bachelor machine


File this under “Things I will never get over” 


Pin Ball House, Los Angeles, California, Eric Owen Moss, 1979

“This is the rose-by-any-other-name discussion. In a lot of ways, this project encourages a view of Los Angeles that I don’t want to add fuel to; of relegating it to the world of fluff, impermanence, or whatever (maybe insanity), and I can see that and feel it. But after all, what is this thing about? The client is a bachelor who collects pinball machines as art objects. And pinball machines are art objects because "everything is an art object,” which is absolutely, manifestly not true. But, at the same time that you can demolish all of these things intellectually, and belittle them in terms of art, the other side is that this actually was a special opportunity to do a building, to create a lifestyle, to redefine a lifestyle in terms of pinball machines.

It’s conceivable that the image of this building is, itself, something that lights up and goes around, and is a pinball machine. Arguably, you could come to see it that way; I’m not sure it was thought of in precisely that way, but in retrospect it has some of those colors and shapes. There is an arcade, in section, with a vault above and alcoves hanging off the wall. The pinball machines sit in the alcoves. It really is kind of nihilistic; anything can be a shrine, anything can be art, anything can be a sacred object. As I got to know this guy, we had some fairly wild arguments about what the building meant. I wasn’t attempting to convert him, but I had to ask what it means to do a building like this.

And then, at his back, he would always hear the advice of the cost accountant saying, “you need x bathrooms, x bedrooms, x kitchens, and what are you doing, doing this?” Finally he was persuaded by that voice not to do the project, so it was never built. The sixth pin ball machine was a car (this was in the late 1970s, and there was a new Porsche that just came out that he ordered from Bolivia or somewhere- nobody had one). The idea was to have the car on view from inside the house, so the separation between the garage and the living room became a glass wall. Its form was an analog to the wall of the pinball machine. We had to go through the usual (this was good practice for dealing with the City), you know, “you guys want to do what?” But, in the end, they gave it to us. So you learn that you usually want to do it more than they’re inclined, or capable, of stopping you.“

Images & info from the architect’s site