“This is not a master plan,” said Omar Brownson, executive director of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation (LARRC) at an event to introduce members of the press to the work underway by Gehry Partners on the Los Angeles River. The news earlier this month that Frank Gehry was spearheading a new master plan for the river drew surprised and mixed responses from design, development, and landscape communities near and far. Gehry was not in attendance at the press event, hosted at 100 Years Studio in Downtown Los Angeles, due to recent back surgery. Instead, partners Tensho Takemori and Anand Devarajan presented a series of boards documenting the beginning phases of a study, which Brownson suggested would take 3–6 months and would be supported by public and private funding. Specific private partnerships were kept under wraps. Fifty-one miles—the length of the entire L.A. River—was reiterated again and again. The figure acted as shorthand for an all-inclusive vision for the redevelopment and the identity of the waterway. Representatives from Gehry Partners’ full team were present: landscape architects Olin, Geosyntec, and 270 Strategies, the community engagement firm that got its start doing grassroots work on the Obama campaign. The last, underscores the scope and challenge of working with the river's diverse group of institutional, governmental, and individual stakeholders. The boards presented to reporters were preliminary strategies for tackling the whole river, and in parts seemed thin. Gehry Partners has conceptualized the river as a series of “layers,” a term familiar to anyone who uses drafting or mapping software, but at bit jargony for the public. These include: flood control, water recharge, water quality, ecosystems and habitat, parks and open space, land use, stakeholders, public health, transportation, and arts and culture. Presently, the team is continuing to review the multiple reports and master plans from Alternative 20 to work by the Arid Lands Institute to documents from the DWP and Department of Sanitation, with the hope of codifying the wealth of already completed research on the river from Canoga Park to Long Beach. Much of this data is in GIS form, but the team is also working with a beta 2-D model from Army Corps of Engineer. Long term, however, Gehry Partners is developing a 3-D model in Trimble of the whole L.A. River, which should be available for public interface. According to Takemori, the company used a LIDAR unit to map close to seventy percent of the hard-bottomed sections of the channel. Soft bottom sections in Elysian Valley and Sawtelle will require more on site documentation. Devarajan suggested that the comprehensive map would help identify opportunities to “solve multiple problems with one intervention.” A question about who would design these interventions or what the overall design of the river would look like left the architects a little flummoxed, who noted that Gehry Partners has no desire as a firm to design the whole river. Brownson hedged that there might be a couple select projects. Most of the designs on view were initial screen shots of what the architects called the L.A. River Media Platform, a public, interactive website to host a centralized database of river basin materials, including the eventual 3-D model. Given the scale and scope of such a comprehensive digital effort, it is no wonder that the design firm selected is named Prophet.
Posts tagged with "Frank Gehry":
Photographer Wayne Thom captured Late Modernism like no one else, and now his archive is looking for a home
As 1970s and 1980s architecture returns to vogue, a new recognition of those associated with its making and documentation also arises. So it is with Wayne Thom, long the preeminent architectural photographer of the large, Late Modern building by the large firm. Thom began photographing in the late 1960s and his work in Los Angeles, the Western U.S. and beyond to the Pacific Rim documented changing tastes and approaches toward the architectural subject. Hundreds of images are on view on his website. It’s a distinctive and significant body of work, but one without a home. Presently Thom is looking for an organization or institution to take on his sizeable and meticulously organized archive. As time goes on, Thom’s remarkable work seems increasingly ill-suited for sequestration within any one house, including his own. Born in Shanghai in 1933, Thom was raised in Hong Kong, and emigrated to Vancouver in 1949 with his family that includes brother Bing Thom who went on to become a highly noted Canadian architect. Arriving in the States in 1964, Wayne graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography in 1968. By the following year he was working with A. Quincy Jones (“A.Q.”) who gave him his big Los Angeles break. Jones, and others whom Jones later introduced on Thom’s behalf, were impressed with approaches that would over time become Wayne Thom hallmarks. These include the use of natural light only, no props whatsoever, and big buildings—particularly the high rise, as his subject. A breakthrough assignment, Wayne’s prominence further rose with his image of the 1971 CNA Park Place Tower in the Westlake section of Los Angeles. Completed by Langdon & Wilson, CNA Park Place was the first all-over smooth-grid mirror glass skin building—a soon to be corporate vernacular—completed in the Western United States, and likely the Country. Thom’s image of the building overlooking Lafayette Park and the people within it won the First Award of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) Architectural Photographers Invitational in 1973. Among his clients through the 1970s, Thom frequently worked with the A.C. Martin office where he photographed a variety of projects including their various Downtown LA projects, the underrated (and unfortunately renovated) Sears West Coast headquarters, and even an A.C. Martin–designed jet interior. In that decade he also began steady, multi-year work as the primary photographer for William Pereira (“Bill”); San Francisco’s Transamerica Building was among his many Pereira assignments. Among other publications, Thom’s images were featured in Progressive Architecture, Architectural Record, Architectural Forum, and Domus—where he photographed for Gio Ponti, the magazine’s founder. His award-winning Bonaventure Hotel image is the February 1978 Progressive Architecture cover. Architect Arthur Erickson, whom Thom knew since his much earlier Vancouver years, tapped him to assist in assembling the team of associate architects, landscape architects and designers that ultimately won the 1980 competition to redevelop Bunker Hill sponsored by the City of Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency. In a highly publicized coup, they battled against the “All Stars” team, which included Barton Myers, Frank Gehry, Ricardo Legorreta, Charles Moore, Cesar Pelli and others under Maguire Partners Development. Yet says Thom, “We won the battle but lost the war;” aside from a single Erickson building and the hardscape (Two California Plaza was completed by A.C. Martin) the rest of Erickson’s winning scheme was never realized. Thom continued in full-time practice until 2013, when he curtailed his workload. Living in Rowland Heights, he maintains meticulous records for his thousands of negatives and slides plus hundreds and hundreds of proof books and presentation prints. Now, he’s interested in releasing all of it. In addition to his artifacts, the photographer’s memory is institutional and he seems to have known every single Los Angeles Late Modernist, with insightful if not funny tidbits on most of them. If it all possible, his basic hopes are that archive stay intact and be made available to the public.
Frank O. Gehry, soon to be feted at LACMA with a retrospective shipped in from France, has been busy recently not flipping off the design world. He was downright beaming as he hosted eighth grade students from Hoopa Valley Elementary School at Gehry Partners (FOG). FOG helped the students as part of the Turnaround Arts program craft projects inspired by his fish lamps. “I started out as a truck driver in the Valley,” said Gehry as he shared his modest beginnings. “I attended community college and USC at night. A ceramics teacher saw a gleam in my eye when I visited the construction site for his house, by architect Raphael Soriano, and encouraged me to take an architecture class. During that architecture class, the floodgates opened. No one could stop me.” Well, maybe not so modest after all.
A digitally readable facade will grace the southeast corner of a building at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD U). Designed by Bortolotto, the “intricately perforated and technologically responsive” scrim will wrap around the former main office building of the campus, “pulling gently away” like a partially unwrapped gift to reveal student work inside and make it visible from the street. Meanwhile, the 16,297-square-foot building itself, dubbed the Rosalie Sharp Pavilion, will be converted into a multi-use work and exhibition space for students featuring studios and interactive meeting and event facilities. The minutely detailed lattice is the culmination of mapping data of artistic institutions in the local area—including galleries, studios, and art stores. The links between them and to the college are designed to emphasize OCAD U as a cross-disciplinary institution at the nexus of these relationships. Aluminum panels mounted on a metal subframe will front the building, held in place by structural steel outriggers. The perforated pattern will be applied by water-jet cutting to render a purposely non-uniform look so that information can be embedded in different parts of the design. Bortolotto is collaborating with OCAD’s Digital Media Research Lab to create a complementary mobile app through which the facade’s interactive features will be mediated and experienced. Ultimately, passersby can photograph sections of the facade and receive associated digital information through the mobile app. “We’re proud of this exciting solution that brings together technology and design to redefine the corner and enable the university to communicate with the community in a new way,” said Bortolotto president, Tania Bortolotto. The ‘peel-away’ facade is a gesture to Frank Gehry’s Art Gallery of Ontario and Will Alsop’s Sharp Center for Design at OCAD U.
Last week another point was scored for social media as the de rigueur disseminator of architecture with the opening of Rem Koolhaas' Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow’s Gorky Park. As new media takes over old, images of Facebook’s new headquarters by Frank Gehry hit Instagram first, the announcement of BIG replacing Norman Foster at Two World Trade Center came through on Wired, and it may have reached its natural apex with the Garage designed by OMA. The first images of the museum flooded Instagram several hours before the June 10 press event—the museum officially opened on June 12. Feeds from photographer Iwan Baan—@iwanbaan—Nadine Johnson PR, and of course Garage’s own account @garagemca, all captured the guts and glory of a building that still seemed to be finishing up construction. A more traditional press event with architect Rem Koolhaas, museum founder Dasha Zhukova, museum director Anton Belov and Garage chief curator Kate Fowle complimented the social media onslaught. The team sat under a giant mosaic from the building’s previous life as the 1960s pre-fabricated restaurant Vremena Goda where OMA cleverly (when are they not?) retained the generous interior spaces and replaced the exterior with a translucent polycarbonate enclosure. Koolhaas, like Gehry, seems to be returning back to his early projects for inspiration, utilizing low-cost materials for both economical reasons and to subtly subvert expectations of taste. Now, that off-the-shelf approach applies to media and storytelling. By revealing the project via a purely visual medium like Instagram, Koolhaas liberates the architectural narrative from the traditional modes of transmission much like he has altered our preconceptions of what types of buildings materials can be used for and to what purpose. These well-known architects are not the only ones taking charge of their own narratives via social media and using those platforms to create exposure that might not otherwise occur. Los Angeles–based Warren Techentin of WTA created the La Cage Aux Folles installation in the courtyard of experimental gallery Materials & Applications. Collective posts on Instagram led to digital coverage in before appearing in print. Leave it to OMA to most seamlessly integrate old and new media (intentionally or not) to build a narrative for the Garage Museum, an institution positioned to transform from an outpost of the art world to one that spawns its own curatorial efforts.
In a recent essay for the forthcoming book Getting There: A Book of Mentors by Gillian Zoe Segal, Frank Gehry reminisced about his childhood in Canada. “My family was one of approximately 30 Jewish families in our town—Timmins, Ontario—and for a while, I was the only Jewish kid at my school. I used to get beat up regularly for ‘killing Christ.’” Perhaps that’s why he has such a thick skin today when dealing with critics and internet commenters. Gehry also talks about how his shrink and mentor, Milton Wexler, helped him combat criticism from peers in his early career: “Screw them! There aren’t any rules. Just because they did it that way last week doesn’t mean you have to do it that way today.” So did his therapist also advise young Gehry, when in doubt, and if words won’t suffice, just flip the bird to a meddlesome critic?
The Getty Trust announced last week that it will give its J. Paul Getty Medal to Frank Gehry. This is the third time the Getty will hand out the award—established "to recognize living individuals from all over the world for their leadership in the fields in which the Getty works"—and the first time it will go to an architect. Past winners include Lord Jacob Rothschild, Harold M. Williams, and Nancy Englander. Gehry's building achievements, which have "changed the course of architecture," according to Getty CEO James Cuno, make him an obvious choice for the prize. But it's his collaborations with contemporary artists that made him an exceptional fit, said Cuno. "He was a central figure in the contemporary art world in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s, working closely with Billy Al Bengston, Larry Bell, John Altoon, Bob Irwin, Ed Moses, Ed Ruscha, and Ken Price. And he continues to work closely with artists, including Claes Oldenburg and Jeff Koons, for whom he has collaborated on deeply sensitive installations of their work,” noted Cuno. The award will be handed out at the Getty Center in September.
As Facebook taps Gehry for two more buildings, take a peek inside the tech giant's new Menlo Park offices
Facebook has allowed precious few people to see its new Frank Gehry–designed headquarters in Menlo Park, California. One of the lucky scribes was architecture critic James Russell, reporting for the Wall Street Journal. He raved about the hangar-like building's massive ceiling heights, clustered "neighborhoods," lack of hierarchy, and oodles of natural light. Another glimpse of the 434,000, single-floor space, which will eventually hold 2,800 employees, was from The Guardian, which actually posted a picture of the new space by none other than Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg himself. “The building itself is pretty simple and isn’t fancy,” Zuckerberg told the Guardian. “That’s on purpose. We want our space to feel like a work in progress. When you enter our buildings, we want you to feel how much left there is to be done in our mission to connect the world." The Guardian noted that Facebook has just submitted plans for two more buildings next door, also by Gehry, with a floor area of roughly a million square feet. The scheme, also includes a community nicknamed "Zee Town," built for 10,000 employees on 200 acres. According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Facebook bought a 56-acre campus once belonging to Prologis south of their current campus in February, so their expansion seems to be just beginning. More pictures of the new offices below.
The infamous "Rocky" steps leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art will soon be revamped with a new 72-foot escalator beginning in spring 2016. The climb to the museum, which was most notably featured in the iconic movie scene with Sly Stallone, is being transformed to enhance accessibility in time for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next July. And more importantly, this overhaul will be completed in preparation for the next Rocky sequel, ensuring that the action hero, at the ripe age of 68, with his creaky knees, can gracefully scale the stairs once again. In a statement about the visionary project, VISIT PHILADELPHIA's president & CEO, Meryl Levitz, said, “It’s entirely fake. April Fools’!" While the steps will remain intact, change is underway with Frank Gehry's plan to expand the museum's gallery space under the West Terrace, which does sits atop the famous staircase.
We've learned from Curbed LA that Frank Gehry is designing a large mixed-use development on LA's Sunset Strip called 8150 Sunset. Located on Sunset and Crescent Heights Boulevards, the project will be located on the site of an old estate nicknamed the "Garden of Allah." (The lot now contains a strip mall.) According to its Draft Environmental Impact Report (PDF), the new complex, consisting of two buildings sitting on a raised podium, will include 249 apartments, about 100,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, and a large central plaza. Updated plans and renderings are set to be released this spring, according to developer Townscape Partners. A group called Save Sunset Boulevard is fighting to block the project, calling it a "hideous monstrosity," and attacking its EIR. Among other things the association, which is represented by anti-development lawyer Robert Silverstein, called out the project's potential to add to congestion, dwarf local historic buildings, block views, and waste water and other resources. The glitzy Sunset Strip has become an architect magnet, drawing Lorcan O'Herlihy and SOM (Sunset La Cienega), Ian Schrager, CIM, and several more. It's also been a graveyard of sorts, felling projects by Eric Owen Moss, Hodgetts + Fung, Kanner Architects, and others in recent years.
Everybody is talking about the Los Angeles River, and now we hear rumors that Frank Gehry may be doing some kind of work in the area—a single building or perhaps an entire stretch of the river. What we don’t have right now is any proof. So if you hear anything please help us get it in our grubby, gossipy hands.
The most famous architect in the world agrees that his latest building kind of looks like a crumpled brown paper bag. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, said Frank Gehry, the creator of the very wavy, very paper bag-y Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building at the University of Technology, Sydney. "It is a container, maybe it is a brown paper bag," said the starchitect at the building's recent opening. "But it is flexible on the inside; there is a lot of room for change and movement which I think in the world today is essential." The structure has been so universally compared to the disposable sacks used to carry a child's lunch because of its waving brown brick facade, which certainly looks like crinkled paper—especially from a distance. To allow light into the 11-story bag—sorry, building—there are prominent, rectangular windows punched through the rippling facade. There are also large expanses of glass tucked behind the paper—sorry, brick. Taken altogether, the starchitect’s first completed project in Australia looks like a throwback to some of his early work with its heavy use of masonry. An interior staircase that is sheathed in a warped metallic skin is more in line with Gehry's recent projects. Since Gehry said the design was inspired by a tree house, the paper bag comparison is not ideal. When he was was recently asked if he was happy with the final product, he reportedly replied: "Oh boy, I’m Jewish and I feel guilty about everything." Hey, chin up, Gehry. It's not all bad news, Australia’s Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove said the building looked like “the most beautiful squashed brown paper bag” he had even seen. So, at the very least, it beat the competition. You can watch a timelapse video of the building's construction below.