Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

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?

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This is a tale about a blob in a park. Or, this is a tale about a blob in a park with a bridge. Or the tale of a blob in a park, a bridge, and a tower designed by LA’s most famous architect. Or, it’s the tale about a city and a blob in a park, a bridge, a tower, a lacklustre sphere, and a subway stop. It’s a cautionary tale.

In late June the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) releasedPeter Zumthor’s revised design for its new museum buildingHis earlier preliminary design, a self-described “black flower” raised some 30 feet above the ground on oversized glass footings, oozed a wee too close to the La Brea Tar Pits that inspired its undulating form. Leadership at the Page Museum, which actively uses the pits for research, expressed concern and asked Zumthor to back off. Squeezed in and smooched out, the new Schmoo-like scheme maintains the approximately 400,000 square feet required to display museum’s extensive collection, but it does so by stretching across Wilshire Boulevard to a piece of property that is currently a LACMA parking lot. Read More …

Ever since the Getty’s initiative Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. kicked off in April and continued all spring and summer with nearly a dozen exhibitions and dozens more programs and events across Los Angeles institutions, there’s been a conversational buzz. At openings, on panel discussions, and in reviews those murmurs have been less about celebrating any particularly iconic buildings in the city and more about the dialogues, blurred boundaries, and differences between art and architecture. Read More …