I’m having so much fun watching the development of the Petersen Automotive Museum in LA’s Miracle Mile. Some of my friends have said, the 90’s called and want their architecture back, or it’s fugly. I however, disagree. I used to live just a few blocks from the museum, and had no idea it even existed. With this new skin, there will be no denying the museums existence.
One of the main arguments I’ve heard levied against this proposed building over the years is: It’s not Art Deco. And the Miracle Mile is about preserving it’s Deco roots. Well, wander down to La Brea and Wilshire and you’ll see how miserably the monstrosity on the southeast corner failed to meet the design standards of Neo- Deco. I’ve written about it previously, and it’s no secret that BRE Properties Essex apartment building is a major design flop. Everyone had to have a say in it’s development that it got so watered down, with no clear vision or point of view. It lacks innovation and is an architectural mish-mash that’s so pedestrian and communal, that it leaves nothing to aspire to. I call it communal architecture, and I don’t mean that kindly.
Art Deco can be defined in many ways: rich colors, bold geometric shapes, lavish ornamentation, an embrace of technology, machine age imagery, the luxury ocean liner and the skyscraper, the fantasy world of Hollywood, a new modernism, a silhouette that’s more horizontal than vertical… a celebration of speed and joyous movement, particularly in regards to planes, trains and automobiles. Doesn’t the structure above meet those definitions in a new and modern way? True, there’s no zig-zag patterns or geometric motifs, but this building certainly looks like a joyous celebration of movement. One of the initial descriptions I read about this building described it as the flames on a 50’s hot-rod, but I think it goes much much deeper. It’s visceral, it’s powerful, and it’s undeniably bold. Yes, maybe it looks a bit like a Diet-Coke can, but I guarantee you there’s no way that you can drive by it and not notice it. If you’re a tourist visiting LA, you’re going to be asking: what’s that? I think ultimately it will be recognized as one of LA’s most outstanding buildings, much like Frank Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall. Love it or hate, you’ll know it’s there. And to quote Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction… I won’t be ignored. So says the new building on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax.