John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects
1461 E 4th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90033
213 253 4740
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
c. JFAK, 2020
Located in the heart of South Los Angeles, an economically disadvantaged neighborhood at the center of the city’s 2001 civil disturbances, this project was conceived by furnituremaker Cisco Pinedo as a commercial center to highlight the area’s multi-talented young furniture design and fabrication companies and bring much-needed support and attention to this part of town.
How does/should one design for South Central Los Angeles? That was the question we asked ourselves, not even a decade after riots had broken out following the acquittal of the LAPD officers who had beaten Rodney King senseless for nothing more than speeding in his Hyundai.
As a start, we hypothesized that by reusing the existing buildings, by treating them with respect and affection, we would, in a sense, be communicating respect for the neighborhood as a whole. We then took that idea further, layering the structures with a set of light, heterogeneous materials and screens that would seem both permanent and impermanent at the same time – a set of new clothes that would provide a strong identity for the spaces and buildings, but also seem flexible, open-ended, and inclusive. We placed long, lightweight sheets of iridescent polycarbonate on existing heavy steel columns, over walls of warm brick; a “woven” stainless steel door in an existing window opening we extended to reach the floor; a porous fabric canopy over the existing parking lot; and a gate and fence at the entrance that didn’t pretend to be for any purpose other than security but was unique, nonetheless. Inside the buildings, we created an environment to showcase our client’s furniture, which was fabricated onsite using the same materials and strategies that we used outside. Our client opened his property to community usage. People came. No one defaced or graffiti-ed a single square inch, in a neighborhood that is regularly vandalized.