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Christopher Mount to Open Architecture and Design Gallery in Los Angeles
Having observed the absence of architecture and design materials from the American art collection scene, curator and scholar Christopher W. Mount decided to fill the gap himself. His eponymous Los Angeles gallery, housed in the Pacific Design Center, opens to the public on Friday, May 23 with A Modern Master: Photographs by Balthazar Korab. A second gallery, open by appointment, will be located on the Upper West Side in New York. “I really thought that this was the time,” said Mount. “I thought, ‘Here is a subject matter that major museums collect, and there hasn’t been somebody who opened a gallery.’” A former curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA, Mount more recently had a bumpy ride as guest curator of A New Sculpturalism: Contemporary Architecture from Southern California, part of the Getty Research Institute’s Pacific Standard Time series. He describes his new gallery as “a labor of love” and a natural extension of his museum work. “When people talk about what is it you really like to do, the answer [for me] is to find works, put them on the wall...and educate people on architecture and design. Get people to appreciate it as something that is equal in aesthetic pleasure and beauty to regular fine art,” said Mount. The works his gallery will display—including photography, drawings, and, possibly, architecture models—“is often towards another end, but is often beautiful in and of itself.” As for choosing LA as his headquarters, “I think part of the reason to be based in Los Angeles is...[that] the architecture profession is much less strictly commercial,” said Mount. “Certainly these people are wildly successful, but they tend to be more experimental.” At the same time, his work on A New Sculpturalism left Mount with a sense of how disconnected the New York architecture world is from what is happening in Los Angeles. “The idea is to promote this work, promote the designers and the architects, and hopefully we’ll promote it throughout the world,” he said. After the Korab show, which closes August 29, the Christopher W. Mount Gallery will exhibit photographs by architectural photographer Benny Chan. Mount also plans a show featuring drawings by prominent mid-century car designers, timed to coincide with the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.
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Philly's Divine Lorraine Hotel Coming Back to Life
One of Philadelphia’s most impressive old ruins might be coming back to life. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that a New Jersey real estate lender is providing  $31.5 million to convert the decaying Divine Lorraine hotel into luxury apartments and commercial space. This is not the first attempt to transform the Lorraine, but it just might be its best. The 120-year-old Romanesque structure that was once a symbol of opulent luxury has been abandoned for the past 15 years—save for the ghosts who are rumored to wander its halls. But that could soon change. According to The Inquirer, this influx of cash could help developer Eric Blumenfeld "kick-start a conversion of the graffiti-scarred historic building." He bought the Lorraine for $8 million in 2012, but hasn't been able to finance a full transformation. If all things go according to plan, the Divine Lorraine will be just one of the new projects coming online along Philly's North Broad Street corridor. The building was designed by Willis G. Hale and opened as the Lorraine Apartments back in 1894. “The Lorraine was the true pinnacle of luxury in its time, boasting full electricity, two gigantic penthouse ballrooms, and a talented staff that pushed private servants into a state of obsolescence,” reported Curbed Philly. A few years later, it was turned into a hotel, which was successful up until the Depression. In 1948, the founder of the International Peace Mission Movement, Reverend Major Jealous Divine, bought the building and renamed it the Divine Lorraine Hotel. The Reverend welcomed anyone into the Lorraine, making it America’s first racially integrated hotel. All were welcome, but according to Curbed, guests had to obey Divine’s rules: “That meant no drinking, no smoking, no profanity, and sharing quarters with the opposite sex was forbidden. The two penthouse ballrooms were transformed into worship halls while the ground floor kitchen was opened to the public as a low-cost alternative for hungry Philadelphians.” And that’s just the start of it. Jim Jones—yes, Jamestown Jim Jones—used to kick it with the Reverend inside the hotel. After Divine’s death in the 1960s, Jones unsuccessfully tried to continue leading his friend's movement. Instead, Jones started his own thing, which you may have heard about. Fast-forward to 2002 when the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and then to 2006 when Philly developer Michael Treacy Jr. bought the building with a promise to preserve its historic integrity. According to Untapped Cities,  that didn't happen; “instead the interior of the building was scavenged for everything from marble and alabaster to radiators and old mattresses. Afterward, it was left abandoned, windows shattered, the interior exposed to the elements." After many years of change, this abandoned, graffitied, possibly haunted, formerly-cultish, beautiful hotel is prepping for its next guests.
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The Quotable Eli Broad Weighs in on Los Angeles
Diller Scofidio + Renfro's concrete-veiled Los Angeles art museum and its accompanying plaza, The Broad, named for the billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad who commissioned it,  continue to rise in downtown. Meanwhile, across the street, Broad's longtime project, MOCA, struggles to find its footing. Addressing these two projects, Broad sat down with Los Angeles Magazine, giving an unusually candid interview about the state of the city, his own giving, and much more. Here are some of his most revealing quotes from a man who, this time, departed from his usual tactic of sticking to talking points. "Right now Los Angeles needs a lot of things. It needs better political leadership and better citizen and corporate leadership than it’s had." "I don’t mean to brag, but in Los Angeles I don’t see anyone who has stepped forward to do the number of things that I’ve done." "With regards to Disney Hall, Frank Gehry had a contract as a design architect. He wasn’t supposed to get involved in construction. When I got involved, I had some ideas that Frank didn’t like. But we’re great friends now." "We took a chance on Jeffrey Deitch [at MOCA]. He’s a populist. He did several great shows, like Art in the Streets. He created MOCAtv. But he didn’t have the stomach, frankly, to deal with trustees or raise money or do other things. He was not a manager." "We had a lot of old trustees on the board (at MOCA) who give nothing and create a lot of problems. Four or five of the old trustees didn’t give anything to this campaign for the endowment, but they have no problem talking to the press and complaining. "We (Broad and his wife Edye) want to finish all our work within ten years after our demise. We don’t believe in having a foundation that’s around 50 years from now that has no idea of what the founders wanted done." "Oh, yeah. We’re accelerating our investment."
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Herzog & de Meuron Wins Bid For First Canadian Project at the Vancouver Art Gallery
Herzog & de Meuron will be designing the new Vancouver Art Gallery. The plan will double the size of the 300,000 square foot existing institution.The new Vancouver Art Gallery will be the Swiss firm's first Canadian project. HdM was selected out of the shortlist that consisted of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York), Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (New York), KPMB Architects (Toronto), and SANAA (Tokyo). The finalists, announced in January, were chosen out of 75 firms from 16 countries who submitted to an open Request for Qualifications process issued by the gallery. Conceptual designs are expected to be revealed in early 2015.
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New York Public Library Closes the Book on Foster + Partners Renovation Plan
The New York Public Library has canceled its controversial renovation plan by Foster + Partners, according to a report in the New York Times. The plan, which would have removed the historic book stacks and turned the non-lending research library into a circulating library, was widely opposed by scholars, writers, and architectural historians. In addition, the library planned to sell their Mid-Manhattan branch and their Science, Industry and Business Library. Now they plan to renovate the Mid-Manhattan branch and maintain the 42nd Street Library as a research library. “When the facts change, the only right thing to do as a public-serving institution is to take a look with fresh eyes and see if there is a way to improve the plans and to stay on budget,” Tony Marx, the library’s president, told the Times. Foster-designed Central Library Plan would have turned the area housing the stacks into new reading room overlooking Bryant Park. While campaigning, Mayor Bill de Blasio opposed the library plan. According to the Times, the mayor recently met with NYPL's Marx to reiterate his opposition. The Huxtable Initiative (named for the late Ada Louise Huxtable), a group of architects, critics, and historians opposed the Central Library Plan, released the following statement:
It sounds too good to be true. But it goes to show that criticism can actually change things! Ada Louise Huxtable writing in the Wall Street Journal inspired us all—and particularly prompted the formation of the Huxtable Initiative (a group of architectural journalists, critics and historians) to protest the insertion of the Foster scheme in the grand Carrere and Hastings structure. Then architecture critic Michael Kimmelman put the problem on the front burner by  writing about the weaknesses of the library's  plans in the New York Times. Charles Warren, the architect, advanced the discussion by revealing the engineering distinctiveness of the stacks that were about to be destroyed. And then of course, there was The Committee to Save the New York Public Library,  which just never gave up. When you don't have big money, you do need a lot of perseverance and people.
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A New Gang In Lower Manhattan: Chicago's Studio Gang Architects Opens New York City Office
Chicago's most famous architect has just acquired a New York City pied-à-terre. Studio Gang has opened an office on Water Street in Lower Manhattan, which will be led by Weston Walker, a design principal. “This is a natural next step for the firm,” said founding principal Jeanne Gang in a statement. “We have been working in New York for the past several years and are excited by the variety of work currently in design, along with potential engagements in the city and beyond." The firm is currently working on a Fire Rescue facility for the New York City Department of Design and Construction and on the "Solar Carve" tower adjacent to the High Line. That project met resistance from the community for its height. There is no word yet on how tall it will be or how it will be redesigned.
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Sustainable Food and Architecture at Santa Barbara Public Market
London has Borough Market. San Francisco has the Ferry Building. Seattle has Pike Place Market. And now Santa Barbara has the Santa Barbara Public Market. The 19,400 square-foot marketplace, put together by local architecture firms Cearnal Andrulaitis, Sutti Associates, and Sherry & Associates Architects, opened on April 14. It showcases regionally-sourced, artisanal foods in a downtown location. Part of Alma del Pueblo, a mixed-use development that includes additional retail and 37 condominiums, the Public Market is located on the site of a former Vons. “When I bought the land, I knew that I wanted to put a market back,” said developer Marge Cafarelli. “Santa Barbara . . . [has] such rich roots and traditions in agriculture, farming, food, and wine, that it made sense to put something back that made sense in this time. The Public Market is housed in an understated stucco shell, a streamlined take on the Mission Revival architecture for which the city is known. “It was very, very important to me that the building be very simple,” said Cafarelli. “Less can sometimes be more, that was very intentional.” One of the driving forces behind the design was the incorporation of an historic six-panel mosaic mural by Joseph Knowles, which the city of Santa Barbara required Cafarelli to preserve. The mural, which depicts the history of the town, had for decades fronted Victoria Street, the quieter of the two streets adjacent to the Public Market. “[We wanted] to get those panels off of Victoria Street, which will make it much more pedestrian-friendly, and move [them] to Chapala Street, which is much more vehicular oriented,” said Cearnal Andrulaitis’ Jeff Hornbuckle, project architect. Construction crews sawed the 10-ton panels out one at a time and used a crane to move them around the corner, where they were placed atop a freshly-poured concrete footing. Cearnal Andrulaitis designed the shell of the Public Market. Sutti Associates did the overall interior layout and Sherry & Associates Architects worked with the tenants—who include purveyors of coffee, juice, bread, cheese, meat, beer and wine, and gourmet groceries—on kitchen layouts. Though united by an industrial aesthetic, including a polished concrete floor and exposed ductwork, the vendor areas were given unique personalities through custom lighting and signage. Next door to the Public Market are Alma del Pueblo’s Mediterranean-style condominiums, intersected by a series of pathways, pedestrian bridges, and outdoor living rooms. The Arlington Theatre, which dates to the 1930s and features an elaborate Mission Revival facade and an art deco steeple, is adjacent to both the condos and the Public Market. The architects opened up views to the theater, Santa Barbara’s largest, from the Victoria Street side of the complex, including at the main entrance to the condominiums. “The idea was to create a paseo that framed the view of the Arlington,” said Hornbuckle. Cafarelli is aiming for LEED for Homes Platinum on the residential portion of the project and LEED for Core and Shell Gold on the Public Market. “What was important to me was to build something that was really in the vernacular of the historic district, but to create a really high performance building in addition,” she said.
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The Cinematic Future of "Dumbo Heights"
The transformation of the Jehovah’s Witness' Watchtower campus in Dumbo is underway. Real estate wunderkind Jared Kushner is converting the five-building complex into “Dumbo Heights” – Brooklyn’s next tech hub and commercial district. While the 1.2-million-square-foot project won’t open until next year, a new promotional video for the site was released this week. And it’s packed with more Brooklyn stereotypes than a Williamsburg brunch spot on Sunday. Here’s a shot-by-shot guide to the spring’s most epic real estate promotional film. It starts in complete abstraction. A scratching record and flashing light leave the viewer completely disoriented until—aha!—coordinates flash onscreen: 40.7031N, 73.9894W. But what do they mean? Where are we? They’re just numbers, none of this makes any sense. Suddenly, it all becomes clear. A sweeping, aerial shot shows us that we’ve arrived. We’ve arrived at Dumbo Heights. Or rather, some currently existing office meant to look like Dumbo Heights. Cut to a blonde 20-something marching through that office. Lights turn on as she moves through the space. She is likely some sort of celestial programmer, or celestial social media coordinator. Before we know which, she disappears. A man arrives. He is dressed in Brooklyn: a beard, a plaid shirt, and is holding a fixed-gear bike. His dog follows behind him. How did the dog get to the office so fast? Was he also on a fixed-gear? It’s the film’s first mystery. Another young professional appears wearing a bow-tie. To his left, a woman smiles below a floppy hat. They’re young. They’re fun. This is Dumbo Heights. More people. More Apple computers. More dogs. More Plaid. More Brooklyn. There is a tent set up in the middle of an office. Why is there a tent sent up in the middle of an office? And why are people meeting in it? The second great mystery. Look! That guy with the plaid and beard is back. He steps into the tent and smiles. He’s been welcomed by the group. The meeting can commence. More meetings between young professionals cuts to a recording studio, which cuts to a pug running in slow motion. Run little pug, run. "Co-creation” is written on a whiteboard by a white hand. There is an architectural rendering on a table next to a tiny cactus. And then, all of a sudden, children and horses are swinging around Jean Nouvel’s Jane's Carousel. They disappear. A bearded fellow takes their place. He's swinging a bottle of liquor behind a bar. Another bow-tied gentleman raises his chalice. “Cheers,” he seems to be saying. “Cheers to us and cheers to Dumbo Heights. Hooray!” The alcohol gives way to coffee and a latte artist dripping milk across his dark-roast canvas. A woman pulls her friend across the Brooklyn Bridge at dusk. She is squarely in the bike lane, but is this real life? More people working, smiling, and two more dogs. One is sleeping; the other is trying to lick the stubble off its owner’s face. There’s that guy in plaid again. Where is he going this time? Somewhere, and he’s moving fast. A sweeping shot of Dumbo, and—you cannot be serious—a typewriter. What is it writing? Dumbo Heights. Fin. [h/t New York Daily News]
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Preservationists Fight To Save Modernist North Carolina Office Building
A group of North Carolina preservationists is trying to protect a local piece of modernist history from the impending wrecking ball. The News & Observer reported that a group called North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH) has started a campaign to save the former Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic building, which was designed by Raleigh architect G. Milton Small over 50 years ago. "The building is really Raleigh’s finest example of international architecture," said George Smart, the head of NCMH, who noted that Small studied under Mies van der Rohe at IIT. The two-story structure is wrapped in floor-to-ceiling windows and a porch, and has a 6,000-square-foot courtyard with a 10-foot decorative brick wall. While the building does not have a national profile or an esepcially famous architect, it was noted for its "taste and design" in a 1965 New York Times cover story. The building is currently vacant, and its owner has filed plans for a structure twice its size on the site. Construction on that project is expected to begin in a few months, but before that happens, NCMH is making its own push to find a new tenant for the building. They will be hosting an open house at the clinic building on May 7th.
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Did Boston's Millennium Tower Break a "Record" With Its 36-Hour Concrete Pour?
After a continuous 36-hour concrete pour last weekend, Boston’s Millennium Tower is ready to rise above the city skyline. The day-and-a-half-long pour of 6,000 cubic yards for the Handel Architects–designed project is being called a “record concrete pour” by local press—and it probably is, at least in terms of hours spent pouring. But if you crunch the numbers, as AN did, the pour in Beantown reveals that the tower’s concrete took its sweet, sweet time to flow. We’ll explain. In February, a pour for the Wilshire Grand tower in Los Angeles set three times as much concrete—21,200 cubic yards—in just 18 hours. That’s twice the velocity of the Millennium Tower flow—or in Boston parlance, that’s wicked fast! And that pour was quite literally a record breaker, it won the Guinness World Record for "largest continuous concrete pour." Hour-by-hour, the Wilshire Grand beat the Millennium Tower with 1,178 cubic yards of concrete poured to just 166. The slow pour is not entirely surprising for the project, which has been pretty slow moving in its own right since the start. When the project is finally complete in 2016, it will be 625-feet tall, making it the tallest residential tower in the city.
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Is Los Angeles' Convention Center Expansion Moving Ahead?
According to LA Downtown News, while AEG's proposed downtown football stadium, Farmers Field, remains on hold, the city's Bureau of Engineering will most likely be holding a three-team design competition to rebuild part of its sister project: the LA Convention Center, down the street. AEG's Populous-designed plan for the convention center, whose funding depends on the construction of Farmers Field, calls for demolishing the older of the center's two buildings, the West Hall, and building a new structure that continues to the south, bridging Pico Boulevard. “The plan is shovel-ready at this point,” AEG’s Brad Gessner, told Downtown News. But if that proposal is unable to go ahead by its October 18 deadline, the city is preparing to solicit teams for a "Plan B," a more modest renovation of the existing convention center.  Vicki Curry, spokesperson for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, told AN that the Bureau of Engineering is considering a three firm design competition for this plan, but that its Task Order Solicitation—involving a general request for qualifications— has not yet been released.  
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Long Island College Hospital Could Get The Residential Tower Treatment [UPDATED]
After a long and heated fight to save Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital from demolition, the site’s future as a medical center has been cemented. But along with the full-service hospital could come two residential towers that are significantly taller than anything in the predominantly-brownstone Cobble Hill neighborhood. According to Crain’s, “the would-be real estate developers of the medical campus are counting on high-rise residential towers of a scale never before seen in the heart of brownstone Brooklyn in order to make the deal pencil out, according to emails among executives involved in the bid.” Brooklyn Health Partners—a company created to participate in the bidding process for the project—is reportedly planning two 40–50 story towers at the site, one condo and one rental. The scale of these towers was not included in the team’s winning bid. The group's spokesperson told Crain’s they’re not yet focused on that part of the project. To get this plan approved, the development team is also adopting what Crain's called the “Domino approach”—a reference to the winning strategy for the redevelopment of the Domino Sugar Factory. At that site, the developer, Two Trees, was granted zoning changes in exchange for an increase in affordable housing. Plans for the towers at the Long Island College Hospital site call for 20 percent affordable units in the condo tower, and 40 percent in the rental. As the with Domino, this plan requires approval from the de Blasio Administration and City Council. Updated 4/30/2014: Sources tell the Daily News that Brooklyn Health Partners' plan to maintain a hospital on the Long Island College Hospital site has likely collapsed.  The News reports, "De Blasio, state officials and two powerful healthcare unions all but acknowledged that the winning bidder for the site, a group called Brooklyn Health Partners, has little ability to follow through on its pledge to maintain a hospital there." A spokesperson for Brooklyn Health Partners rejected this report, saying, "On May 5, BHP will make a $25 million non-refundable payment and show it has the financial means to complete the entire project." Watch this space.