Friday, January 2, 2009 at 12:42PM
California Department of Transportation District 7 Headquarters, Thom Mayne, 2004
Earl's Service, Gilmore Gas Station, Farmers Market
Sean Casey, storm chaser and IMAX director, in front of his Tornado Intercept Vehicle
I think 90% of design research is the act of walking through the world with your eyes open. Today I was reminded of Martin Schall, one of the all-time champions in that department. Schall, called "LA's Intimate Stranger" by the LA Times, has been shooting Los Angeles—mostly our architecture, but also vehicles, street art, and anything else that catches his distinguished eye—since he visited as a tourist in 1966. He makes yearly pilgrimages to our fair city and though he's not known for it even to those close to him, he has become well known here and among urban designers for the detailed, street-level documentation of LA on his web site, you-are-here.com. He's not an architect, photographer or connected to urban design at all. He's a German oil and gas engineer who works on oil rigs in the Persian Gulf. What spare time he has is dedicated to maintaining the web site, and when his boss forces him to take time off, he comes to LA to continue his mission.
I celebrate his magnificent obsession and invite you to examine the length and breadth of his site—the STARchitects, the Googie, the Transportation, and especially the MAP—with the same attention to detail that he gives our town. You won't be disappointed.