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A Case for Conservation

The Getty Trust will invest $100M in a 10-year plan to save global artifacts
In a statement of its dedication to conservation efforts, the J. Paul Getty Trust has announced a $100 million investment to support the preservation of global antiquities. The funding will provide the baseline for Ancient Worlds Now: A Future for the Past, a broader incentive focusing on the scholarship, conservation, and exhibition of increasingly fading antiquities in an age where a number of factors pose a threat to their safety. “In an age of resurgent populism, sectarian violence, and climate change, the future of the world’s common heritage is at risk,” said James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust.  “Cultural heritage embodies a global community united by a common need to make things of beauty and usefulness and to compose stories and rituals about humanity’s place in the world. We will launch with urgency and build momentum for years to come. This work must start now, before more cultural heritage is neglected, damaged, or destroyed. Much is at stake.” The initiative presents a notable expansion beyond the focus areas of ancient Greece and Rome that have remained at the forefront of Getty’s funding until now. A global expansion into new territories like South and Central America, Asia, and Africa will ensure that conservation efforts are as comprehensive as possible. While Ancient Worlds Now: A Future for the Past will take a number of forms during its 10-year timeline, one of the biggest components will be increasing conservation efficiency by utilizing local talent. The program will train local conservators and specialists from around the world to work on-site, eliminating the need for Getty employees to manage individual projects. Additional plans include support for digital mapping of excavations, traveling research seminars, and expanded upcoming exhibitions at Los Angeles's Getty Museum highlighting the ancient classical world. Getty plans to partner with major global cultural and educational institutions as well as government organizations and private sector entities in order to maximize the impact of the project. A cross-disciplinary focus will be enacted through the involvement of Getty’s four programs—The Getty Foundation, Getty Research Institute, Getty Conservation Institute, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. As Getty continues to engage its partnerships, an official program launch is slated for summer 2020; the initiative is expected to last through 2030 and beyond.
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Virtual Vacation

You can paint unbuilt Michael Graves projects in VR
The late Michael Graves has seen his previously unbuilt work finally realized in a virtual reality environment thanks to Imagined Landscapes. The interactive sightseeing experience was created by Kilograph, a Los Angeles creative studio that has worked with firms like Gensler and Zaha Hadid Architects. Based on Graves’s painted plans for the unbuilt Canary Islands resort Barranco de Veneguera, originally planned in 1999, Imagined Landscapes creates allows users to go on an impressionistic, watercolor-esque romp through the resort, and through the act of drawing itself. Each area of the resort begins just as an outline, with users able to take a virtual paintbrush up to fill in the sketches. “The more you let people use their hands, the more connected they’ll feel to the world around them,” said Runze Zhang, a Kilograph VR designer, in a press release. Barranco de Veneguera was meant to be a sprawling resort for 12,000 people running down a three-and-a-half mile valley all the way to the ocean. Graves imagined two greywater-irrigated golf courses as a green ribbon across the valley, a dense “town center” on the coast, and terraced hotels, all made to reflect and use the region’s topography; however, the resort never came to fruition. For the most part, Imagined Landscapes was developed in Unreal Engine 4, but the watercolor effect is a proprietary development by Kilograph. To get a natural look, the team layered elements like displacement maps, world position information, and post-processing effects together, creating a visual that mirrored Graves’s colors and style. Gesture controls were then created using Leap Motion, a hand-tracking hardware sensor, to produce an experience tailored to our natural instincts around movement and painting and to make the interaction feel more authentic. You can download Imagined Landscapes directly from Kilograph’s site or try it out October 2nd at the WUHO Gallery at Woodbury University in Hollywood, California.
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Fall for art

AN rounds up our favorite coast-to-coast fall exhibitions of 2019
With summer finally falling behind us, the fall exhibition circuit is just heating up. Here, we’ve rounded up the season’s must-see art and architecture exhibitions from coast to coast. Agnes Denes: Absolutes and Intermediates The Shed 545 W. 30th Street, New York, NY October 9, 2019 - January 19, 2020 The second and fourth floors Hudson Yards' The Shed will display 150 of the Hungarian artist's seminal works confronting truths about society, our environment, and introspection. Working since the 1960s, Denes's 50-year career is explored and presented in a hopeful way as the echoes of the Climate March recede and Climate Week NYC begins.  The two floors dedicated to Denes address two separate arcs present in her oeuvre: her exploration of technology in relation to control over her artistic process is espoused on the second floor, with displays of her two series, Philosophical Drawings and Map Projections, while the fourth floor is completely dedicated to her meditation on the pyramid, simply titled Pyramid Series.   By utilizing the intersection of the environment around her and technology available, Denes envisions a future plan for our society that hit home during the beginning of the ecological movement in the ’60s, and rings even truer today.  THROUGH POSITIVE EYES The Fowler 308 Charles E. Young Drive North, Los Angeles, CA September 15, 2019 - February 16, 2020 The Fowler Museum at UCLA is bringing together the stories, photography, and performances of more than 130 people living with HIV/AIDS in the upcoming exhibition Through Positive Eyes. Artist and activists from 10 cities around the globe have come together to exhibit original photos and video of these individuals, bringing unique stories to life as well as revealing a more collective, global-scaled narrative of this epidemic. There will also be a sculpture installation by L.A.-based multimedia artist Alison Saar.  The title is taken from the Los Angeles-based Through Positive Eyes Collective, a group of seven HIV-positive residents who will be performing twice a week throughout the exhibition. Yet while there are so many voices, and so much artistic production going into this single exhibition, it has all been envisioned and curated around one core belief: that challenging stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS is the most effective method for combating the epidemic.  WITH EACH INCENTIVE: POSTCOMMODITY The Art Institute of Chicago 159 E. Monroe Street, Chicago, IL July 25, 2019 - April 26, 2020 The indigenous collective Postcommodity, currently comprised of artists Cristóbal Martinez and Kade L. Twist, have "completed" their purposefully incomplete With Each Incentive at the Bluhm Family Pavilion at the Art Institute of Chicago. Free and open to the public, the pavilion splashes a colloquial building form of the Global South—vertical concrete blocks columns topped out with exposed rebar—against the skyline of downtown Chicago.  By placing these built forms in a place where they are seen as foreign, the Postcommodity duo comments on the ongoing phenomenon of migration of Central and South Americans to the midwestern city. The installation is also accompanied by a custom made codex that brings in images of relevant people, places, art, and graphics that the artists believe join in this site-specific theme, as well as Postcommodity’s perennial stance towards issues of borders, indigeneity, and the pan-American experience. The Los Angeles Schools The A+D Museum 900 E. 4th Street, Los Angeles, CA September 21, 2019 - November 24, 2019  The Architecture and Design Museum in L.A. is putting on an exhibition of student work from the leading architecture and design schools in the city, from SCI-Arc to Cal Poly LA Metro. The show is curated to express the methods and thinking propagated at these institutions, working to position L.A. even more prominently as “a center for architectural production, investigation, and research charged with producing tomorrow’s leaders in the world of architecture and design,” according to a press release. In addition to the curated show, the museum is also hosting a number of events and lectures that are all open to the public throughout the exhibition’s run. Individual school voices and narratives will be highlighted in what is a showcase of talent-to-come from some of the world’s leading academic institutions shaping the next generation of the profession.  Tigerman Rides Again Volume Gallery 1709 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL September 15, 2019 - November 2, 2019 This Chicago gallery chose to honor the final works of architect Stanley Tigerman in this exhibition of his black and white, undulating geometries. In the final months of his life, the 88-year-old architect resumed his life-long practice of daily drawings that had briefly been put on hiatus, and produced what harkened back to some of his boldest paintings and drawings of the late ’50s and early ’60s.  The mind of the man behind a large portion of Chicago’s postmodernist architectural aesthetic, his commitment to and passion for architecture history, Mies van der Rohe, and his favorite contemporary artists, are all evident in this showcase of final works. The exhibition shows how Tigerman was able to bring in diverse influences from all over the art world and synthesize them into clear, poignant visions both on the street and on the page.  Fringe Cities: Legacies of Renewal in the Small American City The Center for Architecture 536 LaGuardia Place, New York, NY October 2, 2019 - January 18, 2020 Designed and curated by MASS Design Group, this exhibition explores the specifics of the "fringe city;" a smaller city on the outskirts of a larger metropolis. These cities were hit disproportionately hard by the effects of United States government investment in urban planning schemes centered around demolition, superblocks and slum clearance in the years between 1949 and 1974, collectively known as Urban Renewal.  From traffic congestion to increased neighborhood segregation, the effects of this era of urban planning are still being felt today in cities all over the country. But this exhibition takes a deep dive into MASS’s exploration of the fringe city condition, and understand the challenges faced by residents and local organizations in order to find new solutions towards human-scaled change.
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Literary Lodgings

Historic Hollywood library converted into emergency homeless shelter
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has treated the city’s homeless crisis as a high priority since he first took office in 2013. A Bridge Home, one of Garcetti projects developed in collaboration with City Councilmember David Ryu, was launched in April of last year in response to a new state law that enables cities to construct a relatively expedient building type known as “bridge housing” to provide shelters for the region’s homeless female population. For its planners, this has meant applying a $20 million budget to the construction of an additional 222 units of bridge housing across the city’s 15 City Council districts within the first two years of the program. After 10 months of construction, the Gardner Street Women’s Bridge Housing Center, the seventh bridge housing project to date, opened in Hollywood inside a former library on September 16. Originally built in 1958, the Honnold & Rex-designed Will & Ariel Durant Branch Library required very little transformation to become the permanent home of a housing center. The main space was divided to provide the majority of the building’s services, including beds for 30 women, bathrooms, a communal kitchen, and support services, while the original front desk and central clock were left in place. “The fact we were able to salvage this building, keep its historic integrity and help meet the crisis of our time is beautiful,” commented Ryu. To ensure that its occupants feel safe, the original outdoor spaces are now gated, the entire facility is staffed by licensed clinical social workers, all of whom are women, and many of its public spaces will soon host various skill training services. While some of the other shelters completed through the program have more beds and amenities—The Bread Yard St. Andrew’s offers 100 beds in the nearby Chesterfield Square of South Los Angeles—the Gardner Street Center demonstrates the benefits of repurposing a building as opposed to constructing anew. Eighteen additional shelters are in the works throughout the city, and statistics suggest they can’t come soon enough; an estimated 18,000 women are currently experiencing homelessness citywide, with 2,500 in Hollywood alone. Critics of A Bridge Home have drawn a connection between the program and the restrictions the city council is currently reviewing that would limit where the city’s homeless population can live and sleep. One proposal being considered at the moment would disallow the homeless from sleeping with 500 feet of most public spaces.
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East Coast Transplant

Gravity-defying 5th and Hill tower with cantilevering pools approved for construction
The Downtown Los Angeles skyline is about to receive a remarkable addition; on September 12, the City Planning Commission unanimously approved the construction of 5th and Hill, a 53-story tower with nearly two dozen cantilevering lap pools and a five-story waterfall. Designed by Miami-based firm Arquitectonica and overseen by developer Jeffrey Fish of JMF Enterprises, the tower will either incorporate 160 condos or be divided between 190 hotel rooms and 31 condos, twelve of which will have private cantilevering pools either way. Both schemes would include a restaurant, bar, and related amenities. The tower's L-shaped site faces Pershing Square Station on one side and Hill Street on the other. Above the entryway on 5th Street will be an ingenious (if not extravagant) waterfall which will obscure the 5-story parking garage directly behind it, while the 13th floor will have an access bridge to Perch, a popular bar and restaurant atop the historic Pershing Square Building. The design of the bottom half of 5th and Hill, however, is tame compared to its top half, which progressively becomes more variegated starting on the 30th floor, with pools cantilevering several feet beyond its envelope and cutting through many of its interior spaces. According to the project's website, many of the adventurous design gestures were inspired by “mid-century California design.” The tower’s design raised eyebrows when its renderings and a draft of its Environmental Impact Report were first unveiled a year ago, yet surprisingly little of its exterior design appears to have changed. This may be due to the enthusiasm the scheme inspired in the planning commission, the members of which agreed that 5th & Hill was “audacious,” “ambitious,” and had exemplary methods for concealing its parking and integrating adjacent buildings into the plan. Fifth and Hill marks the second building Arquitectonica has designed for Downtown, the first being the 19-story Emerson building on Bunker Hill, and will be the West Coast’s answer to the staggering 56 Leonard designed by Herzog and de Meuron in Manhattan (and the many similarly-styled buildings it inspired). It's still uncertain when the project will break ground, but it's estimated that construction will take 30 months.
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Moving on from #MeToo

Bernhard Karpf, managing principal of Richard Meier's office, has left firm
Bernhard Karpf, the short-lived top executive of Richard Meier & Partners Architects, has officially (and quietly) left the firm, according to The Real Deal (TRD). After nine months of leading the company post-Meier’s groundbreaking #MeToo moment, Karpf is no longer working there.  It’s unclear whether this move means Meier is back in the office again leading more work or if other the principals Vivian Lee, Reynolds Logan, or Dukho Yeon will take over operations of the practice. It is extremely odd, however, that, as TRD noted, the spot where Karpf’s photo on the firm’s website has been replaced with Meier’s. A 31-year-career working at the practice resulted in his stepping away with no major recognition for his work or little-to-no immediate reports in the design media. The updated listing of the firm’s Partners page was all that indicated the abrupt change.  The firm declined to comment on his decision to leave the firm and instead said: "We thank Bernhardt Karpf for his many years of dedicated service and his wide-ranging work that was part of what made Richard Meier & Partners the world-renown design firm that it is today.” The sequence of events that have occurred—or at least those that have been made public surrounding Meier’s stepping back—is what’s most opaque about the transition of leadership at the firm. Last October, AN reported the 84-year-old celebrity architect would “take a step back from day-to-day activities” after being accused of alleged sexual harassment and assault by his employees. The story broke in The New York Times in March of last year after which Meier, who founded the firm over 50 years ago, took a six-month leave of absence.  After half a year passed, Karpf became managing principal, while Lee, Logan, and Yeon were promoted to their current positions. Design partner Michael Palladino continued leading the firm’s Los Angeles office and the other three executives, partner James R. Crawford, and associate partners Mark Sparrowhawk and Alex Wuo, remained in their roles. Despite the upward movement and enhanced leadership of the above, it’s common knowledge that Meier has still had some influence on projects over the last year and has been continuing to build and maintain his network of clients around the world. When asked about Meier’s whereabouts earlier this year by Bloomberg, Karpf said he is still around. “We talk, he’s available,” he admitted, although he's also admitted before that Meier comes into the Midtown Manhattan office twice a week.  In February, Karpf told TRD that he was keen to stay at the firm despite the recent controversy for the sake of his clients and all his history there. That same month in the interview with Bloomberg, he said that Meier hadn’t been part of regular operations at the firm for years and that it’s largely the architects in charge and all the employees who deserve the credit for keeping his legacy as a leading designer alive. But Meier's accusers disagree, saying Karpf didn't do enough to stand up for them and that he was in self-preservation mode. At one point, Karpf said the entire story was "last year's news."  In spite of Karpf's previous intentions not to leave, six months after these statements he was gone. The firm has yet to publically name a managing principal to replace him.
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A Country is Not a House?

Letter from the border: Architecture is more than walls
“I’ll bet you live within four walls” is one of the most frequent comments I get from proponents of building a wall along the southern border as a critique of my creative and activist endeavors against wall construction. The comments can be quite vile. Here is one comment (since deleted) on the YouTube posting of my recent TED talk,
"Thank you so much Ronald Rael! I'll come find your home and simply open your door, sit down and make myself at home! Pay rent? Nah essay! Rent is taxes homie! Permission to enter your home? Nah bendayho! I don't need permission to enter your home! You don't see the need for Mexicans to get permission to enter the United States! What's that? You'll call the cops? You snitch! What's that? You'll force me out of your home?! That's wrong to deport me outside of your walls that hold up your roof and prevent anyone from getting in!”
In addition to making an actual threat to my own personal home and property, something no immigrant I have ever met has done, he is mocking the variations in the Spanish language (“essay” is ese, a slang way of saying dude, “homie”, is someone from your hometown, and bendayho, I'm assuming, is pendejo, a word used to describe an imbecile, but literally means “pubic hair”). It might be futile to pen a response to such comments, but as a professor of architecture, it got me thinking… why do so many make a parallel between a country, and a house, when it comes to making an argument for the border wall? A quick internet search, thinking about the ridiculousness of this reaction—that if we build walls to enclose our house (which my TED Talk critic correctly notes are also often used to structurally support a roof), doesn’t it make sense to build walls around our country, and if so, what about a roof? This led me to an article in the New Yorker that suggested, in sarcastic response to the construction of walls, that we should also build a roof over our country! I’ve always been fascinated by utopian and dystopian architectural projects that challenge the conventions of our built environment, which is perhaps why I’ve been interested in the border wall. When thinking about mega-roofs, architect Buckminster Fuller’s proposal for an enormous dome to be constructed over a portion of Midtown Manhattan comes to mind. He suggested it would save 80 percent of energy costs and snow removal costs, so perhaps the proposal for a nationwide roof structure has its merits? The Sheats-Goldstein Residence, an experimental house designed in 1961 by John Lautner, was comprised of an enormous roof with no walls enclosing the main living space that connected to the exterior terrace and pool. Instead, the interior was defined and protected from the elements by a curtain of forced air, like those you might have experienced if you’ve ever entered a big box store. Construction on this incredible house began in 1961, the year that President Kennedy was inaugurated, the Peace Corps was established, and the first man went into space, a time when it seemed mankind could overcome impossible barriers but also the same year the Berlin Wall began construction (and we all know what happened to that). Many years later, the Sheats-Goldstein Residence was enclosed with a nearly invisible and retractable glass facade, as there were several impracticalities to not having a barrier between inside and outside that house, despite the balmy Los Angeles weather. However, the luxurious glass wall wasn’t necessarily installed for security, and certainly it wasn’t out of practicality—an inexpensive concrete wall may have been more practical, but would undermine the original concept of the house as well as the architect’s original intent of openness and connection. Perhaps in alignment to Lautner’s vision for how one defines the confines of a house, Franklin Delano Roosevelt laid out a concept for hemispheric security not beholden to a limited view of border fortification. Roosevelt said, “What I seek to convey is the historic truth that the United States as a nation has at all times maintained opposition—clear, definite opposition—to any attempt to lock us in behind an ancient Chinese wall.” With this in mind, what might Lautner and Roosevelt think of a 1,954-mile-long concrete-and-steel wall surrounding our house? Obviously neither would have thought it to be a necessity or practicality, nor perhaps in alignment with the original intent of the architects of our country. I wonder what they would think about a 3.8-million-square-mile roof? Economics professor David Youngberg points out the problems with making analogies between “my country” and “my house” and the two uses of the possessive pronoun “my”—one of which is possessive and the other, associative. While one may own a house, we do not own our country, we merely live in it. A country is public space. With this in mind, should we think about our country like we do our house, and does it need walls? If we agree with the argument, that if we live by surrounding ourselves at home with walls, therefore we should also surround our country with walls, then perhaps let’s take that argument further, and not forget other components of what makes a secure home in addition to the roof. For example, the floor, a basement perhaps, central heating… how about other components of the house, like a refrigerator, with healthy food for everyone in our house to eat or a comfortable bed and a warm place to sleep? What about a medicine cabinet accessible to everyone in the house! A porch and a welcome mat, to welcome neighbors are also important features in a house (clean your feet before coming in)! Surrounding our house, we enjoy a verdant garden and appreciate nice neighbors, and we lend tools to our neighbors, a cup of sugar, and we want our neighbors to prosper—do we really want to be the only nice house in the neighborhood? How about a neighborhood watch program? Don’t we want our neighbors to look out for us just as we look out for them? What about reliable plumbing to provide clean water? In our houses, we need a system that takes our bodily waste and delivers it to a place where it can be processed safely. Can you imagine the problems that would arise for everyone if we dumped it in our backyards, or our neighbor’s yard? Fresh air? Some of us have a heating and air conditioning system in our house that not only keeps our climate under control, but also filters the air, providing a place to live with comfortable, clean air. We don’t fill our house with pollution—we enjoy clean air inside our houses, and we probably all wish the air inside was as clean as the air outside, and vice versa, because we like to open our doors and windows to let the outside in—it helps keep our house fresh. Perhaps a house is not a country, but if we are to make that analogy, here are some thoughts of things to do rather than build that wall: Build that plumbing, and ensure safe, clean and reliable drinking water! Build that ventilation system, and ensure that no one remains out in the cold and breathes fresh air! Build that medicine cabinet, so that everyone’s heath in the house is cared for! Build those roofs, to make certain that everyone protected from the elements! Build those bedrooms, so that everyone has a place to rest their head at night! Build that floor, so we are all on an equal plane and a level playing field! Build that porch, and lay out that welcome mat! Build that neighborhood, so that everyone in our global community has a house that ensures safety, security, and neighborliness across our own property lines! A couple more thoughts; we also don’t shoot guns inside our house, and certainly not at other people in the house. We also do not lock up neighboring families from other houses inside our house for indefinite amounts of time, or separate our neighbor's children from their parents and keep them in cages inside our house if they came knocking at our door seeking help. —Ronald Rael, Oakland, September 7, 2019  
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Something Something Radiohead

wHY Architects' new youth center in East Palo Alto will center the community
The work of Los Angeles based firm wHY Architects is known for its simplicity, attention to detail and ethical sourcing of building materials. As the renderings indicate, these sensibilities were all employed in the design of the nearly-completed East Palo Alto Youth Arts & Music Center (YAMC), also known as the EPACENTER. The building will bring much-needed public programs to East Palo Alto, California, which has recently started to shed its notorious public-safety profile. The project was first made possible thanks to the San Francisco-based John & Marcia Goldman Foundation, which purchased the post-industrial marshland site for $3.5 million, with the intention of developing a facility for underserved members of the community. The site is across the street from the recently-built Ravenswood Family Health Center and down the street from College Track, a nonprofit which offers programs to grade school students in the community. wHY Architects was invited to design a multiprogram building on the site in Summer 2015, under the condition that they engage with the area’s youth demographic during an initial eight-month collaborative design process. According to the firm, these engagements were carried out to “build trust and establish expectations for the YAMC, and more importantly, to effectively identify and harness the creative discussions and engagements into the final design.” Additionally, wHY Architects developed the design for the 24,000-square-foot building in collaboration with Hood Design Studio, a social art and design practice founded in Oakland, California. Like many of wHY Architect’s public projects, EPACENTER is altruistic in nature: its programming will address the issue of gentrification by offering spaces for the preexisting community to foster creative production, while many of its building materials are upcycled industrial elements found around the city. As Palo Alto Online expressed during the early phase of its construction, “The center will be an enormous boon for the community, not only as a safe and peaceful space in a city known for its high crime rates, but one where residents struggling against a rising tide of external forces—gentrification, climbing rents, new office buildings—can celebrate and maintain their city's culture as it is today.” The exterior of the building will have a bold presence, including a thick wooden roof structure and boldly colored tilework, while its interior will be airy and light-filled, complete with inviting built-in seating and shaded outdoor spaces. The project is scheduled to wrap up in 2020.
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Foundational Theory

MOCA digs up its past in its Foundation exhibition
Celebrating 40 years since its founding in 1979, The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles has unearthed some of their best hits for this latest exhibition: The Foundation of the Museum: MOCA’s Collection. To be specific, the show takes place in The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, the museum’s first official building, a former police car warehouse renovated by Frank Gehry in 1983 with all the rawness the architect’s work was known for in that era. The exhibition on display, organized by senior curator Bennett Simpson and assistant curator Rebecca Lowery, reveals a collection that will remind its visitors of the radical spirit that once led the museum’s founders to hire an architect as nonconformist as Gehry in the first place. Institutional critique and curatorial transparency appear to be the two uniting forces grouping the artworks on display: In any part of the museum, one can hear the critical voice of performance artist Andrea Fraser from the three television sets displaying her video works peppered throughout the exhibition; one room is a nearly standalone installation of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s Untitled (Portrait of MOCA), which serves to challenge the self-aggrandizement of the museum itself in plain text. Perhaps most impressive is the recreation of Chris Burden’s Exposing the Foundation of the Museum, for which the artist dug into the museum’s floor to literally expose the concrete foundations of the museum’s building. First presented in the very same spot in 1986, the piece allows visitors to see the guts of the building for themselves, turn around, and see the other pieces of the exhibition with a fresh perspective. Curators Simpson and Lowery should be applauded for their decision to juxtapose Burden’s piece next to Gordon Matta-Clark’s Office Baroque, the product of the artist’s excavation of a corporate office building. Separate from any curatorial mission, the pieces from other notable artists, including locals Mike Kelley, Laura Owens, and Ed Ruscha, are a delight to see under a single roof.
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As the Days Go By

Three distinct schemes speculate on the future of the long-forsaken L.A. River
The L.A. River is not to Los Angeles as the Seine is to Paris, nor the Thames to London. Its 51 miles of concrete were not designed to become a uniting landmark when they were first poured in 1938, but rather as a functional safeguard against an infamous flood that devastated the city in March of that year. Though it currently provides a handful of narrow parks, bike trails and opportunities for brief kayaking excursions along its winding path between its mouth in Long Beach and the flats of Canoga Park, the LA River has widely been dismissed as little more than a blight in the neighborhoods it divides in half. Only within the last few years, however, has the city funded drastic improvements to the appearance and functionality of the Mighty L.A. Revisiting the loosely organized LA River Master Plan of 1996, the city has most recently focused its attention on Taylor Yard (also known as the G2 parcel), a 42-acre parcel sitting on the river’s midway marker near Mount Washington that was once a hub for the Southern Pacific Railroad freight trains that enabled the city’s growth in the first half of the 20th century. After purchasing the land for $60 million, the city invited firms WSP and Studio MLA (Mia Lehrer + Associates) to collaborate on three separate visions (viewable here and released in June) for the abandoned site’s future as a public park, each of which is distinguished by varying levels of interaction with the river: “Island” would blend the park and the river with the addition of an artificial island (in a formal gesture reminiscent of the Ile de la Cité in Paris); “Soft Edge” would provide a large, flat park set against the river without obstructing its path; and “The Yards” would feature a radial plan with a raised circular platform at its center from which visitors can observe the river and the city from a vantage point. The unifying consideration for each of the three plans, however, is to replace the prohibitive fencing along the L.A. River with amenities which will draw visitors close to its edge. “With Taylor Yard,” Mia Lehrer expressed, “our hope is to create experiences at different scales that are very close to nature and also celebratory of the community.” Whichever plan is selected will have to incorporate a viewing platform to be completed next year by SelgasCano, the Spanish firm behind Second Home and the Serpentine Pavilion currently parked at the La Brea Tar Pits. The Taylor Yards project will be opened to the public in shifts, the last of which is expected to be completed at least ten years from now. “The objective of a phased approach is to address required remediation as funding is available,” said Michael Drennan, project manager for WSP, “while allowing more immediate public use of portions of the site, along with interim site uses for natural flora and fauna.”
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Stairway to Heaven

Lehrer Architects plans a vertical mausoleum for the Hollywood Forever Cemetery
The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is an unconventional tourist destination: not only is it the burial site of stars including Judy Garland, Charlie Chaplin, and Dee Dee Ramone, but it also hosts a series of outdoor movie screenings and musical performances, making it one of the city’s most popular entertainment venues. The cemetery’s renown has made attendance as competitive for the dead as for the living, necessitating a vertical expansion in the form of a five-story mausoleum. Local firm Lehrer Architects was hired to develop the Gower Court Mausoleum, which is designed, according to the firm, to “serve as a landmark for visitors and neighbors.” As the tallest building on the property at 97 feet, Lehrer Architects designed the mausoleum to stand out without drawing too much focus away from the surrounding greenery. The facade along Gower Street will feature boxy marble geometry softened by potted trees and hanging shrubs, as well as an entranceway that extends the pedestrian path along Eleanor Avenue into the landscaped grounds. The mausoleum will add an additional 30,584 crypts (each of which will start at $7,700), cremation niches enveloped with hanging gardens and an open-air chapel tucked inside an arbor on the building’s rooftop terrace. The most current design for the mausoleum was unanimously approved by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission, the neighborhood council and its planning committee, according to the firm, for “the encouragement of open space and parks and the promotion of the preservation of views, natural character, and topography of mountainous parts of the community for the enjoyment of both local residents and persons throughout the region.” The project will be completed in two phases, the first of which will have room for 10,680 crypts, followed by the second phase, which will add an additional 19,072. Given that the project will significantly increase the attendance of Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the city council’s approval was dependent upon the addition of 107 parking spaces as well as several street improvements along neighboring streets, including Santa Monica Boulevard, Van Ness Avenue and Gower Street. Those hoping to reserve a spot in Gower Court Mausoleum would be advised to not hold their breath; the project isn’t expected to be complete for another ten to fifteen years.
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There's No Place Like Dome

Kanye West's dome-shaped housing prototypes were demolished
Less than a month after news broke that Kanye West’s futuristic affordable housing project might face the wrecking ball, most of the Star Wars-reminiscent structures have been torn down. TMZ reported that three of the four dome-shaped prototypes, located on the 300-acre wooded plot that Kanye West and Kim Kardashians call home in Calabasas, California, were fully taken down as of yesterday after failing to comply with building codes set forth by the Los Angeles County Public Works. The project was originally slated to be shut down by this Sunday, September 15, if West’s team didn’t get proper construction permits for the buildings, and it seems that a trio of the homes were taken down ahead of the deadline. The remaining dome will reportedly also be demolished before then as well. The prototypes were part of the rapper-slash-designer-slash-producer’s grand vision to build an egalitarian community of sustainable homes, according to a Forbes writer who toured the property last month, in the style of the Tatooine settlements that debuted in the first Star Wars film. The four tall, rounded huts that West built near his Calabasas home, featured wooden frames of various sizes with holes cut in the top for natural light. Each structure was semi-sunken into the ground and included a concrete foundation.  According to TMZ, the state inspector who came by twice to see the homes after receiving construction noise complaints from surrounding neighbors (construction crews were working on weekend days when they shouldn't have been) said since the concrete bases were installed, it suggested the domes were more permanent rather than temporary and different permits were required. It’s unclear whether West will build the prototypes elsewhere or if he will move the remaining home to a property he just bought in Wyoming.