Monday, March 12, 2007

Nicolai Ouroussoff Still Doesn't Know Squat About Los Angeles - Or Architecture!

In tomorrow's New York Times, architecture critic Nocolai Ouroussoff writes a not completely dumb article about Michael Maltzan's latest project on LA's Skid Row. Still, many of his rhetorical excesses and speculations make me wonder if he's even seen the same excellent building I have been in. Even worse are his mindless attempts at social commentary - the worst example being comparing the homeless with the 'mindless zombies" of a George A. Romero movie

But - to begin - we'll start with the first few paragraphs where he gets things right.

March 13, 2007
Architecture Review
Defying the Odds on a Project in Skid Row

LOS ANGELES — It’s a short trip from the excesses of Beverly Hills to the despair of skid row. Few architects bother to make it.

Michael Maltzan is an exception. Long a darling of wealthy art world patrons, he is now laboring on the most extravagant project of his career: a 28,000-square-foot glass house for the former Hollywood powerbroker Michael Ovitz. But since opening his office here in 1995, Mr. Maltzan has also devoted part of his creative energy to a string of projects in a derelict section of downtown Los Angeles that has become one of the nation’s most notorious homeless encampments.

His first solo project there, Inner-City Arts, completed in 1995 and expanded in 2002, was an entrancing enclave of sculptured stucco-clad buildings — a theater, library, teaching spaces and ceramics studios — for after-school arts programs at the edge of skid row. Now, he has returned with two new housing complexes for the area: a recently completed 89-unit project for the chronically homeless and mentally ill and a 100-unit apartment complex for the homeless elderly and physically disabled that is scheduled to break ground this summer.

And, then, to close, as always, an example of how he just has to hang himself with a major factual blunder that makes one question his knowledge of everything he writes about.

The building’s general layout is a loose interpretation of the Spanish-style courtyard apartment buildings that have been a staple of Los Angeles architecture since the late 19th century.

Well, Spanish-styled courtyard apartment buildings have been a staple of Los Angeles architecture, particularly back in the 1920's and 1930's. And there are even some dating from the WW I era and in the many books and articles written on the subject I have found exactly ... one... example from the 1910 era.

But as for even... one ... from the 19th century - much less it being a staple of late 19th Century Los Angeles architecture?

Nope. Not even one.

No comments: