Posts tagged with "Orange County":

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2017 California-Pacific Triennial explores architecture’s instability

The Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) is currently displaying the work of 25 artists and artists’ collectives in the 2017 California-Pacific Triennial exhibition. The showcase—subtitled Building as Ever—focuses on the “architecture and the temporal precariousness of the building environment” across the 12 Pacific Rim nations the artists call home.

OCMA Senior Curator Cassandra Coblentz explained the triennial themes in a statement: “In time of rapid growth and accelerated construction around the Pacific Rim, we can no longer consider architecture as permanent. The need for revised thinking on time relative to the built environment has taken on a new urgency.”

Among others, the exhibition features the work of Hong Kong–based artist Stanley Wong (anothermountainman), Los Angeles–based artist Carmen Argote, Seattle-based architecture firm Lead Pencil Studio, and South Korea–based sculptor Haegue Yang. The museum intends to publish an exhibition catalogue featuring essays by experts such as Coblentz and San Diego, California–based architect Teddy Cruz.

2017 California-Pacific Triennial: Building as Ever Orange County Museum of Art 850 San Clemente Drive Newport Beach, CA Through September 3

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Time is running out for William Pereira’s modernist legacy

Los Angeles architect William Pereira is most famous for his iconic 1972 Transamerica Building, an 853-foot tall square-based pyramid tower in downtown San Francisco, and for the Googie-styled Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport, a flying saucer-shaped observation floor supported by a four-footed, sinuous frame. These projects are among the architect’s more than 400 diverse commissions, a list that also includes the masterplans for the Orange County suburb of Irvine and the University of California at Irvine (UCI) campus. The city of Irvine’s urban plan landed the architect on the cover of Time magazine; there he's depicted in front of the suburb's plan. Those aspects of his legacy are more or less doing fine—there are serious and ongoing questions about incongruous changes being made to both the Irvine master plan and to the UCI campus —but several of Pereira’s other works are currently more deeply imperiled. One, Pereira’s Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1965) was heavily altered in 1986 by the Robert O. Anderson Building for 20th-century art, a $35.3-million, 115,000-square-foot addition designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. That structure—plus architect Bruce Goff’s Pavilion for Japanese Art, designed two years later—drastically changed Pereira’s original plan, which was initially conceived of as an austere art-acropolis surrounded by fountains. The plan featured three large, Cipollino marble-clad structures built around a central courtyard and water feature that connected to Wilshire Boulevard by a pedestrian bridge. The entire complex was lifted above the marshy and tar-laden grounds of the museum’s Park La Brea site. To much ballyhoo and controversy, plans were released last year for a Peter Zumthor-designed, $600 million replacement building that would demolish the Pereira and Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates buildings altogether, wiping the slate clean. Those relics would be replaced with an oil leak-inspired scheme by Zumthor consisting of a continuous gallery raised on eight piers. A portion of the new LACMA would span over Wilshire Boulevard to the south. The outcry over the project has revolved mostly around the confusingly under-cooked Zumthor plan and its amateurish renderings, rather than the demolition of the existing structures, but a few Pereira enthusiasts have increasingly spoken out over the last few months as the LACMA plans gain steam and more Pereira structures come under the gun. Alan Hess, architect and scholar on 20th-century architecture, described the imperiled Pereira legacy over the phone to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), saying, “We are in danger of losing the buildings that defined his contributions and continue to shape Southern California at this moment.” Hess went on to describe Pereira as an architect who was never really loved by the public at large, saying Pereira was often thought of as “Hollywood’s idea of an architect,” a fact that has not been lost on a regional populace raised to sanctify the single family home at the expense of all other types of architecture and planning. As a result, commercial and civic buildings, often relics of periods of economic expansion and growth, are treated as relatively disposable, their cultural utility viewed more through an economic lens than an architectural or civic one. It so happens that many of Pereira’s works are these types of buildings—grand statements of their time, first and foremost, and icons of capitalism, commerce, and development, as well. As such, they are apt to be replaced after their fancy wears off and the age starts to show, which in Los Angeles, is a time span lasting roughly 30 to 50 years. The LACMA complex turned 50 years old in 2015 and no mention or effort has been undertaken to list the complex on the National Register of Historic Places, for example. Hess continued, “It is necessary to look much more broadly at the contributions of Modern Architecture in Southern California through the 20th century and realize that large scale commercial projects are not only very well designed and innovative, from the standpoint of what they are, but are also extremely influential. They set the patterns for the workplaces, homes, planning ideas, that affected hundreds of thousands of Californians.” But Pereira has yet to have his moment in the Southern California sun. The first and only retrospective of the architect's work didn’t happen until 2013 and at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada, no less. There are also few major monographs of Pereira’s work. Adrian Scott-Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy, told AN over the telephone, “William Pereira-designed buildings and commissions seem to be increasingly at risk and we are at a time where [consideration of Pereira’s work] is past due in terms of its contribution to architecture and Los Angeles. It needs to be understood and put into a context and we are losing time.” But the civic and cultural institutions responsible for maintaining Los Angeles’s architectural patrimony have been relatively silent on saving Pereira’s work across multiple fronts. The Conservancy has yet to take an official position on the LACMA project, with Scott-Fine telling AN, “[The L.A. Conservancy] hasn’t come out with a position on the LACMA project. The current proposed project calls for a wing of the new LACMA to go over the Wilshire Miracle Mile. We want to know more about how that would impact the character of Miracle Mile. We’re still assessing.” Similarly, many other major museums or organizations in the region have not come out with statements of support for preservation efforts and time is quickly running out. Two of Pereira’s other projects, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) headquarters and a 1971 addition to the Los Angeles Times building, are also facing very real existential threats. The Los Angeles Times building was purchased last year by Canadian developer Onni Group and the company has plans to raze the Pereira section to make way for a housing development. It’s safe to say the building, too young to be listed on the National Register and articulated in a vaguely Brutalist style, is not long for this world. Pereira’s MWD headquarters is more a mixed story. Developers Linear City purchased a portion of the 1973 complex, redeveloping and restoring it. Their project, The Elysian, consists of 120,000 square feet of commercial space and 96 live-work units. The site also contains, however, two other structures from the same time period. Those properties were purchased by developer Palisades Capital Partners and now face demolition. A meeting of the city’s Cultural Heritage Commissioners last week rejected the building’s cultural landmark application in a 2-2 vote. The five-member panel currently has a vacant seat and decisions that end in a tie result in a take-no-action outcome. So, the building’s landmark designation was effectively denied. The site of this portion of the complex is zoned for up to 547 apartment units and the developer has expressed the intention of demolishing the structure outright in the name of new construction. Local Pereira activists and tour guides Kim Cooper and Richard Schave of Esotouric organized a cohort of 100 or so supporters to attend the meeting and protest the decision, but their efforts were met with ambivalence. The group, who has been running tours of Pereira buildings over the last few months to raise awareness and has a planned meet up in October to tour the existing LACMA complex, has until October 5th to convince the Cultural Heritage Commission to reconvene and reconsider the nomination. The well-attended meeting drew support from Pereira’s own daughter, Monica Pereira, who spoke to AN in the days afterward, saying, “People have to realize that pictures alone don’t do [Pereira’s buildings] justice and that once a building is gone, it’s gone. These buildings have stood the test of time and it would be a black mark on the city to let them get demolished.” At the moment, what is missing is city-wide leadership on the civic appreciation of Pereira’s work from elected and appointed officials. Linear City’s work proves it is possible to radically repurpose midcentury structures and to do so in a way that benefits the future of the city while keeping an eye toward preservation. But Pereira’s works live with the uncomfortable luck of being both relics of their own respective times and potentially, a casualty of our own, only to be replaced by the future relics of this era. The question for Los Angeles right now is: Are its buildings simply economic commodities or are they expressions of history and culture open to reuse and reinterpretation?  Either way, there is hope for Pereira buildings in other locations. The Braniff Building, a complex of Pereira structures featuring butterfly roofs and large expanses of glass and aluminum in Love Field in Dallas, Texas was recently converted into a mixed-use complex. Also, a bank building by Pereira in Phoenix, Arizona was recently restored by architecture firm Cuningham Group as an office for the company. In a press release announcing the project, Cuningham Group Principal Nabil Abou-Haidar stated, “For a firm such as ours that deeply respects good design, it is an honor to make this landmark our home. There is a clean-lined simplicity to the building that remains attractive to this day. It is certainly an approach we bring forward in contemporary architecture for our clients, and in our other offices around the world.”
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Controversy erupts as $6 billion Orange County development boom gains steam

Over the last ten years, Anaheim, California has seen steady growth in multi-family housing and mixed-use development that has—perhaps—begun to change the city’s reputation. The area was wiped almost totally clean in 1970s “urban renewal” efforts. With this influx of new residents and the addition of trend-conscious destination-amenities, like foodie market halls and “anti-malls,” Orange County developers have made strides in rebuilding and rebranding the municipality. However, a recently approved collection of publicly-subsidized, multi-billion dollar developments in the city's downtown—and near the Disneyland theme parks—are complicating downtown Anaheim's emerging narrative as a center for conscious consumerism. These developments include the construction of Disney’s new $1.5 billion Star Wars theme park, a $190 million expansion to the city’s convention center, and an increase in the luxury hotel supply that will cost $1.92 billion. Taken together, these projects will total a roughly $3.5 billion investment in the coming years. Moreover, they could shift the market in the so-called Anaheim Resort District (ARD), a 1,100-acre purpose-built hotel and entertainment development adjacent to downtown Anaheim aimed at convention-goers and theme park attendees, toward luxury tourism. In July, Anaheim approved three proposed luxury hotel developments for the area, aiming to bring an additional 1,914 new luxury rooms into operation within a few years. These projects include two developments by the Wincome Group: a 580-room hotel adjacent to Disney’s California Adventure park that will feature 50,000 square feet of meeting space and a 580-room hotel across from the convention center that will contain 40,000 square feet of meeting space. The third development involves a 700-room hotel by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts overlooking the Star Wars-themed Disney expansion. A press release for the Wincome project states that “design details of the properties are still to be announced” but preliminary renderings released by the development teams so far feature an assortment of architectural styles, including classical revival and contemporary. Disney’s development team has only released an artist's renderings of interior and poolside spaces. These developments are being built in addition to a previously-approved, 466-room JW Marriott hotel, also in the ARD, that is expected to begin construction next year. When combined, all four projects are due to add 2,380 luxury suites to the ARD and will encompass a building boom for luxury, “four diamond”-rated accommodations. Disney currently operates the only luxury hotel properties in the area on its theme park grounds, making the four additional hotel sites highly contested, especially considering that Wincome and Disney alone will receive a combined $550 billion in taxpayer subsidies to build their high-end hotels. The contentious use of these subsidies, which would send up to 90 percent of the taxes collected for each hotel bed back toward the operators (with the remainder going to the city), is amplified by the fact that the city still hasn’t finished paying off the initial round of public funding that led to the “four diamond” hotels Disney built in the late 1990s. Developers behind these new projects consider the subsidies necessary for their investments to pan out while city officials foresee a potential glut of luxury beds on the market. Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait was quoted in the Orange Count Register as calling the tax plan “financially devastating” for the city. Opponents also contend the increase in luxury units will cannibalize revenue from currently-operating, non-subsidized hotel projects. Complicating things further, a concurrent, $2.34-billion project in the nearby “Platinum Triangle” district, a collection of office, retail, convention, and sports facilities that include the Anaheim Angels Stadium directly adjacent to the ARD, is also making its way toward final approval. The new areas are modeled on the L.A. Live development beside the Los Angeles Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles; they will include a medley of pedestrian-oriented amenities, including hundreds of condominiums and apartments as well as over a half million square feet of shopping, office, and leisure areas. The Anaheim Angels recently came out against the development, citing the project's lack of Environmental Impact Report and its potentially adverse impact on the team’s own shopping and commercial expansion planned for another stadium-adjacent site. As quoted in the Los Angeles Times, Anaheim Angels attorney Allan Abshez wrote in a letter to the city that the project would “cannibalize the Angels’ existing food, beverage and retail operations at Angel Stadium” adding further that this disruption would “fundamentally undermine the Angels’ negotiations to remain in Anaheim over the long term.” Because the Angels’ stadium is publically-owned and the city is unwilling to fund needed renovations for the stadium, the team intends to embark on their own building spree to raise revenue for renovations. With plans for a new $300 million streetcar linking the HOK-designed ARTIC transit hub to Downtown Anaheim and Disneyland moving toward approval and an estimated 28,000 new residents expected to move into the Platinum Triangle area over the next decade, it’s clear to see that no matter what happens, Anaheim is decidedly changing. The question is not how successful that transformation will be, but whether Anaheim will get a return on its investment in the long haul.
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Orange Coast College expansion threatens designs by Neutra, Alexander, and Eckbo.

The future's looking grim for a dozen buildings on the Orange Coast College designed by Richard Neutra and Robert Alexander. A November vote by college trustees approved a plan for the demolition of several structures on the 164-acre campus, including Neutra’s planetarium and a cluster of low-slung brick buildings. Although the Orange Coast College Vision 2020 Facilities Master Plan suggests that these demolitions are needed in order to expand green space, the scheme would also destroy a historic landscape design by Garrett Eckbo (whose Fulton Mall in Fresno will soon face bulldozers). The L.A. Times reported that college officials say the mid-century structures on the Costa Mesa campus are “no longer able to accommodate the school's rising population. The campus was originally intended for 1,500 students and now has about 22,000.” AN spoke to Dr. Rich Pagel, administrative vice president at Orange Coast College, last year when we first reported on the possible tear-down. Then, he weighed the balance of future growth against historic value, and noted, “There’s a strong desire to preserve the history but at the same time we have to think about the next fifty years.” In July, The National Trust for Historic Preservation issued a letter to Jerry Marchbank, Coast Community College District’s senior director of Facilities Planning and Construction, in response to the Environmental Impact Report for the Orange Coast College Vision 2020 Facilities Master Plan. The letter reveals the scope for the college’s plan:

The Program EIR discloses the intent of Orange Coast College to construct of over 1.2 million square feet of new buildings, parking, and recreational use on the Orange Coast College campus in Costa Mesa in the next six years. Even though there is ample space to integrate new construction with existing buildings, the project anticipates demolition of 166,784 square feet of the campus footprint, which includes most of the existing core campus and the majority of contributing properties in the OCC Campus Historic District.

AN asked architect and historian Alan Hess to comment on the plan. Hess' own research and interest covers the complexities of Orange County preservation. He replied over email:

The college’s board back in the early 1950s had the vision to choose Neutra and Alexander, world-class architects at the time, to design their campus—quite a lot of confidence, sophistication and foresight for a small community college in Orange County when it was still largely rural (but on the verge of tremendous and often innovative growth.) That vision is lacking in the current board (and unfortunately much of the faculty), playing into the reputation of Orange Countyites as architectural Philistines. There are definitely feasible alternatives that can re-use the Neutra/Alexander buildings instead of throwing them away—and in today's world, the Neutra buildings' commitment to sustainability and green design should serve as a model for expansion, rather than be wasted.

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Renovation Team Announced for Philip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral in Anaheim

Anaheim's Crystal Cathedral, designed by Philip Johnson in 1980, and containing more than 10,000 panes of mirrored glass, is one of Orange County's rare architectural treasures. Today the Roman Catholic Diocese, which purchased the church last year, announced that Johnson Fain and Rios Clementi Hale will be leading its $29 million renovation. The exterior of the building will be essentially unchanged outside of cleaning and replacing damaged glass, but the interior will be heavily remodeled to upgrade access, sight lines, finishes, and environmental comfort. The renovation will also add significant new elements to adapt to the church's new Catholic focus (it had once been an evangelical church), including a new altar, a baptismal font, and new cathedral doors. "It's an open palette inside," said Diocese spokesperson Ryan Lilyengren, who likened the iconic exterior to a shell. The 34-acre campus, which includes seven buildings (including structures by Richard Meier and Richard Neutra), will also be master planned to support a larger array of events and, as Rios Clementi Hale principal Mark Rios put it, "unite the campus and make a place that welcomes the community." Twenty four teams applied for the renovation, a list that was pared down to four before this final decision. One of the nation's first "megachurches," the 2,750-seat church will host masses every day, according to Lilyengren. The church will close to the public at the end of October (services will be held in the interim in  Neutra's adjacent arboretum), and renovation should be complete by 2015 or 2016. Overview of Crystal Cathedral Campus (Diocese of Orange)
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Pint-Sized City

AN contributor Christina Chan sends this wee report from Irvine: Pretend City is populated entirely by kids--this mini replica of a city is Irvine’s newest children’s museum. The 28,000-square-foot facility, which just opened its doors to visitors, has taken over a decade to come to fruition. Philanthropists Alexandra Airth and Sandra Peffer are behind the new mini-metropolis. The museum includes interactive learning exhibits geared for kids up to eight years of age.The city includes a farm where little ones can learn about the food they consume, a ATM for financial learning, a café with mock ovens and menus, and a beach that will teach about the effects of pollution. And for budding architects, there is even a construction site where kids (and perhaps grown-ups, too) can build structures with wooden planks.