Los-Angeles based architect Michael Maltzan may be best known for his multiple residential projects with the Skid Row Housing Trust, and the longer-than-the-Empire-State-Building-is-tall residential mixed user, One Santa Fe. But Maltzan’s office is also designing Los Angeles’ new Sixth Street Viaduct, a since-demolished infrastructural icon of the city that bridged the Los Angeles River between downtown and Boyle Heights.
Michael shares his relationship with the growing identity of downtown Los Angeles, and his perspective on the style of urbanism arising on LA’s westside in the “Silicon Beach” neighborhood of Playa Vista. We also discuss the effect of China’s ban on “weird” architecture for LA-architects practicing there.
This episode originally aired on March 14, 2016.
Design/Build with Jersey Devil: A Handbook for Education and Practice is a wonderful mixture of history, interviews, experiments and how-to’s, all focused around the design/build pedagogy and practice of its 1970s pioneers, Jersey Devil. Author Charlie Hailey, who is also an architecture professor at the University of Florida, spoke with me about Jersey Devil's beginnings at Princeton University, and the implications of design/build pedagogy for today’s academic climate.
Special thanks to Princeton Architectural Press for helping coordinate this interview.
This episode's title is a reference to architect and writer Michael Sorkin's description of the firm: Jersey Devil “put the funk back in functionalism".
In the spring of 2015, we ran a Working Out of the Box feature with Abraham Burickson, the practicing architect who founded Odyssey Works—a theater company that produces performances for an audience of one, often lasting days. Participants are extensively researched and the performances are rigorously planned, so that the whole thing unfolds before them spontaneously, as they move about the world.
To Burickson, theater and architecture are one and the same—their objective is to immerse the audience, and make them feel something. And in preparation for this month’s theme of Games, it's impossible not to see Odyssey Works' performances in the same genre of experience: game-like interventions that change the way we experience the built environment.
The following interview is our conversation from February of 2015, edited for time and clarity.
Dora Epstein Jones is the newly minted executive director of the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles. With a doctorate in Architectural History, Theory and Criticism from UCLA, Epstein Jones came to A+D after nearly 15 years at SCI-Arc, where she led the coordination of humanities and theory courses, and served as the founding coordinator of the General Studies program.
Now situated in L.A.’s booming Arts District, A+D is neighbor to downtown’s own museum renaissance, not to mention the SCI-Arc campus. In our interview, Epstein Jones imagines how A+D could become the L.A version of Storefront, while working to keep it accessible to the local community.
Architect Jose Sanchez is the co-creator of Block'hood, a city-building computer game that runs on real city data. Under his practice, plethora-project (covering architecture and indie game development), he focuses on how play can initiate design practice.
In Block’hood, players build cities out of 80 preset block types, and are rewarded for thinking “ecologically” and creating diverse cities. Sanchez wanted the game to be accessible to everyone, not just urban planners or architects, and to ultimately be both a learning tool and fun in its own right. Sanchez's interview is part of our special August focus on Games.