July 31, 2010

trippin again

I'm on the road again, er - well clouds and rails I guess. My sister and nephew have spent the last few weeks traveling Alaska and are passing through Washington to meet up with most of my Dad's side of the family who live in Washington and Oregon. I'm in Seattle today for a quick one day adventure and then meeting up with them tomorrow a bit south of here. Being so close to LAX, I forgot that the drive to an airport can sometimes take a while - especially in Friday afternoon traffic. I barely made my flight out of Long Beach, but got there just in time. The trip into Seattle was painless thanks to their new light rail (what a concept, huh?!) I found my apartment in Belltown and got settled in time to wander out for a beer before closing time. I don't have any real agenda for today, its not my first time here so I'm not set on seeing any main sights, so just playing it by ear and headin out for some wandering.

July 29, 2010


Continuing on our self-made tour of MIT architecture while in Boston, Myron and I stumbled upon a building that wasn't on any of our lists, but the minute we saw it we stopped in our tracks. The exterior was wrapped in a strong but elegant sheath of metal rods and we stepped inside to a shiny but cool and bright environment. The low ceiling of the entrance and exhibit area opened up to a dramatic open space that showed the work happening in the spaces within. We discovered it was the Media Lab Extension building, designed by Maki and Associates. There's a lot to love about this building and its feeling of open glass, but what made the biggest impression was that sheath of metalwork that allowed it. It turns out that Cambridge has a building code that dictates that building perimeters cannot be more than 50% glass. The architect used bamboo screens as inspiration to come up with a solution that allowed for a full glass openness while simultaneously providing shade and privacy. Its a beautiful and strange harmony of contradiction.

July 28, 2010

boston gallery

a few extra pictures from wandering around Boston a couple weekends ago...

July 27, 2010


Stepping back a week to my last day in Boston with my friend Myron... He discovered that MIT was a trove of good architecture, so we spent the day wandering around campus. One of the first buildings we ran across is probably one of the most notable: Frank Gehry's Stata Center. The building jumps out from its surrounding streetscape and, to me, seems itself to be a snapshot of Gehry's evolving style. It fuses both of his trademark styles: chaotic straight-edged angles of metal and undulating flowing curves of metal. More than anything, it gave me perspective on how that latter style has developed and appreciate how refined that signature style had become by the time it was used for Disney Hall in LA; in contrast to his Music Experience Project in Seattle, one of the early examples of this style, which awkwardly doesn't work at all; and the Stata Center, which falls somewhere in between - both in timeline and refinement. At the same time, the Stata Center falls at the tail end of his angular styles, and those aspects seem to work very well in this application. Naturally a building like this isn't without controversy, and it seems to be equally loved and hated. It was a good springboard for our self-led tour. I'll feature other stops in future posts...

July 25, 2010

new neighbor

My buddy Spike from Boston was visiting the last couple days. While showing him some of downtown Manhattan Beach, I took him by the new work/lofts project at 1300 Highland that has just opened. I was surprised how well-designed the place is (okay, maybe minus the odd cheap-looking flowers in the planters) and how well it holds up when looking up-close and not just from afar. The mix of materials is beautiful and well designed. Spike pointed out several really well thought out attentions to detail and quality surfaces, which are especially obvious in contrast to the Metlox shopping center a block away (like in the construction and design of the awnings). It was designed by local architect Grant Kirkpatrick of KAA Design, and it'll be interesting to see how this places fills out and develops. I was disappointed when the building at this site was demolished (it wasn't anything special, but it did have some nice charm that we constantly lose around here to big olive-gardeniate buildings), but the results are a nice surprise and look to promise a welcome addition to our streetscape.

July 22, 2010

so LA

What better way to mark being back in LA than a trip to the Tuesday LAX Food Truck lot? I met my friend Alan for it and had some new and unexpected treats. I've heard a lot about the @YattaTruck, and was hoping to try their 'you be the chef' sushi - what I wasn't expecting was to end up going for the cheeseburger sushi instead. You heard me. Their All-American Roll is beef steaks and melted cheese rolled and coated with a tempura shell: Nom. Genius. Once we saw it we knew we had to try one. As long as we were going for the not-so-healthy route, we decided to go all in. Offerings from the @TastyMeat truck had already grabbed our attention earlier, so after mulling over what to split, Alan went in full force for the Iron Box, which may be named for what you'll end up in if you eat it every day. The Iron Box is french fries with red feta spread and tzatziki sauce, topped with beef, lamb and chicken. Yowsa. I was torn between the Bamwich or the Grilled Cheese, but they swayed me to go for the Grilled Cheese with chicken added. They also advised a feta sauce on the side - and that really made it. I hate to admit that the grilled cheese was far better than anything I've had from the truck that specializes in them. Tastymeat wasn't even scheduled to be at the lot that day - they filled in for the @PapasTapasTruck which I was really looking forward to, but had mechanical troubles; so Tastymeat really turned out to be an unexpected treat. But after a week of lobster rolls and then this, my gym membership is calling.

July 21, 2010

boston cap

Our last day in Boston on Monday really didn't have a plan, but with a bit of online searching, Myron realized that MIT was a trove of architectural treasures, so it became our destination for a day of wandering. There was so much to see that it will be best covered over several posts that I will fill in whenever I can over the next couple weeks, but the overview took us through many eras from Aalto to Pei to Gehry, but our favorites were far and away the two 1955 buildings by Saarinen, as well as a surprise new structure by Maki and Associates that also made a big impression. All that and a walk back across the city to our hotel in Back Bay filled up the day (and wore us out) as a nice cap to the fun week on the cape.

July 19, 2010

boston commons

Sunday called for an early morning (ok, well early for me at least) so we could catch the ferry into Boston, where we met up with my pal Spike for the Red Sox game. I'd never done the bleachers experience at Fenway, and it was blazing hot out there. The friendly confines of Fenway turned out not to be due to some fans behind us who crossed the line from rowdy fans (which I'm all for) to jerks, especially after someone called them on it, but so it goes. Most around us left, especially since the Sox were losing (fan karma?) but we stuck it out through the end. Later turned into a nice warm summer night as we headed out for some seafood and drinks, with Spike giving the impromptu tour of sights that we passed along the way in his jeep. A little more time to kill in beantown today and then back to our respective homes.

July 18, 2010

last days

A little more from the last couple days in P-town. Lobsters, bears, and even drag kickball. Oh my. Now on to Boston for the Sox game...