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10 Things Designer Douglas Burnham Loves About L.A.

The San Francisco architect curates a design trip down south.
 

The Griffith Park Observatory

 

Douglas Burnham is founder and principal of envelope Architecture + Design. You've been to the awesome PROXY space in Hayes Valley, right? That's his. But as the song goes, he loves LA. We picked his brain for a design-focused get away. Here's what he said. (As told to Jenna Scatena.)

From a design standpoint, LA has a lot going on. They're embracing more architectural experimentation lately, in ways quite different from the more aesthetically conservative San Francisco. It’s a wilder mix. LA encourages a higher high and a lower low, which creates a strong architecture on the one hand (Rudolph Schindler, Charles and Ray Eames, Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne/Morphosis, Michael Maltzan to name a few), but also results in some tragically overdone buildings that refuse to fade into the fabric of the city. It's quite a compelling mix. Here are some of my favorite places:

1. Tortoise on Abbot Kinney in Venice, for their handcrafted and design items from Japan.

2. 356 Mission (OOGA BOOGA 2), a spinoff of the original OOGA BOOGA that was initiated by Laura Owens (a fixture on the LA art scene), and sponsored by Gavin Brown's Enterprise, who is always interested in pushing the limits. They host events and objects by young, local artists alongside more globally recognized ones. It gets bonus cool points for being in an industrial area adjacent to the LA River. Here's a tip: They offer free hot dogs and cheap beer at their talks, performances, screenings, and meditation sessions.

3. Arcana is a contemporary art and photography bookstore, but in a gallery setting. They have an unbelievable collection of first edition and out of print or rare art books. It’s a little bit pretentious but worth suffering the attitude.

4. Opening Ceremony on La Cienga in West Hollywood is my favorite clothing store. It's like a more outrageous version of MAC (Modern Appealing Clothing), in Hayes Valley.

5. I also love Mohawk General Store in Silver Lake, across from the Intelligentsia Coffee, for their casual, design-savvy contemporary clothing collection.

6. Rudolf Schindler’s One Kings Road House is a communal house compound and garden Schindler designed for himself, his wife and another couple (Clyde and Marian Chace). Open living on many levels! It’s currently the location of the MAK Center for Architecture.

7. Griffith Park Observatory—beautiful hill-crowning heroic concrete and bronze WPA structure housing the actual observatory and now science museum. An amazing vantage point to see the grid of LA disappear into the thickness of the atmosphere.

8. There are a couple of new yet-to-open structures to keep an eye out for, including One Santa Fe, the Michael Maltzan mega-scaled residential and commercial project downtown, close to Sci-Arc—it will change that whole area when its starts to become occupied.

9. The Diller Scofidio + Renfro Broad Museum is still in the works, but slated for completion in 2015.

10. I never miss the Grand Central Market, it's been around for ages but recently has been taken over by new, young and playful chefs and food makers. Now it's all about innovative and accessible food. The space an open floor plan with an array of stalls. It’s smack in the middle of downtown and spans the width of a block so it’s full of activity, noise and deliciousness.
 

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