Posts tagged with "Los Angeles 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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AC Martin and Onni group to demolish William Pereira-designed L.A. Times building in Los Angeles

Los Angeles-based architects AC Martin and Canadian developer Onni Group have released preliminary renderings for the long-rumored, 1,126-unit Times Mirror Square development that aims to replace the 1970s-era William Pereira addition to the Los Angeles Times building in Downtown Los Angeles. The project, part of a larger, overall redevelopment of the L.A. Times headquarters complex that also includes a new, 30-story tall tower by Gensler, would connect to the existing L.A. Times building via ground floor retail spaces and an outdoor, retail-lined paseo. The original 1940s-era, art deco style L.A. Times headquarters is expected to receive modest restorations via the project while the iconic, late modern era Pereira-designed structure will be completely demolished to make way for the development. The Pereira structure is just four years shy of being eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and is not listed as a local Historic-Cultural Monument. Urbanize LA reports that AC Martin would bring a pair of high-rise residential towers to a neighborhood soon-to-be-brimming with open space amenities like the forthcoming revamp to Pershing Square park by Agence Ter, First and Broadway (FaB) park by Mia Lehrer and Associates and OMA, and the five year old Grand Park by Rios Clementi Hale Studios. A 37-story tower would be located directly across the street from Lehrer's FaB Park, with a taller, 53-story monolith located directly behind. Both towers are capped by pointy, crenelated caps and will reportedly rise 465- and 655-feet in height, respectively. The towers will contain parking stalls for 1,000 vehicles despite being located almost directly atop a forthcoming transit stop on the city's Regional Connector line. This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your city and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
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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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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.