Posts tagged with "Downtown Los Angeles":

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New hotel towers revealed for L.A.’s booming South Park neighborhood

San Francisco–based Gensler and New York and Toronto-based Yabu Pushelberg have released renderings for the Fig + Pico development, the latest set of towers for Los Angeles’s rapidly transforming South Park neighborhood. New York-based real estate firm Lightstone Group is working on the latest scheme for the city’s entertainment district, which encompass a grouping of towers on a 1.22-acre site directly across from the Los Angeles Convention Center and rising on the same block as the Harley Ellis Devereaux-designed Circa project, which is made up of a pair of elliptical, 38-story residential towers containing 648 units. Urbanize.LA reports that according to an initial study released by the Department of City Planning, the Fig + Pico project would encompass trio of mixed-use hotel projects, with two of those hotels co-located within a 42-story tower containing a combined 820 rooms. The third hotel will be located in a 25-story tower adjacent to the tallest mass and will contain 342 rooms. Preliminary renderings contained within that report show a cluster of rectilinear, glass-clad monoliths sprouting from a mid-rise podium structure. All three towers are supported by slender, super-tall columns and are alternately oriented toward the south and west. The podium structure for the two taller masses has been designed to contain 11,000 square feet of ground floor retail spaces, as well as rooftop pool decks, conference areas, and a 353-stall parking structure while the third tower will contain 2,100 square feet of retail space among other programs. The project represents the latest addition to the city’s projected skyline, which according to proposed and currently-under-construction projects, will be steadily marching southward from the new AC Martin-designed Wilshire Grand tower toward Interstate 10 over the next few years. Just last week, Skidmore Owings & Merrill and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S revealed designs for a crop of residential high-rise towers. Like many of the adjacent residential and hotel projects, Fig + Pico is expected to have, per the developer’s request, illuminated signage along the retail podium levels for advertising and possibly, digital public art installations, as well. Pending city approval, the project is due to break ground in late 2017 or early 2018 and will be completed by 2022.
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Trio of high-rise towers announced for Downtown L.A.

Architects Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM), P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, and developer City Century have unveiled renderings for a trio of high-rise, mixed-use towers in Downtown Los Angeles’s bustling entertainment district. The newly-revealed mega-project is called Olympia and is billed to include 1,367 residential units, 40,000 square feet of retail space, and 115,000 square feet of open space. Those programmatic components will be distributed across a trio of towers rising 43-, 53-, and 65-stories in height that will be positioned over a 3.25-acre site at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Georgia Street. The project will be sandwiched between the L.A. Live sports and entertainment complex and the Gensler-designed Metropolis mega-development, a similar mixed-use project containing luxury housing and shopping amenities. The Olympia project is being designed by SOM and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S and will feature glass-clad residential floors with over-sized floor plates expressed across the facades of the rectilinear towers. Those floorplates shift in and out at various intervals and contain outdoor amenity spaces at various heights. Stuart Morkun, executive vice president of City Century is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, “We’re seeing opportunities in L.A. as the entertainment, media and fashion hub. There is a growing desire by a new generation of professionals who want an urban lifestyle. Downtown can provide that.” The project is one of many luxury, mixed-use, high-rise complexes going up in the immediate area, with the aforementioned Metropolis project, the Harley Ellis Devereaux-designed Circa, and CallisonRTKL-designed Oceanwide Plaza projects being but a few of the developments currently in the works along the blocks immediately surrounding the L.A. Live complex. Developers for the project expect for the entitlement process to play out over the next 18 months with a four-year construction timeline to come afterward. The developer has not announced whether the units will be for sale or rent.
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New timeline for long-stalled Gehry Partners towers across from Broad Museum

The Los Angeles City Council voted this week to approve a new joint venture partnership and project timeline for the Grand Avenue Project, a long-stalled, $950-million Gehry Partners-designed mega-development across from the Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles. The project's revised timeline now includes a 2018 groundbreaking and—don't hold your breath—a 2022 opening date, according to developer for the project, Related Companies. Chinese developer CCCG Overseas, also known as CORE, has been brought on to invest $290 million on the project. The agreement, recently approved by the L.A. Board of Supervisors, mandates that at least 30% of the construction and permanent workforce must be locally hired and compels the project team to utilize apprenticeships and local training programs to hire workers who have "previously faced barriers to employment," according to a press release issued by L.A. County. The new agreement between Related, CORE, and the Grand Avenue Authority, a joint powers authority representing the County and City of Los Angeles, ushers in a new spirit of possibility for the delayed project. The deal also signals that the project's cost, reported to be $650 million back in 2014, has ballooned in the years since. The project encompasses a pair of residential and hotel towers located above a mixed-use podium. The project will include a 300-room Equinox hotel as well as between 380 and 450 residential units, 20% of which the Los Angeles Downtown News reports will be affordable. Additionally, the developer has agreed to remain neutral if future hotel workers decide to unionize, a standard provision that paves the way toward local workforce unionization. Grand Avenue Project will consist of two towers at the corner of 1st and Olive Streets with one rising 38 stories and containing condominium and apartment units. A smaller, 16-story building located along 2nd Street would contain the hotel. Current plans call for 200,000 square feet of commercial space, 1,500 parking spaces as well as a large public plaza along Grand Avenue and across from the Broad Museum.
In a press release for the project Ken Himmell, CEO of Related Urban, celebrated the addition of CORE to the project, saying, “We welcome CORE as our joint venture partner on Grand Avenue. They share our vision for the creation of a world-class destination and as a global Fortune 110 company, they boast not only a sterling financial record but also have great excitement for the development.”
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Pereira addition of Los Angeles Times complex to be demolished in redevelopment

Vancouver, Canada—based developer Onni Group has officially filed documentation with the City of Los Angeles to redevelop the historic Los Angeles Times property in Downtown Los Angeles. Urbanize.LA reports that the developer plans to rehabilitate the most historic components of the site, including the original, Gordon B. Kaufman—designed structure from 1935 and a 1948 addition designed by Rowland Henry Crawford. Onni’s plans, however, also call for the demolition of the William Pereira—designed addition made to the complex in the 1970s. Through visually and formally striking and demonstrative of larger architectural trends from each respective era, none of the site's components, including the original Los Angeles Times building, the 1948 addition, or the High-Modernist Pereira addition, are currently protected by historic preservation ordinances at either the local or national level. The developer paid $120 million for the entire Times Mirror Square complex earlier this year and has been quick to announce the growing list of redevelopment plans associated with the purchase in the months since. Tribune Media Company, owner of the L.A. Times, announced an unrelated development a few weeks ago for a site currently being as a parking lot for the complex. That project consists of a 30-story tall, boxy tower designed by Gensler. The design of that tower features offset and cantilevered masses and would contain 107 condominium units, 534,000 square feet of commercial space, and 7,200 square feet of ground-floor retail area, all located above a new subway station being developed as part of the Downtown L.A. Regional Connector project. Onni Group's filing indicates plans to build a pair of new high-rise towers in place of the Pereira-designed structure. These towers would contain a combined 1,127 residential units and over 34,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, Urbanize reports. The developers would also rehabilitate the remaining L.A. Times buildings as office space. The proposed development would require a series of discretionary approvals by the City, but since the L.A. Times complex is not currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places or locally as a Historic-Cultural Monument, the Pereira-designed portions, in particular, are open to demolition. The filing comes as the development and preservation communities in Los Angeles spar with one another over which aspects of the city’s architectural history are worth preserving. A Gehry Partners—designed complex at 8150 Sunset that aims to demolish the Kurt Meyer—designed modernist bank has been at the center of this debate, as have proposals to demolish several other William Pereira—designed structures, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art complex (to be replaced by a new $600-million museum by Peter Zumthor), and portions of the Metropolitan Water District.
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Stacked box tower to face off against neighboring L.A. Times building

Tribune Media Company, owners of the Los Angeles Times, is aiming to build a 30-story tower on an existing parking lot across the street from the historic L.A. Times building in Downtown Los Angeles. The project, first reported by Urbanize.LA, is designed by architecture firm Gensler and will feature 107 condominium units, 534,000 square feet of commercial space, and 7,200 square feet of ground-floor commercial area. Located at the corner of 2nd Street and Broadway, the project, when completed, will also stand directly above a new underground subway station being built as part of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (Metro) so-called Regional Connector project. The Regional Connector is an underground tunnel that will link together the existing Blue and Expo transit lines with Union Station and the Gold Line, fusing the Blue and Expo lines with the northern and southern halves of the Gold, respectively, creating two cross-regional transit lines that pass through the downtown area instead of merely coming to a dead end there as they currently do. A rendering for the project shows a highly-articulated tower with sections of grouped, projecting floorplates jutting out at various heights, along all sides. Each of the building’s boxy, projecting masses is clad in a different material and utilizes alternating stylistic approaches, with certain portions clad in floor-to-ceiling glass curtain walls and other sections featuring vertical ribbons of glazing spanning multiple floors. These masses overhang and project from one another, with other types of sun shading strategies like vertical and horizontal louvers populating the structure’s facades throughout. The development adds to speculation that a previously-mentioned plan to demolish a William Pereiradesigned section of the existing L.A. Times building will begin to move forward, as well. That plan would demolish the 1970s-era structure for another housing tower, this one potentially containing apartments instead of condominiums. A construction timeline for either tower has not yet been released.
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Plans for “Fig & 8th Tower” in downtown Los Angeles revived

Plans to begin construction have been filed by architects Johnson Fain and developers Mitsui Fudosan America for the newest proposed high-rise tower set to rise in downtown Los Angeles. The so-called 8th & Fig tower is to be located at the heart of the city’s downtown financial district, an area that has seen a boom in high-rise construction over the last few years, including the Wilshire Grand Hotel tower, now the city’s tallest tower and highest building west of the Mississippi River, as well as several other adaptive reuse projects and the addition of a new Whole Foods market. The 42-story tower is set to contain 436 residential units that will rise out of a four-story podium containing 10,000-square feet of commercial space along the ground floor as well as an eight-level, 479-stall parking garage with four subterranean parking decks. Renderings depicting the glass-clad tower feature striated facades on all sides with each level’s floor plate protruding slightly from the building’s envelope. The podium level will feature amenities like a pool deck as well as what appears to be a series of landscaped, park-like areas. The project comes as Johnson Fain breaks ground on work across the region, with a new mixed-use, 355-unit, mixed-income pedestrian housing complex moving forward in the nearby Chinatown area and the firm’s ongoing renovations to Phillip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral also moving forward this year. Plans filed with the city detail a March 2018 construction start date, with the project team aiming to open for occupancy the building sometime in 2020.
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Update: Developers for Oceanwide Plaza in Los Angeles release new renderings for $1 billion mega-project

Earlier this week, Oceanwide Real Estate Group revealed plans for the addition of a new Park Hyatt hotel branch to be located at the currently-under-construction Oceanwide Plaza development project in Downtown Los Angeles. Following up on these additional details, the developer has also released a slew of new, glossy renderings by visualization firm Visualhouse for the CallisonRTKL-designed, mixed-use mega-project. The $1-billion development will bring three new towers to the Los Angeles skyline, including a 677-foot hotel spire that will contain two separate pool decks, 184 hotel rooms, and some number of the total 504 condominiums to be located on the 4.6-acre site. The two neighboring, 40-story towers will contain the remaining condo units and will share a rooftop amenity terrace that will the complex’s 100-foot-tall podium of retail space. The podium, dubbed The Collection at Oceanwide Plaza, will be laid out as an indoor-outdoor, multi-level pedestrian mall and is to contain 150,000 square feet of commercial space. The entire complex's retail component will be wrapped by a 32,000-square foot LED ribbon wall. The Oceanwide Plaza project joins a collection of other Chinese developer-backed tower complexes coming to the area, with Greenland USA’s Metropolis and Shenzhen Hazens’s 1020 South Figueroa project, both of which feature retail, hotel, and residential components, taking root on either side of the newly-updated complex. For more information on Oceanwide Plaza, see the developer’s website.
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Park Hyatt luxury hotel added to Oceanwide Plaza development in Los Angeles

Luxury hotelier Park Hyatt announced this week that it has signed up to be a part of Oceanwide Plaza, $1 billion, 1,488,101-square foot, mixed-use development in Downtown Los Angeles. The development would mark the brand's first Los Angeles location. It is unclear whether the Park Hyatt addition will change the project’s fundamental details, but previously-filed plans for Oceanwide Plaza detail the inclusion of 504 condominium units, 153,000-square feet of retail space, and a hotel with 183 guest rooms. The project is being designed by CallisonRTKL and will be contained within a trio of high-rise towers positioned above a mid-rise retail podium outfitted as an indoor-outdoor “galleria”-style mall. A large tower, with a long exposure oriented toward the south, will contain the hotel component while two shorter, east-west oriented towers will contain the condominium units. The podium will be crisscrossed with interior paseos connecting opposing sides of the development site and is to be wrapped in a 32,000-square foot LED ribbon wall that will create a massive, splashy cornice line backing these proposed retail areas. The project will be located at the center of the ever-growing L.A. Live / Staples Center development area that includes the Los Angeles Convention Center, the partially-completed Metropolis complex, as well as many other in-process or upcoming condominium and apartment projects connected by access to Los Angeles’s Blue and Expo light rail transit lines. Located on a 4.6-acre site between 11th and 12th Streets on Figueroa, Oceanwide Plaza broke ground in late 2015 and its construction has necessitated one of the largest concrete mat pours in Los Angeles history, with crews for the construction firm Lendlease pouring an estimated 25,900 cubic yards of concrete and six million pounds of rebar for the complex’s massive foundations earlier this year. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018 and will be open to habitation in early 2019. News of the Park Hyatt hotel development was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. UPDATE: Developers for Oceanwide Plaza have released a slew of updated renderings for the project.
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Brooks + Scarpa unveils designs for new Southern California Flower Market in Los Angeles

Los Angeles–based architects Brooks + Scarpa has revealed plans for the large-scale redevelopment of the 107-year-old Southern California Flower Market in Downtown Los Angeles. The proposal aims to replace the two existing industrial structures on a 3.8-acre site at 755 Wall Street with a mixed-use, podium-and-tower complex. The proposed redevelopment would consist of a low-rise podium tower that will house mercantile facilities for the existing flower vendors along the ground floor, with between 50,000 and 60,000 square feet of office space and stacked parking above, while a second building on the site will consist of a 14-story apartment tower. That tower would include 290 apartments plus an undisclosed number of affordable units and would overlook a solar panel-topped amenity level meant for use by building residents. Preliminary renderings released for the project show a colorful, gridded tower rising out of the podium, with two of the tower’s exposures clad in what partner Angela Brooks described to Los Angeles Downtown News as flower-themed murals. Brooks went on to explain some of the inspiration for the project, telling the publication, “It's the idea of using the flower. It's going to be very modern in its design, but we’re trying to honor the Flower Market through the art.” The Flower Market was originally founded in 1909 by Japanese-American flower growers in a nearby area and moved to its current location in 1923. The Flower Mart is still owned by the descendants of that original group of owners and the proposed redevelopment scheme is part of a regional effort to preserve Los Angeles’s industrial and mercantile functions and heritage while accommodating a new and furious spurt of urban growth. The recently-revealed 6AM project by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron has similar conceptual underpinnings, with a housing tower and mercantile areas sharing the same site. The project aims to break ground in 2018.
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CallisonRTKL proposes Jenga-shaped tower for Downtown L.A.

Global architecture firm CallisonRTKL has unveiled plans for what could turn out to be one of Los Angeles’s most striking new towers.

The project, dubbed 5th and Hill, would be located on an L-shaped lot surrounding the Pershing Square Building located beside Pershing Square park. Though still in the early planning stages, the tower could potentially climb as high as 57-stories and, according to a rendering released by the firm, will feature cantilevered, glass-bottomed swimming pools projecting from the building’s envelope.

That existing Pershing Square Building, originally built in 1924 by architecture firm Curlet & Beelman as an office building, was updated in 2008 by Jeffrey Fish and his JMF Development Company, the same developer behind the new CallisonRTKL tower. The developer added two floors to the structure during that renovation, adding space to accommodate a restaurant called Perch that affords patrons stunning views of the Downtown Los Angeles skyline. The new tower would extend the Perch “sky lobby” laterally, with the new tower articulated around the restaurant area as it rises above. The area between the “sky lobby” and the ground floor will be designed as to bring light into the center of the new building’s site, with a released rendering for the project showing stepped and alternating volumes studded with greenery and structural members.  

As presented in documents filed with the city, the proposed tower could potentially take one of two forms. The preferred scheme entails a 57-story tower with 142 condominiums and 25,000-square feet of commercial space. The second option is two stories shorter and contains 100 condominiums, 200 hotel rooms, and 27,500-square feet of commercial space, overall.

In a press release celebrating the unveiling of the project, Fish cited Southern California’s domestic architectural history as inspiration, stating that the project is “inspired by iconic California mid-century architecture, [and] re-imagines California homes in a sleek, vertical tower. The same principles of celebrating California’s beautiful climate, and seamlessly connecting indoor and outdoor spaces, permeate the building’s design.”

The release of the proposal comes as the areas immediately around Pershing Square gear up for increased development and public interest in anticipation of the troubled park’s $50-million redevelopment by French landscape architecture firm Agence Ter.

News of the development was first published by The Los Angeles Times.

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Jai & Jai Gallery becomes an essential hub for L.A.’s young artist-designers

Jai & Jai Gallery, a 350-square-foot exhibition space sandwiched between a barbecue smokehouse and a former vintage music store in Los Angeles’ Chinatown neighborhood, is a beacon in the city’s bustling young architecture scene. Whereas older generations strove for the empty warehouses of Culver City and Santa Monica, a new generation of designers is looking toward the inner city as a place to make and exhibit art and design, positioning galleries and art spaces like Jai & Jai as loci of experimentation for the city’s foremost millennial makers. This scene at Jai & Jai is typical of an opening night: As a heavy mix of creative young professionals gossip about their latest projects, Jomjai and Jaitip Srisomburananont, the sisters behind the gallery, hold court with potential buyers, guide new visitors toward wine, and play host to what often has more in common with a low-key San Fernando Valley house party than any staid Westside art gallery opening. Jaitip explains to The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) that though the gallery’s social importance is somewhat unintentional, it reflects a deeply personal part of who they are as individuals, saying the transformation from art space to social hub “mostly happened organically; [our events] always have that ‘Jai & Jai vibe.’ It’s just like how we treat our family: You come to our house, have a drink, see some art. Thankfully, it’s echoed through our business as well.” The Jais, as they are known by the ever-expanding social scene surrounding the gallery, keep a frenetic pace at these openings, and if you manage to grab their attention, it’s usually only for a few minutes. Mid-conversation, if you’re, say, discussing writing an article about the show at hand, Jomjai will pull out her iPhone to tap out an email (to you). She’ll then pivot to someone who looks like a prospective buyer and deliver him or her to the featured artist before moving on to someone else, maybe an intern snapping photographs or someone potentially cooking up the gallery’s next show. The Jais do this for hours, until the gallery shuts down and the party moves to one of the nearby dive bars. By the time you get home that night, you’ll likely have another email waiting for you and maybe even a press kit. It might seem cliché to focus on this aspect of the gallery first, but it reflects a larger and equally obvious truth of the Los Angeles art and architecture economy of today: It takes a lot of hard work to make things happen. This tendency is something of a common denominator for the Jais, the resident social patrons who frequent their gallery, and the exhibited artists themselves. Of those two latter groups, many are early-on in their careers and necessarily run art and design practices parallel to their 9-5 jobs. They also use their exhibited artworks to fund or support client-based commissions for their own independent practices. Many other are fresh out of school, having recently launched their own practices, or are teaching at an area architecture schools. Jomjai describes the gallery as, “More of an open forum” than an incubator, where the sibling gallerists “allow an opening for new ideas.” According to the sisters, the gallery provides young practitioners “a chance to express themselves, their ideas and theories, whether they’re artistic, academic, or architectural.” Jaitip adds, “We like to engage everyone and for us, the gallery acts as platform that lets us do that at equal levels.” Since it opened in 2012, a who’s who of L.A.’s rising stars have exhibited work on the gallery’s walls, creating a self-reinforcing narrative for the storefront as a kick-back space for the city’s young, energetic, and experimental designers. The gallery, which recently expanded into the neighboring thrift store, intentionally takes on challenging exhibitions and works with its artists to chart new terrain. In 2015, Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular wrapped the interior of the exhibition space in panels of his trademark architectural cartoons, transforming the tiny space into a cave-like work of art. The work, Beachside Lonelyhearts, is carved up into a series of truncated and geometrically-shaped canvases; fragments of it can still be found in Jai & Jai’s growing archive. The year prior, Laurel Consuelo Broughton of Welcome Projects and Andrew Kovacs came together for a three-part show. Their Gallery Attachment and As-Built exhibitions took place in a parking lot across the street and inside the gallery, respectively. The parking lot show exhibited monochromatic, full-scale elements of architectural oddities while the show inside the gallery displayed a collection of measured as-built drawings made from the team’s collection of detritus outside. The duo also produced a zine to accompany and compliment their other trans-dimensional, multimedia works. Broughton told AN, “Before Jai & Jai the only spaces in Los Angeles for architectural exhibitions were institutionally sponsored. Being small and without institutional ties allows the gallery to exhibit work outside the traditional comfort zone for architecture and design,” to which Kovacs added, "Jai & Jai is an absolute asset for architecture in Los Angeles. I feel the gallery has a very open and flexible outlook that makes it possible to take risks with shows and explore new ideas." Mike Nesbit, independent artist and project designer at L.A.–based architecture firm Morphosis, has exhibited works of his “abstract-technical” art at Jai & Jai several times. His glitch-pointillist drawings and thickly-silkscreened, supersized concrete panel canvases filled the space last autumn for his Swipe show. The artist carted in massive slabs of cement coated in toothsome swipes of colored paint, lending a bit of L.A.’s abstract art bona fides to the space. And more recently, Clark Thenhaus of Endemic Architecture deployed office-based research as an exhibition titled Mind Your Mannerisms that catalogs, interprets, and manipulates San Francisco’s architectural turrets in paintings and models. Thenhaus’s show is the eighth show at Jai & Jai in the last year, with probably an equal number of gallery talks and panel discussions to support the exhibitions and promote other creative endeavors happening in the space over this period, as well. Thenhaus described the value of a space like Jai & Jai to AN  via email, saying, “The gallery enables a kind of exploratory freedom to more deeply consider and speculate on building and practice-related ideas in ways that cannot be achieved to the same level through more conventional outlets or client projects as a young office,” adding, “The value of this is, for a young practice, a way to stake an intellectual claim while also working directly on, and through, ideas related to disciplinary interests or to buildings that are yet to be fully designed or built.” If it seems like the work seems is all over the place, that’s because it is, and by design. The Jais intentionally take on challenging exhibitions and work with their artists to chart new terrain. Jaitip explains, “The main component through and through and from the beginning, has always been to engage the audience, whether they agree with the work or not.” This engagement plays out in the constantly changing gallery displays, which transform the space over and over again as the year goes on. Jaitip explained that for her, group shows like the 2014 show Chess, which showcased showpiece chess sets by a slew of designers, are the most rewarding, remarking, “To us, as gallerists, group shows are really inspiring to work on because [we coordinate] a group of people who believe in one concept and help bring them come together to tell a story. Chess and Bust were defining moments for Jai & Jai Gallery, as was Goods Used.” The gallery also timed the debut of their new online print shop with another group show earlier this year, Resolution – The Digital Print Group Exhibition, that used numbered prints of the work on display as a way of lowering the cost barrier for potential buyers. Jaitip explains, “We developed limited edition prints of these exhibited pieces to sell to a younger crowd and open up another branch for the gallery as a business and an organization that supports this type of success.” Chess sets and cartoon-caves as cutting edge architecture? In L.A., yes. That’s because the L.A. art and architecture scene is in a primal flux, not because art and architecture haven’t gone hand-in-hand here since the days of the deconstructionists and blobitects, but because in certain segments of the professional and academic architecture scene, they have become one and the same. Whether it’s the proximity to entertainment culture, the easier access to larger studio spaces, or the more readily available infrastructure for large-scale art production, L.A.-based architects are dabbling in a simultaneity of production and exhibition. Jai & Jai plays a central role in that conversation. As the Jais told me at the end of our conversation, they aim to keep working. “The goal is always to grow. Just grow, and to do that organically.”
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A temporary installation helps make L.A.’s Pershing Square cool again

Pershing Square, a 150-year old park at the center of Downtown Los Angeles, is currently slated to be demolished in lieu of a more pedestrian-friendly iteration by French landscape architects Agence Ter. Although the current park has seen more yesterdays than tomorrows, it managed to draw an unusual number of visitors this August for Liquid Shard, a temporary sculpture installation that enlivened the forlorn park.

The installation is the result of a collaborative public art project among Architectural Association Visiting School Los Angeles (AAVSLA) summer program directors Eulalia Moran and Devin Gharakhanian, their students, and L.A.-based artist Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics. Moran and Gharakhanian led a design class for visiting international students aimed at tackling music festival installation pieces, in which students were asked to design an installation for a music festival of their choosing. After the initial design studio, a prototype was chosen, fabricated, and installed by the students in Pershing Square. Gharakhanian said: “We intentionally chose a hyper-deactivated space in L.A.—no one goes there and it isn’t functioning the way it’s supposed to. But this project is a good example of art meeting architecture to have a positive impact on the city. Liquid Shard went viral and now there’s interest from other cities that are looking for similar types of public art. It’s important that municipalities and politicians are seeing that there is power behind art and architecture.”

Shiny and mesmerizing, the 15,000-square-foot installation is made of holographic mylar connected with monofilament, creating a billowing, fluttering wave of movement that gets caught in every breeze. The sculpture is made up of two such layers, each of which moves independently of the other, suspended between 15 and 115 feet above the square. The work, according to Shearn, is inspired by the so-called swarm behavior that schools of fish and flocks of birds engage in when they move in unison.