LA’s New Avant-garde, the Unbuilders: GOOD LA and CicLAvia

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Art Tower by architect Eric Owen Moss The current editor of the Architectural Review, a London-based architectural magazine (that first sent me to LA, back in 1987) called me this morning asking me for the buzz on the latest project, Samitaur Tower (left) in the Hayden Tract by onetime avant-gardist, now SCI-Arc head, architect Eric Owen Moss. The tower is terrific, I told him, and will be even more fun when the promised signage,  displaying information and art, appears on its screens.

But in truth, when it comes to buzz in LA, people interested in our cityscape seem to be more preoccupied right now with the non-building part of the built environment; namely, biking, walking, the burgeoning Expo Line, street art, food trucks, urban gardening, etc.; in sum, the multiple ways in which Angelenos are adapting the region, altering in spontaneous and informal ways the car-centric, concrete megalopolis once described — by a former Editor of the Architectural Review, Reyner Banham — as “Autopia.”

<!-- missing image -->Evidence of this can be found in abundance this weekend when some of the streets from Vermont and Melrose through downtown to Boyle Heights close to traffic Sunday to make way for pedestrians and bicyclists on LA’s second CicLAvia; and, in a marathon from Friday through Sunday, the GOOD LA Launch Weekend.

The three-day bonanza of panels and parties at GOOD LA’s launch starts Friday evening with Steal This Idea, featuring a presentation of eight ideas from eight local designers for solving such problems as homelessness and obesity. On Sunday, the abovementioned Reyner Banham gets a look-in when his classic book, Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies will be discussed by LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne and others, at the Good Book club taking place at a cicLAvia pitstop: The 7th Street overpass over the 110 freeway, in downtown.

<!-- missing image -->The purpose of the event, says Alissa Walker, left, the bionic impressario-come DnA associate producer-come GOOD editor-come gifted writer for multiple outlets, is to celebrate “the publication of the Los Angeles issue of our magazine, and the launch of GOOD LA, a new local community for Los Angeles residents. So we’re throwing a party to honor our hometown and the people who make it work (that’s you!).”

PS. Eric Owen Moss’s building, above, will soon enjoy a prime location in the emerging, less car-centric LA; it will be visible from the Expo Line from downtown to Culver City, which is now starting slow speed tests. Also, exciting news from SCI-Arc is that the school is purchasing its quarter-mile long former freight building in Little Tokyo, guaranteeing that the school will remain a key player in the downtown arts district for a long time to come.