July 2009

Tastemakers 2009 Michael Maltzan

by Greg Cerio / produced by Mayer Rus / portrait by Jason Schmidt

Michael Maltzan From his offices in Silver Lake, Maltzan has developed one of the most innovative and respected architectural practices in the nation—an achievement that has led to his being named a finalist for the 2009 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award. His talents can be seen in projects large—the Pirelli RE offices in Milan and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena—and small. He designed the temporary Queens home for New York’s Museum of Modern Art, renovated the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer and built homes for artists Lari Pittman and Roy Dowell and art collectors Michael Ovitz and Alan Hergott and Curt Shepard. “Architecture,” he says, “is at its best when confronting questions about our culture.”

In recent years, he has taken on pro bono projects: Inner-City Arts, a whitewashed beacon of a downtown mini-campus where kids can find their creative voices, and a number of low-income housing developments offering both shops and social-service facilities. “Architectural projects that are focused, specific and direct can make a catalytic change,” he says. “They are optimistic, and a neighborhood responds to that.” L.A. is a city full of stars—but some, like Maltzan, shine with a  different kind of radiance.

Right: Inner-City Arts, Los Angeles; right: MOMA Queens, New York