The Fairfax Has Fallen

Nathan Marsak

Nathan Marsak

· 6 min read

A couple weeks ago I produced The Fairfax Must Fall! in which I lamented the upcoming loss of 849 North Detroit (Jules George Koppel, 1928) to...something. At the time, I didn't have the renderings of its replacement in hand. I speculated the new development would fill you with dread and revulsion...but then who knows, maybe Stephane Ohayon would instruct his architects to design something based on Schwerin Palace.

Well, they just released the renderings, and they're even more soul-crushingly awful than anyone can imagine. Heck, at least when dark dystopian cities are depicted in popular culture (Brazil, the Batman pictures, etc.) the landscape still retains some pathos, some hint of the sublime. Instead, the structure replacing our little Spanish house is an unrelentingly bleak, bland, anti-human insult.

Don't believe me? Take a look:

And you thought I was being hyperbolic. Here's what the side of this thing is gonna look like:

Welcome to YIMBYland, your papers, please

This was designed by Avi Galili Collaborative. Here's another one of theirs—when Emanuel Sasoones bought and demolished 1417 So. Doheny, built in 1937, he hired Avi Galili Collaborative to design something monstrous. First, let's watch the demolition:

That's 1417 at right. (Note that at left, 1421 was remodeled into vaguely having a crenellated parapet, because it's important there be defensible battlements in Pico-Robertson.)

This, this is what Avi Galili are installing:

Which I admit I kind of like—sort of a machine-age take on the grain elevator (I'll sleep better if I pretend Galili is, uhm, making a conscious nod to Adolf Meyer's interpretation of early-Modern American factories). Though I doubt those cantilevered staircases will make it past the concept stage when Sasoones finds out what they'll cost, they do resemble the jagged teeth that shall shred apart anyone attempting to escape greige factory life.

Look, it even comes with smokestacks

Naturally, being human, I wouldn't want to live in, much less next to, the damn thing, but nevertheless that's how you replace a home from 1937. What do you expect, when the listing copy reads like this:

ANYWAY, I'm off-topic here; this post is titled "The Fairfax Has Fallen" as followup to "The Fairfax Must Fall" not just because we just saw the shamelessly depressing designs for 849 N Detroit, and which prompted the aside about their designer.

This post is about the fact that we're going to lose two more houses right across the street:

At left is 856, built in 1938; at right is 848, from 1927. Demolition permits for the pair were issued last Monday.

They are to be replaced thusly:

Note in the images below, the typical bs developer-architect sleight-of-hand one always sees in renderings, which here Aaron Brumer is trying to pull:

No, despite your depiction, the adjoining property at 842 N Detroit is in fact NOT a two-story grey box. I mean, you WISH it was, but it's not. It's a beautifully maintained one-story Spanish number from 1937, which I bet you're salivating over, trembling with wanton anticipation at the thought of excavators tearing it to pieces.

The renderings for 848-856 N Detroit turned up on a site called Urbanize, which is a YIMBY rah-rah site; sort of like blogging Mein Kampf, and the commenters are twelve-year-old wannabe brownshirts. And yet, even they have to wonder, is this whole thing going too far?

Here, BrentMC looks at 848 Detroit and thinks, golly, maybe those bad old NIMBYs might have a point in stating that architecture with soul is unfortunately being replaced by the dull, soulless boxes taking over LA neighborhoods. (One of the few thoughtful comments on the whole of Urbanize; roughly akin to the time someone on GrowLA actually said "this horrible design is giving NIMBYs lots of very good reasons to object to density!" which shocked me so much I wrote a whole post about it.)

Immediately afterward, "amplifycolor" disagrees with BrentMC, and with the contention that vintage soulful architecture is ever replaced with modern soulless boxes, stating "Whenever you see tear downs in single family neighborhoods, they are also white boxes, of a similar scale." Um, what? Would you be referring to the sage-green craftsman bungalows and red-tiled Spanish Revival homes and sky-blue Edwardian colonials that are replaced with great greige boxes five times as large, every, every, every time? What's amazing is amplify's contention that white boxes are being replaced by white boxes—if you were tearing down a white box, what, was it designed by Gill or Neutra? (Don't do that.) If YIMBYs were replacing storybook homes with white boxes, with luck maybe those new white boxes would look like...Gill or Neutra. But as I have shown on this blog, new construction is perennially beige with a hint of grey, or grey with a hint of beige. Or in the case of 849 N Detroit, two different kinds of greige.

Point being, damn, even among groups of preteen brownshirts, there are the ones you actually feel sorry for, like poor amplifycolor, evidently the developmentally disabled and/or drunk runt of the preteen HJ, spouting nonsense and generally spreading disinformation, because that, that is the currency of our world. Bless.

Nathan Marsak

About Nathan Marsak

NATHAN MARSAK says: “I came to praise Los Angeles, not to bury her. And yet developers, City Hall and social reformers work in concert to effect wholesale demolition, removing the human scale of my town, tossing its charm into a landfill. The least I can do is memorialize in real time those places worth noting, as they slide inexorably into memory. In college I studied under Banham. I learned to love Los Angeles via Reyner’s teachings (and came to abjure Mike Davis and his lurid, fanciful, laughably-researched assertions). In grad school I focused on visionary urbanism and technological utopianism—so while some may find the premise of preserving communities so much ill-considered reactionary twaddle, at least I have a background in the other side. Anyway, I moved to Los Angeles, and began to document. I drove about shooting neon signs. I put endless miles across the Plains of Id on the old Packard as part of the 1947project; when Kim Cooper blogged about some bad lunch meat in Compton, I drove down to there to check on the scene of the crime (never via freeway—you can’t really learn Los Angeles unless you study her from the surface streets). But in short order one landmark after another disappeared. Few demolitions are as contentious or high profile as the Ambassador or Parker Center; rather, it is all the little houses and commercial buildings the social engineers are desperate to destroy in the name of the Greater Good. The fabric of our city is woven together by communities and neighborhoods who no longer have a say in their zoning or planning so it’s important to shine a light on these vanishing treasures, now, before the remarkable character of our city is wiped away like a stain from a countertop. (But Nathan, you say, it’s just this one house—no, it isn’t. Principiis obsta, finem respice.) And who knows, one might even be saved. Excelsior!””
Nathan’s blogs are: Bunker Hill Los Angeles, RIP Los Angeles & On Bunker Hill.

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