Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":

Placeholder Alt Text

Abatement work sparks confusion over LACMA demolition

Contrary to earlier reports elsewhere, demolition work at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) hasn’t officially begun. Instead, the abatement process is underway with crews working to figure out best practices for removing asbestos and advancing environmental remediation at the site.  According to Save LACMA, the nonprofit responsible for the recent petition to stop the project, the actual tearing down of structures has yet to take place and could still be put on hold if LACMA doesn’t come up with enough money for the controversial new design. A specific timeline to demolish the four aging buildings in question—starting with the William Pereira-designed Ahmanson, Bing, and Hammer Buildings, all constructed in 1965, and the 115,000-square-foot Art of the Americas building from 1986 by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates—has not been released. Images from local residents on Twitter show that workers have just started the gutting process by knocking a hole into the Ahmanson Building. Rob Hollman, director of Save LACMA, told AN that abatement could take months since the laws surrounding the exposure of hazardous materials are so strict in California. “It gives us more time to work on halting or slowing down the demolition as well as the opportunity to have LACMA and the County reconsider what they’re planning to do.”  Hollman and his team believe a key determinate of moving forward is based on a large discrepancy in how much the project will cost and how much the arts organization actually has in its pocket or can realistically fundraise. “LACMA has been carrying a $30 million deficit,” he said. “They will need to go back to the county to ask for more funds at some point and there’s a possibility that the county will freeze those funds. We believe if enough evidence is shown and critical public sentiment continues then we will have a real opportunity to have a greater discussion about the kind of shape LACMA is in.” In total, the megaproject is slated to cost the museum $650 million. Based on LACMA’s 990 Forms from 2012-2017, which AN accessed through GuideStar, Atelier Peter Zumthor, the lead design architect, was paid about $10.6 million already. Skidmore, Owings & Merill, brought in as consultants later in the process, were reportedly paid $10 million as well. More recently, the museum has spent $6 million in moving and storage of its assets ahead of anticipated demolition.  “That annual cost (for storage) will balloon exponentially over the next several years as this project continues,” said Hollman. “It also doesn’t account for the over $1 million a year that LACMA pays in office space across the street and we know there will be none in the new building, nor storage. The expenses are just going to skyrocket.” Last November, Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight published findings that LACMA’s fundraising efforts for the project had stalled. He estimated that the museum, headed by director Michael Govan, likely had about $80 million left in the bank account for the building project. “Weak philanthropy,” as Knight said, isn’t the culprit when it comes to such a large financial discrepancy. 
“The new plan is to convert some of the permanent collection into temporary theme shows in a building that is actually smaller than what already exists—the Incredible Shrinking Museum—while outsourcing other parts of the LACMA collection to ill-defined future satellites to be scattered around the country. The distinctive value of encyclopedic collection, which brings global art together in one place, gets undermined. What has taken half a century of curatorial and philanthropic labor to assemble is about to be dissolved.” 
All that’s at sake sits upon a shakey system of cost estimation, according to Knight. For years, Govan and his team have been setting the fundraising goals and coming up short at the end of the tax year. In 2018, pledges came up $40 million short. This also explains why the project’s timeline keeps getting pushed back and is now set for completion in 2023. In his article, Knight argued the biggest issue is that no one in L.A. wants to pay for Govan’s “shortsighted” vision for LACMA.  Now that more information has been revealed on the museum’s money problems, Save LACMA and critics of the project are still aiming to get a measure placed on the next Los Angeles County ballot that would allow the community to vote on the Zumthor redesign and Govan’s plan. Though it’s technically a publicly-owned project, Hollman thinks the public has barely been involved and that there’s still time for a fight.  “We’ve never even seen the numbers related to renovating the buildings, especially the Pereira ones,” said Hollman. “These decisions have been made behind closed doors and, even though LACMA is benefiting from taxpayer dollars, there is little known about how much this is actually going to cost in the end.” Going ahead with demolition, Hollman believes, is a “bluff to motivate” people to give more money to a sinking ship.
Placeholder Alt Text

Loitering takes center stage in Los Angeles

Taking up space, it seems, is among the most actively policed crimes in America today. Sidewalk infrastructure prohibits extended stays through the punitive additions of spikes and dividers, cafes are inviting so long as one exchanges their stay for the purchase of food or drink, and the browsing experience in retail settings is regularly guarded. The library and the park, in fact, are the last few public places today where a person can while away time without paying a price, and even these two are threatened by diminishing public investment. An exhibition just held at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG), set within a public park of its own, reappraises the concept of loitering to define it as a necessary—and, sometimes, even beautiful—part of the human experience. Curated by Ciara Moloney, Loitering is Delightful presented the work of ten Los Angeles artists who "respond in varying ways to the joyful possibilities of slowing down." One of the first pieces visitors encountered, for instance, was Untitled (Municipal Boxes), a plywood platform and set of furniture pieces from Lauren Davis Fisher that visitors were encouraged to interact with. The artist noticed that the gallery's concrete architecture, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House on the other side of the park, had an imposing effect on visitors and hoped to counteract this experience with an installation made entirely of wood, a material known to have a generally inviting tactile quality. Quite literally, the piece's presence in the center of the gallery put loitering on the center stage. A series of rooms featured elegant pencil drawings and dioramas of imaginary neo-classical buildings fabricated by artist Milano Chow that recalled a bygone era of architectural design that openly embraced fantasy, delight, and open-ended contemplation. Their highly detailed draftsmanship encouraged the viewer to linger in the gallery space, getting lost in their ornamentation, and, hopefully, losing track of time. At the end of the exhibition was a bulletin board covered by a slew of post-it notes answering the question "Where do you like to loiter in Los Angeles?" Answers included L.A.-centric responses such as, "my car," and "Zuma Beach," while the majority of others gave evidence to the fact that parks and libraries truly are the last few places a person can truly feel they are not unduly taking up space. Loitering is Delightful was on display from October 31, 2019 to January 12, 2020.
Placeholder Alt Text

LOHA designs a live/work complex for L.A.'s Arts District

In the Arts District of Los Angeles, across the street from Row DTLA, there will soon be a live/work project to meet the demands of the burgeoning neighborhood. Development company Camden Property Trust, the owners of a three-acre property at the intersection of Alameda and Industrial Street, has gotten the green light from the City of Los Angeles to transform the site of a former industrial building into a 482,000-square-foot, mixed-use development designed by local firm Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA). The five-story project will include 346 live/work apartments, a restaurant on its ground floor, and 25,000 square feet of office space throughout. The design, simply named “Industrial,” will no doubt stand out among the relatively unremarkable actual industrial buildings surrounding it, starting with pronounced cutouts that reveal metal cladding treatment behind a dark brick facade. The distinct materiality of the project is a nod to the contextural buildings in the neighborhood as well as its manufacturing history. The cutouts have the added effect of forming a dynamic, undulating street front with landscaped courtyards along Industrial Street. "This destabilization of a solid front additionally erodes away from an impression of density despite the building’s form extending the length of the block," the firm explained. The facades of the building's interior courtyards, and other facades not facing the street, will be defined by hanging gardens and wall murals, and the narrow site of a rail spur that once ran along the property's longest axis will be reactivated in the form of a landscaped amenity space for the building's residents that will terminate at a new restaurant. The project is the latest in a string of mixed-use projects slated for the quickly developing Arts District, including EYRC Architects' proposal for Produce L.A., OFFICEUNTITLED's AVA LA Arts District, and other projects from firms including Herzog & de Meuron and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG).
Placeholder Alt Text

Matt Johnson exhibits construction equipment as sculpture at Blum & Poe

Much of the work produced by Los Angeles-based sculptor Matt Johnson attempts to speak to both the fields of art and architecture by marrying the material language of the latter with the playfulness of the former. An untitled exhibition of his work currently on display at L.A. gallery Blum & Poe demonstrates the artist's ability to take seemingly banal elements familiar to the construction industry—traffic cones, cinder blocks, bricks, rebar—and reconfigure them into works that question balance, efficiency, bureaucracy, and the general feeling of safety we ascribe to the built environment. Johnson's fourth solo exhibition at Blum & Poe features eleven sculptures, each of which present fragile, precarious figures out of the most durable materials available in the building industry. This combination of materiality and precarity presented by Johnson recalls the work of modern and contemporary sculptors, including the spindly figures of Alberto Giacometti, the metal balancing acts of Alexander Calder, and the multimedia assemblages of Peter Fischli and David Weiss. Like those artists, Johnson employs few tricks to summon his materials into their seemingly impossible positions. “No illusions are cast,” the press release states, “the objects are carved actors on a set, executing their performances, restricted only by their painted, wooden, physical existence.” A few of the sculptures on display even manage to bring a sense of personality and narrative to the inert objects that make up their compositions. One sculpture, titled 1 block with 2 bricks and 2 bricks cantilevered on 1 bar, can be read as the embodiment of a millennia-long competition between clay and concrete in the building industry—or, speaking more generally, between two distinctly opposing methods of potentially arriving at the same final result. This and other pieces are, according to the gallery, “organized information, like subatomic particles, atoms and elements, molecules and compounds, glued by gravity, and magnetic polarity, surfing in a sea of electrical conductivity.” The exhibition will be on display until January 11, 2020.
Placeholder Alt Text

Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects designs a mixed-use campus in West Los Angeles

Sawtelle, a low-rise district on the West side of Los Angeles, is about to receive a new development that is sure to change the neighborhood. Real estate development company CIM Group is behind the five-story, mixed-use complex set to rise on the 2.6-acre plot designed by local firm Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) on Santa Monica Boulevard between Stoner and Granville Avenues. Construction on the project has already topped out and is expected to be completed within the next two years. The project will include subterranean parking, 16,600 square feet of ground-floor retail, and 154 apartment units on its top four floors. The project will include many amenities for its residents, including co-working spaces, a community lounge, a pool deck, and a gym. The housing section will be broken up into units of varying sizes, from studios to three-bedroom single-family homes. “This building is the final piece of a significant infill development that is bringing much-needed housing to West Los Angeles," said Shaul Kuma, cofounder & principal at CIM Group. "We believe the community will benefit from quality housing and community-serving retail located along a major transportation corridor and in proximity to jobs.” Much like the KFA and Le0ng Leong-designed LGBT Center several miles East on Santa Monica Boulevard, the site of the new development will be broken up into several distinct buildings. The project was designed in the style of a campus to ensure that every unit can receive sunlight and unobstructed views of the city while also responding to its context by visually breaking up its massing through cuts, twists, and rotations. All of the housing units will feature floor-to-ceiling windows that can be read as vertical bands from the street, effectively making the building seem even more substantial at first glance. Large cuts in the massing will both signify the entrances to the retail spaces on the ground floor through the creation of built-in canopies, and will further define each building's roofline to create a dramatic street presence. LOHA has been behind several apartment buildings across Los Angeles in an effort to densify the city's housing, including a porous supportive housing project in South Los Angeles and a top-heavy tower in Hancock Park.
Placeholder Alt Text

Keating designs luxury apartment tower for L.A.'s low-rise Miracle Mile

Los Angeles-based architecture firm Keating unveiled a $400 million luxury apartment tower for the east end of Miracle Mile on Wilshire Boulevard, the famous street that boasts cultural institutions like LACMA, La Brea Tar Pits, and the Peterson Automotive Museum. Set next door to the historic Sontag Drug Store building, 5411 Wilshire features a curvilinear design perched on a multi-story parking podium. The project is being developed by the Marks family which has owned the 84-year-old building since 1968. According to Keating, they decided to revamp the site and renovate the Sontag Drug Store ahead of the Purple line subway extension that's slated to open blocks away in 2023. “There are going to be a lot more people [in the neighborhood]," Walter N. Marks III told the Los Angeles Times. “Industry follows people, my grandfather used to say.” Standing 42 stories tall, the glassy 5411 Wilshire will include 371 units of luxury apartments, 56 of which will be set aside for affordable housing. Keating envisions the design of tower as a nod to the Art Deco-style luxury residential towers that can still be found a few miles east on Wilshire Boulevard. While most buildings in the neighborhood do not exceed 50 feet, the proposed tower would rise nearly 521 feet tall with a sky deck located at the very top. The residential complex will also feature 15,000-square-feet of ground-floor retail, along with a slew of other amenities. It will house a bowling alley, a VR gaming room, a golf simulator, a yoga studio, as well as a dog-grooming space, a demonstration kitchen, a wine-tasting counter, and a billiard room. Studio-MLA, led by landscape architect Mia Lehrer, will design a private garden set above the retail and parking space. Tenants will be able to drop their cars off at an automated valet system, located behind the building's main entrance in a nod to the spatial organization typical of buildings on Wilshire Boulevard. Keating will also revitalize the adjacent Sontag Drug Store—also an Art Deco structure—complete with its original signage, materials, windows, and awnings. A restaurant and café, as well as retail space, will outfit the interior. The Marks family aims to complete the renovation and construction by 2023.
Placeholder Alt Text

Perkins and Will proposes compact sleeping units for L.A.'s homeless

The Los Angeles office of Perkins and Will has set their sights on the smallest imaginable scale for a modular sleeping unit built for the city's growing homeless population. In response to the mayor's A Bridge Home initiative, a city-led project focusing on creating transitional emergency shelters, the firm's Innovation Incubator team designed the prefabricated Dome unit in an effort to offer a higher level of dignity and sophistication than typically found in U.S. shelters. "We want it to feel residential, not institutional," said Yan Krymsky, a design director at Perkins and Will, in a statement. "It sends a message that people care." Each Dome unit is seven feet wide and six feet deep to provide 42 square feet of space per person. It features a lockable wardrobe, a standard power outlet, a frame for a twin bed, an optional kennel area for a 30-pound pet, and an operable canvas tarp for privacy. Designed with low-cost, quality materials that make each unit feel like a temporary little home, the firm estimates that individually, they could cost as little as $4,749 to build. Locker fabrication company Shield has already been tapped to manufacture them. “Solid surface is low maintenance and resists scratching," the team said, "while wood accents give the unit a residential character." If desired, the units can be combined to allow couples or families to share a larger set together. According to Perkins and Will, the most challenging part of the Dome project was making the units feel dignified and structured when in use while at the same time, flexible enough to collapse for storage and redeployment across the city. A typical 53-foot-long flatbed truck, for instance, can carry up to 32 units when collapsed. A number of other Los Angeles-based firms have developed concepts for homeless housing alternatives, such as Brooks + Scarpa and Michael Maltzan Architecture, and several shelters have already been completed through the A Bridge Home program. As the city with the largest number of homeless residents in the United States, The Dome units present a potentially more expedient option for emergency shelter than other temporary housing structures currently proposed for the city. A prototype of a Dome unit is currently on display at the Architecture + Design Museum (A+D) in Los Angeles until January 12.
Placeholder Alt Text

Downtown L.A.'s Barker Brothers building to be restored to former glory

You may not find much to look at if you venture to the middle of Broadway between 7th and 8th Streets in Downtown Los Angeles' Historic Core. A barricade and opaque scaffolding currently block the tired remains of the Barker Brothers building, an eight-story structure built by real estate investor Clara Burdette in 1909 and one of the oldest of its kind in the district. Though it was the largest store in the Barker Brothers furniture chain at the time of its completion, the company shut its doors in the 1940s like many nearby retailers who migrated from downtown to the burgeoning Wilshire Boulevard. Thanks to brothers Ted and Oliver Grebelius of British real estate firm Satila Studios, the Barker is returning to its former glory over 80 years later. The duo recently bought the building with a plan to retrofit it as a mixed-use development and rebrand it as the Barker once again. The roughly-46,000 square feet of space constituting the upper six floors of the structure will be designated for commercial offices, while the 11,000-square-foot ground floor will be entirely dedicated to street-facing retail. The original floor plates have determined the number and ceiling heights of the floor plates, meaning the majority of the office spaces will likely be over 12 feet tall and supported by the building's existing structural columns. A significant amount of the retrofit will include the preservation of the building's original detailing and material palette of brick, steel, and dark wood flooring. Satila Studios is particularly invested in the preservation of its iconic grand stairway, including its large-scale archways and wooden columns, located in the center of the ground floor. The Barker is just one of many early-20th-century buildings in the L.A.'s Historic Core that are undergoing renovation. The adaptive reuse of the Lane Mortgage Building, a 12-story structure designed in 1923 by local architect Lester Loy Smith, is already underway half a block from The Barker. Satila Studios expects the building will open by 2021.
Placeholder Alt Text

Vera Lutter to present camera obscura photos of LACMA before demolition

While the future of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) still hangs in the balance and a local nonprofit attempts to undermine its redevelopment at the ballot box next year, New York-based artist Vera Lutter has been quietly documenting the campus in its current state over the last two years. A selection of her photographs will soon be on display in the Resnick Pavilion, one of two Renzo Piano-designed gallery spaces on the LACMA site set to be saved from the wrecking ball. Lutter was invited to work in residence at the museum from February 2017 to January 2019 in order to create Museum in the Camera, her new body of photographic work focusing on the original campus architecture, gallery spaces, and individual pieces. To produce her photography, Lutter used a camera obscura, a box with a small hole on one side that filters light through its hollow interior to project an image onto film hanging on the opposite side. As one of the oldest optical technologies ever developed (first described in the 4th century BC), the camera obscura and the images it made under Lutter's careful watch turn the original LACMA campus into what looks like a centuries-old historical site. The project was sparked by an early working relationship between Lutter and LACMA director Michael Govan while he was serving as director of Dia:Beacon in New York. Throughout Lutter's LACMA residency, the artist's room-sized camera obscura was craned around the campus while being as minimally-obtrusive as possible. "Moving a camera for Vera Lutter is a very big deal," explained Govan. "Museums aren't [usually] so welcoming to giant wooden boxes." The conversations between Lutter and Govan resulted in work that seeks to document the four LACMA buildings set to be demolished in 2020: the three original 1965 structures by modernist architect William Pereira, and a street-front building erected in 1986 by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. Museum in the Camera will be on view from March 29th to July 19, 2020.
Placeholder Alt Text

L.A.'s long-awaited Eric Owen Moss-designed tower shows signs of progress

Exactly 20 years after it was approved by both the Los Angeles City Planning Commission and the Los Angeles City Council, an Eric Owen Moss Architects-designed project is finally showing signs of life. (W)rapper, a 17-story office tower being developed by local real estate investment firm Samitaur Constructs, is sited just south of the La Cienega/Jefferson Expo Line station in Culver City. The firm is also responsible for the development of over 10 buildings designed by Eric Owen Moss on nearby Hayden Avenue, including Vespertine, the Lindblade Tower and Paramount Laundry Building, and Pterodactyl. At 230 feet, (W)rapper would be the second-tallest building in its immediate area and one of the tallest in Culver City. The name of the project is a reference to the ribbon-like exoskeleton structural system that “wraps” the structure on all four sides, allowing the interior to be entirely column-free. Each floor will contain an uninterrupted 22,000 square feet of floor space, three of which will have ceiling heights of over 24 feet. (W)rapper will be topped by an expansive penthouse and roof deck. An external elevator will be placed on the southern face of the building to maintain the aesthetic and spatial simplicity of the portions facing the Expo line station, while an external staircase was included as a major design element of the structure's eastern facade. The design and structural innovations of the project won the AIA/LA NEXT LA Merit Award in 2010. With neighboring companies including Apple/Beats By Dre, HBO, Amazon, Nike, WeWork and Jam City, Samitaur Constructs is hoping that (W)rapper will attract similar high-end clientele to the tower's 180,000 square feet of office space, while also offering public and retail space on its ground floor. The original proposal for the lot was for two 230-foot-tall towers, though the final design was scaled back for the project's current iteration. After beginning construction this month, it is projected that (W)rapped will be completed by the first half of 2021.
Placeholder Alt Text

LACMA redesign could be undermined by local nonprofit

It should come as little surprise that Peter Zumthor's proposed design for the new Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is continuing to inspire debate. The decision to replace the museum's original, 54-year-old buildings with an amorphous blob (containing 10,000 square feet less gallery space than its predecessors) has been widely criticized by critics and the public alike. Save LACMA, a local 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established this year, is doing everything within its power to undermine the approval the project has received from the Los Angeles City Council. “If completed,” the group explained, “it will turn our beloved County Museum of Art into a shadow of its former self, a physically smaller institution burdened by a heavy debt load.” This month, Save LACMA board chair Rob Hollman sent out an email stating that the nonprofit has updated plans of its own. “We are very happy to announce,” it reads, “that Save LACMA has retained the services of Bradley Hertz and the Sutton Law Firm to help guide us through our efforts to ensure that our LACMA—a public institution on public land with a priceless collection of publicly-owned artwork—will remain accountable to the community.” Both Hertz and Sutton specialize in nonprofits involved in political and legislative processes on the local and state levels, and the two seem particularly suited to the mission of Save LACMA as the group claims its goal reflects the interests of Los Angeles residents. The members of Save LACMA are now considering Hertz's suggestion of placing a measure onto the next Los Angeles County ballot that would give the community “A real chance to have a say in its future when they cast their vote.” The nonprofit is currently seeking donations to pay for associated legal fees while continuing its goal of ensuring the community's collective voice is heard throughout the museum campus's renovation process. While the details of the potential ballot initiative are still being determined, time to alter the project's future is running out. Demolition of the original buildings is set to begin early next year, and its developers anticipate that Zumthor's new design will be complete by 2023.
Placeholder Alt Text

One of Los Angeles's last Googie-style buildings to close, signaling unknown future

On December 8, the Facebook page for Corky's, a diner completed in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Sherman Oaks in 1958, announced that it will be closing its doors by the middle of the month following a lease dispute. The post lamented the treatment historic architecture receives in the city, stating that "Landlords just don’t appreciate these unique-style buildings and design.” Designed by Armet & Davis, one of the most prominent firms designing Googie architecture during the post-war period throughout Los Angeles, Corky's iconic roofline, playful neon signage, and stony facade make it an exemplary building of the popular, yet short-lived, style. Since the building first opened as Stanley Burke’s in 1958, the structure has survived the changing of hands and the decades of extensive remodeling that came with it. Corky's interior is notable for its extensive use of wood-paneling, overstuffed green booths, and speckled drop ceiling. Only a small handful of the Armet & Davis's buildings still survive that exemplify the same exuberant Googie style, including Johnie's Coffee Shop across from LACMA, and the iconic Norm's on La Cienega. The building's current owners are urging fans of the building to encourage city leaders to make Corky's a Los Angeles landmark before its next owner potentially decides to demolish it, while Alan Hess, a local architectural historian and preservationist, has personally submitted a Historic-Cultural Monument application to the City of Los Angeles. "Unlike the prevailing examples of high Modernism," Hess wrote in Googie Redux in 1986, "Googie was rarely boring. Its key features—futuristic details, expressive use of new materials, metal-frame structures that allowed seemingly weightless canopies and free-flowing spaces—elicited the fluidity of the Modern era." As of yet, there are no demolition permits have been filed with the city, potentially indicating that the exuberant structure could be here to stay, regardless of its tentative landmark status.