How Dreck Is Made

Does this look plumb to you?
Does this wall look plumb to you?
Lets take a closer look...
Lets take a closer look…hmmm
How is the poured concrete attached to the blocks?
Let us connect concrete walls using the cake batter technique


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.

Panorama, 1964
Ohrbach’s, 1964
Valley Swap Meet, 2017
Valley Swap Meet, 2017

6 thoughts on “How Dreck Is Made”

    1. The more interesting question is: what is middle class in California now? What are the definitional parameters? Mrs. UpintheValley and I should be, by traditional income measurement, comfortably upper-middle class, yet we live in modest circumstances in VN, and not for lack of ambition.

      1. The earth view shows the old Ohrbachs building surrounded by huge multi story apartment buildings in every direction. They look to my non practiced eye as having been built in the 70’s. I assume the local demographic was different when the store went in.

        I think middle class is now geographically defined to some extent. If you live in a large metropolitan area, are reasonably safe and have enough material goods to satisfy you, you’re in.

        If you are out in the sticks, you need to add jet skis, motor homes and boats to qualify. Oh, if you have kids you’ll need to budget for private schools in the city.

  1. The Harmon on the Strip in Vegas was gong to be 49 floors. Massive structural flaws were found when it was 26 floors, and it was torn down completely in 2014 after major, serious lawsuits.

    “Construction began in 2007. But in July 2008, an engineer working on the project discovered that reinforcing bars had been improperly installed in much of the partially-built structure, despite repeated inspections. In some places the rebar was missing entirely.

    These rebar problems forced the project to halt after about half of its floors had been built.”

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