Archive for September, 2006


Monday, September 25th, 2006

Yesterday, we got to visit the Marmol Radziner prefab house factory.

Maybe when you think “prefab house” you think tracts or trailers or something; let me assure you this is not that. It’s more like incredibly chic lifesize legos – with optional solar panels! If you play around on the website you’ll see what I mean; their version of prefab really feels like a throwback to a kind of early modernist idealism, like Breuer and Le Corbusier dreaming of machines for sitting and a new kind of city, or maybe a slightly later Eamesy populism. Yay plywood!

They’ve only been doing the prefab thing for a year and a half, but I guess people are pretty excited about it because they’ve got something like 19 orders in the design process as of yesterday. The houses get built one by one in the factory (while the foundation and other site work are going on), so a backlog like that kind of dings the whole speedy-prefab vision, but still. Apparently they’re going to be taking over the space next door to allow more simultaneous work – I got the feeling they sort of can’t believe how fast it’s taken off.

Unfortunately, they don’t allow photography inside. Perhaps this is because when you take a tour of their factory, you are sprinkled with top-secret orthogonal fairy dust, invisible to the naked eye but all-too-apparent on film. You’ll never know, because I wasn’t about to risk getting kicked out just for some lousy blog pictures.

So you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was incredibly cool.

One thing that was really funny was that you can totally tell that Marmol Radziner was an architecture firm first. No, they don’t all wear aggressive, boxy glasses instead of safety goggles. It’s just that this factory was immaculate. No sawdust. Scrap bins that look like chic toyboxes. Snazzy paint that somehow has never been dinged by the behemoths gliding by under construction. It’s just… gorgeous. And you know, we’ve all seen, like, high-tech clean rooms where they fabricate computer chips in commercials, and you know that kind of factory can look cool. But this is, in essence, a construction site. It was incredible.

Plus, it’s located in Vernon, heretofore known only as The Place UPS Packages Go Before They Come To Your House. Basically just on the other side of downtown L.A., it’s this endless, flat promenade of factories and light industry – hello, extensively muraled pork-processing facility! The seagulls sure do think you’re fun! – plus one ancient, enormous Sears. And yesterday, for some reason, there were three Vietnam-era-looking helicopters flying around above a huge swap meet.

Why? Why not?

I tell you, this city has an infinite number of mysterious and wonderful goings on going on all the time.

no words

Monday, September 11th, 2006

With all the posturing, and the grief, and all the rest, I just can’t even speak about this day.

I guess all I have to say is:

I remember.