Michael Maltzan is a fascinating Silver Lake-based architect whose work spans the extremes of building production — luxury houses for movie agents (Michael Ovitz) and artists (Lari Pittman) at one end; the homeless of downtown…
Michael Maltzan is a fascinating Silver Lake-based architect whose work spans the extremes of building production — luxury houses for movie agents (Michael Ovitz) and artists (Lari Pittman) at one end; the homeless of downtown Los Angeles (Skid Row housing) and underprivileged school kids at the other (Inner City Arts). Michael, who left the East Coast behind in the late 1980s for LA’s liberating architectural climate, was deeply affected, like many architects at that time, by the Rodney King riots of 1992, and his work has become increasingly socially conscious and concerned with the urban realm.
But at the same time his projects have an iconic quality, fusing formal experimentation (cultivated while working early in his career as project designer for Frank Gehry) with clarity and mathematical elegance. These dual preoccupations are exemplified in his design for the Replacement 6th Street Viaduct, conceived in collaboration with Ted Zoli of HNTB, with leaping, listing arches and integration with public space that promise architectural drama as well as transformation for that stretch of the LA River and the Boyle Heights neighborhood. You may notice an echo of this image on this page: we picked this shot of the bridge design as background for the newly designed DnA web site, believing it encapsulated the LA-loving, forward-looking spirit of DnA (Credit: “City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Engineering – HNTB Corporation/Michael Maltzan Architecture, Inc.”).
Perhaps though the dancing arches also reflect a love of rhythm. Michael recently came to KCRW and joined Anthony Valadez as a Guest DJ. Explaining what moved him about musicians as diverse as The Talking Heads, PJ Harvey and Glen Campbell, he told Anthony, “I think architecture is an amalgam of a set of different influences. And as an architect I think one of the most important things is to just constantly try to be in tune with that. It has a long history in that you depend on when you’re thinking about designing a building, but it also relates to the time that we’re in and I think architecture at it’s very best is it’s ability to connect to that history. But architecture fundamentally has a responsibility to express our time and to create some picture, some representation, of what we’re about now and I think music has got to be about the same thing.” You can hear the full Guest DJ set here.