Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":

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Gaga for Gehry

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.
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Kings of Curbed

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.
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You Like Him, You Really Like Him

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.

Hidden In Plain Site

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.
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A One of a Kind Line

After more than a decade of waiting (up to 15 years, depending who you ask), a light-rail Breda train will depart for East L.A. from Union Station this Sunday, November 15 as part of Metro's new Gold Line Eastside Extension. The eight-station line, with stops in Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles, will offer continuing service on the first phase of the Gold Line, which heads northeast through Pasadena and was completed in 2003. And today, I got to ride the shiny new rails on a private tour with 25 or so of my newest, closest friends, including Frank Villalobos, who acted as the lead architect for the project with his firm Barrio Planners. The Gold Line is the only train that heads north and south out of Union Station (the rest of the trains, no matter what direction they come from, all terminate in the station, meaning they all roll into the railyard in the same direction and must reverse to get out). So this S-bridge that travels over the 101 freeway to the south is especially unique. The bridge was also built in a way so it never stopped traffic over the 101. After swinging through the Little Tokyo/Arts District station, designed by Ted Tokio Tanaka, the line travels over the 1st Street Bridge, the 1929 structure which is currently being widened to accommodate the extra lanes of traffic. Bizarrely, all the historical elements from the bridge have been removed and are sitting down near the Los Angeles River below, like some kind of ruins. The train then heads up into Boyle Heights and its first Eastside station, Pico Aliso, where the bright Mendez Learning Center on the corner was also designed by Barrio Planners and has obviously laid a cornerstone for new development. Each station has its own architectural team and artist that created a neighborhood-appropriate vision; for example, here Korajack Srivongse designed the arched canopies and Rob Neilson picked 25 faces from the community to place in their ironwork. After traveling along 1st Street, due to Boyle Heights' narrowing roads, we plunged underground for two of the below-grade stations. We had to remain in the train so we couldn't explore what these stations from the top down but it was a trip to see one of the Eastside's most famous destinations rendered in Metro signage. William Villalobo and Alejandro de la Loza collaborated on Mariachi Plaza; Aziz Kohan and Nobuho Nagasawa did the second underground station, Soto. The Indiana station, where the line heads back into the right-of-way established by an old 1920's electric car, includes a station designed by Larry Johanson with artwork by Paul Botello that references the carvings and patterns by Central American craftsmen. We traveled down 3rd to Maravilla station (designed by Aspet Davidian with art by Jose Lopez) and then continued on to what is by far the most exciting station on the entire line, if not completely due to its design alone. A few blocks before arriving at the East LA Civic Center, the neighborhood explodes with bright mosaics from the Roybal Comprehensive Health Center, which zig zag into a bright green park with a lake at its center. The canopies here (designed by Villalobos with art by Clement Hanami) borrow from the vibrant colors as bright orange California poppies. Finally, the tensile canopies of the Atlantic station (the end of the line, for now) point towards the future with a purposeful angle, designed by DMJM with art by Adobe LA. The tent-like structures--which look more than a little like Denver International Airport's abstracted peaks--also hint at the San Gabriel Mountains in the distance. Multiple celebrations (including mariachis, of course) will be taking place this Sunday to celebrate the Gold Line's eastward advances. Stay tuned for a full AN review of the line and station design--including an all-important stop at King Taco--after it opens this weekend.
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Moss: SCI-Arc Staying Put

Architect and SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss talked to us the other day to correct our recent post on SCI-Arc's future in the LA Arts District. Yes, he agreed, SCI-Arc does want to eventually own its own home (it tried unsuccessfully to buy its building from its landlord, developer Meruelo Maddux, a few years ago) . But the school's lease is not up next year, nor does SCI-Arc face any pressure to leave anytime soon. "SCI-ARC’s not going anywhere. SCI-Arc has no plans to go anywhere, and is not obligated to go anywhere," he said. The lease, it turns out, isn't up until 2019. SCI-Arc does have the opportunity to opt out if it wants next year, in 2013, or in 2016. But that possibility, said Moss, is unlikely, especially because it's happy with its building (which he said had become a local icon) and its location. "SCI-Arc is committed to downtown," said Moss, who praised the area's "varied sociologies and different possibilities" and pointed to the benefits for architecture students in "an area still trying to discover itself." He added: "Downtown seems to be a perfect place for us... Santa Monica, Century City, the San Fernando Valley: forget about it." Moss didn't rule out the possibility of SCI-Arc eventually finding a new home though. "If a great opportunity came up we'd take a look at it," he said.  He added that the economic situation and falling real estate prices could present good possibilities for ownership. When asked if Meruelo Maddux's recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing would help SCI-Arc  obtain its building, Moss said, "It’s premature to say what the implications of that are."
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Bad News For LA: Estolano Out!

We've just learned thanks to the LA Times and Curbed that LA Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA) CEO Cecilia Estolano is stepping down from her post at the end of this month. Estolano was widely-praised for her aggressive moves to promote affordable housing, turn around struggling neighborhoods, establish a Clean Tech corridor in Downtown LA, and bolster the agency's funding, even in difficult economic times. We just ran a Q+A with Estolano in our last issue, which can be read here. Estolano is reportedly taking a job with Green For All, an Oakland-based environmental group focused on generating green jobs in underserved neighborhoods. We're trying to get a follow-up with Estolano now, so stay tuned...
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Mayne Street

Granted he's won the Pritzker Prize and had a string of recent successes, but all the same we were more than surprised to get a forwarded White House press release from Morphosis today touting the appointment of Thom Mayne, one of the industry's gruffer individuals, to the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He is the only practicing architect on the list. Created in 1982, the committee, according to its website, brings, well, the arts and humanities into the White House. Headed by the First Lady, activities under the previous administration included an "unprecedented" cultural exchange with China, a "bi-national cultural communique" with Mexico, and the creation of the Coming Up Taller awards to honor school-age artists. Of the 24 other committee members, there is one other architect, Christine Forester, though she has left the field for marketing and branding in the 1980s according to the release. Noted green guy and urban thinker Ed Norten is also a committee member, as are other notables Teresa Heinz Kerry, Yo-Yo Ma, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kerry Washington, Forest Whitaker, and Anna Wintour. And despite our initial suspicions, a search of public records show no political contributions on behalf of Mayne.
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Fancy Digs For Crime Fighters

On Saturday the LAPD cut the ribbon on its new police headquarters in downtown LA. The $437 million dollar facility, designed by AECOM, will house officers and staff within a 10-floor building that includes a rooftop helipad, glass-walled passageways, a large plaza, and exterior concrete walls with energy efficient high-performance glazing. Visitors will be able to eat at the 200-seat restaurant, LA Reflections, before viewing the outdoor memorial created to honor officers killed in the line of duty. AECOM partnered with a massive team that also included landscape architect Melendrez, Gensler, John Friedman Alice Kimm, and many many more. Read our review of the building in the next California issue, where we also give props to interesting new police buildings in LA by A.C. Martin, Perkins + Will and others.
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Metro Finally Gets It Right (sort of)

As the LA Times and Curbed LA both reported yesterday, the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) finally voted yesterday (after several postponements) to approve its Long Range Transportation Plan. The plan outlines  how METRO will spend  about $300 billion over the next 30 years, focusing on mass transit projects like the Westside subway extension of the Red Line to Santa Monica, for which the county will be seeking substantial federal funding (most of the projects will need support from the feds, although LA County is aided by its new sales tax increase approved last year). Other major initiatives include the Gold Line extension east from Pasadena, a downtown regional connector, the continuation of the Expo Line to Culver City and Santa Monica, and a Green Line extension to LAX. Of course before Angelenos get too excited about all this rail-related news,  it's worth noting that more than 2/3 of the plan is dedicated to highway (widening and surface improvements) and bus-related expenditures (rail makes up about 1/6). And then there's the timeline: is there one? We haven't seen it yet... Please help us find it!
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One Santa Fe Finally Moving

It's been a long time coming, but the fully-entitled One Santa Fe mixed-use project, designed by Michael Maltzan in downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District,  is finally nearing the start of construction. After nearly a year of reworking the final drawings to minimize costs, the $150 million project, developed by a partnership that includes the McGregor Company, Polis Builders, and Goldman Sachs,  will begin construction in mid 2010 with an anticipated completion 36 months thereafter.The 435,000 square feet development will include 438 units, 77,000 square feet of ground floor commercial uses, and 750 parking spaces. From the onset, the 4-acre project has been lauded for its proximity to the Los Angeles River, but its sinuous form acts as a better wall than a window to the nascent river restoration efforts. Mimicking the long, slender footprint of the adjacent Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sci-Arc), One Santa Fe blocks both the river and the maintenance yard from public view. While an attractive new Michael Maltzan building with an activated ground floor and street level open space is surely prettier than looking at a train maintenance yard, its 65-year land lease from Metro does not necessarily guarantee its perpetuity. However, the start of any major project is a good sign for the stalled downtown renaissance, which had been devastated by the credit crisis.  --Gunnar Hand
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Next Up For Ambassador Site

The once-great Ambassador Hotel is gone. And in its place rises the Central Los Angeles Learning Center #1, a 4,000+ student megacomplex that will include  elementary, middle, and high schools. The elementary school was just completed (article forthcoming in our next issue) by Gonzalez Goodale Architects, and the other two schools will be done next fall. On our tour we got a preview of the Ambassador, circa 2010.  The High School will have a huge glass curtain wall, allowing onlookers on Wilshire Boulevard to spy into classes. The Ambassador's Cocoanut Grove nightclub is being recreated to form the school's new auditorium. Like the Cocoanut, it will have some intricate ornamentation and even recreations of trees (via projector). Two pieces from the original building will remain: its east wall, and its west canopy (pictured above). Other recreations will include the hotels' cavernous ballroom, which will hold the school's library (pictured below).