RECOVERY ROOM

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THE SCINTILLATING FLOOR WRAPPING UP THE WALLS.

IN THE BEGINNING IN 1976 THERE WAS A VISION OF DR. DAVID LEVINE FOR A RECOVERY ROOM ON THE CORNER OF LA CIENGA BLVD. NEAR THE SANTA MONICA FREEWAY IN L.A.  THE GOOD DOCTOR AND FAMILY LIVED IN A HOUSE OF MINE IN THE HOLLYWOOD HILLS.  IT WAS THE AGE OF AQUARIUS  TO BE COLORFUL AND HIP.  MY JOB WAS TO REMODEL A COMMERCIAL SHELL  TO SERVE  ICE CREAM.   NO MAJOR CHANGES, JUST MANIPULATE THE EXISTING BUILDING.

THE DOCTOR AS  AN INTERN HAD WORKED IN A HOSPITAL WHERE  AN ICE CREAM PARLOR WAS NEAR BY THAT EVERYONE TROTTED OFF TO GET REFRESHED.   THERE WAS A NEW  KAISER  HOSPITAL A  BLOCK AWAY,  SO THE ASSUMPTION WAS THIS PROJECT WAS A SLAM DUNK TO GET BIG BUCKS TROTTING IN,  YES I WAS SERVING THE RICH.

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SUPER GRAPHICS IN THE URBAN CLUTTER,   SANTA MONICA FREEWAY IN BACKGROUND.

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THE ORIGINAL DESIGN THAT DID A COLOR CHANGE AND TACKY ADD ONS BY CLIENT

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STANDING ON THE CORNER WITH A NEW FACE LIFT.

THE SUPER GRAPHICS WERE BY ME AND PAINTED BY A COUPLE OF ARTISTS GRADUATES OF ART CENTER.

THE DESIGN LOOKED LIKE ICE CREAM.  THE SIGNAGE OF FUNCTION, THE GOOD DOCTOR ADDED WITH THE ROUND IDENTITY SIGNS ON THE SURFACE OF THE BUILDING .

IT MIGHT HAVE WORKED FOR A HAPPY HOUR BAR.

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A FUN PLACE TO HANG OUT

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THE COOL CUSTOMERS,  THE HOSPITAL TRAFFIC NEVER SHOWED UP.

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LOVE THESE STACKING  CHAIRS I SELECTED,  THE ICE CREAM CONE WAS THE ADDED TOUCH OF MRS. DAVID LAVINE  DROPPING FROM THE CEILING.

I CAN NOT FIND A PICTURE OF THE SERVING BAR,  AT THE LAST MOMENT A  DETAIL ON MY DESIGN WAS CHANGED BY A CARPENTER AND I GOT UPSET.   MINOR TO THE DESIGN, THE GOOD DOCTOR THOUGHT.  THE COMMON PERFECTION DISEASE OF THE ARCHITECT.  SO I PROTESTED.

THE PROBLEM WAS THAT THIS WAS NOT THE KIND OF NEIGHBORHOOD WHERE DOCTORS AND NURSES FELT COMFORTABLE WALKING AROUND.  THEY WERE NOT GOING TO WALK A BLOCK AND RISK IT. THEY WALKED TO THEIR CAR IN THE PARKING LOT AND GOT THE HELL OUT OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD.  LA IS A CAR TOWN,  AND IF YOU CAN NOT PARK NEXT TO THE ICE CREAM PARLOR IN THESE NEIGHBORHOODS YOU STAY AWAY, WHAT IS LEFT IS LOCAL  PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC WHICH WAS LIMITED.  I RECALL SEEING A STRIKING DECKED OUT GIRL  SITTING IN THE SHOP TO BE DISCOVERED.   A BACK DROP FOR HER COLORFUL CLOTHING AND LOOKS.

THE DOCTOR AND WIFE INSTANTLY UNDERSTOOD THE PLIGHT OF THEIR INVESTMENT AND ALL THE SIGNS AND EFFORTS TO ENTICE A REGULAR CROWD FAILED.  THE FOOD AND ICE CREAM WAS QUALITY STUFF AND  REASONABLY PRICED,  BUT THE CUSTOMERS  DIDN’T COME.  RESTAURANTS IN THE BEST OF NEIGHBORHOODS ARE TRICKY BUSINESS AND ALMOST ALWAYS FAIL.  SO  WHY TRY?   EVERYBODY RELATES TO FOOD, AND THEY THINK THEY CAN GET OTHERS TO BUY INTO THEIR TASTES AND IDEAS.

THIS WAS NOT A GREEN PROJECT, AND IN THE FAMOUS 1976 PANEL AT SCI-ARC WHERE I WAS THE GREEN SAINT,  AN ANGRY MEMBER OF THE AUDIENCE YELLED OUT,  ” WHAT ABOUT YOUR ICE CREAM PARLOR? ” I TOO DO COMMERCIAL JOBS, BUT NOW FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE WITH THAT CRITICISM. THIS WAS A REAL PAYING CLIENT THAT WANTED MY DESIGN.  THE REALITY OF THE PROFESSION.  WHERE DO YOU CHOOSE TO CONTRIBUTE WITH GREEN ARCHITECTURE?   AT THE URBAN SCALE IS WHERE IT COUNTS.  ALL THE LITTLE STUFF IS MASTURBATION TO MAKE THE MASSES FEEL USEFUL AND CLEAN.  I DO MY BIT AT THE RECYCLING CENTER, BUT KNOW FULL WELL THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF OUR GARBAGE IS NOT RECYCLED. THE CITIES, STATE, AND COUNTRY SHOULD MANDATE RESPONSIBILITY WITH SYSTEMS THAT ARE LEGITIMATE.

THE RECOVERY ROOM LASTED FOR FOUR MONTHS AND THEN SOLD TO A FAMILY CHINESE TAKE OUT FOOD BUSINESS THAT STILL EXISTS.  ALL THE GRAPHICS AND DESIGN STUFF WAS DESTROYED PLUS THE PLANTS.   I HAVE TO PRAISE THE GOOD DOCTOR AND WIFE FOR TRYING,  THEY GAVE IT THEIR BEST.

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THE ORIGINAL DESIGN THAT I  PROPOSED.   I WANTED TO PAINT THE BUILDING CHOCOLATE BROWN AND DO THE COLORFUL GRAPHICS OVER THAT BASE, BUT THAT WAS BONGED BY THE GOOD DOCTOR.  BUT WHATEVER DESIGN  BUILT, WAS NOT GOING TO SAVE THE BUSINESS.  SOMEBODY SHOULD WRITE A BOOK ON “SHORT HAPPY  LIVES OF RESTAURANT DESIGNS”.

I HAD SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT SHOWING THE REALITY BUILDING SIDE OF SUCH AN INCONSEQUENTIAL PROJECT AFTER THE DOWNTOWN TROPISPHERE , BUT TIM BARNES ,MY BLOG MASTER, INSISTED SHOWING ALL ASPECTS OF GLEN HOWARD SMALL’S DESIGN WORLD.  AS ERIC CHAVKIN POINTED OUT, “ARCHITECTS ARE INTO OBJECTS”.  MEANING THIS IS THE WORLD OF AN ARCHITECT.

I ACTUALLY BONGED THIS BLOG TWO YEARS AGO,  BUT NOW HAVE RESURRECTED IT DUE TO THE ASSEMBLY GALLERY  SHOW NOV. 9TH, RIGHT ACROSS LA CIENEGA BLVD FROM THE FORLORN DESTROYED RECOVERY ROOM.  THE BARE BONES ALMOST HIDDEN.

PRESS RELEASE:

Glen Small

Recovery Room

Exhibition: November 9 – November 30, 2013

Opening: Saturday, November 9, 7-9 pm

Assembly® and Orhan Ayyüce present Glen Small: Recovery Room, a selection of the architect’s proposals. The show is on view from November 9 through 30. Opening reception is Saturday, November 9, 7-9 pm. Exhibition hours are Wednesday through Sunday, noon-6 pm. Assembly is located at 2045 S. La Cienega Blvd. Ample parking is available in the lot adjacent to WSS Shoe Warehouse at the same address.

“When he saw the Green Machine, he said, ‘we’re going to build this thing.’”

– Glen Small quoting Los Angeles city planner Calvin Hamilton

Oregon and Nicaragua-based architect Glen Small’s mid-career proposals still inspire radical reconsideration of our notions of environmentalism, housing, and urban development.

From the 1960s-80s, a body of visionary yet mostly unbuilt designs placed Small at the center of key discussions of architectural experimentation and ecological consciousness in California, and studying alongside him was an assumed part of one’s education during the founding decades of the Southern California Institute of Architecture. His ingenious Green Machine (1977-80), a sustainable, low income residential community using stacked Airstream trailers as interchangeable living modules, was nearly realized before funding disappeared with the start of the Reagan era. A series of further professional disappointments soon followed.

Thirty-plus years later, his proposals still exist as such – not as suggestions for monuments, nor as “paper architecture,” but as thoroughly worked out architectural propositions. Projects like Turf Town (1983) are made all the more relevant by comparison with contemporary commercial development projects. Details of a work like Biomorphic Biosphere Megastructure (1969-77) may be elegant, but these qualities are never separate from a primary function as architectural program. The flickering ethos of early SCI-Arc lies at the heart of his work, though Glen Small still represents positions often considered too experimental in the current state of education and emerging practices.

With this exhibition of original models, drawings, published material, and a series of events, Assembly® revisits and hosts anew the conversations and methodologies Small has sustained throughout his career.

ON DISPLAY:

Green Machine, an almost constructed vision from the late 1970s for a sustainable, low-income residential community using stacked Airstream trailers as interchangeable living modules, sited for the median on Venice Boulevard in Venice, now home to the public library branch.

Turf Town (1983), a four-block high-density complex for downtown Los Angeles that masterfully demonstrates both the potential of solar power in urban development and the benefits of a radical blending of public park space and private housing.

Biomorphic Biosphere Megastructure, Small’s dream, begun in 1969, to contain and corral the development sprawl of L.A. County into a glass and steel closed eco-system that would both return the Los Angeles Basin to its natural state, and redefine modern urban living as one of a technologically advanced symbiosis with nature.

Hong Kong Peak, a cliff-side scheme for a 1982 competition that utilizes cargo containers and a series of pools for rainwater collection in a sequence of elegant arches and publicly accessible vistas of Hong Kong.

Detroit Trilogy, a series of fantastic revisionings of downtown Detroit, published by the Detroit Free Press in the late 1960s.

As well as recent designs for an Eco Village in Nicaragua.

EVENTS:

Saturday, November 9, 7-9 pm

Exhibition opening reception

Friday, November 22, 7:30 pm

Glen Small lecturing at East Los Angeles College

1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez

Monterey Park, CA 91754

Assembly® is currently looking to schedule a screening of Lucia Small’s film My Father, The Genius (http://smallangstfilms.com) during the run of the exhibition, amongst other programs.

Assembly®

2045 S. La Cienega Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90034

http://assemblyof.com

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  • eric chavkin

    Glen, I was in there back then, with my first girlfriend, before I knew of you or of SCI-Arc. or anything like design. I was not interested in Architecture, only thought about science.

    I guess what got me into that ice-cream parlor was the organic super-graphics. or hunger for some wild ice cream. Nevertheless I guess this showed that I always had some attraction to your designs.

    The Chinese take-out place still has some original globe fixtures on the outside

    eric

  • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

    eric,

    an interesting story, attraction of a science follower.

    not a high point in my design world. but i do like the way the silver floor goes up the interior walls. as i said , whether the design was perfect or not really did not matter to the customers, just me. all the terrible signage on the windows was an attempt to get business. without business the parlor was doomed.

    glen

    glen

  • eric chavkin

    I think alot of nice designs get crapped on by bad signage, If given one of of ten choices the uneducated client will fuck it up. Happens every time. Happened to me, happened to Orhan , to Ralph M, happened to everyone, even the best (think of Paul Rudolph). The aftermath of reuse and remodeling tends towards disaster. The original concept is what I go by. And if if stands up to time, most likely because of neglect, or luck.

  • eric chavkin

    RECOVERY A CRITIQUE

    eric chavkin

    I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream

    Now to discuss the design of the Recovery ice cream store, in formal or expressive terms, it is not so bad. Not a cookie cutter but a singular solution that expresses in form and graphics the idea visually, , however limited in budget. A good example I think.

    First, the form. The shapes of the parts tend to be soft and round, like an ice-cream scoop. the generously rounded window surrounds soften the edge, The lighting globes dangle like scoops.

    Now the graphics. The original exterior scheme of chocolate brown mixed with other creamy tints reinforce the flavorful palate. The ice cream mix is carried through in into the interior, flowing all around. Even the choice of seating reiterates the ice cream as flow theme. You say psychedelic, I say sugar-high

    The circle dots don’t really detract as the signage does and fits somewhat , as a shape, mimicking the globes as scoops or maybe just large splots from the gigantic cones. Anyway it doesnt matter. All is well.

    All in all the solution conveys the feel of happy, Which is the metaphor intended for the RECOVERY ROOM a experience designed for persons to relax, chill and take away the hospital environment blues.

  • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

    eric,

    thanks for the positive aspects of the recovery room. a forlorn burst of a flower in a hard edge mess of a city environment.

    how about your take on the assembly show titled the recovery room and the opening night people ?

    glen

  • eric chavkin

    STILL RECOVERING…More on the first Recovery Room

    Glen, Great show, nicely done. Orhan and Assembly exhibited a fine overview, geared towards an art .audience and shows off your talents as draughtsman, illustrator and model maker. This is what an art gallery does best. The blog, your blog, explains the works, sets a backgound story, answers the unasked questions, delivers content. A counterpoint to the figures and forms on the blank walls.

    More on the first RECOVERY ROOM, 30 years earlier. And across the street from the show. Now a Chinese take-out with only words to say what it does or is. No meaning if you cannot read. Now about you.

    Motivated Expression vrs Onomatopoeia

    A hot dog stand in the shape of a hot dog or a hat shop imitating a hat is visual Onomatopoeia. It looks like what it does The visual meaning is literal, like a roadside attraction.

    RECOVERY ROOM one is more like a Motivated Expression. It expresses indirectly the purpose, borrowing visually, some ‘characteristics’ of ice cream: softness, flow, creamy colors, scoop, sparkly graphic sprinkles. In an architectural the store expresses it’s meaning. Not unusual and part of a history of design.

    Saarrinen expressed the visual idea of flight in his airports: TWA and Dulles. Eric Mendelsohn expressed speed in his sketches of automobile factories.

    Its all about conveying meaning to an otherwise nondescript box. Someone said it’s Venturi’s ‘duck’. It is more simple than that. Like someone else said: its just a matter of (visual) semantics. There’s your meaning.

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      eric,

      words words words, the reality of the punch is what it had. a short life and then destroyed.

      architecture is so fleeting, now my nicaragua projects being altered and destroyed. the fountain gone, and the rest altered. next blog.

      glen

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      eric,
      would you please write a review of the recovery room show, needed now while the exhibit is up.
      thanks,
      glen

  • eric chavkin

    words… words… words…. the complaint of forgotten silent screen star Gloria Swanson in the1950 film SUNSET BOULEVARD

    Words and Images are all that is left after we are all gone. How many will actually visit your projects. How many have? Your blog uses ‘words’. The reason why you have an art show is because your projects evoke discussions, more words. Do you really believe that you are a failure because your projects are not built, and only exist as images , and words?

    Nevertheless, I wouldn’t feel that words, interpretation, discussions etc, detract from the project. Words build upon and makes it own object.

  • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

    eric,
    yes, paper architecture with dialogue lives on and experienced by posterity, so true and real.
    glen

  • eric chavkin

    Words and things. An Small observation.

    MELODRAMA OF FAILURE. when the words – yours and others,- describe yourself, the running themes are failure: failed projects, failed opportunities , failed relationships. … A tragedy.

    DREAM OF HOPE when the words describe the architecture / design /objects and things the conversation is another kind, that of admiration of talent. An epiphany for some. A sermon for others. Applause for the projects.

    Your tragedy elicits empathy, and outrage. The dreams express hope.

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      ERIC,

      TALK ABOUT DREAMS OF HOPE,

      WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO WRITE A FULL REVIEW OF THE RECOVERY ROOM SHOW? YOUR FRIEND KEEPS ASKING ME.

      THE ORIGINAL PRESENTION ON THE TROPISPHERE IS NOW ON DISPLAY, STOP BY AND SEE THE TWO 2′X4′ BOARDS. THEY ARE BETTER AT THIS SCALE AND YOU CAN SEE THE DETAILS.

      GLEN

  • eric chavkin

    Still sore and weak from last week but have it down . Not interested in Melodrama as that was covered in the film

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      eric,

      sorry to hear you are still in pain. take care of yourself.

      what does the show have to melodrama ? it is about a limited amount of my work.

      glen

  • eric chavkin

    There is NO melodrama in the works shown. The film takes on melodramtic aspects, you ups and downs as an architect and person. An old saying: Sometimes a ‘ruined’ man becomes a vocation.

    Some Abandoned and half-ruined buildings also have that ‘how did it come to be that way?’ or ‘is it fixable? sort of psychological empathy. The parallels are insightful if not taken literal.

    eric.

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      eric,

      the recovery show was not about my life, but about significant projects in my work.

      hardly needing melodrama to convey the message. write about the work, or is that too simple to discuss? you seeing that so many times that the freshness of ideas is old hat. put yourself in the viewers eyes, like the students seeing all this stuff for the first time.

      the movie provided melodrama, many people including architects blinded by the divorce issues, but for better or worse it introduced the general public to my work.

      glen

  • eric chavkin

    So you understand the difference. The film was about you. The blog is about you and the work. The show at Assembly is about the work. All different aspects.