Posts tagged with "LA Times":

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Opinion: It’s time to recognize Pereira’s LA Times building

The current proposal to bisect the Los Angeles Timess buildings facing City Hall on First Street would delete a key chapter from the city’s collective memory. In spite of the Cultural Heritage Commission’s September 20th approval of landmark status for the entire block, half of the block could still be demolished for two high-rise towers by Canadian developer Onni Group. What would be lost? One of Los Angeles’s most vivid symbols commemorating its ambitious rise from provincial outpost to global metropolis during the twentieth century. Commissioned by publisher Harry Chandler, architect Gordon Kaufmann’s 1935 building on the corner of First and Spring Streets announced Los Angeles’s arrival on the national stage. Two generations later publisher Otis Chandler (Harry’s grandson) hired architect William Pereira to design the 1973 wing on the corner of Broadway to proclaim that the city (and the Times itself) had achieved its destiny as a national and global presence. Together the two buildings embody the dynamic story of the city’s evolving vision that still shapes its direction. That tangible reminder is one of historic architecture’s essential roles in a city.  
But while Onni’s proposal at the moment would preserve the beginning of that story (Kaufmann’s widely beloved Art Deco masterpiece) it would sacrifice the payoff—Pereira’s wing.  This is the thornier issue. The Pereira addition’s Late Modern style has not yet had the time to become as widely appreciated as Art Deco. Late Modern landmarks were often corporate headquarters, aerospace campuses, new universities, master-planned cities, and cultural crowns—designs which undergirded Southern California’s tremendous growth, but which were not often praised by architecture critics in their time. Proper appreciation today is hampered by the fact that there is little published recently about this important style, or on Pereira‘s career. Yet Late Modern turns out to be the signature style of Los Angeles’s arrival as a global capital.
We can’t forget that the Kaufmann building’s Art Deco style was also once considered ugly and old-fashioned. Even Kevin Lynch, a respected observer, called another Art Deco landmark, the Richfield Building, “ugly” way back in 1960—just before it was demolished as expendable. Today it is lamented.  So opinions change, which is why we can’t dismiss Pereira’s 1973 design out of hand. The Late Modern style was part of a worldwide re-evaluation of Modernism—frequently spearheaded by Los Angeles architects, including William Pereira. 
By the 1960s the mainstream International Style of modern architecture was growing stale, and many architects around the world realized it. While some architects introduced historic sources—leading to Postmodernism—others held to Modernism’s faith in technology and functionalism. This was what we now call Late Modern. They realized that technology had changed since the 1920s when an earlier generation had defined the International Style.  Late Modern architects moved away from the simple glass box to sculpted forms that reflected the complex interplay between interior functions and exterior context. James Stirling and James Gowan lead the way at the Leicester Engineering Building in England in 1963. In Los Angeles, Cesar Pelli and Anthony Lumsden (lead designers at Daniel Mann Johnson & Mendenhall before Pelli moved to Gruen Associates) moved away from the transparent Miesian curtain wall framed by exposed structure to a taut multi-directional skin of glass that—they realized—could take almost any shape or color. Recent technologies offered fresh possibilities.  As historian Daniel Paul records in his Late Modern historic context statement for SurveyLA, they were also impressed by a new wave of artists such as Larry Bell, Donald Judd, and Craig Kauffman. Lumsden’s curvaceous Roxbury Plaza, Pelli’s blue Pacific Design Center, Pelli and Lumsden’s weightless FAA headquarters in Hawthorne, CNA’s mirrored box by Langdon & Wilson in Lafayette Park all followed. Pereira offered his own new direction for Modernism in the new LA Times wing and other buildings. He had already moved past International Style Modernism (best seen in his CBS Television City with Charles Luckman) at his Neo-Formalist Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1965) and the richly expressive Metropolitan Water District (1963), both inspired by the sunlight, water, and outdoor living in our region. 
If Kaufmann told the story of California’s raw power and potential in the 1930s, Pereira’s response in the 1970s was larger, lighter, and more sophisticated in its use of modern technological might. The pair mirrored the progression from the first trans-Pacific Clippers of the 1930s to the 747 of the 1970s.
For the new wing at the Los Angeles Times, Pereira drew on several innovative urban planning and aesthetic ideas. Breaking up the International Style box, he sculpted the building into receding and advancing planes, into dominant and secondary horizontals and verticals, each articulated with richly textured stone, metal spandrels, and tinted glass. Lifting its mass high in the air on muscular columns it echoed the forms of beton brut design and of R. M. Schindler’s Lovell House in Newport Beach. Though dynamic and sculptural, these shapes also responded to functions, carving out public space in a landscaped courtyard paved with cobbles at ground level out of the path of sidewalk traffic, and maximizing office space in the jutting prow overhead.  As a planner, Pereira knew that Los Angeles wanted to build an elevated people-mover system throughout downtown, so he added a second-floor walkway to serve as a convenient stop.  Then there was Pereira’s innovative response to the strong historic structure next door. He designed the new wing to respect the older, setting his building back, reducing its height, muting its colors so as not to detract from the Kaufmann building. This was a daring response in 1973 before historic preservation had become a major urbanist concern, but it reflects Pereira’s innovative thinking throughout his career. The new possibilities of Late Modernism allowed him the leeway to do so. It is time to leave behind outdated opinions of the Late Modern style and recognize Pereira’s LA Times building for its bold composition, its creation of urban public space, and its sensitive relation to its historic neighbor. Onni can still reasonably develop the site without sacrificing this significant building—or the legendary origin story it tells about how Los Angeles grew to greatness. Fashion inevitably changes. Late Modern architecture will soon return to fashionability, as Kaufmann’s Art Deco building has. Pereira’s lessons in good urban design must remain to help us plan the next chapter in Los Angeles’s civic center. Alan Hess is an architect, historian, and author of twenty books on Modern and California architecture. He has written landmark designation nominations at the local and national level for many midcentury Modern buildings, including CBS Television City by Pereira and Luckman for the Los Angeles Conservancy. Since 2004 he has been researching the work of William Pereira in preparation for a book on the subject. His newest book, Hollywood Modern: Houses of the Stars, will be published by Rizzoli International this October.
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William Pereira’s LA Times complex one step closer to being landmarked

The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission (LACHC) has recommended historic-cultural monument status for the entirety of the Los Angeles Times Mirror Square complex, a decision that could potentially nix developer Onni Group’s plans to demolish a 1970s-era addition to the complex by William Pereira. The bid to landmark the complex was launched in July by a group of preservationists led by Richard Schave of the historic tour group Esotouric just as the LA Times was finalizing plans to leave the complex in exchange for new facilities in the city of El Segundo south of Los Angeles. The LA Times had owned and occupied the complex at 1st and Spring Streets since 1935 but it was sold in 2016 to Onni Group. The Times remained at the facilities under a rental agreement, but the threat of a drastic rent increase in 2018 forced The Times’s new owner, billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, to decamp to El Segundo. With their recommendation, LACHC follows the advice of the Office of Historic Resources, which also supported the historic nomination earlier this summer. The issue now heads to the Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) before heading to the Los Angeles City Council for a final vote. If the historic nomination is approved, demolishing the Pereira-designed structures will prove more difficult for Onni, which is pushing a 1,127-unit mixed-use development designed by AC Martin for the portions of the site containing the Pereira-designed structures. The LACHC found that the entire complex is both architecturally significant and meaningful for its associations with important historical personages, including Pereira, one of L.A.’s iconic Late Modern designers. The PLUM meeting that will further decide the complex’s fate has not yet been scheduled.
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Landmarking efforts take a step forward for Los Angeles Times complex

Efforts to landmark the historic Los Angeles Times headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles took a step forward last week when the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) agreed to take up a Historic Cultural Monument (HCM) nomination for the complex put forth by a group of Los Angeles preservationists. The agreement moves the historic nomination process forward for the five-building complex just as the Los Angeles Times staff vacates the property amid a move to El Segundo, California.  Concurrently, a fight over several of the buildings’ historic lobby artifacts has entered a new stage as the new LA Times owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, has moved to illicitly remove a collection of historic elements from the complex in a bid to create an LA Times-focused museum at the paper’s new headquarters.  Just days before the CHC hearing took place work crews removed several historic busts from the so-called Globe Lobby, a grand, marble-wrapped entry space punctuated by a 66-inch wide aluminum globe sculpture. The orb, created by Gutzon Borglum in 1891, survived a 1910 bombing of the newspaper’s offices and is joined in the lobby by a series of 10-foot-tall murals painted by Hugo Ballin in 1934 that depict the origins and major industries of Los Angeles. In a blog post describing the removal, Kim Cooper of historic tour group Esotouric described the emptied lobby as “a defaced space that looks like a plucked chicken.” The nomination for the complex was compiled by preservationist Richard Shave, also of Esotouric, with the help of other experts, including Cooper and the historian Alan Hess. The nomination considers the entire complex for designation, including a pair of late modern-era buildings designed by William Pereira. The buildings included in the nomination follow:
  • The eight-story Los Angeles Times Building designed in the Art Deco/Moderne style by Los Angeles architect Gordon B. Kaufmann in 1935.
  • The four-story Plant Building completed in 1935 that includes an original two-story Art Deco/Moderne-style building by Kaufmann and two one-story additions designed by Los Angeles architect Rowland H. Crawford in 1946 and 1955.
  • The 12-story Mirror Building designed in the Late Moderne architectural style by Crawford in 1948
  • The six-story Times-Mirror Headquarters Building and an attendant six-story parking structure designed by Pereira in the Corporate International architectural style in 1973. 
The nearly 400-page historic nomination can be found here.  The effort to landmark the complex—years in the making—is somewhat coincidental in terms of its timing with the newspaper vacating its historic offices and comes after a particularly turbulent half-decade at the Times. Soon-Shiong announced his purchase of the newspaper in February of this year and unveiled plans to move the LA Times offices in April. Canadian developer Onni purchased the Times complex in 2016 from the previous Times owner, Tronc, and had proposed raising the rent for the facilities to over $1 million per month, prompting the relocation. The Times’s lease ran out June 30, 2018.  Onni is currently pursuing a pair of redevelopment proposals that aim to demolish the Pereria-designed sections of the complex. The developer plans to replace those buildings with two mixed-use condominium towers designed by AC Martin. The towers, rising 37- and 53-stories, would bring 1,127 residential units and 34,572 square feet of commercial areas to the site. Gensler is also working on a blocky 32-story tower containing 107 condominium units, 534,000 square feet of commercial space, and 7,200 square feet of ground-floor commercial area that is slated to rise in what is now a parking lot across from the Times complex. The CHC will next conduct an on-site inspection of the LA Times complex in order to consider whether to advance the application for historic cultural status any further. The designation could impact the developer’s plans for the AC Martin-designed towers, but as the recent case with Gehry Partners’s designs for 8150 Sunset complex shows, landmarking a historic structure does not prevent its demolition. If the HCM nomination is successful, however, the developer’s plans could actually be bolstered by the availability of historic tax credits for renovating the complex if that is done in line with historic standards. A key question for the CHC committee will be how to qualify the historic nature of the Pereira-designed additions to the complex. The historic nomination explains that the Pereira additions are key to the significance of the entire complex and represent the apex of the newspaper’s development and relevance following L.A.’s post-World War II expansion. Pereira’s additions were designed to intentionally fade into the background so as to not detract from the iconic Kaufman-designed portions of the building, according to William L. Pereira, a monograph of the architect’s work compiled by James Steele. The resulting black granite panel-clad complex remains almost entirely intact and represents a key moment not only in Pereira’s career but in the development of L.A.’s architectural history, according to the report. The report says, “The building demonstrates not only Pereira’s role as a master architect who helped to shape the city we know today, but a building which is symbolically, urbanistically, and creatively part of the life of the city.” The entire complex is eligible for National Register of Historic Places and the California State Historic Monument list, though it is unlisted in both. The complex was included in the SurveyLA Los Angeles Historic Resources Survey and is listed in California Register of Historical Resources. The CHC will meet to tour the building at a yet-to-be-announced date and time. Until then, check out the nifty, illustrated explainer created by the Times that highlights the historic complex’s history and internal organization. 
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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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L.A. Times building to receive major renovation and addition

Vancouver-based developer Onni Group intends to buy the Los Angeles Times headquarters at 1st and Spring streets for about $120 million, the Los Angeles Business Journal (LABJ) reports. The 750,000-square-foot Times complex consists of: a six-story 1935 building designed by Gordon B. Kaufmann; an adjoining 10-story 1948 building designed by Rowland H. Crawford; the 1973 Times Mirror wing structure; and an adjoining parking lot. Onni plans to demolish the 1970s building on the corner of 1st and Broadway and replace it with apartments. The 1935 and 1948 buildings in the complex would be renovated to accommodate offices and retailers. A previous deal for $140 million fell apart three months after it was struck in December, according to an anonymous source, LABJ reports. This news follows a slew of development projects in Downtown Los Angeles, including a new park at Pershing Square.
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Scaffolding comes down at Los Angeles’ Broad Museum, but the first impressions are mixed

Rarely has the removal of a building's scaffolding caused as much hubbub as when Diller Scofidio + Renfro's The Broad in Downtown Los Angeles removed its temporary covering on December 31, revealing its "Veil," composed of 2,500 fiberglass-reinforced concrete panels. Those panels, you may remember, are the subject of an ongoing lawsuit against fabricator Seele. Unfortunately for the museum, which will open this fall, much of the media reaction (admittedly not the best indicator of public opinion) has been lukewarm. The Los Angeles Times likened the veil to a cheese grater and called responses to it "less than ecstatic;" Curbed LA announced that the museum had revealed its "newly disappointing facade," emphasizing how much clunkier it looked than the elegant renderings; and LAist compared its indented "Oculus" to the "Eye of Sauron" from Lord of the Rings. Of course, minds could easily change once the museum is running and full of art (and people). Stay tuned. This thing has to open eventually, right? And so you get to see more than the flat, frontal view, here are some new angles, below.      
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Report: McMansion rules in Los Angeles are largely ineffective

Despite reports of their demise, giant, neighborhood-busting McMansions in Los Angeles appear to be alive and well. Although they were passed six years ago, it looks like Los Angeles' Mansionization rules, according to the LA Times, "haven't stopped neighborhoods from being overwhelmed by out-of-scale homes." The rules contain lots of loopholes for builders, including provisions holding that they can increase new home sizes by up to 30 percent if they meet environmental and other requirements. Also home-expanding elements like covered parking areas can be largely excluded from city calculations. City councilman Paul Koretz recently proposed revising the rules to eliminate “counterproductive provisions," but local leaders say little has happened since. The exceptions, meanwhile, "effectively gutted the ordinance that was supposed to stop mansionization," former city planner Dick Platkin told the Times. Under a new plan presented this week, the city could impose temporary restrictions to limit tear downs in a few neighborhoods, but Deputy Director of Planning Alan Bell told the Times that it would take a year and a half to officially revamp the rules citywide.
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Designer Charged After LA House Fire

Designer Gerhard Becker was charged with involuntary manslaughter last week after the Hollywood Hills mansion that he designed  burned down.  According to the LA Times prosecutors claim that Becker installed outdoor fireplaces inside the $11 million, 13,500 square foot home at 154 Viewsite Terrace after inspections were completed. The home was set to host Germany's "Next Top Model" TV series (we're not making this up). The fire, which occurred in February 2011, killed veteran fireman Glenn Allen. According to the Times, Becker told investigators last year that "he did not consider them to be fireplaces but rather architectural features or decorations." But LA assistant District Attorney disagrees: "This man built an 18-foot fire trough designed for outdoors inside the home. It was a recipe for disaster. He essentially put this fireplace on 2-by-4s."
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Kappe House Like You′ve Never Seen It

Could this be the future of architectural photography? The LA Times this weekend published a wonderful virtual tour of Ray Kappe's own house on a heavily wooded lot in the Palisades. Thanks to huge glass walls, skylights, clerestories, floating interior planes and cantilevered wooden decks, trellises and platforms, the house appears to float over its sloping site. It's truly one of the most spectacular houses ever built. And the tours of its facade, main room, kitchen, and deck do it more justice than any two dimensional pictures could. Now if only Kappe could get more props himself. When is he gonna win a Pritzker already?
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Earthquake conference scares the heck out of us

Be afraid. Be very afraid. That was the theme at today's LA symposium, Imminent Danger: Earthquake Disaster and Risk Reduction in US Cities. The UCLA-hosted event brought together seismologists, engineers, architects, assessors and others to discuss preparation for the inevitable Big One, which, as everyone agreed, is not a question of if, but when. Despite the LA Times' questions about whether the conference's sponsors stood to gain from spreading earthquake fear, the insights to us seemed sincere and terrifying. We've compiled a few of the more sobering points, which should get you caring a little more about seismic retrofits and earthquake kits. •According to Kit Miyamoto, president of Miyamoto International, California knows which schools and other public buildings would be structurally unsafe in an earthquake, but doesn't have the money to fix them. •According to Peter Yanev, World Bank Consultant, while buildings in the Pacific Northwest are designed for much lower earthquake loads than those in California, the area's Cascadia Fault is more likely to produce a mega quake of 9.5 or greater. •According to Tom Heaton director of the Earthquake Engineering Lab at CalTech, buildings constructed before 1995 are more susceptible to earthquake damage than recognized because of "brittle welds," which often cause joints to break apart under seismic duress. •According to a 2008 study by the US Geological Survey called The Great Shakeout,  the estimated damage from a 7.8 earthquake on the San Andreas Fault would total about $210 billion. •According to UCLA researcher Robert Nigbor, the notion that earthquake codes ensure buildings' safety in an earthquake is a fallacy.
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Broad Museum: 90210 vs 90402

After making nary a peep about his proposed Beverly Hills museum since last April, Eli Broad is again making it clear that he wants the project to move forward. And that he wants it to be much bigger. According to the LA Times, a plan sent last month to the Beverly Hills Planning Department calls for nearly 50,000 square feet of exhibition space (including a 6,100 square foot outdoor area for sculpture), up from the 25,000 previously anticipated. According to the story he's also included Santa Monica as a possible contender for the museum, for which he would create a $200 million endowment. And now the cities are jockeying for position: Kevin McKeown, a Santa Monica city councilman, told the Times, "I'll do everything I can to make this happen." Meanwhile Cheryl Burnett, the city of Beverly Hills' spokeswoman, issued a statement saying, "While we recognize that the Broad Foundation has many options. . . . There's no better place than Beverly Hills to showcase this world-class contemporary art collection." Let..the..fireworks..begin.