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.
Posts tagged with "Beverly Hills":
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.
After a lengthy battle Richard Neutra's Kronish House in Beverly Hills has been saved. Completed in 1955, the house, considered one of Neutra's finest (and largest), came very close to its demise this summer after its new owners refused preservationists' pleas and began the demolition process. But after the outcry got louder, the owners placed the demolition on hold, and now a buyer with an interest in restoring the home has just closed on the house. Redfin lists the price at $12.8 million, and the buyer remains a mystery. Meanwhile the city of Beverly Hills still has no preservation ordinance, although officials claim to be developing one. Let's get moving Beverly Hills, before another masterpiece isn't so lucky.
Last month we reported on Beverly Hills' virtually nonexistent preservation policies and the destructive results for Modern architecture. Well those (lack of) rules seem to be at issue again, as we learn from Curbed LA that Richard Neutra's 1955 Kronish House is for sale, with a listing on Redfin emphasizing the land's "huge upside potential as a major estate." The listing does not even mention the name Neutra. The 7,000 square foot home on two acres was foreclosed on in January at $5.8 million. The listing invites buyers to "Bring your contractor to remodel the existing single story mid century home or build your dream home." According to the city it's too early to take any action, since no sale has taken place and no plans have been proposed. "As far as the city is concerned it's just a house for sale," said Beverly Hills spokesperson Therese Kosterman. "We can only deal with a proposal that's before us." Hopefully that proposal won't involve tearing down yet another midcentury masterpiece.
At the same time that Palm Springs is celebrating all things Modern at its Modernism Week, we just came across the pretty-much-completed demolition of Beverly Hills' 1961 Friars Club at 9900 Santa Monica Boulevard. The windowless, space age Modern building, designed by Sidney Eisenshtat, was one of several important structures by the architect, including Temple Emmanuel in Beverly Hills, Sinai Temple in Westwood, and the Wilshire Triangle Center. It was also the home of famous roasts by the likes of Jack Benny, Frank Sinatra, Milton Berle, Sammy Davis Jr. and Billy Crystal. "This is an important building by an important architect, and it will very soon be lost to us forever," said Scott Fine, director of Advocacy for the LA Conservancy. Despite being eligible for listing in the California Register of Historical Resources, it was unprotected because Beverly Hills has no protections for historic resources. That's right, none. Whatsoever. (love it or hate it, the building at least deserved a fair shot..) Meanwhile there are no immediate plans for a replacement building. So this will just be an empty lot for now. So much for a celebration of all things Modern in Beverly Hills, huh?
Gagosian Gallery is apparently trying to take over the world, with locations in New York, London, Rome, La Jolla, Hong Kong, and another coming to Paris. Its latest project is Richard Meier & Partners' expansion of its Beverly Hills gallery which Meier originally designed in 1995. The new space adds 5,000 square feet to what was a 6,600 square foot building. We were able to step inside the project, which opened today on Beverly Hills’ swank Camden Drive, and we weren’t disappointed. The extension combines Meier’s signature pristine white walls and abundant natural light (long acid-etched skylights on both sides of the space are semi-opaque, but still reveal the color of the sky) combined with the grittiness of a wonderful existing barreled vaulted wood truss roof, which was discovered when the firm removed the ceiling from the building’s former tenants, Umberto’s Hair Salon. A huge translucent glass and aluminum sliding door at the street also lets in glowing light, and provides an easy entry for oversized works. Inside the huge walls can support even larger art than before: the first exhibit features Andreas Gursky’s gargantuan, Google Earth-like manipulated photos from space. (Gursky didn’t make it to the press preview, our lone disappointment of the day). Future exhibitions will include Nancy Rubins’ outsized boat sculptures and Richard Serra’s Piranesian metalwork. The expansion also includes new second level offices, a private viewing gallery and a rooftop sculpture terrace, which will all be completed by July, said gallery director Deborah McLeod. So you’re probably wondering, what prompted Larry Gagosian to do all this expanding in this economy? According to McLeod the gallery signed its lease in September 2008, just before the bottom fell out of the economy. At that point they decided to not look back. “Larry is always interested in more,” said McLeod. Not to mention that working in this economy allowed the architects to find sub much easier, and for a much better price. “I think the timing worked out perfectly,” said Michael Palladino, Principal at Meier’s LA office.
According to the Santa Monica Daily Press (via our senseis at Curbed) Santa Monica has basically claimed victory in its battle against Beverly Hills for Eli Broad's new contemporary art museum. According to the story the Santa Monica City Council could vote on the deal as soon as this Tuesday. "I feel that the vast majority of issues have been discussed thoroughly and agreed to," City Councilman Bob Holbrook told the Daily Press. Meanwhile in Beverly Hills city spokeswoman Cheryl Burnett told the Daily Press she wasn't aware of any new developments in negotiations with the Broad Foundations. Doesn't look good for Beverly Hills.. We've called the city of Santa Monica to try to confirm, but have thus far gotten no answers. If built the Santa Monica museum would be located on a 2.5 acre parcel of land facing Main Street between the Santa Monica Courthouse and Civic Auditorium. It would become the permanent home for the Broad Collections, which contain over 2,000 artworks. The building would also house a research and study center as well as the foundation’s administrative headquarters. The foundation now uses a renovated 1927 building in Santa Monica, housing offices and a gallery, which is only open by reservation and too small for the sorts of exhibitions Broad has said he would like to host.
After making nary a peep about his proposed Beverly Hills museum since last April, Eli Broad is again making it clear that he wants the project to move forward. And that he wants it to be much bigger. According to the LA Times, a plan sent last month to the Beverly Hills Planning Department calls for nearly 50,000 square feet of exhibition space (including a 6,100 square foot outdoor area for sculpture), up from the 25,000 previously anticipated. According to the story he's also included Santa Monica as a possible contender for the museum, for which he would create a $200 million endowment. And now the cities are jockeying for position: Kevin McKeown, a Santa Monica city councilman, told the Times, "I'll do everything I can to make this happen." Meanwhile Cheryl Burnett, the city of Beverly Hills' spokeswoman, issued a statement saying, "While we recognize that the Broad Foundation has many options. . . . There's no better place than Beverly Hills to showcase this world-class contemporary art collection." Let..the..fireworks..begin.