While much of the buzz surrounding the Academy Awards centers on the winners and the red carpet, there's one thing all eyes are sure to be on: the stage. And that's why the Academy has gone all out this year, with a maximalist fantasy of a set design to honor the awards' 90th anniversary, which takes place on Sunday, March 4. The crystal confection is the brainchild of Derek McLane, a Tony and Emmy award–winning scenic designer who incorporated a whopping 45 million Swarovski crystals into the design. This is McLane's sixth time designing Hollywood's most-watched stage, and it's his most ambitious–and abstract—yet. The centerpiece of the design is a crystalline proscenium, made of octagonal tiles blending crystal, metal, and mirror, while the stage itself is a dynamic design that will shift throughout the event, thanks to a combination of physical and digital effects. And, fittingly for the Oscars' 90th anniversary, the stage design pulls inspiration from a wide range of references from throughout film history, from classic Hollywood Regency design to Art Deco. It's too soon to call it, but the stage might just be the night's best dressed.
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Five shows that stretch the boundaries between furniture and art
While the boundaries between art, architecture, and design are already often quite murky, the following artists are troubling the bounds even further, using furniture’s familiar forms to examine intimacy between people and objects, reconsider how bodies negotiate space, or offer a platform for new activities. These five exhibitions are sure to provoke a reconsideration of furniture and its relationship to domesticity, technology, and history. A two-for-one, C-L-E-A-R-I-N-G’s Bushwick, Brooklyn location has on display simultaneous shows of artists reinventing domestic forms. Hannah Levy: Swamp Salad C-L-E-A-R-I-N-G 396 Johnson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY Through March 11 Hannah Levy’s fleshy furnishings in Swamp Salad feature her signature space-age grotesque sculptures in molded steel and flesh-hued silicon. Pearl-accented lounge chairs (derived from French modernist Charlotte Perriand’s iconic designs), coat racks of elongated steel bones, and alabaster bicycle helmets circle around a screen, mounted on an intrusive, curvaceous steel bar descending from the ceiling which a video of long-nailed hands plucking pearls from oysters. Categories like natural and artificial, familiar and strange, pull apart to uncanny effect in Levy’s mixed-up alien universe. Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel: Rosa Aurora Rosa C-L-E-A-R-I-N-G 396 Johnson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY Through March 11 Also at C-L-E-A-R-I-N-G, Daniel Dewar and Grégory Gicquel, who have been collaborating since 2003, go on a psychosexual escapade in stone, both reveling in and being irreverent of sculptural tradition. Rosa Aurora Rosa, a name derived from the Portuguese pink marble that makes up the central massive sculptures of the show, blends body and bathroom in forms that seem at once ancient and contemporary. Along the walls are “paintings” in stone, also depicting with bodies, vessels, and holes. BLESS N°60 Lobby Conquerors Mathew 46 Canal Street, New York, NY Through April 3 BLESS, the Berlin and Paris-based creative collective founded by Ines Kaag and Desiree Heiss, has reimagined classic Artek products as “architurniture.” Expanding on their 1998 BLESS Nº 7 Livingroom Conquerors,. BLESS moved into public space with BLESS N°60 Lobby Conquerors. Originally commissioned for the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Lobby Conquerors have been brought to New York’s Mathew gallery in collaboration with architecture magazine PIN–UP and furniture manufacturer Artek. Taking designer Ilmari Tapiovaara’s iconic 1960 Kiki benches and lounge chairs and 1954 Lukki stools for Artek, BLESS dressed up the modernist seating with fur, fabric, and architectural add-ons that invite a whole new confrontation between people and furniture. Welcome to the Dollhouse Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art Pacific Design Center 8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA Through April 8 Welcome to the Dollhouse, at L.A. MOCA’s Pacific Design Center, uses objects from the museum’s permanent collection to come to terms with and trouble notions of domesticity. Featuring art across a range of media, the exhibition plays house with artists includinge Lynn Aldrich, Julie Becker, Meg Cranston, Ross Bleckner, Moyra Davey, Judy Fiskin, Robert Gober, Jim Isermann, Mike Kelley, Roy McMakin, Rodney McMillian, Bill Owens, Jorge Pardo, Richard Prince, among others. Jillian Mayer: Slumpies Tufts University 40 Talbot Avenue, Medford, MA and 230 Fenway, Boston, MA Through April 15 Artist Jillian Mayer has been designing furniture for the digital age. These amalgamations of fiberglass, epoxy, resin, wood, and paint are designed to be a new ergonomic solution for perhaps our most common activity, looking at our phones. The so-called Slumpies invite new postures of standing, sitting, and lying alone or with friends to stare at your screen endlessly without having to worry about neck strain. By equal measures practical and parody, the Slumpies are currently on view around Tufts University’s Boston and Medford campuses in conjunction with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston’s exhibition Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today.
Ever popular and prescient, the Slumpies are also currently on view at New York's Postmasters gallery.
Jillian Mayer: Post Posture
Through March 31
Harvard Graduate School of Design–based architect Volkan Alkanoglu recently completed work on a new 2,000-square-foot cloud-inspired playscape installation at the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport (FLL) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The playscape takes after Verner Panton’s Visiona 2 installation from 1970, also postulating an ethereal multi-sensory fantasy landscape, this one filled with pint-sized bubbly geometries and rounded nooks and crannies that can be occupied, climbed over, and enjoyed by traveling children of all ages. For the airport installation, Alkanoglu and his team naturally drew inspiration from the clouds—“fluffy, airy, white cushions [that] simply resemble a picturesque landscape,” according to a press release—that kids can see from the airplane cabin. Ultimately, Alkanoglu has designed an obstacle course from these “sublime formations,” a playscape that can be experienced safely on the ground while waiting to board a flight. The installation is made up of four cloud pods that contain integrated benches, a slide, and climbable stepped elements, among other features. The pods are constructed from ¾”-thick, Fire 1–rated Medite, a type of medium-density fiberboard, colored in white automotive paint and finished in clear polyurethane. The play areas sit atop a two-inch poured-in-place slab made of rubberized flooring material and are lit from above using recessed lighting from Louis Poulsen. The project was commissioned by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners’ Cultural Division and is located along a mezzanine level in Terminal 1 at FLL.
The Julius Shulman Institute (JSI) at Woodbury University is currently exhibiting There is Only One Paul R. Williams: A Portrait by Janna Ireland at the school’s WUHO Gallery outpost in Hollywood, a show that re-calibrates and reorients Paul Revere Williams’s built legacy through architectural portrait photography. The exhibition features the work of photographer Janna Ireland, who created a series of black and white photographs that highlight minute elements of buildings designed by the Los Angeles architect. Over the course of getting to know Williams’s work, Ireland, a self-described neophyte to architecture, created over 200 photographs, ultimately gravitating toward, as she explained via email, “the small details because, taken together, they allowed me to make sense of the larger picture. It was a meditative process.” According to curators Andrea Dietz and Audrey Landreth, the monochromatic works on display aim to reconsider the oeuvre of the “prolific yet under-appreciated” Williams, a boundary-smashing African American architect who designed roughly 3,000 works across the Los Angeles area and was awarded the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal in 2017, the institute’s highest honor. “The images that made the final cut did so for the elegant lines and simple geometries that identified the work as Williams's," Dietz explained via email. "The goal was to demonstrate both the consistency and range of Williams's hand—and the unique clarity of Janna's eye.” The finely-considered nature of Ireland’s meditations on Williams’s work brings out subtle and meticulous qualities in the buildings themselves, revealing the romantic and deeply personal moments peppered throughout the homes and structures Williams designed over his 60-year-long career. Working together with the curators, Ireland is able to use the physical space of the gallery to set up conceptual oppositions between idiosyncratic bits of Williams’s work, harnessing the 500-square-foot space to depict a complex and heretofore uncharted portrait of an overlooked genius. Utilizing groups of images to reveal these competing aspects, Ireland breaks down Williams’s monolithic and largely unknowable body of work into more digestible elements, comparing modern and period staircases in one set of images and showcasing the architect’s delicatesse with resolving complex, intersecting geometries in another. Describing this eclecticism, Ireland said that “Williams had to be versatile because he was already at a disadvantage due to his race.” Williams's multi-style approach cloaked a deep fascination—and facility—with the basic components of architectural form. That fascination takes different routes, depending on the project, client, and their desired treatment. In his more modern works, for example, Williams backlit spare, open staircases with vertical runs of glass, filling the areas below the treads with tropical plants and rock gardens. Under more Spanish-inspired stylings, staircases zigzag back and forth solidly, concealing spaces below tile-topped treads. In another instance, a colonial staircase takes on more elegant motions: The doubly-curved underbelly of a stair’s stringer swooping up, revealing a thin and pliable surface decorated with a curved skirtboard, projecting treads and thin balusters. In these images, Ireland conveys a sense of mindful specificity that, when coupled with the various stylistic treatments, makes one yearn for the days before architectural components all came off-the-shelf. Instead, Ireland makes clear the labor of the architect, the hand-built nature of buildings, and the cornucopia of skills necessary to bring drawings and details to life in wood, stone, and plasterwork—aspects that are not only lost in contemporary building, but sorely missing as well. Another grouping—a set of three images—focuses on the skill with which Williams deployed curved geometries, embedding sinuousness deeply and subtly within his work from an era typically associated with straight lines and flat planes. With an undercut swoop of stucco gliding past an eclectic revival doorway, views of colonial-styled trim meeting at unresolved edges, and the freeform, french curve-derived arcs of a midcentury ceiling, Ireland highlights a dexterity with trim, plaster, and ruled surfaces that perhaps also has been lost to time. The swooping eaves and projecting window hoods in other photos describe some of Williams’s best eclectic works, concealing—and creating—unique material collisions that arise inside each building, qualities that are enriched through built-up layers of fondant and trim. “[Williams] labored to find out exactly what his clients wanted and then labored to give it to them. It was more important to him to design for the clients' desires and needs than it was for him to push a singular, distinctive vision," Ireland said. The architect's stylistic dexterity is well-known—his work ran the gamut in terms of style, embodying Hollywood Regency, midcentury modern, as well as Spanish-, Tudor-, and Second Empire- Revival styles—a quality that comes through in the nearly taxonomic photographs Ireland has created to compare their respective components. Though the vast majority of Williams’s works are residential in nature—glitzy chateaus, solemn haciendas, and sprawling ranches that work to convey the clients’ proclivities through curb appeal—the show also highlights his commercial and civic projects, including designs for the stately Golden State Mutual Life Insurance building. The exhibition succeeds where very few have tried and perhaps none have succeeded, painting an intimate, personal, and meticulous portrait of one of the postwar era’s most prolific and virtuosic architects. Ireland said this outcome was self-fulfilling: “If his work seems personal, I think it's because it was. It was of personal importance to him that his work be impeccable, and he was also very consciously designing for the personalities of the people who would be using his buildings.” The maturation of Williams’s prodigious built legacy has generated renewed interest in his work, but much of this interest is too broad in nature. The sheer scope and breadth of Williams’s oeuvre has eluded considered academic examination. "[In] many ways [Williams] has been written out of L.A.’s architectural canon. We’re trying to bust through the dam of people not doing shows on his work," said architect Barbara Bestor, JSI’s director and a major force behind the exhibition. “There’s not enough source documentation of Williams’s work,” she added, alluding to the fact that much of the Williams archive was destroyed by fire following the 1992 L.A. Riots, before the works could be digitized. “In the digital era, if you’re not published online, you cease to exist as a research topic,” Bestor said. “My job as an architect and student of 20th century design is to figure out why so many of my heroes don’t have Wikipedia pages.” Regarding the exhibition, Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter, dean of Woodbury School of Architecture, said, "WUHO is committed to hosting exhibitions that celebrate diversity and reposition important voices often overlooked by mainstream media. Notable past exhibitions have included the 2013 show, Deborah Sussman Loves L.A., a long overdue celebration of this pioneering environmental and graphic designer, and the exhibition of the photographs of Pedro E. Guerrero by the [JSI]." Williams’s work, along with much of the press and academic research associated with it, was collected in a 2010 exhibition organized by the Paul R. Williams Project, an initiative of AIA Memphis and the Art Museum of the University of Memphis. The exhibition was created to highlight the architect’s career and to begin the process of formally documenting his work while re-elevating Williams to the perch atop the discipline he had occupied before his death in 1980. Leslie Luebbers, project director for the Paul R. Williams Project, explained via email that work was currently underway to bring the exhibition to other parts of the country in a few years. For now, the group is touting a bibliography of Williams’s writings and mentions in the press in an effort to spur new academic research on the architect. As those efforts take flight, Ireland’s photographs will perhaps provide impetus for new insights into Williams’ storied career. “Looking at details (and shooting in black and white) allowed me to focus on form and design,” Ireland explained. “I interpret his work as being meticulous yet really warm and human, and those are the qualities I wanted to convey.” The exhibition is on view through February 11, 2018. See the WUHO Gallery website for more information.
Emerging Voices 2018
LA-Más's vibrant, socially conscious architecture sweeps L.A.
The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series highlights individuals and firms with distinct design “voices”, singling out those with the potential to go on to even greater heights. 2018 saw two rounds of judging; first by a panel of past Emerging Voices winners, and a second to pick the winners. The first-round jury included Virginia San Fratello, Sebastian Schmaling, Wonne Ickx, Lola Sheppard, Marcelo Spina, Carlos Jimenez, and Marlon Blackwell, as well as members of the second-round jury, Sunil Bald, Lisa Gray, Stella Betts, Jing Liu, Paul Makovsky, Tom Phifer, Chris Reed, and Billie Tsien. AN originally profiled all of the emerging voices firms in our February print issue. LA-Más founders Helen Leung and Elizabeth Timme will deliver their lecture on March 22nd, 2018, at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. For LA-Más, architecture does nothing if it doesn’t address a need. Guided by co-executive directors Elizabeth Timme and Helen Leung, the nonprofit urban design organization believes that too many young architects have become disconnected from this fundamental aspect of the discipline. By combining expertise in both design and policy, and by forming productive partnerships with other nonprofits, community groups, and local governments, the duo is creating street-level strategies for empowering communities that are often overlooked or threatened by demographic shifts. Working in collaboration with district councils or local business development groups, LA-Más has developed a series of vibrant projects, throughout L.A. designed to create a safer and more accessible pedestrian experience. These high-impact, low-cost projects include wayfinding, murals, street furniture, and temporary parks like the cartoon-inspired interventions of Hollywood Pop!, which converts a vacant corner lot into a privately owned public space where passersby can share their thoughts about the neighborhood’s future. More substantial transformations have resulted from their small business support program, which was created to provide local mom-and-pops with design services and additional support. LA-Más doesn’t just give these businesses a new storefront; they give them a new outreach network and help with leases, licenses, and websites. “They don’t just feel like they’re surviving,” said Timme, “but that they’re supported, which is a huge paradigm change.” These projects aren’t the result of abstract planning exercise but of listening to the people who live and work in the neighborhood. Timme added: “That’s what Helen and I do—we facilitate a conversation between a community and the city.” LA-Más’s work with accessory dwelling units (ADUs) is its most ambitious, and perhaps most impactful, project yet. Created to combat the housing crisis in L.A., its ADU Pilot Project is an opportunity to get residents directly involved in the development of their communities by building affordable housing in their own backyards—literally. In collaboration with organizations including the mayor’s office, local council, and Habitat for Humanity, the firm is building their first ADU in the Highland Park neighborhood. The two-bedroom, 1,000-square-foot project will not only be a model for affordable and contextual housing solutions but for innovative financing and future ADU policy. And it’s the best example yet of the benefits offered by LA-Más’s unique blending of policy and planning. As Leung said, “Because we can combine all these skills, we get to test ideas, implement, figure out what works, ground it in the need of the community, and really push the boundaries of what’s possible.”
Los Angeles–based La Terra Development and Urban Architecture Lab are working to bring a combined 246 apartments and 23,300 square feet of retail to two sites adjacent to Barnsdall Art Park—home of the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Hollyhock House—in L.A.’s Los Feliz neighborhood. Dubbed Los Feliz I and Los Feliz II and located at 4850 and 4900 Hollywood Boulevard, respectively, the two apartment complexes are designed to preserve views from the street toward the Hollyhock House, according to community preferences for neighborhood development. Renderings released by the developer show a pair of contemporary structures that feature a mix of vertically- and horizontally-oriented bands of projecting window assemblies, with the 4850 structure stepping back as it rises, creating rooftop terraces along lower sections. This structure contains a wide street frontage along Hollywood Boulevard that is occupied by storefronts and features a second-level courtyard, as well. The 4850 project aims to bring 96 apartments and 9,500 square feet of retail to the area, while the larger 4900 project will contain 150 units and 13,800 square feet of retail uses. The 4900 proposal, on the other hand, is articulated as a more conventional apartment block with a solid wall of repeating window bays and projecting balconies running the length of Hollywood Boulevard. Located just a few blocks from the Vermont-Sunset stop on the Red Line subway, the projects are also being marketed by the developers as having commanding views of the Hollyhock House, the Griffith Observatory, and the Hollywood Sign. The twin developments join a growing list of medium-density projects that are on the way to the transit-adjacent area, including a trio of similarly-massed apartments headed for Sunset Junction, a 202-unit complex from Killefer Flammang Architects, and a 96-unit project by architecture firm KTGY. The La Terra projects are currently under development, but a timeline has not been released for either project, Urbanize.la reports. For more information, see the La Terra Development website.
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.
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, 2018The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.