GREEN MACHINE 3 – WHY NOT NOW?

paris biennale 1984 green machine presentation board

WHAT HAPPENED? A PROJECT THAT WAS UPBEAT IN NATURE, HAD THE SUPPORT OF THE COMMUNITY, AND POLITICAL BACKING. WHAT WENT WRONG? THE TIMES CHANGED. THE DAY THAT PROPOSITION 13 PASSED IN CALIFORNIA, A MANDATE THAT THE PUBLIC WANTED TO LOWER TAXES, PAT RUSSEL , THE COUNCILWOMAN WHO BACKED THE PROJECT, WAS SET IN FRONT OF THE GREEN MACHINE MODEL ON TV AND WAS ASKED EMBARRASSING QUESTIONS OF SPENDING PUBLIC MONEY FOR EXPERIMENTS OF THIS NATURE. COST WAS A FACTOR. $1,200,000 INCLUDING EVERYTHING EXCEPT THE LAND. IN A STRAIGHT COMPARISON TO STANDARD CONSTRUCTION OF LOW COST UNITS, AT THIS TIME, THIS WAS ABOVE AVERAGE, BUT AS FAR AS A HOLISTIC EXPERIMENTAL HOUSING PROJECT THIS WAS LOW. ESPECIALLY WHEN COMPARED TO A LUXURY HOUSES IN BEL AIR THAT WERE GOING FOR THE TOTAL PRICE OF THE 24 UNITS. LIKE ALL DEMONSTRATION PROTOTYPES, IT EVENTUALLY CAN BE SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCED IN FOLLOWING STAGES OF DUPLICATION.

DEVELOPERS SHOWED UP AT PUBLIC MEETING IN OPPOSITION. RUSSEL WAS INFLUENCED BY THEIR NEGATIVISM. THE LOCAL YOUNG AGGRESSIVE BUSINESS MEN WHO WERE FOR SAVING AND PLANTING TREES TOTALLY IGNORED THE PROJECT. SUMMA CORPORATION WAS HIT UP FOR SUPPORT, SINCE THEY WERE PLANNING A PROJECT IN THE LOCAL WETLANDS. THEIR RESPONSE WAS HAUGHTY AND ARROGANT REJECTION. PAT RUSSELL, THE COUNCILWOMEN HAD THE POWER AND CONNECTIONS TO GET IT BUILT, BUT LET IT DIE.

I WENT TO WASHINGTON. I WAS GREETED BY THE LOBBYIST FOR LOS ANGELES. I WAS AMAZED THAT ONE OF THE LARGEST CITIES IN THE WORLD WAS REPRESENTED BY PEOPLE THAT HAD NEVER BEEN TO LOS ANGELES. THE YOUNG LOBBYISTS LIVED IN WASHINGTON AND WERE TOTALLY INTO THE WASHINGTON SCENE WITHOUT ANY PASSIONATE ALLIANCE TO L.A. AT HUD (THE DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING), ONE GOVERNMENT INTERVIEWER SAID “HIS MOTHER HAD LIVED IN A TRAILER. TRAILERS ARE SUBSTANDARD HOUSING, SO HE WOULD NEVER SUPPORT SUCH AN IDEA.”
I WENT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. THE PLACE WAS LIKE A TOWN THAT KNEW IT WAS GOING TO BE OVERRUN BY THE ENEMY. REAGAN WAS ON HIS WAY AND EVERYONE WAS RUNNING FOR COVER.

I LIMPED HOME WITH NOTHING. IN RETROSPECT THIS WAS THE TIME I SHOULD HAVE DONE EVERYTHING IN MY POWER TO PUSH THE PROJECT. I DIDN’T, I WAS NOT UP FOR THE FIGHT NOR THE SELL. IF YOU LOOK AT REVOLUTIONARY PROJECTS THAT MAKE IT, IT USUALLY IS BECAUSE OF THE CLIENT NOT THE ARCHITECT. I HAD NO CLIENT WILLING TO FIGHT AT THIS STAGE.

CALVIN HAMILTON HIT UP WASHINGTON FOR FUNDING WHEN THE TIDE WAS TURNING AGAINST CARTER AND THE NEXT MAN WAS REAGAN.
IN THE BEST OF TIMES IT IS DIFFICULT TO BUILD ANYTHING REVOLUTIONARY. SO, WHEN THE SPIRIT OF CARTER, WHO WAS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CAUSES GOT REJECTED. THAT WAS IT. THE AVANT GUARD WAS OVER. THE PROBLEMS THE GREEN MACHINE ADDRESSED HAD NOT CHANGED, JUST THE POLITICS.

calvin hamilton, director of planning for los angeles for 20 years.

WHEN REAGAN TOOK OVER, THE ECOLOGICAL MOVEMENT WENT ON HOLD. THE YUPPIES WERE IN CONTROL. ALL THE ARCHITECTS LIKE GEHRY, FOSTER, PIANO, PELLI, ZAHA, PLUS THE UP COMING TOM MAYNE, ERIC MOSS WERE NOT GREEN. IT WAS NOT FASHIONABLE.

THE OLYMPICS OF 1984 IN LOS ANGELES PRESENTED ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO BUILD THE GREEN MACHINE, BUT ARCO, ARMAN HAMMER, LA PLANNING NOR OTHERS SHOWED ANY INTEREST. THE OLYMPICS OF LA 1984 LEFT NO STRUCTURES FOR LA, IT WAS ORGANIZED AROUND WHAT EXISTED WITH A LOT OF GRAPHIC FAN FARE, FLAGS AND COLOR. A FINANCIAL SUCCESS.

WHILE I WAS IN SWITZERLAND AT SCI-ARC VILLA IN VICO MOCOTE IN 1982 GUIDING A TOUR OF EUROPE , I SPENT SOME TIME WITH LORD SMITHERS. HIS HOBBY WAS TAKING PICTURES OF FLOWERS AT FULL BLOOM. THE FLOWER IS MOST ATTRACTIVE IN FULL BLOOM TO ATTRACT POLLINATION. THE LORD HAD RECENTLY RECEIVED AN AWARD BY THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT FOR HIS WORK OF COORDINATING EUROPE IN A MUTUAL PLAN TO DEAL WITH ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES. LORD SMITHERS, AN EX MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT IN ENGLAND, SAID THAT HE HAD NO PROBLEM GETTING THE SCIENTISTS AGREEING ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS AND WAYS TO CURE THE PROBLEMS, BUT THE POLITICIANS THAT RELIED ON THE NEXT ELECTION WERE IMPOSSIBLE TO ORGANIZE TO CARRY OUT THE NEEDED ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES. THE FALLACY OF POLITICIANS CONTROLLING THE EARTH IS OUTDATED, BUT EXISTS.

MY ORIGINAL IDEA OF BUILDING THE GREEN MACHINE MYSELF, NOW SEEMS LOGICAL, WHEN FATE RELIES ON POLITICAL APPOINTED PLANNERS AND POLITICIANS THAT WANT TO BE REELECTED IT IS QUESTIONABLE. IT WAS A GAMBLE AND I WENT ALL THE WAY. A DREAMER IS A SUCKER FOR HOPE AND FLATTERY.

THE FALLOUT BENEFIT WAS THE INTERNATIONAL PUBLICITY. THE JAPANESE IN 1982 APPROACHED ME TO COME TO JAPAN AND GIVE A SERIES OF LECTURES AND CONSULT WITH THEM ON SOME OF THEIR PROJECTS. IT WAS THE MOST REWARDING TRIP I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED. THEY TREATED ME WELL, PAID ME WELL AND GOT ME THE BEST PUBLICITY I HAVE EVER HAD IN AXIS MAGAZINE THAT HAD NORMAN FOSTER ON THE COVER. THEY EVEN SAVED MY LIFE WHEN I WAS TAKING PICTURES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD AND LOOKING THE WRONG WAY. THEY TOOK A VACUMN CLEANER TO MY BRAIN. A NICE COMPLIMENT TO MY SELF WORTH.

WHAT DEVELOPED WAS A PROJECT WITH ARCHITECT HARADA SHIZUO BACKED BY TAKANAKA, A LARGE BUILDING CORPORATION, HARADA WAS DEVELOPING A HOUSE WITH A SUPPORT SYSTEM OF TENSION. IT WAS INSPIRED BY THE PAGODAS THAT HAVE SUPPORT POLES THAT ARE INDEPENDENT OF THE SUSPENDED ROOF SYSTEM. DURING EARTHQUAKES THE POLE SHAKES AND THE ROOF IS LEFT INTACT, BECAUSE IT CAN FLEX WITH THE TENSION SUPPORT. I BOOSTED THE SCALE FROM ONE HOUSE TO APPLY TO A WHOLE HILLSIDE HOUSING PROJECT WITH A LARGE FRAME INFRASTRUCTURE HELD IN TENSION ON POLES.

I GOT SO INVOLVED IN DESIGNING THE PROJECT THAT I MISSED AN IMPORTANT MEETING WITH A JAPANESE MINISTER. TYPICAL OF MY INTEREST, I WOULD RATHER DESIGN THAN MAKE THE POLITICAL CONNECTION THAT WILL GET THE PROJECT BUILT. THIS WAS EMBARRASSING TO MY HOSTS. I CONTINUED THE PROJECT ON MY OWN WHEN I GOT BACK TO THE STATES. THE SITE WAS NEXT TO MOUNT FUJI ON SLOPING GROUND ON THE NORTH SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN. THEY HAD A MINI TRAM THAT I INCORPORATED.

I USED THE TATAMI MAT AS THE DESIGN MODULAR FOR THE HOUSING CUBES.
JAPAN HAS A EXTENDED FAMILY SYSTEM SO I USED THREE STORY SILVER CUBES WITH PENETRATIONS OF CENTRAL GARDENS AND GREEN PATIO ROOFS. AS THE FAMILY EXPANDED THEY WOULD BRIDGE OVER TO SURROUNDING CUBES.

CHECKER BOARDING THE LARGE HOUSING BLOCKS WITH A SERIES OF PARKS IN A CUBICAL URBAN SCALE ARRANGEMENT. THE RED INFRASTRUCTURE CONTAINED THE PEDESTRIAN AND TRAM MINI STREET CIRCULATION, AND WERE SUPPORTED WITH CABLES, THAT WOULD ALLOW FLEXIBILITY DURING EARTHQUAKES, ATTACHED TO COLUMNS EMBEDDED INTO THE HILLSIDE. I USED REFLECTIVE PANELS TO REDIRECT SUN TO THE LIMITED SOLAR EXPOSED CORRIDORS..

I WENT TO SAN FRANCISCO AND PRESENTED IT TO MR. HARADA ON HIS VISIT TO THE STATES. NOTHING HAPPENED. YOU CAN SEE THE PROJECT ON MY BLOG TATAMI MATT HILLSIDE HOUSING.

CALVIN HAMILTON AND I MET WITH THE MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES THOM BRADLEY. THE MAYOR ASKING ZERO QUESTIONS AND SHOWING POLITE INTEREST.

IT IS ALL ABOUT TIMING, WHEN THE STARS ARE IN LINE AND THE RIGHT PEOPLE ARE IN PLACE THINGS HAPPEN. CALVIN HAMILTON THE DIRECTOR OF CITY PLANNING OF LOS ANGELES WAS THE MAIN BACKER OF THE GREEN MACHINE GOT AXED FROM HIS IMPORTANT POSITION, BECAUSE HE CREATED A PAMPHLET WITH HIS CITY PLANNING ZEROX MACHINES TO PROMOTE A PRIVATE BUSINESS OF HIS AT THE 1984 OLYMPICS TO SHOW VISITORS AROUND. . SAM KAPLAN AND OTHER REPORTERS OF THE LA TIMES BLOWING THIS UP AS BIG TIME CORRUPTION AFTER A STATE INVESTIGATION SAID: THAT CALVIN HAD NOT BROKEN THE LAW, CALVIN WAS FORCED TO RESIGN. VERY LITTLE MONEY INVOLVED. MINOR SKIMMING OFF THE TOP A LITTLE GOES WITH MOST JOBS OF POWER. SAM KAPPLAN KNOWS THIS, SO I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT SAM’S AGENDA WAS. I KNOW SAM DID NOT BACK MY TURF TOWN PROJECT AND GAVE ME THE ONLY BAD PRESS I EVER HAD CONCERNING MY TEACHING, AFTER I INVITED HIM TO MY STUDENTS REVIEW AT SCI-ARC ADDRESSING THE LA RIVER. HE DID GET HIS DOG TO RELIEVE ON A REGULAR BASIS ON FRANK GEHRY’S LAWN IN SANTA MONICA. THAT UGLY RIDICULOUS REMODEL FRANK GEHRY LIVED IN THAT CONTINUES TO GET AWARDS.

APRIL 18, 1989 SCOTT HARRIS WROTE ABOUT CALVIN HAMILTON, THE FOLLOWING PIECE.

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, A TALL, THOUGHTFUL, PIPE-SMOKING CITY PLANNER NAMED CALVIN HAMIlTON ARRIVED AT CITY HALL, DETERMINED TO SAVE LOS ANGELES FROM ITSELF. THE CITY’S NEW PLANNING DIRECTOR HAD BIG IDEAS, ENVISIONING A SCORE OF HIGH-DENSITY “CITY CENTERS ” LINKED BY A HIGH -SPEED MASS-TRANSIT SYSTEM. HE PROMOTED THE CONTROVERSIAL NOTION OF SPLIT-LEVEL DOWNTOWN , WITH STREETS FOR AUTOS AND AN UPPER TIER OF PLAZAS , PEDESTRIAN BRIDGES AND A PEOPLE MOVER. MANY OF THOSE IDEAS WERE EMBODIED IN THE GENERAL PLAN DEVELOPED DURING HIS 20 YEAR TENURE.

JAN MARDIAN AND I WENT TO CALVIN’S FUNERAL IN 1997 IN SAN DIEGO, HE HAD DIED OF Alzheimer’s disease. TO ME CALVIN WAS A HERO THAT BACKED THE GREEN MACHINE. WHEN THE PART CAME IN THE FUNERAL FOR OTHERS, BESIDES THE FAMILY TO SPEAK, I GOT UP AND PRAISED CALVIN FOR BACKING THE GREEN MACHINE AND BEING A VISIONARY. I BROKE DOWN AND WEPT DELIVERING MY MESSAGE.

TO MY SURPRISE THERE WERE NO PROFESSIONALS IN ATTENDANCE, ALTHOUGH THE FUNERAL WAS ANNOUNCED ON THE FRONT PAGE OF THE LA TIMES.

CALVIN WAS A MAN THAT PEOPLE CLAMORED TO BE CLOSE TO WHEN HE WAS THE DIRECTOR, YET TOTALLY IGNORED UPON DEATH. VERY STRANGE. ONE OF HIS SONS SAYING TO ME CALVIN HAD ALWAYS BEEN BUSY, BUT HAD SPOKEN ABOUT THE GREEN MACHINE. MAYBE THE SPARSE ATTENDANCE WAS BECAUSE THE FUNERAL WAS NOT IN LOS ANGELES. BUT YOU ONLY GET TO GO TO A FUNERAL ONCE.

GLENDA, HIS WIFE LOOKED TIRED. CALVIN HAVING ALZHEIMER’S FOR AN EXTENDED TIME WAS A HARDSHIP FOR HER. THEY HAVING A COMBINED LARGE FAMILY OF HIS KIDS AND HER KIDS. CALVIN IN HIS OFFICE ONCE SAYING TO ME, WHAT A FANTASTIC WIFE. GLENDA FULL OF ENERGY AND LOVE. CALVIN AND GLENDA COMING TO OUR HOUSE IN VENICE. CALVIN POURING HIS CHARM OUT TO MILICA, WHO LOOKED RADIANT THAT NIGHT IN A BLACK LOW CUT DRESS, I BECOME JEALOUS, BUT DID NOT BLOW UP. JEALOUSY ONE OF MY FAULTS.

1984 paris biennale green machine presentation board

MILICA, MY SECOND WIFE, DRAGGED ME TO A PARTY IN WESTWOOD VILLAGE TO MEET SOMEBODY FROM FRANCE THAT WAS SEEKING ENTRIES FOR THE PARIS BIENNALE. I DID TWO SETS OF BOARDS LIKE SUITCASES. INDICATING, CAN TRAVEL WILL BUILD GREEN MACHINE. ONE SET FOR THE BIOMORPHIC BIOSPHERE AND ONE SET FOR THE GREEN MACHINE. AND IN THE SUMMER OF 1993 I HAD LUNCH IN PARIS WITH ARCHITECT JEAN NOUVEL, SINCE THE GREEN MACHINE HAD BEEN ACCEPTED. TALK ABOUT A MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO BE CONNECTED WITH THE PROFESSION, I NEVER AGAIN MAKING CONTACT WITH NOUVEL. THE BIOMORPHIC BIOSPHERE WAS REJECTED, TOO FAR OUT. STILL WAITING FOR SOCIETY TO CATCH UP.

PAT KONRAD WENT ON A SPREE AND GOT ENDORSEMENTS OF THE GREEN MACHINE FROM POLITICIANS AND THE LOCAL PAPER. THE CROWNER BEING THE SIERRA CLUB. AFTER PRESENTING THE GREEN MACHINE TO THE LOS ANGELES CHAPTER, IN THE EVENING, IN THEIR DOWNTOWN OFFICE, THE SIERRA CLUB SENT A LETTER OF REJECTION. THESE WERE SMART PEOPLE WITH CONCERN FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND FOUGHT HARD FOR NATURE TO BE PRESERVED. BUT THEIR REJECTION OF THE GREEN MACHINE SHOWED NO PLAN FOR THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT THAT I WAS AWARE OF. THE CORRELATION BETWEEN NATURE AND THE GREEN MACHINE DID NOT OCCURE TO THEM. SAD, BUT TRUE.

I AM NOT SURE WHETHER PAT KONRAD GOT BUCKMINISTER FULLER TO WRITE A LETTER BACKING THE GREEN MACHINE, BUT BUCKY DID. THIS IS OF GREAT IMPORTANCE TO ME, BECAUSE BUCKY WAS SLOW TO PRAISE. IT MEANS A LOT TO ME FROM A GENIUS THAT WAS CLUED INTO THE DESTRUCTION OF THE EARTH. AGAIN I MISSED THE CHANCE TO ASSOCIATE, BUCKY AT LEAST NEEDED A REPLY LETTER, PLUS HE LIVED NOT FAR FROM ME. HE DIED A COUPLE OF YEARS AFTER HIS LETTER TO ME.

MAYBE THE TIMES WERE NOT RIGHT FOR ACCEPTANCE OF GREEN IDEAS FOR THE POOR. THE SITE IS STILL THERE BEING USED FOR BEACH PARKING OVERFLOWS. THAT OCCURS A FEW DAYS DURING THE SUMMER, THE REST OF THE YEAR UNUSED. BUT THE RALLY TO BUILD THE GREEN MACHINE HAS TO START WITH OTHERS BESIDES MYSELF. SO READERS HELP MAKE IT HAPPEN. YOU ARE A SIZABLE GROUP WITH INTELLIGENCE, CREDENTIALS AND ZEAL. ERIC CHAVKIN POINTS OUT THAT THE GREEN MACHINE CAN BE BUILT MOST ANYWHERE.

THE TIMES HAVE CHANGED AND EVERYBODY IS TALKING SUSTAINABLE AND GREEN WHY NOT THE GREEN MACHINE?
WITH ALL THE NEW TECHNOLOGY TO MAKE THE GREEN MACHINE MORE GREEN, IT SEEMS MORE RELEVANT THAN EVER. PLEASE PASS THIS BLOG ON TO THOSE THAT MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN MAKING THE GREEN MACHINE A REALITY.

letter of support from buckminister fuller 1981

I MOVED ON TO THE NEXT DESIGN. FOR A DESIGNER LIKE MYSELF, THE REAL JOY IN LIFE IS DESIGNING, BECAUSE IT IS EASY AND I AM GOOD AT IT, WHILE PROMOTING IS A DRAG, ESPECIALLY WHEN NOT ENCOURAGED. I GRAVITATE TO WHAT I DO BEST. DESIGN THE NEXT PROJECT, IN MY CASE THE HONG KONG PEAK INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION.

THE GREEN MACHINE WILL BE ONE OF MY FEATURED PROJECTS AT THE “ASSEMBLY” GALLERY IN LOS ANGELES, THE SHOW TITLED ” RECOVERY ROOM.” STARTING NOVEMBER 9TH WITH A RECEPTION AND RUNNING THROUGH DECEMBER 21 2013.

Assembly 2045 S. La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles 90034

THE SHOW WILL FEATURE MODELS AND DRAWINGS ASSOCIATED WITH THE GREEN MACHINE, SOME NEVER SEEN BEFORE. THE ONE MAN SHOW WILL FEATURE OTHER PROJECTS AS WELL: LIKE TURF TOWN, BIOMORPHIC BIOSPHERE, HONG KONG PEAK, DETROIT MAGAZINES AND RECENT GREEN NICARAGUA WORK.

GLEN HOWARD SMALL

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5 comments

  1. READERS,

    THE BLOG HAS BEEN UP FOR AWHILE WITHOUT A WISPER. I KNOW YOU ARE OUT THERE, BECAUSE YOU SEND PERSONAL E MAILS ALL THE TIME.
    IS BUILDING THE GREEN MACHINE RELEVANT? I HAVE TO FACE UP TO THE FACTS. NO INTEREST. BUT IS IT A MATTER OF MARKETING.? WITH ALL THE AIRSTREAM LOVERS WITH DEEP POCKETS YOU WOULD THINK ONE OF THEM WOULD LIKE TO HANG OUT IN THE GREEN MACHINE BETWEEN THEIR ADVENTURE TRIPS.

    OR DOES ANYONE WANT TO PROVIDE HOMES FOR THE INTELLECTUAL POOR. A GREAT PLACE TO HAVE PARTIES FOR THE SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS.

    OR DOES ANY OF THIS STUFF MATTER?

    GLEN

  2. Still hospitalized for ling infection now six weeks and no internet. (snuck into MacDonalds with IV still hooked!)

    Green machine cannot be ignored

    eric

    • Eric,
      I just saw the post and let Susan and I know where you are.
      we pray your healing progresses and whatever surgery can proceed.
      Jack

  3. eric,

    thanks for the comment.

    readers as you know. eric chavkin has been a major contributor for insightful comments on this blog.

    at the moment he is ill and is awaiting an operation, that will happen when his system is heeled enough to accept the operation.

    he is a precious soul that is extremely creative and talented. please send some encouraging words to him in this time of crisis.

    glen

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