Kim Stringfellow’s Jackrabbit Homestead The Autry in Griffith Park 4700 Western Heritage Way Los Angeles Through August 23 The California desert has long been an object of fascination for creatives and explorers fleeing the monotony and sprawl of Los Angeles. Artist Kim Stringfellow follows in that tradition with Jackrabbit Homestead, an exhibition that explores—through photographs and audio interviews—a collection of dilapidated 1950s cabins and the surrounding reclamation of land and structures in this harsh landscape. The show also introduces local artists, and investigates the area’s contentious relationship with land use and ecology, especially as water runs short. Stringfellow is a winner of the Autry’s Theo Westenberger Award for Artistic Excellence honoring contemporary women whose work in photography, film, and new media transforms how we see the American West.
Posts tagged with "California":
Italian designer Mario Bellini is a master of many mediums: architecture, furniture, photography, and language. He was the editor of Domus in the 1980s and designed buildings all over the world, including the Department of Islamic Art at the Louvre in Paris. At 80, he’s intensely productive as ever. Recently, Humboldt Books published U.S.A. 1972, a book photographs he shot with his Hasselblad in the early seventies. Bellini’s collaborative relationship with Cassina goes back decades and he’s created some of the furniture company’s most iconic designs. Cassina released several new pieces—a bed, a lounge—in the Cab family, the now-classic line he first began with a chair in 1977. To celebrate, Bellini embarked on a multi-city speaking tour. AN caught up with him at the Cassina showroom in Los Angeles. The Architect's Newspaper: The title of your talk is “A Passion Called Project.” Why passion? Mario Bellini: I will try to be short: if you don’t perform your project with a lot of passion, if you are not compelled to do it with a lot of passion, don’t do it at all. That’s the answer. I think about projects that you have completed that are not only playful, but have certain passions built into them, like the Kar-A-Sutra… I think [the Kar-A-Sutra] changed the auto industry in a way. It was the first MPV [or multi-purpose vehicle]. It broke the tradition of the sedan or limousine—boring. And it wasn’t like trucks with little houses on top, with a kitchen and the toilet, which are also a problem. The car was a space mobile and it could be rearranged in any way that you like. This was something free, which would let you explore life. I’m a traveler. I like it very much. I’ve been around the world. I used to go one month a year to those places that today would be not recommended. All around the Mediterranean, all round North Africa: Morocco, Algeria, and then Middle East: Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, and up to Turkey and Greece. Every time was a journey through the cultural way life—a place’s food, archeology, history. And so the car expresses those passions. And why is the Kar-A-Sutra green? It was designed in 1972 and the early seventies were crazy years. I decided that by myself. I wanted a color that was bold, that was springing out. And green apple green was my favorite. Your new book U.S.A. 1972 was published in June. Are the book and the Kar-a-Sutra tied together? When the exhibition Italy, the New Domestic Landscape opened at MoMA in 1972, I arrived prepared to start a long journey coast-to-coast in the United States to study the American way of life. Emilio Ambasz, who was the curator, gave me a letter of introduction, which saved us a lot of troubles. We were going around and trying to enter everywhere. Sometimes police came and we’d show the letter and they would let us go on. We entered the famous house of Andy Warhol—the Factory—and we had a strange impression because it was full of Deco furniture, Deco tapestries. We were surprised to see an artist looking at the world so formally. And then we entered Hugh Heffner’s mansion in Chicago. We happened to come here, to Los Angeles, to a restaurant called The Source up on the Sunset Strip. And we found the hippie community living in a former Hollywood star’s villa. In the living room there was a tent and a holy man living in it. I can’t remember his name… Father Yod? Yes! Father Yod. I have taken lots of photos and documented everything. But you don’t know when you’re photographing that it will become historical. This brings up a question: What is your relationship with the past? Without past, we would be insects. Going back, back, back to the origin of human beings living on the earth, those ideas supports us still. Our houses today are so similar to ancient Pompeii. There are courtyards, windows, and second floors. These are not machines. I will show an image of a famous Le Corbusier house, which he wanted to photograph together with a modern automobile. Today, the car looks like a rusted, bad nothing and the house still looks modern. Everything that is linked to our lives as human beings is so persistently linked to the past. Our future proceeds based on our understanding of the past. Not as imitating the past, but as nourishing ourselves with that past. We have on our shoulders all that history. But what about your architectural projects, such as the Department of Islamic Art at the Louvre, which are very technological? I’m not a technophile. I use technology—from the origin of the word: tekhno, or the study of the technique. I use techniques, not technology. Which means materiality and a way of working and processing to reach the goal, which is nothing to do with a techno attitude. I am using it to reach the result: emotion, feeling. For that I’m ready to use any material, advanced technology, or new thing. Our office is very up to date with the latest technology, but we remain attached with very, very long ropes to the beginning of the world, and build from there.
Foreground: The Landscape of Golf in America Center for Land Use Interpretation 9331 Venice Boulevard, Culver City, CA Through September 21 As one of few sports determined entirely by terrain, golf’s field of play is an irregular form defined by outdoor features: grass, trees, sands, mounds, and water. Most sports are played on rectangles of constant dimension, but not golf. The thrill of golf is engendered by the undulating hillocks and flora that surround it, distilling scenic qualities of its locale. The exhibition explores the symbiosis between the landscape and the outdoor sport, assuming the position of golf as an assertion that nature and landscape can be thoroughly tamed, sculpted, and placed under control so long as we can maintain it.
Rumor has it that Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA) is hard at work on a triangle-shaped Malibu home for one of Hollywood’s biggest names. The MMA crew is keeping mum on the client, but we’ve heard it’s not an actor. Geometric coastal living for a director or producer, perhaps? According to Michael Maltzan's website:
Malibu’s coastline is defined by an unbroken band of residences; their repetition and consistency of scale reduces the individual house to a stripe in this striated border separating the Pacific Coast Highway from the expanse of the ocean... The form of the Broad Beach Residence arises from the confluence of these circumstances. The house consists of a single bar punctured by a tapered form that expands towards the ocean. As visitors pass through the threshold of the bar, the building’s form maximizes framed views to the western horizon by extending the visual limits of the house to embrace the ocean beyond. The residence’s formal inflection scales the domestic in counterpoint to the horizon. Simultaneously, the form creates a more consensual relationship between the residence and the beach, between public space and private space, and between the perception of scale and its physical form. This spatial infiltration is mirrored in the sectional overlap of the public beach and private space of the home. Sand slips like a carpet under the floating mass of the house, a thin stair slumps from the structure to the beach floor, and a heavy mass rises out of the sand to support the main volume above. As the angular form faces towards the water, it carves out twin courtyards that flank the interior spaces and restore a middle-scale to the composition at the edge of the land.[All images courtesy Michael Maltzan.]
As Los Angeles braces for the likelihood of one or more new football stadium projects, the National Basketball Association's Los Angeles Lakers have unveiled plans for a sports facility of its own. Rossetti, a design firm specializing in the sports and entertainment industries, teamed up with the L.A. office of Perkins+Will on a 120,000-square-foot training center and administrative headquarters. Slated to open in spring 2017, the project provides the Lakers organization with a significant facilities upgrade from their current leasing arrangement at the Toyota Sports Center in nearby El Segundo. Preliminary renderings of the exterior depict a subtly detailed, rectilinear structure occupying a corner lot, the warm-hued second-floor volume floating over a concrete base. Vertical fins, featured prominently, work to shade direct sunshine as well as limit direct visibility, opting instead to give visitors fleeting glimpses of activities within. While the new headquarters might be seen as part of an increasing trend of developing exclusive facilities for professional sports teams, the Lakers' case is unique: it seeks to consolidate all of its seasonal and year-round operations under one roof. “For the design, we wanted to incorporate the idea of an innovative workplace, where hierarchies are removed, and people come across each other in a common social space,” explained Rossetti design principal Jim Renne. The hope is to create an integrated environment for all levels of staff, executives and players alike in which to interact. “You can hear a basketball bouncing, or you catch a glimpse of star player,” he said, imagining hallways in the new two-level facility. The ground floor comprises all basketball functions including full- and half-size courts, players' lockers, lounges, treatment areas, and an open-air player courtyard—a key design element. The upper floor holds staff and management offices, with views down onto the courts below. This interplay of visibility, light, and program between levels reflects the organization's and design team's search for a new typological benchmark—“a training facility, 2.0,” said Renne. “Before, training facilities were very rudimentary, with not a whole lot of attention paid to the quality of the space.” The Lakers Headquarters positions itself as both an architectural centerpiece for a brand recognized worldwide, as well as an asset to the local community. The organization has chosen to remain in El Segundo, a small oceanside city in greater Los Angeles, due to its long-term ties there and, perhaps as importantly, its proximity to Los Angeles International Airport. It will also serve as home for their Development League affiliate team, the Los Angeles D-Fenders, incorporating a 750-seat venue for hosting games and other public events. The price tag is $80 million, but Renne stresses the scheme’s cost-conscious nature. “The reality is, it's not a ton of money for what we're trying to do,” he said. “To create a facility like this is difficult for an organization to do, as there's no significant return on investment.” Return or not, the Lakers see a facilities consolidation as a significant draw for attracting future players in a highly competitive free-agent market—a state-of-the-art “home away from home”—something critical in today's sports climate. According to Renne, the project brief was deceptively simple: “design a place where players want to come, and to create a whole environment that caters to the needs of the player.”
On View> Arik Levy reflects on design with his new exhibit at Los Angeles’ Please Do Not Enter gallery
The announcement for Arik Levy: Intimate Formations, the inaugural exhibition at Please Do Not Enter that just opened in Downtown Los Angeles, reads Levy is an “artist, technician, photographer, designer, video artist.” The multidisciplinary list begs the question: How does anyone operate across so many practices? Does Levy flip a switch from “designer” when he’s working on furniture, lighting, and interiors, to “artist” when he’s working on sculptures and paintings? “I separate them,” Levy said, taking a moment to talk amid artwork and wooden crates in various stages of unpacking and installation. “When I make a chair, I make a chair. When I make a sculpture, I make a sculpture.” The distinction between these disciplines is apparent to him, and it’s a defining characteristic of how he identifies his practice.“I don’t know many other people who operate or work this way,” he said. “But one enriches the other. But when I make a painting I know it’s not graphic design, and when I make a logo I don’t pretend to make a painting. So I’m not here or there.” His first West Coast solo exhibition, Intimate Formations, installed at the small gallery and storefront in Downtown Los Angeles is comprised of 25 works, including freestanding and wall-mounted pieces, large-scale sculptures, neon sculptures, and paintings. Born in Israel, trained as an industrial designer in Switzerland, and operating out of Paris, Levy said the works on view, which make use of reflective surfaces and abstracted geometrical structures, emerge from an exploration of social sciences, genetic sciences, and biology. Still, Levy acknowledges that his background in design plays a role in the formal outcomes of his work. “The culture of design has brought a lot of perfection into the artwork because I understand engineering,” he said. “I understand packing. I understand logistics.” Coming off the flurry of attention that Please Do Not Enter generated last month when it presented Vincent Lamouroux’s seemingly made-for-social-media installation, Projection, which covered a vacant Sunset Boulevard motel in a whitewash of lime, Intimate Formations continues the discussion about the spaces that mediate art’s interaction with the public. If Lamouroux’s Projection was about bringing a gallery experience outdoors, Intimate Formations is exactly the opposite. “We brought what is almost a public art piece inside the gallery, inside a closed space,” said gallery co-founder Nicolas Libert, discussing how large-scale outdoor work from Levy’s RockGrowth series found its way into a small new storefront space on Olive Street across from Pershing Square. Inside the gallery, Levy’s pieces take on architectural ideas: transparency, framing, and the thresholds between interior and exterior. “These reflecting pieces play with the surroundings, and reveals what’s around,” Libert said about Levy’s work. "It’s amazing for people to interact with the artworks.” For Levy, the public’s reaction to the work is another opportunity to draw a distinction between his practice as a designer and his practice as an artist. “In contrary to the design business, in art, I don’t know if a piece will be or will not be successful,” he said. “Will it be appreciated intellectually, emotionally, or will somebody buy it?” “It’s all unknown.” Arik Levy: Intimate Formations is on view through July 11, 2015 at Please Do Not Enter, 549 South Olive Street, Los Angeles.
How do you coax city slickers to really take notice of air pollution? Start selling meringues, of course. At this year's Ideas City festival in New York City, the Center for Genomic Gastronomy set up a "Smog Tasting" food cart introducing aeroir (a play on terroir for the atmospheric taste of place) meringues infused with recreated urban smog from four cities. Riffing off the fact that egg foam is composed of 90 percent air, the Center’s experiment stemmed from the question of whether batter, which captures air when whipped, could also trap air pollutants. “Smog Tasting grew out of this idea of using food as a biosensor...Perhaps this could be a way of calling attention to the problem,” Zackary Denfield, cofounder at the Center for Genomic Gastronomy, told Fast Company. The meringues were made in small smog chambers the team had designed and fabricated under the advisement of researchers at the University of California Riverside, which trapped grime and chemicals in the egg-white-and-sugar mixture. The four less-than-tantalizing recipes included the “classic London peasouper,” a sampling of the Los Angeles atmosphere circa 1950, air from a present-day air-quality warning event in Atlanta, and California’s Central Valley agricultural smog, the latter a carcinogenic cocktail of ammonia and amines from feedlot manure lagoons and other organic waste. Scientists formed each smog type by mixing different chemical precursors and “baking” them under UV light. The result was a slightly yellowish dessert which imparted a noxious aftertaste initially masked by the sugar. “Most people ask ‘Is it safe to eat?’ and we reply ‘Is it safe to breathe?’” Denfield said. “We think that when people are laughing they are thinking, and we get a lot of nervous laughter.” According to the Center, capturing smog in edible form transforms the “unconscious” process of breathing into the “visceral” act of eating. Inspiring disgust is one way of garnering attention. Conceptualized in 2012 by college students in Bangalore, the project was introduced in May to health ministers and World Health Organization delegates in Geneva. Its showing in New York City by the Center for Genomic Gastronomy in collaboration with the Finnish Cultural Institute of New York was part of the Center’s larger scheme of examining the health implications of where our food is sourced. In a post on their dedicated blog, Edible Geography, the Center wrote that according to scientists the Center had consulted with, the human digestive system is better-equipped to catalyze chemicals than the respiratory system.
One of Los Angeles' most influential architects, Jon Jerde, who recently passed away, was known for the ebullience and animation of his designs. So it was only fitting that his funeral be held at LA’s stunning Union Station, inside the Grand Concourse, accompanied by nothing less than a full Mariachi band. When Eavesdrop finally goes to the Page Six in the sky, this is exactly how we would like to go out.
We’ve all heard a lot about “smart cities” and “responsive architecture,” by what about architecture that tells secrets? Murmur Wall, designed by Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno of the experimental design practice Future Cities Lab, does just that. The pair describes their site-specific installation at the main entrance to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco in as “artificially intelligent architecture.” “We are interested in exploring how data can become visceral, tangible, and poetic,” Johnson explained. “We’re experimenting with its potential to create meaning and a sense of place within the contemporary city.” Murmur Wall harvests local online activities—via search engines and social media—and broadcasts select phrases back into public space. Visitors to the wall can also contribute anonymous secrets, rumors, and gossip to the wall at the website murmurwall.net. Unlike many interactive artworks that rely on screens to share information, the sculptural installation uses a steel tube armature and illuminated fiber optic rods. LED lights embedded in the acrylic tubes illuminate the stream of whispers along the length of the Murmur Wall. When the real-time data reaches the 3D printed “pods” embedded with LED display, the small, embedded screens display a brief text before the data continues on as a light stream. This integration of digital and architectural strategies comes from Future Cities Lab research and teaching practices. Both designers are faculty at the California College of the Arts where Gattegno is Chair of the CCA Graduate Architecture program and Johnson coordinates the CCA Digital Craft Lab. Their work embraces the booming tech culture all around them in the Bay Area and then grapples with potential architectural applications, finding solutions that go beyond smart city catchphrases. “There is a lot of talk these days about how the Internet of Things will make the city more efficient, informed, and productive,” said Johnson. “We are more interested in its potential to connect people, to help them share ideas and experiences, and create communities in the physical world.” Revealing secrets is the first step. The installation is open and accessible to the public 24/7 at the Mission Street entrance the museum. A second Future Cities Lab piece, Lightswarm from 2014, is on view on the south facade of YBCA’s Grand Lobby.
Studio Visit subject Moore Ruble Yudell is the legacy firm of architectural master Charles Moore, who founded the company more than thirty years ago with John Ruble and Buzz Yudell. Many of Moore's architectural priorities are encapsulated in a unique community of oceanside homes he helped design, Sea Ranch, which just celebrated its fifty year anniversary. Celebrations of Sea Ranch's birthday wind down over Memorial Day with a concert by the Kronos Quartet. Last fall AN contributor Kenneth Caldwell attended The Once and Future Sea Ranch, a one-day symposium on the community's history and future. Below are his notes. When you hit middle age, it’s time for another checkup, and if you are a group of affluent nature-loving Northern Californian neighbors, perhaps a check-in. Residents of Sea Ranch, a second home community stretched out along 10 miles of the Sonoma coast north of San Francisco, have been holding a number of events to celebrate its 50th birthday. On October 18, there was a day-long symposium to look at how history might influence the future. The goal of this confab was to generate new ideas about the next 50 years of Sea Ranch’s existence. Led by former UC Berkeley Art Museum curator Jacquelynn Baas and original Sea Ranch architect and retired UC Berkeley professor Donlyn Lyndon, the presentations ranged over several topics but eventually seemed to coalesce around a few key ones. It’s Really About the Landscape Lyndon, who has served on the Sea Ranch design committee, now chairs the landscape committee, and has designed several homes since the community’s founding. What he understands better than most is that what matters at Sea Ranch is not so much the widely published architecture, but the landscape. The point of the intense design review process was to try and prevent design from interfering too much with the place. This has been a central attraction and source of conflict for 50 years. Lyndon presented an overview of the community and its development. One of Lyndon’s main points is that much of the mature landscape that you experience there was planted when Sea Ranch was first developed. Now it has to be managed prudently to cut down on invasive species, protect views, and most importantly, prevent fires. This reinforces a basic idea: other than the ocean, man made Sea Ranch. Lyndon then turned the floor over to design professionals who are not part of the Sea Ranch scene. As a central steward of this now historic locale, he knew that he needed new voices to generate new ideas. Nature Shaped by and for Humans The presentations revealed a core conflict, which goes back to the Sea Ranch’s semi-utopian beginnings. The emerging values of ecology and living in harmony with nature that took root in the early 1960s are not in harmony with the free market. Both Lyndon and UC Berkeley landscape architecture professor Linda Jewell explained the thinking of landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, who brought a romantic notion about a kibbutz-like community where everybody would share the common meadows and build modest cabins up against the beautiful hedgerows. The phrase was “live lightly on the land.” This dreamy if affluent hippiedom was best captured in Architectural Record editor Cathleen McGuigan’s presentation on how the East Coast viewed the development. She featured several rarely seen images of dancer Anna Halprin, wife of the visionary, leading diaphanous dances at the shore. While Lawrence Halprin and his team of scientists went to great lengths to study the ecology and create a self-effacing community, it was still a development idea that would tame nature for man’s pleasure. The environmental movement caught on and, as Lyndon describes in his recently revised book on the topic, eventually threatened the existence of the community. The voters also got ecology fever and passed the Coastal Initiative in 1972, which provided public access to the state’s beaches. For several years, multiple government agencies were entangled in litigation with Sea Ranch over beach access for members of the public who might want to dance there as well. Sea Ranch wasn’t so communal after all. When the court cases were settled, the original developers, part of Hawaii giant Castle & Cooke, wanted out. The result was that the northern part of the ranch was not developed according to Halprin’s original site-sensitive vision. Some folks say that there are essentially two Sea Ranches: the tasteful, quiet southern part and the suburban golf-playing northern sector. In his presentation and comments, California College of the Arts professor of visual studies Mitchell Schwarzer pointed out that the unbuilt environment at Sea Ranch that we so cherish is an illusion that depended on global and technological advances and was created by excellent design. It didn’t just grow there. He was able to contextualize the place as a resort community that focused on contemplation more than any specific activity. We Are Not Getting Any Younger There were other miscalculations besides the popularity of the early environmental movement. The drive from the Bay Area lengthened over the many years since Sea Ranch's inception, with increased development through Marin County and Santa Rosa. Often the journey takes three long hours filled with curves, and short weekends up the coast are not really viable. There is no way to get there but to drive—or fly, if you have your own small plane. And no way to get around once you do get there except by car. The demographic is tilting Sea Ranch towards becoming a retirement village without the usual retirement amenities. Most of the full-time residents are over 60 years old. By 2020, it is estimated that the number will be 80 percent. The few hundred gathered for the event only supported those numbers. This presents a challenge in terms of social and medical needs. How does an aging community renew itself? As one resident pointed out during the Q+A, “Pray for a heart attack and that you drop dead.” Lack of Public Gathering Spaces Although there are three recreational complexes and a golf course, there is no informal gathering place in Sea Ranch, no town square. There is a small bakery tucked away on the hill that serves as a de facto hub, but there’s nothing that was planned. If the lodge expands, as has been rumored for several years, that might be an opportunity for creating some kind of intentional hangout space with opportunities for a few retail services. However, given that there is an empty retail building up on the ridge near the airport, is there enough demand to accommodate additional commerce? Schwarzer’s presentation went a long way to explain this lack of a hangout place. For the most part people go there to be alone or in small groups. What is the Nature of Preserving This Nature? As the slides showed, the natural environment is vastly different from what it was 50 years ago. Lyndon mentioned that the hedgerows, which separated different sheep fields, have matured and block more wind, as do the new plantings. As former UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design dean Harrison Fraker (and others) pointed out, Sea Ranch isn’t a sustainable community. Although Halprin’s original vision called for greater density, it is, like so much of California, essentially a single-family car-oriented cul-de-sac community. Several people also talked about the lack of a coherent bike trail system. There were lots of suggestions about landmarking the place, creating a cultural center, and densifying the remaining undeveloped plots. Perhaps the most inventive idea came LA Times architecture critic Chris Hawthorne, who suggested reviving the Case Study House program at Sea Ranch. But it’s pretty clear from the response that the homeowners don’t want significant change. The most reasonable suggestion presented was for studying in depth the demographics (which the census does only once a decade) and studying in depth the plant and animal life, much as Halprin tried to do when he first came to the site in the early 1960s. Noted Southwest architect Will Bruder offered up lots of ideas including one concrete suggestion that seemed to have some resonance: create a summer institute for students. Although Halprin and Esherick were established professionals in the early 1960s, it was the young bucks at Moore Lyndon Turnbull Whitaker (MLTW) that gave the place that odd twist of self-effacing drama at their condo complex, so the idea seems appropriate. The empty retail building near the airport, designed by William Turnbull, could serve as the base for such an annual gathering of the next generation of talent. In an offhand comment, Lyndon said that original developer Al Boeke knew of Ed Barnes’s famous Haystack School in Maine and that its architectural forms and materials were not unknown to the early designers. Maybe a kind of Haystack that focused on the ecology of the Northern Sonoma/Mendocino coast would work here? Or planned sustainable communities, or even the creation of a more sustainable community at Sea Ranch? It seems unlikely that a group of entitled design students would be interested in doing research for the benefit of a group of well-to-do nature and design enthusiasts. But if the mandate were slightly larger, such as how to evolve the original place-making and environmental ideals of Halprin, Esherick, and MLTW, that might work. There are challenges for the area beyond creating gathering places, meeting seniors’ needs, and overseeing the ever-changing natural environment. They include affordable housing, adjacent timberlands, and strengthening Sea Ranch’s relationship to the small town just across the county line that provides most of the services and retail operations. There is a room for change here, but even with the input of leading thinkers, it won’t be dramatic. But as with the original place itself, a dash of youthful genius could move it forward for the next 50 years.
Here are three bold designs from winning teams that completely reimagine the Los Angeles Convention Center
The Los Angeles Convention Center is desperately in need of an overhaul. Architect Charles Luckman designed the original boxy structure in 1971 and James Ingo Freed added the glassy Annex in 1997. Today, both buildings lack the square footage and amenities to add up to a competitive venue. Centers in Las Vegas or Chicago eclipse LA’s meager 870,000 square feet by double or triple square footage. Indeed, in the decades since the venue was constructed the whole approach to convention center design has changed. The City of Los Angeles announced the three final teams in a design competition for a proposed renovation and expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center: AC Martin and LMN Architects, Gensler and Lehrer Architects, and HMC Architects and Populous. The schemes, on public view at the convention center through June 4, reflect the need for not only a bigger, more contemporary venue, but for a full-service destination, not unlike nearby LA Live. As the South Park neighborhood continues to boom, renderings show connections between the older buildings across Pico Boulevard, and include landscaped outdoor spaces, bold supergraphics, and open-air entertainment areas equipped for concerts. Each design comes in under a budget of $350 million or less. A comparison to LA Live is no accident. AEG, developers of that venue as well as the Staples Center and the Ritz-Carlton/J.W. Marriott, were contracted to revamp the dumpy Convention Center as part of the defunct Farmers Field NFL stadium plan. The design competition was launched in late 2014 before AEG announced that it would no longer pursue the stadium project. As part of the larger “Expansion and Futurization Project” for the Los Angeles Convention Center, the City of Los Angeles' (led by the L.A. Department of Convention and Tourism Development and the Bureau of Engineering) competition is somewhat of a back-up plan to ensure that LA remains a draw. “Today, we’re taking a big step forward in investing in our future and bringing more business, more visitors, and more jobs to our city,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I’m very pleased that with these functional and attractive designs, Los Angeles is closer to a Convention Center that reflects our city’s position as the global capital of creativity, innovation, and possibility.”
When hackers broke into Sony Pictures Entertainment’s email server in November 2014 and released stolen messages, the first stories to come out were Hollywood fodder. But buried inside the glut of toxic gossip, star salaries, and Emma Stone’s junior high school pictures are emails that tie together Sony CEO Michael Lynton, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) director Michael Govan, LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Peter Zumthor’s proposed design for the LACMA campus. In stories by ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times reporters reviewed the hacked messages and found that Lynton, a member of LACMA’s board of trustees, directed a $25,000 Sony contribution to a state super PAC—the African American Voter Registration, Education, and Participation Project founded by Ridley-Thomas—in exchange for a key vote on LACMA’s future. According to ProPublica, records and interviews show that although the contribution was made and publicly disclosed after the election, it was promised prior to a major county supervisors vote in November 2014 that backed $125 million dollars in public funds for the museum expansion, the construction of which is estimated at well over $600 million dollars. Ridley-Thomas represents the city’s Second District, an area that covers much of South Los Angeles, including Watts and Compton. The northern edge of the district runs along the south side of Wilshire and Museum Mile. Govan considered the supervisor’s vote pivotal because a portion of the museum crossed into his district. Zumthor’s scheme bridges to the south side of Wilshire Boulevard, ostensibly to avoid disturbing the La Brea Tar Pits and to provide better Metro subway access. Plans for the south side include a high-rise tower. In a July 2014 interview, Govan touted the design of the bridge and tower as essential for increased density and the creation of a cultural corridor along Wilshire. As for an architect for the skyscraper he said, “My dream would be Frank Gehry, it’s as simple as that.” To date, no proposals for such a partnership has come to light. ProPublica and LA Times reports track internal emails between Lynton and Ridley-Thomas’s aides that lead to a luncheon meeting between the CEO and the supervisor. Learning of this meeting, Govan took the opportunity to have trustee Lynton lobby for Board of Supervisor support. A July 17 email from Sony executive Keith E. Weaver spells out the reasons for advancing the proposal in a series of bullet points. One states that the new design crosses in to Ridley-Thomas's district, another ambitiously proposes that “this will be the most significant cultural building built in the US in the coming decade,” while a third point is more strategically ominous: “[T]he buildings are really in need of repair (like the Music Center), and if we don't get going on this, LA could find itself with its museum closed in 2023 while the new subway stop opens (and there's even talk of an Olympic bid).” According to ProPublica and the LA Times, it is this luncheon that initiated the flow of money from Sony to the PAC and influenced the supervisor’s important vote on the museum. ProPublica wrote:
At the lunch, Ridley-Thomas requested the contribution from Sony, according to his chief deputy. In September, the money landed in the coffers of the political action committee he founded to promote candidates and causes such as African-American voter registration. And two months after that, Ridley-Thomas voted for the museum project. All parties involved insist there was no connection between the contribution – far and away Sony's largest in California that year – and the supervisor's vote. Such a link could be a violation of campaign finance law.On November 4, 2014, the museum director sent a post-supervisor’s vote message to Lyndon commenting on a note he received from Ridley-Thomas. “Just got an email from MRT,” he wrote. “I think we're good!” It is uncertain how these email revelations will impact the future of the museum’s redesign. The Architect’s Newspaper reached out to Govan for a comment about the relationship between the vote and Sony’s contribution to the PAC. He responded, “There isn't any tie there.”