Architecture of Downtown Los Angeles

Annual tradition: a day of architectural touring with Craig D.


The restaurant Otium, with the Broad Museum to the right and some building to the left.

Craigs’s house is beautiful.


Craig helping wife Abby

First stop: LA’s Cathedral.


The cathedral was designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. Using elements of postmodern architecture, the church and the Cathedral Center feature a series of acute and obtuse angles while avoiding right angles.

Rafael Moneo

Rafael Moneo

Cardinal Roger Mahony’s decision to rebuild the Los Angeles Cathedral in such elaborate and postmodern architecture has drawn great criticism. Many argued that a church of that size and expense was unnecessary, overly-elaborate and money could have been better spent on social programs. Many felt that either St. Vincent Church on West Adams Boulevard or St. Basil Church on South Kingsley Drive could easily perform the functions required of a cathedral with minimal additional cost. Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral was also criticized for its departure from historical California Mission-style architecture and aesthetics.

Had been reading this book:


which talks a lot about why LA feels so odd to the pedestrian, and the ways LA’s public buildings have of shutting off the street:


I’ll say:


LA’s cathedral, finished in 2002, seemed a bit ’90s to me:


That’s the Grand Arts School / Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts behind Craig.

IMG_4631Disaster waiting to happen at the mausoleum?

Quick tour through Grand Central Market:

IMG_4651A walk past the retired Angels’ Flight:


On February 1, 2001, Angels Flight had a serious accident that killed a passenger, Leon Praport (age 83), and injured seven others, including Praport’s wife, Lola. The accident occurred when car Sinai, approaching the upper station, reversed direction and accelerated downhill in an uncontrolled fashion to strike car Olivet near the lower terminus.

On to the truly bizarre angles of the Bonaventure Hotel designed by John C. Portman, Jr.

IMG_4665I mean what is going on here?:


In his book Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory (1989), Edward Soja describes the hotel as

a concentrated representation of the restructured spatiality of the late capitalist city: fragmented and fragmenting, homogeneous and homogenizing, divertingly packaged yet curiously incomprehensible, seemingly open in presenting itself to view but constantly pressing to enclose, to compartmentalize, to circumscribe, to incarcerate. Everything imaginable appears to be available in this micro-urb but real places are difficult to find, its spaces confuse an effective cognitive mapping, its pastiche of superficial reflections bewilder co-ordination and encourage submission instead. Entry by land is forbidding to those who carelessly walk but entrance is nevertheless encouraged at many different levels. Once inside, however, it becomes daunting to get out again without bureaucratic assistance. In so many ways, its architecture recapitulates and reflects the sprawling manufactured spaces of Los Angeles

You said it, pal.

Hely at Bonaventure

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