It’s a futile fantasy exercise to go the website Architizer and see what they are building in other wealthy cities around the world where 100,000 homeless people do not sleep on the street and it is isn’t considered normal to have shopping baskets full of trash polluting parks alongside $2.5 million dollar homes.
Here is a new apartment in Nantes, France designed by Hamonic + Masson & Associates. I think it’s rather pleasing, sleek, uplifting and progressive. It must be nice to live in such a bright, spaciousness, well-thought out structure.
Imagine this apartment house along Sepulveda Boulevard between the Orange Line and Victory in Van Nuys, presently a junky, one-story collection of car washes, Pep Boys Auto, Wendy’s, Fatburger, a mini-mall with a mattress store, a paint store, Jiffy Lube, etc. Can you picture the day The Barn is gone and there is nowhere to buy an Amish Shaker Dark Mahogany stained dresser with metal pulls for $953 that even your Aunt Irma in Cerritos would hide in her garage.
How we would mourn if Pep Buys Auto and its grease, graffiti and garage doors full of axles on hydraulic lifts were banished forever and replaced by something modern and residential befitting a city in the third decade of the 21st Century.
What would it look like if all that were replaced by a 15- story-tall apartment with curving balconies and pleasing design within walking distance of public transportation, and convenient access to Costco, LA Fitness, Target, CVS and a Chinese market?
A building like that one replacing all the decrepit garbagetecture that lines Sepulveda between the Orange Line and Victory……imagine that?
Los Angeles should consider creating a position in city government to promote projects like this. I’m thinking a “Chief Design Officer”, perhaps someone with architectural knowledge and connections, to fire up a redesign and redevelopment of Van Nuys.
I’m surprised they haven’t invented this title yet, since this is such an architecturally minded city.
It reminds me of a coincidence……
I had lunch with a city government man, last summer in Van Nuys. It was July 11, 2018. He rode the bus out to Van Nuys, perhaps for novelty or amusement. I met him on Aetna near the Orange Line. He claimed an important title, one that might be able to bring good things to Van Nuys. I was eager to meet him and see what might get started here.
We were scheduled to walk around the area and really explore how to improve it. I imagined we might go for a few hours along the boulevard, or the Orange Line, and see what kind of housing, lofts, beer gardens, cafes, tech companies could be built here. But the man was interested, obsessed mostly, in watching the semi-finals of the World Cup when England played Croatia.
We walked into the dismal State Office Building in Van Nuys, an awful mid-1980s strip windowed government place, and he was transfixed with it. But he still was eager to get somewhere, anywhere, and watch that game.
Every place we walked past he peered into the windows to see if they had a large screen TV, but alas, none did.
I suggested the Robin Hood tavern so we took an Uber there and sat amidst the packed crowds and watched the World Cup.
He had worked as an architecture critic at the LA Times and was coming to our district to see it for the first time, but first he had to watch that soccer match at The Robin Hood. We spent two hours in The Robin Hood, drinking beer and eating BLTs.
We parted and he promised to follow up and have “my intern” call you. But nobody ever did.
That was over six months ago.
The other night he was attending The Golden Mike awards ceremony where KPCC’s Larry Mantle took a lifetime achievement award. So I read on Twitter.
I’m going to write Mayor Garcetti and Councilwoman Nury Martinez and suggest they create a new government position for someone qualified who can get Van Nuys some top designs and bring up the depressing level of listlessness that infects our forgotten section of Los Angeles. Needed is a person without pretense who doesn’t just kiss the ass of the fashionable, the powerful, the media stars who blow words and wishes over the suffering people of this city.
Maybe I should even be the Chief Design Officer since I actually have a track record of preservation, clean-up, and heightening community awareness in Van Nuys and vicinity. “Option A” which would have obliterated industrial, small shop Van Nuys with a 33-acre Metro light rail repair yard was defeated after this blog united community members to fight for the preservation of local, productive, creative, skilled industries near Kester and Oxnard.
But back to the CDO position…….
I don’t think they would hire me.
Frances Anderton has never heard of me. And I didn’t graduate from Berkeley and I don’t live in Silver Lake. And I have never given a graduation speech to the students at SCI-Arc.
I’m pretty sure those are the qualifications one needs to get hired for being a $200,000-$300,000 (?) a year Chief Design Officer.