08.18.09 Department of Water and Power Building

There are many drawbacks to being an L.A. resident (smog, traffic, no good BBQ), but one big score for the pleasures of the city is the ritual of going to pay your electric bill at this site. It's been argued that Frank Gehry was blessed with the best possible site downtown on which to place his Disney Concert Hall, but I disagree. Officially known as the John Ferraro building, A.C. Martin, Jr.'s 1965 landmark hovers at the edge corner of Bunker Hill and serenely floats over its landscape (thanks to the reflecting pool ground plane that covers the parking garage below). The place feels right in the nexus of the city and quietly distanced from the hustle and bustle at the same time. Its quiet, somber institutional feel, its tall lobby - with the famously uniform floors that are even better at night - takes you back to a time where institutions were entities of progress and respectful largesse, made material by buildings like these designed with a deep sense of civic pride.

08.16.09 Hidden Neighborhoods: What’s Up In Monrovia?

Continuing our series of neighborhoods we like, Citybuilt.org would like to introduce you to Monrovia. Two cities East of Pasadena - off the 210 Freeway - sits the quiet, hilly expanse of Monrovia. We were out there for a little get together and cased the joint one recent Saturday night. Thirsty for beer, and looking for a place to get it, we stumbled upon this strangely enormous sports bar, with the architecturally geometric theme of TRIANGLES throughout its three floors of building mass. What a space! And they had the only Air Hockey table East of Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood (that I know of). Cheers, Monrovia. Here’s to your gargantuan, Postmodern sports bars with piles of Nachos the size of Texas. We’ll try to come back real soon.

08.02.09 L.A. County Sanitation District's Wastewater Plant and the Puente Hills Landfill

Citybuilt.org got a behind the scenes look at the LA County Sanitation District’s wastewater treatment facility on the grounds of the San Jose Creek, just off the 605 freeway this past Saturday – it was enough to make any lover of infrastructure and monster machines wilt a little in the knees. But that’s not all . . we also toured the Puente Hills landfill (across the highway from the treatment plant) – formerly the San Gabriel Valley dump – and saw the work they are doing with their highly successful PERG (Puente Hills Energy Recovery from Gas) program, in which methane produced by the seepage of buried trash is pumped into an adjacent power plant. The methane-fueled plant can produce enough energy to power 70,000 neighboring households – it’s a beacon of green infrastructure indeed, and its right in our backyard. It was a fascinating day out at the sewer plant and the dump – if you’re into that kind of thing. And we know you are.