Top 5 Overlooked Architecture and Design Venues in L.A.

A view of M&A's front yard: Food Pyramid (2010), by Didier Hess.
A view of M&A's front yard: Food Pyramid (2010), by Didier Hess.
Courtesy of Materials & Applications

Great architecture is everywhere in Los Angeles, even if you have to drive along the mostly unscenic 405 and past the run-down auto body stores in order to get there. Most Angelenos have a few tricks up their sleeve when it comes to impressing visiting architecture and design buffs (wine tastings at Hollyhock House, anyone?), but what about discovering some of the less obvious treasures that the city has to offer?

Here are LA Weekly's picks for the city's (less obvious) top five design and architecture gems, exhibition spaces, and tours, from our Best of L.A. issue.

The 1939 apartments were designed by R.M. Schindler
The 1939 apartments were designed by R.M. Schindler
Joshua White

5. Best avant-garde gallery on a garage roof: Mackey Apartments

"When Schindler built the Mackey Apartments in 1939, he may well have imagined it as a place where artists, architects and students would come from around the world to live, work, get inspired and invite culturati to see their projects. But he probably didn't envision the apparition of a bright, shuttle-size open box, flooded with light, where the public would come to see the residents' experiments...The main building where the residents live and work remains a masterfully restored landmark of architecture in its own original right, but the gorgeously improbable modern gallery space over the garage in back speaks volumes as to adaptive reuse, out-of-the-box thinking and architecture-based artistry."

Teresa Margolles's "Untitled," 2010, a LAND exhibition in collaboration with LACMA
Teresa Margolles's "Untitled," 2010, a LAND exhibition in collaboration with LACMA
Courtesy of LAND

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4. Best highbrow architectural tour: Los Angeles Nomadic Division

"No offense to conservancies or tour companies, but how much better would it be to experience Los Angeles' architectural treasures as a guest rather than a voyeur? That's what Los Angeles Nomadic Division, aka LAND, makes possible...Each tour takes place at a rarely seen landmark and features an artist-devised twist. At John Lautner's Garcia House, for example, artist Karl Haendel staged a Julia Child-inspired Beef Bourguignon cooking demo. At Rudolf Schindler's Buck House, Jonah Freeman gave a lecture on the (fictional) history of psychedelic drugs."

A view of M&A's front yard: Food Pyramid (2010), by Didier Hess.
A view of M&A's front yard: Food Pyramid (2010), by Didier Hess.
Courtesy of Materials & Applications

3. Best front yard for experimental architecture: Materials & Applications

"Nothing better defines the perils of suburban sprawl than the front lawn...Collaborators/spouses Jenna Didier and Oliver Hess have taken their front lawn at Materials & Applications and done just about anything the coteries of brilliant young architects they attract can do to a front yard. Their space on Silver Lake Boulevard surprises passersby with amazing contraptions and experiments that play with issues important to contemporary architecture."

The iconic art deco sign of the Wiltern.
The iconic art deco sign of the Wiltern.

2. Best grand 1920s and '30s revival: Oxford, Serrano and Hobart Streets

"To see a stunning array of buildings that shows how L.A. really knew how to do period-revival style and art deco apartments back in the day, stroll Oxford, Serrano and Hobart east of Western Avenue between Eighth and San Marino streets. ... Buildings such as the Mediterranean revival-style Sir Francis Drake, the art deco Ashby Apartments and French chateau revival St. Germaine reflect a young city's desire for legitimacy. ... Sadly, architectural gems such as the Uptown Fox Theatre on Western near Olympic are long-gone, but thankfully the beloved landmark Wiltern (formerly the Pellissier Building) still stands."

The offices of Ray and Charles Eames, at 901 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice.
The offices of Ray and Charles Eames, at 901 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice.
Flickr/Becky Snyder

1. Best design workshop: Eames Workshop

"For appreciators and collectors of top-notch, modern American furniture and product design, husband-and-wife team Charles and Ray Eames are the very pinnacle of perfection...Just whisper "Eames" in any crowd of well-heeled aesthetes and watch feet stop, eyeballs bulge and mouths drool. The magical workshop where these two created for 30 years sits right on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice...Since a renovation by architect Frank Israel, today the Eames Workshop remains valuable Venice real estate and awaits a visit by design-o-philes seeking their own historical mecca."

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