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.
SUPER GRAPHICS IN THE URBAN CLUTTER, SANTA MONICA FREEWAY IN BACKGROUND.
THE ORIGINAL DESIGN THAT DID A COLOR CHANGE AND TACKY ADD ONS BY CLIENT
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.
A FUN PLACE TO HANG OUT
THE COOL CUSTOMERS, THE HOSPITAL TRAFFIC NEVER SHOWED UP.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2045 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034