Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 3/1/2010 12:00:00 AM
firm: john friedman alice kimm architects
site: guadalajara, mexico
Over the course of 14 years, John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects has done it all. Residences, restaurants and nightclubs, schools, a showroom building, and even some rocket science, aka aerospace labs for the California Institute of Technology. Anything left? Yes, exhibitions. The husband-wife firm diversified its practice with a commission for a pavilion welcoming the City of Los Angeles as the guest of honor at the Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara. The 20,000-square-foot project was a first for the architects as well as for this annual Mexican book fair, which typically confers top-guest status on a nation, not a city.
“Temporary projects allow for far more risk-taking, which can lead to great discovery,” Alice Kimm says. “It’s also immediate gratification as opposed to the slow build-up.”
Projections helped the pavilion embody the “dynamic nature of cultural life in Los Angeles,” to quote the brief. Tapping into L.A.’s most celebrated commodity, the architects commissioned eight teams to make short films on themes ranging from the arts to ecology, then showed the results on floating balloons—five air-filled, elliptical movie screens. Another projection surface, a white-painted wall displaying authors’ names selected by the Los Angeles Times book editor, got more literal about the fair’s literary nature. And a touch screen, set out in front, enabled visitors to rearrange the names as desired. “In exhibits, information is usually conveyed through a lot of printing,” Kimm says. “We focused on film, technology, and interactivity.”
Sustainability isn’t L.A.-specific, but it’s a global message now. The pavilion’s modular cabinetry combined recycled MDF, soy foam, and burlap. Soy-foam ottomans had covers of repurposed fabric, and flooring was recycled vinyl. The ultimate in reuse? The furniture is now sprinkled throughout Guadalajara’s public library system.
Photography by Marcos Garcia.
PROJECT TEAM: garrett belmont (project architect); stefan becker; patrick conner; gregory corso; brian kenworthy; lauren takeda