Soft Landing - LADG & SUBTILA 

Sunday, March 3rd – 5:30pm

Please join us for the first event of Soft-Landing

LADG and SUBTILA in conversation at the VDL Research House.


The Series

Historically, Los Angeles was seen as a place both free from tradition and a fertile ground for experimentation. Architects in the 1970’s and 80's, faced with a different regulatory environment than today, practiced with a sense of looseness. They borrowed both the artists’ attitudes and the logic of Southern California’s standard and vernacular construction. Architecture at that time found a soft landing in the city, yielding a wealth of experimental buildings that became part of Los Angeles' architectural DNA.

Today, an emerging generation of architects find themselves practicing in a wholly different environment. With byzantine bureaucratic constraints, heightened awareness of growing social and environmental challenges, and more recently, a world still reverberating with the effects of a global pandemic, the L.A. Forum and VDL’s new event series Soft-Landing asks a group of emerging practitioners to discuss their work in the face of these circumstances: What embedded knowledge does one need to have in one's practice to create a soft landing today?  How do architectural practices find opportunities for experimentation while navigating various economic and bureaucratic constraints as well as  pressing social and environmental challenges? How does the built environment of Los Angeles influence their work? 

Each event of the series invites two practices to present their work in pairs. Speakers will discuss one of their projects and a building in Los Angeles that informs their work. A conversation with the public will follow the presentations.

The Speakers


The LADG designs new buildings for new kinds of families, gatherings, and uses. Like our namesake city, we take seriously the casual, the physical, and the ad hoc. For us, these are appealing qualities but also signs of intelligent strategy: buildings can engage with the scene alongside people in ways that are open, direct, and comprehensible. This is the kind of work we do. It makes familiar-seeming things new again so audiences can re-think what they expect from their buildings and cities. The projects may originate in LA, but the ideas apply everywhere.

Founded in 2004 by co-principals Claus Benjamin Freyinger and Andrew Holder, the firm has offices in Venice, CA and Cambridge, MA. We work at all scales, from furniture to multi-unit buildings, and have completed projects in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and the United Kingdom. We’ve received a number of awards, including 2017 and 2018 Progressive Architecture Awards, the 2014 League Prize from the Architectural League of New York, and multiple citations from the Los Angeles Chapter of the AIA.


SUBTILA is a Los Angeles based design practice founded by Jeff Kaplon, previously a co-founder of Part Office, co-founder of Cactus Store, and founder and curator of architectural website Subtilitas. SUBTILA is an office interested in the subtlety, ambiguity, nuance, tension, and details found in the history, lineage, and context of our projects. We enjoy working at all scales, from residential interventions and commercial developments to editorial projects.

Kaplon studied in New Orleans, Vienna, and Basel, and previously worked in New Orleans and New York prior to moving to Los Angeles. His work has been featured in a number of exhibitions, and he has contributed to a variety of editorial projects and publications. He has also lectured and participated in workshops domestically and abroad, including the AA in London, and the Politecnico di Milano, and the Berlage in Delft.

This program is presented by the L.A. Forum for Architecture and Urban Design and the VDL Research House.

Image Credits:

Image 01: House 5, LADG. Photographed by Marten Elder

Image 02: Fairfax, SUBTILA. Photographed by AnnaBeeke

Image 03: LACMA Eternal Medium, LADG. Photographed by Marten Elder

Image 04: Western Courtyard, SUBTILA.