Our Man At The AIA/LA Awards


Caffe Bene, Yazdani Studio, one of the Next LA Award winners.

[Editor’s note: Our fearless correspondent Guy Horton shares his thoughts—Gonzo Style—on the AIA/LA Awards Ceremony that took place on the Broad Stage in the Santa Monica Performing Arts Center. And he was surprisingly assured by it all.  Read ahead, if you dare. And enjoy the slideshow of the Design Award winners at the end.]

To those who missed it,

Man you should have been there. It was crazy. Honestly, the most insane Awards I’ve been to in years. Moby was there. You know he’s been doing this LA architecture blog. He called LA urbanism a “shit show.” Can you believe that? Brilliant. That got repeated a lot and I imagine it will become the buzz-word for the 2012 Awards: The Shit Show. In a good way, of course. He looked a little nervous. Saw him before he went on stage to introduce things. Told me the whole architecture economic situation really sucks. I know, I told him. But that’s OK. We get by.

And that was the vibe on the floor at the Broad Stage that night: we get by…”but we don’t feel the same”, as The Brian Jonestown Massacre song goes. Somehow we have all made it through the last four years of a wasted economy. We are all desolation’s angels for having arrived on the other side of that and I think there was this sense that a corner was being turned and a new view coming into clarity. Call it a giddy post-recession fatigue. Soon the election will be done with and the book on 2012 closed. I think LA’s architecture scene has undergone a permanent brain chemistry alteration. I got the sense things are bouncing back and people were feeling it at the Broad. It was like a shared sense of having come through a war of sorts. Was it just me?

The Awards made me happy and I can’t explain why exactly. That was unexpected. It could have been the merlot or the colorful tubs of sangria. People just seemed to be in good moods. You know I’m the last person to use the “O” word, as in optimism, but there was this pervasive atmosphere of just that. Many I spoke to said business wasn’t great but that they were somehow doing fine and thought next year would be better. Frances Anderton was there and hearing her radio voice up close and in person just made the whole thing feel regal and legitimate. I won’t go into all the different awards but our old friends Koning Eizenberg won the Gold Medal. They also won an award for the South Pasadena House they worked on. As if by magic, I sat right next to the couple who own the house. They were thrilled to be there and they remembered how great it was working with the whole team. They really love the place and their lives have clearly been transformed by the house and the design experience. That reminded me how great this stuff can be.

Silverwood State Recreation Area, Touraine Richmond Architects.

Silverwood State Recreation Area, Touraine Richmond Architects.

The comedian Richard Montoya (Honestly, I had to Google him), from the Department of Cultural Affairs, was definitely on something. I think mostly himself, and as far as I’m concerned he can do that as much as he likes. He might as well have been on stage with a flaming hulu-hoop on a unicycle. He was on his game. End of story. He knew just what to say to a bunch of partying architects. We all looked sharp and have like five percent body fat. He could be reading the recession on us. The recession diet does wonders. It’s the original lap band. Somebody said I looked taller so maybe the recession made me grow.

The other thing was the reverse stage diving that took place throughout the evening. Alissa Walker and Marissa Gluck announced a best run-and-jump-on-stage-to-get-my-award award. I’ll have to find out if anybody actually won. I think Mehrdad Yazdani, actually. He made it look so effortless. Peter Zellner also made a nice landing—neither his glasses nor his hair seemed to move. It’s not just me, right? There was something in the air that night. Everyone seemed to be in that space. At one point a Broad Stage associate tried to block the stage jumper-uppers like one of those burly Coachella security people, but in the end she just gave up. Who forgot to put another set of stairs on stage right? Who needs them! Am I missing anything? Let’s see Eric Owen Moss won the 25-Year Award for the Petal House. Though he is good at giving speeches, there was none. Hernan Diaz Alonzo, in a beautiful moment of doubling, somehow had on the same suit and crazy scarf he was wearing in his projected photograph as he walked up (he didn’t jump) to receive the Educator Award. As you can see, there is just too much to get into here, but you get the idea. Maybe it was the merlot. By the way, Moby sends his best.

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