Traipsing around the rooftop garden known as SYNTHe near 8th Street just west of the 110 involves a lot more than just looking at pretty vegetable and herb plants. It requires watching your step, and overall engaging in an intense yet oddly soothing sensory activity. I knew the urban garden at The Flat apartment building and Blue Velvet restaurant was architect-designed, but I expected something along the lines of rows of pretty planting beds; what you get instead is hundreds of hand-installed galvanized metal panels painstakingly shaped into curvilinear forms that undulate into varying heights and widths. (The underside of the structure, which will transport you to a high school football field or parade route, is worth checking out, too.)
De LaB's well-organized garden party today featured the site's architect Alexis Rochas, an instructor at SCI-Arc, who explained components of the design process and fascinating subtle details, like how the soil contains different densities so that the structure can efficiently support the weight of the plants while most efficiently using water and other resources. It even includes tiers of lawn that will be left to let brown once the root system is soft enough to be suited for outdoor seating. A perfect example of form-follows-function. This is an awesome trend we should see a lot more of, since we truly have no excuse to NOT encourage this type of urban agriculture in Los Angeles.
I would have stayed for the lunch at Blue Velvet that followed, which featured foods cultivated six floors above, had the sharp corner of the fancy mod glass and steel door not gouged out a little chunk of my foot (and scraped my new pretty Miu Miu flats, dammit). I stopped the bleeding, then bailed in pain and a soured mood.
Unfortunately after all that exposure to clever aesthetic ingenuity, and treading so carefully on the rooftop, I left feeling foolishly accidently-prone and resenting at least one feature of contemporary design.