Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

An anachronistic exoskeleton design first conceived in 1999, resurrected in 2006, and now looming over the Expo line, it’s impossible to look at the baroquely formalist (W)rapper tower without gagging on certain circumstances surrounding its rise: an evaporating market for any office space much less the lofty double- and triple-height ceilings on offer and ERIC OWEN MOSS’s tenure as SCI-Arc director and the inflated high six-figure salary he pocketed. (W)rapper encapsulates architecture not as autonomous form but as a succubus that extracts everything from tuition to natural resources.

SCI-Arc prides itself on being a restive institution. The school routinely claims edginess, shadow-boxing disciplinary and professional boundaries. So, unsurprisingly, when asked to look back on a 40-year history as part of The Getty’s initiative “Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in LA”, SCI-Arc chose a heretical mantle. A Confederacy of Heretics: The Architecture Gallery, Venice, 1979″, curated by Todd Gannon, Ewan Branda, and Andrew Zago, zeroes in on a 9-week period in autumn 1979 when eleven architects exhibited in a makeshift gallery that popped up in Thom Mayne’s house. The curators unearthed contents of The Architecture Gallery shows through a series of reviews written by then Los Angeles Times architecture critic, John Dreyfuss.

Each practitioner — some more renegade, some more established — upped the ante for the next in the series with an exhibition and accompanying lecture at SCI-Arc’s Berkeley Street campus (all available for viewing at the SCI-Arc Video Archive). The participant list includes some of LA’s most notable figures as well as those for whom the Pritzker remains out of reach: Eugene Kupper, Roland Coate Jr., Frederick Fisher, Frank Dimster, Frank Gehry, Peter de Bretteville, Morphosis (Thom Mayne and Michael Rotondi), Studio Works (Craig Hodgetts and Robert Mangurian), and Eric Owen Moss. Artist-architect Coy Howard delivered an opening salvo. At the time, each one of these men was prickly with ambition; a gallery show was the opportunity to prove their worth in the LA scene. Read More …