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Double Feature

Could L.A. get a second Hollywood sign?
A newly-released report aimed at finding ways to increase public access to Los Angeles’s Hollywood sign without impacting surrounding residential neighborhoods has made a few surprising recommendations, including the potential of erecting a duplicate sign on the opposite slope of the Hollywood Hills favoring the San Fernando Valley. The report, released earlier this week, was drafted by consultants Dixon Resources Unlimited at the behest of Los Angeles City Council District 4, amid complaints from local residents who would like to see public access to the site restricted. Homeowners in the areas surrounding the sign have complained of higher rates of traffic over recent years, as the sign’s popularity has boomed in the fitness-crazed Instagram age. The sign itself is not formally recognized as a public space, but many people access the grounds via a network of public hiking trails throughout Griffith Park. The sign—visible from across the region and perhaps best seen in sequence, coming in and out of view from twisty Mulholland Drive—is widely photographed from within surrounding neighborhoods, creating traffic and endangering pedestrians. In 2017, the city closed the popular Beachwood Canyon trailhead that leads to the sign, due to neighborhood outcry. Although vehicular access has been maintained to the trailhead, hikers and sign watchers traveling on foot are now instructed to use alternative entrances to the park. Still, however, demand to reach the site is ever-increasing and the City is searching for potential solutions that benefit both sides. The report recommends 29 potential fixes. Many of the proposed solutions involve instituting common sense improvements like additional wayfinding and pedestrian-friendly designs. Other potential solutions, like increasing parking fines and blocking views of the sign from residential streets using new plantings, are directly aimed at making it more difficult to see or access the sign at all. Several suggestions, however, stand out as more highly visible initiatives that would represent substantial investments in public infrastructure while also re-tooling the Hollywood sign’s significance in the city’s urban imaginary as a physical place rather than simply something to observe from afar. Among the larger-scale potential solutions in the report, perhaps most radical is the notion of creating a second Hollywood sign along the northern slope of the Hollywood Hills overlooking the San Fernando Valley. The duplicate sign, the report contends, could “spread out the impact of photo-seekers to both sides of the park.” The report also suggests the potential of adding more than one replica, as well as several ideas for creating a visitor center, viewing platform, transportation terminal, and even a network of gondolas to reach the sign. For now, the recommendations will be taken under consideration; a timeline for the final selection of actionable concepts and their implementation has not been released.
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Closing Ceremony

Ten architecture shows you don’t want to miss before they close
The new year may signal a turn to fresh beginnings, but before we close the book on 2017, this is the last chance to catch a range of thoughtfully-curated exhibits centered on design, history, planning, technology, and architecture. From a photographic survey of U.S.–Mexico border monuments to Isamu Noguchi's internment camp archive and a showcase of MacArthur genius grant winner Hector's work on urban processes, these shows engage the present and past of architecture in provocative ways. Don't sleep on these shows! Tu casa es mi casa Neutra VDL 2300 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA Closing January 13, 2018 This exhibit sheds light on the porous boundary between Mexico City and Los Angeles, with a focus on "architectural space, mass production, and domesticity within the legacy of modernism." The show displays site-specific installations by three Mexico City–based design teams, Frida Escobedo, Pedro&Juana, and Tezontle, who responded to letters from three California-based writers, Aris Janigian, Katya Tylevich, and David Ulin, who each spent time in the Neutra house.   Joris Laarman Lab: Design in the Digital Age Cooper Hewitt, 2 E 92st Street, New York Closing January 15, 2018 The Cooper Hewitt is hosting the first major American exhibition of the Dutch designer Joris Laarman, who mixes traditional craftsmanship with modern fabrication to produce unique furniture design. On display is a range of Laarman’s work, arranged thematically to reveal each shift in his firm’s investigation of digital design.   Scaffolding Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place, New York City Closing January 18 Greg Barton’s Scaffolding is an examination of the broad uses of scaffolding as a tool of utility in creating spaces of inhabitation and facilitating access to such spaces. With the widespread use of scaffolding across New York City, measuring an approximate length of 280 miles, the exhibit allows the audience to reimagine the ubiquitous temporary structures as potentially engaging features of the city’s streetscape.     No. 9 Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, 1172 Amsterdam Avenue, New York Closing January 19, 2018 No. 9 is an archival collection of the public sculpture program initiated in Mexico City for the 1968 Olympics. Termed the La Ruta de la Amistad (Route of Friendship), the network of nineteen monumental sculptures was influenced by multinational and modernist aesthetics, the only caveats of their design being abstract, composed of concrete and monumental in size. All the Queens Houses The Architectural League of New York, 594 Broadway, Suite 607, New York Closing January 26, 2018 The Architectural League’s All of the Queens Houses is a collection of 273 photographs of residences in Queens taken by architect Rafael Herrin-Ferri. The collection explores the vernacular, low-rise housing stock of the borough and the demographic diversity therein. Although Herrin-Ferri’s project contains over 5,000 photographs, those presented by the League are located in 34 neighborhoods across the borough.  

Self-Interned, 1942: Noguchi in Poston War Relocation Center The Noguchi Museum, 9-01 33rd Road (at Vernon Boulevard), Long Island City, NY Closing January 28, 2018

The show is centered on sculptor Isamu Noguchi's decision to voluntarily report to Poston, a Japanese internment camp in Arizona, in order to contribute his designs and skills to support the forcibly displaced residents. It features over two dozen works by Noguchi from 1941 to 1944, created pre- and post-internment, evoking this dark moment in American democracy and the impact of this experience on his art.   Damon Rich and Jae Shin: Space Brainz—Yerba Buena 3000 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA Closing January 28, 2018
In Space Brainz–Yerba Buena 3000, the gallery becomes a laboratory for dissecting power in the built environment through Hector’s recent projects in architecture and planning in North American cities. A colorful structure that fills the space is the framework on which Hector's models, photographs, and mock-ups take viewers on a journey of urban issues on many scales, from broken sidewalks to riverfront projects, suggesting that the city is a place where negotiation and conflicting interests are the only constants.  
Monuments: 276 Views of the U.S.–Mexico Border by David Taylor The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Caroline Wiess Law Building, 1001 Bissonnet Street, Houston Closing January 28, 2018 Almost a decade ago, photographer David Taylor set out to photograph the 276 obelisks that mark the U.S.–Mexico boundary established at the end of the Mexican–American War in 1848. This project took him along the 690 miles of border, often on foot, requiring special permissions, and culminated at a time when the border has re-emerged as a political flashpoint. This exhibit, in the artist's own words, a glimpse of what the border actually looks like, at a time when it seems to mostly exist in the realm of caricature and threat.   Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives at Arab Image Foundation  LAX ART, 7000 California State Route 2, West Hollywood Closing February 17, 2018 The current instability of Iraq and Syria has destroyed and threatened countless structures of architectural significance, erasing large swaths of heritage in the Cradle of Civilization. A respite from this loss is the archival collection of organizations such as the Arab Image Foundation with their collection of photographs by Iraq architect Rifat Chadirji, who was pivotal to Baghdad's postwar modernization between the 1950s and 1970s. LAX ART is currently showing 60 photographic paste-ups of Chadirji's body of work, as well as hundreds of the architect's photographs of the streets of Baghdad in the 20th century.   Never Built New York Queens Museum, New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, NY Closing February 18, 2018 AN‘s Contributing Editor Sam Lubell with contributor, critic, and writer Greg Goldin, shows a New York that could have been, featuring original prints, drawings, and models that never made it past the drawing board. Combed from over 40 different public and private collections, the show brings together the visions of Frank Lloyd Wright, Robert Moses, Eliot Noyes, and Steven Holl, among many others, and also shows a glimpse of the city's famous icons as they were originally planned. A bouncy castle version of Noyes' Westinghouse Pavilion and an insertion of 70 models into the Panorama of New York City, the scale model of the city, are among its highlights.
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Parks over Parking

Santa Monica looks to cap Interstate 10 in new downtown plan
Local planning politics on Los Angeles's Westside is in a sad state of affairs. There, a municipally-led push to complete city streets by adding bicycle infrastructure and other pedestrian improvements has been met with fierce opposition from local drivers. Recent efforts in L.A’s Mar Vista neighborhood, for example, grew so toxic that community members launched a now-stalled recall bid to remove Mike Bonin—the local council person who champions the so-called “road diets” as well as the city’s Vision Zero plan those diets support—from office. The embarrassing spectacle has thrown into question the commitment L.A. residents have not only toward prioritizing the City’s plan for eliminating all traffic deaths by 2025, but also their reluctance to take personal responsibility for reducing transportation-related carbon emissions across the region. Nevertheless, there might be hope yet. That hope comes in the form of a new downtown plan taking root just a few blocks from Mar Vista, in the City of Santa Monica. The beachside municipality recently approved its new Downtown Community Plan (DCP), a document that looks to convert downtown Santa Monica into a “complete community” offering dense urban housing, multi-modal transportation options, and a healthy sprinkling of public open and green spaces. The city’s planning agency has taken a variety of steps to promote this vision by increasing maximum Floor-Area-Ratios for sites that include housing development in certain zones, eliminating parking minimums for some types of new construction, and pushing to reconfigure downtown streets in the image of universal transport. Through this new plan, the municipality is working to expand the functionality of its sidewalks and streets by increasing their capacity to support bicycle infrastructure, demarcating specific loading zones for buses and ride sharing services, and recognizing key “signature sidewalk” areas that will strategically enhance street life. The plan indicates that Santa Monica city officials are keenly aware that the future of the L.A. region will depend just as much on what happens in the spaces between buildings as it will on the buildings themselves. Critically, the plan also calls for capping the western terminus of Interstate 10 with a new park, a move that would fully transform the southern edge of the city into a civic and commercial node while also providing the city with an opportunity to rework surface streets to better accommodate the new focus on multi-modal transport. The section of I-10 in question sits in a 20-feet-below-grade channel spanning roughly 7,000 feet across what was once the city’s civic core; the stretch of highway is bounded on one side by Santa Monica City Hall and Ken Genser Square and on the other by the James Corner Field Operations–designed Tongva Park. Santa Monica Lookout reports that the DCP’s Gateway Master Plan element—the document spelling out just how the highway-adjacent areas are to be redesigned—will go up for consideration by the city’s Department of Planning and Community Development sometime this spring. The department recently issued a report that includes support for the freeway cap as part of several long-term changes for the city. The report describes the freeway park’s ability to offer a “unique opportunity for strengthening connections” within the city as a principal reason for its construction. Aside from proposing a specific, multi-modal plan for reconnecting the city’s street grid, the Gateway Master Plan will envision a method for reworking and connecting several key sites surrounding the future park, including an adjacent Sears department store complex, the Santa Monica Civic Center, and nearby Expo Line and Big Blue Bus stations. Although calls for the freeway cap park in Santa Monica date back to the 1980s, recent years have seen a bevy of proposals for similar installations across the Los Angeles region, including over Interstate 110 in Downtown Los Angeles and over U.S. Route 101 in Hollywood. Another proposal is still in the works to cap another portion of U.S. Route 101 with an overpass that would allow local mountain lions and other fauna to traverse the highway safely. Though Santa Monica’s freeway cap is still in the early stages of approval, the municipality expects to implement the initial phases of the Gateway Master Plan by 2021. An official timeline for the freeway cap park has not been released.
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Optimist Prime

Los Angeles hillside home orients itself towards the outdoors
Hollywood legend has it that Charlie Chaplin perfected his characteristic splayed-foot waddle by pacing up and down Los Angeles’s hilly Baxter Street. The hill rises at a harsh 32 percent grade on both sides of its slopes, making it one of the steepest urban inclines in the nation. Perched partway up is a stark rhomboid-shaped white and gray home with a particular gait of its own. The 2,400-square-foot residence was recently completed by Optimist Design, a studio run by German-born production designer Tino Schaedler. The home—conceived by Schaedler and artist Pia Habekost for their growing family—came into being after the couple had spent years living in a landlocked loft in L.A’s Arts District; their only outdoor access was a shared rooftop. “We wanted to live in a different way,” Schaedler said. “I wanted to create an area where I could lie down and read with a view to outside.” In some ways, the big-windowed abode is a prototypical Los Angeles hillside home. Its stick-frame construction and three-level organization stand out as hallmarks of the vernacular style; a two-car garage and a spare room that Habekost utilizes as a studio occupy the first floor. The building’s main floor above, however, contains more remarkable spaces, including the home’s indoor-outdoor terrace and living room. “The view is really beautiful—it was clear to me that I wanted to orient everything toward that beautiful sunset,” Schaedler explained as he described the terrace, which occupies approximately half of the second level’s floor plate. The 16-by-51-foot band is capped on one end by a wading pool and palm tree–studded courtyard. Roughly two-thirds of the way down the terrace, a section of the roof wraps over it, creating an outdoor extension of the home’s interior living room, which connects to the patio via a monolithic glass pocket door. Anchored by a built-in pizza oven, the patio is also populated by built-in benches, potted plants, and bent-metal-tube furniture. The indoor-outdoor space is clad along its eastern exposure by perforated metal panels designed to provide privacy while still allowing the residents to see out over the hillside. An overhead threshold protrudes from the main building to meet the perforated metal wall, creating a view frame. Back inside the house, the dramatic living room—also oriented outward over the hill—is sandwiched between the terrace and a minimalist kitchen that features graphite-stained paneling that can slide closed, stowing away kitchen clutter. A stainless-steel bar counter separates the cooking area from the living room, where a pair of cats take up residence on a rumpled leather sofa. The home’s floors are made up of custom tongue-and-groove flooring, crafted by a local mill, while one of the living room walls is stacked entirely with books, its weighty shelves lined with integrated LED lights that, at night, “adjust to whatever vibe we want to set,” as Schaedler tells it.
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Flyin' High

Disney reveals renderings of gondola to connect Florida theme parks
The Walt Disney Company has revealed renderings of a gondola system that's slated to connect its Florida theme parks and resorts. With stations custom-designed around the theme of each property, the Disney Skyliner will connect Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, and Pop Century resorts to the International Gateway at Epcot and Hollywood Studios. The Epcot station design, for example, will draw on the art nouveau style of the park's nearby pavilions, while the art deco–revival Hollywood Studios station will align with that park's main entrance and bus stations. According to the company, some cabin exteriors will be covered in Disney characters "to give the appearance that a Disney pal is riding along with guests." The project was announced back in July, although the construction timeline has not been announced yet. This is not the only gondola project sweeping onto the boards right now. New York– and Oslo-based Snøhetta is designing a cable car that will ferry riders to the top of Italy's Virgolo Mountain, while London's Marks Barfield Architects and New York's Davis Brody Bond are behind a Chicago gondola proposal that would show off the city's architectural heritage.
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Quacking Around

Here are the best architectural ducks of 2017
It has been 40 years since Learning from Las Vegas introduced the world to the idea of the architectural duck. Though often held up as everything that is wrong with postmodernism, ducks seem to have some real lasting power. Every year, a number of projects take the idea of the duck a few steps further. 2017 has been no exception. Here are some of this year’s most notable ducks. LEGO House  – Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) Billund, Denmark There may be no toy in existence which has had a bigger impact on the minds of future architects than Legos. Located in Billund, Denmark, BIG’s LEGO House takes the idea of a duck to an extreme. The LEGO House’s is comprised of 21 LEGO-shaped volumes, with round skylights on the top level resembling the iconic two-by-four LEGO block. The project was conceived as an interactive attraction for the Billund’s Downtown, where LEGO is headquartered. Apple Flagship Store – Foster + Partners Chicago, Illinois Over the past decade and a half, Apple has been constructing flagship stores around the world by designers such as Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Norman Foster. Their latest seems to take the company’s branding very seriously. The new Foster-designed Chicago flagship takes the undeniable form of an Apple laptop. Early rumors predicted the ultra-thin long-span carbon fiber roof would be adorned with the iconic apple symbol. While that rumor never proved to be true, the grey roof from above still resembles a giant Macbook Pro. "Domestikator" – Atelier Van Lieshout Paris, France Though originally created in 2015, "Domestikator" by Atelier Van Lieshout made its way back into the headlines when the Louvre refused to display the building-size artwork this year. The Louvre’s art director, Jean-Luc Martinez, stated that the fear of “being misunderstood by visitors” was the reason for the reversal in plans to show the work during the FIAC International Contemporary Art Fair in the Tuileries Gardens. Atelier Van Lieshout’s founder, Joep Van Lieshout, had planned to live in the structure through the duration of the festival. Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Florida Still under construction, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is a $1.5-billion entertainment development that takes the shape of a immense electric guitar body. At 450 feet tall, the hotel will include 600 rooms, multiple restaurants, and a 41,000-square-foot spa. While the shape of the hotel does not include the neck or head of the guitar, a series of six vertical fins resembling guitar strings run up the front of the building. Rather than a typical groundbreaking, the project had a “guitar smashing ceremony,” and is expected to be complete in 2019. Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, American Museum of Natural History - Studio Gang Architects Washington, D.C. Studio Gang is no stranger to biomorphic forms in its designs. The new addition and renovation to the American Museum of Natural History, currently still in the design phases, takes this interest a few steps further. While the exterior resembles a weathered rock face, the interior takes on the form of a full-out natural cave. Though formally resembling a subterranean cavern, vast expanses of glass bring bright natural light into the space. The 235,000-square-foot Gilder Center is expected to open in 2020.
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Awards Season

AIA|LA awards highlight diverse range of practices and projects
The American Institute of Architects Los Angeles (AIA|LA) chapter recently announced the winners of its 2017 Design Awards, which recognizes practices and projects across the region in categories celebrating overall design, status as rising talent, and quality of environmental sustainability. The three award categories—Design Award; Next L.A.; and COTE—paint a picture of the diverse and multi-faceted character of Los Angeles’s architecture scene, with winners representing a broad spectrum of practice.   Design Awards AIA|LA’s Design Awards highlighted two projects in particular with top honors: The New United States Courthouse by SOM and the Crest Apartments by Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA). Since opening in late 2016, the new courthouse has become one of the region’s premier public buildings. The iconic cube-shaped structure utilizes a 28-foot cantilever over the ground floor areas to create an open, public plaza and garden designed by Mia Lehrer + Associates. MMA’s Crest Apartments, on the other hand, is a very different sort of project. The 64-unit affordable housing project utilizes minimal ground floor structure and exuberant plantings and paving strategies to create flexible recreation spaces that double as car parking when not in use. The project was developed with Skid Row Housing Trust to benefit veterans who have previously experienced homelessness. The following projects were awarded “merit” and “citation” designations by the AIA|LA Design Awards jury:   Merit Awards Road to Awe, Dan Brunn Architecture West Hollywood, CA Hyundai Capital Convention Hall, Gensler Seoul, South Korea Oak Pass Main House, Walker Workshop Beverly Hills, CA House Noir, Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects Malibu, CA Citation Awards Helmut Lang Flagship Store, Standard Los Angeles, CA Southern Utah Museum of Art, Brooks+Scarpa Cedar City, Utah South Los Angeles Pool Renovation, Lehrer Architects LA South Los Angeles, CA Sunset La Cienega Residences, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP + Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects West Hollywood, CA Prototype | A True Starter Home, Lehrer Architects LA South Los Angeles, CA The Salkin House, Bestor Architecture Los Angeles, CA Corner Pocket House, Edward Ogosta Architecture Manhattan Beach, CA Ayzenberg Group, Corsini Stark Architects Pasadena, CA Platform, Abramson Teiger Architects Culver City, CA Desert Palisades Guardhouse, Studio AR&D Architects Palm Springs, CA The Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Kevin Daly Architects Los Angeles, CA Rice University Moody Center for the Arts, Michael Maltzan Architecture Houston, TX Saddle Peak Residence, Sant Architects Topanga, CA Mar Vista House Addition and Renovation, Sharif, Lynch: Architecture Los Angeles, CA 2017 AIA|LA Design Awards jurors were Gabriela Carrillo, co-founder, Taller | Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo; Lance Evans, associate principal and senior vice president, HKS Architects; and Neil  M. Denari, professor, Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA. AIA|LA Next L.A. The AIA|LA Next L.A. awards honor yet-to-be-built projects that are in the design and planning stage.  This year’s winning project—The West Hollywood Belltower—is designed by Tom Wiscombe Architecture. The project aims to redefine the vernacular billboard as a spatial, digital installation framed by a public park. The proposal was generated as part of a design competition orchestrated by the City of West Hollywood to guide the design of future billboards. The following projects were awarded “merit” and “citation” designations by the AIA|LA Next L.A. awards jury:   Merit Award Los Angeles Residence, Baumgartner + Uriu Los Angeles, CA   Citation Award St. Georges Church, PARALX Beirut, Lebanon A4H Office Building, P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S Glendale, CA Varna Library, XTEN Architecture Varna, Bulgaria Sberbank Technopark, Eric Owen Moss Architects Moscow, Russia Silver Lake Duplex, Warren Techentin Architecture Los Angeles, CA Twin Villa, Patrick TIGHE Architecture & John V Mutlow Architects Beijing, China Second House, Freeland Buck Los Angeles, CA Jurors for AIA|LA Next L.A. awards were: Mark Foster Gage, principal, Mark Foster Gage Architects; Alvin Huang, design principal, Synthesis Design + Architecture; and Julia Koerner, Director, JK Design GmbH.   COTE Award AIA|LA’s Committee on the Environment focuses on highlighting projects that “demonstrate achievement in the implementation of sustainability features” and is awarded by a panel of experts who focus on performance, systems integration, and sustainability research. For 2017, the committee awarded four projects with top honors, including the Mesa Court Towers at University of California, Irvine designed by Mithun. The project features a LEED Platinum sustainability rating, exterior circulation, and an emphasis on day-lit spaces. Other winners in the category include: the J. Craig Venter Institute La Jolla by ZGF Architects; the New United States Courthouse by SOM; and The SIX Veterans Housing by Brooks+Scarpa.   Citation Award UCLA Hitch Suites & Commons Building, Steinberg Los Angeles, CA Kaiser Permanente, Kraemer Radiation Oncology Center, Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign Anaheim, CA The jurors for the 2017 AIA|LA COTE Awards were: Ezequiel Farca, creative director, Ezequiel Farca + Cristina Grappin; Dan Heinfeld, president, LPA; and Ben Loescher, founding principal, Loescher Meachem Architects.   Other Awards At its award ceremony last week, the organization also presented its 2017 Presidential Honoree awards, which included honors for architects Design, Bitches, builders MATT Construction, and Mike Alvidrez of the Skid Row Housing Trust, among others. Those awards include: Emerging Practice Award: Catherine Johnson, AIA; Rebecca Rudolph, AIA | Design, Bitches Design Advocate, Builder Award: Steve Matt, Affiliate AIA|LA, Co-Founder, MATT Construction; and the late Paul Matt, Co-Founder, MATT Construction Community Contribution Award: Southern California Chapter, National Organization of Minority Architects (SoCalNOMA) 25-Year Award: Grand Central Market Restoration Design Advocate, Developer Award: Mike Alvidrez, Chief Executive Officer, Skid Row Housing Trust Building Team Award: Wilshire Grand Building Team Honorary AIA|LA Award: Tibby Rothman, Marketing Strategist, AIA|LA | journalist, writer, creative Educator Award: Dr. Douglas E. Noble, FAIA, Ph.D; Discipline Head, Building Science, Director of the Master of Building Science, University of Southern California, School of Architecture Gold Medal: Lawrence Scarpa, FAIA; Design Principal, Brooks + Scarpa
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Shreddin' Good Taste

Rockin’ guitar-shaped Florida hotel celebrates construction milestone
Hoteliers and musicians smashed guitars in Hollywood, Florida to celebrate a construction milestone at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, a $1.5 billion entertainment complex featuring a mega guitar–shaped hotel. The 450-foot-tall hotel will boast more than 600 rooms, around half of the complex's total, plus a 41,000-square-foot spa and a few restaurants. At the tower's base, guests can swim underneath waterfalls in plunge pools, relax in private cabanas, and partake in water sports in a giant artificial lake. Right now, the existing Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood hotel has almost 500 rooms, as well as a casino, meeting space, restaurants, and a lagoon pool. Guitars are a popular motif all over the Hard Rock hotel and restaurant empire, but this is the first of the company's buildings to so closely resemble the actual instrument. Vertical fins up the tower's midline resemble strings, while horizontal banding act as 'frets' (though unlike real frets they extend outward to mimic the curve of the instrument). “It will be the first building in the world that’s truly to scale designed as an authentic guitar,” James 'Jim' Allen, Seminole gaming CEO and chairman of Hard Rock International, told the Sun Sentinal. “So it’s not just an exterior facade, the curving of the building will be identical to an authentic guitar." Though it might be the largest guitar building, it might not be the first. In 1996, architect Glenn Williams designed a Guitar House for himself in Venice, California that was inspired by Picasso's cubist rendering of the instrument. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) has reached out to Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood for more details on the building's design and construction, and will update readers as more information becomes available. Footage from the October 25 event showed workers atop the first few swishy floors. "To do this...to have a guitar shaped hotel—the only thing I'm a little concerned with is it's not a drum!" joked Nicko McBrain, a resident of nearby Ft. Lauderdale and a drummer in the British metal band Iron Maiden. The hotel opening is slated for summer 2019, but the complex's revamp goes way beyond its signature structure. In March, the 5,500-seat onsite theater will be demolished and replaced by Hard Rock Live, a 7,000-seat, $100 million venue. The casino will double in size, too, and the Seminole tribe is adding meeting space and 60,000 square feet of new retail and restaurants. The projects are timed to open before 2020, when NFL championship teams will face off at the Populous-designed (and HOK-renovated) Miami Dolphins stadium. It's a couple of states away, but this jammer should put rawkers in the mood for the hotel's opening:
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Demolition Approaching

AN speaks with the architect behind L.A.’s beleaguered Parker Center
The Parker Center complex in the Downtown Los Angeles Civic Center is quickly moving toward demolition in recent months as the City of Los Angeles begins to make headway on a new master plan for the district. The complex originally opened in 1955 and was designed by legendary L.A. architecture firm Welton Becket & Associates as a headquarters for the Los Angeles Police Department. The building has been featured prominently in films depicting the city and is largely intact, architecturally speaking. The complex, however, was controversial from its inception. The police headquarters takes up a full city block in an area that was once part of the commercial heart of the Little Tokyo neighborhood, a factor that weighed heavily on and ultimately derailed recent efforts to grant historic status to Parker Center. On top of that, the complex carries a great deal of psychological baggage due to its use as a base of operations by the LAPD during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, an event associated with widespread police abuse and dysfunction. Perhaps understandably, instead of saving the structure, city agencies are instead working full-speed toward organizing its demolition. Urbanize.la reports that the city recently sent out RFPs to interested parties to solicit demolition bids; estimates put the cost of demolition at $12 million. The complex will be replaced in coming years by a yet-to-be-designed office tower containing 712,500 square feet of office space and 37,500 square feet of ground floor retail, according to a draft master plan for the area. The existing eight-story International Style structure is defined by a primary, tile-clad facade that bears the name of the building in midcentury-era script. The abstract, rectilinear office mass sits on a series of one-story piloti and was considered state-of-the-art for its time. On a Los Angeles Conservancy page dedicated to the complex, a quote from a July 1956 issue of Popular Mechanics describes the building as follows: “Ultramodern in all respects, the new eight-floor Los Angeles Police Building makes available to the city's police department the most scientific building ever used by a law-enforcement group." Behind the main facade, the building’s expenses are clad in alternating bands of ribbon windows and blue tile mosaics. Along ground floor areas, the complex features a large lobby space defined by glass enclosures that provide visual indoor-outdoor connections. Like many of contemporary works of architecture built in Los Angeles during the time, the complex featured integrated public art that complemented the architecture. The lobby space contains a series of public artworks, including a bronze sculpture along the exterior titled “The Family Group” by artist Bernard J. Rosenthal. The lobby’s interior spaces are highlighted by a large mural by Joseph Young titled “Theme Mural of Los Angeles” depicting various city landmarks amid abstract color fields. The Architect’s Newspaper spoke with Louis Naidorf, one of the designers of the complex, to learn more about the project. Naidorf worked for Becket for over a decade starting in 1950, a stint that included design work on the iconic Capitol Records tower in Hollywood when the architect was just 24 years old. Naidorf explained that the conceptual idea of placing an office tower over thin piloti was Becket’s idea, and that Naidorf himself had designed “the entire first floor, [including] the auditorium and the lobby, the concession stand, and the parking structure.” Naidorf explained that fellow legendary midcentury designer Richard Dorman was the author of the police and jail wings of the complex, with Naidorf designing exterior treatments for those areas as well as an accompanying security gate. He said, “My job was to design a welcoming setting—something light airy, friendly, and courteous.” In describing the design of the interior lobby, Naidorf had proposed a “battery of telephones to call bail bondsmen from, with a floated panel spanning across the structural columns. The mounted telephones—with a mural at the front that had some liveliness—gave people a degree of privacy and tucked that less-than-happy aspect of the lobby out of view.” Naidorf described the era surrounding the early post-war boom during which Parker Center was built as a “strange period that, in effect, wiped out the lives of a generation of architects” who had been educated before the Great Depression, but who, because of the economic collapse, the deprivation caused by the ensuing global conflict, and their age, were never drafted for the war and had been left bereft of professional opportunity as a result. In this period, Naidorf explained, any architects of the time found work on Hollywood film sets as set designers, working in light timber framing and plaster.  He told AN, “People old enough to be our parents were just getting licensed” during the tumultuous era, adding, that “architecture had been in the tank” for the preceding decade. Younger architects like Naidorf —who was “three days out from UC Berkeley” when he was hired by Becket’s office—found themselves enjoying a great deal of responsibility and creative agency consequently. Naidorf lamented the loaded and problematic history of the building. He said, “[I] always assumed architects were supposed to positively affect the lives of the people who used their buildings and that the ‘real client’ for projects like Parker Center were the people who work in the building, the people who walk by the building, the people who were affected somehow by the presence of the building.” Naidorf added, “Your work was a setting for their lives. At a more basic level, [you] can create spaces that are depressing or spaces that are happy.” Regarding the proposed demolition of the Parker Center, Naidorf said:
Buildings need to be seen as mute elements in this society. The police from that time are probably mostly dead. The most productive thing is not to destroy it; it’s to find some good and productive use for [the building] that serves a good civic purpose. Perhaps that purpose should be related to the needs of people who have not been listened to very much. I don’t know if spending the money to tear it down and then rebuilding it is in our best interest. There are areas of the site that are less significant; the parking structure could go away, for example. It won’t be seriously missed. If you wanted to—remove the jail wing. But the building [overall] is really a pleasant, adaptable office building with a useful auditorium and a welcoming lobby that can go to many new uses. To throw away a piece of the city’s history—as well as throw into the recycling bin the narrative of that building—seems to me very foolish.
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Around and Around

Sinuous, twisting hotel tower coming to L.A.’s Sunset Strip
According to recently-submitted documentation, a sinuous hotel tower designed by Culver City–based R&A Design slated for the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California is one step closer to coming to fruition. Developer Charles Company recently submitted the project—located at 9034 Sunset Boulevard—for approval by the City of West Hollywood. If built as planned, the 19-story tower-and-podium complex will include 185 hotel rooms, 17,000 square feet of hotel-related banquet and event spaces, 5,700-square feet of retail space, a 7,500-square-foot restaurant, and a 915-square-foot art gallery. The project also calls for 550 parking stalls to be located in a four-story underground parking garage. The project would also include 14 apartment units and a helipad on its roof, Wehoville reports. The so-called Sunset Tower project is set back from the street and is located on a 1.3-acre T-shaped lot. The tower portion of the project features curved and rotating floor plates that project beyond the building envelope to create outdoor spaces as the floors rise and shift in position. Renderings for the project also depict the tower’s upper levels with much taller floor-to-floor heights, indicating that those levels will likely contain public spaces. The project’s retail and restaurant uses will be organized within a three-story podium structure that will meet the sidewalk. The podium structure is depicting as having a rooftop pool and other amenity spaces. The hotel tower complex comes as the West Hollywood area continues to add sizable numbers of new hotel complexes on and around Sunset Boulevard. Neil M. Denari Architects recently proposed a 91-unit hotel for a nearby site that features black metal panel cladding. A hugely controversial hotel tower project by Gehry Partners is slated for 8150 Sunset Boulevard and has been held up with lawsuits and community outcry for its height as well as the developer’s plans to tear down an iconic mid-century modern bank that currently occupies the site. A timeline for approval of the Sunset Tower project has not been announced.
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Autumn in L.A.

LOHA, JFAK, and top L.A. firms to present at AN’s Facades+ conference in Los Angeles
At The Architect’s Newspaper, we are busy getting ready for the upcoming Facades+ conference in Los Angeles taking place October 19th and 20th at the LA Hotel Downtown. The conference will bring together a wide collection of L.A.-based designers and practices ready to share their knowledge and expertise. Below, we bring you some highlights from AN’s recent coverage of some of our featured speakers! SOM, along with Los Angeles-based P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S and developer City Century, unveiled plans earlier this year for a three-tower complex named Olympia slated for a 3.25-acre site in Downtown Los Angeles. The mega-project plans to include 1,367 residential units, 40,000 square feet of retail space, and 115,000 square feet of open space, with the towers climbing to 43, 53, and 65 stories in height. Paul Danna and José Luis Palacios, Design Directors at SOM Los Angeles and Garth Ramsey, Senior Technical Designer, have been our partners in organizing upcoming Facades+ in Los Angeles. They will appear onstage with Keith Boswell—SOM’s Technical Partner—and Mark Kersey—from Clark Construction—to speak about the new Los Angeles Federal Courthouse. Architects John Friedman Alice Kimm (JFAK) recently completed work on the La Kretz Innovation Campus in Downtown Los Angeles. The 61,000-square-foot “sustainability factory” will act as a green tech-focused start-up incubator space that also collects rainwater to feed an onsite public park and is powered by sunlight. The complex is designed to facilitate daylight penetration into interior spaces and features public gathering areas and a robot fabrication lab. Alice Kimm, co-founder at JFAK will be giving an afternoon presentation at Facades+. A new four-story apartment complex designed by Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA) is currently under construction at 1030 N. Kings Road in West Hollywood, California. The 30-unit condominium complex will feature cantilevered corners, faceted facades, and perforated metal panel and wood cladding as well as partial courtyards that will bring light and air into each unit and the building’s circulation spaces and common areas. The cut-outs will also hold balconies for the units. Lorcan O'Herlihy, founder of LOHA, will be giving a morning presentation at Facades+. Koning Eizenberg Architects (KEA) recently completed work on the new Temple Israel of Hollywood complex in L.A., a new addition to the 91-year-old Spanish Colonial style synagogue. The new wing carves out a communal courtyard for the complex that is wrapped on one side by a folded aluminum shroud. The addition’s main interior gathering space features a drop-down ceiling made from CNC-milled maple wood as well. Both co-founder Julie Eizenberg and principal Nathan Bishop of KEA will be delivering a keynote address at the conference. Visit the Facades+ website to learn more and sign up for the conference.
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Hollywood Hills

Richard Neutra’s Chuey House, a midcentury marvel, could be torn down
In the Hollywood Hills of California, a house by esteemed late architect Richard Neutra is in danger of being bulldozed. The midcentury modern home is listed on Redfin but is being marketed as a "truly unique development opportunity." The Austrian-American architect practiced for most of his career in Southern California, designing the iconic house for poet Josephine Ain Chuey in 1956. Located on 2460 Sunset Plaza Drive, the house offers expansive views over Los Angeles, taking in sights such as the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Park Observatory, Downtown Los Angeles, Century City, and Santa Monica. However, this may in fact be the property's downfall. Such sights are listed by Redfin, but missing is any description of the building. Redfin's description of the "lot" fails to include the glass walls Neutra designed, or the decking that cantilevers over a cliff and merges outdoor and indoor living. Chuey, unlike Redfin, was chuffed with the architect's work. "You are an alchemist who has transmuted earth, house, and sky into a single enchantment,” she wrote in a letter to him after moving in. “I can only hope that I can in some measure grow up to the wholeness and balance embodied here.” The poet lived in the house with her husband, the painter Robert Chuey. As Jamie Robinson of The Spaces notes out, Sylvia Lavin’s book Form Follows Libido: Architecture and Richard Neutra in a Psychoanalytic Culture, said that "[both] Mr. and Mrs. Chuey thought of the house as a device that would increase their creative energies." More fuel for creative energies was also present, as the house was also home to LSD experimentation by Timothy Leary. This too is omitted from the listing. The listing in fact includes very few images of the house, with most being of the views out over the Hollywood Hills. All this points to the indication that the house is not being sold as a place to live, but rather as something that can be knocked down.