Search results for "hollywood"

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Vaporcave

M-Rad goes retro at Game Over Pizza
Defined by an elaborate program of neon signs, geometric shapes, repetitive patterns, and pastel colors, M-Rad's design for Los Angeles’s recently opened Game Over Pizza joint harkens back to a simpler, bygone era. As if pulled right out of the 1980s, the new 45-seat, arcade-ready, eat-play restaurant gives new meaning to the 20- or 30-year trend cycle. M-Rad's goal was to create a space that would pay homages to the early digital Vaporwave scene and cater to a Gen-Z clientele, rapidly reviving this graphical and music-based genre. And yet, there are also nods to the Italian Memphis movement that play to Millennial taste. Wrapped in this nostalgic, reference-drenched, scheme are hints of Art Deco geometry, a Pop Art palette, and kitsch 1950s amoebic furniture. Modernist austerity and restraint have no place in this Hollywood haunt. The Gothic tradition is still alive and well, a formidable rival to its Neoclassic counterpart. With such a statement piece, M-Rad is challenging the contemporary status quo of minimalist luxury. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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SHIFTING GEARS

Julie Smith-Clementi and Frank Clementi launch independent design firm Smith-Clementi
Julie Smith-Clementi and Frank Clementi of the Los Angeles-based firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios have announced that they will be stepping out into their own independent practice, aptly titled Smith-Clementi. The two have left their industrial brick studio space in South Los Angeles' Leimert Park to re-establish their practice on a smaller scale. “Its like starting at the beginning again,” Frank remarked over the phone.  The original firm was established in 1985 as a multidisciplinary design firm and has since "tried to preserve a small office culture," said Frank. "But as it grew, it had to satisfy big office expectations." The pair agreed that establishing an independent studio was the best way to reconnect with their craft while working through creative projects as they see fit. Because the two found that their former studio was "interdisciplinary by acquisition," the goal of Smith-Clementi is to instead "work alongside other small offices” in related creative fields, according to Julie. And while RCH Studios was primarily focused on projects in the Los Angeles area, Smith-Clementi will seek a more geographically-broad client base. 
While at RCH Studios, Frank and Julie Smith-Clementi were not only involved in crafting elements of many of Los Angeles' most significant venues, including the Hollywood Bowl, the Music Center, and the Greek Theatre, but also consumer product lines including notNeutral, which has developed a series of thoughtfully designed caféware and tabletop items. They were honored with over 20 AIA Design Awards and chosen as California Council's AIA Firm of the Year in 2007. Though the two are starting anew, they have already begun working on several projects that complement their shared interest in design at all scales. "I look forward with both renewed focus and breadth," said Julie, "to envision rich and authentic places that celebrate all people.”
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Real Nintendo Power

Super Nintendo World will open at Universal Studios Japan for 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Nintendo fans, rejoice: The company just provided a first "look" at Super Nintendo World, a Mario-themed expansion to Universal Studios Japan, that chief executive officer of Universal Creative Thierry Coup described as a "life-size, living video game" in a press briefing yesterday. Set to open this summer in Osaka to coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Super Nintendo World will be the most immersive, mobile technology-dependent theme park to date for Universal Parks & Resorts. Before engaging with the park's attractions, visitors will first receive electronic wristbands, called "Power-Up Bands," and sync them with their smartphones via a proprietary app. Visitors will then use the wearable technology to navigate the grounds, create profiles, and compete among themselves to "collect" virtual coins scattered throughout the park. Though it is speculated that these attractions will be partially mediated by Augmented Reality (AR) in a manner similar to that experienced in the Pokémon Go mobile game first launched in 2016, sources have not yet confirmed its role in the park. In fact, much of the concrete information about how the park will look and feel has been gleefully packaged within a fast-paced electropop music video produced by musicians Galantis and Charli XCX, titled "We Are Born To Play," that shows players leaving the familiar world behind for Mario's candy-colored stomping grounds. While it's still unclear exactly what exactly visitors can expect in the physical park based on the video, the grounds will maintain a number of roller-coaster style rides and a castle that will house a Mario Kart attraction. Otherwise, it's safe to assume that the park will contain numerous "levels" and architectural elements from the games, including a Yoshi ride. The news comes five years after plans for a Nintendo-themed park was first announced by the company in 2015. Following Super Nintendo World's opening in Osaka, the Universal Studios theme parks in Hollywood, Singapore, and Orlando are scheduled to receive similar expansions of their own in the near future.
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Pods for People

Perkins and Will proposes compact sleeping units for L.A.'s homeless
The Los Angeles office of Perkins and Will has set their sights on the smallest imaginable scale for a modular sleeping unit built for the city's growing homeless population. In response to the mayor's A Bridge Home initiative, a city-led project focusing on creating transitional emergency shelters, the firm's Innovation Incubator team designed the prefabricated Dome unit in an effort to offer a higher level of dignity and sophistication than typically found in U.S. shelters. "We want it to feel residential, not institutional," said Yan Krymsky, a design director at Perkins and Will, in a statement. "It sends a message that people care." Each Dome unit is seven feet wide and six feet deep to provide 42 square feet of space per person. It features a lockable wardrobe, a standard power outlet, a frame for a twin bed, an optional kennel area for a 30-pound pet, and an operable canvas tarp for privacy. Designed with low-cost, quality materials that make each unit feel like a temporary little home, the firm estimates that individually, they could cost as little as $4,749 to build. Locker fabrication company Shield has already been tapped to manufacture them. “Solid surface is low maintenance and resists scratching," the team said, "while wood accents give the unit a residential character." If desired, the units can be combined to allow couples or families to share a larger set together. According to Perkins and Will, the most challenging part of the Dome project was making the units feel dignified and structured when in use while at the same time, flexible enough to collapse for storage and redeployment across the city. A typical 53-foot-long flatbed truck, for instance, can carry up to 32 units when collapsed. A number of other Los Angeles-based firms have developed concepts for homeless housing alternatives, such as Brooks + Scarpa and Michael Maltzan Architecture, and several shelters have already been completed through the A Bridge Home program. As the city with the largest number of homeless residents in the United States, The Dome units present a potentially more expedient option for emergency shelter than other temporary housing structures currently proposed for the city. A prototype of a Dome unit is currently on display at the Architecture + Design Museum (A+D) in Los Angeles until January 12.
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Hungry Like The Wolff

John Lautner-designed Wolff Residence on sale for $6.5 million
Set among the winding hillside streets overlooking West Hollywood's Sunset Strip is the Wolff Residence, a striking home designed in 1961 by the great mid-century architect John Lautner. Named after interior designer Marco Wolff, the home's original owner, it was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 2006 and has now been listed for $6.5 by George Salazar and Tilsia Acosta of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. "This is a jewel," said Salazar. "Anyone who comes to see it is blown away." The manner in which the Wolff Residence is dramatically sited against a near-vertical slope is reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water, Lautner's first mentor when he arrived in Los Angeles. With less than a quarter-acre of land to call its own, the primarily stone-and-glass home divides 1,664 square feet across three floors, while leaving plenty of room for the architect's signature flourishes. A dining room, updated kitchen and an airy living room with 16-foot-tall windows make up the home's top floor, which includes a stone fireplace, a fully-grown eucalyptus tree within an interior courtyard, and plenty of built-in copper seating areas that extend to an outdoor terrace. From this floor, a medievalesque staircase leads to the master bedroom suite, which is nearly divided in half between interior space and an outdoor terrace with panoramic views. On the bottom floor is a sun deck and a swimming pool that cantilevers over the street to extend beyond the home's roofline. In 1970, the client hired Lautner architect a second time to build a guest home on the West side of the property, effectively turning the one-bedroom bachelor pad into a four-bedroom family home. Though the architect's similarly-designed Foster House was recently purchased after sitting on the market for less than half a year, the inflated price tag and unusual spatial layout of the Wolff Residence may prove to be a difficult sell.
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WeTV

WeWork is getting a TV show as it lays off 900 employees in NYC
The dramatic rise and fall of WeWork will soon be transformed into a TV series, and Nicholas Braun (aka Cousin Greg) of HBO’s hit show Succession will be playing the company’s cofounder, Adam Neumann.  Chernin Entertainment and Endeavor Content have acquired the TV rights to the saga detailed in a forthcoming book from Wall Street Journal reporters Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell which will be published by Penguin Random House imprint Crown. Having extensively reported on the nearly $50 billion startup for years, Chernin and Endeavor are also working on a WeWork documentary, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The writer of the limited series and the network it will air on have not yet been announced, however, Braun will executive produce the project. While the TV series is the latest in WeWork projects, others also have plans in the works. Blumhouse Productions will produce a feature film based on an upcoming book by Fast Company’s Katrina Brooker, and Campfire announced it would be producing a documentary with Business Insider Meanwhile, today the actual WeWork is in the process of laying off over 900 New York City employees after announcing last month that they would lay off about 2,400 employees across the company. The filing, required because of the high number of positions to be cut, listed that 911 New York employees would be affected, mostly in Manhattan. Additionally, the company is also trying to spin-off (or shut down) the various office management and co-working startups it had acquired during its rise. According to the filing, of the 911 employees, 262 (largely maintenance workers) will be offered transitional positions to one or more third-party vendors. The locations with the most affected are 85 Broad Street with 250 employees, 1619 Broadway with 71 employees, and 12 49th Street with 23 employees.
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Adaptive Residential

Defunct office buildings across Los Angeles are transforming into residential complexes
Los Angeles is not known for holding on to its architecture, whether those structures are architecturally significant or hastily constructed. Rare examples of streamline art deco, international modernism, and neo-Egyptian architecture have all met the wrecking ball to make way for contemporary alternatives. In the last few years, however, adaptive reuse has breathed new life into many of the city’s forgotten yet exemplary buildings, and the transformation of office buildings into residential complexes in particular is gaining significant traction as an alternative to demolition. In 2015, a 10-story building in West Hollywood, designed by Richard Dorman in 1964, was purchased by local real estate investment firm Townscape Partners with plans to transform the quirky structure into a residential complex. With the help of Olson Kundig, the international architecture firm behind projects including Washington State University’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum and the renovation of the Seattle Space Needle, the office building will become a 48-unit residential complex. The firm’s approach towards adaptive reuse intends to maintain the original integrity of the building by setting all of the new additions away from the street while renovating much of the building’s modernist exterior detailing, including the signature concrete balconies facing Beverly Boulevard. An innovative curtain wall glazing system on the upper floors and generously-sized roof terraces will help dissolve the boundary between inside and out to complement the openness of the original design. For shading and privacy, the renovated facade will be outfitted with an operable vertical shutter system. And true to the Olson Kundig name, the interiors of the new building will be materially sumptuous, including patinated bronze wall panels, custom-designed bronze detailing, and travertine floors throughout. On the other side of the city on a busy stretch of Wilshire Boulevard in Koreatown, Jamison Services Inc. has been hard at work converting a 13-story office building from the 1950s into accommodations for 206 units with ample retail space on the ground floor. Local firm CORBeL Architects was hired to oversee the renovation, and renderings reveal that the massing and horizontal bands of the original building will be kept intact, with the addition of distinct red patterning on its most visible corner from the street. The construction team has already begun the process of transforming the building's interiors, and CORBeL Architects estimates that the project will be completed by late 2020. In Downtown Los Angeles, construction recently began on the adaptive reuse of the Lane Mortgage Building, a 12-story structure designed in 1923 by local architect Lester Loy Smith. After the building was acquired by the Delijani Family, they hired Downtown-based architecture firm Omgivning—responsible for renovating several other turn-of-the-century buildings in the immediate area—to oversee the project, which calls for transforming the upper floors of the building into accommodations for 109 rental apartments, some of which will be under 400 square feet. According to the firm, the units will feature “creatively-deployed areas for seating and storage,” to demonstrate the livability of small living spaces within adaptively reused buildings. The largest unit will be an 1,100-square-foot penthouse on the top floor with its own access to private outdoor access. The firm is maintaining several of the building’s quirky details, including the historically significant tilework in its entry lobby created by artisan Ernest Batchelder. Set to be completed by Spring 2020, the project will also include a bar in its basement that is sure to evoke the speakeasies that were common in the area when the building was first completed.
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Design and Debate

Here are 2019's most controversial moments in architecture
As 2019 draws to a close, we’re looking back on some of the events that made it memorable. We’ve rounded up this year’s funniest, most important, and most controversial stories, as well as homages to some of the people we lost. Here we’ve highlighted the top stories that illuminated some shadowy status-quo practices as well as fails by some worldwide favorites. Jeffrey Epstein’s black book lists big-name architects and interior designers The late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein kept a “black book” of contacts that were made public this summer by New York Magazine (a continuation of the logs originally revealed by the now-defunct Gawker). Among the business tycoons and powerful politicians, there was no shortage of big-name architects and designers inside. Perhaps the most prominent of these is Alberto Pinto, the interior designer who creates ultra-lavish spaces for the superrich. Luxury hotel genius Jean-Michel Gathy, Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, New York architect and fashion icon Peter Marino, as well as David Rockwell, made the list as well.  LACMA up to Zumthing with this highly-contested redesign Whatever your opinion is on the current LACMA building, the Los Angeles institution is headed for big changes with its new sprawling design by Peter Zumthor. Critics have argued the scheme—with its smaller size and exorbitant price tag—will take too much gallery space away, eliminate necessary libraries, as well as conservation facilities. Not to mention it was conceived largely behind closed doors and surprised locals and art professionals alike. The controversial plan to span a portion of the building across Wilshire Boulevard was approved earlier this month.  Ishigami’s unpaid interns lead to international argument on free labor This year’s Serpentine Pavilion inadvertently highlighted one of the most morally slippery practices in the industry: the use of unpaid interns. While free labor in architecture has long-been considered ubiquitous in Japanese firms, critics called out Junya Ishigami, the designer of this year’s pavilion, after it came out that Junya Ishigami + Associates had been recruiting unpaid interns to work 13 hour days, 6 days a week, with their own equipment. The uproar ignited a broader conversation across the profession this spring, and in response, Alejandro Aravena’s firm Elemental announced it would cancel its internship program and Patrick Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects claimed that “unpaid or low paid internships have nothing to do with exploitation,” but were instead the result of a well-functioning market. The Serpentine Gallery later ordered Ishigami’s office to pay all interns working on the pavilion project.  Calatrava continues to have constant kerfuffles with infrastructure work In both Venice and New York City, Calatrava-designed public works face-planted this year. The Oculus, a $3.9 billion transit hub that was conceived in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and opened in 2016, has a perennially leaking skylight that, according to this year’s estimates, will cost another $200,000 to fix. Meanwhile, water is also an issue in Venice, Italy, where Calatrava designed the Constitution Bridge over ten years ago. It's reportedly nearly impossible to navigate the bridge in the rain: Tourists regularly slip, and those with physical disabilities are obliged to take a water taxi to avoid the crossing. The city fined the architect €78,000 ($87,000 USD) in August. Residents bite back at Morphosis’s jaw-shaped Viper Room replacement  With residents calling the West Hollywood, California, nightclub redesign “grotesque” and more fit for a city like Dubai or Las Vegas, Thom Mayne’s proposal, whose timeline was announced this year, is not harmonizing with many. The 15-story hotel and condominium is set to replace the existing, infamous Viper Room and reconstitute it on the ground floor of the new building. At a public meeting in October, some locals questioned how the character of the 26-year-old club would remain in-tact while others flat-out said the proposed 369,000-square-foot structure doesn’t belong on Sunset Boulevard.
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Just Don’t

Los Angeles is at a crossroads—don’t let it become New York
Makin’ my way downtown, I zip along on my Lime® scooter through the ersatz Japanese village of Little Tokyo, past taxis, buses, and Prii, to a bustling, small-scale warehouse district on the fringe of Los Angeles’s central core. The whirlwind of scales, land uses, languages, and people is dizzying, but I finally land at my destination: Sonoratown, a lively taco spot famous for its soft tortillas, which are made with flour driven up from Sonora, Mexico, in small batches by the owner’s mom. This delirious, quasi-urban experience is one that could only happen in the messy, diverse urban fabric of Los Angeles. You are free to grab whatever pieces of the kaleidoscopic surroundings you can, and the faster you are moving, the more there is to take. Somehow, this frantic energy and free movement seem unaffected or held back by the past. The cultural critic Sean Monahan called LA the capital of the 2010s, describing it as:
...a city whose attributes anticipate collapse: flat and amorphous, rather than vertical and defined; kitsch and pop, rather than avant-garde and tech; individualistic and mass, rather than institutional and elite. You can suggest San Francisco, HQ of disruption, or New York, backdrop for protest movements (#OWS, #BLM). But both places fail to capture the spirit of the age, because they are fighting so hard to change it. They are relics of empire, unsure of themselves after a decade in which success was indistinguishable from failure… Built on celebrity, media, and lifestyle, L.A. doesn’t presume to be building the future, merely inhabiting it. It’s a pick your poison kind of place. [Go wild] at Chateau Marmont. Spend half your paycheck on inscrutable health food at Erewhon. Commute four hours so you can live in a Riverside McMansion. Drive Uber every day, write screenplays every night. Sell out, drop out, suck up, fuck up. There is no right or wrong way to do L.A.
Monahan accurately describes why Los Angeles encapsulates the present, and why it’s the most exciting place in the US right now. However, it is also important to note where the city is moving in the 2020s. With the 2028 Olympics as a finish line, Los Angeles is at a crossroads, on a path to become a different place in the next decade. But with the city already at the forefront of global media culture (The Kardashians, Moon Juice, Goop, etc.), it doesn’t need global architecture to maintain its position as a worldwide force. How it defines itself as a physical place is still up for grabs, and it should learn lessons from other hyper-globalized cities, namely New York. Tomorrow’s Los Angeles is one of layers. Moving on from its days as a bastion of mythological American modernism centered around mobility (cars), individuality (single-family homes), and triumph over nature (lawns), it will add new collectivities on to itself. These layers will arise from the constant flux of the new: Technologies and emerging social patterns meld nicely into the loose, still-codifying culture and its corresponding urban forms. It is the flickering of new, communal, car-free, publicly subsidized lifestyles against the old, car-centric, low-density, low-regulation, “libertarian” bones of the urban landscape that make it such an interesting place for urbanism today. The oft-bandied-about claim that the city is libertarian is also not entirely accurate, as California is a sea of regulation and red tape, continually votes to raise its already high taxes, and both California and Los Angeles are leading on climate action. The city is quietly building public infrastructure at a pace that vastly outpaces New York. New York’s Second Avenue Subway took somewhere between 10 and 100 years to complete three stations, and the next phase will be three stops and will be completed by 2029 at the earliest. Meanwhile Los Angeles is (optimistically) on course to build 28 new lines by 2028. This includes an airport-connection line that will allow a direct link from LAX to the city. Meanwhile, New York’s MTA is in a worsening crisis with crumbling stations and delays only getting worse, and New Jersey’s NJ Transit recently gave up on accounting for the traffic expected to reach the American Dream Mall, instead calling on private industry to complete the line, citing none other than Los Angeles’s electric rail airport connector as an example. That’s right—L.A. is leading the way in public transit. Meanwhile, Uber, a municipal car share and micro-mobility options such as scooters have already altered how people get around (many young people don’t have cars at all) and where they live, partly due to an explosion in transit-oriented development around the new metro lines. It is unclear exactly how successful, affordable, and sustainable this will be, but change is certainly underway. New transit networks both public and private, along with lower parking requirements for new construction will profoundly impact development and housing typologies in the future. But it is no secret that Los Angeles is careening toward a New York–like affordability crisis (if it isn’t there already) that goes hand-in-hand with the urban whitewash of global capital. Homelessness is at record levels and only getting worse. In response, architects are working to develop new housing typologies, from affordable prototypes and accessory dwelling units, to larger, multi-family schemes that continue to evolve with new regulations and design challenges. The L.A. River and the L.A River Greenway in the San Fernando Valley are also emerging sites of urban experimentation and reclamation/rehabilitation of greenspace. Los Angeles has a unique architectural culture and urban fabric, but red flags are emerging. First, Bjarke Ingels Group and Herzog & de Meuron, international firms that are both very popular with the New York development community, have projects downtown. Related Group (of Hudson Yards fame) has moved in and is developing a large Frank Gehry project across from Gehry’s own Disney Concert Hall. It perfectly illustrates the lower design quality of developer-led construction and echoes Related Companies’ other project, Hudson Yards: “The project is anchored by a central plaza wrapped with shopping areas and public art.” The biggest red flag might be the shortlist for the La Brea Tar Pits project. In Miracle Mile’s Museum Row, a neighborhood that already has been marred by architectural globalists—once by KPF and twice by Renzo Piano—the shortlist for the La Brea master plan is New York establishment firms WEISS/MANFREDI and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, along with Danish firm Dorte Mandrup. It is a truly odd and troubling list. All three are talented firms, but their selection signals the wind turning toward a placeless architecture where, in California terms, “there is no there there,” reflecting classic donor-class aesthetics. Don’t even get me started on what director Michael Govan and the LACMA board are doing to push through their new building. Joseph Giovannini said it best:
In a sleight of hand that still has serious consequences for LACMA and Los Angeles, Govan introduced [Peter] Zumthor, the architect who presumably could achieve this world-class building, to his Board of Trustees. There was no competition, no public review or discussion, no transparency, just a shoo-in of the architect who had arrived in Los Angeles in Govan’s back pocket. “It won’t be the seventh Renzo Piano building in the country,” Govan explained to me in an interview. “We’ll have the only Zumthor.” …Had he even made it into a normal architect selection process, the jury might have concluded that he was mismatched and dangerously underequipped for the commission.
Some Angelenos say that local architects should get their due. L.A. has been defined in many ways by outsiders such as Neutra and Schindler, but also by local legends like Thom Mayne and Frank Gehry, as well as a younger generation like Barbara Bestor, Michael Maltzan, and a host of others who can deliver top-notch design. Los Angeles doesn't need the continental, polite, same-as-everywhere architecture that plagues institutions around the world. The architecture scene has always valued experimentation and allowed younger, more avant-garde approaches and diverse practices to gain ground, outside of the institutional weight that plagues places like the East Coast. It is not “provincial”—as some claim—to want to preserve this well-established local flavor while moving forward. In fact, what would be provincial is thinking that it is necessary to look outward for world-class architecture, or that a mythical global culture needs to be imported for the city to become a world-class place. Nothing defines the periphery like the center, and nothing makes one more provincial than defining oneself against New York. Of course, outside architects can come in and add to the culture; it just takes a bit of judgment. For instance, Spanish firm SelgasCano’s bright, breezy, kit-of-parts style seems to fit with L.A.’s pop modernist aesthetic, and Arata Isozaki’s MOCA has also become an iconic part of L.A. architecture. So let L.A. be regional and different. Don’t let it succumb to the pressures of global capital and “global architecture.” Don’t let Boyle Heights—a strong Latino neighborhood under development pressure, with several buildings already being renovated—become Hudson Yards. New York City has been ruined by capital, which was weaponized to take away the grittiness of places like Times Square, a project of Ed Koch and eventually of Rudy Guiliani. Later, technocrat billionaire Michael Bloomberg finished the sanitization of the city with sloppy rezonings of Williamsburg, West Chelsea, and Long Island City most notably, which ushered in the era of bland office towers and mega mall-like sterility. Developers like President Donald Trump and Related Companies, along with their elected enablers like Bloomberg and Guiliani have shared class interests that threaten the small-scale, local and regional urban landscapes where artists, immigrants, and the working class foment culture. How can Los Angeles be a laboratory for resisting the entropic, hegemonic cancer that is global capital, the global donor class, and the donor-class aesthetic? One tactic, and to be fair, something that the Bloomberg administration got right in places like Brooklyn and Staten Island, is downzoning to preserve the character of neighborhoods. This is also tricky and can lead to NIMBYism, which L.A. has certainly had its share of recently. In a similar vein, Thom Mayne provocatively suggested clustering development on the Wilshire corridor in order to protect other areas. The Wilshire area has seen some development, but not at the scale Mayne has suggested. Additionally, serious and innovative criticism is needed. Critics must not fall into 20th-century modes of operating; they have to get out in front of these debacles rather than react to them. There are a host of critics operating in Los Angeles, and no one is better positioned to have an impact than former L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, who is now in a unique role as the Chief Design Officer for the City of Los Angeles, a position where he is literally helping craft RFPs (request for proposals). As long as Hawthorne is able to be heard in the government and in the public and can surround himself with good people who will help guide L.A. through this crucial time, there is a real opportunity to have more and more expert opinions in the process that will avoid the disasters that haunt New York. This, along with more equitable and compensated juried design competitions, can help the people who make financial decisions make "better" aesthetic and cultural decisions. Regionalism, when connected to local ecology, provokes more interesting and nuanced design than a totalizing, global aesthetic. In terms of what resistance might look like outside of design review, Los Angeles is already taking on challenges in a unique way. In Boyle Heights, gentrifying art galleries have been pushed out by strong neighborhood coalitions demanding affordable housing and neighborhood services. Los Angeles could also adopt anti-gentrification policies such as rent control or downzoning to prevent the displacement of both residential and retail spaces. Many cities have adopted such plans, while Berlin and other cities have enacted rent freezes and other regulations on the housing market to ensure affordability. Los Angeles in many ways is the logical conclusion of the myth of the American West. Several time zones and thousands of miles in distance from New York and other global cities, it has historically been connected to global culture through mass media, not physical space. This isolation has left it to its own devices as an urban place. This doesn’t need to change as it grows into more of a global force. New forms and ways of living can be cultivated without abandoning what makes it a special place: its resistance to the forces of the outside. In the 2020s, defining a new localism would be quite an amazing achievement.
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It's Real And Rockin'

Guitar-shaped Hard Rock hotel opens in Hollywood, Florida
The world’s first guitar-shaped hotel has officially opened for business. Standing 450 feet tall is the new face of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida—a surprisingly striking piece of architecture considering (or because?) it resembles a giant instrument. The curvaceous building is part of a $1.5 billion expansion on the existing entertainment complex that wrapped up construction this summer. Designed by Hard Rock International’s go-to architect, Steve Peck of the Las Vegas-based firm Klai Juba Wald Architecture, the unprecedented structure took nearly 10 years to design and build. The 36-story hotel is the type of architectural landmark fit for the Hard Rock brand; it even features a rockin’ light show across its reflective glass facade.  Created in conjunction with DeSimone Consulting Engineers, who led the engineering on the project, the tower blends into the dark sky at night. The design team worked with Boston lighting designer DCL and Montreal digital agency Float4 to integrate 16,800 V-sticks (strips of LED video fixtures) on the rim of the guitar and the six vertical strings that run down its middle. Each evening, the hotel becomes a temporary light installation with interactive choreography set to music from Float4 and LED experts SACO Technologies.  According to the Miami Herald, whether it’s day or night, the Hard Rock guitar is the largest physical attraction in the South Florida landscape for miles. This means guests within its 638 rooms have unobstructed views in all directions, including the Hollywood beachfront and downtown Miami, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The interiors of the hotel were designed by Wilson Associates and Rockwell Group In addition to the guitar-shaped structure, the original Seminole Hard Rock Hotel building was fully renovated and a 7,000-seat performance venue was built on site. The existing pool resort area was expanded to 13.5 acres with a surrounding landscape by EDSA The opening of the project comes just days after another Hard Rock Hotel under construction in New Orleans’s French Quarter partially-collapsed and killed three people and injured 30 others. Before recovering all the bodies on-site, engineers used explosives to demolish part of the structure in an effort to remove two dangerous, dangling cranes.
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Morty's Home

Tongva Park in Santa Monica is Californian through-and-through
What goes into a park? We dug into the parts and pieces of landscape design to explore and illustrate the forces, material histories, and narratives that hide beneath the surface. This article is the first of three such deep dives, which includes The Gathering Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Hunter's Point South Park in Queens, New York. All illustrations were done by Adam Paul Susaneck.

Santa Monica’s Tongva Park is a true product of Southern California. It certainly has a physical connection to its context—its hills and outlooks are packed with soil from construction sites in the area; its irrigation water sourced from the local runoff recycling facility; its plants were grown in regional nurseries—but in less tangible and more sociopolitical ways, too, the park bears the mark of the Golden State.

Tongva, which opened in 2013, was funded under California’s now-defunct tax increment financing (TIF) laws. The first of their kind in the U.S., California’s TIF laws went into effect in 1952 with the passage of the Community Redevelopment Act, which set a precedent nationwide for how infrastructure might be financed. Many states have since imitated the approach to establish the funding mechanisms behind massive—and often controversial—projects, including Chicago’s Navy Pier and New York’s Hudson Yards. Tax increment financing lets municipalities borrow money for developments in areas designated as “blighted” with the assumption that the developments will generate higher property-tax revenue as land values rise. Critics have argued that TIF programs have been abused to subsidize luxury developments that do little to improve the quality of life for local residents, and in 2011, while work on Tongva was well underway, then-governor Jerry Brown dissolved California’s TIF program, making the park part of the state’s final wave of TIF-backed projects.

The park benefits from Southern California’s crazy-quilt approach to urbanism, where the wealthiest communities of the Los Angeles region have remained independent cities, enabling areas like Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and Santa Monica to invest tax revenue within their borders without sharing with the city of Los Angeles that surrounds them. Cities where the median home price is less than Santa Monica’s, ($1.6 million, more than twice the median home price for Los Angeles) may not be able to spend so lavishly on their parks.

California comes through most tangibly in the park’s siting and the aesthetic decisions by the park’s designer, James Corner Field Operations (JCFO). JCFO incorporated several beloved trees that were already on the site into an arroyo-inspired plan that orients visitors toward spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and a beach that stretches out casually, with an air of West Coast chill, just across the street.

Funding

The park was entirely publicly funded using TIF. The City of Santa Monica bought 11.6 acres of land from the RAND Corporation; besides the park, housing was built on the site and Olympic Drive was extended through it. The city spent $53 million on the property and another $42.7 million to design and build the 6.2-acre park, which includes a small area across Main Street in front of Santa Monica City Hall.

Plants

Tongva hosts more than 30,000 plants of more than 170 species, and more than 300 trees from 21 species, most grown in seven nurseries across the state; the farthest is in Watsonville, less than 300 miles up the coast. Some trees traveled even less distance: Morty, a Moreton Bay fig tree, and the Three Amigos, a group of ficus trees, pictured below, along with several palms, were preserved and rearranged on the site to fit into the new landscape. The park mixes native and non-native drought-tolerant species in zones modeled on three California ecological communities (coastal scrub, chaparral, and riparian), creating a landscape that feels familiar but avoids cliché.

Buildings

The steel cocoon-esque pavilions, pictured below, and play structures were fabricated by Paragon Steel in Los Angeles.

Furniture

Custom furniture was designed using Forest Stewardship Council–certified jarrah wood, a variety of eucalyptus usually grown in Western Australia. Off-the-shelf benches from Landscape Forms were also used.

Art

Weather Field No. 1, by Chicago-based artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, comprises a field of 49 stainless steel poles with weather vanes and anemometers attached.

Hardscaping

Aggregates in the hardscaping came from pits in the nearby San Gabriel Valley. Walls have California Gold rocks.

Water

Plants are irrigated by water from the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility. Stormwater from the park is also collected in bioswales, and water features recirculate potable water in closed systems.

Transit

Tongva integrates into regional transit in some of the usual West Coast ways—there are bikeshare stations and scooter access—but it’s also just a block away from one of the Los Angeles area’s biggest transit initiatives: the LA Metro Expo Line expansion. The nearby Santa Monica Station opened three years after the park and was a part of a broader regional plan, whereas Tongva was part of a separate Santa Monica–specific urban plan.

The region’s ubiquitous car culture is also present. Tongva sits at the southern tip of the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway, which extends up the shore to Big Sur, San Francisco, and beyond, and Olympic Drive, a local three-lane street, was extended along the park’s southeastern edge.

Land

The site was previously home to the RAND Corporation headquarters, which have since relocated to a neighboring block. Housing developed by the Related Companies was built on the opposite side of the Olympic Drive extension.

Infill/Terraforming

Before being cleared for Tongva, the site was dominated by the RAND Corporation’s parking lot. To create the park’s lookouts, which rise in points to 18 feet and provide views to the Pacific Ocean, infill soil was taken from construction sites around the city, tested to ensure safety, and sculpted to create accessible slopes for the site.

Project Delivery

JCFO was selected through an international competition in which 24 teams participated. After JCFO won, there were five community workshops over six months, and the scheme was presented to six review boards and commissions before site work began in 2011. Although the scheme began as a design-bid-build project, the city turned it into a design-build project midway through the process to try to speed delivery after California revoked its TIF laws.

Maintenance

The City of Santa Monica spends just under $100,000 annually on basic maintenance, plus about $20,000 annually on tree work and $10,000 annually on custodial work.

Security

Although there is no operational security technology in the park, Santa Monica has used some unorthodox activity-based surveillance strategies. After squatters set up informal camps on the park’s western corner, city agencies arranged for a food truck to occupy that area, which has since discouraged people from living there. And on top of regular maintenance costs, the City of Santa Monica spends about $330,000 annually on “ambassadors” who staff the park, answering questions from visitors and keeping an eye on activity.

As is standard in many U.S. parks, Tongva closes at night; its hours are from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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Through the Looking Glass

Phillip K. Smith III's 10 Columns of mirrored light forces total immersion
Artist Phillip K. Smith III’s site-specific commission 10 Columns is the inaugural show of Bridge Projects, a former roving art salon turned Los Angeles gallery. Located next to a public storage facility near a burgeoning series of art galleries in Hollywood, Bridge Projects has amplified the intensity of the exhibition by keeping its front windows and doors completely opaque. When the viewer steps inside, the glare of California sunshine briefly illuminates what appears to be an otherwise pitch-black room. Once the door swings shut and one’s eyes adjust to the 7,000 square feet of darkness, the glow of 30 rectangular mirrored surfaces mounted on a series of 10 columns become visible. The slowly shifting colors of the artist’s signature dynamic light program combined with their perpendicular mounting calls to mind not only a desert landscape but a Blade Runner-type dystopia, as well as the joy and terror of our ever-shifting present. The illuminating surfaces are mounted at a height of 42-inch each and arranged into three groupings of 10 with three lengths of 16, 26, and 36 inches. The sheer size of the space, together with the surrounding darkness, creates an outsized feeling of immersion and contemplation. Even when seen with a group of people, it becomes easy to wander out to the far edges of the exhibition like a lone desert traveler. There is no specific beginning or endpoint and the longer one stands in the eerie glow, the easier it becomes to feel unmoored. The lack of signage and explicit directionality makes every viewpoint as valid as the other. Is one witnessing a sunrise or a sunset, a cultural awakening or a catastrophic meltdown? Ultimately, in this constantly changing landscape, the simple act of witnessing becomes its own reward. 10 Columns is on view through February 16, 2020.