Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

Los Angeles, being the inclusive city that it is, developed in opposed directions at the same time: the downtowns, Wilshire Boulevards, and Century Cities grew along late modern lines, while the peripheries went their own heteromorphic way. This sixties split established what has now became two architectural codes: Mies of the classes, and hetero-architecture for the masses.”- Charles Jencks, 1996.

The collision of Real Estate speculation and political friction makes Los Angeles one of the most volatile development arenas in modern urbanism. Yet, after a half-century of under-building and spot zoning, an infusion of speculative capital, coupled with a dearth of available land, is driving Los Angeles to grow up, instead of out. Present debates about homelessness, housing affordability, and urban density suggest that L.A. could embrace vertical density in a decidedly different fashion than Chicago or Manhattan- cities which adopted skyscraper development primarily as a response to technological innovation or financial speculation. While L.A.’s metropolitan context largely consists of what architectural theorist Charles Jencks once referred to as “heteromorphic architecture,” its growth upward signals the potential to give birth to a new urban form of spatial democracy, eschewing a city of iconic towers in favor of sectional and programmatic complexity instead.

Join us for a Panel Discussion centered on L.A.’s future density led by Archinect’s Amelia Taylor-Hochberg and featuring architects Scott Johnson, Jimenez Lai, John Southern, Peter Zellner, and journalist Mimi Zeiger.

The panel coincides with John Southern’s exhibition, Hot on the Heels of Love: Sensational Speculations– Now on view at the Jai&Jai Gallery.

On Saturday, October 22, from 11am-3pm, the Architecture Lobby will host a “Think-In” at UCLA, where invited panelists and a professional facilitator will critically debate and discuss topics most integral to the aims of the Architecture Lobby, including: architecture labor and labor rights, the pros/cons of professionalization, the perceptions of architects within the media, and emerging pedagogical models. The Think-In is free and open to the public, and all interested students, academics, or practitioners are strongly encouraged to join the discussion.

Frances Anderton, KCRW (DnA, Design and Architecture)
Wil Carson, 64North, UCLA
Peggy Deamer, Yale University and The Architecture Lobby
Jia Gu, Materials & Applications, The Architecture Lobby
Tia Koonse, UCLA Labor Center
Elizabeth Timme, LA-Más
Mimi Zeiger, critic and curator, Art Center College of Design, The Architecture Lobby
Peter Zellner, ZELLNERandCompany, USC, Free School of Architecture
Facilitator: Nancy Alexander

It’s easy to picture Philip Johnson seated in his regular booth in the Grill Room at the Four Seasons; his back to the windows, his bespectacled eyes on the door, he’s confident and at the top of his game as he presides over a room of his own design.

Now imagine him jittery and hesitant in a different room on a different coast. It’s the late 1950s and, faced with a University of California, Berkeley researcher trying to uncover the secrets to his creativity, Johnson uses his ample verbal and social gifts to upend the interview. In a typed report, the researcher would later write, “He showed many classic features of the manic: self-centered, irritable, jumpy, flight of ideas, arrogance, use of humor to defend against serious consideration of anxiety-producing topics.” Read More …

Architect Peter Zellner stands in the entry foyer of the house his firm ZELLNERPLUS has just finished in Tijuana. Named Casa Anaya, the house is perched on the edge of a hill, and the windows offer a panorama of the border city below, Otay Mesa in the near distance, and the mountain ranges in southeastern Santa Diego County beyond. But Zellner has his back to the view. His phone is out, and he’s filming a tiny waterspout that keeps forming spontaneously in the fountain between the two wings of the building. Over and over the funnel-shaped vortex develops and, like magic, dances for a second as the wind blows off the cul-de-sac, then disappears. Read More …

t a time when the words “big box” are spat out as insult of overconsumption, Zellnerplus’s recent project, the Matthew Marks Gallery in West Hollywood, is a windowless medium-sized. Architect Peter Zellner designed a 3,000 square foot study in restraint. A single (albeit elongated) glass door opens onto two white-walled galleries lit by a deceivingly simple grid of skylights, six rectangular apertures centered in the larger space. The venue opened its West Coast outpost in late January with the exhibition Ellsworth Kelly: Los Angeles, a collection of the 88-year old artist’s spare geometries. Read More …

On Feb. 19, President Barack Obama signed an order establishing the White House Office of Urban Affairs. First announced just days after the historic U.S. election last November, the office—which will be headed by Bronx Borough president Adolfo Carrión Jr., who has a master’s in urban planning and spent three years in the New York City Department of City Planning—will serve as a bridge between federal dollars and the programs that affect metropolitan America. Among other pursuits, its mandate covers community development, housing, job creation, manufacturing innovation, sustainable technologies, and infrastructure. Read More …