Los Angeles is a great city for architecture. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to breeze past landmarks inside our cars with barely a moment’s notice. A group of young designers and cyclists in LA are looking to slow you down and up your appreciation level by setting up regular free bicycle tours to some of the city’s most iconic architectural sights.
Architectural sightseeing is not a new concept, said Brian Janeczko. He organizes BikeHaus, a tour that mostly concentrates on mid-century-modern residential homes by the likes of Lautner, Ellwood, Eames, Schindler and Wright. A newcomer to LA in 2006, Janeczko discovered bicycling after suffering through long work commutes between Pasadena and Echo Park. In the process, he also found the now-dormant RIDE-Arc, a monthly social ride started by a group of SCI-Arc grads. He loved the concept so much that, when things started slowing down for RIDE-Arc, Janeczko continued the tradition in his own style. “I just wanted to engage architecture, see things that I wanted to see, and engage with a small group of people,” said Janeczko, who works as lead fabricator and project manager at experimental design studio Materials and Applications.
Janeczko said that appreciating architecture on two wheels is a totally different state of mind than riding your car. “You work really hard to see something special [when biking]. When you get there, you’re a bit out of breath and in a state of euphoria.” Which is exactly how he wants it. Since starting in January 2009, BikeHaus has taken an average of twelve people a ride.
While Janeczko has more modern tastes, James Black, Garrett Belmont, Kyle Pfister, and Branden Ushijima err on the more fun and futuristic side of modern with regular rides to Googie coffee shops. “There really aren’t that many [great Googie examples] left, there used to be thousands across the country and now they’re only a handful left in the city. Combining it with a bike ride seemed like a great way to take advantage of that while they’re still here,” said Black, a Googie enthusiast and also principal of design firm Architecture Burger. Every month this year, the Googie Coffee Shops Bicycle Ride series takes riders from The Village Green (where three of the four organizers live) to their Googie coffee shop of choice. Expect a ride, a good breakfast, and lively conversation.
“Architecture, bicycles, and food, they’re all three great systems which we can enjoy our city,” said Black. It’s also a way to cross-pollinate cyclists with designers, said Pfister. “It exposes different groups to other groups. There are serious cyclists that you end up exposing to a new way of thinking and looking at the city. Then, you’ve got the architecture aficionados, who suddenly discover how fun it is to ride bikes and actually ride them for a reason, not just to bomb down to the beach on the weekends.” Needless to say, everyone is welcome at both of these rides.