Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

MCHAP: The Americas brings together leading architects and academics in a dialogue exploring the current state of architecture throughout the Americas and analyzes themes raised by the seven finalist projects (designed by Herzog & de Meuron, Álvaro Siza, Steven Holl Architects, OMA/ LMN – Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus, Smiljan Radić, Cristián Undurraga, Rafael Iglesia) from the inaugural Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize recognizing the best built works in the Americas from 2000 through 2013.

Edited by Fabrizio Gallanti,the book includes contributions from the inaugural MCHAP jury (IITAC Dean Wiel Arets, Kenneth Frampton, Jorge Francisco Liernur, Dominique Perrault, Sarah Whiting) as well as essays by Fabrizio Gallanti, Pedro Alonso, Luis Castañeda, Felipe Correa, Pier Paolo Tamburelli, Horacio Torrent, Molly Wright Steenson, Mimi Zeiger.

PR logistics sometimes brings together strange bedfellows. This was the case in Lisbon, where the opening of the nearly complete Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT), designed by British architect Amanda Levete, was timed to coincide with the opening of the Lisbon Architecture Triennale.

One opening presented a sparkling new kunsthalle with an interdisciplinary curatorial mission, while the other offered an inward-looking meditation on architecture, representation and authorship. Taken together, they represent an ongoing struggle to define architectural value to practitioners and the public alike. Read More …

In 1990, several years before the San Francisco Museum of Art (SFMOMA) would move into its new building on Third Street, William Gibson wrote the short story “Skinner’s Room” for the architecture exhibition Visionary San Francisco. Commissioned by the museum’s first architecture and design curator Paolo Polledri, Gibson’s sci-fi dystopia depicted the city’s homeless population squatting on a defunct Bay Bridge while wealthy urbanites made their homes in 60-storey solar-powered towers.

Accompanying the text were illustrations by Los Angeles-based architects Hodgetts + Fung — sketches that made logic out of Gibson’s high-tech visions of a shanty town lodged in the bridge’s trusses and girders. Read More …

Letters to the Mayor: Lisbon presents a collection of letters written by architects to Fernando Medina, bringing pressing issues and new ideas to the desk of Lisbon’s newly elected mayor.

Letters to the Mayor: Lisbon takes place as part of the Lisbon Architecture Triennale (4e), and is the 12th edition of Letters to the Mayor, a project initiated by Storefront for Art and Architecture in 2014.

This project invites architects to write letters to their mayors, initiating a dialogue between those who represent a city and those that build it. International iterations, organized in partnership with local institutions and individuals, bring the project to cities and towns across the globe. Each of the iterations share three common elements: an exhibition of letters addressed to the mayor, a Mayoral Desk and Architect’s Table, and a wallpaper that reflects ideas and issues unique to each city. The desk and table, as well as the wallpaper, are designed by local architects, artists, and designers, and reflect upon the role of the architect in the construction of the future of the contemporary city.

Letters to the Mayor: Lisbon is curated by Ivo Poças Martins. Read More …

A couple months ago a friend, and storyteller, who lives in an apartment overlooking the Silver Lake Reservoir gazed out his window and then quipped on social media: “It’s like the DMZ.” As joggers ran circles around the lake, backhoes performed a mysterious choreography in the dry lake. The fence that separates pedestrians from what used to be drinking water never looked so ominous.

The empty basin triggers fears as some homeowners worry about how it might impact property values and other neighbors simply miss the view. And for everyone who enjoys walking or driving around the reservoir complex, one big question arises: When will it be refilled? Read More …

In era of global architects and rapidly-consumed online media, what is the contemporary role of architectural criticism and the design critic? How does a critic negotiate the sometimes obscure territory of discipline-specific issues or vocabularies and bring larger awareness of design to the public and, conversely, how do contemporary social issues impact the profession? Through discussion and readings of her personal and collaborative work, Zeiger explores models of alternative writing practices, including collective, performance-based, and slow criticisms.


Brasília is a living museum for monuments and architecture,” says photographer Daniel Shea, who recently traveled from his home in New York City to central Brazilto shoot the iconic modernist city. “The buildings retain their function, but the city is really a historical site.”

From the air, Brasília looks like a bird or an airplane—a city poised to take flight into the future. It was designed and built to do just that. In the late 1950s, Brazilian president Juscelino Kubitschek envisioned a new federal capital in the country’s rural interior, one that would leave behind the colonial baggage of the old capital, Rio de Janeiro. He held a competition, and an international jury selected Brazil’s brightest talents to conceive not just individual buildings, but the workings of an entire city. His forward-looking utopian dream was inaugurated in 1960, and today Brasília is known as an unusually intact time capsule of what we used to think of as the future.  Read More …

As rents increase and household income stagnates, more people are turning to micro-living as an alternative to pricier options. On Tuesday, June 28, at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown L.A., KPCC reporter Josie Huang met with a panel of experts to discuss the viability of micro-units as a response to L.A.’s affordable housing crisis. Panelists discussed the recent trend in the development of micro-units – typically apartments that are 400 square feet or smaller. Topics covered included the affordability and sustainability of the units, their impact on the racial and socioeconomic composition of neighborhoods, and the cultural and economic trends whose pressures they reflect. Read More …

Join us in discussing alternative models of urbanism and how public realm investments can support culture and build community. The recently completed ‘Hollywood Pop!’ will serve as as a starting point for our discussion. A yearlong park installation funded by the Sunset & Vine Business Improvement District, the project was designed and built by LA-Más to explore divergent approaches to providing public amenities in the private realm.

Our diverse panel represents a wide range of voices – urban advocates, bureaucrats, designers, critics, and Hollywood business stakeholders. Our discussion will focus on the potential of public-private partnerships and small scale investments that can not only blur traditional urban boundaries, but also provide a model for investment and impact at the neighborhood scale.

This discussion features Nat Gale (Los Angeles Department of Transportation), Elizabeth Timme (LA-Más), Daveed Kapoor (utopiad.org), Mimi Zeiger (critic), Matthew Severson (Hollywood Property Owners Alliance), with facilitation by Helen Leung (LA-Más).

What is disruption, anyway? The term has been cast as a tech market tactic, a cultural trope, and a belief system of near-theological proportions. In an evening of performances and provocations, we considered many definitions of this watchword. Presenters offered perspectives of radical change ranging from activism and technology to equity and design:

Participants: It’s Showtime NYC subway dancers; Kimberly Drew, @museummammy and associate online community producer, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Riley Hooker, editor, Façadomy; E. Tammy Kim, editorial staffer, The New Yorker, Jonathan Lee, design manager/lead, Google Design; Oscar Nuñez, program coordinator, Center for Urban Pedagogy; members of Picture the Homeless; Steven Thrasher, U.S. writer-at-large, The Guardian; and critic, editor, and curator Mimi Zeiger