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This Time It’s Personal

Russia and America cross-pollinate at the Canadian Centre for Architecture
My in-laws are Russian. In fact, they are Muscovites. And they have a very convincing way of narrating their still-fresh memories of life in the Soviet Union. I have not been to Russia since their daughter and I traveled along the canals that connect Moscow to St. Petersburg fifteen years ago. We do not discuss politics much when we visit her family in New Jersey. I have learned that there are differences of perspective, but that those don’t really matter. We have not discussed Russian interference in the U.S. elections. Still, I am quite sure that we would all agree, at some level, that such things are essentially trivial too. Eating a Russian dinner in New Jersey doesn’t feel strange, and despite the fact that this family is in the U.S. because of geopolitics, the very idea of personalizing those politics does seem odd. Upon further reflection, however, there might be no other way to connect memory to history. Only after traveling to the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal to view the exhibition of Building a New New World, Americanizm in Russian Architecture, did I realize that personal view of geopolitics also has a history. The exhibition collects an enormous array of architectural objects and documents that trace the ideas, materials, people, trends that moved between Russia and America over the course of more than a century. Indeed, nations have relationships, almost like people do. And the Russian relationship to America, or more precisely Russians’ views of Americanism (America, as they saw it) is Jean-Louis Cohen’s curatorial theme for the exhibition. Cohen is personally involved in these geopolitics as well, but more on that later. In the forthcoming exhibition catalog, Cohen refers to the work of Reinhart Koselleck, a mid-20th century German practitioner of conceptual history, or Begriffsgeschichte. This historical method hinged on the changing definitions of cultural terms over time, which he called “the semantics of historical time.” The language that binds expression to understanding, according to this theory, is the thread that historians use to enter a period distant from them in both space and time. This is Koselleck’s concept of a “space of experience” that Cohen has drawn into the galleries at the CCA, to understand the contradictory nature of Americanism in Russian architectural culture. This concept, therefore, offers an empathetic entry into an alien world of Russian modernism: We must first accept the various Russian conceptions about America to enter their changing space of experience—in other words, to personalize geopolitics. Of course, generalizations about America were not and are not unique to Russians; they were produced alongside the American Revolution, probably even earlier. Cohen begins the catalog’s introduction and the exhibition’s wall text with the words of Alexis de Tocqueville, who explicitly set “Anglo-Americans” and Russians into an incipient geopolitical rivalry, one based in their declared difference from traditional European values. Tocqueville’s theorization of American character for Europeans has, since, become the basis for most claims of national character. Indeed, Cohen is quite clear that Russian Americanism was always mediated by non-Russian interpreters. He and Hubert Damisch wrote on Américanisme et modernité (1993), and a Russian translation of Hugo Münsterberg’s book, Die Amerikaner (1904), appears in one of the beautiful cases designed by MG&Co. The cases are crucial to building Cohen’s space of experience: they require close reading and immersive engagement. MG&Co’s beautifully designed curtains serve as transitions between the galleries, each focused on a theme. They also enclose six digital projections—one on each side of three thresholds—chosen to reflect on the contents of each gallery. The gallery walls and the curtains are color-coded, as are the cases that carry the essence of the show: models, drawings, and an overwhelming assembly of books and journals. The general impression is of density. In each one of the cases are numerous objects that reflect on one another, offering a guide from one object to the next. This composition feels like inhabiting a three-dimensional book; galleries are the chapters and the cases are subchapters within. The surprise for this reader came after turning around from the cases, as I faced the walls where the narrative of the chapter played out again, but now at a higher speed. The experience is hugely rich: There are places to stop and read, places to move and scan, and places where connections can be made as one watches a film, such as that of Colonel Hugh L. Cooper, an American engineer, dedicating a Russian hydraulic damn on the Dnieper River. In addition to all this content, Studio Folder (“an agency for visual research,” according to their website) has composed a set of maps that illustrate the connections between Russia and America. Lines describe the “routes of architects, intellectuals, artists and politicians who traveled across the two continents, between 1813 and 1991.” The endpoints of each line are sometimes surprising (Des Moines, Fort Wayne, San Antonio: Baku, Yalta, Novosibirsk) and sometimes not (New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C.: Leningrad, Moscow, Kyiv). The maps make evident the fact that Americanism was more than a generalization, more than political rhetoric, more than a literary fantasy. In fact, as Cohen has made clear in his selection of themes and objects, the very history of industrial infrastructure, from the late nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century, was shaped by its transposition across the globe. The gallery named “Modernization of Czarist Russia” focuses on the 1893 World Columbian Exhibition and 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, sites that represent industrial exchange between the two countries as well as others. But this gallery also reveals the Maxim Gorky’s anguish in his book In America (1906), where he described the Americanism of New York City as “getting into a stomach of stone and iron, a stomach that has swallowed several million people and is consuming and digesting them.” The negativity abates in the third gallery, as the Gilbreths’ Motion Study is traced through the work of Alexey Gestev’s Central Institute of Labor, Ford’s tractors being built in the Putilov plant in Leningrad, and Albert Kahn’s company training over 4,000 Russian architects, draftsmen, and engineers from 1930 to 1931. The exhibition traces a dialectic between Russians attracted to American modernity and those who found it repellant. Often times, these oppositions are enacted simultaneously. The gallery focused on the avant-garde shows this opposition: Adaptations of Hollywood (Buster Keaton and Charley Chaplin) in Russian movie-making are set against the disparaging words of poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, who found New Yorkers as beset by a “dormant and flaccid rural mindset.” Or, there are those examples of Russians who sidelined American influence altogether—the Nikolay Ladovsky’s Vkhutemas pedagogy or and El Lissitzky’s horizontal skyscrapers. Geopolitical borrowing moves its target when it is politically strategic. Some Russians chose other influences despite the continued interest in American factories and the culture industry. Among the most impressive objects in the exhibition is the model of Boris Iofan’s Palace of the Soviets (1934). The image commonly associated with this winning entry for the international design competition depicts the building from below. A military parade marches in the foreground and fighter planes fly behind Lenin’s figure, who stands atop the neoclassical birthday cake of a building with a book (Das Kapital?) in his left hand, while his outstretched right hand points upward. It was the first time seeing Iofan’s design from above in his wooden model. Despite the monumentalizing efforts in drawing, Stalin’s architects could not overcome a model’s capacity to domesticate political bravado at a toy-like scale. In the sixth gallery, model airplanes are hung from above as though they have escaped from Iofan’s drawing. Some documents below them display the Soviet capacity to build flying warcraft that equaled or exceeded their American counterparts (even if based in their industrial espionage). One object stands out on the wall, drawn from Cohen’s father’s collection of Soviet memorabilia. As a French reporter, he kept a brochure distributed in a 1947 airplane shows. That object opens a clear “space of experience,” an empathetic encounter with Russian Americanism mediated by the Cohen family history. It is touching to think of all those events that historians trace through their narratives that may also be passed along in bedtime stories. In this respect, geopolitics is as historical as it is personal. The CCA, this winter, offered a unique platform to explore the richness produced by the mixture of memory and history, as well as the rigor and beauty of historical documents that display the critical role of architecture in constructing geopolitics. In a recent book by Keith Gessen, which has nothing to do with architecture, the protagonist makes connections among his life, his family’s travails, and the academic study of Soviet history. He sees the Russian tendency to borrow other nations’ advances as an addiction that finally leads to Gessen’s own suffering. I leave you with these musings as they so beautifully summarize the clarity afforded by interweaving human memory into a historical narrative.
“Suddenly everything I have been looking at—not just over these past months in Moscow, but over the few years in academia, and over the past fifteen years of studying Russia—became clear to me. Russia has always been late to the achievements and realizations of Western civilization. Its lateness was its charm and its curse—it was as if Russia were a drug addict who received every concoction only after it was perfectly crystallized, maximally potent. Nowhere were Western ideas, Western beliefs, taken more seriously; nowhere were they so passionately implemented. Thus the Bolshevik Revolution, which overthrew the old regime; thus the human rights movement, plus blue jeans, which overthrew the Bolshevik one; and thus finally this new form of capitalism created here, which had enriched and then expelled my brother, and which had impoverished my grandmother and killed Uncle Lev. You didn’t have to go and read a thousand books to see it; you just had to stay where you were and look around.”
Building a New New World, Americanizm in Russian Architecture runs through April 5.
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Cool Blade Runnings

NeueHouse opens stylish third location in L.A.’s Bradbury Building
NeueHouse, a high-end workspace and cultural event center rivaling the likes of Soho House and Second Home, found instant success in 2015 after breathing new life into the former CBS Studios Building, a sleek modernist structure in the center of Hollywood designed by modernist architect William Lescaze. The company became bicoastal with the opening of its second location within a former auction house in Manhattan’s Flatiron District from the 1930s. For their third location, NeueHouse returned to the West Coast with perhaps their most impressive adaptive reuse yet; the entire second floor of the Bradbury Building, Downtown Los Angeles’s first commercial structure. Designed by Sumner B. Hunt and constructed by George H. Wyman, the building’s unassuming facade belies the five-story atrium that reached global fame from its role in movies from Blade Runner to Double Indemnity. A seat along NeueHouse Bradbury’s new interior balcony space affords an ideal view of that atrium, accessible from a marble flight of stairs with wooden banisters carved to resemble foliage. From this privileged position, one can also see the valiant efforts made by DesignAgency, the Los Angeles and Toronto-based studio responsible for leading the design of NeueHouse Bradbury, to incorporate the stylish company into the 127-year-old structure. “What [DesignAgency has] designed and realized for us at Bradbury is truly incredible,” said NeueHouse CEO Josh Wyatt, “and a wonderful testament to the art of repurposing a historic, architectural gem for the future needs of the creative class.” Check out the full conversion on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Duck and Cover

Does the Hollywood Hard Rock Hotel rock, or is it a one-hit wonder?
Speeding down the asphalt behemoth of the Florida Turnpike, it’s impossible to miss the latest addition to the swampy peninsula’s flat horizon. Six shafts of fluorescent light climb thousands of feet into the sky, slicing through the Everglades’ winter fog and reducing local air traffic to the appearance of toy planes. Following the light beams to their source, I encounter what can only be an accident-inducing sight: A 450-foot tall, glass-fronted building that’s shaped like an electric guitar—unmistakeably a Hard Rock Hotel. A project seven years in the making, the new Guitar Hotel (which is, needless to say, the world’s first guitar-shaped building) is the frontrunner of a $1.5 billion extension of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The supersized instrument, designed by Klai Juba Wald Architecture, contains 638 guest suites, bringing the total room count of the resort (including the old hotel) to over 1,200. These rooms range from a 700-square-foot standard to a two-floor, 4,000-square-foot “Beyoncé penthouse” designed by Wilson Associates of Dallas. Featuring over three football fields of casino space, a 6,500-seat theatre-style concert venue, a half-dozen pools, a mall, a day-and-nightclub, and dozens of restaurants and bars, the hotel is gearing up to become a global attraction. It already was when I visited. I pulled down Seminole Way just before sunset on a regular Tuesday evening. This palm tree flanked road snakes around the old hotel and casino and then spits me out at the swanky base of the gargantuan guitar, which is flanked by lush lit tropical landscaping, water features, and bow-tied valet boys circling Lamborghinis. A broad spectrum of guests including families with hyperactive kids, solo gamblers, road-tripping bros, and honeymooners all made a beeline for the 18-acre recreational archipelago in front of the Guitar Hotel; I followed suit.  Dashing through the glitzy smoke-filled casino, I reach the poolside exit just as a bone-shaking rendition of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” erupts from both sides of the hotel. The building’s glossy façade becomes a psychedelic screen of choreographed color bursts. Miles of LEDs running horizontally along its 35 stories twinkle into ever-busier patterns as the guitar’s ‘strings’—six great shafts of light cutting 20,000 feet into the sky—pulsate maniacally to the beat. My jaw drops when I learn that this epic light show occurs twice nightly.  Becoming an international destination is a lofty goal for a building situated in the guts of southern Florida’s highway system: A cacophonous collage of roaring freeways, alligator wrestling megaplexes, smoke shops, used car dealers, RV parks, and sleepy suburbs dotted with manmade water features. But the glowing guitar’s strategic situation on the 497-acre Florida Seminole reservation is as tactical as it gets, both in its flashy design and the political sway of tribe’s global gambling empire.  Despite their nonchalant appearance, the Florida Seminoles, a group of around 4,000 (another 18,000 live in Oklahoma, having been forcibly uprooted by white settlers in the 18th century), possesses an indomitable business acumen. They hold an impressive claim to Florida’s booming gambling economy, managing six separate casinos across the sunshine state alone. Before the original Hollywood Hard Rock Hotel and Casino was erected here in 2004, the Seminoles introduced the country’s first tribe-owned gambling facility—a high stakes bingo hall—in 1979. “The Seminole Tribe of Florida has played the most important role in the origins and development of Indian gaming in the United States of any single tribe,” suggested Matthew L.M. Fletcher, professor of Law & Director of the Indigenous Law & Policy Center at Michigan State University Initially, erecting casinos on tribe land enabled Native Americans to bypass state gambling legislation across the United States, but disputes between tribes and politicians eventually snowballed into a supreme court case in 1987. This case resulted in the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which allowed Native American tribes to continue their gambling business as usual, so long as they gave a cut of their profits to the state. For the Seminoles, this equates to a hefty $350 million pay-off per year. But Florida’s increased dependency on this bonus revenue has enabled the tribe to sweeten their end of the deal, gaining exclusive rights to many of the highest-grossing casino games, including Blackjack, as outlined in the 2010 Seminole Compact At the far end of the hotel’s sprawling outdoor complex, the faint upbeat jingle of the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” wafts over a water sports pool easily clearing three football fields in length. Canoes, kayaks, and paddle-boards bobble in the phosphorescent blue water. A walking path populated with Floridian flora snakes around the active pool, leading to a state-of-the-art muscle toning outdoor gym that’s pumping the same soundtrack from the machines’ built-in speakers. The hotel sound system is impossible to escape; duck underwater and the feel good™ tunes are only amplified.  Unfurling around the active pool like a chain of seasteads is what the hotel calls the ‘Bora Bora experience’: A cluster of sixteen luxury villas with swim-up entrances, private plunge pools, and butler services that are available for hotel guests to rent for the day. Swim-up ground floor suites appear again in the new Oasis tower, a seven-story, 168-room low-rise building that slinks across the southwestern end of the complex and peeks over The Spine, an undulating covered walkway flanked by waterfalls that extends from the base of the guitar. Adjacent ‘Seminole style’ poolside chickees with TVs and fridges are another stay-within-a-stay opportunity. For those craving a beach (this is Florida, after all) there are two themed areas, complete with Floridian sand, tropical lagoon waterfalls, and plenty of palm trees. The interiors are equally glitzy: Caught between an ultra-polished cruise ship and an unspeakably upscale airport, the opulent materials, including leather, marble, wood paneling, and hand-blown glass accents around every corner collectively put Vegas to shame. The Beyoncé penthouse is the crowning jewel of this hedonistic playground. Scattered around the elegant chamber, which, in addition to featuring floor-to-ceiling marble bathrooms, boasts its own private balcony pool, and a miniature Taschen library and various texts on feminist theory—which, rather unsurprisingly, appear untouched. A secret VIP gaming room featuring blackjack and slot machines is available exclusively for celebrities, athletes, and other select guests on floor 34.  While the building’s curvaceous guitar shape is an undeniably iconic feat of engineering, there are also more subtle design elements to be commended. Nine floors of generous balconies have been cut into both sides of the guitar and staggered and set back from public view, ensuring that nobody sneaks a peak on your open-air morning shower. An inventive rigging system has been installed for facilitating the cleaning and repair of the windows and lights via telescopic tools kept on top of the building to allow for minimal visual interference for guests (although it’s no small business keeping the glass facade spotless).  The most extravagant feature here is The Oculus, a warm, glowing neon beacon located in the hotel lobby. Designed collaboratively between Rockwell Group and Mark Fuller of WET Design Group (the masterminds behind the audacious Dubai Fountain), the Oculus shares some of the same traits and runs its own multisensory mini light shows from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. Fourteen concentric panels of laminated glass create a waterfall effect from both in and outside the fountain, with eight holographic projections of various rock ‘n’ roll demigods going on at any one time. A tube of water tumbles down from the dark wood-lined dome, appearing like an alien abduction scene as it’s illuminated by LEDs from above and below. It’s the perfect place to space out after losing one too many rounds of Texas hold ’em. A cocktail bar with its own live music program is located just above The Oculus and offers trippy views down below.  Scattered throughout the building is a rotating selection of celebrity accessories from the Hard Rock’s epic 81,000 piece-strong memorabilia archive. On show during my visit was Neil Diamond’s classic thunderbird car and some choice outfits of Britney Spears and Björk, among others; the rest is kept in a vault in Fort Lauderdale. A built-in marble-floored mall that stretches 26,000 square feet offers boutique stores, caviar outlets, cigar lounges, and even an indoor miniature golf course. Around the Hard Rock complex are nineteen restaurants and 20 bars. On the other end of the mall, a heavenly escalator will whisk you away to DAER, a 44,000-square-foot nightclub and “day club” (remarkably, South Florida’s first), where the whos-who of EDM and dance let loose around a Steve Lieberman-designed LED centerpiece.  Buried in the bowels of the building is the new Hard Rock Live: a 7,000-capacity theater designed by Canadian entertainment gurus Scéno Plus and broken in with a set by Maroon 5. Sixty-five-hundred spacious seats offer unobstructed views across the acoustically pure clamshell-shaped theatre. Golden VIP couches offer nonstop cocktail service for the fortunate, but there’s not a dud seat in the house, with the back row less than 50 yards away from the stage. A dozen shows, performances, and concerts are planned for February alone (Rod Stewart fans, listen up. Then, of course, there is the gambling. The new Guitar Hotel adds 150,000 square feet of gaming space with 7,000 seats at 195 tables, effectively doubling the original size of the casino. Popular games like blackjack, mini-baccarat, and Spanish 21 are on the menu, alongside over new 3,000 slot machines and a high limit slot room. There is even a designated non-smoking section—but tucked behind drab black curtains, it’s a bit of a hard sell.  Apart from the name and the sawgrass-scented bath accessories in the suites, there’s hardly a trace of Seminole about this place. But, ask any member of the tribe and they’ll tell you they prefer it that way. The Vegas-inspired razzmatazz is all part of the Hard Rock franchise’s cultish draw, and it equals more cash in their pockets.  “The Seminoles don’t interfere with the Hard Rock brand,” explained Gary Bitner, president and founder of Bitner Group, the PR firm behind the new hotel. “It’s been that way since Jim Allen took the helm and the Seminoles began generating the bulk of the franchise profits.”  A businessman originally from New Jersey, Allen can largely be credited for the Florida Seminoles’ monopoly over Floridian gambling. He’s helmed the tribe’s gambling operations as the chief executive officer of Seminole Gaming since 2001, following stints at Atlantis Bahamas and The Trump Organization. It’s under his reign that the Seminoles acquired the Hard Rock brand back in 2007 for $906 million, beating out 72 competitors including titans of the hospitality industry, and extending the tribe’s casino empire up the East Coast and into the American heartland. Looking at Allen’s track record of designing casinos out in paradise, it becomes easy to see how the building harnesses paradisiacal escapism and exudes rock’n’roll charisma all at once, to mass appeal.  That its rooms have been almost fully booked since the building’s star-studded opening in October, which drew the likes of Johnny Depp and Khloe Kardashian, alongside an amped-up light show and event schedule planned for the year ahead, suggests the Guitar Hotel has no intentions of slowing its tempo. Its 2020 “Big Game” commercial, which featured Jennifer Lopez, DJ Khaled, Pitbull, and other high-profile celebrities on a wild race across the hotel’s lagoon-filled landscape for JLo’s “Bling Cup”—launching pineapple grenades, paddleboarding in stilettos, and even crashing a Stevie Van Zandt concert to retrieve the rhinestoned god-tier Starbucks thermos—is the latest testament to the brand’s ability to enlist pop culture and conjure the spectacular with a virtually limitless budget. While it’s fair play to criticize the very existence of a guitar-shaped luxury hotel as our relationship with the Earth grows more precarious, or find fault with the detrimental social impact of gambling, which preys on minorities and unemployed, you can walk away from a weekend at the Guitar Hotel knowing the livelihood of the Seminoles grows stronger for it. In addition to a $1,000 check paid out monthly in their name along with free college tuition, every tribe member currently receives dividends of their gambling empire paid out to around $128,000 a year. In other words, every Seminole member reaches adulthood with over $2 million in reserves. Rarely do ethnic minorities make it so big in the US — a country that built its wealth on the forced displacement, persecution and eradication of indigenous groups. At the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel, the right guys are on the winning end of your bad poker face.
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WHO SEES THE ART?

Barbara Kruger installs politically charged murals across Los Angeles
Spearheading the second Frieze Los Angeles, a major art fair held at Paramount Pictures Studios from February 13-16, local conceptual artist Barbara Kruger unveiled Untitled (Questions)public art project made up of 20 large-scale murals throughout the city of Los Angeles. The bright green murals have not only made their way to the facades of significant buildings, such as NeueHouse Hollywood, Union Station, and Banc of California Stadium, but, with the support of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Bureau, have also taken over many of the city’s light pole banners, digital billboards, and other spaces typically designated for traditional forms of advertisement. Organized by Bettina Korek, the executive director of Frieze Los Angeles, the project directly asks unsuspecting passersby deceptively complex questions, such as ‘WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?,’ ‘WHO BUYS THE CON?,’ and ‘WHAT'S HOT? WHAT'S NOT?,’ in a highly legible Futura Bold Oblique typeface. “We are extremely honored to have collaborated with Barbara on the Frieze Week campaign,” Korek explained in a press statement. “This project trusts that in an age of distraction, people still pay attention. It’s quintessential how her choice of words balances directness and ambiguity, how they invite a viewer to read into what is being asked as well as what isn’t.” The project is, on one hand, a reflection of the artist's anti-capitalist political views (rendered in green and white in a nod to American currency), and on the other hand an appropriation of billboard aesthetics in an attempt to provoke residents of the city, most of whom will not be attending Frieze Los Angeles, to question the status quo on their daily commutes. Though Kruger has produced word-based murals in public space for over 30 years, this latest project is her farthest-reaching installation. The piece is complemented by Untitled (Questions)a 191-foot long mural installed on the southern facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) prior to the 2018 midterm elections. While the MOCA piece will be uninstalled on November 30 of this year (following the 2020 presidential election), the project commissioned by Frieze does not have a set end date, and will likely be uninstalled in stages.
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Hollywood thrills

Paul R. Williams gets the star treatment in new PBS documentary
The career of Paul Revere Williams was defined by glitz, glam, and a remarkable triumph over adversity that helped pave the way for countless architects to follow. Now, Williams and his work will at long last celebrated in a new feature-length documentary film, Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story, co-produced by PBS SoCal and released in time for Black History Month. Born in Los Angeles in 1894, Williams blazed previously impassible trails as both the first certified African American architect to practice west of the Mississippi, as well as the first African American architect to be admitted as a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Williams, whose wildly prolific career spanned over 50 years, is perhaps even more famous for his seemingly endless output of buildings across a range of styles and types: Office buildings, churches, schools, hotels, restaurants, public housing projects, municipal buildings, and enough private homes for Hollywood luminaries—Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Cary Grant, and Tyrone Power among them—to fill Beachwood Canyon. And while Williams is best-known work is predominately located in and around L.A., other notable Williams-designed buildings can be found further afield. They include the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee; the La Concha Motel, now part of the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, and the landmark Hotel Nutibara in Medellín, Colombia. Williams’ collaboration on the Googie-style showstopper at Los Angeles International Airport, the 1961 Theme Building, appears to be directly imported from even further afield… a place called outer space. The Theme Building is not only one of Williams’ most well-known projects but an iconic structure in L.A. for both its location and prominent superstructure. Debuting earlier this month on PBS SoCal, the Courtney B. Vance-narrated documentary, which also includes interviews with Williams’ grandchildren, friends, and architectural historians, can now be viewed on PBS channels nationwide and streamed online here.
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Hanks for Sharing

Tom Hanks announces Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will open this December
Tom Hanks, a trustee of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and a co-chair of its campaign, broke long-awaited news about the project while taking the stage during last night's Academy Awards: “We're all very proud of what has been accomplished so far in the landmark that is taking shape on Fairfax and Wilshire, and it is a pleasure to announce that the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will open its doors on December 14th, 2020.” On that date, the museum's first two exhibitions will take in the main gallery spaces of the renovated 1939 May Company Department Store (also known as the Saban Building): Hayao Miyazaki, a retrospective of the famed Japanese filmmaker’s career, and Regeneration: Black Cinema 1900-1970, an archival presentation of black participation in American filmmaking. Programming has not yet been announced for the David Geffen Theatre, a 1,000-seat auditorium set in a Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW)-designed semi-sphere attached to the Saban Building via the Barbara Streisand Bridge. As AN covered last August, the auditorium building is being constructed using an innovative double-layer system that provides soundproofing without compromising expansive views of the surrounding Hollywood hills. Opening dates for the museum have been repeatedly set and re-set since the capital campaign was launched in 2012. The project’s original $250 million budget has ballooned during the course of its several-years-long construction, causing significant delays in installing the finishing touches. A recent pre-opening campaign has helped the museum reach the 95 percent mark of its revised $388 million budget. In that time, founding museum director Kerry Brougher left his position was been replaced by Bill Kramer, a former managing director of development and external relations at the museum that helped raised $250 million for the new building. Though the major structural and aesthetic portions of the project is complete, work on the mechanical and electrical engineering details is being finalized alongside the installation of the museum’s first exhibitions. “The dream of this museum will finally become a reality,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a press statement. “[It will be] a gathering place for filmmakers and movie fans from around the world, where we can share the Oscars legacy and further fulfill the Academy’s mission to connect the world through cinema.” The Academy Museum will become the latest cultural attraction on Los Angeles’s Miracle Mile and will open shortly after the majority of the original building on the adjacent LACMA campus will have been demolished to make way for its groundbreaking redevelopment.
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HOLLYWOOD MOMENT

Hollywood Walk of Fame reveals a pedestrian-friendly master plan
When tourists visit Los Angeles with little information aside from a guidebook, their first stop is often the Hollywood Walk of Fame. An approximate 10 million out-of-towners flock to the 1.3-mile stretch of Hollywood Boulevard annually in the hopes of finding their favorite celebrities’ names among the more than 2,500 brass stars. The built environment around those stars, by contrast, has left visitors feeling underwhelmed about their Hollywood experience. With bonds secured from the local Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA), a new master plan for the area has recently been revealed as part of City Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell's Heart of Hollywood initiative that was first announced in October 2018. “Hollywood is an iconic destination known the world over,” said O'Farrell on his website, “but it is also a regional economic engine helping create good jobs and healthy neighborhoods. I’ve been working to ensure that Hollywood evolves into a future worthy of its rich history with a priority focus on its residents, businesses, and its signature entertainment industry, as well as its rightful place as a world tourist destination.” Global design and architecture firm Gensler presented plans for a more pedestrian-friendly version of the 15-block tourist destination. Beyond necessary repairs to the sidewalks, which have been badly damaged by decades of neglect, the main planning proposal addresses the area’s lack of unified signage, greenery, and street furnishing. Under the proposed plan, street parking and driving lanes would be significantly reduced to make room for more pedestrian activities, including sidewalk dining and outdoor performances, and will even establish five “event plazas” adjacent to the area's most popular tourist attractions, such as the Pantages Theatre and the Hollywood Highland Center Mall. Though there is currently no construction date set, Gensler is working with the city to further develop the master plan design, to be presented to the public throughout 2020 for feedback. The renovation of the Hollywood Walk of Fame is just one of many attempts to make Los Angeles a more pedestrian-friendly city in response to recently increased densification. Last November, local architecture firm RCH Studios presented their master plan for Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade that would similarly create room for unimpeded pedestrian traffic, street performances, and other related outdoor activities.
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GOING THROUGH PHASES

Second phase of Anita May Rosenstein Campus set to open this summer
Eight months after the first phase of the Leong Leong and Killefer Flammang Architects (KFA)-designed Anita May Rosenstein LGBT Center in Los Angeles was completed, the second phase of the project, named The McCadden Campus, has recently begun construction. KFA is the executive architect and is overseeing their construction in collaboration with Thomas Safran & Associates, an  affordable housing developer and property management company. While the first phase brought much-needed facilities to the organization—including a new senior community center and youth academy, administrative offices, a retail space, and several cultural events spaces—the second phase will facilitate even more in3tergenerational engagement.That includes the addition of a five-story structure for 98 affordable housing units for seniors, and a four-story structure with an additional 25 studios reserved for youth housing, both of which are designed to accommodate residents with mobility and hearing and/or vision disabilities. “The Anita May Rosenstein Campus,” explained Dominic Leong of Leong Leong, “is a new type of social infrastructure for the LGBTQ community that synthesizes social services and affordable housing into a porous urban campus.” From the outside, the two buildings of the second phase seem to be more restrained in their design than those of the first. The curved senior housing building stretches across the north end of the campus to provide views of the Hollywood Hills, while the narrow, boxy youth housing structure is sited across the street on North McCadden Place, to maintain a connection to The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, another facility owned by the center that houses several community-oriented event spaces. Altogether, the $141 million campus will connect multiple programs and community-based events across four acres for the roughly 42,000 clients for which the center provides services each month. “Inspired by the mission of the Center,” Leong added, “the architecture is a cohesive mosaic of identities and programs rather than a singular iconic gesture. With a series of internal courtyards and a new public plaza, the campus proactively interfaces with the city while also creating a sanctuary for the community within.” A portion of phase two will be ready for occupancy by Summer 2020.
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Vaporcave

M-Rad goes retro at Game Over Pizza
Defined by an elaborate program of neon signs, geometric shapes, repetitive patterns, and pastel colors, M-Rad's design for Los Angeles’s recently opened Game Over Pizza joint harkens back to a simpler, bygone era. As if pulled right out of the 1980s, the new 45-seat, arcade-ready, eat-play restaurant gives new meaning to the 20- or 30-year trend cycle. M-Rad's goal was to create a space that would pay homages to the early digital Vaporwave scene and cater to a Gen-Z clientele, rapidly reviving this graphical and music-based genre. And yet, there are also nods to the Italian Memphis movement that play to Millennial taste. Wrapped in this nostalgic, reference-drenched, scheme are hints of Art Deco geometry, a Pop Art palette, and kitsch 1950s amoebic furniture. Modernist austerity and restraint have no place in this Hollywood haunt. The Gothic tradition is still alive and well, a formidable rival to its Neoclassic counterpart. With such a statement piece, M-Rad is challenging the contemporary status quo of minimalist luxury. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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SHIFTING GEARS

Julie Smith-Clementi and Frank Clementi launch independent design firm Smith-Clementi
Julie Smith-Clementi and Frank Clementi of the Los Angeles-based firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios have announced that they will be stepping out into their own independent practice, aptly titled Smith-Clementi. The two have left their industrial brick studio space in South Los Angeles' Leimert Park to re-establish their practice on a smaller scale. “Its like starting at the beginning again,” Frank remarked over the phone.  The original firm was established in 1985 as a multidisciplinary design firm and has since "tried to preserve a small office culture," said Frank. "But as it grew, it had to satisfy big office expectations." The pair agreed that establishing an independent studio was the best way to reconnect with their craft while working through creative projects as they see fit. Because the two found that their former studio was "interdisciplinary by acquisition," the goal of Smith-Clementi is to instead "work alongside other small offices” in related creative fields, according to Julie. And while RCH Studios was primarily focused on projects in the Los Angeles area, Smith-Clementi will seek a more geographically-broad client base. 
While at RCH Studios, Frank and Julie Smith-Clementi were not only involved in crafting elements of many of Los Angeles' most significant venues, including the Hollywood Bowl, the Music Center, and the Greek Theatre, but also consumer product lines including notNeutral, which has developed a series of thoughtfully designed caféware and tabletop items. They were honored with over 20 AIA Design Awards and chosen as California Council's AIA Firm of the Year in 2007. Though the two are starting anew, they have already begun working on several projects that complement their shared interest in design at all scales. "I look forward with both renewed focus and breadth," said Julie, "to envision rich and authentic places that celebrate all people.”
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Real Nintendo Power

Super Nintendo World will open at Universal Studios Japan for 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Nintendo fans, rejoice: The company just provided a first "look" at Super Nintendo World, a Mario-themed expansion to Universal Studios Japan, that chief executive officer of Universal Creative Thierry Coup described as a "life-size, living video game" in a press briefing yesterday. Set to open this summer in Osaka to coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Super Nintendo World will be the most immersive, mobile technology-dependent theme park to date for Universal Parks & Resorts. Before engaging with the park's attractions, visitors will first receive electronic wristbands, called "Power-Up Bands," and sync them with their smartphones via a proprietary app. Visitors will then use the wearable technology to navigate the grounds, create profiles, and compete among themselves to "collect" virtual coins scattered throughout the park. Though it is speculated that these attractions will be partially mediated by Augmented Reality (AR) in a manner similar to that experienced in the Pokémon Go mobile game first launched in 2016, sources have not yet confirmed its role in the park. In fact, much of the concrete information about how the park will look and feel has been gleefully packaged within a fast-paced electropop music video produced by musicians Galantis and Charli XCX, titled "We Are Born To Play," that shows players leaving the familiar world behind for Mario's candy-colored stomping grounds. While it's still unclear exactly what exactly visitors can expect in the physical park based on the video, the grounds will maintain a number of roller-coaster style rides and a castle that will house a Mario Kart attraction. Otherwise, it's safe to assume that the park will contain numerous "levels" and architectural elements from the games, including a Yoshi ride. The news comes five years after plans for a Nintendo-themed park was first announced by the company in 2015. Following Super Nintendo World's opening in Osaka, the Universal Studios theme parks in Hollywood, Singapore, and Orlando are scheduled to receive similar expansions of their own in the near future.
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Pods for People

Perkins and Will proposes compact sleeping units for L.A.'s homeless
The Los Angeles office of Perkins and Will has set their sights on the smallest imaginable scale for a modular sleeping unit built for the city's growing homeless population. In response to the mayor's A Bridge Home initiative, a city-led project focusing on creating transitional emergency shelters, the firm's Innovation Incubator team designed the prefabricated Dome unit in an effort to offer a higher level of dignity and sophistication than typically found in U.S. shelters. "We want it to feel residential, not institutional," said Yan Krymsky, a design director at Perkins and Will, in a statement. "It sends a message that people care." Each Dome unit is seven feet wide and six feet deep to provide 42 square feet of space per person. It features a lockable wardrobe, a standard power outlet, a frame for a twin bed, an optional kennel area for a 30-pound pet, and an operable canvas tarp for privacy. Designed with low-cost, quality materials that make each unit feel like a temporary little home, the firm estimates that individually, they could cost as little as $4,749 to build. Locker fabrication company Shield has already been tapped to manufacture them. “Solid surface is low maintenance and resists scratching," the team said, "while wood accents give the unit a residential character." If desired, the units can be combined to allow couples or families to share a larger set together. According to Perkins and Will, the most challenging part of the Dome project was making the units feel dignified and structured when in use while at the same time, flexible enough to collapse for storage and redeployment across the city. A typical 53-foot-long flatbed truck, for instance, can carry up to 32 units when collapsed. A number of other Los Angeles-based firms have developed concepts for homeless housing alternatives, such as Brooks + Scarpa and Michael Maltzan Architecture, and several shelters have already been completed through the A Bridge Home program. As the city with the largest number of homeless residents in the United States, The Dome units present a potentially more expedient option for emergency shelter than other temporary housing structures currently proposed for the city. A prototype of a Dome unit is currently on display at the Architecture + Design Museum (A+D) in Los Angeles until January 12.