Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":

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HOLLYWEIRD

So the iconic HOLLYWOOD sign was nearly turned into the backyard for a bunch of mansions, but fortunately the recession intervened—one of a surprising number of upsides to the downside, it seems. But that doesn't mean those big white letters aren't seeming a little tired, and so a Dutch designer has come up with a rather clever new use that Curbed tipped us off to: turn the sign into a giant hotel. As Christian Bay-Jorgensen explained it to the Daily News, "The ultimate goal would be to preserve an internationally recognized landmark while helping the city generate badly needed funding." If that weren't bad enough, our pal Alissa Walker points us to Jeffrey Inaba's plan to uproot the individual letters, loaning them out to areas of town in need of cache. The design provocateur explains after the jump, plus images of both, uh, projects.
Unplanned Surplus The Hollywood sign has exceeded its purpose. As a marketing tool for real estate development, it has generated value incommensurate with its own material worth. As a tourist destination, it is more popular than most buildings in LA. In lieu of a singular skyline, the sign is a default backdrop for televised New Year’s countdowns and late night comedy shows. The Hollywood sign has assumed an iconic role in the city far beyond its original ambition. Its value is an unplanned surplus.
Unplanned Surplus The Hollywood sign has exceeded its purpose. As a marketing tool for real estate development, it has generated value incommensurate with its own material worth. As a tourist destination, it is more popular than most buildings in LA. In lieu of a singular skyline, the sign is a default backdrop for televised New Year’s countdowns and late night comedy shows. The Hollywood sign has assumed an iconic role in the city far beyond its original ambition. Its value is an unplanned surplus.
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Bedazzled Ws

A couple of months ago we introduced you to the W Hotel in Hollywood, a collaboration of some of the leading design talent in LA. One of those firms, Sussman Prejza, just sent us a video that shows off their all-important fiery red and multi-colored "W" signs, seen throughout the building. In addition to the behemoth  35-foot-tall W on top of the hotel, the firm designed a slew of animated signs, which sparkle thanks to LED's, red and/or crystalline filters, and faceted, laser-cut acrylic surfaces. The signs vary from 2.5 to 5.5 feet tall and are programmed with their own dedicated control computer, 10 network switches, 61 power supplies and over 24,000 LEDs. And you thought all that Hollywood sparkle was simple, didn't you?
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Supporting Supportive Housing

Los Angeles' Permanent Supportive Housing program got a much-needed emergency shot of funds this week: a $5.2 million pledge from the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) and Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Though Los Angeles has more homeless people than any other city in the US, only in the last few years has it begun to catch up with other cities' level of services. 2005 saw a city-wide push to build supportive housing, a model borrowed from New York that combines affordable housing with services to help residents deal with mental illness, drug abuse, and disabilities. Top architecture firms helped fill out the new supportive housing landscape, with innovative projects such as Michael Maltzan's 95-unit, radially-arranged New Carver Apartments, Pugh + Scarpa's 46-unit Step Up on Fifth facility in Santa Monica, and Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects' 82-unit Skid Row Housing in downtown Los Angeles. But the economic downturn put a freeze on construction of new supportive housing and has forced program cuts, hiring freezes and layoffs. Out of the over 2,000 units under development since the program was launched five years ago, about 600 are shovel-ready but lack the financing to proceed, due to local government budget crises and frozen credit markets. The CSH and Hilton foundation's $5.2 million in grants and low-interest loans should get most of those projects going again. Since studies show that supportive housing actually saves the city money -- reducing costly time in jails and hospitals -- that may turn out to be not just a good deed, but a smart investment as well.
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LA Stars Are Born

Even though we already knew who had won ahead of time, we couldn't help getting excited about  AIA/LA's ARCH IS__ awards, crowning "two exceptional young architects" at SCI-Arc on Monday night. The winners: Oyler Wu Collaborative and Tom Wiscombe/ Emergent. Both are pushing the envelope in terms of design, materials, engineering, and program, and are even starting to (slowly) build things. Oyler Wu is known for its multi-functional, angular aluminum tube installations like Pendulum Plane at the LA Forum's new gallery space in Hollywood, and Density Fields at the M&A Gallery in Silver Lake. But with a new commission to build one of 100 new houses at the wacky but visionary Ordos development in Inner Mongolia, the firm is  creating architecture. The size of their house (like all in the development) is ridiculous at around 10,000 square feet. But the design is quite innovative, featuring folded and faceted concrete geometries and interlocking u-shapes wrapped around a large internal void, lit internally by large light wells. Meanwhile Emergent is way ahead of its time in terms of fusing biology and architecture, with structural and mechanical systems that inter-weave and conduct heat, air, and water, just like natural organisms. Its Garak Fish Market in Korea has a kaleidoscopic roof that features colorful gardens and  double pleats which help form the structure and carve out niches for various pieces of program. To see more on these firms check out our next CA issue at the end of this month.
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TOD for Dummies

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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Eavesdrop CA 03

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 TimesChristopher 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
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LA Gets Gold (Energy) Star

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.
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Does Deitch Dig Design?

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.
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Estolano Enigma Solved

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.
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Eavesdrop CA 10

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.
The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Paul Goldberger
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Economy
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.
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The Newest LA Award Show

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
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Estolano Takes a Bow

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...