Oh, the sums we spend today to recreate the world we once had….
Construction has stopped on the new USA Fitness gym in Panorama for reasons not aesthetic. Like an abandoned ark, this hodgepodge of listing, peeling concrete forms and blocks has loomed for months, half-completed, over Van Nuys Blvd. Shut down by the Building Department, presumably.
The trouble would appear to have originated in the failed mating of two distinct structural techniques, poured concrete and reinforced blocks. The blocks went up first. They must have thought they could use the exoskeleton as an anchor for setting forms for the pour, but they gave way. Those who skimp on aesthetics will skimp on engineering. They will do the minimum. Cheap on cheap equals cheap.
T’wasn’t always so. Los Angeles is thick with sublime and timeless commercial structures, built by craftsmen, forgotten or hidden over the years behind quick paint jobs and dreadful get it done by Wednesday facades.
Even in Panorama.
Where your living space doubles, but your rent goes down. Where you leave your wallet on a bench at the Ale House, and its waiting for you at the bar the next day. Where the civic moniker is a paddle surfing cow. Where the streets just now are getting paved and the sewer lines at long last being put in. Where your vegetable oil burning Mercedes comes to die. Where you name your dishwasher Humphrey. Where you rise at 3 AM to shape the loaves, and stay open only until the last one is sold. Where all your needs can be satisfied within a two block radius. Where if you want to go West, you get on a kayak. If you want to go elsewhere, you get on a bike.
You’re never going back to Echo Park.
Don’t laugh, Van Nuys may already be happening. If Glassell Park can be totally a thing….
…lets explore the process in depth with this graphic analysis:
The prerequisites are already in place:
1) the last neighborhood of pre-war buildings ideal for adaptive re-use
2) along the Sepulveda corridor, lots of car-oriented low-rise dreck rapidly being replaced with higher density, with ground floor retail
3) Quiet streets with a full canopy of trees
4) The Orange Line
6) MacLeod Ale
7) Historical reference points embedded in our collective pop culture