Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":

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LA Community College DEBACLE

Over the past year or so we've been hearing grumblings about how the LA Community College District has been conducting its huge $5.7 bond-funded building program. So had the LA Times, which yesterday kicked off a large investigative series documenting the corruption and the incompetence prevalent in that campaign. The verdict, according to the Times: "Tens of millions of dollars have gone to waste because of poor planning, frivolous spending and shoddy workmanship." The first story uncovers an email from the LACCD's construction manager Larry Eisenberg admitting that quality control was "horrible," and that, "We are opening buildings that do not work at the most fundamental level." Our favorite example of waste: The district paid photographers up to $175 an hour to take pictures of trustees at a construction award banquet. We also learn that the district's board has little to no experience with construction. And that's just the beginning. Check out the piece and fear for our public programs. Who said investigative journalism was dead?
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Kanner Architects′ Impressive Before and After

Last week we checked out the opening of the new Lafayette Park Recreation Center, right outside of Downtown LA. Designed by Kanner Architects, the 15,000 square foot, $9.8 million complex represents a complete about-face from what was once a decrepit senior center with a drug and weed infested park. It includes the airy renovation of 60's architect Graham Latta's whimsically modern 1962 senior center (with its barrel arched concrete canopies), a light-infused new gym (thanks to a large double-layered glass curtain wall—why don't most gyms have those?), and new fields and picnic tables. While the cash-strapped city funded some of the project, a big chunk came from the Everychild Foundation, which chooses one project a year for which to donate $1 million. The building, which is the first for the firm since principal Stephen Kanner's death, is the first LEED certified building completed by the LA Department of Recreation and Parks. According to another project sponsor, HOLA (Heart of Los Angeles), Kanner was the key force in keeping the project's conflicting parties on the same page. "He was a peacemaker," said HOLA's founder Mitchell Moore."He was able to see the bigger picture, and I always knew from his attitude that he got what we were looking for." Incidentally, this was not Kanner's first gymnasium. His Pacific Palisades gym (2000, below) has become a bit of a sports fanatic's destination, thanks also to its airy feel and large, unique elliptical windows. And after that Kanner completed the Ross Snyder Recreation Center in South Los Angeles, where he experimented with many of the formal techniques (floating planes, layering of spaces) that he used in his residential work.
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Quick Clicks> Mega Watts, Luck, Mattise, Like Jane

Mega Watts. The Los Angeles Times reports that the James Irvine Foundation has granted $500,000 toward the preservation of LA's Watt's Towers, declaring the folk-art stalagmites "an important cultural icon." (Photo courtesy Robert Garcia/Flickr) Luck in School. The NY Times relays the story of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck who has chosen to pursue a degree in architectural design at Stanford's School of Engineering rather than head off to the NFL draft. We wish Mr. Luck, well, all the best in his endeavors, but life as an architect can make the NFL seem like a walk in the park. Al Matisse? Variety brings us news that Al Pacino has been selected to play Henri Matisse in an upcoming film called Masterpiece detailing the French painter's relationship with his nurse, model, and muse Monique Bourgeois. Producers will soon be looking for female leads. Like Jane. The Rockefeller Foundation is accepting nominations for this year's Jane Jacobs Medal honoring two living individuals who have improved the vitality of NYC and, among other things, "open our eyes to new ways of seeing and understanding our city."
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Video> Mayne Gets Artsy & Art-itecture Round Up

LA starchitect Thom Mayne recently took some time to share his art/sculpture with our friends at Form magazine. The three-dimensional pieces reveal his love for investigating hard-edged metallic shards, architectural movement, faceted surfaces, hovering forms and general chaos; all major forces in his architecture. It makes us think of the other architects who are also sculptors, and just what the difference is between architecture and sculpture these days anyway? (Since software does so much of the heavy lifting now, many would say there isn't any difference.) Here are a few of our other favorites, whose art often informs, and sometimes mirrors, their architecture: Santiago Calatrava Zaha Hadid Frank Gehry Maya Lin Oscar Niemeyer
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Broadly Speaking, Old Veil, New Twist

The recent unveiling of Diller Scofidio + Renfro's Broad Art Foundation has been generating a lot of buzz in the past couple weeks. The defining architectural element of the museum is its porous structural concrete veil which the architects hope will create an interplay between interior and exterior spaces. The Broad's concrete skin won't be Los Angeles' first, however. Sitting just two miles away on Wilshire Boulevard, the American Cement Building features a mid-century veil of its own. Designed by Salt Lake City's Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall (DMJM) in 1964, the latticework concrete facade of the 13-story American Cement Building bears a striking resemblance to that of the Broad's. Originally home to a forward-thinking cement company, the structure has now been converted into residential lofts. The American Cement Building's geometry conforms to the regularity characteristic of its period while the Broad's veil morphs in a way modern computing only allows.  It remains to be seen how similar the two buildings end up in the end, but the American Cement Building could offer insights into how the Broad might weather into middle age. [ Image credits: Tyler Goss, Chad Carpenter, Evan G, kurious kite, and Loom Studio ]
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Video> Fly Through the New Broad Museum

Yesterday, Sam Lubell detailed The Broad Foundation's much-anticipated LA museum complete with all the renderings. Now, we have a video fly-through of the new Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed space and isn't it something! You can really start to appreciate the porous nature of The Broad's structural concrete "veil" and the views inside and out it will offer. You also gain a sense of its street presence sitting alongside Frank Gehry's Disney Hall, which appears rather large in comparison. What do you think? [ Video courtesy Broad Foundation. ]
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Thursday is D Day for Broad Museum

Finally. The design for Eli Broad's new contemporary art museum in Downtown LA, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is being unveiled on Thursday, according to a press release sent out today. The event will take place at 11:00 am at Walt Disney Concert Hall (next to the new museum site), giving us lazy journalists plenty of time to make it. According to the release, the museum will be "home to the worldwide headquarters of The Broad Art Foundation," and will provide a home for Broad's collection of more than 2,000 works by 200 artists. Since the museum saga has dragged out over several years between several cities, and because he's hired one of the country's top architects, Mr. Broad has done an excellent job of building our expectations. Hope it's good!
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"Flat" LA Skyline Under Scrutiny

If you think LA’s skyline seems a little flat, you’re not the only one.  Apparently LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa thinks so too. According to LA Department of Building and Safety General Manager Robert “Bud” Ovrom, the Mayor was disappointed at how the skyline stood in comparison to what he saw in a recent trip to China. The city's flat-topped skyline was investigated in a two part-series from Curbed LA. We followed up with Ovrom. The city skyline is perennially leveled off because of a 20-year old Los Angeles Fire Department code requiring helipads on all tall buildings, the only such code in any major city around the country. On Mayor Villaraigosa’s behest, Ovrom has been put in charge of talks between a seemingly intransigent LA Fire Department, which views the flat roofs as a progressive asset in fire safety and the Planning Department.

“It’s going to be a long and serious discussion,” Ovrom told AN. So far, only a three to four talks have commenced between the departments tackling a separate issue on robotic parking (also a no-no to the LAFD). He forecasts that discussions on flat top roofs will only begin after the holidays and before the fiscal year is over in June.

To aid LA skyline’s case, Ovrom is calling for support from the AIA Los Angeles chapter, as well as other professionals who have had experience working with other cities and codes. “If every other city can do it, why can’t we?” Parties with any suggestions or proposals can contact Ovrom directly at

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Slideshow: Inglewood Plan Strives For Revitalization

The Architect's Newspaper's Sam Lubell tells us about revitalization plans for Los Angeles' once bustling Inglewood.  Architects Christopher Mercier and Douglas Pierson of (fer) Studio see a vibrant future for Market Street:
“Nobody knows about Market Street,” said Mercier. “But it already has the infrastructure to be something special.” The street is narrow, pedestrian-friendly, and lined with shops, rich plantings, small islands, and beautiful (if not well-kempt) historic buildings along its entire length. “Everyone wants to save downtown, but they don’t have the faith in what it can be,” added Pierson.
Read the entire article about revitalizing Inglewood at The Architect's Newspaper.
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Memphis Exhibition Honors Paul Revere Williams, Architect to the Stars

Love Lucy? Lucille Ball, that is. Then you'll love her architect, too.  Opening on October 22, the Art Museum of the University of Memphis is hosting the first museum exhibition of African-American architect Paul Revere Williams whose work spans the 1920s through the 1960s. While Paul Revere Williams is best known for his work on the west coast, his career took him across the country and the globe.  Williams designed more than 3,000 structures on four continents including the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Los Angeles Airport (LAX), the Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue, and, of course, the home of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The exhibition features 200 new photographs capturing the breadth of Williams' work arranged by decade and offers insights into the barrier-breaking life of the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects and one of the most esteemed architects of the 20th century. From a release:
Born and reared in Los Angeles, Williams came to define the high-style look of Hollywood in the mid-1900s, and he was well known as “architect to the stars,” but he always considered himself an expert in the design of small homes. Williams was also a leader in developing new types of buildings that were demanded by the post-WWII suburban economy. His buildings contributed significantly to the popular image of 20th century Los Angeles and to the California style, but his work didn’t stop at the state line or even the national boundary. Williams was also licensed in Washington, D.C., Nevada, New York, and Tennessee, where he designed the original building for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis and a master plan for Fisk University in Nashville. He also had a busy practice in Colombia, South America, and projects in Mexico, Europe, and Africa.
A public reception will take place on the evening of October 22 at 5:00 and the exhibit runs through January 8, 2011 at the Art Museum of the University of Memphis.
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Say Goodbye To The Pugh in Pugh+Scarpa

AN has just learned that Gwynne Pugh of well-known Santa Monica firm Pugh + Scarpa has decided to leave the firm to start his own company, Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio. Pugh and Lawrence Scarpa have led the firm for the past 22 years—Pugh actually hired Scarpa in the '80s. Pugh's new company, which "specializes in the design of structures, urban design, planning, sustainability, and consultation to companies and public entities," launched on September 1. In 2011, firm principal (and Scarpa's wife) Angela Brooks, who now runs Pugh+Scarpa's sustainable development department, will be elevated to principal-in-charge, precipitating a new firm name: Brooks+Scarpa. The firm would not comment on the changes (and Pugh's profile is already off the firm's site), but we will keep you informed as more information becomes available.
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Freeway Parks Are Everywhere

According to a story in Governing Magazine, while LA is only dreaming of building its freeway cap parks, several US cities are either planning or have completed their own. Dallas' 5.2-acre park over its Woodall Rodgers Freeway downtown will be done by 2012. Other cities that have completed decked freeway parks include Boston (the Big Dig of course!), Phoenix, Seattle, Trenton, N.J., and Duluth, Minnesota. And besides LA Cincinnati and St. Louis are also proposing deck parks. While quite expensive, the article points out, the parks help knit cities back together, provide valuable civic space, are built on free land, and send adjacent property values skyrocketing. In short: Let's Do This People!! Pix of more parks can be seen here: