Theme and Variation: Manny’s Auto Repair

If you’ve ever driven back and forth on the 5 freeway between L.A. and Orange County, you’ve driven right past one of my favorite buildings and probably not even realized it. There are a lot of really interesting buildings in SoCal by unknown or forgotten architects, and a lot of interesting buildings that probably got built without an architect’s involvement at all. Of the latter group, Manny’s Auto Repair, at 4849 Telegraph Road, is near the top of my list.

If you’re driving south, watch the road to your left just after the 710 interchange. Northbound drivers should keep an eye out to the right as you come away from the Citadel Outlets. You’ll probably be going pretty slow anyway, and it shouldn’t be that hard to spot. Look for the glorious-but-slightly-faded red-orange building with MANNY’S AUTO REPAIR emblazoned across the top in big block letters. (Click the images to embiggen and open in a new window.)

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Manny’s Auto Repair

What makes this building so great? Two things.

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The Mod Musical Mosaics of Cypress Hall

A few times a season, my sweetie and I like to hear a classical music performance at the Valley Performing Arts Center at Cal State Northridge. When we do, one of my favorite parts of the evening is to visit the wonderful mosaics of musicians playing different instruments that line the wall of Cypress Hall next door. As we walk along the sidewalk that takes us from parking to the music hall, I feel like I’m visiting old friends when we pass by the mosaics, and it always adds to my generally-already-upbeat pre-concert mood.

Take a moment to look at them carefully yourself, and see what you observe about them. Then read my comments at the end. (The titles in the captions are my made-up interpretations.) If you want to get the overall picture first, check it out here on Google street view. The link should open in a new tab and go straight to the view of the wall with the mosaics.

Here are all eight, as they appear left to right, individually and close-up. Click any of them to open the image larger in a new tab.

Mosaic #1.
Mosaic #1: The Aulete

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House Reopens

After being closed for some time for renovations & restoration, Frank Lloyd Wright’s epic Hollyhock House is open again to the public. The other week they had a special grand re-opening event where the house was open to the public for free, all night. Naturally, I had to go!

There were throngs and throngs of people who turned out, and it was very exciting to me that standing in line to see great architecture could be such a popular event for a Friday night in Los Angeles. Angelenos love architecture, and their enthusiasm was on display that night. The downside was that the event’s organizers were, by their own admission, unprepared for, and overwhelmed by, the huge turnout. It kind of leaves one to wonder what they did expect, but that’s a discussion for another time and place. The house looked great, and that’s really the main thing.

So, without further ado, here’s what I saw. For reference, here is a floor plan with the area open to the public for the event colored in red. North is to the left in this plan. Click any image to open full-size in a new tab.

Hollyhock House Plan


Hollyhock House Living Room
Looking into the Living Room from the Loggia.

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A Day Sketching at the Salk Institute

I have been wanting to get out more, and spend time sketching some of the wonderful architectural treasures I have the luxury of living near.  A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend a whole day at the Salk Institute in La Jolla with just my sketchbook and pencil.  Yes I took my camera too, and took some photos, but the point of spending my day there was to exercise my visual faculty in the slow, deliberative way that only freehand drawing brings.

Drawing forces you to study your subject, contemplate it, analyze its proportions.  You make decisions about what is important and what isn’t.  You essentialize it — that is, you reduce it to its essence.

I started with some small, quick studies (click to embiggen).

Parson Architecture Salk Institute Sketch
A small thumbnail sketch of about 30 minutes.

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