Yesterday we visited one of our favorite sites in Los Angeles: Watts Towers. The amazing complex, which includes four towers, a gazebo, fountains, and a slew of other jumbled elements, was designed by Simon, or Sam Rodia, a tile factory worker who labored on the project basically without stopping for over thirty years (from 1921-1954). The structures rise as high as 100 feet and are clad with broken bottles, tiles (over 15,000 of them), sea shells, and pretty much anything else Rodia could get his hands on. Their frame is made from chicken wire, barbed wire, coat hangers, and other makeshift materials. The feat is all the more amazing considering that Rodia didn't study any sort of building trade and was illiterate. He usually worked until 1 or 2 in the morning then went back to work in a factory the next day. Click on an image to launch the slideshow.
Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":
Tonight gives Angelenos the chance to check out the classic film The Music Man inside the Los Angeles Theater. With its glass chandeliers, Corinthian columns, and intricate Baroque details, the Los Angeles is one of the most ornate movie palaces you'll ever visit. It's the second week of Last Remaining Seats, the LA Conservancy's popular series that opens up Broadway's once great (and now mostly dormant) theaters again. That includes the Orpheum, the Million Dollar Theater, and more. This year is Last Remaining Seats' 25th Anniversary. Other engagements include King Kong at the Los Angeles and Sunset Boulevard at the Palace. Find tickets here. More pix of theaters after the jump.
I had the pleasure this year of being on the jury for the annual 2x8 Competition, organized by the AIA/LA, which (thanks to more than ten sponsors) handed out more than $8,000 in scholarships to outstanding student entries from throughout California. Normally I only get to see work from household names like SCI-ARC, USC, UCLA, etc. But the competition introduced me to projects from equally talent-rich schools like Los Angeles Institute of Architecture and Design, Pasadena City College, Woodbury, Otis, Cal State Long Beach, Cal Poly Pomona and several more. Seven winners were named in all, receiving scholarships from $600 to $3,000. Projects ranged from tiny puzzles to giant urban interventions. See the winners here and more pix here., The exhibition of their work is on display at the A+D museum until June 3.
Hem Sweet Hem. We love this quirky story from our friends at Curbed. The Swedish-based IKEA is well on itsway to worldwide domination of the budget-furniture market -- and who doesn't love wandering through the cavernous stores and imagining life in the mini habitats arranged throughout the store? Photographer Christian Gideon sure did. His latest project documents what life might look like if you lived in one. Subsidy Switch. LA's Mayor Villaraigosa promised not to spend any taxpayer money to a proposed football stadium in the city, but the project's lead architect is another matter entirely. According to LA Weekly, the mayor is sending $1 million slated for the city's poor to lead-architect Gensler as they prepare to move their offices from Santa Monica to downtown LA. Elvis Goes Danish. Think living at IKEA was strange enough? Well, the Historic Sites Blog hopes to top that. Apparently there is now a replica of Graceland in Denmark. Yes, Denmark. If those photos weren't enough, the BBC has a brief video of the Danish dupe. Empire Example. According to gbNYC, the Empire State Building plans to be in the LEED when it comes to retrefotting historic buildings. Though owner Anthony Malkin, the man behind the green curtain, didn't set out to achieve the green label for one of the city's highest profile building, he's apparently changed his tune.
Up, Up & Away. My Modern Met has a photo set from National Geographic's recreation of the Pixar movie Up. With the help of 300 colorful weather balloons, a team of engineers and pilots sent a 16' square house skyward in LA, setting a world record in the process. (Via Curbed.) Archi-Ethics. Mark Lamster is leading this week's Glass House Conversation. He's discussing the ethics of client selection: "How do we balance commercial imperatives with a desire for a moral practice?" Mansard Mania. The New York Times has a feature on Manhattan's Mansard roof heyday between 1868 and 1873, spotlighting some of the best examples of the French-style roof. Transit Saves. As civil unrest continues in the Middle East, oil prices have risen to near record levels. Reuters brings us a study from the American Public Transportation Association that finds transit riders are saving over $800 a month with the elevated gas costs, and projects nearly a $10,000 savings annually if gas maintains its high price tag.
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?
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.
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."
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
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 ]
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. ]
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!