Finally. After 39 years of wandering around Los Angeles and trying to convince its landlord to sell, SCI-Arc today announced that it has bought its building in LA's Downtown Arts District. The 1,250 foot-long Santa Fe Freight Yard Depot building, a reinforced concrete structure designed by architect Harrison Albright, stretches seemingly forever along Santa Fe Avenue. Students like to bike or skateboard inside it to get to class. The school moved to the former rail depot 10 years ago after a 2001 renovation by architect Gary Paige. The school's opening came when building owner Meruelo Maddux Properties filed for bankruptcy—meaning it really needed the money. The school bought the property for $23.1 million. Other homes for the school have included Marina Del Rey and Santa Monica. But now it finally has a real home. And their edgy, coarse and lively corner of downtown, as SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss has pointed out, is where it's always wanted to be. "SCI-Arc is absolutely committed to Downtown," he told AN in a recent interview, adding that the area is a laboratory for architectural and urban development. "We are staying Downtown. Period."
Posts tagged with "Eric Owen Moss":
Don't look now, Eric Owen Moss has put another landmark along the eastern edge of Culver City with the completion of the Cactus Tower on Hayden tract. Upending the usual relationship of earth and sky, he's placed cactus plants high above the air, suspending them within a severe steel frame. When the project first began, the 60-year old industrial press tower was “essentially falling apart,” said Moss. Rather than tearing it all down, the firm saw the possibility of creating a community space for a media, production and design company housed in the adjacent 30,000 square-foot warehouse. The firm removed the metal panel enclosure from the tower, exposing the original frame and bracing. The real eye-catcher however lies on the ceiling, where 28 steel pots sit in gridded formation, each holding a single Mexican Fence Post Cactus. Six parallel lines of pots run east to west, holding a sequence of five cacti. The arranement of steel pots also acts as part of the tower’s support system. The pots are compression struts, which serve as the vertical chords of five new trusses that comprise the garden. “It’s an interesting and clever way of doing things simultaneously,” said Owen Moss, who borrowed the idea from his winning competition entry (never built) for the Smithsonian Institution’s Patent Office Building The Cactus Tower easily towers over the other buildings in the area, which are only one or two stories tall. From afar, one eerily sees flying cacti instead of the whole structure. Moss comments with a chuckle, “If you’re sleeping at the wheel, it’ll probably wake you up.”
Deep-pocketed house-hunters on the prowl for an architectural icon this summer are in luck: The critically acclaimed Lawson-Westen House, designed by Los Angeles architect Eric Owen Moss, is on the market for the first time. The 5,100-square-foot Brentwood home remains the architect’s largest residential project and is an oft-cited example of the spatial subdivisions and geometric shifts that characterize much of LA’s modern architecture. Original owner Tracy Westen sought “a house that was itself a work of art,” not a minimalist shelter to showcase—or be overpowered by—the contemporary pieces that he and his wife Linda Lawson collect. The end result, a steel, wood, and concrete building, completed in 1993 after 18 months of design and over two years of construction, is a hybrid of art and architecture, characterized by its geometric aesthetic and unique manipulation of space. Moss attributes the home’s spatial nuances, at least in part, to his clients’ penchant for dinner parties: “Tracy and Linda had a lot to do with what this house came to be. The kitchen is where they entertain, so that space became the focal element of the building.” Indeed, as Westen noted in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, the project began with a focus on conviviality rather than geometry. “Early conversations were all about feeling and aesthetics, and something that was warm and good for friends,” he said. The house’s defining feature is a three-level conical unit that anchors the first-floor kitchen and is truncated on an upper level to create a deck that overlooks the ocean. The circular kitchen, although not located at the house’s core, provides views of all the surrounding common spaces. A spiral staircase connects the kitchen directly to the master bedroom, located on the cone’s second floor and featuring a private deck and granite fireplace. Moss, who has experimented with sculpture, incorporated many aesthetic flourishes into his design for the four-bedroom house, including hallways lined by walls of glass and intersecting planes of steel and wood. The owners have cited the need to downsize after 17 years in the house, located at 167 S. Westgate Avenue. They’re asking $5.85 million.
According to our friends at Curbed LA, Eric Owen Moss's planned Venice project , on the corners of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards, has been put on the shelf. Fred Mir, who works for the developer, Group III Investments, told Curbed that the neighborhood "didn't like the height," and that they had decided to scrap the project back in August, after a bumpy community meeting. No sign of what will replace Moss's scheme, but we'll be looking into it...
It must be said that Curbed, in its short life, has become one of the preeminent sites for not just real estate but also architecture and planning news, one of—not the, mind you, as that would us—best places for info on the evolving built environments of New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. They are most certainly in our Top 10. Reaffirming that fact is a Top 10 of Curbed's own, a celebration of the best buildings of the past decade, something the site(s) weren't around to see the dawning of, though who cares, since neither were we. Each of the three Curbed sites asked local luminaries—Brooklyn's notorious Robert Scarano and our pal Eric Owen Moss included—to name their favorite new buildings in their respective cities that had been built over the last decade. Noticeable trends: lots of boldface firms, lots of glass, lots of big buildings, lots of Standard Hotels. We woulda voted for the Nehemiya Spring Houses, because it shows that any architect, with the wherewithal, can do stunning affordable housing in the outer reaches of an outerborough—which is not to say Alex Gorlin is just anybody, but, well, you know. Alas, we lost our submission form and could not make the main event. Here are the sites' countdowns, plus their runners-up: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco (no runners-up yet). We're told there's more Top of the Aughts coverage to come, so keep your eyes peels. And, if you're an obsessive reader like us, you may have noticed part of the celebration is a sexy new redesign, to which we give a hearty Mazel Tov and thumbs up.
Architect and SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss talked to us the other day to correct our recent post on SCI-Arc's future in the LA Arts District. Yes, he agreed, SCI-Arc does want to eventually own its own home (it tried unsuccessfully to buy its building from its landlord, developer Meruelo Maddux, a few years ago) . But the school's lease is not up next year, nor does SCI-Arc face any pressure to leave anytime soon. "SCI-ARC’s not going anywhere. SCI-Arc has no plans to go anywhere, and is not obligated to go anywhere," he said. The lease, it turns out, isn't up until 2019. SCI-Arc does have the opportunity to opt out if it wants next year, in 2013, or in 2016. But that possibility, said Moss, is unlikely, especially because it's happy with its building (which he said had become a local icon) and its location. "SCI-Arc is committed to downtown," said Moss, who praised the area's "varied sociologies and different possibilities" and pointed to the benefits for architecture students in "an area still trying to discover itself." He added: "Downtown seems to be a perfect place for us... Santa Monica, Century City, the San Fernando Valley: forget about it." Moss didn't rule out the possibility of SCI-Arc eventually finding a new home though. "If a great opportunity came up we'd take a look at it," he said. He added that the economic situation and falling real estate prices could present good possibilities for ownership. When asked if Meruelo Maddux's recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing would help SCI-Arc obtain its building, Moss said, "It’s premature to say what the implications of that are."
PACKING UP CAMP Now that Donald Fisher’s CAMP project in San Francisco is officially dead, talk is swirling about where the Gap founder’s art collection will go. The whispers have focused on one obvious suspect: SFMOMA, which has already begun planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion that could get even bigger. One rumor has it that the museum is talking to the city about acquiring an adjoining fire station and building a new one elsewhere in return, in order to offer the Fishers their own digs. SFMOMA director Neal Benezra coyly parried questions with the comment: “We welcome the opportunity to partner with the Fishers to find a home for their collection as part of an expanded SFMOMA campus.” PEARLS BEFORE SCI-ARC Few talking heads can dent an architectural ego like critic, curator, and professor Jeff Kipnis, who moderated a chat at SCI-Arc on July 29 with Eric Owen Moss and Thom Mayne about Moss’ new installation at the school. Among Kipnis’ gems, he praised Moss’ garrulousness with the bon mot that he got paid by the hour for such events, and marveled at Moss and Mayne’s ability to argue with themselves—not among themselves, mind you, but each with his own self! Days later SCI-Arc hosted another panel, this time with Moss, Mayne, Hitoshi Abe, Peter Cook, Wolf Prix, and Peter Noever, among others. The event had the makings of a navel-gazing nightmare, but Eavesdrop promptly fell asleep and can’t recall a thing. Honest. RAISE HIGH THE WINDOW WALLS Everyone adores the Center for Architecture in New York, the storefront space run by the AIA New York chapter that draws more activity than any other such facility. Word has it that AIA Los Angeles is among those green with envy, which could mean a departure from its eighth-floor digs in Mid-Wilshire. The group is said to have hired a real estate consultant to scout locations nearer to Museum Mile. Will Wright, head of legislative affairs at AIA/LA, was semi-mum on the matter: “We have long-range plans to evaluate the opportunity to evolve into an Architecture Center.” Roger that, Will. Easy does it, we always say.
At SCI-Arc last Wednesday Eric Owen Moss, introduced by good friend Thom Mayne (who broke Moss's brain down into its essential parts, as seen above), lectured on his firm's most recent projects; an impressive combination of new technology, structural research, and wild rule-bending that has unfortunately produced precious few actual buildings, but many competition near-misses around the world. The good news is that this trend is turning around, and the firm is near completion on several ambitious new works in the LA area, including the bendy Gateway Art Tower in Culver City, a new hotel on the Sunset Strip, and a skin-as-structure residential building in South LA. Moss also provided details of his upcoming book, Construction Manual (AADCU), which he described as a cross between a building code directory, the dictionary, and the bible. At the lecture Moss also shared his architectural, and other, insights. Here are a few of the choicest nuggets from a lecture full of great one liners and deep thoughts: "A system is no system" "The idea of being comfortable being uncomfortable.. or uncomfortable being uncomfortable." "If you're on the cover of Dwell Magazine, you're in trouble." "Here are Rodin The Thinker and Honda the Promoter" "What you see is what you don't see." "We have made an effort not to establish a method of drawing and modeling." "What can you do with a block that makes it an unblock?" "The block learns from the curve; the steel learns from the block; the window learns from that." "Failure is not necessarily a failure." "This is the three in the morning scheme." "What makes implausible plausible." "We wanted to make things you couldn't photograph." "Steel is progress. Wait a minute.. maybe it's not." "One sketch fits all."
The SCI-Arc Gallery's techno-thumping, wine-spattered opening nights are the place for local architects to drink and be drunk. The latest revelry celebrated the debut installation by Oyler Wu Collaborative, who are quickly becoming the hottest new duo in LA architecture. Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu's recent exhibitions include Density Fields at Materials & Applications and Pendulum Plane for the new LA Forum space. And now, Live Wire, which takes their massive aluminum tubing structures to the next level—literally! In collaboration with Buro Happold, Oyler and Wu have built a staircase consisting of 2,400 linear feet of tubing that leads from the ground floor of the gallery up into the second-story catwalk: "The stair, often relegated to pure functional use, is a testing ground for weaving together a multitude of architectural ideas, ranging from the manipulation of light, geometry, and structure to vertical circulation. Live Wire is aimed at suggesting an expanded definition of architectural elements, one that surpasses boundaries of simple functions and suggests intangible results." Oyler and Wu will be speaking about their pipe dreams with Eric Owen Moss on Monday, November 17 at 7pm. Or go to SCI-Arc's lecture this Saturday from 2-4pm, The City After the Economy, and check out Live Wire after what's certain to be a hilarious and fun-filled discussion. Cheer yourself up by simulating the economy...by walking exclusively down the stairs.