Over 30 years after it was initially planned, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has started tunneling the final phases of the Purple Line subway. According to Metro, when completed in 2026, it will be possible to take a one-seat underground ride from Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles to Westwood—an area home to the University of California, Los Angeles campus, the Veterans Administration complex, and other major institutions—in roughly 25 minutes. For comparison, today the trip takes nearly an hour and a half by car or bus. Though its completion is many years away, the pending extension has begun to impact adjacent areas as rezoning efforts get underway in anticipation of the route. The pending Purple Line Transit Neighborhood Plan, for example, will modestly boost densities between the three adjacent stations surrounding the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) campus. As proposed, upper height limits in the densest areas could reach 70-feet, ten feet higher than currently allowed. The prospect of taller buildings on and around Wilshire Boulevard is not a far-off vision, however. The 18-story Vision on Wilshire project by Steinberg Hart and developers UDR, for example, wrapped up construction this summer. The pixelated tower comes with 150 units and joins other new apartment towers recently completed along the corridor. Nearby, a new glass-wrapped tower by MVE + Partners and developers J.H. Snider is slated for a site adjacent to the LACMA campus, and will bring 285 apartments and 250,000 square feet of offices just steps from the transit line. Another project on the boards is a two-tower condominium development slated to join the historic Minoru Yamasaki-designed Plaza Hotel in Century City. Here, Pei, Cobb, Freed & Partners, Gensler, Marmol Radzinger, and RCH Studios will add 290 luxury condominiums behind the historic hotel on a site that will host a new stop on the extension. The project is currently under construction. Not everyone is happy about the coming transit line, however, especially in Beverly Hills, which will see a new subway stop at Wilshire and Rodeo Drive. The City of Beverly Hills has been engaged in a years-long struggle to block the subway from running below its streets. Most recently, the Beverly Hills Unified School District orchestrated what it called a student “walk out” against the proposed metro line. The demonstration occurred last week and was aimed at trying to get the attention of President Trump, who is himself a Beverly Hills homeowner. According to The Los Angeles Times, students carried signs calling on the president to move the subway route, which is currently slated to run underneath Beverly Hills High School and other sites in the city, away from delicate areas. The students also sought to have the president take the unprecedented step of revoking the $1.5 billion in federal funds and low-cost loans awarded to the transformative project. There’s no word from the president yet, but Metro cranked up its two new tunneling machines Monday to begin digging the next leg of the extension nonetheless. It’s expected the tunneling machines will advance roughly 60 feet per day from La Brea Avenue and Wilshire toward the current Purple Line terminus at Western Avenue. After the tunnel there is excavated, the machines will be driven back to La Brea and begin the work of completing the final leg of the line. Phase one of the expansion is slated to open in 2023 with the second phase due to arrive in 2025 and final completion expected by 2026, just in time for the 2028 Olympic Games.
Posts tagged with "Beverly Hills":
United Talent Agency (UTA) will be moving their Los Angeles art space from Boyle Heights to a former warehouse in Beverly Hills this summer with an architectural overhaul designed by their own client, renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.UTA opened their first art space in 2016 after founding a fine arts division to represent high-profile artists in 2015. While getting some positive press from art world critics, the space, along with a number of other L.A. galleries, received flack and community pushback for contributing to gentrification in the Eastside. Perhaps it is then fitting that UTA Artist Space will be relocating to Beverly Hills, taking over a 4,000-square-foot former diamond-tooling facility. Ai’s yet-to-be-released design is inspired in part by the architectural similarities of the concrete Los Angeles warehouse to his own Beijing studio. This is hardly Ai’s first foray into architecture. The artist has collaborated with Herzog & de Meuron on more than one occasion, including on major commissions like the Beijing National Stadium (commonly referred to as the “bird’s nest”) and the firm’s 2012 Serpentine pavilion. Ai has also collaborated with other firms on architectural projects and, since 2003, has run his own architecture firm FAKE Design. While Ai himself will exhibit a series of new marble works at the new UTA Artist Space this October, the gallery will open in July with a color field-focused show entitled One Shot featuring the work of Morris Louis, Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, Sam Gilliam, and Jules Olitski, among others.
Los Angeles- and New York City-based wHY has been tapped to design a new 5,400-square-foot flagship location for British auction house Christie’s. Renderings released by Christie’s indicate that the architects will adaptively reuse a single-story commercial structure in Beverly Hills for the project. The building—repurposed and added on to by the architects—is wrapped in an undulating curtain made out of “pearlescent white aluminum” that is interrupted along a large, recessed expanse of clear glass along the street. Plans for the new storefront include the addition of a second story terrace and a “grand yet flexible” ground floor interior layout. Interior configurations will include spaces for exhibitions, private events, and live-streamed auctions along the ground floor. Private meeting areas and offices will be located upstairs along with the outdoor, vegetated terrace. The second-floor expansion will add approximately 1,400 square feet of floor area to the structure. Although the project is being touted as a new flagship for the auction house, Christie’s has maintained West Coast offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco since 1978 and 1982, respectively. The flagship expansion mirrors Christie’s recent expansions in China, which—along with the West Coast of the United States—accounts for much of the recent growth in new buyers, according to a press release touting the new location. To commemorate the new expansion, Christie’s is hosting a pop-up gallery show through February 11th at the Collection of Earl and Camilla McGrath at the De Re Gallery, 8373 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles. wHY—already a prolific firm in its own right—has recently become the go-to architect for internationally-renowned art galleries looking to open up West Coast outposts. The firm recently completed work on a new outpost for the Gagosian Gallery in San Francisco across the street from the new Snøhetta-designed San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The firm is also working on designs for the Maurice and Paul Marciano Art Foundation's new facilities in L.A. That project, due to open this Spring, will transform that city's Scottish Rite Masonic Temple into what the firm conceptually describes on their website as an “art city.”
"We decided to make a community. Instead of making typical blocks we proposed a vertical village,” said architect Ma Yansong, principle of MAD Architects, when he sat down with AN’s Sam Lubell last month. The firm just unveiled its first project in the United States: 8600 Wilshire, an 18-unit residential complex on Wilshire Boulevard. The hillside village scheme is a typological mash-up: a courtyard apartment building on top of a mountain-like commercial box. Or, in a West Coast vernacular: Melrose Place meets Fred Segal, the eclectic retailer known for its ivy-covered storefront. The 48,000-square foot design for Palisades Capital Partners includes three townhouses, five villas, two studios, and eight condominiums. “[We took] single family houses like you see in Beverly Hills and we stacked them together,” said Yansong. “We have different roof heights, because in the village everyone built their own house.” The firm, which has offices in China and California, brought the lessons of density and verticality from Beijing to LA. While only the pitched roofs are visible from the street, the residential courtyard is shared garden space, with more private exterior balconies given to each unit. “People are emotional, they realize some meaning behind those green, living elements,” said Yansong of the need to make natural spaces full of plants, even in a drought. Addressing the California water shortage, the exterior living wall will be water-efficient and planted with native, drought-tolerant succulents and vines. MAD worked with landscape architects at Gruen Associates, the local firm is also the executive architect on the project. 8600 Wilshire was recently honored with a design concept prize at the 45th Annual Los Angeles Architectural Awards, hosted by the Los Angeles Business Council, and expected to break ground in October.
In a previous Eavesdrop, we reported that the famous Morphosis-designed restaurant Kate Mantilini in Beverly Hills was chafing at city plans to landmark the premises. Well it appears the problem may have been resolved. Eavesdrop heard over cocktails that Morphosis itself has been tagged to do the restaurant’s renovation. No official word yet, but this seems like a natural fit, doesn’t it?
One of Morphosis’ earliest projects, the Beverly Hills restaurant Kate Mantilini (1986), is now up for landmarking by the city of Beverly Hills. We hear that Beverly Hills Mayor Lili Bosse is obsessed with getting this done, but ironically the restaurant’s owners are not so happy about it. The rumor mill says they’re afraid of being locked into a design forever. Especially one from the 80s. Imagine if someone told you that you had to keep your 80s hair for the rest of your life?
Beverly Hills gained a vacant lot this week as crews demolished the former Robinsons-May department store at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard. The four-story, marble-clad building, designed by Charles O. Matcham, Charles Luckman, and William Pereira in 1952 with interiors by Raymond Loewy and Associates, was retailer J.W. Robinson’s first store in suburban Los Angeles. The fate of the site, which is for sale for the fourth time since Robinsons-May closed in 2006, remains uncertain. The first developers to take control of the property, New Pacific Realty, commissioned Richard Meier to design two 14- to 16-story condominium towers to replace the mid-century modern store. Subsequent owners Christian and Nicholas Candy promised to fulfill some version of Meier’s plan, but they defaulted on the project in 2008. Hong Kong firm Joint Treasure International purchased the site and the Meier design in 2010, but nothing happened until this month, when they decided to go ahead with demolition despite having listed the property for sale. Preservationists are mourning the demise of yet another Beverly Hills landmark. “The razing of the Robinsons-May building is a tragic loss for Beverly Hills,” said Beverly Hills Heritage’s Robert Switzer. “Not only was it a superb example of mid-century architecture, it stood as an elegant gateway structure at the west boundary of the city, beautiful in its own right without distracting from the view of another important building of the same period immediately adjacent to it, the Beverly Hilton hotel.” Beverly Hills, previously without preservation laws of any kind, adopted an historic preservation ordinance in 2012, too late to save Robinsons-May. “Had Beverly Hills enacted its preservation ordinance before a demolition permit for Robinsons-May was filed, I suspect that the City would have made every effort to save the building,” said Switzer. “Sadly, permits issued before the ordinance’s enactment could not be revoked. Moreover, the approval of the permit and redevelopment plans were transferable to the new owner, who chose to act on it.” Switzer worries that a contemporary high-rise development would disrupt the community’s urban fabric. “While it remains unclear whether the Richard Meier design will be constructed, any tall buildings on this site will be a jarring break in the smooth height transition that existed from the golf course on the west, past Robinsons-May to the Beverly Hilton,” he said. “It will be a less welcoming entrance into Beverly Hills.”
One of the insider landmarks of Beverly Hills is the Tower of Hope, an art-covered oil derrick that sits at the edge of Beverly Hills High School, clearly visible from Pico Boulevard. Covered with fabric panels painted with colorful flowers by young hospital patients, the 155-foot-tall tower is a remnant from the days when the area was covered with oil fields (the high school once contained almost 20), and it's become a popular visiting spot. It also still pumps oil, for Denver-based Venoco, with some of the proceeds going to the school. But Beverly Hills High's major expansion plans call for removing the well altogether. The school's new campus, designed by DLR Group, will include a renovation of the original 1928 buildings (including administrative, library, dining, and auditorium spaces), improvements to the playing fields, a new athletic building, and a modernization and re-skinning of its less attractive 1960s era one, which contains classrooms. The 510,000 square foot, $150 million project will be brought together with green spaces, plazas, and pathways, replacing a street that once ran through the campus. "The school board wasn't happy with how the old and new buildings used to have no dialogue at all," said DLR Group Principal Brett Hobza. The renovation plan will not, most likely, contain the tower, which was conceived in 2000 by local artist and writer Ed Massey. Site plans now include a new softball field on the site, said DLR Group principal Brett Hobza. Venoco's oil field lease is up in 2016, and at that time it will revert back to Beverly Hills Unified School District. The district would not comment on what they have called a "politically charged" issue. Venoco spokesperson Steve Greig acknowledged that if the oil field lease (which Veneco has held since 1994) is not extended then the tower will be torn down. He added that if that happened the city and the district would lose a "significant percentage" of the revenue from its wells. Over the last ten years Veneco has paid over $30 million in revenues to Beverly Hills. Roger Sherman, an LA architect and the author of L.A. Under the Influence: The Hidden Logic of Urban Property, calls the tower an "accidental landmark," a public anomaly forged through the resolution of conflict. (Its exterior panels were originally installed to minimize drilling sounds.) Several similar LA icons, "lessons in how the urban realm gets built," have also been lost in recent years. He described their loss as symbols not just of NIMBYism, but of a city that seems to want to ignore or whitewash its idiosyncratic history in favor of a "falsified version of its past," like the Grove or other Rick Caruso developments.
In November, the Los Angeles City Council named Armet & Davis' Johnie’s Coffee Shop, the restaurant at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, a historic cultural landmark. That’s a win for preservationists concerned with the legacy of the Googie style, the auto-oriented, steel-and-neon aesthetic that spawned diners and coffee shops across Southern California from the 1940s through the 1960s. It might also give a leg up to locals interested in seeing Johnie’s returned to its original use. Because Johnie’s Coffee Shop isn’t a coffee shop, and hasn’t been for over a decade. Since 2000, it’s been closed to the public and used exclusively for filming. The restaurant’s film credits, both before and after its conversion to a 24/7 theatrical set, include The Big Lebowski and Reservoir Dogs. But while the best use for a building like Johnie's might have a stronger community orientation, in the meantime its co-optation by the film industry isn't all bad. When it takes over a building, the film industry buys time for preservationists and others hoping to breathe new life into an under-used landmark, Adrian Scott Fine, Director of Advocacy at the Los Angeles Conservancy explained. "It's kind of an advantage that Los Angeles has over other cities," he said. In addition, "People discover buildings through film," Scott said. "Johnie's, some of the films it's been in, it's clearly the star of the film." Approximately two years ago, the Los Angeles Conservancy honored Mad Men and its creator, Matthew Weiner, for the way in which it showcases midcentury modern architecture. Weiner has been active in efforts to preserve Los Angeles landmarks, Fine said, and the show has featured preservation-themed plot lines, including the demolition of New York's Penn Station. This all got us thinking: what other LA architectural landmarks are now used primarily as stage sets? The answer, it turns out, is quite a few. From one of Julia Morgan’s earliest Hearst commissions to a 1958 Pereira & Luckman high-rise, here’s our list of Los Angeles masterworks currently in the hands of the film industry. Herald Examiner Building (Downtown, Broadway and 11th Street) Media magnate William Randolph Hearst commissioned 2014 AIA Gold Medal recipient Julia Morgan to design a new headquarters building for the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper in 1913, ten years after the paper’s founding. When the Herald Examiner, the Los Angeles Examiner’s successor, went under in 1989, the Hearst Corporation held on to the structure. In 2008, Brenda Levin (who cites Julia Morgan as her role model) was set to renovate the building—but then the economy tanked. Plans to rehabilitate the building, and build two Morphosis-designed residential towers adjacent to it, were put on indefinite hold. Today, the Herald Examiner building is used exclusively for filming. Scenes in The Usual Suspects, Dreamgirls, Spider-Man 3, Zoolander, Castle, Bones, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, plus music videos by Eminem, Shakira, and Christina Aguilera were shot there. Interior location sets include an apartment, bar, jail, and police station. Park Plaza Hotel (Westlake, 607 South Park View Street) Art Deco and Corporate Moderne architect Claud Beelman designed the Park Plaza Hotel as Elks Lodge No. 99 in 1925. During the 1932 Olympics, the building hosted several indoor swimming events. The Park Plaza, which is listed as a Los Angeles historic-cultural landmark, features four ballrooms: the Grand Ballroom, whose decorated ceiling beams were modeled after a palace in Florence; the Art Deco Terrace Room, formerly the Elks Lodge meeting room; the Bronze Ballroom, distinguished by its copper-gilded columns; and the smaller Gold Room, named for the gold-leaf detail on its Corinthian columns. Both indoor and outdoor spaces, including the Tuscan Patio, can be rented for filming, weddings, and other events. Greystone Mansion (Beverly Hills, 501 Doheny Road) The lavish Beverly Hills estate known as Greystone Mansion was designed by Gordon B. Kaufmann beginning in 1925 for Edward Laurence Doheny, Jr., son of Los Angeles’s original oil magnate. Kaufmann, who would go on to design both the Hoover Dam and the Los Angeles Times building, designed the fifty-five room mansion in the Tudor style. The estate gained notoriety soon after construction finished, when Doheny, Jr. was found dead of an apparent murder-suicide. The City of Beverly Hills purchased the property in 1955, and built a reservoir on the site. The grounds of the mansion are open to the public, while the interior is available for filming and events. Greystone Mansion is featured in movies including The Muppets, The Social Network, What Women Want, Air Force One, and Ghostbusters. Los Angeles Theatre (Downtown, Broadway and 6th Street) In the ultimate Hollywood irony, the Los Angeles Theatre now just plays one on TV. The film palace was designed in 1931 by S. Charles Lee, after the Fox Theatre in San Francisco. A popular theater designer, Lee’s other Los Angeles buildings include the Alex Theatre, the Saban Theatre (formerly the Fox Wilshire), the Star Theatre, and the Tower Theatre. The Los Angeles Theatre, which the Los Angeles Conservancy calls “[t]he most lavish . . . of Broadway’s great movie palaces,” features a six-story lobby with a Louis XIV-inspired sunburst motif, plus a glass-ceiling ballroom and a nursery decorated with a circus theme. The building is available for rent as a film location, and for special events, live stage performances, and film screenings. "[The film industry] has certainly been instrumental in keeping the theaters going, where historic theaters are certainly one of the most difficult [building types] to adapt," Fine said. "I'm not sure, if you look at other cities with historic theaters, if we hadn't had the filming industry doing things, we probably would have lost them." Los Angeles Center Studios (City West, 1501 W. Fifth Street) When the Los Angeles Center Studios’ original tower, designed by Pereira & Luckman, was completed in 1958, it was the tallest structure in downtown LA. Hexagonal in shape, the International Style building is entirely unornamented, except for the aluminum sunshades at the base of each window. By 1998 the building, which was originally designed as part of Union Oil’s headquarters, was threatened with demolition. A group of developers bought the complex and converted it into a full-service TV, film, and commercial production studio. The Pereira & Luckman tower is now dedicated to entertainment and creative office space.
Yesterday, AN reported on the incredible new entertainment complex that millionaire James Goldstein is building next to John Lautner's Sheats Goldstein Residence in Beverly Hills. But even without an adjacent nightclub, the house often hosts splashy events, the most recent of which was the latest art/architecture installation that's part of artist Xavier Veilhan's Architectones series. As he did at Richard Neutra's VDL House and Pierre Koenig's Case Study House 21, Veilhan created several site specific installations for the site, ranging from a life size statue of John Lautner to a series of cords stretching over the home's pool. The project was curated by architect Francois Perrin and organized by Galerie Perrotin.
Beating out shortlisted competition including John Friedman Alice Kimm and Brooks+Scarpa, Italian firm Studio Fuksas has been awarded the commission to revamp the Beverly Center, the legendary (not to mention, ahem, aesthetically challenging) high end shopping mall in Beverly Hills. The job, overseen by Michigan-based developer Taubman Group, calls for revamping a building that has become tired both inside and out. Considering the ethereal lightness of Fuksas' work—for instance, his undulating, glass-wrapped Fiera in Milan— he should be the perfect architect to reconsider one of the bulkiest buildings in LA. Look for an official announcement in the coming weeks.