Architect Michael Ferguson of Space International has designed retail environments for Nike and Kitson, masterfully re-envisioned mid century masterpieces by Schindler, Buff & Hensman, as well as Thorton Abel, and created contemporary residences throughout the Los Angeles area. Currently, the studio is developing a new retail concept for UCLA’s Student Union. In this week’s Friday Five, Ferguson expounds on his city, Los Angeles. He says, “It’s a complicated urban form with a number of contradictions. Part dystopian infrastructure, part Elysian dream, our city (like our work) has a form of brutal elegance which one can only find if they know how to look in the right places.” Here are some of his favorite “Elegant Brutalisms” from the city that shapes them.
1. Levitated Mass by Michael Heizer at LACMA
What weighs 340 tons, moves at five miles per hour, and can crush anything in its path? LACMA’s ambitious, new, 1968 earthwork by Michael Heizer, “Levitated Mass.” The 100-mile megalithic journey from Riverside to Mid City is sure to clog more Southland traffic than Carmaggedon. Rock’n'roll, baby.
2. OK Store
It was on West 3rd Street years before Joan and Issey. Proprietor Larry Schaffer has an eye for all objects functional and uncanny, from early modern to wabi sabi. The go-to place for the discriminating architect in your life, and the only store in LA where Douglas Fir plywood never goes out of style.
3. Metropolis II by Chris Burden at LACMA
I know! LACMA again? LA.s local wunderkind has done it again with a kinetic labyrinth that reveals the playful innocence and the horrors of contemporary urbanism. One part Erector set, two parts Hot Wheels track, and one part Fritz Lang, this dynamic sculpture is potent enough to captivate the hearts and minds of anyone from ages four to 94.
4. Sushi & Sake at Saito’s
Extremely fresh fish in a not so fresh Silverlake mini mall (all the best restaurants in LA seem to be in mini malls), Saito’s personality and expertise more than make up for the lack of five-star ambiance outside. But please, don’t order a California roll, or they’ll exile you to the doughnut shop next door.
5. Museum of Jurassic Technology
The most mind-bending museum in LA with the easiest street parking. It boasts a perplexingly stunning collection of exhibits which defy categorization (and sometimes rationalization). My personal favorite is an account by scientists Bernard Maston and Donald Griffith, who independently researched and ultimately caught (in a block of lead) a Deprong Mori bat from the Tripiscum Plateau, which is said to have flown through objects of solid matter using enhanced echolocation. Whoa!