First Office

City Render

No matter where we look or how close we get, Los Angeles appears as a city of continuous materials: drywall clads its interiors, stucco – the exteriors, and asphalt – everything else. These quick and cheap finishes tend to flatten parts and ornaments, casting elevations and roads seamless and infinite. Perhaps it is because these materials are so common that they so deeply impress themselves upon our minds. We use the word “impress,” because they produce something of a relief. Relief in both of its senses: mental and material. We feel relief when we encounter them, when we find ourselves in front of their ordinary textures. They exhibit a weak attitude. Their thick surfaces smooth things over, dulling all architectural parts by erasing their seams. So we come to the second sense of relief. Drywall, stucco, and asphalt, especially once painted, produce material relief. Meaning—if we can still use this term to refer to architectural syntax—becomes muffled. LA’s architecture does not speak. Its tectonics are not revealed. Passers-by remain entirely uninformed. No one knows what happens here. Without apps or the kindness of strangers, Los Angeles would be barely legible.