My LA to Z: Steven Ehrlich

AIA-award-winning architect Steven Ehrlich discusses some of his favorite famous homes, where he likes to mountain bike, and the drive he took in 1976 that determined to him that L.A. was going to be his home


Steven Ehrlich has designed anything from 35,000-square-foot homes in the Persian Gulf to condos in Venice Beach. He offices in Culver City.


Watts Towers

Drive for miles on Alameda Blvd. south of the 10 freeway to 1761 E. 107th St. Soak it up: The west side of Alameda is a linear riot of color, graphics, and car parts, a visual feast if you have an open mind. The 100-foot high Watts Towers (now being repaired) is a monumental sculpture by Simon Rodia, a working-class immigrant who labored alone for 34 years. This is a world-class work of art, made of many recycled parts, that celebrates America’s potential. When I did this drive in 1976 I knew that Los Angeles was the place for me. I soon moved here from Nigeria where I had been working with the Peace Corps. When you’re done, take surface streets to Mama’s House at 3864 Crenshaw Blvd (323-290-0657) for some home-cooked soul food.




High mass at Our Lady of the Angels

You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate Spanish architect Rafael Moneo’s extraordinary cathedral downtown. Take note of the magnificent bronze gates by the late Robert Graham and the beautiful light that comes through the alabaster windows.

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Biking Sycamore Canyon

Take Sycamore Canyon, off the Pacific Coast Highway near the county line, to the top. If you have a mountain bike you can explore other trails, otherwise a townie will do. On your way back, lunch at Neptune’s Net. Don’t get the deep-fried if you want to be good—but then again, you’ve earned it!



Matinee concert at Disney Hall

Experience Frank Gehry’s brilliant hall in natural light. At intermission be sure to go to the roof terrace, see the rose fountain, and experience downtown in a new way.

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The Lazarof Collection at LACMA

See how classic 20th-century art can thrive in a “less is more” space sublimely curated by Stephanie Barron. Walk through Chris Burden’s terrific sculpture at the entry plaza.

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Sunday morning walk on the Venice Boardwalk

Take the boardwalk to the end of the Venice Pier at Washington Blvd., or walk north and have brunch at the Farmers Market on Main St. and Ocean Blvd. (The market ends at 1 p.m.)

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Schindler House

This is the “Big Bang” in the creation of modernism. Built in 1922 at 835 N. Kings Rd., it was recently voted the most important house in Southern California’s repository of modern architecture.

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Eames House

This year is the 60th anniversary of Case Study House No. 8, which was built at 203 Chautauqua Blvd. in the Pacific Palisades. It’s an assemblage of modular parts designed by the legendary couple Charles and Ray Eames. After your visit go to the Eames store at 850 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica and see more exhibit space and related furniture that’s for sale.

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Venice Garden and Home Tour

Spend a day walking through the year’s selection of Venice gardens and architectural houses and get a good sense of the neighborhood’s bohemian style. This year the tour will be held May 9 from 10 to 5.

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Images courtesy of (in order): (1) Flickr/jondoeforty1, (2) Flickr/OmarOmar, (3) Flickr/danorth1, (4) Flickr/sheilaellen, (5), (6) Flickr/cliff1066, (7) Flickr/AllanFerguson, (8) Flickr/ikkoskinen, (9) Flickr/b.frahm