Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

Almost every Angelino has a dingbat story. It might be a tale of love and loss in a sixties-era apartment complex or a joke about a friend who lived in stucco box in West L.A. with “stoner” scrawled across the façade in fancy script. Dignbats are such a common multifamily building type that we almost forget about them, even though they crop up everywhere across the Los Angeles basin. They are neighborhood infill noted by such keen observers of the built environment as Ed Ruscha and architecture historian Reyner Banham but rarely celebrated. 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?

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On a hot October evening I stood on the front walk of Greene and Greene’s Gamble House in Pasadena and watched a puppet crane poke his beak through the center of what can only be described as an Arts and Crafts vortex. A nearly 30-foot-wide sculpture hung from the street façade, patterned in a hallucinogenic, Morris-style rose motif. The crane and rose are, of course, the Gamble family crest. Its author, artist Patrick Ballard, calls it The Swirling Mess Below the Sleeping Porch Soon Solidified into a Crest of Phantasmagoric Weight that Creaks Between the Doors, the Floors, and a Form that Could Never Be a House Again. Read More …