When architect Lorcan O’Herlihy designs buildings, he tries to imagine how the public realm could be part of traditionally private spaces. But, he told RECORD, neither he nor his client could have imagined how a dance troupe would use his recently completed multifamily residential project in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighbourhood.  

In late October, dancers twirled and leapt through Mariposa 1038, a market-rate rental apartment building by Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA), as part of the #CamerasandDancers initiative, which Jacob Jonas, the founder of an eponymous dance company, established nearly three years ago in an effort to bring dance to an audience glued to their phones.

Each month, Jonas publishes a photo essay of dancers in architecturally interesting spaces to his Instagram account. He’s organized more than 30 meet-ups in locations such as the Getty Center, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and Seattle Public Library. For the 33rd installment, the artistic director teamed up with RECORD and LOHA to feature Mariposa 1038 — RECORD’s October cover.

Members of O'Herlihy’s office took Jonas and the participating dancers and photographers—seven of each—on a tour of the space. The first thing Jonas noticed was the light. “There were so many different feelings and emotions that you capture through it,” he says. “You can go up high in the atrium and shoot down; you can go from low and shoot up.”

Incorporating contemporary ballet, breakdancing, parkour, and acrobatics, the dancers staged improvised performances throughout the building while photographers composed and captured each shot. When O’Herlihy saw the resulting pictures, posted on Instagram days later and now published on ArchitecturalRecord.com, he could only describe it as exciting.

“These artists understood the building in a very, very significant way,” the architect told RECORD. “The movement of their bodies responds to the elliptical geometries of the courtyard.”

For O’Herlihy, who is married to a former ballet dancer, the connection between the built environment and dance was not a surprise. In fact, the collaboration with Jonas was more of an affirmation of a long-held view for the architect.

“Architects should cross boundaries and draw inspiration from the other arts. I believe that’s key to being a good architect, or a great architect, is to recognize the arts and engage them,” he said. O’Herlihy himself took a two-year hiatus from architecture to paint after a grueling few years working in I.M. Pei’s office on the Louvre Pyramid.

His office is in talks to do similar collaborations with artists, musicians and dancers. “Working with Jacob Jonas The Company on this one was extremely important,” he said, noting his hopes for more artistic crosspollination within the profession. “It really elevates architecture.”


RECORD is hosting an evening speakers’ series on the intersection of art and architecture in New York City on November 30. Click here for more information.