Search results for "Richard Meier"

Placeholder Alt Text

OBRA Architects
Casa Osa, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.
Courtesy OBRA

OBRA Architects works out of a snug loft space in Tribeca. Nearly every corner and surface is brimming with models, drawings, and delicate sketches. It is a fitting space for the 12-person practice, whose diverse body of work—including cultural institutions, schools, pavilions, residences, and emergency housing—reflects a sensitive, hands-on approach that values unfussy, contextual design.

The two founders, Pablo Castro and Jennifer Lee, established their firm in 2000 after working together at Richard Meier & Partners, and then later at Steven Holl Architects. While often flying under the radar, they have worked on some high profile projects, such as their winning installation, BEATFUSE! for the MoMA/P.S. 1 Young Architects Program in 2006. Together, they have accumulated an impressive portfolio that demonstrates their ability to conceive modern, yet often vernacular-inspired buildings, that quietly respond to place, and which are born out of a fluid, ever-evolving process.

“Sometimes there is a crystal clear idea that comes out the first day you start thinking about something and then everything organizes around that. And other times, that idea is not so crystal clear and you have to pull it out of thinking and feel through the work itself,” explained Castro. “So in a way, the work gets ahead of the idea and by doing the work, the idea develops.”

In the last few years, Castro and Lee have expanded their practice, opening up an office in China, where much of their work has been based. This surge of commissions evolved out of an invitation they received in 2008 from artist Ai Weiwei, along with 100 other international architects, to participate in a project called ORDOS100. Since then, they have participated in a number of exhibitions and completed several projects in China, including the Inside Out Museum in Beijing and prototypes for emergency housing called RED+HOUSING organized by the National Art Museum of China.

“It is good sometimes not to know exactly what you’re doing so you don’t close yourself off to possibilities you otherwise might not consider. We try to make it a relatively rational process but there is a fair amount of the unexpected,” said Castro. “It is about enticing the unexpected or the unanticipated to come forward.”


 

Casa Osa
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

This far-flung retreat, sited on a former mango farm, in the middle of the rainforest was built for a nature-loving doctor and his family. The firm sought to engage with the tropical landscape by building a house, composed of a series of open rooms, which extends from the top of a hill down to the bottom, looking out onto Golfo Dulce to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Each space is connected through stepped ramps, shielded by a sloped roof, enclosing two gardens. These walled green spaces are designed to protect the owners from the poisonous snakes that emerge at night. The temperate climate allows for the house to be fairly exposed to the outdoors, with a completely open living room and simple fenestration in all three bedrooms, outfitted with just netting and louvers. Understated, yet modern forms and locally sourced materials—such as reinforced concrete, stucco, and wood from native trees—define the structure, while keeping it within a tight budget.


 
 

The Winemaker’s House
San Juan, Argentina

Designed for a winemaker and his wife—who also happens to be OBRA Architects principal Pablo Castro’s father—this compact, yet airy two-story home, situated in the arid wine country of Argentina, employs strategies to take full advantage of the region’s intense light. The house, made up of rectangular volumes, subtly melds the outdoor spaces with the interior. On the ground floor, where the dining room and living room are located, a prominent stairway carves geometric shapes into the space as it rises above a pool of water and leads up to the bedrooms, as if “crossing a lake” explained Castro. The light then bounces off the pool and enters the stairwell, casting long shadows as people walk up and down, reminiscent Castro said of Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. The 1,200-square-foot house is primarily constructed of reinforced concrete and brick, with the facades rendered in a white stucco and wood windows made by a local cabinetmaker. Trellis structures create leafy enclaves where vines snake up the sides of the house.


 

Sanhe Kindergarten
Sanhe City, China

Part of a large residential development outside of Beijing, Sanhe Kindergarten is a thoughtful response to the country’s prescribed set of standards for pre-school education, by emphasizing light, space, and efficiency. Composed of 18 classrooms for 550 students, the 59,200-square-foot building is configured into three wings designed to make the scale more comfortable for small children. The classrooms, facing the south, are designed to emulate a New York City loft with high ceilings, abundant daylight, an elevated sleeping mezzanine for nap time (to save teachers time from having to constantly rearrange furniture), and direct access to areas of recreation through terraces or entries out to the playground. Terraces are connected through exterior stairways to permit fluid movement between the indoor and outdoor spaces so students can interact more freely. Tying the building into the local architectural landscape, the firm clad the facade in a grey-blue brick that is commonly used throughout Beijing.


 

Desamparados
San Juan, Argentina

Located in a new residential neighborhood on the western edge of the city of San Juan, this seven-unit apartment complex is positioned on a diagonal to extend the length of the facade, allowing for more windows to maximize light while mitigating solar gain. A matrix of small, equally spaced windows provide views of the Andes Mountains and keep the sun at bay during the summer. Built in brick and finished in cement stucco, the 5,000-square-foot building is painted in white to further reduce heat absorption. Two triangular gardens to the north and south of the building, including thorny mimosa trees, create a shaded reprieve for tenants on the ground floor. A circular planter encircles the rooftop terrace, which also features a small pool, barbeque pit, and gazebo for eating.

Placeholder Alt Text

Kengo Kuma designs a geometric dreamscape for Hérmes' Chinese brand, Shiang Xia
The acclaimed architectural firm that once decked the walls of a Tokyo Yakitori bar with LAN cables recently completed designs for the latest retail outlet of Shang Xia, a Chinese culture–inspired offshoot of the renowned Hérmes fashion brand. Touted as “a space combining retail, culture and the arts,” the Shanghai-based space is an expanse of natural wood and sandstone housed in an unassuming red-brick French villa. The interior walls sport a plastic-meets-cloth veneer that has been tri-axially folded into honeycomb-like indentations. Heat-treated and shaped in Japan, the material has the shape-memory texture and strength of plastic and the softness of natural cloth. Founded by designer Jiang Qiong Er, the brand is dedicated to the art of living as embodied by Chinese heritage and craftsmanship, retailing fine decorative objects, sculptural furniture, luxurious garments and rare accessories. Guided by a 21st-century Asian aesthetic, the elegant, 1,356-square-foot retail space is fronted by a pixelated all-glass veneer facing the thrumming streets of Xintiandi, near Shanghai’s commercial center. The work of famed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the outlet includes exhibition space for arts and culture. The architect also previously designed Shiang Xia’s outlets in Beijing and Paris, the latter resplendent with a lattice of over 10,000 glistening tiles extending into a layered ceiling installation. Meanwhile, the Beijing store contained latticed partitions of extended aluminium, which evoked a brickwork skeleton.
Placeholder Alt Text

Sou Fujimoto debuts a white stainless steel pavilion for the 2016 Setouchi International Art Festival in Japan
Sou Fujimoto's white stainless steel mesh structure fronting the shoreline in Kagawa, Japan, draws the eye for its seemingly random geometry and net-like texture. The pavilion was conceptualized for the 2016 Setouchi International Art Festival, a hotly anticipated tri-annual affair. The nearly 30-foot-tall polyhedron allows visitors to enter its angular frame and view the shoreline as if from the inside of a very clean, angular fishing net. French architect and filmmaker Vincent Hecht documented the opening for the so-called Naoshima Pavilion. Although a recent entrant to the international market, the Tokyo-based Fujimoto is famed for “jungle gym”-like houses supported by lattices of steel and glass that dispose almost altogether of interior walls. In Tokyo, one such residence consisted of staggered platforms that moonlighted as floors, ceilings and furniture in keeping with spartan, furniture-eschewing Japanese style. In 2013, Fujimoto was the youngest architect to be commissioned to create the annual pavilion at London’s Serpentine Gallery, which has previously enlisted Pritzker Prize–winners Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry. Fujimoto fashioned a structure of slim steel poles painted white and arranged in an intricate lattice to blend with the surrounding greenery. On April 16, the architect released another book, titled Sou Fujimoto, Architecture Works 1995–2015, which documents over 376 pages encompassing his entire oeuvre from early competition proposals post-graduation to his latest international projects.
Placeholder Alt Text

Richard Meier completes first phase of Japanese residential skyscraper project
Construction recently wrapped on Richard Meier's first residential building in Japan—and with its white louvers and glassy facade, it sure has the architect's trademark look. The 49-story, 883-unit building in Tokyo is the first piece of the Harumi Towers, a residential development that will include 1,744 apartments when the second tower opens next April. On Meier's website, Dukho Yeon, the partner-in-charge, described the two buildings as siblings "with two unique designs each with its own character, image and movement, in dialogue and harmony with one another." The residential buildings, which will share amenities, also come with a public promenade along Tokyo Bay.
Placeholder Alt Text

UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
Aerial view of the music school.
Iwan Baan

Kevin Daly Architects have brought the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music into the digital age, with additions that enliven one of the main entry points to the campus. Welton Becket designed the Schoenberg Music Building in 1955. His firm added another wing in 1985. Both are introverted red brick boxes, turning their backs on the Inverted Fountain to the west, and overshadowed by the tall arched facade of Knudsen Hall, the 1963 physics building across the cobbled plaza.

“Facilities of this kind are usually opaque,” said Daly. “The musicians are hidden away and have very little interaction or participation in the life of the campus. So we’ve tried to crack it open at a few points.”

The architects have reinterpreted the red brick and white stone palette of the campus in terra-cotta planks that are tilted in and out to catch the light and create a lively surface pattern. They come in two tones and three shapes, and are clipped to an aluminum frame. Angled planes with white trim and window reveals wrap a recording studio to the north and an ensemble/rehearsal room to the south. The asymmetry of their plans is expressed in the exterior geometry. In between is a glazed block containing a ground-floor café, second-floor faculty offices, and third-floor studios, with a computer lab, and mixing and editing bays below grade. These additions are linked to the existing buildings, which may be upgraded and extended in future phases of construction.

Douglas fir baffles shape the ensemble room.
 

The dull mediocrity of postwar additions to the UCLA campus is redeemed outside the building by leafy open spaces and mature trees. Over the past decade there have been some glimmerings of architectural awareness, and Daly has raised the bar. Michael Palladino of Richard Meier Partners made the Broad Art Center and Wasserman Eye Clinic studiedly reticent; in contrast, the Ostin Music Center is as joyful and exuberant as a Handel anthem or Stravinsky’s wind octet. Each of its three elements has its own expressive personality, but plays in harmony like a polished trio.

The precise detailing and pronounced horizontality of Daly’s composition stand in contrast with the massive verticality of Knudsen Hall. The scale is humane, the facades tactile, and the closed forms accentuate the transparency and openness of the glass-walled café and the projecting brise-soleils that shade the two upper floors. A crystalline porch provides a symbolic entry to the ensemble room, there’s an outdoor stage for occasional performances, and there’s an easy flow of space to promote social intercourse.

New buildings are clad in tilting and alternating terra cotta planks.
 

The two major interiors have similar end grain wood block floors, finned Douglas fir baffles over white plaster walls, and an angled soffit backed with sound absorbing materials. Windows pull in natural light and offer views. But each space has its own distinctive character. In the ensemble room, the baffles rise halfway toward the suspended plaster folds of the soffit. Daly worked closely with three acousticians to achieve a good balance for radically different kinds of music making, breaking up sound at a lot of different wavelengths, and settling on a 1.2 reverb count. The irregular floor plan allows musicians to come together in different configurations.

The recording studio is acoustically isolated within a steel-roofed concrete block building clad with terracotta panels. Isolation buffers and springs separate the inner steel-stud floor and walls from the outer shell and concrete slab floor, openings contain 1.25-inch laminated glass, and a low-velocity air displacement system employs the space between the folded fir soffit and roof as a return plenum. The wall baffles rise to full height, creating intriguing and warm geometric relief. In a city that’s full of professional musicians, this may become the recording studio of choice for its artistic and aural excellence.

Placeholder Alt Text

Alex Barmas on implementing innovative facades in New York City
For Enclos' Alex Barmas, true innovation in facade design and fabrication is about more than the latest technological bells and whistles. Rather, it is about exercising creativity despite the restrictions posed by tight budgets, compressed timelines, and aggressive real estate markets. At Facades+ NYC later this month, Barmas will moderate a conversation on implementing innovation with AEC industry leaders including Cutler Anderson Architects' Jim Cutler, Arup's Tali Mejicovsky, Michael Stein, of Schlaich Bergermann & Partner, and Richard Meier & Partners' Vivian Lee. "My intention is to get the panelists talking about the possibilities of producing truly fantastic architecture while constrained by very real-world budgets and schedules," said Barmas. "They have all worked on projects where an intelligent and responsive approach to design, and an intelligence about materials and tectonics have allowed them to deliver great projects under tight constraints. The panel will focus on the commitment and perseverance required to execute and deliver such projects." New York is a hotbed of facade innovation exactly because of the particular constraints at play there, said Barmas. In much of the United States, he explained, the litigious nature of the building design and construction market tends to discourage integrated project deliver. But "the New York market is actually a counterbalance to this. Due to the complexity of building projects, compressed construction schedules, and the need for coordination throughout the design and construction process, projects must take on a more holistic design mentality." At the same time, said Barmas, the drive to build taller and faster for the top of the market "has meant that there are some very interesting building envelopes either recently built, or under construction." As a case in point, he cited BIG's 625 West 57th Street (W57), calling it "a fantastic example of a really interesting curtain wall." All of this is not to say that new technology is not compelling—especially when made a part of built projects. "I'm very excited about the continuing integration of sensors, actuators, and other electrical components with the building envelope to create active and responsive facades," said Barmas. "This seems to be turning into a virtuous cycle where integrated systems are becoming more robust, system integration is improving, and all the parties to a building project are becoming more comfortable implementing these systems. System intelligence and integration enable us to achieve better performance with traditional building envelope components." To hear more from Barmas and panelists on bringing facades innovations to fruition, register today for Facades+ NYC. More information, including a complete symposium agenda, is available online.
Placeholder Alt Text

American Academy of Arts and Letters announces 2015 architecture awards
A star-studded jury has selected the winners of the American Academy of Arts and Letters' 2015 architecture prizes. Elizabeth Diller (chairman), Henry N. Cobb, Peter Eisenman, Kenneth Frampton, Michael Graves, Richard Meier, Laurie Olin, Cesar Pelli, Billie Tsien, and Tod Williams chose the awardees from among 41 nominations. Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey of Dublin's O'Donnell + Tuomey took home the $20,000 Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize, for which any architect "who has made a significant contribution to architecture as an art" is eligible. O'Donnell and Tuomey, who also received the 2015 Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects, are the creative team behind projects including the Sean O'Casey Community Centre (Dublin, 2008) and Belfast's Lyric Theatre (2011). The jury also awarded four Arts and Letters Awards in Architecture of $10,000 each. Yolanda Daniels and Sunil Bald, and Kate Orff won the first two awards, reserved for American practitioners "whose work is characterized by a strong personal direction." Of Daniels and Bald's work, which they undertake in New York as Studio SUMO, juror Billie Tsien observed, "There is always a sense of the weight of materials in what they do." Kate Orff founded New York landscape architecture firm SCAPE to combine research and practice on the urban landscape. Her recent projects include Oyster-Tecture for the 2010 MoMA exhibition Rising Currents, and Living Breakwaters for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, ongoing since 2014. Kurt W. Forster and Rosalie Genevro secured the second category, for an American "who explores ideas in architecture through any medium of expression." Forster, an architectural historian and founding director of the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, is currently an emeritus visiting professor at Yale. Genevro heads the Architectural League of New York. "Quiet wisdom as well as consistent and powerful leadership are hallmarks of Rosalie's 30 years as executive director," said juror Tod Williams. Select work by the winners, who will receive their awards at the Academy's annual Ceremonial and may, will be on display in the Academy's galleries on Audubon Terrace from May 21-June 14.
Placeholder Alt Text

Snøhetta continues San Francisco streak with downtown highrise, and the town is talking
The momentum continues in San Francisco for the Norwegian firm Snøhetta with a recently-unveiled tower at the corner of the city's Market Street and Van Ness Avenue. And the project has been garnering some fairly untraditional responses from citizens. As proposed, the curving, 37-story One Van Ness tower would be divided by three large cuts, designed to lessen wind load and provide new common spaces. Paired with SCB, Snøhetta will work to replace a tower originally proposed on the site by Richard Meier and Partners. The building's carved-out center has also provided inspiration for illustrators to poke fun. Illustrator Susie Cagle, who told CityLab that the design reminded her of the last SF boom's "bubble mentality," drew the distressed building on the left, while Twitter user The Tens seems to think the building doesn't much care for its neighborhood, as demonstrated in the image below right. San Francisco Chronicle architecture critic John King took note of the parodies and dubbed theSnøhetta's creation the "Talking Tower." He was quick to add in another tweet that the impromptu naming was "not a critique"—he says he quite likes the tower. AN recently talked to Snøhetta principal Craig Dykers about his firm's continuing success in San Francisco, including an extension to SFMOMA, a consulting role on the (recently revised, and moved) Golden State Warriors Arena and a (ultimately unsuccessful) shortlisting for the Presidio Parklands. snoheta-sf-tower-03
Placeholder Alt Text

Unveiled> Fernando Romero plays the stacking game with the Latin American Art Museum in Miami
With Art Basel underway, not-quite-yet-starchitect Fernando Romero has unveiled new plans for what could become Miami's next architectural icon: the Latin American Art Museum (LAAM). That's right, this 90,000 square foot, cantilevering structure could overshadow the nearby works of his higher-profile peers like Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Lord Norman Foster. And Jeanne Gang and Herzog & de Meuron. And also Bjarke Ingels and Enrique Norten, because Romero's—sorry, and Richard Meier and Rem Koolhaas. Okay, that has to be everyone. All starchitects have been accounted for. Where were we? Right, the Latin American Art Museum. Romero's firm, Fernando Romero EnterprisE (FR-EE) has created an arresting structure defined by generous, crisscrossing terraces that provide circulation and open-air gallery space called "sculptural gardens." Together, the rotated squares evoke a deck of cards being shuffled or an uneven stack of plates. “The different levels of the building define LAAM’S program,” FR-EE said in a statement. “The first floor will be reserved to young and emergent artists; the second one will be for temporal exhibitions; the third floor will house a selection of 600 pieces belonging to the permanent collection; finally, a restaurant will crown the top of the building.” In October, the Miami Herald reported that the museum is being funded by local art collector Gary Nader, and that it will heavily draw from his own collection. Right, kind of like George Lucas and his contested museum of narrative art in Chicago. Nader will reportedly build a residential tower on the same piece of property in Downtown Miami to help pay for the museum, which is expected to open in 2016.
Placeholder Alt Text

Sacred Scope
johnson fain/ rios clementi hale

After a year-long design process, Johnson Fain and Rios Clementi Hale Studios have unveiled their design for the restoration and reconfiguring of one of California’s most famous spaces: Philip Johnson’s Christ Cathedral—otherwise known as the Crystal Cathedral—in Garden Grove, California. The church was purchased by the Diocese of Orange in 2011 after its founder, televangelist Robert H. Schuller, filed for bankruptcy.

The plan converts the former Evangelical cathedral into a Catholic one, addresses several pressing technology and site issues, and makes the church the clear centerpiece of its 34-acre, seven building campus, which also includes structures by Richard Neutra and Richard Meier.

Inside, in order to make the altar the focus of the space (a necessity of Catholic mass) the team will convert the cathedral to an antiphonal layout, with the altar at the center and the congregants on either side. The move, said Johnson Fain principal Scott Johnson, not only makes sense from a religious standpoint but also spatially: “With the trapezoidal shape it’s the most intuitive thing to do,” he said.

 
A new plaza ringed with flowering trees will give the Cathedral a place of prominence.
 

Above the altar the designers are planning a dramatic baldacchino, a suspended canopy made up of glistening metallic fins with a large crucifix hanging from its open center. Around that composition, along the interior skin of the building, the architects have proposed a treatment of rigid “petals” that cover each of the cathedral’s more than 10,000 panes of glass, opening between 15 and 45 degrees. The petals will control light and heat (both are problems in the space), and will also improve the acoustics. On the exterior the team will clean the church’s windows and restore the existing shell.

 

Outside the cathedral, the team is surrounding the building with a new plaza intended to give it a position of centrality in its crowded campus. The space will be lined with dark and light concrete and travertine pavers, dotted with water elements, landscaping, “light pillars,” shrines, and chapels, and ringed with flowering trees. The new landscape “creates a boundary between it and the mundane,” said Rios Clementi Hale partner Frank Clementi. The transition toward the cathedral will be marked by “layers of sacredness,” he added.

The campus, with the remaining buildings now more clearly defined as support structures, will be master planned to better manage a wide array of events. “It’s a huge undertaking,” said Clementi. “One treads with caution,” added Johnson of working on such an important landmark.

Johnson’s team is focusing on the cathedral itself while Clementi’s is focusing on the surrounding area, but both are engaging in a healthy back and forth, said Clementi. That conversation also includes the cathedral’s ministry, which both architects have praised for their openness and generosity. “They’re people of faith, and they actually have faith in the designers,” joked Johnson.

The building is expected to reopen in 2017.

Placeholder Alt Text

Another Brutalist Wonder Bites the Dust: Johansen's Mechanic Theatre
Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore (photo: Edward Gunts) Despite pleas for preservation from some of the nation’s top architects, demolition work has begun on  a nationally significant example of “Brutalist” architecture in north America, the 1967 Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland, designed by the late John M. Johansen. A  yellow backhoe with a spike-like attachment began chipping into the theater’s concrete exterior earlier this month, ending any chance that the building could be saved. One local preservationist was able to salvage the original letters from the  building, but nothing else. Mechanics Theatre in Baltimore (Edward Gunts) The Mechanic is one of two major Brutalist works by Johansen targeted  for demolition in recent years, along with the 1970 Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Owners of the Baltimore theater, a development group headed by David S. Brown Enterprises, plan to replace it with a high rise containing 476 residences and street level commercial space. Shalom Baranes Associates of Washington is the architect. Named for local businessman Morris Mechanic, who built it, the 1,600 seat  theater at 1 N. Charles Street was designed to be the sculptural centerpiece of Charles Center, a 33-acre renewal project in downtown Baltimore. When it opened, the theater was hailed as a symbol of the city’s rejuvenation. The building was considered a prime example of  the architectural movement known as “Brutalism” or “New Brutalism,”  because it involved creating an unadorned, free form building with raw concrete -- “breton brut” in French.  Johansen, a pioneer in the movement, described the theater as “functional expressionalism,” because the exterior was designed to express what was going on inside The building received numerous awards and accolades in architectural circles, but it also sparked controversy.  One theater critic, unimpressed with the exposed concrete interior, lamented that going to the Mechanic was like watching performances inside a storm drain. A public official likened its shape to that of a poached egg on toast.  In 2009, it was ranked  Number One on a British publication’s list of the “World’s Top Ten Ugliest Buildings.” Johansen defended it to the end. “The Mechanic Theatre is one of my favorites,” he said in 2007. “It’s right up there at the top of the list. It’s a dear, dear building. It’s not brutalistic, as some say. It’s like a flower, opening its petals. It has drawing power.” Mechanics Theatre in Baltimore (photo: Edward Gunts) The theater closed in 2004,  after a larger performing arts center opened in the restored 1914 Hippodrome Theater several blocks away, with more seats and backstage facilities designed to accommodate  touring Broadway style shows. The Mechanic was dormant for years, and eventually was acquired by Brown and owners of a parking garage underneath. They initially asked Baranes to prepare a design that retained most of the theater’s shell  as part of a larger development, but opposed efforts to have the theater designated a city landmark -- a warning signal to preservationists. Before he died in 2012 at age 96, Johansen, the last of the “Harvard Five,”  pleaded with Baltimore officials to designate the theater a landmark and not issue a demolition permit. To support his case, he submitted a hand-drawn design showing how the theater could be incorporated into a larger mixed use center. More than a dozen well known architects wrote letters to the city supporting landmark designation,  including Hugh Hardy, Richard Rogers, Richard Meier, Kevin Roche, and James Stewart Polshek, who urged public officials to save the building from “the wrecking ball of greed.” Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation added the Mechanic to a “special list” that offered temporary protection from demolition. But two other civic bodies in Baltimore, the Planning Commission and City Council,  never agreed to add it to the city’s permanent landmark list, which would have given it more protection.  Saying they could find no tenants for the repurposed theater after years of looking, the developers abandoned their initial plans, asked Baranes to design  a mixed use development without the theater on the site, and applied for a demolition permit. They waited out the six month protection period afforded by the preservation panel’s emergency listing and received their demolition permit earlier this year.
Placeholder Alt Text

Beverly Hills Loses Another Mid-Century Modern Icon
Beverly Hills gained a vacant lot this week as crews demolished the former Robinsons-May department store at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard. The four-story, marble-clad building, designed by Charles O. Matcham, Charles Luckman, and William Pereira in 1952 with interiors by Raymond Loewy and Associates, was retailer J.W. Robinson’s first store in suburban Los Angeles. The fate of the site, which is for sale for the fourth time since Robinsons-May closed in 2006, remains uncertain. The first developers to take control of the property, New Pacific Realty, commissioned Richard Meier to design two 14- to 16-story condominium towers to replace the mid-century modern store. Subsequent owners Christian and Nicholas Candy promised to fulfill some version of Meier’s plan, but they defaulted on the project in 2008. Hong Kong firm Joint Treasure International purchased the site and the Meier design in 2010, but nothing happened until this month, when they decided to go ahead with demolition despite having listed the property for sale. Preservationists are mourning the demise of yet another Beverly Hills landmark. “The razing of the Robinsons-May building is a tragic loss for Beverly Hills,” said Beverly Hills Heritage’s Robert Switzer. “Not only was it a superb example of mid-century architecture, it stood as an elegant gateway structure at the west boundary of the city, beautiful in its own right without distracting from the view of another important building of the same period immediately adjacent to it, the Beverly Hilton hotel.” Beverly Hills, previously without preservation laws of any kind, adopted an historic preservation ordinance in 2012, too late to save Robinsons-May. “Had Beverly Hills enacted its preservation ordinance before a demolition permit for Robinsons-May was filed, I suspect that the City would have made every effort to save the building,” said Switzer. “Sadly, permits issued before the ordinance’s enactment could not be revoked. Moreover, the approval of the permit and redevelopment plans were transferable to the new owner, who chose to act on it.” Switzer worries that a contemporary high-rise development would disrupt the community’s urban fabric. “While it remains unclear whether the Richard Meier design will be constructed, any tall buildings on this site will be a jarring break in the smooth height transition that existed from the golf course on the west, past Robinsons-May to the Beverly Hilton,” he said. “It will be a less welcoming entrance into Beverly Hills.”