Thursday, August 30, 2007

We like to ride our bikes

And we'd like to keep it that way. Apparently the acreage contained within the gates of Park La Brea is safer than the rest of the surrounding city in terms of violent crimes. BUT when it comes to petty theivery, PLB's got some nasty stats.

Thanks to the LAPD's fun and interactive police blotter, and LA Life's slightly more comprehensive crime tally, we can monitor just how good a chance we stand of loosing our beloved Electra Townies. Time to invest in a good lock.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What We Know and What We’re Looking Forward To.

Alexander Garvin called Park La Brea, “A pallid copy of Corbusier’s City of Tomorrow.” Reyner Banham has called the entire area of the Miracle Mile and Park LaBrea, “Conversion urbanism, a linear motorized downtown.” And in Architecture of Fear, Kevin Sites described Park La Brea “like a film studio back lot with children playing on green lawns and suburban-style streets,” but from farther away the towers seem to him like, “giant Stonehenges, gathered together in a protective magic circle.”

Architecture writers love theatrics.

Our friends who’ve lived in PLB say it’s “nice,” “okay.” And “parking sucks.” They tell us we’re going to “really feel like socialists.” And “it’s only a year.”

We’ve only been inside twice now, but we know this much: In 1948 the Metropolitan Life Insurance group, acting as developers, completed construction of 4,000 units across the grounds of the original 160 acres of land PLB still owns today. Between Fairfax and Cochran, with 3rd street bordering on the North side and 6th street on the South side, Park La Brea is currently home to something like 11,000 residents. And for you conspiracy theorists out there, the street layout was created in a Masonic pattern as a reference to the Masonic heritage of the Met Life founders (i.e. the Sacred Order of the Stonecutters). After being labeled “the projects” in L.A.’s ghetto years (late 70s to early 80s), the complex was refurbished in the early 1990s when they added the burnt orange paint to everything and once again the PLB drew aspiring actors and other new-to-L.A.ers of the non-entertainment industry variety.

The Architects, Gordon Kaufman and J.E. Stanton, (credited with other off-the-map L.A. institutional buildings like USC’s student health center, UCLA’s Young Hall and the Lincoln Heights Jail, which we love by the way), were in fact highly influenced by the “City of Tomorrow” themes of European Modernism. Park La Brea was envisioned as a new model for living – dense and streamlined in its verticality, allowing for plenty of light and open recreational space on the ground below. It remains the largest modern housing community West of the Mississippi.

We’re expecting our neighbors to be a Petri dish of L.A. demographics – Korean and Russian immigrant families (since PLB has proximities to both Koreatown and east West Hollywood’s Little Ukraine), budding actor/dancer/American Idol types (just dropped at the Greyhound station), elderly folks, single middle-aged folks, old hippies, Central American immigrants, single Moms looking for a good school district and maybe some white yuppie/hipster couples like us? These are just a few premonitions; please check back to see if any of this is true.

P.S. We’ve been approved by the leasing office!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hi: an Introduction and an Explanation

My name is Sally. I am fortunate because I live in a single family home on a bucolic tree-lined street in West Los Angeles – owned by my partner, Chip. For those who aren’t living in Southern California or any other region of the country with an inflated housing market, having a home to live in (and to own as an investment) in Los Angeles is a coveted, highly revered and envy-inducing thing. Home ownership in L.A. is a thing that well-earning professionals strive for and sometimes never achieve. We too would be one of these house-less couples if it were not for Chip’s generous family. With that said, we have a home to upkeep and now, it all needs updating. Long story short, we’re doing major renovations and we can’t live in the house while the roof is off and the walls become Swiss cheese. We need a place to live for one year.

Enter Park LaBrea: The West coast’s canonical, most famously analyzed and well-documented planned community, right in the heart of Hollywood. What architecture and urbanism connoisseur wouldn’t jump at the chance to live in tinsel town’s own rendition of Corbusier’s utopian plan? Well, most wouldn't jump probably. But I’m game. I am an architect and urban designer at a firm in L.A., Chip is in the movie business and is a professor of the media arts at a University in the area. We’re both from L.A. and know the city well, having lived in various areas of it including Silverlake, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Pasadena, Venice, Mount Washington. We also have strong opinions and worries regarding L.A.’s future, but we ultimately feel very tied to the city and nostalgic about it at the same time. So please check back periodically to see how we’re doing. We’re putting ourselves under the microscope for you urban database! And we’re looking forward to spending ONE YEAR ON THE INSIDE with you.

Wish us luck, Sally and Chip