No. 541 . 30 November 2011 

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Shubin + Donaldson - From Fuel to Biscuit

by Joseph Giovannini with Russell Shubin and Robin Donaldson

The apparent placelessness of Los Angeles, where one community bleeds into another with little visible distinction, can partially be attributed to its major industries — advertising, television, movies, the web — because these businesses live placelessly, mostly in periodicals, or on screens in the theater, in the family room, and at the desk.

Their buildings have no need to manifest public presence or exhibit civic responsibility via architecture: the mission of the structures is not to shape or mark public space because the cultures they support are dispersive.

Unlike a newspaper building, their headquarters are not charged with a responsibility to a constituency that lives within driving distance. L.A.'s local industries instead are national and global, and few studios and networks have looked to architects to create a sense of place with structures that build the civic and urban character of the place. They do not put a "there" there.

Only recently have entrepreneurs of L.A.'s entertainment and advertising industries understood that there is a physical site appropriate for talent as well as the virtual site on the screen and in periodicals.

Entertainment and its corollary industries are endemic to Southern California, and over the past decade entrepreneurs of L.A.'s creativity factories have started to commission architects to create physical settings appropriate for their function as think tanks, talent banks, and petri dishes to encourage and incite their occupants.

Many of these entrepreneurs have abandoned the conventional pin-striped corporate offices along Wilshire, in Century City, and downtown, in favor of adaptively reusing cavernous, bow-trussed warehouses in which the mind seems to expand to the space allowed. Found buildings have been transformed from working structures into spirited antechambers of creativity. Talent is as talent does.

Conventional architectural programs usually specify functional requirements, but these commissions require a certain quality of spirit, or what hipper talents call "juice." These are high-energy, high-IQ environments that encourage their occupants to be and to think differently.   >>>

This article is excerpted from Live + Work: Modern Homes and Offices: The Southern California Architecture of Shubin + Donaldson by Shubin + Donaldson Architects, with essays by Thom Mayne and Joseph Giovannini, copyright © 2010, with permission of the publisher, ORO editions.




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