Search results for "oscars"

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Rockwell Encore At Oscars
New York designer David Rockwell has once again been tagged to put together the set for the Oscars, which will take place on March 7 at the Kodak Theater.  Instead of messing with a good thing, he's once again framing the stage with the Swarovski "Crystal Curtain," made up of 92,000 crystals hanging in an upside-down crescent shape over the proceedings. This time the crystals (rendering above) will be colored in white, platinum, topaz, and bronze hues (the dominant colors last year were cool blue and white). The set will also include three circular, revolving platforms along with rotating LEDs and metalwork projection screens to keep things moving along at the notoriously slow event (which will have two hosts this year: Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin). "We wanted big, open, crisp environments that would work for comedy. Eventually, that led us to the idea of the set being about immersion in the world of movies. Stylistically, I realized the optimism of modernism in L.A. and the heyday of Hollywood was the perfect way in," he told the L.A. Times yesterday.
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Oscars to Rock Well
Possibly channeling a youth well spent watching late night reruns, David Rockwell envisioned a stage set for the 81st Academy Awards straight from the dazzling finale of 42nd Street wherein a woman's face dissolves into a crescent moon.  And that would be almost as surreal as David Rockwell incorporating some paving ideas from the Piazza del Campidoglio.
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Crystal Clear

The 2018 Academy Awards stage design is a maximalist fantasy
While much of the buzz surrounding the Academy Awards centers on the winners and the red carpet, there's one thing all eyes are sure to be on: the stage. And that's why the Academy has gone all out this year, with a maximalist fantasy of a set design to honor the awards' 90th anniversary, which takes place on Sunday, March 4. The crystal confection is the brainchild of Derek McLane, a Tony and Emmy award–winning scenic designer who incorporated a whopping 45 million Swarovski crystals into the design. This is McLane's sixth time designing Hollywood's most-watched stage, and it's his most ambitious–and abstract—yet. The centerpiece of the design is a crystalline proscenium, made of octagonal tiles blending crystal, metal, and mirror, while the stage itself is a dynamic design that will shift throughout the event, thanks to a combination of physical and digital effects. And, fittingly for the Oscars' 90th anniversary, the stage design pulls inspiration from a wide range of references from throughout film history, from classic Hollywood Regency design to Art Deco. It's too soon to call it, but the stage might just be the night's best dressed.
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Building Dreams & Silver Screens

Renzo Piano design for Academy Museum of Motion Pictures exhibition spaces revealed
This morning, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures released new renderings by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop for its proposed museum space in Miracle Mile, Los Angeles. The design for the complex extends out of the historic May Company Building on Wilshire Boulevard into an adjacent, 140-foot-tall orb. The top section of the globe will be an open terrace and project space housed under a huge arcing glass dome, and the bottom section will be a crimson-walled, steel-encased theater. This theater will feature a state-of-the-art projection facility able to screen 35mm, 70mm, and nitrate prints for an audience of up to one thousand people. All told, the project will cost $388 million to build. The May Company Building, a 1939 structure that epitomizes the Streamline Moderne style, will be home to three stories of exhibition space (two permanent, one temporary). One of these spaces will be an entire floor dedicated to the "Oscars Experience," an exhibit commemorating the annual film ceremony for which the organization is best known. The building was previously home to a satellite space for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, once referred to as "LACMA West," but the Academy inked a long-term lease on the structure and an adjacent parcel in 2014 for $36.1 million. The new renderings show that most of the iconic features of the building will be preserved, including the giant golden cylinder at its Wilshire Boulevard entrance. An additional, smaller theater and a flexible education space will be constructed underground between the older building and Piano's orb. The two above-ground structures will be connected on three levels by glass-encased catwalks. An outdoor seating area will also be build at the ground level of the orb, extending into the central lobby area of the May Company Building. As Kerry Brougher, director of the Academy, told Architectural Record, the museum was designed primarily from a filmmaker's perspective. “I think the fact that the Academy is part of the project makes it take on a different characterization than it might if it were a film museum in Milan or Paris," he said. With completion projected for 2019, the Academy Museum hopes to join the ranks of other movie museums around here and abroad, from the National Cinema Museum in Turin, Italy, to the controversial Lucas Museum, or New York's own Museum of the Moving Image, which Leeser Architecture revamped in 2011.
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Portland foodies rejoice: Snøhetta is designing the planned James Beard Public Market
It seems that almost every major West Coast city has a public market. Seattle has Pike Place Market (construction is underway on an upcoming expansion now set to open in 2016), San Francisco has the Ferry Building Marketplace, Los Angeles has Grand Central Market, and Vancouver has Granville Island. And San Diego may get a public market in Point Loma this summer. But the city of Portland—the small but mighty West coast food hub chock full of inventive restaurants, abundant farmers’ markets, and food trucks—has gone without a public market since the Portland Public Market closed in 1942. Until now. Portland's new food hall is set to be called the James Beard Public Market after the famous Portland-born chef and writer, whose name is also lent to the eponymous annual awards that are like the AIA awards or Oscars for food. Snøhetta is leading the design and working with SERA Architects, Mayer/Reed, Studio Jeffreys, and Interface Engineering. The conceptual designs publicly released last week depict a pair of two-story market halls totaling 80,000 square feet. The two wings would fill two almost oval-shaped downtown parking lots currently hugging the western end of the Morrison Bridge. Pedestrian safety will be critical at a site that abuts a major Portland artery carrying about 50,000 vehicles a day. “Currently, the Morrison Street Bridge and automobile ramps slice the site into two symmetrical halves, barring pedestrian access from three sides,” said Snøhetta in a statement. "Two broad moves are proposed—realigning the Morrison Bridge ramps and introducing a pedestrian through-road along the western edge of the market in order to increase the overall build able site area, and make the new Market accessible and safe for pedestrians from all four sides.” The designers filled the renderings with lots of natural wood, exposed steel, ample seating, and glazing. There are outdoor and indoor spaces with areas for over 100 market stalls, special events, restaurants, and even a teaching kitchen. There are also plans for a green rooftop terrace overlooking the Willamette River so market visitors can get glimpses of Mount Hood on a clear day. While Portland rarely has to contend with snow, a covered public market will allow venders and other merchants to sell their produce and wares out of the rain year-round. The project is currently in the community outreach phase. Construction is slated to start in the fall of 2016 and the market is expected to open in the spring of 2018. While the local nonprofit organization that will operate the market, the Historic Portland Public Market Foundation, has not yet revealed the cost, the project is expected to draw on a mix of public and private funding.
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And Now A Gehry Tower For LACMA? What’s Next?
The surprises keep coming at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). After learning that the museum plans to shift its proposed Peter Zumthor–designed building southward (partially bridging Wilshire Boulevard) to avoid damaging the La Brea Tar Pits, now comes news that the museum is hoping to partner with LA's transit agency, METRO, to build a tower across the street. LACMA Director Michael Govan's choice for an architect? Frank Gehry. "That's my dream," Govan told the LA Times' Christopher Hawthorne. "I'm jealous that New York has a Gehry tower and we don't." The tower would be located near Wilshire and Fairfax, near the site of the current A+D Architecture + Design Museum, which is being torn down to make way for a staging ground for Metro's Purple Line expansion. Ironically Govan said he hopes to build his own Architecture and Design wing there. No word on the tower's design or height, or on whether it will even happen. But Gehry has acknowledged discussing the plan with Govan. "I'm open to it," he told Hawthorne. So far Govan and Gehry have been unavailable for comment to AN. There are so many obstacles standing in the way of these grand schemes. But a post on LACMA's blog points out that if they go ahead, one block of LA's Miracle Mile will contain designs by three Pritzker Prize winners— Gehry, Zumthor, and Renzo Piano, who not only designed two new buildings for LACMA, but is designing (now solo) the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences museum.
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James Beard Deadline Approaching
2012 James Beard Design Winner Le Bernardin (Le Bernardin) If you've designed a beautiful restaurant in the last few years, the James Beard Foundation Restaurant Design Awards want you. But you better hurry: the deadline for their annual awards, known as the "Oscars of the food world," is January 20. Among the previous winners is New York's Le Bernardin by Bentel & Bentel Architects & Planners in 2012 (pictured). This year's notable jury includes Kristina O'Neal of New York firm AvroKO, interior design legend Adam Tihany, and Marion Weiss of WEISS/MANFREDI. Visit here to submit. Winners will be announced at a Lincoln Center Gala on May 5. (Photo: Courtesy Le Bernardin).
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Höweler + Yoon Win 2012 Audi Urban Future Award
Last night in Istanbul, Audi bestowed its 2012 Urban Future Initiative award to the Boston-based firm Höweler + Yoon Architecture for Shareway, their 2030 vision for the Boston-Washington corridor. In a ceremony designed to generate Oscars-level suspense, Eric Höweler accepted the award (which carries a €100,000 prize) from Audi CEO Rupert Stadler. Höweler + Yoon Architecture’s project proposes redefining the American Dream, because “the notions of progress that supported the continual sprawling American expansion no longer ring true.” They’re looking at the monotonous I-95 corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. (a.k.a. “Boswash”) and repositioning the “infrastructural leftovers” of the post-war city into places that generate activities relevant to today.
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In the Winner’s Circle
Zaha Hadid's Stirling Prize-winning Evelyn Grace Academy.
Hufton & Crow / Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects

The RIBA’s annual Stirling Prize for architecture claims that it honors the building (and the practice) that has “made the greatest contribution to British architecture in the past year." The award has no equivalent on this side of the pond, so it’s hard to fathom just how much public attention it garners for architecture there. It’s true that in this country we have the Pritzker (for lifetime achievement, not a building), many local AIA awards programs for buildings and, of course, the sixty-year-old PA awards. These awards are judged by knowledgeable insiders, still it’s doubtful that anyone outside the profession has a clue that the award even exists or can name its annual winners.

The Stirling Prize however is front-page news in all the major British papers, it’s talked about in pubs, and most impressively it’s televised on BBC 2 to a huge (for architecture) audience. In fact, until the irrepressible Will Alsop uttered something obscene in accepting his Stirling Prize for the Peckham Library in 2000, the prize was broadcast live.

The Stirling Prize may be a particularly British invention and phenomenon in that it is similar to that country’s Booker and Turner Prize for literature, which have very high public profiles. The Stirling was founded in 1966 and selects its six yearly short-listed projects by selecting from the RIBA’s previous years award-winning buildings. The jury visits all the buildings on the list (which often are abroad; last year none of the contenders were in Britain) in order to decide who will get the £20,000 prize.

This years jury included Angela Brady (president), Peter Cook, engineer Hanif Kara, landscape designer Dan Pearson, and journalist Alison Brooks, who were all interviewed on the telly about the short-listed buildings: O’Donnell and Tuomey’s An Gaeláras Cultural Center in Derry, the Angel Building by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, the Folkwang Museum in Essen, Germany, by David Chipperfield, the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theaters by Bennetts Associates; the Olympic Velodrome by Hopkins Architects, and Zaha Hadid’s  Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton. It was a sign of their maturity as a design- and energy-conscious society that none of the judges talked about the “sustainability” of the individual projects but rather more about their unique design contribution to society and the surrounding environments at large.  The prize was held this year in the Magna Science Adventure Centre, Wilkinson Eyre’s remodeled Steel factory (a Stirling winner in 2001) outside Sheffield. Over 1,000 architects, designers, clients, and journalists were in attendance. In the room the consensus was that Hopkin’s Velodrome was the clear winner and perhaps a sentimental choice given Hopkins’ advanced age and lack of a Stirling award. RIBA conducted a public vote, and the Velodrome was the clear favorite. But the jury selected Hadid’s Evelyn Grace Academy, and the announcement was greeted by deafening silence in the Magna Centre.

It may be that there is a jealousy of Zaha’s fame and celebrity in the U.K., but the audience seemed stunned by the choice and—with Zaha not in the room—the award was collected by Patrik Schumacher. As at the Oscars, the winners are kept under strict wraps until the award ceremony (perhaps to force potential winners to purchase dinner tables), creating a real buzz about the competition that has people tuning in to the broadcast to find out the winner.

That seems as it should be. Architecture is the most public of arts in the manner of its design and construction, use, and reception but in this country it’s all to often the province of professionals and insiders. Society at large rarely gives credit or recognizes architecture for its contribution. This is a long historic problem for American architecture, but it’s time for the profession to think about how to more loudly promote that contribution. An awards ceremony like the Stirling is the perfect model to get the message into the public domain. How about an AN award for the Best Building in 2012?

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New Practices Sao Paolo
Though a bit more sedate then the previous night's party, where copious amounts of caipirinhas were consumed, the New Practices Sao Paolo panel discussion on July 15 was not without its own fireworks. Toshiko Mori and José Armenio de Brito Cruz  moderated the panel which was preceded by presentations from the ten winners. A strictly enforced ten-minute time limit made presentations feel like the Oscars when the orchestra music begins to swell. Though each presenter struck an distinct note, one could pick up on a few common threads.  I certainly wouldn't call it anti-green, but a few presenters markedly pointed out that there are other immediate matters in Brazil that compete with sustainability. "We didn't want to create a green building," said Triptyques' Carolina Bueno, when describing her building, which, oddly enough, included "pores" in the facade for plants to grow. More to the point, Arkiz's Rafael Brych  questioned whether "green demagogical discourse" shaping the architectural discourse fully represented what was needed in Brazil. No one disputes that Brazil is going through a huge transition period. But while the economy booms, extreme poverty and crime persists. For all its extraordinary architectural history, it's a place where the field of architecture is still evolving.  Armenio de Brito Cruz pointed out that Brazil has 100,000 architects and 5000 more graduate every year. "But architecture in Brazil is not as established as it is in the U.S.," Armenio de Brito Cruz said before asking the panel, "Am I lying?"  Mori didn't mince words about the problems of "impossible claustrophobia" and crime. Mori was in Brazil as a juror for Harvard GSD's Green Prize when she had to duck behind a car as bullets flew. "It's not New York," she said. But despite the problems "there's this amazing sense of optimism" which she credited two solid presidential administrations. While there were interesting images tied to the 2016 Olympics, Mori pointed out that it's the community and cultural centers in the poorest areas that make the biggest difference. "When architecture enters enters these communities there's a sense of peace."
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Quick Clicks> Glass, Steel, Foam, Reel
Glass wear. Alistair Gordon visits the entrancingly translucent Maison de Verre in Paris, Pierre Chareau's 1928 house of glass blocks, and speaks with current owner Robert M. Rubin about his ongoing restoration of the early modernist icon. Here's a preview of Gordon's feature that will appear in the next WSJ Magazine. Steely resolve. The Calatrava-designed PATH hub for the World Trade Center is now over budget to the tune of $180 million, reports DNA. The stratospheric overrun is due in large part to the decision to use extra steel to "harden" the building for security reasons. The Port Authority Board passed the revised budget on Thursday morning, promising to bankroll the extra costs with a contingency fund. Featuring...foamcore! San Francisco's Museum of Craft commandeers a space near the Moscone Center for a pop-up installation that presents architectural model-making as a form of craft. The show offers a glimpse into the process of 20 notable SF-area architecture firms, writes the San Francisco Chronicle. Awards go immaterial. Producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer talk to the Hollywood Reporter about the set design for this year's Oscars (airing this Sunday), revealing that they'll rely on projections to create a constantly changing, animated environment within the Kodak Theater. Architect David Rockwell, who designed the sets in 2009 and 2010 (and snagged an Emmy in the process), this year passed the torch to production designer Steve Bass.
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Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools
The new Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, built on the site of the old Ambassador Hotel, is an odd mix of historicism and futurism.
Magnus Stark Photography

Thanks to years of controversy and a price tag rising into the hundreds of million of dollars ($578 million to be exact, including giant legal bills to assuage its opponents) most Angelinos know by now that on Monday a new, sprawling educational campus will finally open on Monday on the site of the former Ambassador Hotel. The name of the mega complex is the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, and there are now six pilot schools located on the 544,000-square-foot site, serving 4,400 students.

The Ambassador, of course, was one of the great icons of Los Angeles. Designed by Myron Hunt and opened in 1921, it hosted—together with its tropical-themed Cocoanut Grove Night Club—the likes of the Rat Pack, Nat King Cole, the Oscars, and several US presidents. Its unique hybrid of art deco and Mediterranean was instantly recognizable as the social center of the city. But the hotel fell into disrepair and in 2006 was razed by its new owner, the LA Unified School District (LAUSD). There have been years of debate as to whether the building—now part of the school district’s close to $20 billion, bond-funded building program—was salvageable, or whether it could be transformed for another use. But at this point whether the destruction of the hotel was warranted is irrelevant. There is no going back.

Ample green space, such as This MEMORIAL POCKET PARK, is one of its selling points.

The new school complex is a compromise in many ways. Conflicting forces of preservation, school administration, and local citizenry wanted different things: many wanted an exact replica of the old Ambassador. Others, including the architects, Pasadena-based Gonzalez Goodale, wanted a very contemporary new building. The result falls somewhere in between. It takes on the scale, massing and siting of the old hotel as well as some of its former details—like its sloped roof and giant lawn— with a contemporary palette filled in between.

A recent tour of the building began at the sprawling lawns leading up to the school, which is raised and set back from the street on almost the exact spot where the old hotel was. The large grassy swaths provide a welcome respite from the continual concrete and noise of Wilshire Boulevard in LA’s Koreatown. A linear memorial park to Robert F. Kennedy, who was killed at the Ambassador, with an attractive mix of contributions by local artists, would be the welcome mat to this lawn, but the LAUSD has temporarily closed it off to Wilshire, and the public, with an ugly chain link fence for security reasons.
 

Many of the school's high-tech materials actually look cheaper than they are.

When you walk up the slight slope from Wilshire you are overwhelmed by the bulk of this school, which is so big it’s more like a city for learning, and could even pass for a plain old city on a hill. The northernmost structure, a six-story building, features a gridded glass facade that exposes the classrooms inside. Flanking this structure are vertical perforated screens over the outdoor stairs, featuring green, white, grey, black, and other colored squares. In front of this building sits an exact exterior replica of the white, boxy Cocoanut Grove. The buildings to the south are long linear bars clad in metallic panels that lead the eye to the southernmost building, a colorful composition that meets the street at a welcome storefront scale.

From a planning perspective the school manages the chaos of this impossibly complex program intelligently. The lawn softens the thousands of pounds of concrete, the grand thoroughfare in the center is an effective connector, the site’s varying grade levels break down the overall scale, and the long view corridors help provide much-needed orientation. Also the outdoor eating and play areas take advantage of the California climate, at least to an extent. It remains to be seen how so many schools will interact without breaking down in chaos, but it seems at first inspection like it will work.

Inside one of the new classrooms, which is suffused with light but little life, due largely to the regulations of the school district. 

Inside, the school, hamstrung by district regulations, looks institutional, although the amount of natural light—especially from floor-to-ceiling windows in many clasrooms— and the width of the hallways are uplifting. The highlights are the recreations of the Cocoanut Grove (recreating the original’s middle eastern motif turns out to be pretty hokey, but promises to be one of the most fun places to have a school assembly anywhere), the old Paul Williams coffee shop (which is now a fabulous, although over the top teachers’ lounge), and the gently vaulted library, on the site of the old ballroom, which, with its lovely murals and hypnotic volume has become one of the most gracious spaces in the whole project. The double-height library in the south-most building, fronted with colorful colors and fitted with a large glass curtain wall, is also successful.

But overall the architecture at the Ambassador complex is a strange, even campy hybrid of futurism and historicism. The pitched roofs are an approximated Mediterranean element tacked onto a contemporary shell. Repeating zinc-clad lintels and colorful vertical fins feel like they could be part of a sci-fi set as much as they could be part of a historic complex. The aluminum stair grid, while an effective tool for promoting outdoor circulation, seems jarringly out of context. The glass façade feels heavy and inelegant—is this an office building? The whole complex could use a little more landscaping—perhaps desertscape to conserve water—to make it feel less hard and overwhelming, despite the lawn in front.

 

The new theater harkS back to the original Cocoanut Grove; an outdoor play area fits into a tight space.

The insistence on compromise makes for a timid recreation of history and for a strange form of contemporary architecture. While the planning manages the school effectively (no small task), and more carefully crafted spaces like the former Cocoanut Grove space and the libraries are welcome exceptions, the overall design is not really rooted in anything except maybe the city’s obsession with loosely recreating the past. Effective historical architecture involves painstaking investigation and attention to detail. Effective contemporary architecture is rooted in solving the problems of site and in a fresh vision. This has neither.

If anything the complex is a painful reminder of what was there before; an authentic piece of LA history that’s been replaced by a loose nod to it. Much of its neighborhood, which was once one of Hollywood’s most electric areas, has the same feeling. And no matter what external circumstances drove up the final price tag, for the staggering cost, the students, and the city of LA, should be getting something better.