Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

Read an interview with Mimi in the Los Angeles Times.

Feature in Dwell Magazine.

A presentation of micro-scaled contemporary residences that demonstrate domesticity can be both compact and beautiful. How we live in cities—smaller, denser, smarter—is at the heart of Tiny Houses in the City. Urban areas across the globe are experiencing a renaissance, with once-forgotten downtowns and neighborhoods becoming increasingly popular for redevelopment. This book looks at the tiny house movement through the lens of metropolitan life. Tiny Houses in the City features an international collection of more than thirty homes that exemplify compact living at its best. The houses, apartments, and multifamily buildings and developments included make great architecture out of challenging locations and narrow sites. Focusing on dwelling spaces all under 1,000 square feet, Tiny Houses in the City illustrates strategies for building tiny in urban areas that include urban infill, adaptive reuse, transforming and flexible living spaces, and micro-unit buildings. The projects range from a 344-square-foot studio apartment in Hong Kong with movable walls, transformable furniture, and hidden storage that can be configured into twenty-four unique scenarios in a single space, to a townhouse-like London residence built in an old alley between two stately homes. Many of the residences chronicled in Tiny Houses in the City are indeed unique in design, but their economical size and ingenious interior spaces are the epitome of practicality and illustrate an acute understanding of compact living and its potential for the urban realm.

While putting the finishing touches on this combined west and southwest issue, AN received word of the passing of Edward Soja. According to colleagues, he had been ill for some time but I was unprepared for the news and was left mulling the death of one of Los Angeles’s critical voices at a time when questions of equity and identity— topics that he often wrote about—still need addressing.

A professor emeritus at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, Soja was considered part of the L.A. School, a group that also includes Mike Davis. His 1989 book, Postmodern Geographies, came with the chunky academic subtitle “The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory,” yet its ideas influenced architects and students well into the 1990s. For my generation, the use of “deconstruction” by Soja and others opened up new ways to understand, write about, and practice in the city. Read More …

A collaboration between Mimi Zeiger and Neil Donnelly

#platform is both a means of production and a place to take a stand.

#platform project is a collaborative publication and act of collective criticism.

#platform’s physical documents navigate back into the city, lingering as messages.

For the past four years, participants in the School of Visual Arts Summer Design Writing and Research Intensive in New York have used Twitter to document, research, and critique the city. The social media platform acts as a productive constraint, distilling individual observations and narratives into a public, digital text. Read More …

The Petersen Automotive Museum only reopened yesterday, but connoisseurs of Wilshire Boulevard architecture have been jawing about the eye-popping facade for months. Ever since a carapace of red steel ribbons started to appear, bending around the corner of Fairfax and arcing over the roof of the former Seibu department store, the structure designed by Kohn Pederson Fox has drawn pointed criticism.

Garbage. Obnoxious. Hideous. The Edsel of architecture. Facadism.

And ever since red LED lights were installed along the edge of each ribbon, turning every component of the facade into an undercarriage worthy of a Vin Diesel vehicle, we can add “traffic hazard” to the list. But is it enough to point out the offensive and offer revved up reproach – a model of critique custom-made for our digital lives? After the retorts cool, the museum opens, and we have to live with the eyesore, one wonders if KFP’s design offers any lessons for our architectural now?

Read More …

Art Center College of Design / Media Design Practices
Curators: Tim Durfee and Mimi Zeiger

2015 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture: Re-Living The City
Former Dacheng Flour Factory & 8# Warehouse, Shenzhen

Winner of UABB Bronze Dragon award.

Now, There: Scenes from the Post-Geographic City unpacks the practices, rituals, and epistemologies that traditionally delimit the understanding of the city in terms of geographic, material, and economic parameters. Now, more than ever, urban and digital realms are inextricably linked. This exhibition presents a selection of screen-based works, objects, and texts that develop, explore, and visualize a city that is not tied to any physical locality. Now, There, however, understands this resulting networked city a place in its own right, albeit one shaped by experiences contingent on media and devices, flows of data, and the demands of global technology. As such, it too is open to a retroactive assessment of what is now and where is there.

In looking at what we call Scenes from the Post-Geographic City, our perspective is neither dystopian nor boosterish. We are not interested in sci-fi moralizing or video game nihilism. Rather, we take an optimistic view of this emergent urban condition and material culture—understanding that the effects of so much intimidating change can nevertheless be explored and appreciated—perhaps co-opted—with curiosity and humor in a way that designers and architects and filmmakers have been occasionally adept at in the past.

Now, There includes works by Besler & Sons, Walton Chu, Tim Durfee and Ben Hooker (with Jenny Rodenhouse), John Szot Studio, m-a-u-s-e-r, and Metahaven, as well as texts by Joanne McNeil, Enrique Ramirez, and Therese Tierney.

To celebrate the closing of the exhibition “Shelter” at the Architecture + Design Museum, on curators Sam Lubell and Danielle Rago hosted two panel discussions with the featured architects, focusing on the sites that serve as the exhibition’s organizing principles: the Metro subway extension in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the stretch of the LA River running through the city proper. Both sites embody much of what is affecting Los Angeles’ changing urbanism – ongoing drought, invigorated public transportation, gentrification, and increasing density.

Mimi Zeiger, West Coast Editor of The Architect’s Newspaper moderated the panel on the River, with Jimenez Lai (Bureau Spectacular), Elizabeth Timme (LA-Más), and Lorcan O’Herlihy (Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects), and Amelia Taylor-Hochberg moderated the panel on Metro, with Jennifer Marmon (PAR), Bob Dornberger (wHY), and Priscilla Fraser (senior architect at LACMA).

Archinect Sessions, featuring a live recording of the closing panel discussion.

The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion (Actar, 2015) is a forthcoming encyclopedia of tools—or what we call “weapons”—used by architects, planners, policy-makers, developers, real estate brokers, ac/vists, and other urban actors in the United States use to restrict or increase access to urban space. The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion inventories these weapons, examines how they have been used, and speculates about how they might be deployed (or re/red) to make more open ci/es in which more people feel welcome in more spaces, be they “exclusive” communi/es with good schools, good jobs, and stable property values, or the everyday public spaces—the parks, sidewalks, and street corners— within those communi/es.

In this session, we will look examine a handful of weapons of exclusion opera/ng in contemporary Los Angeles, from superfluous curb cuts that prevent people from parking near the beach, to fake “parks” built to evict sex offenders from their homes (California law prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of parks or schools), to communicate care facili/es ordinances that outlaw sober-living facili/es homes by outlawing mul/ple lease agreements, to gerrymandering schemes that poli/cally neutralize communi/es and their interests.

Access Wars
Daniel D’Oca, Interboro Partners, Brooklyn, NY

Community Designing Change: Active Methods of Community Engagement to Reshape a More Equitable Built Environment
Theresa Hwang, Woodbury University

Trailblazing Public Space
Therese Kelly, Therese Kelly Design / Los Angeles Urban Rangers

Aesthetics and the People
Mimi Zeiger, Architects Newspaper and Los Angles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design

Tourism for the 99%
Laura Pulido, University of Southern California

If the West Coast has a 2015 tag line—something to be read in a deep voice at the end of a movie trailer or epitaphically carved in granite—it’s certainly Oscar Wilde: “To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.”

Our nature is certainly unruly—a parched region bracing for Santa Ana winds, El Niño, and earthquakes—but there’s nothing wild about Wilde’s sentiments. Susan Sontag used the line (quoted from the playwright’s An Ideal Husband) in her pivotal essay, 1964 “Notes on Camp,” to underscore the artifice, effort, and exaggeration required to approximate something authentic. In Los Angeles, we have a very loose relationship to what is natural or genuine. Reyner Banham clearly had his tongue lodged firmly in his cheek when he famously wrote “I learned to drive in order to read Los Angeles in the original,” as he searched out the city’s ecologies. Read More …

There is a letter in a drawer in Chicago’s Graham Foundation library; a sheet of Orange Coast College stationary dated 8 April 1980. The letter is from artist Barbara Kasten to Florence Henri, a photographer (then in her late 80s and living in Paris) who had been contemporary with many avants of early 20th-century Europe: Jean Arp, Man Ray, and László Moholy-Nagy, who she studied under at the Bauhaus. In it, Kasten asks to visit Henri and interview her as part of NEA-funded project to videotape six female photographers who had made “major contributions in the field” – figures whose work was troublingly dropping out of the historical narrative. Read More …

The McMurtry Art & Art History Building opened on the Stanford University campus in early October. The 100,000 square-foot building is the second of three Diller Scofidio + Renfro designs to open on the West Coast. Squeezed between the red carpet opening of The Broad in September and the ribbon cutting for the Berkeley Art Museum early next year, the McMurtry is not a museum, but instead is dedicated to a pair programmatic twins: fine art and art history. Read More …