Pasadena's Art Center College of Design has always been ambitious about building. But after some pushback, it's toning things down. Most architecture buffs know about the school's iconic black steel hillside campus designed by Craig Ellwood, and its equally ambitious downtown campus designed by Daly Genik, located inside a former Douglas Aircraft wind tunnel. But after its last director, Richard Koshalek, got pushed out largely for his super ambitious $150 million expansion plan, including a $45 million Frank Gehry-designed research center (many thought the school was putting more emphasis on facilities than teaching and students), the school's new expansion plans, confirmed this week, involve renovations and smaller expansions, not big gestures, reports the Pasadena Star News. The college is negotiating to buy a U.S. Post Office-owned building on a 2.4-acre lot at 870 S. Raymond Ave, right next to its downtown campus, and plans to use it as a base for fabrication and design. The plan also includes the expansion of the Ellwood Building, whose winner should be announced in the next couple of months. The overall expansion will cost a much more palatable $45 million, for which the school is now raising funds. And the school has no intention of moving into the city-owned Glenarm Power Plant, on which it holds a 10-year option.
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Yesterday we got a sneak peak at the Paul Williams Showcase House in La Canada Flintridge, which 25 (yes 25) designers are working to completely restore and open for tours from April 17 to May 15. The project is part of the Pasadena Showcase of Design, a fundraiser that since its inception in 1965 has seen renovations of significant homes throughout the Pasadena area. The 1927 English Revival manor, with its amazing attention to detail, is an excellent example of Williams' ability to design in a traditional style despite his reputation for contemporary work. The once-musty and fading 7,200 square foot house is being fixed up from top to bottom. Basically, each designer gets a room or two. For example, LA-based David Dalton will be renovating the "Great Room", with its vaulted wood ceiling, leaded windows, and hand carved fireplace, and the "Gentleman's Lounge," inpsired by the Paris apartment of Yves Saint Laurent. "We've had our eye on this house for quite a long time," said Benefit Chair Kathryn Hofgaarden. "It's super important that we preserve its integrity." Stay tuned to see it featured in our House of The Issue when it's all done.
Burdened by more than $3 million in debt, the Pasadena Playhouse closed its doors on Sunday. The nonprofit company intends to “explore viable options of financial reorganization, including bankruptcy, to determine a responsible solution for its ongoing operations,” according to a statement. While the theater’s fate is resolved, the Mission-style building itself, designed by Elmer Grey (who also designed much of CalTech’s campus) in 1925, will be protected, since it’s a California state landmark and owned by the city of Pasadena. But the situation doesn’t bode well for the two-phase project that Frank Gehry had agreed to undertake for the playhouse pro bono. That work included a renovation of its balcony performance space, the Carrie Hamilton Theater, and the creation of a new 300-400 seat theater across the street. This adds to the large number of recently-scuttled or held projects for Gehry Partners. They include: the Grand Avenue project in LA; Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn; the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem; and the King Alfred Center in Hove, England.
Architect Kemper Nomland, who built Case Study House #10, has died at age 90, reports the LA Times. Nomland, who was born in California, joined with his father to create the firm Nomland & Nomland after WWII. Their most famous commission was #10, the only Case Study to be built in Pasadena. The house, constructed in 1947, was designed for the sloping corner lot in its hillside neighborhood, with rooms placed strategically on several levels. Rooms were placed on several levels. Like most Case Study houses the project connected indoors and out with large glass walls and used affordable, off-the-shelf construction materials. According to the Times, after working with his father Nomland worked for several architectural firms, and at one point he designed a house for actress Jane Russell. He designed dozens of other homes, including his own.
Yesterday we toured Morphosis’ new Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Caltech. The 100,000 square foot, $50 million building’s most notable architectural features are its cracks, fissures, tilts, and expanding and contracting walkways and apertures; elements that seem to suit it more to a seismology building, but also work to represent the epic tumult of space. The building’s façade is composed of a folding and angling screen of red fiber reinforced cement panels set over a pvc membrane. The horizontal frontage is beset with large, cracked voids and sharp, warped thrusts of wall that provide a good preview of what’s inside. The building’s main stairway—a steel mesh and then concrete surface that compresses and expands as it progresses— is its visual centerpiece. It twists through a surreal, and somewhat disorienting, conglomeration of intersecting white walls, angular windows, and telescoping skylights, violently sending visual pathways and shards of light in every direction. This area, which is at times surprisingly narrow, is shockingly dramatic, but at times dizzying. Cahill's three floors of warped-walled offices and classrooms are peaceful by comparison. They’re located on long, angled blue hallways following a grid-like plan that contains glassy offices along its exterior and conference rooms and meeting spaces along its interior. The building’s labs are located on a basement floor lit both through artificial light and a large light moat that circles the building. We’ll be featuring a critique of the building, which has finally united all of Caltech’s astronomers in one place, in our next California issue, so stay tuned…