Looking Good While Doing Good

1140 Formosa Avenue, by Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA).
1140 Formosa Avenue, by Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA).

“Looking Good While Doing Good” is how Mayer Rus, the Design and Culture Editor for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, neatly summed up the architecture section of the California Design Biennial currently on show at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.

I wish I’d thought of the phrase myself because I curated that section and Mayer captured exactly what I was trying to display: work that was both socially beneficial while also beautiful. Of course one has to ask, is what is Beauty in an age when there is no consensus on aesthetic values? In fact the very idea of beauty  is anathema in some architecture and art circles. (The topic was recently discussed at a SCI-Arc panel hosted by Yael Reisner, author of “Architecture And Beauty: Conversations About a Troubled Relationship.“)

Anyway, next Sunday afternoon, at the PMCA,  I will talk with Mayer Rus and architect Lorcan O’Herlihy about the challenges involved in realizing buildings that “look good while doing good,” as well as how one defines good-looking these days. Lorcan and his firm LOHA designed the very distinctive (and, to my eyes, beautiful) Formosa 1140 condo building that is in the show; they also won this year’s AIA/LA Firm of the Year award.

James Rojas setting up an interactive model at the Natural History Museum.
James Rojas setting up an interactive model at the Natural History Museum.

This will segue nicely into a workshop starting at 3.00PM led by James Rojas, inspired urban planner who created the “Messy and Vital” model of California that I included in the Biennial architecture section with the goal of illustrating that buildings do not exist in isolation, but rather in relation to an urban and human fabric. James gets groups to envision neighborhood designs through creating interactive models and will hold a workshop about envisioning California.

I would be so delighted if you would attend both events. Here are some more details:

October 17, 2010

2:00 — 3:00PM

Looking Good While Doing Good

Lorcan O’Herlihy
Architect, Principal, LOHA (Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects)

Mayer Rus
Design and Culture Editor, Los Angeles Times Magazine


Workshop with James Rojas

Designer James Rojas leads an interactive workshop that touches on issues of urban planning, land management and architecture.  Using found objects as buildings, visitors will create their own imaginative cityscape.  Fun for the whole family! All ages welcome.

Both events free with admission ($7 adults, $5 Seniors and Students)
Free for children under 12
RSVP to 626-568-3665 x17

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  • Steven

    Looking at the plan and section and noting most apartments would lack the benefit of two floors, it is plain to see ground floor units windows face a walkway, front, or a truncated back view; most have nothing on the other two sides (like light wells). Neither front nor back exposure windows are sufficiently private nor uplifting, despite the beautiful park on one side—this is not trivial for long term residents (vs Motel 6 for a couple nights). For the second story units, the back windows would be a step up, but the front side remains problematic. People peering in your living room is not "community" as much as lack of privacy when desired. Think of cheap courtyard apartments of multi-story motels for a physical model. Yes, this one has wonderful screens, balconies, and other gestures and details that are favorable, but the overall spacial model is traditional (saves money) and not worth repeating.