Everyday Spaces for Everyday Architects

Curious to learn more about and highlight the everyday spaces architects interact with as a part of their daily work. I'm talking about the building department office, the copy shop closest to plan check, and all the other regular spots outside the office that allow the production of buildings to take place. 

LADBS is located in a pair of postmodern towers. Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation.

In Los Angeles, for example, we have the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety offices, located in one of a pair of granite and glass skyscrapers just on the edge of Downtown. The plan-check level is organized--in brilliant Modernist fashion--as a continuous desk wrapping the periphery of the building. Bureaucratic functions happen on one side of the continuous counter ("The Counter") while architects, builders, homeowners wait for their number to be called by the agency they are here to see on the other. Dreams come here to either take flight, die, or receive revisions. The floor is organized as a series of donuts, mostly, with the offices along the outermost edge, followed by The Counter, and then an interior waiting area that itself wraps the elevator core. Nobody knows your name here, but everyone takes a number--It's great.

My understanding is that this is the place--If you're submitting drawings for review, whether it be a billion-dollar development or a residential addition, you come here. There's even a Yelp page for what is affectionately known as "LADBS."

Are there similar spots in other cities?

Oct 3, 19 3:00 pm

The little interior shot that accompanies this article could have been taken in the plans check office in my city, too. It's ubiquitous.

Ya'll know I will take any opportunity I can to post about Brad Pitt, but really: one of the things I loved, so much, about his testimony in front of the LA County zoning hearing board in favor of Zumthor's LACMA was that he was sitting in that seat that we've all spent time either literally in or preparing for. 

We architects practice *in public*. I love public meetings like this because we practice *in public*.  In these kinds of hearings, in publicly-owned and accessible meeting rooms, we see the democratic society at work.

Oct 4, 19 1:14 pm  · 

Both of these are interesting, and simultaneously ordinary and crucial in the process: the plan-check counter at the building department, and the council or hearing chamber for public meetings.  Every jurisdiction must have their own versions, occasionally appearing in bad dreams...

Sidebar: Not sure what what makes the two LA City towers on Figueroa "postmodern" per the caption above.  Is it because the curtain wall is partially opaque?

Oct 4, 19 1:49 pm  · 

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