The Day Great Architecture Comes to Van Nuys.


Proposed development at 6908 Vesper Avenue goes before the PLUM.
Proposed development at 6908 Vesper Avenue goes before the PLUM.

At last night’s Planning and Land Use Meeting a few developers proposed a few developments for review.

A 49-unit apartment building, three stories tall, was characterized as ruinous to a neighborhood of mostly single family homes.

A 5-story senior apartment complex seemed to pass muster, after its parking and setbacks were revised.


In the large land mass that is Van Nuys, there is very little construction.

The downtown is shabby, full of vacancies.  The only new businesses sell pot, massages and bail bonds.

Victory, Vanowen, Oxnard, all compete for the ugliest street awards.


I wondered, after leaving the meeting, what might happen if Mayor Eric Garcetti brought architects, developers, community leaders and the citizens of Van Nuys together to create a Van Nuys Experimental Architecture District.

It makes sense. Land is cheaper. There are vacant lots and substandard buildings. Property could be acquired cheaply and the location is great, right in the center of the SFV.

Borrowing photos from the architecture website Dezeen, I came up with some projects that might be built in Van Nuys, and perhaps objections that might be raised.


“Where’s the parking?”


“You’ll have a bunch of derelicts hanging out. And that wall is going to be tagged.”


“This is crazy. It’s way too big. And I don’t want my neighbors looking down at my wife when she’s showering.”


“I mean this is just silly. You have crazy colored windows all over the building. And the angles make me dizzy. What about something more Mission Style?”


“I agree we need some new buildings on Van Nuys Boulevard. But these should have at least 1,200 parking spaces for cars along the street. That’s how you make a development!”


“It looks like a toaster to me. And the neighborhood is all 1950s ranch houses. The circle looks like a target and that makes we worried.”


“Just because Eli Broad donates $100 million for a Van Nuys Arts Center doesn’t mean he can ram this down our throats.  I object because where are the front porches?”


“Why is one column diagonal and the other vertical? To me it seems crazy. And underneath this you’ll have homeless, skateboarders and maybe teenagers making out and doing other things they shouldn’t!”


“Ok, it’s a church. I get it. But where is the one steeple? It’s nothing like what you see in Vermont and that’s what I think Van Nuys should look like.”

11 thoughts on “The Day Great Architecture Comes to Van Nuys.

  1. I appreciate good architecture but suppose you are a skilled auto-body repairman or automotive paint specialist who has recently arrived from Oaxaca. You turn onto Oxnard Boulevard, probably America’s ugliest street, and it seems to you like paradise.

  2. Are you seriously suggesting that a 1950’s themed drive-in is comparable in architectural integrity to Herzog deMeuron and Coop Himmelblau?

  3. Hey–it’s only Van Nuys.

    But this VNNC member–half in jest–but half seriously–did write the zoning expediter for the CVS store at Burbank and Van Nuys–and ask him why he didn’t suggest to his clients that they do “something” like a revised “l950’s auto drive in” at Burbank and Van Nuys for a “car dealership” instead of the “mausoleums for motor cars” that Keyes has been building up-and-down the block.

    And–hey–Calatrava–and his Sacramento River bridge near Redding. This VNNC member would love to see such a bridge across the San Diego Freeway–say at Hatteras. It takes me a mile-and-a-half drive–in a car–from Sepulveda and Hatteras to access Woodley Park–less than 500 feet away across the freeway. Build the bridge–and one could bicycle from Sepulveda Bl to White Oak–freed from car traffic.

    And it’s not so silly an idea as it seems. Most of the Sepulveda Dam parks are aimed towards Encino–yet–walk Lake Balboa–hear the polyglot of languages spoken–and you’ll know simple things as bicycle bridges would do so much.

    1. Good grief…”a bridge across the San Diego Freeway-
      say at Hatteras…build the bridge-and one could bicycle”,,.
      The bridge is located at Burbank Boulevard, just a few
      blocks south of Hatteras. Use it !!!

      1. The summary of comments suggest that the real estate market, that “invisible hand”, has gotten Van Nuys right.

        No patron is coming, no arbiter will suffice to settle anything.

        That’s why all the traffic reporters on news radio just call this “The Valley floor”. Thie floor has no aspirations to be anything else..

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