The Los Angeles Design Festival (LADF) returns to L.A. this weekend, offering up a wide-ranging slate of art- and design-focused events that aim to highlight the city’s growing design scene. We’ve put together a few highlights for the weekend below. Though the festivities actually kicked off last night at the official opening party, things get serious today, with a bevy of installations and receptions opening to the public Friday and on through the weekend. Highlighting the day’s events will be a keynote address by Los Angeles Chief Design Officer and former Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne. The keynote presentation will feature a discussion focused on housing in Los Angeles between Hawthorne, Barbara Bestor of Bestor Architecture, Julie Eizenberg of Koning Eizenberg Architects, and Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular. This evening, Antonio Pacheco, AN’s west editor, will be moderating a panel discussion at SPF:a Gallery titled “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the L.A. River” that will focus on whether L.A. can avoid the dreaded “High Line Effect” as it revitalizes and restores the Los Angeles River. The discussion will feature panelists Deborah Weintraub, Chief Deputy City Engineer, and Chief Architect for the City of Los Angeles; Mia Lehrer, president and founder of Studio-MLA; Helen Leung, co-executive director, LA-Más; Mark Motonaga, partner at Rios Clementi Hale Studios; and Yuval Bar-Zemer, co-founder, managing partner at Linear City Development LLC. Saturday, the INTRO/LA modern furniture exhibition opens in the Row DTLA complex in Downtown Los Angeles. The annual exhibition will highlight the work of Another Human, Block Shop, Estudio Persona, Massproductions, and Waka Waka, among many others. Saturday will also feature a special pop-up show featuring the work of L.A.-based offices Feral Office and Spatial Affairs. The exhibition will highlight the collaborative work of Berenika Boberska (Feral Office) and Peter Culley (Spatial Affairs) who have come together for a joint project titled “New Walled Cities and Hinterlands,” an exploration of Los Angeles’s particular urban forms as they relate to clustered densities and single-family neighborhoods. Sunday will see another panel discussion—also at SPF:a Gallery—this one led by Steven Sharp, founder and editor-in-chief of Urbanize.LA, who will preside over a conversation titled “The Tech Frontier: The Rise of 'Silicon Beach'” that will address the socio-economic implications Silicon Beach could have over the long term as moneyed tech workers settle in Los Angeles. The panel will include Marc Huffman, vice president of planning & entitlements, Brookfield Residential; Michael Manville, assistant professor of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs; Li Wen, design director and Principal at Gensler; and Russell Fortmeyer, associate principal for sustainability, ARUP. The last day of the festival will showcase a “a critical round-table discussion” called “The Morning After” covering the DOPIUM.LA [ D / M E N S / O N S ] exhibition and event at the A+D Museum taking place the night before. The discussion will feature contributions from curators, designers, and artists involved with DOPIUM.LA, as well as a conversation centered on the notion of temporality and impermanence in the production and exhibition of works of design and art, including how those efforts contribute to material reality. The afternoon will also feature a conversation between Andrew Holder and Benjamin Freyinger of the Los Angeles Design Group hosted by THIS X THAT, Hem, and Poketo. See the LADF website for more information and a full slate of calendar events.
Posts tagged with "Christopher Hawthorne":
Does it make a sense to put an architecture critic in charge of urban design? The question came to mind this March when the Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne announced he was leaving his post to become the new chief design officer for the City of Los Angeles. The position, Hawthorne explained, would be geared toward elevating “the quality of public architecture and urban design across the city—and the level of civic conversation about those subjects” overall. Currently, the city has billions of dollars allocated for a wide range of transformative civic projects, including new and improved parks ($130 million), transit expansion ($120 billion), Vision Zero reforms ($90 million), and new supportive housing ($1.2 billion). This windfall comes as the restoration of the L.A. River takes shape, the city densifies, and officials update the city plan for the first time in decades in the face of raging housing affordability and homelessness crises. Hawthorne’s new role in the coming drama centers squarely on the question of what function design should play in these transformations and how a critic can contribute constructively toward making positive changes for the average resident. Will the design he oversees look past mere aesthetics and delve into the structural issues of synergistic function, equity, and longevity? Or will Hawthorne’s tenure serve to further institutionalize the exclusionary tastes of the city’s homeowners? At a time when Los Angeles is undergoing such massive change, there is no question whether elevating the public’s engagement with civic architecture is a worthwhile pursuit. And though it is not without precedent to elevate a critic to city hall, it does stand to question, however, why Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, having a world-class roster of designers to choose from in his own backyard, did not select an architect for the role. Would a designer be better equipped for the job? I think so. For one, though critics can distill insightful, opinionated commentary from today’s cultural moments, their skillset diverges—and actually falls short—of the specific, forward-thinking ethos that is necessary to envision successful public space at the scale of a city. A designer’s work, on the other hand, combines interdisciplinary education, rigorous professional experience, and a knowledge of process and necessary prerequisites like zoning and fire code to envision open-ended plans for inhabitation and use. That is, designers use their skills and understanding as tools to look toward a future that is possible but has not yet come to pass. The process can be scaled and when done adeptly, beauty is a natural byproduct of these efforts. Secondly, L.A. is living through a time that demands leaders who have a long-range and open-ended vision for the city. But there is reason to worry, because contemporary Los Angeles—and broader America, for that matter—is driven by cultural regression. Backward-facing NIMBYism, a refusal to value vulnerable lives, and an understandable reluctance on the part of marginalized communities to accept new investments for fear of displacement reign supreme. Reflecting this regression, a dangerous “both sides”-ism has been adopted by incumbents, as evidenced by Garcetti’s unwillingness to push for multifamily housing in single-family zones and by the nearly $8 billion in transit funding going toward highway-widening across the region. A designer would be well-equipped to deliver progress in the face of ignorant nostalgia. I would hope Hawthorne understands that designs suited for the retrograde tastes of today are incompatible with future L.A. needs. It stands to question whether Hawthorne’s boss—a second-term mayor with his eye on the presidency—is prepared to make the politically courageous and culturally iconoclastic reforms necessary to not only get the job done, but to get the job done well. Distressingly, in his final column and in interviews since, Hawthorne has already adopted some of the mayor’s conciliatory language toward these groups by cautioning against “banal and oversize new apartment blocks,” and proposing to fight for an “economy” first and foremost. Instead of coming out swinging, it appears the former critic has already acquiesced to the exclusionary mediocrity that already defines so much of the city’s built fabric. Does Hawthorne have what it takes to stand up to his politically timid boss?
Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne has been named chief officer of design for the City of Los Angeles. Hawthorne‘s appointment comes at the end of a 14-year tenure with the LA Times that has been marked by a pointed and persistent emphasis on the changing nature of Los Angeles urbanism. In a post announcing his new job with the city, Hawthorne said, “what links quintessential Los Angeles design is a marriage of optimism to pragmatism, of experimentation to economy.” News of Hawthorne’s change in job title comes as the region and the city grapple with an ever-increasing housing affordability crisis, a worsening homelessness epidemic, and as the city repairs to host the 2028 Olympic games. Hawthorne will have his work cut out for him, as there is no shortage of major infrastructural projects—or public funding—that could be made better from being inspected by someone with a discerning eye for design. Among other projects, the city is continuing to build out its nascent mass transit system, planning for high-speed rail, working on new zoning guidelines, and is aiming to fulfill its so far unreachable goal of eliminating pedestrian traffic deaths via its Vision Zero plan. In his new role, Hawthorne will focus on assisting other City of Los Angeles officials like Deborah Weintraub at the Bureau of Engineering and Seleta Reynolds at the Department of Transportation in their efforts to imbue progressive design qualities in the new civic and infrastructural works being built across the city. The role comes as a natural progression for Hawthorne, who has spent years working on understanding and communicating the changes Los Angeles is undergoing as it matures into the 21st century. Though it might seem strange to have a journalist and critic ascend to City Hall from the newsroom, Hawthorne would not be the first to make such a move. In the early 2000s, Chicago Sun-Times design critic Lee Bey made a similar move, jumping ship from the newspaper to become deputy chief of staff for urban design under Chicago mayor William M. Daley. Hawthorne, a Berkeley, California native, earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale. Prior to his work with the Los Angeles times Hawthorne was architecture critic for Slate. Hawthorne is expected to join the Garcetti administration next month.
Like many cities across the country, Los Angeles is suffering from a chronic shortage of housing, period. So, it's quite timely that House Housing: An Untimely History of Architecture and Real Estate in Thirty One Episodes is set to arrive April 9. The exhibition, to be held at the Schindler House's MAK Center, showcases recently published research from the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University. The product of a multi-year research project, House Housing is being published as a book and traveling exhibition, both of the same name and designed by New York City-based graphic design studio MTWTF. The research analyzes contemporary American housing typologies through the lens of design, policy, and finance, aiming to elucidate the interdependency between these topics in American housing today. The exhibition comes to Los Angeles after being exhibited at the recent architecture biennales in Venice and Chicago as well as in conjunction with the Wohnungsfrage ("The Housing Question") project at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. The opening event is scheduled for Saturday April 9 from 3-5pm and will be accompanied by a panel discussion moderated by LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne featuring Juliana Maxim, Julie Eizenberg and Andrew Wiese, to be followed by a free public reception. The exhibition runs through May 8th.
On Friday, the LA Times’ architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne reported that Craig Ellwood and Jerrold Lomax's Hunt House in Malibu faces a demolition threat. AN reached out to several experts on Ellwood, preservation, and modern architecture for comments on what this means for Los Angeles. Designed in 1957, the modest beachside home built for Victor and Elizabeth Hunt is considered an iconic piece of midcentury architecture. Late last year, Hawthorne noted, documents were filed with the Malibu Planning Commission to replace the 1,335-square-foot Hunt House (sold in 2012 for $5.3 million) with a “a new 28-foot-tall, two-story, 5,511-square-foot single-family residence.” “The Hunt House looming demolition is a textbook case of artwork misread as real estate object,” wrote architect and educator Pierluigi Serraino in an email. As author of numerous writings on midcentury design, including California Modernism (Chronicle Books, 2006), he put a fine point not on the historic value or the property value, but on the true cultural value of the structure. “This is one of the landmark buildings of California Modernism and its potential loss would be sheer loss of cultural identity. Collector value as opposed to real estate value can provide a more apt lens to evaluate this small inventory of gems,” he continued. “Imagine if what is threatening the Hunt House happened to the Eames House. [The] proposed demolition speaks to the utter disregard a selected few have for what belongs symbolically to the collective.” In 1967, Esther McCoy was commissioned to write an essay for the Craig Ellwood monograph published by Bruno Alfieri the following year. In it, she discusses how the Hunt House by Ellwood and Lomax (who is uncredited) sets the tone for the firm’s work to come and solidifies its influences. “McCoy’s essay points out Ellwood's love for good detailing, adherence to logic ("the logic of steel"), independent spirit, and a sense of refinement informed by the 'full stark splendor' of Mies and modular principles found in Japanese houses and industrial buildings,” noted Susan Morgan, editor of Piecing Together Los Angeles: An Esther McCoy Reader. “[McCoy] wrote that the Hunt House—with its H-plan, distinct volumes and levels—was very important in Ellwood's development: The three space frames are more three-dimensional Mondrian than Mies.” Morgan also reminded AN that the Hunt House features in Reyner Banham’s Architecture of Four Ecologies as the northernmost edge of Surfubria, his first ecology on beaches. Rudolph Schindler’s Lovell Beach House marks the southern boundary. The Hunt House, like other midcentury designs, is particularly vulnerable to demolition due to trends for larger homes, maintenance issues, and land values. “It’s worth noting that the City of Malibu has no protections for its historic places and got an F on our 2014 Preservation Report Card,” said Los Angeles Conservancy's Director of Communications Cindy Olnick. In October, the Los Angeles Conservancy sent a letter to Malibu Planning Commission calling for an “Environmental Impact Report (EIR) prior to the approval of any project that would adversely impact the building.” The organization urges individuals concerned about the fate of the house to write to the commission via Malibu City Hall.
Peter Zumthor's $ 600 million plan for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is changing. Again. According to a piece in the Los Angeles Times, the sprawling and curving black form has been angled off, weighted to the south, and outfitted with greyish, double-height galleries poking up above the main mass' roofline. The building still swoops over Wilshire Boulevard to avoid disturbing the La Brea Tar Pits, but it will now have just two entrances (instead of seven), at its north and south ends, and its continuous loop of perimeter hallway galleries has been removed. "Peter hasn't given up the curve. But he's really, really reined it in," LACMA Director Michael Govan told the Times. The latest design will be discussed tonight, Wednesday, March 25 at Occidental College, as part of the school's "3rd Los Angeles Project," a series of public events examining the city's move into a "dramatically new phase in its civic development." Members of the panel will include host Christopher Hawthorne, Govan, journalists Greg Goldin and Carolina Miranda, and architects Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee. The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors has approved initial funding of $125 million in bonds (pending approval of the project's EIR), but LACMA still needs to raise about $500 million to make Zumthor's in-progress scheme reality.
In one of the more surprising analyses of his tenure as architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, Christopher Hawthorne recently came out with breathless praise for The Vermont, a green glass residential tower by Jerde Partnership on Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. According to Hawthorne, the building’s “sleek steel-and-glass profile is a reminder that new apartment buildings in Los Angeles can be something other than bland, stucco-covered, stick-built neo-dingbats.” Eavesdrop is no architecture critic, but let's just say we do not totally agree.
Ladies and gentlemen, we finally have a blood feud in Los Angeles. It seems that Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne doesn’t care for Thom Mayne’s work. At all. Reviewing his new Perot Museum in Dallas, he called the building, “One of the pricey, preening old breed.” Adding, “it is a thoroughly cynical piece of work, a building that uses a frenzy of architectural forms to endorse the idea that architecture, in the end, is mere decoration.” Hawthorne has used this vitriol on other Mayne buildings, like the Caltrans building and the Cahill Center at Caltech, which, he said, employs a “skin-and-stair strategy that allows the client to make the rest of the building—every interior office or gallery—conventional at best and banal at worst.” Mayne, not surprisingly, doesn’t appear happy. In a recent public tour of his new offices in Culver City, led by our friend and design journalist Alissa Walker, Mayne said he would not be allowing a local architecture critic to write about his new building for his firm’s offices—he was asking a science writer to do the story instead. “All local writers are horrible,” he said. “There are no good writers in Los Angeles.” We beg to differ!
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Laser scanning technology helped a Minnesota bridge find its third homeOne of 24 historic bridges chosen for preservation by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Bridge 5721 is one of the state’s only remaining wrought iron bridge structures. The bridge was originally built to carry pedestrians over a river in Sauk Center, Minnesota, in 1870, before modern steel production methods had become available. In 1937, the bridge was disassembled and moved to span the Little Fork River near the town of Silverdale. But more than two years ago, the structure began its journey to a third incarnation, this time as an equestrian and pedestrian bridge for the Gateway Trail in the town of Stillwater, near Minneapolis. Because of the bridge’s provenance and the desire to keep its wrought iron parts intact, the Minnesota DOT worked with new owner Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and structural engineers at HNTB and Olson & Nesvold Engineers (O.N.E.) to collect crucial data for the rehabilitation using new 3-D laser scanning technology. While the project’s main goal was to preserve the 162-foot-long bridge’s historic character, the team nevertheless recognized that certain parts would have to be replaced to ensure the structure’s safety and longevity. Because original plans for the span were unavailable, MN DOT surveyors used a Leica laser scanner to create a 3-D map of the structure before it was disassembled. The scanner fires a laser more than 50,000 times per second, collecting data from reflected light. Placing the camera in nine different locations over the course of two days, the team collected more than 13,000 million data points with x, y, and z coordinates. After each truss member was removed, it was placed on a scanning table and fastener patterns were scanned. The geometric data created a point cloud of the bridge, allowing the team to isolate specific members or generate and view sections even after the span was dismantled and put into storage. See a video of the laser scan below: The team also made detailed drawings of two floor beams to be replaced at either end of the structure. These were given to steel fabricator White Oak Metals, who was able to create new beams that would fit into the structure with the original connections. Other updates included the replacement of roller nest bearings with elastomeric bearings and replacement of 10 steel stringers that had been added after the 1937 move. The 17-foot-wide wooden deck was replaced with lightweight concrete deck to minimize the structure’s dead load. Photos taken more than 100 years ago show that the bridge’s portals originally had a clearance of 14 feet. These had been raised two feet after the move to Silverdale. Using their laser scans, the team determined the fastener patterns of the existing portals and used these to detail replacement portals that would return the bridge to its original clearance. Once steel fabrication was completed last year, erection crews reassembled each truss on the ground in its new Stillwater location. Two cranes slid it into place on new concrete abutments, then the concrete deck, safety railing, and a new four-coat sealing paint system were added to ensure the structure’s continued longevity under its new title, Bridge 82524. See a video of the installation below:
High up. The New York Times' Edward Rothstein went out on a ledge for the paper today. The critic took on the glass boxes that protrude from the Willis Tower in Chicago known appropriately as the Ledge. The critic waxes poetic about the vulnerability of the city and the fully human sensations that occur when floating some 1,353 feet above the street. He also takes the opportunity to point out the redundancy of the Ledge's cousin, the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Tear Down. Christopher Hawthorne balked at SFMOMA's public relations campaign to portray the museum's new Snøhetta-designed wing as a wallflower respecting its Mario Botta-designed neighbor. But as Hawthorne points out in the LA Times, the new building is anything but quiet. Rather it's more a "chiseled behemoth." Hawthorne finds the museum's affront to its Botta as part of a larger trend in the American museum world where the tendency is to drop good, but alas, old architecture in lieu of ever newer names and trends. Read: Whitney, MoMA, Barnes, to name but a few. Put a Lid on It. In a totally biased and unabashedly opinionated piece for City Watch, Jack Humphreville writes that a back room deal may have LA ratepayers of the Department of Water and Power footing the bill for a new twelve-acre park designed to cap the underground reservoir replacing the Elysian Reservoir. Humprhies argues that the $85 million park should fall under the auspices of the City and the Department of Recreation and Parks. Manhattanhenge. Gothamist reminds us that tonight at 8:17PM the full sun will set in perfect alignment with east west axis of Manhattan's street grid. Remember not to stare, mesmerized, for too long.
Prismatic Schmatic. After the NYPD criticized the security measures at One World Trade back in 2005, David Childs responded by losing the glass on the bottom 20 floors and creating a bunker like base to be hidden behind prismatic glass panels and welded aluminum screens. Now the Times reports that plan has to be scrapped because the Chinese manufacturer can't prevent the prismatic panes from bowing. Childs is back at the drawing board. Green Empire. Sustainable Cities says that LinkedIn signed a 31,000 square foot lease at the Empire State Building because it's too green to pass up. The building is undergoing a $550 million makeover and shooting for LEED Gold. Via Planitzen. Say It Ain't So! Gothamist reports that Coney Island is going concrete, or at least part of the famed boardwalk is. The community board has decided to allow a 12-foot wide concrete path for vehicular traffic to run straight down the middle of the famed wooden way. Critic Shortage. The LA Times' Christopher Hawthorne took to the pages of Architectural Record bemoaning the damage "internet culture" has done to criticism. He takes aim at bloggers in particular, though he allows that Geoff Manaugh's BLDGBLOG is a stand out. But for every BLDGBLOG there are ten whose work is "overlong, prone to self-absorption, and still struggling to get a handle on the it’s/its dilemma — appears to exist only to prove the old adage that it’s the editor who makes the writer." Via Archnews.
Leave it to Eli Broad, who is putting up his own museum in Downtown LA, to make a mockery of the public process. Despite getting a great deal on one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the city he still hasn't shared any of the designs for the new museum. His only nod was inviting the LA Times Christopher Hawhthorne to see the contending models a few weeks ago, and not letting any other members of the press in. Hawthorne, it appears, could not publish his thoughts until after a winner was chosen, and even then his article didn't show any photos. And the Broad Foundation doesn't plan to share any images of the winning scheme until after ground is broken. This is a disaster for LA, which will effectively have no say over one of the most important cultural institutions in its history.