A Mysterious and Modern Neighbor

Am I 1000% besotted with the wonderfully esoteric Los Angeles neighborhood that's home to The Wilfair Hotel and Motel Fairwil?

So much yes.

Within one tight, walkable area you have the La Brea Tar Pits, one of the world's most famous fossil sites. You have the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, known affectionately as LACMA. Within the LACMA campus you have Urban Light, those 202 vintage lamps, and Levitated Mass, the "floating" boulder.

Next to that, on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, will be the new home to The Oscars' movie museum. And let's not forget the craft museum, which is currently covered by 12,000 yarn squares.

If you've come to take a photo with me, you know it is a trafficky, bustling section of LA. But it is full of mystery and wonder, too. It attracts really strange stuff, and ideas burble at its edges, like so much tar.

So, yeah, I had to build The Wilfair and Motel Fairwil there. (With words, of course.)

That long prelude is leading to this: LACMA is hoping to rebuild part of its campus in the coming years. When I saw the models, my eyes bobbled: The new museum is straight out of a science fiction novel. In fact it looks, to me, like a giant tar pit.

Not joking.

Two things here:

1. Is there something about that area that breathes offbeat buildings? Because my radio is tuned to that signal, if so.

2. Simply put, the new LACMA would be one of the world's most modern, innovative buildings, if built. It will be raised 30 feet in the air, all undulating concrete and huge windows, and part of it will extend over the tar pits (actually over the exact spot where Fair's favorite mastodon statue currently rrowrs).

So... my heart is feeling half Wilfair and half Fairwil.

Call it conflicting concepts occupying the same space. :)

The Fairwil in me? I like the older buildings of the LACMA campus, though they are not energy efficient and are in need of renovation. I wish they could be moved somewhere. I have issues with goodbyes of an architectural nature because I'm in love with this element of the past, deeply.

My Wilfair half likes the idea of trying new and interesting stuff. I'm mad for most modern architecture, and a giant, flowing, window-lined, tar pit-shaped building next to Wilshire and Fairfax makes my thoughts twirl.

I'm also interested in buildings with organic shapes and the rounded edges found in nature. We humans have been making blocky structures for centuries. Why shouldn't we look to the natural world for architectural inspiration?

Maybe that's the Hobbit in me, talking.

You can bet if this plan moves forward, though, that our aspiring architectural physicist will be next door at the construction site nearly every day, observing. ("Hey Fair. Where's Gomery?" asked Monty. "At the LACMA construction site, again," I said. "If the builders don't give him a hard hat and some scrolled-up plans he can carry around while looking serious, I'm throwing a fit," sighed Monty.)

Can you see the motel and hotel in the photo below? They're just beyond the top left corner, fictionally.

The large dark shape is the museum, and the small dark shape near the center is the main tar pit.

cr: LACMA museum associates

* Why yes, I did have Fair know where Gomery was in that exchange, instead of Monty knowing. Call it a change of pace and/or a sign of things to come. La la la la la...


Kelly said...

The model for the new building looks amazing, somewhere in-between an amoeba and an alien spaceship.

A few surreal buildings give a city so much character. Barcelona is probably my favourite for off-beat architecture. All the lovely Gaudi and Gaudi influenced stuff sprinkled around makes the whole area feel sort of whimsical.

Wilfair Book said...

Kelly! I'm a huge Gaudi fan. Huge huge. But have never been to Barcelona. I need to get to Spain soon. My grandma's kin has Toledo roots, so I've been wanting to go forever. And I couldn't go without putting in a glorious, explore-heavy week in Barcelona, right?


An amoeba and alien spaceship! EXACTLY. I'm hoping to see the models in person over the next few weeks. I'll report back.

What's your favorite surreal building where you live? Yep, I'd personally go for The Gherkin, but maybe you can expand my thinking beyond that? Am I missing a really great weird building?

Kelly said...

Definitely spend some time in Barcelona if you can. It's one of those cities, like Cape Town (and I'm guessing LA too?), that has a little bit of everything - nice beaches, amazing food, good nightlife, shopping, and loads of interesting cultural stuff to see and do.

I think the Gherkin is probably my favourite too. Also, it's not really a building, but every time I see the London Eye it makes me smile to think that one of the most distinct parts of the city skyline here is a giant ferris wheel.

The royal albert hall is another of my favourite buildings, and it's not particularly surreal on the outside, but inside is another story - there was a problem with the acoustics created by the dome, and to solve it there are a bunch of huge mushroom shaped things suspended from the roof which are lit up in various colours during shows.

Wilfair Book said...

Absolutely adding the Royal Albert Hall to my to-visit list. Thank you! I'm intrigued by colorful mushroom-shaped suspended things.

Maybe the Royal Albert Hall can make friends with Walt Disney Concert Hall here in LA? It looks like a giant silver artichoke to me. I love it so. And mushrooms and artichokes go well together, right? If only we could find a building that looks like a bulb of garlic. My perfect meal.

I have a London Eye outtake from early in the books I may post. I'm a little obsessed, I admit it!

Barcelona and Cape Town, yes, added. LA is that way -- a little bit of everything. Plus a giant silver artichoke concert hall. :)

Kelly said...

Ooh the Walt Disney Concert Hall looks fab, added to my LA list!

Mmmm mushrooms, garlic and artichokes is a great combination. I have actually had that combo on a pizza before, and it was delicious.

Yes please for more book outtakes, and London Eye related book outtakes in particular!

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