Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":

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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).
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And the Gehry Goes To

The Urban Land Institute is hosting a new awards program for Los Angeles called the ULI LARC (Los Angeles Real Creativity) Awards, which will be presented annually to "four recipients who, through their extraordinary vision and creative action, are helping to change our world" The winners will be divided into four categories: Design (conceptual designs), Enterprise (innovative companies or initiatives), Place (a completed building or space), and Idea (for a big idea with profound effects).  The fun part is that anyone can nominate a candidate here until October 14. The awards ceremony will take place at 5900 Wilshire Blvd (former home of the A+D Museum) on December 5, and award presenters will include none other than Frank Gehry, who has also "designed" the award's trophies. That is to say the ULI is handing over some Gehry-designed paperweights. Granted it's a $975 paperweight the architect made for Tiffany's, so it's not too shabby of an award after all.
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Police Drama

Gensler yesterday installed their shimmering Memorial to Fallen Officers, a 11,000 pound, backlit structure made up of hundreds of staggered brass plaques, in front of AECOM's  almost-finished Police Headquarters in Downtown LA. The structure travelled via trailer from Kansas City over the weekend. That was the good news. The not-so-good news, according to the LA Times, is that after the memorial was craned into place the designers realized it was facing the wrong way! Instead of swiveling the whole structure, they're going to have to unscrew all the plaques and re-install them on the other side. Someone's gonna have to investigate this one...
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Park It Here

Today  is Park(ing) Day LA. It’s the third year that the City Of Angels is participating in this transformation of metered parking spots into temporary microcosms of park-like environments -- some replete with bench seating, grassy areas, and fresh food off the grill. San Francisco-based art and activist studio, Rebar, created the idea in 2005 as a comment on the lack of quality public spaces as well as to promote social interactions and critical thinking among urbanites. And the meters? Organizers are continually plunking change into the metal coin collectors while the parks occupy the parking spot. Some highlights include: •Everything Gardens at 3147 Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village will be occupying a spot from noon to 6 p.m. This is a place to stop if you’re interested in learning about drought tolerant gardening. •Osborn Architects are holding up a spot at 100 N. Brand Boulevard in Glendale from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. They’re sharing their dream of greener pastures for tomorrow. •A cool pocket pasture is located at Local Restaurant in Silver Lake, with design by green meme. Also features real goats! •For Westsiders, Mar Vista Community Council will be setting up park at 3631 S. Centinela Avenue in Los Angeles. Find them from 3 p. m. to 6 p.m., when they’ll be turning a decommissioned fire station into a Community Center.
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Emerson Morphs in Hollywood

When Boston's Emerson College chose to open a satellite "campus" for students studying and interning in LA (it's really just one building), the school would have been hard pressed to find a more suitable architect than Thom Mayne. After all, Morphosis has had a string of academic successes of late, including the new 41 Cooper Square in New York and the Cahill Center for Astronomy at Caltech. Indeed, some of the firm's earliest successes were two high schools in Southern California. Now, Curbed alerts us to this latest project, complete with the above rendering. The details are kind of sketchy, though we do know there will be 224 residences in that La Defense-like box with classrooms in the inner blob, which is, like, so Thom Mayne.
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Pulp Fiction

He had my wrists now, instead of me having his. He twisted them behind me fast and a knee like a corner stone went into my back. He bent me. I can be bent. I'm not the City Hall.
Leave it to Raymond Chandler to come up with architectural descriptions that pack a wallop.  Excerpts of the taut prose that would define a whole genre of American fiction are brilliantly paired with Catherine Corman's photographs of the L.A. of the 1930s and '40s in her new book, Daylight Noir: Raymond Chandler's Imagined City (Charta, $40). The evocative black-and-white images taken by Corman--who is the daughter of horror-movie maven Roger Corman--linger with great deliberation on architectural details like an arch or a building corner, turning each page into a world of suspense. With a poetic forward by Jonathan Lethem: "If architecture is fate, then it is Marlowe's fate to enumerate the pensive dooms of Los Angeles, the fatal, gorgeous pretenses of glamour and ease..." Altogether, a thoroughly enjoyable way to "read" a building.
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What is your favorite billboard?

With the LA City Council banning multi-story supergraphics, digital billboards and some freeway signs last week (thanks Curbed, as always for the juicy details), we've suddently gotten nostalgic for these building-sized ads. So we thought we'd put together (ok, it was just me) some of our favorite mega-billboards from recent times, including the most ridiculous, of course. We encourage you to post your own favorite billboards here. C'mon people, let's find some good ones! Here are some of our faves (oh, and check out our next issue to read about how the billboard ban will affect architects):

The Future Is Video

When CAD rose up in the '80s and began replacing hand-drawing as the preferred means of rendering architecture-to-be, practitioners began decrying the death of the field. Obviously that was not the case, but in our increasingly digitized age/culture/lives, where sexy renderings predominate (to the cost of real architectural discourse, some might say, and probably rightly) on blogs and, uh, architectural websites and beyond, videos are becoming an increasingly important component of the process of placemaking. Or at least competitionwinning, as the above video by SPF:architects shows. When we first turned it up on Curbed today, we were taken aback by the lengths (some might call it desperation, but in these hard times, who can blame them) the firm had gone to to convince the judges of the worthiness of their entry in a competition to design Calgary's new Cantos project, billed as the only "national music centre" in Canada. Turns out, though, all entrants had to produce a video, including Diller Scofidio+Renfro, allied works architecture, Atelier Jean Nouvel, and the lone Canadian firm, Montreal's Saucier + Perotte. Since the LA-based SPF's is naturally Hollywood flashy, how do the other four stack up? Hey! We recognize that cut-out. Rip off! Playing the buildings? Where have we seen that before? For a Pritzker Prize-winner, this sure is chintzy. Dig the tunes.

The Rumble in Aspen

Frank Gehry sat down with Tom Pritzker earlier this month at the Aspen Ideas Festival, of which a video was just posted on the Internet, and re-posted above for your viewing pleasure. How we found out about this was through the all-things-Ratner-Gehry-and-Times-related Atlantic Yards Report. Never one not to parse everything related to the above three--and our hats off to him for doing so--Norman Oder discovered the one contentious conversation of the otherwise lovely affair, when Gehry called no less eminent urban thinker Fred Kent of the Project for Public Spaces "a pompous man" for daring to question (admittedly repeatedly and somewhat annoyingly) Gehry's placemaking skills. Yowza. To be fair, this story has been percolating around the blogs since it happened, we just missed it until Norman brought it to our attention. In fact, The Atlantic's James Fallows' original post on the matter bears attention, as that's what got things started--and boy did it ever, as the man's sure got a way with words:
Then the questions from the audience began. The second or third was from a fairly insistent character whose premise was that great "iconic" buildings nonetheless fell short as fully attractive and effective "public places," where people were drawn to congregate and spend time. He said he was challenging Gehry to do even more to make his buildings attractive by this measure too. [For those watching the video, this all starts around the 54:00 mark] [...] But the questioner asked one more time, and Gehry did something I found simply incredible and unforgettable. "You are a pompous man," he said -- and waved his hand in a dismissive gesture, much as Louis XIV might have used to wave away some offending underling. He was unmistakably shooing or waving the questioner away from the microphone, as an inferior -- again, in a gesture hardly ever seen in post-feudal times.
Double yowza! Even more amazing, though, is Gehry's response to Fallows four days later. (How come he doesn't return our calls?):
Dear Mr. Fallows - Fair enough - your impression. I have a few lame excuses. One is that I'm eighty and I get freaked out with petty annoyances more than I ever did when I was younger. Two, I didn't really want to be there - I got caught in it by friends. And three - I do get questions like that and this guy seemed intent on getting himself a pulpit. I think I gave him an opportunity to be specific about his critique. Turns out that he followed Tommy Pritzker [the moderator of Gehry's session] around the next day and badgered him about the same issues. His arguments, according to Tommy, didn't hold much water. I think what annoyed me most was that he was marketing himself at everyone's expense. I apologize for offending you. Thanks for telling me. Best Regards, Frank Gehry
Yowza yowza yowza! The guy puts Woody to shame. And ever since, the drama has been playing itself out on Fallow's blog, the PPS's, Curbed LA, and now, we're happy to say, here. It also begs the question that, if Kent's right, maybe we're all better off without Gehry designing huge swaths of Brooklyn and LA after all. Correction: That was Tom Pritzker, not James Fallows talking to Gehry. Fallows was in the audience. Thanks to Chris Hawthorne for the catch. We've updated our post.
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Whither BP?

When BP opened their eco-friendly Helios House gas station on Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles a couple of years ago, it was touted as the future of such facilities, and a coup for a brand whose image was all about conservation. The station, designed by Office dA and Johnston Mark Lee, featured a metal-clad, geometric design, low-flow toilets, solar panels and a floor made of recycled glass, among other features. (it didn't, however, offer alternative fuels..) But it appears that BP may not have had such high regard for their endeavor. A recent drive-by revealed that the station, still unchanged, was no longer a BP but an Arco. Yes, Arco, the Wal Mart of gas. One of the helpful guides at the station explained that BP actually owns Arco, and that the change of label was “an internal business decision,” whatever that means. Looks like green marketing just took one on the chin.
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L. Ron Hubbard Would Be Proud

Yesterday while brunching in Hollywood we happened upon the biggest sign we've ever seen. Of course this being LA, it belongs to none other than the Church of Scientology. On July 3 their big blue building at the corner of Franklin and L.Ron Hubbard Way (yes that's the name of the street) was officially fitted with a brand new sign that's 84 feet long, 16 feet tall, and weighs 5.2 tons. It's about three times the size of the former, well-known sign on the site. What's more the marker, which reads "SCIENTOLOGY" in big white letters,  is fitted with LED lights so the letters glow at night (unlike the famous Hollywood sign nearby, by the way). The sign, apparently, is part of a nationwide ad campaign to get the word out about the religion. That's all we're gonna say about that. Yep. We will not use this space to poke fun of Tom Cruise or John Travolta or anyone else. We swear.
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Fire On The Mountain

It's not every day that a scary fire burns within a few miles of a major cultural institution. Well in LA it sort of is, but that's beside the point. A recent drive on the 405 Freeway revealed to us what all the news reports are saying: There is a biggish blaze burning just one hill over from the Getty Center on LA's west side. The smoke is thick and brown, and on first look bulged out at the top, not unlike a mushroom cloud. Yikes. Helicopters are running regular passes over the thing, which is spreading in thin lines along the mountains facing the Getty, moving southward down the Sepulveda Pass. But fortunately it appears that firefighters have it under control (in California terms a 10-acre fire is only a mini conflagration), despite a forced evacuation of the Getty and nearby Mount St. Mary's College. Stay tuned... We hope we don't have to see if all that marble and granite will hold up to a good ol' California disaster. And for now, the biggest concern of drivers on the 405 is the threat of imminent traffic. Now that's scary.