some articles

a brief history of horizontality [2003]

on FOA's Yokohama Terminal and the future of architectural visibility in the city

towers of concentration lines of growth [2002]

on telecommunications and urban form in the contemporary city

cathedrals of the culture industry [2002]

on the OMA project for LACMA and the idea of the museum city

hallucination in seattle [2001]

on Frank Gehry's Experience Music Project in Seattle and Late Capitalism

architecture after couture [2001]

on architecture and fashion

who's afraid of postmodernism? [1999]

on late capitalism and architecture

the caress of the commodity [1997]

on automony and capitalism in architecture

some student projects


immersive mapping, gps, and the tunnel effect

analysis of starbucks

thesis on muzak [site map] is a research forum for architecture, network culture, and postmetropolitan urbanism.

Kazys Varnelis teaches history and theory of architecture and urbanism at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. He is also a member the board of directors of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design and a founding principal of Architecture Urbanism Design Collaborative [AUDC] and frequently works with the Center for Land Use Interpretation.

His teaching and research focuses on late modernism, architecture and capitalism, and the impact of recent changes in telecommunications and demographics on the contemporary city in general and on Los Angeles in particular.

[projects] [articles] [curriculum vitae]


Current news:

My article Corporate Camouflage. Space International's Noevir USA Showroom has just been published in LA Architect Magazine. The next issue of Praxis will carry my piece "Los Angeles. Practice in a Late Capitalist City." My essay on One Wilshire recently appeared in issue five of the Berlin journal An Architektur. Produktion und Gebrauch gebauter Umwelt. In the next few days, watch for a new website I designed for the LA Forum.

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If the post you are looking for isn't here, check out the archives, organized by month, or use the search function in the middle of the page.

Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Robert Sumrell's M.Arch thesis [best thesis award, SCI_Arc 2001] is now available on-line: superbrutalism. The thesis proposal from May 2000 and a visual argument from October 2000 show the thesis process.

You'll also note the creation of the Architecture Urbanism Design Collaborative [AUDC]. We'll be adding substantially to the site over the course of the summer.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 10:23 AM PST [Link]

Monday, June 25, 2001

According to the Los Angeles Business Journal, the "creative office" is dead. Can we have the giant Lego dinosaur from the etoys HQ? On second thought, maybe not. Note mention of 6100 Wilshire (next door! and the subject of many night photos of vacant offices...see below) and's continuing saga (now the corporation is dead, but the office can't be rented).

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 03:05 PM PST [Link]

Sunday, June 24, 2001

My most recent article in MIT's Thresholds has been published. You can read it on-line here or better yet, in the journal itself, available in most architecture bookstores soon.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 12:50 PM PST [Link]

Saturday, June 23, 2001

Even dead malls find a home on the Internet:

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 11:35 AM PST [Link]

Friday, June 22, 2001

Another salvo in the war against sprawl: Alternative Views of Sprawl: Is Los Angeles Style Sprawl Desirable? by Reid Ewing - SGN Library at

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 11:20 PM PST [Link]

Thursday, June 21, 2001

Fast Company compares two suburban communities outside of Denver. One is the utterly repulsive Highlands Ranch (this is a planned community..this is not an accident???). The other is the far more interesting New Urbanist community Prospect New Town. The latter is a bit out of the ordinary, allowing modern houses in (just what is wrong with modernism anyway?). See Is This Your Beautiful House? on the web. The print version is superior, however, as it has images. There's more on Prospect New Town at

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 06:29 PM PST [Link]

Wednesday, June 20, 2001

SCI_Arc's reconstruction of the Santa Fe depot building into a cutting-edge school of architecture continues apace. A visit to the site yesterday revealed that workmen are laying rebar for the concrete slab for the first level floor; electrical work is continuing; sprinklers appear to be in place or largely in place; and all the interior shear walls are nearly done - one last one needs to be shotcreted. The construction crew was also color-testing exterior paint.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 01:52 AM PST [Link]

A month and a half ago, a former member of the SCI_Arc faculty told me that they thought globalization was merely a buzz-word. Now just what was going on in Quebec City at that time? Hmm.. Hopefully this person is staying away from anything involving the teaching of current events and I guess they shouldn't visit this web site on Japanese Engrish either (thanks to Israel Kandarian for the link).

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 01:40 AM PST [Link]

Tuesday, June 19, 2001

To finish off post-Fordism once and for all, Record tells us it looks likely that Richard Meier will design the Woodstock music pavilion.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 08:06 AM PST [Link]

Monday, June 18, 2001

Rumor has it that there will be new- or interim -heads at all three big east coast schools this fall. Tschumi at Columbia, Lerner at Princeton, and Silvetti at the Harvard GSD are all on their way out. Or so we hear.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 05:24 PM PST [Link]

Friday, June 15, 2001

Post-Post-Fordism is in full blossom at Leisure Town.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 12:33 PM PST [Link]

Thursday, June 14, 2001

A trip to the 99 Cents Only store turned sour today for a consumer who took a wrong turn into a deep trench workmen had dug on Wilshire Boulevard across from my apartment.
wilshiretrenchcrash (43k image)
With the aid of a tow truck and its driver, the workmen were able to free the unlucky vehicle. They first attached chains to the front axle and used the tow truck to lift the vehicle vertically. Once it was clear of the trench, a front end loader pushed a heavy steel road plate underneath and laid the car back down on top.

The 99 Cents Only store is a place where consumers, especially new immigrants from more impoverished lands, seem to regularly be overcome by delirium. Visits from ambulances are a regular occurance. Fights break out on the street. Every night a bus load of Japanese tourists comes.

In terms of dollar earnings per square foot, the 99 Cents Only store is the most profitable commercial enterprise in Los Angeles.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 05:08 PM PST [Link]

John Southern has once again updated the unofficial SCI_ARC construction website.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 03:45 PM PST [Link]

SCI_Arc now has a web cam so you can watch the progress on the new building construction from your desktop in real time. Check it out @ Freight Yard Construction CAM

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 03:01 PM PST [Link]

Buildings in the network city aren't always for people. Check out to find out about data or telecom hotels, now springing up in a neighborhood near you.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 01:58 PM PST [Link]

Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Did You Bring Bottles? is a remarkably thorough web site on the history of the supermarket.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 11:32 AM PST [Link]

If you like it so much, why not take it home with you. Better yet, why not build your home in its likeness? See the New York Times article on Cloning Colonial Williamsburg.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 12:21 AM PST [Link]

Tuesday, June 12, 2001

If you're in Los Angeles and haven't seen any stars in a while, or just want to see more, check out SEEING STARS: the Ultimate Guide to Hollywood & Celebrities.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 10:40 PM PST [Link]

Progress on the refurbishment of the Santa Fe freight depot into the new SCI_Arc building continues. The damage to the concrete work on the exterior has been patched on about half the building's length. The decking on the mezzanines has been laid down and boxes for routing electricity have appeared on the roof.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 09:53 AM PST [Link]

Monday, June 11, 2001

The worst thing to happen to the Internet during the last couple of years isn't the collapse of the dot.coms - that's a good thing, obviously - it's those stupid pop-up ads from x10. Visit the Q Daily News to find out how to get rid of them, at least for thirty days and, if you're lucky, for 10 years.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 08:38 AM PST [Link]

Thursday, June 7, 2001

This is one of the genuinely few original ideas I've seen in architecture in a while. Go read the NY Times article on How to Hide a House quickly, before it winds up in the paid archives.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 05:33 PM PST [Link]

I made some more major changes for the web site this morning. Links off the main page have been consolidated to the left so that we have a two column layout. In the near future, these will change a bit more rapidly than they have in the past as more content goes on line. The underlying code that structures the page has also been changed, from layers created in cascading style sheets to tables. The result should be much more broadly compatible with more esoteric browsers. iCab will read the web site correctly, for example, although it still won't display the proper fonts due to lack of support for css. The random image show at the top of the page should be back for Netscape. Let me know if these changes have caused any problems.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 12:32 PM PST [Link]

Tuesday, June 5, 2001

I realize that we've never posted a link to the website of Central Office of Architecture. COA is one of Los Angeles's few transmodern firms - operating as if modernism never left us. This is a good thing. Watch for Mimi Zeiger's article on COA in Dwell magazine this fall.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 02:43 PM PST [Link]

Sunday, June 3, 2001


Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 12:55 AM PST [Link]

The most advanced social theorists today are proposing that, with the fall of the industry last year, post-Fordism experienced a crisis similar to that which Fordism underwent in 1966. The result, they anticipate, will be a cultural revolution of the sort that marked the late 1960s and early 1970s. The grim lack of activity in the contemporary cultural scene is, they argue, evidence of the bankruptcy of post-Fordist (and with it postmodernism) as a cultural dominant.

We can't tell what may follow yet, but I suspect it has something to do with this image. Once again, we see the room in the office building across the way. In the six years I've lived 100' from it, I've noticed two things: the light never goes off and nobody has ever occupied it for more than three weeks.
nightwindow (12k image)

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 12:51 AM PST [Link]

As you await the domestic release of the expanded version of Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece Apocalypse Now, you may want to look at this draft screenplay. It includes the French plantation scene that was deleted from the final cut but will be in the re-release.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 12:17 AM PST [Link]

Friday, June 1, 2001

As part of the transition to Greymatter, the main archives page has been fixed. I was surprised that for the last six months, the archives have not been updating properly due to an error as we moved from to Nobody mentioned it. It's fixed now, so you can relive in all its glory.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 12:43 PM PST [Link]

The changes you see on are due to a few hours spent reworking the template for the web site. A much more important change is coming under the hood as moves from blogger to greymatter over the weekend. Whereas blogger operates entirely off of the blogger web servers, greymatter is installed on itself and hence is both more reliable and more highly customizable. The only evidence of the transition below is the shift in "posted by" tags from right-justified to left-justified.

I initially thought that I'd run a beta test period for the transition, but I'm so sick of blogger's slowness and frequent downtime that we're already running on greymatter for the main index page. Over the next month, I'll start working on customizing to take advantage of greymatter.

Posted by Kazys Varnelis @ 11:50 AM PST [Link]