Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":

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Klaus Biesenbach named new MOCA director

Klaus Biesenbach, director of MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator at Large at MoMA in New York City will be packing his bags for the West Coast. Biesenbach has reportedly been tapped as the latest to lead Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), where it’s hoped that he’ll be able to draw large crowds to the struggling institution. Biesenbach will leave behind a complicated legacy at PS1. He started his tenure as a curator in 1995, and was responsible for starting the popular summer Warm Up concert series, the Rockaway! arts festival at Fort Tilden in the Rockaways (and includes this year’s Yayoi Kusama sphere installation), and was responsible for driving foot traffic to the Queens institution. However, Biesenbach was responsible for curating the “embarrassing” Björk retrospective at MoMA in 2015 and Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present in 2010, which also drew mixed reviews. His departure comes as the museum is facing a discrimination lawsuit over the revocation of a job offer to a pregnant performance program curator. Biesenbach will be replacing Philippe Vergne, the former Dia Art Foundation director (continuing a MOCA tradition of courting New York-based personalities). Vergne stepped down after four years of running MOCA in May, following the backlash over artist Mark Grotjahn’s decision to decline being honored at the museum’s annual gala over a supposed lack of diversity among past honorees. MOCA itself has seen its fortunes rise and fall in recent years, having had its endowment fall to under $10 million as it used the money to pay for operating costs. According to the New York Times, MOCA is hoping that Biesenbach will be able to network with other collector institutions in the area, such as the Broad Museum across the street, and revitalize flagging enthusiasm for the museum. MoMA will start looking for Biesenbach’s replacement in the fall. "Klaus Biesenbach is an extremely talented curator and director who has done an outstanding job leading MoMA PS1 over the last decade," said Glenn D. Lowry, Director of MoMA in a statement, "and working with his colleagues at The Museum of Modern Art to shape our program in contemporary art. His legacy of daring exhibitions, his commitment to artists, and his dedication to civic engagement, leaves an enduring mark not only at MoMA PS1 and The Museum of Modern Art, but in the cultural life of New York City and beyond. " In related news, MoMA painting and sculpture curator Laura Hoptman has been named the new executive director of the Drawing Center. The small nonprofit museum is located in SoHo and has shown a wide collection of architectural work, including drawings by Lebbeus Woods.
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A renovated Los Feliz bungalow brings the outside in with folding doors

Carlos Madrid III, a senior designer at the Los Angeles branch of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), has been lovingly renovating his white plaster bungalow-style home for the past two years. Originally built in 1912, the residence was the living quarters for migrant farm workers. With just 800 square feet, Madrid’s main objective was to make the home more usable and comfortable. “I wanted to capitalize on the Southern California lifestyle,” he said. To accomplish this, Madrid installed LaCantina’s aluminum 3-panel bi-fold doors. The doors flexibly swing inside and outside in multiple open and closed positions—anywhere along the spectrum from wide open to completely closed. The system is equipped with a concealed multi-sealed lock, giving the architect freedom to fully open their home and the security to thoroughly close it. In effect, Madrid made the space more usable by opening up the living areas to create the illusion of increased square footage. “This window system blurs the lines between the inside and out, while increasing the perceived size of the living and dining areas,” said Madrid. Location Los Angeles Architect Carlos Madrid III Contractor Steven Fiske Wall System Aluminum Bi-fold System by LaCantina
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Rem Koolhaas calls L.A. a “prototype” for the future of cities

In a recent interview with Nathan Gardels of The Washington Post, theorist-architect Rem Koolhaas spells out his updated vision for the future of global urbanism, describing a type of multi-nodal and highly-resilient conurbation that, at least according to Koolhaas, might look a lot like Los Angeles does today.  The wide-ranging interview covers a variety of topics, including the creeping threat of the "digital city" and whether the architect would be able to build his iconic CCTV tower in China today given tightened formal controls on new development—he says not in Beijing, but perhaps in Shenzhen—among other provocative issues.  But what stands out most is what Koolhaas sees as the future of global urbanization, as the “generic” postmodern city he detailed in works like S,M,L,XL undergoes existential change in the age of Donald Trump and global nationalism. According to Koolhaas, the various urban manifestations of generic international development have started to diverge into highly localized and diffuse variants. Koolhaas complains that despite the prolific growth of urban areas over the last thirty years, societies are currently doing a poor job preparing for an uncertain future. Koolhaas blames a reliance on the market economy and its attendant excesses as a prime driver for this type of impotence, saying, “For me, the issue is not about the inefficiency of democracies versus efficient autocracies but how and where a society wants to allocate its resources. It is really a matter of ideology, of whether the interests of the market or the society as a whole are the priority." Decrying the demise of “strong state capacity” to get massive works of infrastructure and urbanization built, Koolhaas takes aim at the inability of the contemporary city to deliver necessary and vital transformative projects and services just as the localizing forces of globalization take root. Koolhaas says, “It is ironic that just as people want to see a built environment that reflects who they are, what we are seeing in much of the world is that urban planning is scarcely possible because market economies are not generating the necessary funds for it. Any major project of public interest, including even precautions against hurricanes in coastal regions of America, can’t get done.” The Dutch architect is unclear about whether or how cities will persevere through this crisis, but nevertheless has recast the generic, profuse city that sprawls into and out of the countryside as an apt model for absorbing future instabilities. Koolhaas points directly to the Dutch courbation known as Randstad, where he resides, and to Los Angeles as sources for potential solutions:
WorldPost: You’ve traveled the world many times over and built all over. In your view, what cities are most prepared to face the future? Koolhaas: I have lived for 30 years in either New York and London, but now I’m living in Randstad [a metropolis consisting of the four largest Dutch cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht]. It is a bit bizarre for me. There are no dominant cities but together the whole area is connected in a kind of metropolitan field. All the facilities and amenities you’d find in a city are here but decentralized across the whole zone. It is kind of an extended city not dependent on coherence or adjustment of each of the parts to each other. Yet it is able to sustain itself as a connected entity — kind of like a collage. So I would say cities like this that are more open and not so complex to operate are best prepared for whatever the future throws at them. Los Angeles is the prototype of this kind of habitat for the future.
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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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An automated people mover could come to L.A.’s new football stadium

The City of Inglewood in Southern California has announced a plan to add a 1.8-mile automated people mover (APM) connecting the forthcoming Los Angeles Rams stadium and the region’s growing transit network in the near future. A recently-unveiled scoping study called Envision Inglewood calls for establishing a “direct connection to rail” between downtown Inglewood and the city’s impressive slate of professional sports and performance venues.  Facilities that could be connected by the new transit route include: The Forum, the forthcoming Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, and the recently-unveiled Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center, a potential new basketball stadium for the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team. The new $2.66 billion Rams stadium is designed by HKS Architects and will be joined by a 3,000-unit mixed-use residential development next door known as “City of Champions.” The Forum was designed by Charles Luckman Associates in 1966 in the late modern style; The complex is slated to host the gymnastic events for the 2028 Olympic Games. The Envision Inglewood plan was crafted in conjunction with a series of other transportation and pedestrian fixes. The plan considers four different alignments and a handful of transport modes in its aim to provide a “world-class transit connection to-and-from the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line” transit route, an 8.5 mile light rail line connecting the cities of Los Angeles, Inglewood, and El Segundo through southern Los Angeles County slated to open in 2019. According to a presentation made at the Inglewood City Council, the report’s chosen route—dubbed the “Market-Manchester” alignment—would add the APM link starting from the forthcoming Downtown Inglewood stop on the Crenshaw Line. The elevated train would snake down Market Street and Manchester Boulevard, ultimately ending up on South Prairie street where it can conveniently stop at the three stadium and performance venue locations.  Renderings for the proposed plan depict lively street scenes overlooked by elevated train tracks on concrete piers. Projections for the line envision up to 2,578,120 potential boardings across the APM route per year, with slightly less than 40% of all boardings related to “event ridership.” According to the report, the link could cost $614.4 million to build and between $18.2 million and $19.5 million to operate each year.  A timeline for the project’s completion has not been announced. The new football stadium is scheduled to open for the 2019-2020 NFL season. 
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Warner Brothers proposes gondola to Hollywood Sign from San Fernando Valley

In the latest escalation of Los Angeles’s Hollywood Sign wars, Warner Brothers has announced something of a truce: a plan to build a $100 million gondola system that would connect the entertainment company’s studio backlot in Burbank, California with the iconic sign.  The plan was announced via The Los Angeles Times earlier this week and comes as Los Angeles works to assuage concerns of the wealthy homeowners who live near and around access points to the sign. Those homeowners complain that increased public desire to visit and see the landmark has created gridlock and unsafe conditions in their neighborhoods as tourists peer out from their cars and stop in the middle of the street to take photos of and selfies with the sign. Though world famous as an iconic symbol of L.A., the Hollywood sign has never functioned as a traditional monument that people can freely visit. Instead, intrepid hikers and explorers must traverse a series of canyon trails, including the Beachwood Canyon access point, which the city closed in 2017, to get close to the sign. The super-adventurous have long illicitly hiked to the site of the sign itself, where the 40-foot-tall letters are simply and unceremoniously affixed to the hillside with poured concrete footings. But in recent years, as athleisure activities and Instagram have taken off, interest in visiting and seeing the sign has blossomed, presenting headaches for neighbors and questions of safety for visitors alike.  After a recent trail closure, local city councilperson David Ryu commissioned a study aimed at finding ways to increase public access to the sign without impacting neighborhood residents. The wide-ranging recommendations included punitive measures like planting new trees and shrubbery to obscure views of the sign from the circuitous Mulholland Drive as well as visionary fixes, like potentially building a gondola system and visitors center along south-facing slopes of the Hollywood Hills. The most outlandish recommendation called for erecting a replica sign on the opposing side of the mountain that faces the San Fernando Valley. Warner Brothers’ plan represents a strange hybrid of the latter approaches. The company has large studio and production facilities in the San Fernando Valley that are a tourist draw in their own right. The proposed plan—an architect or design team has not been announced—would essentially expand those facilities to include access to the Hollywood sign by spanning over nearby Griffith Park and other adjoining hillsides. The scheme is in the very early phases of planning and study and will require many agency and local approvals, but the studio has offered to pay for the gondola, so at least funding is secured. Chris Baumgart, chair of the Hollywood Sign Trust said via email, “The Warner Brothers proposal is just one of many solutions that added together will help ease the burden of over-tourism faced by the neighborhoods.” Baumgart added, “There is no one solution to the complexities of this issue. The scope of the Warner Brother’s project will have a long road of vetting with community groups and local governments involved. The Environmental Impact Report for construction in an open space is just one of the challenges that will have to be navigated if this intriguing idea is to come to fruition.” The gondola proposal comes weeks after Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies, LLC announced its own plan to construct a gondola system that would take passengers from the Los Angeles Union Station to Dodger Stadium. That $150 million proposal is also under development, has support from L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, and is projecting a 2022 opening date.  A timeline for the Hollywood Sign gondola has not been announced. 
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Frank Lloyd Wright’s fully-restored Ennis House is for sale for $23 million

Following an extensive, more than a decade-long restoration, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House in Los Angeles is for sale.  The 5,500-square-foot neo-Mayan hilltop house was designed by Wright in 1923 and is on the market for a cool $23 million. The home is the last and largest of Wright’s “textile block” homes in Los Angeles. The home was last listed for sale in 2009 for $15 million following a slew of upgrades and renovations, a figure that eventually fell to a mere $4.5 million in the fallout of the 2008 economic collapse. In 2011 the home finally sold to business executive Ron Burkle, the current owner. The home was previously owned by the Ennis House Foundation, which sold the property to Burkle with a requirement that it be open to public tours for at least 12 days per year, a stipulation that will follow the house as it changes hands once again. After the 2011 purchase, Burkle spent the next six years fully restoring the home with help from Wright’s grandson Eric Lloyd Wright, who was the historic preservation consultant for the project. Matt Construction executed the restoration work on the house, a project that involved structurally stabilizing the house as well as replacing nearly 4,000 of the home’s 27,000 textile concrete blocks. The building was also re-roofed during the restoration, and the home’s interior wood floors, ceilings, and art glass windows were restored.  Prior to the restoration work, the home had sat in horrible shape after suffering extensive structural damage following the 1994 Northridge earthquake. In 2005, torrential rains in L.A. caused much of the roof damage and interior deterioration that the latest restoration corrected.  The home is famous for being shown in a variety of films, including Blade Runner and House on Haunted Hill. The home was originally commissioned for Charles and Mabel Ennis and is currently listed on the market by Beverly Hill-based realtors Branden and Rayni Williams of Hilton & Hyland. 
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Pereira’s historic CBS Television City achieves landmark status amid redevelopment rumors

The Los Angeles City Council has voted to designate the William Pereira-designed CBS Television City complex in Los Angeles as an official city historic-cultural monument, paving the way for the complex to be preserved or adaptively reused as redevelopment talks for the 25-acre site heat up. The International Style complex was built in 1952 and features gridded expanses of clear glass set along planar geometries. Designed by the firm Pereira and Luckman, the complex is among several of the office's many threatened works, including their LACMA building, among many, many others, and one of the few to glide toward landmark status in recent years, a surprise given the red-hot development climate in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Conservancy nominated the complex for landmarking earlier this year as rumors began to swirl that CBS was interested in redeveloping the complex. Alan Hess, an architectural historian who wrote the building's historic nomination on behalf of the Conservancy, told The Architect's Newspaper that "CBS Television City is a true landmark of the electronic age, and a real testament to the design and planning vision of William Pereira and Charles Luckman," adding, "They built it at the dawn of television, yet it is still in use today for its original purpose. That’s good design. It stands alongside [Richard] Neutra’s Lovell House and Skidmore Owings and Merrill’s Crown Zellerbach tower in San Francisco as one of California’s three greatest examples of International Style architecture." Hess added that the importance of the structure and its International Style design surpass its use as a television facility, as well, saying, "The International Style was inspired by the straightforward functionalism of factories, and CBS Television City is, in fact, a factory building, not a house or office building. CBS can be congratulated for being a good corporate citizen and supporting this designation." The complex came into being as a replacement facility for the Columbia Square broadcasting facilities located just a few miles away in Hollywood, CBS's original home designed by William Lescaze in 1938. Columbia Square was restored, reused, and expanded by Rios Clementi Hale Studios in 2017 as part of a larger project that added a high-rise tower and new office spaces to the site. The award-winning project has been heralded as a marquee approach for preservation-focused adaptive reuse. A potential project for the Television City site has not been announced.
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Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign offers new model for how architects work

In a radical move in 2000, Mehrdad Yazdani established the Yazdani Studio under the larger umbrella of CannonDesign. The shuffle surprised many architects, both competitors and some members within Cannon itself. The move created a firm within a firm, established to be both part of CannonDesign and at the same time somewhat separate. This allowed Yazdani to explore design ideas that were distinct and somewhat unusual when compared to most of the buildings coming out of the large architectural and engineering practice at the time. Yazdani explains that his namesake studio is a platform for exploration of design ideas, separate from CannonDesign’s Los Angeles office. When you walk into the L.A. office of CannonDesign, you see a broad open space of desks, people, and computers, but the Yazdani Studio is set apart upstairs, almost as though it were a completely different office. The Yazdani Studio offers an innovative model for designer-centered ateliers, one where an architect can work with the security of a large practice and the flexibility of a boutique operation. Yazdani came to CannonDesign when his previous firm, Dworsky Associates, was acquired by the larger office. For six years (1994-2000) Yazdani served as Design Director for Dworsky Associates in Los Angeles. During that time they were selected to design the Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada as part of the national GSA Federal Design Excellence Program. The 437,000-square-foot project won acclaim and drew national attention, demonstrating that a federal courthouse could be both secure and welcoming, giving the judges both the monumentality they wanted and the public the accessibility they sought. The project's success carried Yazdani’s national design reputation to such a level that when Dworsky Associates was acquired by CannonDesign in 2000, Yazdani was offered the option to create his own studio within the larger firm. Creating the Yazdani Studio was a paradigm shift from how large integrated A/E firms had been working. Typically, if design was a high priority, a firm might promote one or two individuals to positions of authority and design leadership. Several examples made waves nationally: Ralph Johnson, FAIA, Global Design Director, at Perkins + Will; David Childs, FAIA at SOM New York and Craig Hartman, FAIA at SOM San Francisco, both Design Partners; and Joan Soranno, FAIA, Design Principal with John Cook, FAIA at HGA. All of these architects set design direction, lead clients and internal teams, and have won many national design awards, yet none have a studio in their name. CannonDesign agreed to create the Yazdani Studio to help elevate design within the firm. Today with roughly 1,000 people and 20 offices, CannonDesign CEO, Brad Lukanic remains a strong proponent of the Yazdani Studio. This year, Lukanic invited Yazdani extend his influence further by joining the Cannon board of directors to bring, “pre-eminent design to the board.”   University of Utah, Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute Salt Lake City, Utah Consistent with the Yazdani Studio ambitions to constantly innovate, this was a first-of-its-kind facility, combining places for students to live, invent, and collaborate. It brings together 400 student residences and 20,000 square feet of “garage” or incubator space to encourage students to develop ideas that will spawn Utah-based start-ups. After being open for just over a year, the number of start-up companies developed on campus has tripled. The building attracts students from all over campus—it’s a magnet for creative thinking.   CJ Blossom Park Gyeonggi-do, South Korea Recently selected as the “Lab of the Year” by R&D Magazine, this 1,200,000-square-foot facility is a new research headquarters for CJ Corporation intended to reposition the company’s operations into an interdisciplinary format, designed to “increase efficiency, create a culture of integrated innovation, and accelerate speed-to-market.” With a three-leaf-clover floor plan, the internal spaces encourage interaction and stimulate cross-fertilization.   Museum of Tolerance, Jerusalem, Permanent Exhibitions Jerusalem, Israel A series of undulating pavilions provide a journey through human history. The 44,000-square-foot exhibit seeks to teach the core values of kindness and respect for mankind. The delicate human scale reflects the museum’s goal of teaching social justice and dignity through interactive, multi-media exhibits.   EMAAR Hospitality Address Towers at Harbour Point Dubai, United Arab Emirates EMAAR Properties selected the Yazdani Studio to design two major towers. The design frames the Santiago Calatrava-designed Observation Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour City, now under construction. EMAAR Properties gained international recognition when they developed the Burj Kalifa, the 160-story mixed use tower that is the tallest building in the world, designed by Adrian Smith, then of SOM. The Yazdani Studio-designed towers are 60 and 65 stories totaling 2,240,000 square feet. The project serves as both a focal point and a gateway to the Dubai Creek Harbour.
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Gensler-designed soccer stadium in California brings fans close to the game

The new Gensler-designed Banc of California Stadium opened for its inaugural Major League Soccer season in late April, ushering in Los Angeles’s first new open-air sports and entertainment venue since the debut of Dodgers Stadium in 1962. The 22,000-seat arena is designed with intimacy in mind: No seat in the stadium is farther than 135 feet from the field, with those closest sitting just 12 feet from the action. The arrangement of steeply raked seating and close proximity to the game is meant to create a closer connection between players and fans in the manner of European-style gameplay, according to Gensler.
The buoyant-looking complex is built on a concrete base and is topped by slender, 45-foot-tall steel section canopies. Draped between these structural elements are 190,000 square feet of translucent ETFE fabric to provide cover from L.A.’s sometimes brutal sun while still allowing enough sunlight through so that grass can grow on the pitch. The complex—chock-full of pedestrian-oriented plazas, viewing and celebration terraces, and restaurants—connects directly to newly landscaped areas designed by Studio-MLA.
Banc of California Stadium 3939 S Figueroa Street Los Angeles Tel: 323-648-6060 Architect: Gensler
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Gehry’s Sunset Strip complex all clear to demolish Kurt Meyer-designed bank in L.A.

In Los Angeles—when it comes to preservation battles and development, at least—history tends to repeat itself.  Such was the case last week, as the Gehry Partners-designed 8150 Sunset complex cleared another legal hurdle in the quest to demolish an existing historic building so that the project might move one step closer to construction. The California Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal brought forth by the Los Angeles Conservancy against a recent ruling that would have allowed developers Townscape Partners to demolish the 1960s-era Lytton Savings bank designed by Los Angeles architect Kurt Meyer located on the project site. The bank itself was built following the destruction in 1959 of the storied Gardens of Allah hotel complex, an elaborate collection of villas surrounding the historic Hayvenhurst estate. In its time, the hotel hosted a who’s-who of Hollywood entertainers and literary personalities, including the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the actress Alla Nazimova—after whom the complex was originally named—Greta Garbo, the Marx brothers, Ronald Reagan, and many others. Urban legend has it that the demolition of the Gardens complex inspired the line "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot" in the Joni Mitchell song "Big Yellow Taxi,” though sources—and Mitchell herself—do not quite agree on the matter. At the time of its destruction, the Gardens complex was seen as representative of an outdated style in need of renewal. Nearly 60 years later, Frank Gehry says the existing concrete folded plate structure that replaced the gardens has “outlived its time” as well, and is incompatible with his proposed design, a rumpled collection of twisted, fluted forms set to rise on what is now the city’s Sunset Strip. Gehry has pledged to “recognize” the Lytton structure as part of the redevelopment, though he has not specified what that means. The latest mixed-use project would bring a clump of segmented towers surrounded by broad public spaces and a stepped plaza to the site. Contained within the three squat towers that make up the project would be 229 housing units, including 38 low-income designated homes. The housing element will be joined by 60,000 square feet of commercial spaces, as well.  It is unclear what’s next for the project. A statement from the L.A. Conservancy website states that the latest ruling “effectively ends legal efforts to stop the needless demolition of the historic Lytton Savings building,” however. A statement put out by Friends of Lytton Savings referred to the ruling as “bad news.” Steven Luftman and Keith Nakata of Friends of Lytton Savings said via email, “Demolishing the Lytton building will be a tremendous loss for Los Angeles. The building represents what was good about the ‘Mad Men’ era of architecture in Los Angeles:  Kurt Meyer and Bart Lytton created a soaring space that brought art, sophistication and the vision of a bright future to the people of this city.’’ A development timeline for 8150 Sunset has not been released.
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It’s official: A new 1,020-foot tower is coming to Downtown Los Angeles

The developers behind a recently-proposed project that would bring a 1,020-foot-tall, Handel Architects-designed skyscraper complex to Downtown Los Angeles have officially submitted their project plans with the City of L.A. Urbanize.la reports that developers MacFarlane Partners, Peebles Corporation, and Claridge Partners submitted updated plans for a 1.26 million-square-foot proposal last week that would bring 120 condominiums, 450 apartments, 480 hotel rooms, and 50,000-square-feet of commercial uses to the hillside site formerly known as Angels Knoll park.  The $1.2 billion project will also include a 45,000-square-foot charter school and is being designed to hug the rugged terrain via a complex of porous edges that connect to the adjacent Angels Flight funicular and an associated staircase. Site and landscape design for the project is being performed by OLIN and will feature a complex set of outdoor terraces, amphitheaters, and gardens. At least 50 percent of the project site will be left open under the current scheme, with a pair of towers and a stepped podium occupying improved areas.  Glenn Rescalvo, partner at Handel Architects, told The Los Angeles Times, “We want to make the site as permeable as possible. You could enter from different points and reach all the other locations." Renderings for the project depict a tapered 88-story tower filled with condominiums, apartments, and 192 hotel rooms. A second, 27-story tower will house the remaining hotel rooms and the charter school.  Don Peebles of Peebles Corporation told The Los Angeles Times, "It's basically a neighborhood within a building," adding, “It's the wave of the future for urban living." The Handel Architects proposal was selected by the city’s Chief Legislative Analyst earlier this year from among three other bids that included proposals by Natoma Architects and Gensler. The development site was originally envisioned as the location for a third tower planned for the California Plaza complex in the 1980s and 1990s, but the plan never materialized. Instead, disused site eventually became Angels Knoll park in early 2000s and was immortalized in the 2009 film 500 Days of Summer. The park closed in 2013 and its grounds have sat fenced-off and vacant ever since.  The project will soon be joining the long-stalled, Frank Gehry-designed Grand Avenue Project, which is slated to contain 436 housing units, a 314-room hotel and 209,000 square feet of commercial space in a pair of 20- and 39-story towers. The Handel Architects project is estimated to take at least 41 months to build; the development team behind the project has announced a projected completion date of December 31, 2024.