rather books filled with texts, long-form prose about architecture, books with actual chapters that require actual reading. Books like the excellent and amusing  “From Bauhaus to Our House” by Tom Wolfe.  

You may even be a fan of specific architectural design styles and movements: Modernism, International Style, Googie, Mid-Century Modern, Art Deco, the aforementioned Bauhaus, and Brutalism. These mean something to you. Or at least you’ve heard of them.

There’s also a possibility you like Legos.

The person who runs the Instagram account @brutsinlego is a lover of Legos, is a fan of architecture, is a fan (we presume) of Brutalist architecture, in all its minimalist, fortress-like, gray-concrete socialist-tinged glory.

And now we are a fan of him and his Insta account, which is devoted to showcasing the small Lego constructions he and his children make of famous Brutalist buildings around the world.

A small sample of these is posted here for your delight and review.

ARCHITORTURE: WHEN DESIGN WENT GOOGIE-EYED

Architectural styles are subject to the tastes, fashion and trends of a given era. Some architecture stands the test of time. Some age less gracefully and can quickly, embarassingly look dated. Sometimes these become the targets of aesthetic derision, only to become “re-discovered” and re-appreciated decades later and once again deemed “cool.”

The futuristic “Googie” architecture of the 1960s is one example. It is both loved and loathed, but its historical significance cannot be overlooked, especially as time passes and surviving examples of it become scarcer and more fondly familiar landmarks. 

Many examples of Googie can be found throughout Los Angeles and Southern California in the form of homes, diners, motels, gas stations, and car washes, like the one pictured here in Santa Monica. The car wash, that essential feature of L.A. car culture, was especially prone to expressions of Googie style.

Googie originated in Southern California, where it was influenced by the emerging space age, jet travel and ever more reliance on the car in the American post-War era. The style is a modern architectural offshoot of Futurism and part of the American Mid-Century Modern style.