March 22, 2006


Every Wednesday the street in front of my house is a no parking zone from 1-3pm. Since my big ass truck juts out halfway into the street, it means I have to make sure I've moved it or am away during that time. So today I went off to run some errands and go to the grocery store. I forgot about the whole no parking thing until I turned onto my street and looked at my clock - 2:35. damn. So I started driving around a little to kill time (especially as I passed the meter maid in her cart) and ended up in what they call the downtown/village area of Manhattan Beach.

I passed by a new shopping center downtown that opened in December and decided to check it out. The shopping center is on the former Metlox Pottery site and uses the same name - I think the whole thing was pretty controversial. I don't know if it was the concept of having a hotel and shopping complex in "old" downtown or if it was some kind of funding issue that created the issues - or both. I moved here after most of the controversy had passed.

I was surprised how well it fit in with the surrounding neighborhood. Had it not been for the Design Within Reach store on the corner (I still want to know who's reach?!), I barely would have noticed it as I drove by. To Metlox's credit, it has no signage for the shopping center itself beyond that of the individual storefronts on the street. Unlike centers like The Grove that create a false streetfront inside but create large walls on the outside, this one has true storefronts on the street that blend in with the rest of the community. Inside seemed to be mostly restaurants and a hotel (I barely even noticed it was hotel it blended in so well) with a lot of public communal space. And for a Wednesday afternoon, there were a lot of people communing. Mothers talking, kids playing, people reading. Nothing about it stood out as 'great' design; but it was all very nice, clean, good modern lines and spaces and surprisingly understated. Combine that with how well it blended with its surroundings - and maybe that IS good design. At least good design lite.

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