AN recently took a sneak peak at late night preparations for the fifth annual Canstruction LA, a charitable design competition—whose pieces are currently on display in the lobby of 5900 Wilshire Boulevard— that taps teams of architects, designers, builders and engineers to create large-scale sculptures using canned goods (and even a few water bottles) that will eventually be donated to the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. What we found was a furor of activity, many boxes of pizza, and a bit of competitive banter among teams. “It’s like Christmas morning,” said Damian Carroll, one of the founders of Canstruction LA. The eight teams worked way past their normal office hours putting together their closely guarded designs. “You’ll see them, going to peek at the other ones and thinking, ‘What are they building? What is that thing?'” said Carroll. And how do these firms get all these cans? “You get to know the store managers really well,” said Cassandra Coffin of HKS Architects, the team that brought a yellow-skinned Despicable Me minion to life this year. This year’s awards went to: JURORS’ FAVORITE: “Can-on Picture a World Without Hunger” by Gensler and Arup
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Crain's Chicago Business reports that big-box retailer Target is negotiating with the developers Joseph Freed and Associates for space at the venerable Carson Pirie Scott & Co. building, now named the Sullivan Center. Formerly home of the department store Carson Pirie Scott, the building, designed by Louis Sullivan, has remained largely vacant following a recent substantial rehab effort. The upper floors house the School of the Art Institute Chicago’s departments of architecture, interior architecture, and designed objects and the architectural mega-firm Gensler. The building anchors the slightly more downtrodden southern end of State Street within the Loop. Chicago Business reports that Target has been scouting downtown real estate for months and that serious talks are underway between the retailer and Freed. They note it would be a significant victory for Freed, whose nearby Block 37 development has been tangled in foreclosure suits over the past few months. This would be the second Target store for the downtown area, as a another opened in recent years about one mile away in the South Loop. Perhaps the design savvy retailer will find their next Michael Graves upstairs.
HITCHIN’ A RIDE With its price hikes, worker strife, and bureaucratic image, LA METRO doesn’t exactly set the standard for good press. But that appears to be changing as the transit authority has hired two of our favorite writers to supply in-house news and consulting. After being laid off by the Los Angeles Times in March, transit reporter Steve Hymon was hired by Metro to put together its new transit blog, The Source. On November 20, AN contributor Sam Hall Kaplan announced that he had been hired by Metro to be a transportation planning manager, with a focus on “crafting a user-friendly interface in Downtown LA between the Metro and the proposed California High Speed Rail,” in particular for stations and streetscapes. Eavesdrop hopes there’s one more spot for a guy who would like to check out the coolest cities and their metro systems for ideas—say Paris, Rome, Berlin, and Tokyo. AVE ATQUE VALETS! Bad blood is stirring between the William Morris Endeavor talent agency and developers George Comfort & Sons, as the agency tries to extract itself from a lease at a building now under construction at 231-265 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. Earlier this fall, WME contended that Comfort & Sons had violated the lease, because the agency would be forced to share a valet service and parking with a competitor (God forfend!) in a neighboring building. Prior to William Morris’ mega-merger with Endeavor, the agency had hired Gensler to design the interiors for 231. Enter Ari Emanuel, then head of Endeavor, who now runs the WME shop—where egos in excess outstrip even the most brazen architect. The agent fired Gensler and hired Neil Denari. Then came word that Emanuel was trying to leave the Beverly Drive address entirely. Now, no one is talking, at least not to us. Or is it Eavesdrop’s Corvair? Gensler declined to comment, while Denari’s firm tells us they’re still on hold. As for the valets, we hear they’re deeply offended. Naturally.
WHY TV APPEARANCES MATTER
Why take ourselves seriously as architecture critics when we can be lampooned on The Colbert Report in order to sell a few books? Whoops, that’s not Eavesdrop’s game. That’s New Yorker critic Paul Goldberger, who sat gamely grinning in the hot seat on November 19 while Colbert ridiculed—uh, make that discussed—world architecture and Goldberger’s new book, Why Architecture Matters. After a rocky start (Colbert mis-pronounced Goldberger’s name in the intro), Colbert proceeded to grill the author on the possibility of landmarking the Colbert Report set. Then, he suggested putting a toilet handle on the Guggenheim, and asked if he could skateboard down the Gugg’s ramp (Why not? Krens would have—might have—motorbiked it if he had the chance). Finally, Colbert pondered aloud that if architecture reflects who we are, as Goldberger’s book claims, then how come our houses aren’t getting fatter? Goldberger took it all in stride, relishing the rare chance among architecture authors to bathe in the brighter lights of TV-bound public attention. Fair warning, though: Eavesdrop’s aiming to get on Oprah with an architecture Tell-All.
Send METRO passes and teleprompters to Eavesdrop@archpaper.com.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Even Union Square, San Francisco's high-end shopping mecca, sports the occasional empty storefront these days. To beautify a few for the holidays, the Union Square Association brought in four architecture firms to work their magic, a pro bono effort that also "highlight(s) the vibrant creativity of local architecture firms in a whole new way," says the press release. A delightful idea--but in execution, somewhat of a mixed bag, as you will see. Truest to the spirit of the assignment, Charles Bloszies'' window at 400 Post St. (above) features the work of local FIDM students, who made couture out of shopping bags à la Project Runway. A wooden plaque lists the posh stores that are still alive and kicking (or perhaps they donated bags?). On the other side of the square, at 393 Sutter St., fashion was also on the mind of FME Architecture + Design, which filled its storefront with a video of a runway show. Not sure whose, though. ( "Fashion" is the Twitter handle for ShoppingBlog.com, but maybe I didn't understand the instructions correctly?) One street south, Brand + Allen took over a space once occupied by Frette at 124 Geary, and spelled out the word "Pause" using a screen of cardboard tubes. There is a Chinese symbol behind the screen, to symbolize how Union Square is the gateway to Chinatown. Perhaps the subtext is: If the prices around here are too scary, take a deep breath and think of the affordable tchkotches just up the street. The furthest away from Union Square was Gensler's window at 101 Post St., which celebrates San Francisco's sister city of Shanghai--and Gensler's design of the Shanghai Tower. Nice building and all, but let's encourage people do to a little shopping, shall we?
Last night CANSTRUCTION LA, organized by the Society for Design Administration, announced the winners of its 2009 competition at 5900 Wilshire Boulevard. All 60,000 cans—from anchovies to pumpkin pie filling— used to build the amazing structures will go directly to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, as will over $7,700 in donations. The structures will be on display at 5900 Wilshire through this Sunday. Check out this fantastic teaser video for the competition, which shows a clever can making its way from the supermarket to the venue. And here's a video of winning team Gensler putting together their entry. All 10 participating teams produced stellar constructions, but a few stood out. They were: JURORS FAVORITE: Gensler and Arup for "Pump-can" Pictured top, a full Thanksgiving meal in the shape of a giant, glowing, gravity-defying pumpkin. STRUCTURAL INGENUITY: Morris Architects and Walter P. Moore for "Where the Wild Cans Are" Notice the sharp teeth and claws..yikes. BEST USE OF LABELS: Perkins and Will for "Global Hunger Munny" Using label colors to demarcate world hunger trouble spots. Genius BEST MEAL: HKS for "Filling the Void" Tuna, sardines, anchovies, beans and green chiles. A light, sophisticated, protein-packed meal. HONORABLE MENTION: CO Architects for "Melt Away Hunger" How to make cans look like melting, cascading drips? Ask these architects..
With its economy in the toilet and its legislature stuck in gridlock, California is .. hurting. But there is one area where the Golden State is still a leader. It's one of the few states in the country to be developing an actual plan for rising sea levels: the California Climate Adaptation Strategy Draft. This, and other very relevant topics will be discussed tomorrow at a UC Berkeley symposium tomorrow called Battling The Sea Level Rise: Climate Adaptation Plans in California & Lessons for Developing World Cities. Along with exploring California's efforts, the symposium will also address the fledgling plans for the world's developing countries, which could have the greatest impact on climate change as they continue to grow; and whose poorer populations could be the hardest hit by sea level rise. Panelists will include Will Travis, Executive Director of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission ( BCDC); Michel St Pierre, Director of Planning at Gensler; Prathima Manohar, founder of The Urban Vision, a Mumbai-based think tank promoting sustainable urban planning; and Maria Paz Gutierrez, Assistant Professor of Architecture at UC Berkeley. The event will take place from 9:30 am to 12 noon at Berkeley's School of Law's Goldberg Room.
Gensler yesterday installed their shimmering Memorial to Fallen Officers, a 11,000 pound, backlit structure made up of hundreds of staggered brass plaques, in front of AECOM's almost-finished Police Headquarters in Downtown LA. The structure travelled via trailer from Kansas City over the weekend. That was the good news. The not-so-good news, according to the LA Times, is that after the memorial was craned into place the designers realized it was facing the wrong way! Instead of swiveling the whole structure, they're going to have to unscrew all the plaques and re-install them on the other side. Someone's gonna have to investigate this one...
On Tuesday night AN, Gensler and the California Real Estate Journal (CREJ) hosted our panel discussion, Upending The Downturn at the Poliform showroom in Beverly Hills. Participants did their best to keep the tone positive, and suggested tips for surviving, and even excelling, during the recession and beyond. Most hinted that we're almost out of the woods. Potential bright spots for architects and builders included affordable housing, government work (including slowly-moving stimulus-related projects), sustainable projects (including work in LA's new Clean Tech corridor), health care, and design/build . Some even suggested that small projects are getting financing, and that larger ones should by the end of the year. The recession, one panelist pointed out, will be announced officially over in September. What?? And more good news: co-moderator Jennifer Caterino of the CREJ, noted that according to the Commerce Department US Construction spending rose .3 percent in June. What's next? Constant sunshine? Oh yeah, it's LA. There is constant sunshine.
OK, it's time to start doing something about this economic debacle. Next Tuesday, August 4, in Los Angeles, AN, The California Real Estate Journal, and Gensler will be co-hosting a panel to devise ways for SoCal firms to cope with the downturn. Topics will include finding architectural projects, exploiting creative measures like design-build, shaking loose financing, and securing public money and jobs, among other things. The panel will include Larry Scarpa of Pugh+Scarpa; Rob Jernigan of Gensler; Dan Rosenfeld of development firm Urban Partners (and Deputy for Economic Development to LA Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas); Cecilia Estolano, CEO of the LA Community Redevelopment Agency; Denise Bickerstaff of real estate consulting firm Keyser Marston Associates; and Jerry Neuman of real estate law firm Allen Matkins Leck. The event will take place at 6 pm at Poliform, 8818 Beverly Blvd. Networking, of course, to follow. Don't miss this chance to pull yourself up by your bootstraps!
AN's California Editor Sam Lubell will be hosting a panel about the creation of new and unconventional design at Gensler and USG's Design Process Innovation Symposium this Saturday at 10:55 a.m. at the A+D Museum. Panelists will include none other than Gaston Nogues, of inventive Silver Lake architecture/art installation/sculpture firm Ball Nogues; Matthew Melnyk, of the omnipresent and hyper-advanced design and engineering firm Buro Happold; Richard Whitehall, whose firm, Smart Design, patterns everything from cool-looking thermometers to Serengeti sunglasses; Scott Robertson, a creator of ultramodern, books, bikes, and even the cars used in video games; and Tali Krakowsky, of Imaginary Forces, who co-designed the flashy set for this year's Victoria Secret fashion show. Another talent-loaded panel, at 2:30 p.m., will be hosted by KCRW and Dwell's Frances Anderton. Tickets ($70, $45 for students) are still available: visit http://www.gensler.com/xtr/dpi2/