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!

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