Michael Rotondi, principal at Los Angeles–based RoTo Architecture, received Cal Poly Pomona's Richard J. Neutra Medal for Professional Excellence on November 3. Rotondi, a Cal Poly Pomona alum, has practiced for more than 30 years. He also founded the graduate program at SCI-Arc and became that school's first director of graduate studies in 1980. He was the school's director from 1987–1997. The Richard J. Neutra Medal rewards "individuals who have dedicated their careers toward researching and developing new environments in which to work, live and play." Past honorees include Raphael Soriano, Thom Mayne, Ray Kappe, Tadao Ando, Lawrence Halprin, Garrett Eckbo, and even Al Gore. "You're delivering architecture and you're trying to trigger the imaginations of students and show how to solve problems in a creative way," said Rotondi, of his complementary efforts in practice and education. AN West Editor Sam Lubell's full interview with Rotondi will appear in December's West issue of AN.
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On Monday, members of LA’s design and architecture cognoscenti descended on the Tesla store on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to celebrate the official relaunch of KCRW’s DnA (Design and Architecture). The event featured a discussion between DnA host and executive producer Frances Anderton and Elon Musk, the visionary founder-CEO of Tesla and Space X. Those present included Michael Rotondi, Ray Kappe, Thom Mayne, developer Tom Gilmore, and Getty architecture curators Wim de Wit and Christopher Alexander. After ten years as a monthly on-air program, DnA will re-emerge as a more comprehensive weekly podcast and blog. To help curate what’s being billed as “DnA 2.0", Anderton is enlisting the talents of local design journalists—or “DJs”—that she has hand-picked. “I’m thrilled that we will increase our coverage of, and participation in this creative community and the work that shapes our lives,” said Anderton. In the discussion Ms. Anderton honed in on Mr. Musk’s hands-on approach to design and innovation and how his operations are solidly based in California. “I like to be close enough to be involved,” he said. “With outsourcing, something we at one time considered, you lose the potential for innovation in the process.” Questions from the audience ranged from whether science fiction played a role in his work—“Definitely Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy and Heinlein”— to if he could solve LA’s traffic problem. “I’ve got a design for a double-decker freeway worked out,” he said. When a young member of the audience asked about flying cars, he thoughtfully responded that he thought the challenge wasn’t getting the cars to fly but in preventing them from crashing into everything. When asked if he had any advice for architects about getting more visionary buildings erected in Los Angeles, Mr. Musk demurred, saying “I wouldn’t presume to give advice. The problem isn’t the architects. We just need more clients here who want to put up visionary buildings.”
Today Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, George Clooney, and Justin Timberlake came out for the opening of Michael Rotondi's new Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in Hollywood, right next to Grauman's Chinese Theater. Ok, it was their wax likenesses, but the way they mingled with the waxy Hollywood crowd, it was often hard to tell the difference. The building, originally designed on spec, has an impressive folded zinc facade that wraps around an irregular courtyard; another needed public space in a place with so few of them (one of the best ones is right next door in front of the Chinese Theater). Our next issue will feature a full critique of the building, so make sure to check it out. Here are some teaser pix to get you interested. None of the celebrities are real. Or are they?