Posts tagged with "Christopher Hawthorne":

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Up, Up, and Abu Dhabi!

When I was out in LA at Postopolis!, one of the most interesting and memorable talks I heard was Christopher Hawthorne's, on the chilling, almost creepy, effect the recession has had on the United Arab Emirates, in particular Dubai. While he still hasn't written up his version of his trip--and we wish he would, because the talk was so interesting--the basic gist was that construction had all but stopped in Dubai, and to some degree in Abu Dhabi (to say nothing of New York and LA), because the spigot of liquidity--money had dried up with the collapse of the financial system. He termed it Ponzi-scheme urbanism. Well, it seems some things are still moving out in the wild, sandy yonder, as RMJM's Princeton office (formerly Hillier) just passed along the following impressive photo of its Capital Gate tower passing the half-way mark. According to the firm, the 525-foot, 35 story hotel--future home of Hyatt Abu Dhabi--will be the leaningest building in the world, with an 18-degree cant, surpassing the Tower of Pisa's 14-degree bend. RMJM says reaching the halfway point is a touchstone because of the building's structural technicality. Simon Horgan, CEO of client Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, put it thusly in a press release:
Capital Gate is not about being the biggest or the tallest, it is about advanced technical ingenuity and aesthetic splendor. This is one of the most challenging buildings under construction in the world at the moment but due to the partnership between ADNEC, RMJM and all contractors on the project, ground breaking solutions are being designed on a daily basis.
To quote LL Cool J, don't call it a come back... Abu Dhabi'll be here for years to come.
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City Listening Hears LA’s Great Voices in Architecture

Architecture was heard and not seen at City Listening, the latest installation of de LaB (design east of La Brea), LA's semi-regular design gathering hosted by AN contributors Haily Zaki and Alissa Walker (the writer of this post, but better known to you as "we"). Monday night's event was held at the new Barbara Bestor-designed GOOD Space in Hollywood, where design writers and bloggers crawled out from under their keyboards to show us their faces, and in some cases, their feelings. The evening was packed with AN contributors and readers, including two pieces out of seven read that were originally published in AN! Frances Anderton opened the night with a piece published in AN over two years ago that reflected on her first impressions of LA as a newly-arrived Brit. After making a Chapter 11 joke that made a few LA Times freelancers twitter nervously, Christopher Hawthorne read a piece from the LAT about last year's wildfires (isn't that great, we now have an annual wildfire tradition). We loved Curbed LA editors Josh Williams and Marissa Gluck riffing on the disturbing proliferation of floral wallpaper and velour furnishings as part of their regular feature "That's Rather Hideous" (their excellent Flickr stream with photos by their readers provided background imagery the rest of the evening).
Jade Chang's tribute to minimalls published in Metropolis made us blush with nostalgia and was the perfect bookend to Sam Lubell's wistful critique of Americana at Brand, also published in AN (speaking of, Sam will be signing his new book London 2000+ at the LA Forum tonight!). We tried to lift spirits dampened by the economy with our poem The Night Before Layoffs, predicting what local designers from Frank Gehry to Shepard Fairey will need to do to weather the downturn. Although the crowd roared regularly throughout the evening—who knew design writers were so drop dead hilarious?—nothing quite matched West Hollywood Urban Designer John Chase's account of love, guilt, soul-searching, urban planning, and..er, um, how do we say this...hard-ons with a local homeless man. Unfortunately, this was an unpublished (and probably unpublishable) piece. Believe us when we say you had to be there for that one. More photos, thanks to Keith Wiley.
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LA Live! (ugh)

LA Times critic Christopher Hawthorne yesterday summed up the problems with L.A. Live!, the behemoth development in Downtown LA's South Park district, whose second phase is now opening. Hawthorne decries its "placelessness," its buildings that "have almost nothing to say to or about downtown Los Angeles," and worst of all, its inability to help the rest of the area. "When we trap the energy of an urban crowd inside this sort of self-contained world," he writes, "and when we allow developers and their architects to heighten the differences between that world and the streets around it so dramatically, we help keep the rest of our blocks underused and, as pieces of the city, undernourished." Amen brother. While the development, with its mix of residences, hotels and entertainment venues, should certainly bring activity and money downtown in tough times, it is still a wasted opportunity.
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Faces in the Crowd

Aric Chen (Man About Town), Christopher Hawthorne (LA TImes), Felix Burrichter (Pin Up Magazine)