Posts tagged with "Charles Luckman":

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UCSB looks back at the school's often-overlooked role in campus modernism

UCSB Campus Architecture: Design and Social Change was a fascinating exhibition at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Art, Design, & Architecture Museum (ADA) that used master plans, drawings, photographs, and models to chart the profound changes in urban planning and public architecture design that took place at the university.

The exhibition also challenged several long-standing myths that plague California’s post–World War II urban planning legacy, including the persistent idea that many of the era’s plans were designed to remain static over time.

For one, the exhibition, curated by ADA reference archivist Julia Larson, was a subtle homage to two of the most prominent but largely forgotten regional urban thinkers of the postwar era—William L. Pereira and Charles Luckman—who together in 1953 crafted a cinnamon-hued urban design language for the university imbued with elements of vernacular modernism.

Their initial approach—dubbed the “Campus Standard” plan—was eclectic but extremely tasteful. In early buildings like the Ortega Dining Commons and Anacapa Residences, Ennis House–inspired concrete block piers mixed with hipped roofs, adobe-style stucco massing, and expressive modernist design elements to create solid, stark buildings that instantly rendered the barren site sophisticated.

The remaining grounds were exposed to ocean wind, because the site’s topsoil had initially been scraped away. In response, the first buildings by Pereira & Luckman were laid out in slender, interlocking L-shapes, each squat structure separated by concrete breezeblock walls and new plantings that curbed windblown dust.

When Pereira & Luckman dissolved their partnership in 1958, Luckman and his new office, Charles Luckman Associates (CLA), stayed on at UCSB as campus planners and executive architects. The new firm updated the Campus Standard plan in 1963 in preparation for a period of profound expansion; among these updates were new rules for taller and denser buildings. Although the updated guidelines CLA crafted were extremely particular, they also lent themselves well to adaptation. Again, hipped roofs, an almost classical use of columns, awnings, and screens, as well as thin-shell concrete spans soon became emblematic of a grown-up Southern California modernism, and an aesthetic touchstone for the state’s public and educational facilities.

Luckman’s seminal work at UCSB distilled several of the contemporaneous aesthetic trends coursing through American design into a coherent sensibility for the state’s burgeoning university system.

For example, Harold Frank Hall, built in 1967, stands out as a key example of this cohesive but open-ended style. The gridded, six-story complex is anchored by a long, low volume that features dentil-topped arcades; the taller, attached building is wrapped in sculptural concrete window hoods that bring geometric patterning to the campus skyline.

As detailed in ADA’s exhibition, Luckman’s vision is significant because the system CLA refined uses the humble markers of small-scale architecture to designate entrances, create shared qualities between structures, and frame views of the campus and surrounding landscape to the benefit of larger buildings. That modern architecture of the time espoused these qualities is often forgotten in the glimmer of the more abstract and singular Palm Springs–style Modernism that is so popular today.

Because of this and other efforts across California’s public universities, UCSB’s campus planning and architecture stand alongside the state’s cookie-cutter suburbs as some of the chief products of its post–World War II economic and social transformations. That is partially by design, as Pereira, Luckman, and others worked in both planning and design across the state during this era—pursuing new visions in different arenas.

In presenting this pioneering body of work and its ability to adapt over time, the exhibition also provided a unique lesson about the potential of midcentury urban planning to gracefully absorb change, a quality readymade in some other designs. A key lesson is that Luckman’s plans continue to succeed today because they were built on the campus’s earlier visions; accommodations were made for history, height, and size, concerns that would only increase in coming decades and are now ever-present.

Lastly, UCSB Campus Architecture was a timely analysis—with the current century fully underway, the UC system is once again set to expand. Across the state, university campuses are making changes to boost enrollment and housing offerings. UCSB itself is slated to add 5,000 students and housing for 1,600 students and faculty to its campus over the next eight years.

We can only hope that a century from now, a new exhibition probing these contemporary approaches will be as rich and fruitful as UCSB Campus Architecture.

UCSB Campus Architecture: Design and Social Change Art, Design & Architecture Museum University of California, Santa Barbara January 13 – December 2, 2018
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An automated people mover could come to L.A.’s new football stadium

The City of Inglewood in Southern California has announced a plan to add a 1.8-mile automated people mover (APM) connecting the forthcoming Los Angeles Rams stadium and the region’s growing transit network in the near future. A recently-unveiled scoping study called Envision Inglewood calls for establishing a “direct connection to rail” between downtown Inglewood and the city’s impressive slate of professional sports and performance venues.  Facilities that could be connected by the new transit route include: The Forum, the forthcoming Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, and the recently-unveiled Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center, a potential new basketball stadium for the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team. The new $2.66 billion Rams stadium is designed by HKS Architects and will be joined by a 3,000-unit mixed-use residential development next door known as “City of Champions.” The Forum was designed by Charles Luckman Associates in 1966 in the late modern style; The complex is slated to host the gymnastic events for the 2028 Olympic Games. The Envision Inglewood plan was crafted in conjunction with a series of other transportation and pedestrian fixes. The plan considers four different alignments and a handful of transport modes in its aim to provide a “world-class transit connection to-and-from the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line” transit route, an 8.5 mile light rail line connecting the cities of Los Angeles, Inglewood, and El Segundo through southern Los Angeles County slated to open in 2019. According to a presentation made at the Inglewood City Council, the report’s chosen route—dubbed the “Market-Manchester” alignment—would add the APM link starting from the forthcoming Downtown Inglewood stop on the Crenshaw Line. The elevated train would snake down Market Street and Manchester Boulevard, ultimately ending up on South Prairie street where it can conveniently stop at the three stadium and performance venue locations.  Renderings for the proposed plan depict lively street scenes overlooked by elevated train tracks on concrete piers. Projections for the line envision up to 2,578,120 potential boardings across the APM route per year, with slightly less than 40% of all boardings related to “event ridership.” According to the report, the link could cost $614.4 million to build and between $18.2 million and $19.5 million to operate each year.  A timeline for the project’s completion has not been announced. The new football stadium is scheduled to open for the 2019-2020 NFL season. 
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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.”
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Beverly Hills Loses Another Mid-Century Modern Icon

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.”
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Record Breaking Debut For Inglewood Forum

After a long hiatus, Inglewood's Great Western Forum—now called the Forum Presented by Chase—is back with a $100 million renovation by BBB Architects and Clark Construction.  To celebrate the moment, the venue's owner, MSG, has ordered up one of the more unusual promotions we've ever seen: the world's largest vinyl record topping its roof, by New York company Pop2Life. The record—a replica of the Eagles' Hotel California album—was made out of 250,00 square feet of printed vinyl (nearly 4.5 football fields' worth), 5,000 nuts and bolts, and 2,000 linear feet of curved aluminum, all built in 10 days. The thing actually spins at 17 mph. Meanwhile, the Forum itself, which opened on January 15, has been fitted with a modernized seating bowl (which can flex from 17,500 seats to 8,000), new hospitality offerings, and a revitalized 40,000 square foot outdoor terrace. The exterior has been repainted "California sunset red." By the way, the Forum (1967) was originally designed by Charles Luckman, who also designed MSG's Madison Square Garden.
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MSG Buys Midcentury LA Forum Arena

For months rumors have swirled that developer Madison Square Garden Co. (MSG) would buy the midcentury modern LA Forum arena in Inglewood, former home of the LA Lakers and LA Kings. (Its architect, Charles Luckman, also designed Madison Square Garden.)  That deal is now official, according to Crain's New York, who said the company just paid $23 million for the property. MSG will begin a "comprehensive renovation" of the arena later this year, and details of that job will be released this fall. The company is currently working on an $850 million renovation of Madison Square Garden, itself a taxing job that is set to be done by next year.