A mid-rise office building in downtown Pasadena, California, that’s been subject to (not totally implausible) conspiracy theories over the years was sold earlier this month in a $72 million transaction to Atlas Capital Group as reported by The Real Deal. Completed in 1974, the building’s most notable features include its travertine-clad facade and a near-complete absence of windows save for the ground level. Yes, no windows. It was designed by the namesake firm of marquee modernist architect Edward Durell Stone, an Arkansas-born 20th-century powerhouse whose long list of notable projects includes the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India; PepsiCo headquarters in Purchase, New York; the General Motors Building in Manhattan; Westgate Tower in Austin, Texas, and both the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in and the National Geographic Society building in Washington, D.C., Early in his career, Stone also had roles in the design of the Museum of Modern Art and Radio City Music Hall. The 360,000-square-foot Pasadena building, long shrouded in mystery because of that signature design feature, isn’t one of Stone’s better-known works, and was approved for a substantial redesign early last year by city planners with the blessing of Pasadena’s top historic preservation brass. Stone himself, who died four years after the building was completed, reportedly wasn’t directly involved in the design of the building, which was ultimately “heavily modified” to be more imposing by Bank of America officials, per the Pasadena Star-News. “Pasadena Heritage agrees with the conclusion that the building does not rise to standard of significance for landmark or National Register (of Historic Places) status, though it remains, certainly, a building of interest that has held its place on that corner for decades now—with various opinions about it having been expressed over the years,” Susan Mossman, executive director of Pasadena Heritage, explained to the Star-News last year. Occupied by the Bank of America from its completion up until last year, the monolithic slab of a structure (locally referred to as the Bank of America building) isn’t completely without historical significance. Per the Star-News, it served as a processing center for the BankAmeriCard, which was the first credit card—a direct predecessor of the Visa card—that permitted cardholders to carry a balance. Prior to its sale to Atlas Capital Group, the old Bank of America building was owned by Woodbridge Capital Partners, the same real estate investment firm that had sought permission from the city to dramatically revamp the structure last year. While it’s unclear what Atlas Capital Group’s exact plans for the building are, it will presumably include windows. “Creating some window openings should be able to be done attractively and appropriately to make it a usable building. Given its size and location, it is certainly important that it have a new, productive use,” wrote Mossman of Pasadena Heritage last year.”This is not a demolition but a modification which should be able to be successfully accomplished.”
Posts tagged with "Pasadena":
After more than five decades of stewardship, it was announced on October 7 that the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California’s (USC) will no longer be managing Pasadena’s Gamble House, the exemplary Craftsman-style home designed by Greene & Greene in 1909 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978. Terry Tornek, the mayor of Pasadena, announced that the Pasadena City Council approved a transfer from USC to the Gamble House Conservancy, a group recently formed by the city. The university began management of the Gamble House when it was given to Pasadena in 1966, as the school had the means and resources to operate and preserve the home at the time. Though the recent announcement means that the university fell 33 years short of its commitment to manage the home for 99 years, the change of hands was made amicably. As a report from the staff of the Pasadena City Council states, there is finally “a significant endowment in place that allows the Gamble House to be self-supporting.” Additionally, the Docent Council of the Gamble House and the Friends of the Gamble House have together demonstrated the ability to manage the necessary fundraising and daily operations of the home without the aid of the university. “The USC School of Architecture believes this decision is in the best interest of the Gamble House,” the university announced in a statement, “and will help secure its status as an educational institution of benefit to the public.” Many aspects of how the Gamble House operates will remain unchanged after the transition is made official. The home will still be available for public tours, and the university will continue its resident scholar program, which allows two students per year to live temporarily within the home, while also having regular access to its meeting rooms and private facilities.
The Peter and Merle Mullin Gallery at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, is a car-centric experience, inside and out. Not only has the 6,800-square-foot indoor-outdoor exhibition space been designed by Darin Johnstone Architects to function as a “state-of-the-art automotive and fine art gallery,” it is also perhaps best experienced from the seat of a car. The gallery fronts the street with a 12-foot-tall supergraphic undulating fin wall made up of 67 steel blades that can only be read from a distance. Depending on the viewer’s direction of travel, the fins spell out either Mullin or Gallery, an optical effect that allows passing automobiles to become “an instrument for viewing art,” according to the architect. Cars take prominence inside the gallery, as well, which has been designed to showcase the patrons’ eclectic antique automobile collection. To facilitate the flow of vintage cars in and out of the space, it features car-width sliding glass doors. The long, linear interior is framed by semicircular walls and curbs whose geometries correspond to the turning radii of modern cars. After an inaugural coupe-heavy show, the space will live on as an art venue for student work and traveling exhibitions.
A new 15-year master plan designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA) for Pasadena ArtCenter College of Design was unanimously approved by the Pasadena City Council on July 16. The plan calls for the large-scale transformation for the school by expanding southward ArtCenter’s Craig Ellwood-designed Hilltop Campus. Among other aspects, the new plan calls for up to 1,500 new student beds, a series of new elevated terraces and quads, and a handful of new residential and academic buildings across the school’s new South Campus. The existing Hilltop campus will receive cosmetic and functional upgrades, including a new solar array, Urbanize.la reports. Tina Chee Landscape Studio is slated to work as the landscape architect on the project while ARUP and Sherwood Design Engineers will handle energy and water infrastructure optimization, respectively. MMA’s multi-phase plan will first connect a pair of existing South Campus buildings and two new housing towers with a new sloped terrace that spans over a stretch of train tracks cutting through the site. Phase one of the expansion will add 350- and 500- unit student housing towers as well as a new landscaped quad, and is expected to be completed by 2020. The project’s second phase will kick off that year and will involve a great deal more effort and construction. The addition will add a second, much more expansive elevated terrace southward from the northern cluster of buildings impacted by phase one. The elevated terrace is depicted in project renderings containing interconnected pedestrian areas with large planters, public art, and assembly spaces filling out the spaces between the new buildings. A new multi-level student center will be located below the elevated terrace. With the new multi-level complex, the architects hope to bring a form of “layered urbanism” to the site that will embed a variety of social, commercial, and cultural uses across the campus. Pedestrian improvements—including a bicycle path running the length of the site—will accompany the campus expansion. Phase two is expected to be complete by 2027.
ArtCenter College of Design has unveiled renderings of a new, two-phase master plan created by Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA) that aims to reposition the college as an expansive, urban campus connected by pedestrianized open spaces, new housing, and student amenities. The new 15-year master plan for the university’s dual Pasadena campuses would boost enrollment by 500 students, bringing the total number of enrolled full-time students to 2,500. Plans include adding several new student housing towers, a mixed-use academic complex, two new quad spaces, pedestrian and bicycle paths and a cap over an existing light rail line right-of-way that transverses the site. The first phase of the project will bring two new eight-story housing towers to the north end of the campus containing 350 and 500 beds, respectively. The housing towers would be accompanied by a new quad that would span above the light rail line. The quad would be joined by ground floor amenity spaces in the housing towers that could include a new art supply store, student galleries, a campus cafeteria, and a coffee shop. Several existing buildings would receive internal upgrades and reprogramming during this phase as well. The first phase of the project is slated to be completed by 2020. Phase two of the project would bring the addition of a 220,000-square-foot housing and student center complex that would be capped by four eight-story towers containing up to 650 student beds. Plans call for potentially utilizing these structures as academic spaces as well. This complex would be located at the southern end of the campus and would replace an existing parking lot. This end of the campus would also receive a new elevated quad area that would be raised above street level to connect the new housing towers. Preliminary renderings of the complex depict planted terraces accessed by broad staircases and sloping landscape areas. These spaces would be overlooked by the new housing towers, which are depicted without detail in the renderings. A second satellite campus will receive internal upgrades, new solar arrays, as well as the removal of an annex building, Urbanize.la reports. Tina Chee Landscape Studio is slated to work as the landscape architect on the project. Plans call for the competition of both phases of the master plan by 2033.
The city of Pasadena, California is commemorating a residence once occupied by President Barack Obama while he was attending Occidental College in the nearby city of Eagle Rock. The apartment residence, located at 253 Glenarm Street, is being adorned with a special plaque honoring the president’s stay, which lasted from 1980 to 1981. Obama spent two years attending Occidental College before transferring to Columbia University in New York City for the 1981-1982 school year. The Dingbat-style, six-unit apartment structure was built in 1967 and measures approximately 4,418 square feet in size, according to property data obtained via Redfin. The two-story structure features an exterior gallery along the western edge of the ground floor as well as punched openings populated by sliding windows along that facade. The structure is marked by a double-height entry portal along the street-facing facade. The building will become eligible for the National Register of Historic Places next year, 50 years after its construction. Efforts to recognize the residence began during Obama’s first administration and required research assistance from Pasadena city and library employees who scoured old telephone books to find the appropriate address. On the topic of Occidental College, LAist quotes Obama as saying “It’s a wonderful, small liberal arts college. The professors were diverse and inspiring. I ended up making some lifelong friendships there, and those first two years really helped me grow up.” At an event celebrating the plaque installation, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek told KPCC, “There is tremendous interest that there is sort of a living link between Pasadena and the President of the United States.”
Freeways were never meant to be environmental saviors. However, Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA), working with Arup Los Angeles, has other ideas. In a proposal that advocates for the green possibilities of freeways, MMA has outlined how the Arroyo Seco Bridge in Pasadena can serve the neighborhood in more ways than one. "What if we ask more of the Arroyo Bridge without compromising the integrity of the existing infrastructural efficiency? What if the bridge became an experiential and aesthetic asset for residents and visitors? What if we demand that the bridge do more?" MMA asked. The two firms suggest draping the tunnel in vegetation and topping it with photovoltaic cells. Part of State Route 134 of the Ventura Freeway, the bridge accommodates ten lanes of traffic and, in MMA's words, "is at odds with its context, polluting the surrounding neighborhoods with noise and vehicle emissions and simultaneously eroding the Arroyo landscape between the San Gabriel Mountains to the north and the Los Angeles River to the south." Storm water captured from the bridge canopy would irrigate the plants. The vegetation would also soak up the carbon emissions from traveling vehicles. Other design features would include: acoustically-insulated walls that would hamper noise pollution (transparent panels would preserve views to the Colorado Bridge to the south and the Rose Bowl to the north) and "porous concrete ‘lungs’" that would make use of photocatalytic concrete will improve air quality by removing pollutants—just in case the plants can't do their job. Envisioning an “environmental machine,” MMA said they aim to design a "solution that celebrates the experience of driving over the Arroyo Seco while sustainably integrating the freeway into its immediate context." MMA also hopes that their proposal inspires others to see the potential that freeways, or any major roadways for that matter, have for developing relationships between transportation agencies, local municipalities, and state agencies. "As an approach to infrastructure, these types of enhancements are not specific to the 134, but are expandable to other freeways," the firm said. This article was first mentioned in the Los Angeles Times.
On a recent Sunday in Pasadena, a half-dozen visitors strolled barefoot across the finished wooden floors of an art gallery, some wearing swimming trunks, others in bikinis or cut-offs, beach towels draped casually across their shoulders as they viewed the work on display. The occasion for this unlikely scene was a steam session hosted by sculptor Michael Parker at the Armory Center for the Arts, part of the exhibition After Victor Papanek: The Future Is Not What It Used to Be. The exhibition, curated by Jeff Cain, explores the legacy of Papanek, a designer and founding dean at Cal Arts, and his impact on art and design culture. Projects from nine practitioners and studios are featured, most of which are based in Los Angeles. Parker’s contribution to the show, Steam Egg II, is a mirror-clad enclosure made up of 115 unique facets carved from foam insulation. The egg rests just a few feet off the ground on three steel legs, which visitors crawl between as they enter the enclosure from a narrow aperture below. Inside, a circular bench accommodates about eight people at a maximum, but felt comfortably occupied with five visitors, who inevitably shared introductions and impressions. “We don’t have that many body experiences as adults,” Parker said a few days prior to the sauna session. Most physical interactions that we experience are athletic, sexual, or more mundane, like a handshake or a high five. Steam Egg provokes gallery visitors to commit to an experience, he said, to move through a circle of sweaty shins, and to enter into an unknown space and social encounter. A water-filled stainless steel bowl rested on an electric hot plate next to the Egg and piped steam through a length of copper pipe. Nearby, in a pair of green swimming trunks, Parker served as the “herb-j,” infusing the steaming water with eucalyptus, varieties of sage, seaweed, and other scents upon request. An ambient soundtrack composed by the Los Angeles duo Lucky Dragons emanated from a portable waterproof speaker inside the sauna. At his studio in the Arts District near Downtown Los Angeles, Parker, who teaches sculpture at California State University, Long Beach, discussed how the work came about. After completing his graduate studies at USC’s Roski School of Fine Art in 2009, he received a travel grant, which took him to a Shaker colony in Maine, an experimental township in India, and the sauna culture of Berlin. His experiences and research focused on ideas of utopias, enclaves, and maternal figures in spirituality. “I kind of thought of this as a weird architectural documentary,” Parker said of the project that emerged from the travels. In 2011 he completed the first iteration of Steam Egg in his studio—an assemblage of cast off pieces of foam insulation discarded from the construction site of a refrigerated warehouse across the street. He started hosting steam session in his studio that winter, and became interested in how curating variables, like soundtrack, herbs infused in the steam, and lighting, impact the experience. “It’s like a mash-up of things,” he said of the conceptual and formal decisions that inspired the egg, including associations of freedom and transcendence that hot air balloons historically embodied, and the Los Angeles Pacific Balloon Route, which once carried trolley passengers from Downtown Los Angeles to beaches in Santa Monica and Venice. Steam Egg challenges not only a visitor’s expectations about their engagement with a work of sculpture in the context of the gallery, but also the fire marshal’s expectations. “I knew that I couldn’t build something that had a ceiling, because I would have to pipe-in a sprinkler head. And it would turn into this totally annoying thing,” said Parker, with a nod to the building codes that govern art installations. “I thought that if I made this thing a round form, somehow nobody would recognize it as a room,” he said. “And it’s worked!” The safety inspectors, who recently asked him to remove a storage space in his studio due to a perceived fire sprinkler obstruction, now respond enthusiastically to the egg during their routine inspections of the space. What might have otherwise elicited a citation for a code violation, now engages a more interested and engaged reaction to the mirrored object. “They’re just like, ‘Whoa, what’s the disco ball?’” Parker said. “And that’s cool!” Following the show at the Armory, Parker plans to install the work in roughly three-week durations in outdoor residential spaces, including driveways and yards of friends around Los Angeles. “I want it to experience smaller spaces, and other personal spaces, and other private spaces,” he said of the work which opens up a physical engagement with our sense of intimacy, sensation, and the spaces around us. “And so to create this experience where you have to commit,” he said. “You just have to go for it.” After Victor Papanek: The Future Is Not What It Used To Be is on view through September 6, 2015 at The Armory Center for the Arts, 145 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena. Steam Egg is available for steam sauna sessions between 1 pm and 4 pm on 1st and 3rd Sundays: July 19, August 2, August 16, and September 6. Visit the exhibition website or contact the Armory for details and to make reservations.
Word has it that Art Center, which seems to already own all of Downtown Pasadena, has just bought the area’s massive Jacobs Engineering Building. Also on the move, USC Dean Qingyun Ma has relocated his firm’s offices to none other than Downtown LA’s Bradbury Building. How’s that for pressure? And we’ve learned of the initiation beverage of our favorite architecture-related women’s drinking and discussion group: Denise Scotch Brown. What group would Venturi inspire? We shudder to think... Something about Vermouth?
Beverly Hills-based Poon Design has transformed a Pasadena home's porch trellis into a modern mathematical marvel. Using a parametric algorithm, architects Anthony Poon and John Kim used translucent acrylic to create a perforated structure composed of water-jet-cut holes. Circles of varying sizes dot the trellis allowing light to softly filter in while still providing ample shade. “The glowing pattern allows sunlight to stream in alongside constantly changing shadows,” said Poon. The wood frame of the 9-foot structure is supported by galvanized metal poles and covers a 550 square-foot deck made from wood and recycled plastic composite lumber planks. Hexagonal cut-outs pepper the deck reaching out towards the future pool, garden, and guest house. A tree will be planted in the largest opening and align with an aperture above for a truly contemporary look.
Layer: A Loose Horizon Pasadena Museum of California Art 490 East Union Street Pasadena, CA Through October 14, 2012 While digital design and fabrication continue to transform architecture, architect/artists Lisa Little and Emily White have decided to challenge these trends. Although digital forms expand the horizons of design and create intricate patterns, these designs often boils down to mere eye candy. This idea sparked White and Little, the founders of the Los Angeles-based architecture practice Layer, to take the computational approach of digitized aesthetics combined with a perceptual method to create both a physically and intellectually engaging space. The result of this can be seen at their exhibit Layer: A Loose Horizon. Beginning on the exterior of the museums facade, visitors see a web-like structure that toys with depth and proportion while also bridging the exterior and interior space of the museums lobby. Upon entering, guests experience a continuous interaction with the exhibit and become enveloped by the surrounding shapes. To understand the artists' process, sketches and early digital iterations of the project are also be on view.
Next time you visit old town Pasadena you may be in for a suprise. When you slink down an alley off of Fair Oaks and Colorado, the next thing you see will be a four-story, 35-foot-tall skyscraper, sitting in the middle of a courtyard. It's an installation by artist Chris Burden (yes, he's the one that did the cool lights and all the matchbox cars at LACMA) called Small Skyscraper (Quasi Legal Skyscraper). Burden collaborated with LA architects Taalman Koch on the open design, which conists of slabs of 2x4s supported by a thin aluminum frame. Burden started envisioning the project back in the 90s, but at that time the idea was for a solid structure made of concrete blocks. This one is lightweight and seems almost like an erector set. Presented by the Armory Center for the Arts, Small Skyscraper will be on display until November.