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Behold the “Pterodactyl,” a combination parking garage and office structure designed by Eric Owen Moss for Culver City, California, To this observer, it’s more train wreck than prehistoric flying reptile. It’s also yet another demonstration of how buildings can be torqued and tweaked with computer-aided design (CAD) in order to produce maximum maintenance problems and the inevitable impossibility of adaptive re-use. The building is mostly parking with the office as a kind of minor add-on. What appears to be just plain old visual incoherence is actually a vivid portrait of cultural collapse. A phenomenal waste of resources, they probably think it’s “green.”
Below is a schematic model of this droopy-woopy humdinger.
Thanks to Jer Jenkins for sending it in.

Pterodactyl 2

About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

27 Responses to “June 2015”

  1. Being There June 1, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

    Is that before or after the bomb?

  2. peakfuture June 1, 2015 at 7:52 pm #

    Ye gods. Did an engineer or any other responsible adult think about how this would be maintained?

  3. Ishabaka June 1, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    Great googly moogly. Imagine when it needs exterior painting, or cleaning, or whatever.

  4. Being There June 2, 2015 at 7:19 am #

    Well the really good part of it is that you’ll never know when it needs to be maintained.
    Perhaps when it falls apart it’ll be carted away pronto since it looked like garbage to begin with.

  5. dclacy June 2, 2015 at 10:33 am #

    This is what you get when a crane drops its load of shipping containers. Is there any purpose for that pile? Is that office space? Would anyone feel comfortable working in or near something that looks like the aftermath of a tornado!

    This sort of blobitecture reminds me of the Experience Music Project building in Seattle which is supposed to look like a smashed guitar, but to me, looks like a deflated hot air balloon.

    Good analogy to cultural collapse!

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    • hiruitnguyse June 2, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

      Nurse With Wound, and Whithouse would be the musical equivalent of that structure.

  6. dclacy June 2, 2015 at 10:42 am #

    Ok, I can’t resist. Is this office space for a railroad company?

  7. Vanessa Emma Goldman June 2, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    I was going to guess this ugly atrocity was by Frank Gehry, but it appears to be by someone with similar bad, if currently fashionable, ideas about buildings. Yes, it literally DOES look like a train wreck, or like a bunch of shipping containers that got fumbled by a crane.

  8. Vanessa Emma Goldman June 2, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    And now i am hearing the voice of the old college football broadcaster, Keith Jackson, “Oh Nelly, it’s a FUMBLE!!!!”

  9. hiruitnguyse June 2, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    Clearly inspired by that load of empty cardboard boxes in the back room of the Dollar General, piled up by the compactor just a few hours before closing time.

  10. Huntly June 3, 2015 at 6:45 am #

    Nice to see that they provided ample parking in front of the parking deck!

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  11. pmarproject June 3, 2015 at 8:03 am #

    It’s amazing what you can get built when you keep your engineering team locked in a room for a week with no windows and pile of crumpled aluminum foil.

  12. Zarko Straadi June 3, 2015 at 11:24 pm #

    I could not contain my horror at the sight of the Monstrosity which had taken root in Culver City, California. I had not seen its like since that accursed day when I entered the halls of Miskatonic University in search of the occult secrets of the Mad Arab Alazred. It was there that I first cracked open the cover of his grimoire bound in human skin, the name of which is not fit to set to paper. Within those unhallowed pages writ with curses and hissed incantations suited only for inhuman tongues, were sigils and traceries of unspeakable aspect…


    And now this twisted edifice, a horrid parody of gleaming modernity, proof in physical form that the Great Old Ones have once again pierced the veils of space and time! Where They once ruled, man now rules; where man rules, They shall rule again. It seems that lost R’lyeh shall not rise from the deep as some have imagined; rather, it shall emerge in shimmering pustules of repellent construct, growing like fetid tumors in the midst of our own cities!

    No force could ever persuade me to enter that manifestation of archetypal collapse, decay, and gibbering madness, for I fear the voices I would hear in haunted echoes, the hints of motion I might see in tenebrous corners where the light of the sun does not reach. The scaly slithers of meeping Things, the warbling aqueous chants of ‘Tekeli-liiii, Tekeli-liiii’ which echo in waters where Cthulhu lies dreaming. The voices! I…I hear them now!


    • Slow Eddie June 5, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

      Every employee in this building would be in danger of being swallowed up by an angle of masonry which shouldn’t have been there; an angle which was acute, but behaved as if it were obtuse.

  13. pentrus June 8, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    Junk. I would not want to live near that monstrosity.

  14. jayrome June 10, 2015 at 5:20 pm #

    How pathetic can an architect get? This building should never have gotten beyond the scale concept model. The guy must be the “Monorail” huckster for Culver City, dazzling the bankers with bull-scheisse.

  15. PeteAtomic June 10, 2015 at 6:06 pm #

    California has finally adopted the “earthquake”-style of architecture.
    Well, if you can’t beat ’em…. 🙂 right?

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    • dclacy June 15, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

      Love it! I guess you can consider this structure proactive, eh.

  16. GoLightRail June 14, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    This “project” would have earned an ‘A’ where I went to architectural undergrad school. It would have been commended as “non-traditional”, “daring” and “groundbreaking”.

  17. AKlein June 15, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

    Who ponies up the gelt to build this crap? Now there’s a question that needs answering.

    • Brian June 18, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

      Yes, I was wondering the same!

  18. IGuest June 17, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

    Eyesore of the Month? Should be Eyesore of the Century. What an idiotic pile of crap; perhaps that was the inspiration? Sorry, my mistake, it’s an insult to feces everywhere to associate them with this overbearing swollen-headed diabolical horror. This is the worst I’ve ever seen posted here or anywhere. Jim you may be violating international law by posting a photo of this perpetration of cultural abuse.
    My eyes! My eyes!

  19. Dubs June 21, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    Pretty decent example of the narcissistic ‘found object’ school which pervades most art and architectural schools in North America (and parts of Europe) these days. Driftwood, rusting beer cans, or ‘zen like’ tree branches. ‘Objects’ are found by adults, aping children. Those ‘objects’ are immediately deemed important or beautiful simply by the choosers choice and are slapped together in some kindergarten-like montage. Everyone claps and declares little Johnny a genius. Oh, and words like “unique” – sic – are inevitably thrown around!

    • jayrome June 21, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

      Vines. . .Lotsa vines, as in Kudzu? Just imagine mounds of beautiful green vines covering the entire structure. Best way to turn something Butt-Ugly into a natural wonder.

  20. carboncommute July 2, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    i’m most likely the only person to have visited this building…that being said. the office space on the top deck is incredible. tons of shaded natural light pouring in. beautiful views of baldwin hills and dtla. great walk-able proximity to the train and of course buses. the chunky forms people are criticizing are really cool gathering spaces that are isolated from the parking garage so you don’t choke on fumes. up close the detailing is really well done and simple. also, LA doesn’t have intense rain and snow so there are no long term opportunities for leaking and this type of building is really appropriate for the local climate. overall this is a really fun building located within a complex that showcases a career’s worth of collaboration between a for-profit developer husband and wife duo with a great local architect.

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