Dear Angelenos: Would you like to save $10,000 this year? Move to a walkable neighborhood and leave your car at home. While this may be obvious—and unrealistic in many parts of our sprawling town—the Center for Transit Oriented Development (CTOD) is hoping to change the game with a new toolkit aimed at improving areas of Los Angeles in close proximity to transit stops. The CTOD, funded through a CalTrans grant and sponsored by Metro, has prepared evaluations of all 71 existing and proposed stations associated with heavy rail, light rail, and busways in the city. Utilizing the findings of those studies along with information gleaned from focus groups, the report offers strategies for expanding and creating new transit oriented districts around Los Angeles. "District" will replace "development" in the TOD nomenclature, at least that's the center is hoping as it strives for more organic strategies in the future, eschewing the top-down, Robert Moses-like approach of the past. While the biggest savings and benefits in the TOD system come through a reduced dependence on cars, some advocates believe adding additional parking at transit stations is the best way forward, at least in the short term. With Measure R raising $40 billion for transit-related projects over 30 years, and Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan solidified, this new toolkit will hopefully influence positive growth around Los Angeles’ transit lines as they expand. Clearly, this fresh thinking is needed, as Christopher Hawthorne recently highlighted LA's lagging standards.
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DRAMA At SFMOMA In mid-March, Curbed SF revealed, via an unnamed source, six of the eight architects that it claimed had been shortlisted for SFMOMA’s planned expansion, which would house the late Donald Fisher’s art collection. The list included international big-hitters like David Adjaye, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Steven Holl, OMA, Snøhetta, and Renzo Piano. And so began rumor-mill heaven. Since that post, the veracity of which has been questioned (although first taken at face value by the likes of the LA Times’ Christopher Hawthorne), we’ve heard from various sources that Peter Zumthor and TEN Arquitectos are being considered, that Gensler is also on the shortlist (not a coincidence perhaps, since Art Gensler is the vice chairman of the SFMOMA board), and that Norman Foster, who was basically booed out of town after winning a stimulus-aided renovation of the city’s 50 UN Plaza building, turned down the competition altogether. A call to Diller Scofidio + Renfro revealed that the firm had heard nothing from the museum. And one architect told us the list was no list at all, hinting that it came straight from the lips of CCA director (and loyal AN source) David Meckel. Meanwhile the museum said, not surprisingly, that it can “neither confirm nor deny” the leaks. But oh what fun it is to pontificate. SCARLET LETTER IS BLUE New social networking/architecture site Architizer hosted its LA launch party at the new A+D Museum space on March 18. The usual suspects all showed up in their best duds, but far and away the best-dressed was KCRW radio host Frances Anderton’s daughter Summer. Looking stunning in an eclectic and colorful boho-chic ensemble, Summer, 5, wore sparkling “Twinkle Toes” shoes, embedded not with the usual lame single blinking red LED light, but a whole kaleidoscope of dazzling bright white wonders. Oh, and Architizer founders Marc Kushner and Benjamin Prosky weren’t too shabby either, working the monochrome dark suit, Mad Men thin-tie look that added a touch of class to the event where the site’s omnipresent “A” logo was emblazoned on everything from t-shirts and lapels to a stack of chairs arranged in a rickety A formation. FIRMING UP It seems every month we hear of another struggling firm being swallowed up by a biggie. First Ellerbe Becket was taken over by AECOM. Then WWCOT merged into DLR. Now we hear from our rumor-mongering friends that Bay Area firm Fisher Friedman is on the block, and its primary suitor is NBBJ, who already took over Cambridge firm Chan Krieger Sieniewicz this month. Send hostile bids and golden handshakes to Eavesdrop@archpaper.com
LA is rarely thought of as the country's greenest town, what with all the traffic and sprawl, but it's doing a lot better than you think, as the News informs us. For the second year in a row, Los Angeles has been ranked number one in terms of energy efficient buildings, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star ratings. LA made it to the top of the list by having the most rated buildings—ones that use 35 percent less energy than the average—with 293. The top five include Washington, D.C. (204), San Francisco (173), Denver (136) and Chicago (134). This does not exactly mean it is the most efficient period, given that there are so many more buildings in LA—usual suspects like Seattle and Portland are missing from the top five, as is New York, which we'd like to think is missing because it's so dense, though probably the real issue is that it's so old an inefficient to begin with. Still, no matter how you look at it, this is a step in the right direction for all of us.
UPDATE: A source close to the museum writes in with this: "Who knows what Deitch will do? It probably depends on what Eli Broad tells him to do." Which is pretty much what you might have guessed reading the (New York) Times' story on the whole affair on the Arts front today. Looking for hints in Tyler Green's first-out-the-gate interview with Deitch, we found none. Design was mentioned exactly once, in reference to a MOCA satellite at the Pacific Design Center. And yet Deitch's shows and showiness have a certain architectural scale about them. As always, anything goes and anything can happen. New York uber-collector and bombastic bon vivant Jefferey Deitch has been named director of LA's Museum of Contemporary Art. Deitch, a gallerist of late among many other things, has had a storied career, but he becomes about the only art dealer/gallery owner to assume leadership of a major U.S. museum. There has already been much talk about that sacred cow The Art World and What It All Means. But what most concerns us is that, while he is known for developing riské artists and outré installations—Swoon sailing the Hudson was a recent favorite—Deitch has little, or at least less, concern for design than some of his fellow gallerists. This may not bode well for the hope of re-establishing the museum's recently-gutted architecture department. (Brooke Hodge, curator of architecture was removed last May, and the museum cancelled its blockbuster Morphosis show as well). Granted if Deitch is anything he is unconventional and unexpected, so who knows what could happen. Which is why LA's gain is New York's loss, as with the deal comes the closure of one of the most exciting galleries in the country.
The LA Times has finally solved the mystery as to why LA Community Redevelopment Agency CEO Cecilia Estolano stepped down late last year. According to The Times (and Curbed LA), Estolano warned LA mayor Villaraigosa that she would resign before moving her agency to a building on the western edge of downtown, which the mayor had requested. 'The mayor may want to know that he will lose the CEO of his CRA/LA over this," Estolano wrote in one memo. The paper said that "Villaraigosa's executive team was baffled by Estolano's defiance and asked for her resignation." In an interview with the Times Estolano disputed the claim that she was pushed out. Either way, she's one of several top officials to leave or be pushed out by the mayor in his final term, as the story states. It's a wild, uncertain time here in LA.
HITCHIN’ A RIDE With its price hikes, worker strife, and bureaucratic image, LA METRO doesn’t exactly set the standard for good press. But that appears to be changing as the transit authority has hired two of our favorite writers to supply in-house news and consulting. After being laid off by the Los Angeles Times in March, transit reporter Steve Hymon was hired by Metro to put together its new transit blog, The Source. On November 20, AN contributor Sam Hall Kaplan announced that he had been hired by Metro to be a transportation planning manager, with a focus on “crafting a user-friendly interface in Downtown LA between the Metro and the proposed California High Speed Rail,” in particular for stations and streetscapes. Eavesdrop hopes there’s one more spot for a guy who would like to check out the coolest cities and their metro systems for ideas—say Paris, Rome, Berlin, and Tokyo. AVE ATQUE VALETS! Bad blood is stirring between the William Morris Endeavor talent agency and developers George Comfort & Sons, as the agency tries to extract itself from a lease at a building now under construction at 231-265 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. Earlier this fall, WME contended that Comfort & Sons had violated the lease, because the agency would be forced to share a valet service and parking with a competitor (God forfend!) in a neighboring building. Prior to William Morris’ mega-merger with Endeavor, the agency had hired Gensler to design the interiors for 231. Enter Ari Emanuel, then head of Endeavor, who now runs the WME shop—where egos in excess outstrip even the most brazen architect. The agent fired Gensler and hired Neil Denari. Then came word that Emanuel was trying to leave the Beverly Drive address entirely. Now, no one is talking, at least not to us. Or is it Eavesdrop’s Corvair? Gensler declined to comment, while Denari’s firm tells us they’re still on hold. As for the valets, we hear they’re deeply offended. Naturally.
WHY TV APPEARANCES MATTER
Why take ourselves seriously as architecture critics when we can be lampooned on The Colbert Report in order to sell a few books? Whoops, that’s not Eavesdrop’s game. That’s New Yorker critic Paul Goldberger, who sat gamely grinning in the hot seat on November 19 while Colbert ridiculed—uh, make that discussed—world architecture and Goldberger’s new book, Why Architecture Matters. After a rocky start (Colbert mis-pronounced Goldberger’s name in the intro), Colbert proceeded to grill the author on the possibility of landmarking the Colbert Report set. Then, he suggested putting a toilet handle on the Guggenheim, and asked if he could skateboard down the Gugg’s ramp (Why not? Krens would have—might have—motorbiked it if he had the chance). Finally, Colbert pondered aloud that if architecture reflects who we are, as Goldberger’s book claims, then how come our houses aren’t getting fatter? Goldberger took it all in stride, relishing the rare chance among architecture authors to bathe in the brighter lights of TV-bound public attention. Fair warning, though: Eavesdrop’s aiming to get on Oprah with an architecture Tell-All.
Send METRO passes and teleprompters to Eavesdrop@archpaper.com.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
The Urban Land Institute LA’s inaugural LARC (Los Angeles Real Creativity) Awards was not your average design show. Mistress of ceremonies Frances Anderton, the host of KCRW’s “Design and Architecture," set a light tone that discouraged back slapping and the stodgy speeches that often accompany such congratulatory musings. As dinner was served by Wolfgang Puck, guests seated at tables in the lobby of Wayne Ratkovich’s recently renovated William Pereira building at 5900 Wilshire were treated to a crash course in some of LA’s most innovative projects. And the winners were: In the Design Category, recognizing projects still in the conceptual stage, the Hollywood Cap Park took the award (which, by the way, was a Tiffany Frank Gehry designed paper weight). Conceived 25 years ago and recently revived, a 44-acre park would “cap” the 101 Freeway from Bronson Avenue to Santa Monica Boulevard. The Place Award, honoring completed buildings that have “world-changing” potential, went to the Academy of Entertainment Technology, the media campus of Santa Monica College and home to KCRW which is being designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects. YOLA – Los Angeles Philharmonic/Gustavo Dudamel won the Enterprise award in the community or social program category for its work building youth orchestras in undeserved communities. And the Big Idea award recognizing a “game-changer” went to the Imagine Mars Project initiated by JPL/NASA, which combines science, engineering and art to help children learn how to create design solutions by imagining what kind of community they would build on Mars. HONORABLE MENTIONS Design: Flower Street Bioreactor East Cahuenga Corridor Alley Place: Bert Green Fine Art for the Downtown L.A. Art Walk Maltman Bungalows New Carver Apartments (Michael Maltzman Architecture) Enterprise The Community of Mar Vista Wilson Meany Sullivan, LLP for Hollywood Park Tomorrow Idea Thinking Out of the Big Box --STACIE STUKIN
She still hasn't commented on WHY she left the LA Community Redevelopment Agency (we've called a bunch of times...) for Oakland-based non-profit Green For All. But Cecilia Estolano did give an exit interview to the Planning Report. Here's an excerpt. In it she discusses her changes and achievements at the CRA, including shifting the focus from "blight elimination and building shopping centers" to "creating economic opportunity." She also takes one more shot at the state government and its "fundamentally broken finance system," which has recently pilfered much of the CRA's funds. Finally she makes comments about her new job that suggest it may be a much more efficient place for her to change lives of struggling city dwellers: "I’m going to help Green For All across the country, city by city by city, to utilize economic stimulus funds, federal funds, and other funds to implement organization programs, energy efficiency programs, and incorporate job training and career apprenticeship programs for poor folks." Sounds like a pretty good gig...
We knew Rem Koolhaas had a crush on Miuccia Prada, but now Frank Gehry and her have teamed up, and it's not for a new "epicenter." As The New Yorker details in a Talk piece this week, the Santa Monica architect was asked by his artist friend Francesco Vezzoli to design a hat for none other than walking art piece Lady Gaga, and the hat, along with her dress, were made by Prada for a benefit at LA's Museum of Contemporary Art last month. As Dana Goodyear describes it, "Gaga wore the Gehry hat all folded in on itself, a millinery version of Walt Disney Hall." But this being The New Yorker, there were no pictures, only a drawing, so we had to see the hat for ourselves, which, thanks to Gaga Daily, we found it. But the real treat is hearing Gehry describe his pièce de résistance:
Gehry said that he had done the initial drawing on his iPhone, which an assistant then produced: a violet scribble with a black-and-blue iris at the center. “Since I’ve never designed a hat before, I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to walk,” he said. “I did have an idea that involved people with sticks holding it up, walking behind her. I didn’t know how far I could go with this thing.”Starchitecture indeed.
It must be said that Curbed, in its short life, has become one of the preeminent sites for not just real estate but also architecture and planning news, one of—not the, mind you, as that would us—best places for info on the evolving built environments of New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. They are most certainly in our Top 10. Reaffirming that fact is a Top 10 of Curbed's own, a celebration of the best buildings of the past decade, something the site(s) weren't around to see the dawning of, though who cares, since neither were we. Each of the three Curbed sites asked local luminaries—Brooklyn's notorious Robert Scarano and our pal Eric Owen Moss included—to name their favorite new buildings in their respective cities that had been built over the last decade. Noticeable trends: lots of boldface firms, lots of glass, lots of big buildings, lots of Standard Hotels. We woulda voted for the Nehemiya Spring Houses, because it shows that any architect, with the wherewithal, can do stunning affordable housing in the outer reaches of an outerborough—which is not to say Alex Gorlin is just anybody, but, well, you know. Alas, we lost our submission form and could not make the main event. Here are the sites' countdowns, plus their runners-up: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco (no runners-up yet). We're told there's more Top of the Aughts coverage to come, so keep your eyes peels. And, if you're an obsessive reader like us, you may have noticed part of the celebration is a sexy new redesign, to which we give a hearty Mazel Tov and thumbs up.
David Rockwell's star turn at the Oscars last year won the designer considerable plaudits, so he's been asked to reprise his role, according to UPI. "We loved the look and feel that David created for the Oscar show last year," one of the producers said. "David is so creative and has such a great big-picture approach to set design," said another. The well-known interiors ace has done considerable amount of work on Broadway as well as the Kodak Theater where the Oscars are taped, so really, it's like a homecoming.
Curbed LA points us to a new video series by VBS.tv exploring the unexplored nooks and crannies of the country called Uneven Terrains. And like all things carrying the Vice label, the web series is populated by airy hipsters with a certain indifference, and yet sometimes they turn up some really cool stuff. Case in point: the hidden oil wells of LA, including in Beverly Center mall and a nearby high school. Our pal Dakota wonders how the parents ("Won't you please think of the children!") could let such a thing happen, but given oil prices, how couldn't you? After the jump, you can check out the "ruins" of New York—been there, done that—and our favorite, the Missile Silo home—most silos have been decommissioned, and many have been privatized[!!!]. They're perfect for any fan of urban exploration and cutting edge music.