Writer Anne Taylor Fleming recently interviewed Frank Gehry for Los Angeles Magazine, getting a glimpse into what the architect thinks about Los Angeles and the meaning of his work there. Gehry tells Fleming about some of the missed planning and architectural opportunities that continue to challenge the city, including the push to make a bona fide downtown, which he believes stems from clinging to old ideas about what a city should be. For Gehry, a Los Angeles version of a “center” is something like Wilshire Boulevard. “I have always thought that L.A. is a motor city that developed linear downtowns,” he noted. It’s for this reason he feels Disney Hall would have been better positioned in Westwood and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels near MacArthur Park. He’s a believer of putting the architecture where the people are. Gehry would have also put MOCA across the street from LACMA. “Los Angeles doesn’t take architecture seriously,” he told the magazine, “though I guess you could say that about most cities.” Despite this, he is positive about his role as an architect and the impact he has had here. “I’m happy. I mean, Disney Hall is once in a lifetime. Are you kidding? I could go to the moon and forget it all.”
Posts tagged with "Downtown Los Angeles":
In recent weeks we've seen a number of important developments in Downtown Los Angeles, like the groundbreaking of the Arquitectonica-designed apartments on Grand Avenue, and the topping out of The Broad next door. The red-hot area continues to make headlines, from the advancement of its upcoming streetcar to the murkiness of its proposed football stadium. •The city's Downtown Streetcar, which last month received funding from a tax on downtown residents, has gotten more good news. According to Curbed LA, LA City Council on March 7 approved an operational plan committing up to $294 million of Measure R transportation tax money to cover the operation and maintenance of the system. The streetcar will travel in a loop along Broadway, Figueroa Street, and other main thoroughfares between the city's Civic Center to its Convention Center. •According to Yahoo Sports, anonymous sources in the NFL have said that AEG and Gensler's Downtown LA stadium (rendered at top) in South Park is looking less and less likely. "The numbers just don't work, no matter how you look at the deal," a "league source" told Yahoo. "It's either too hard for AEG to make money [and pay the debt on the stadium] or too hard for the team. I just can't see a way for it to work." Some have said that the NFL favors a new stadium in Chavez Ravine. Stay tuned. •The LA Times reports that Singapore developer Overseas Union Enterprise has agreed to buy the Pei Cobb Freed-designed, 72-story U.S. Bank Building, the tallest building in California. The developer will be buying the building from MPG Office Trust for $367.5 million. "Its cylindrical design is an inefficient layout for an office building," real estate analyst Jed Reagan of Green Street Advisors told the Times.
As confirmed on its blog yesterday, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has made a proposal to acquire the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (MOCA). "Our chief desire is to see MOCA’s program continue and to serve the many artists and other Angelenos, for whom MOCA means so much," said LACMA director Michael Govan in an online letter. Reportedly LACMA would preserve MOCA's two buildings, located on Grand Avenue and in Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles. According to the LA Times, the offer was made back on February 24. As part of the arrangement, LACMA would raise $100 million for the combined museums as a condition for completing the deal, according to their story. Another suitor for struggling MOCA is the University of Southern California (USC), which has been reported to have been in talks to merge with MOCA as well. That arrangement has a model in UCLA, which is partnered with the Hammer Museum in Westwood. Either way, it looks like something has to be done about financially-troubled MOCA: “If not us, who?” Mr. Govan said in an interview with the New York Times yesterday.
Once considered downtown LA’s central park, the problematic 4.5-acre Pershing Square may soon be slated for a few welcome changes. Councilman José Huizar of District 14 recently told LA Downtown News that sports and entertainment company Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) has committed $700,000 seed funding to re-think the 164-year-old park. The money is part of a community improvement package AEG had agreed to in order to create a football stadium in Los Angeles. One of the possibilities the office is investigating is returning the park to a much simpler design, more in line with the needs of downtown's added population. “As it stands now, Pershing Square is overdesigned. If you’re standing outside you can’t even see what’s going on inside,” said Rick Coca of Councilman Huizar’s office. Coca said there are still several other details that need to be put in place before the office can further push the move. For one thing, the seed money is contingent on the realization of the Farmer’s Field football stadium, which was approved last year, not to mention the question of who would ultimately purchase AEG. Pershing Square’s history has been problematic since its conception as Block 15 in 1849. The park has gone through a number of names and renovations since then, the latest of which came at the hands of Ricardo Legoretta and Laurie Olin in the 1990s. Greenery gave way to granite and concrete with a 125-foot purple campanile rising from its center. The re-design has served to isolate the public from the space and the amount of hardscape can become intimidating for passers-by. As more and more residents move back downtown, Huizar’s office has said that starting the conversation about Pershing Square will someday lead to more opportunities to turn things around in the historic park.
The Grand, the multi-million-dollar, mixed use project on top of LA’s Bunker Hill, is finally… slowly… moving forward with an Arquitectonica-designed residential tower, which just broke ground. But it appears that Frank Gehry’s days on the project may be numbered. After a recent call with Related, we got no assurances that the starchitect was still part of the project. A report in the Downtown News got similarly uncommitted answers. Just across the street from the Grand we hear that The Broad (what’s with all the THEs?)—Eli Broad’s multi-million-dollar art museum—is getting ready to add an upscale market to its rear, just above the parking lot. If it’s even close to as successful as Chelsea Market in New York, Downtown LA could have yet another hit on its hands. Meanwhile, decking is being laid for a new park to The Broad’s south, but still no renderings of the park have been unveiled. Let’s make this public, Mr. Broad. We can’t wait to see your plans, which could single-handedly make or break Grand Avenue.
A new video released by LA METRO gives us all a much clearer conception of the construction sequencing of the Regional Connector, the 1.9 mile downtown underground light rail line that will connect Los Angeles' now-dispersed Gold, Blue, and Expo lines. The $1.3 billion connector, funded largely by 2008's Measure R sales tax increase, is set to begin construction later this year. It will travel primarily under Flower Street and 2nd Street, and is set to open by 2019. Movement of utilities around the line began in December. Yes, more transit in Los Angeles. This is really happening!
Earlier this week, AN reported on the opening of Los Angeles's first parklet in Eagle Rock. Thursday saw the arrival of the city's second and third sidewalk-extending mini-parks, located on Spring Street in Downtown LA's historic core. Created by architects/developers utopiad.org, designers Berry and Linné, and builders Hensel Phelps, the 40 foot by 60 foot parklets, located just a few parallel parking spots from each other, are impressively detailed and fitted, with wood planter boxes, minimalist bench seating, stone pavers, hardwood decking, and quirky touches like seat swings, astro turf, bar seats, colorful fences, foosball tables, and exercise bikes. "We wanted them to pop," said Rob Berry of Berry and Linné. "A lot of parklets can be pretty minimal." Both are located on former active parking spaces, a reason that they took more than a year to get through the city's approval process. "We can close a parking space and it's not going to be the end of the world," said Siobhan Burke, one of the parks' designers. Rounding out the city's four-parklet pilot program, The last parklet opens next weekend in El Sereno, a neighborhood in East LA. Funding came from the Gilbert Foundation, but most of the work was delivered pro bono. "I can't believe this is LA," said Daveed Kapoor, one of the leaders of the design team. "It's better late than never. Now I want more."
While cameras allowing real-time viewing of work on downtown LA’s Broad museum have been in place since construction began last fall, the scenery is finally getting more interesting. The structure’s parking garage is now complete and construction permits were recently approved for the museum itself, according to LA Downtown News. The intricately-clad concrete building, designed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is on schedule for a late 2013 completion. The three-story structure will include about “50,000 square feet of gallery space on two floors, a lecture hall for up to 200 people, and a public lobby with display space and a museum shop,” as described by the Broad Art Foundation. The budget is $130 million. The Live Construction Cam at the Broad Art Foundation site is accompanied by time-lapse camera capturing high resolution pictures updated every 15 minutes. The site also allows viewers to stream a time-lapse movie documenting progress on the site over time.
Last night we had the pleasure of attending Delab's (Design East of La Brea) monthly gathering of creative types, this time at Cole's, a legendary restaurant and bar in the Pacific Electric Building in Downtown LA. Open since 1908, Coles is known for its French Dip sandwiches (it claims to have invented the delicacy), clever--and strong--mixed drinks and "atomic" pickles. It just re-opened after a two year renovation by Ricki Kline, who has also designed historic downtown favorites Seven Grand, Golden Gopher, and Broadway Bar for owner Cedd Moses. Kline's renovation included installing patterned burgundy fabric wallpaper, etched fish bowl lighting, dark mahogany panels, penny tile floors, and original stained glass. A cozy, more dimly-lit bar in back replaces the old kitchen, and serves as the perfect place to test out how many types of french dip (lamb, pork, roast beef, etc) you can try in one sitting.