Sacha Baumann is an artist and designer living and working in Los Angeles.

Glossy glamour

Glossy glamour

My brisk walking commute from the Historic Core up to Bunker Hill for a shift at The Broad is slightly different each time, my route dictated by intersections with a green light that will lead me in the general direction of the museum. For over a year now this method has me regularly passing the corner of Hill and 6th Streets, where I have enjoyed watching the progress of lobby and landscape upgrades of the International Jewelry Center.

Three weeks ago I started a new full time job just down the street at Hope and 6th, so five days a week I'm walking by IJC and sometimes on Sundays too as I'm on my way up to the museum for my now once a week gig there. I've really come to love it. Like everyone else I've got my phone close at hand and I find myself taking pictures of this building all the time. Too many of them. (It's why I have the iPhone with the big memory.) 

A quick internet search tells me the building is designed by powerhouse architecture firm SOM (Skidmore, Owings + Merrill), the same designers of the building of my new job--the KMG tower, another building whose exterior I enjoy. Aesthetically IJC is completely different though: it has an 80's, Miami Vice vibe, in a good way. It's gleaming white and chrome with interesting juts in the facade. The shape reminds me of a yacht especially on a sunny day (which is basically everyday) when it reflects the blue sky. The view is best seen on my walk home, heading down 6th Street near Pershing Square, when the front of the building is fully visible.

The corner tenant is Bank of America and they are doing the building a disservice by restricting entrance to the bank. The 6th Street side aggressively blocks the natural circulation of foot traffic and is visually unfriendly. The whole 6th Street side of the building has been ignored in the upgrades; it's dirty and has a sketchy vibe and a bad smell. 

The opposite corner on the Hill Street side gets all the love, despite the fact that it has no street level tenant. It includes a tree-filled, gated courtyard. I'm hoping a classy restaurant will fill the space and soon patrons will fill the courtyard. (Please, no chains! How great would be if it was not just a 9-5 spot, but a dinner dining destination. Work on that, management/broker.)

The extra wide walkway has a trippy, 80's (again) light feature with peppy neon that flashes on and off. It's charming in a retro, slightly cheesy kind of way, especially at night when the light show reflects of the mirrored ceiling.

It's the lobby that really makes me swoon. What was once a dark, oppressive interior is now a gleaming, airy entrance. White marble, a faceted desk that compliments the exterior, a gorgeous light fixture and two masterful artworks. Seriously great.

Robert Longo and Richard Serra—two artists who came into power in the 80's—strike me as perfect for the lobby. The Serra has a strong sense of authority and gritty, but deliberate texture. I especially appreciate the Longo. There is a delicious kind of irony or maybe it's a thinly veiled joke in seeing a giant illustration of office workers in contorted positions separated by an aggressively angled, blood red sculpture. Their outfits are slick, like the sculpture. Modern and fashionable but with no love or passion, instead confusion, unease.

I'm smitten. When a building offers not just its tenants, but passersby a visual treat I am grateful. 

A landscape of community portraiture

A landscape of community portraiture

Fresh visuals

Fresh visuals