Posts tagged with "Sam Lubell":

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Design editors reflect on architecture journalism in the 21st century

Julie V. Iovine Executive Editor 2006–2013 My years as editor of The Architect’s Newspaper, between 2006 and 2013, were exciting, of course, but eye-opening too, in ways I had not expected. There I was, sitting in the catbird seat with many of the world’s most talented and prominent architects working within a few blocks (at least, no farther away than 13.4 miles), ready and willing to answer emails, give tours of their offices, and reveal their latest projects and agendas—with more from abroad checking in as they passed through town. How could that not be fun? After a decade as a New York Times reporter, where every encounter with an architect was fraught and slightly adversarial—with both sides trying to extract something, whether quote, coverage, or exclusive image—at The Architect’s Newspaper, I was tracking shared interests. Instead of asking “What have you done for the public lately?” I wanted to know about the compelling and relevant issues important to architects right now. Anyone passionately interested in architecture was free to chime in, and often did, including artists, engineers, software developers, and many more. In the short years since its founding as a nimble observer and attentive commentator, The Architect’s Newspaper became thoroughly embedded in the community it covered. It was a time when architecture was taken seriously across the land, but especially in New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. So much so that it took just a few phone calls in the fall of 2009 to convene four NYC commissioners—transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, design and construction commissioner David Burney, planning commissioner Amanda Burden, and parks and recreation commissioner Adrian Benepe—for a roundtable conversation on the record about what was succeeding, failing, and in the works for the city over the coming years. I cannot imagine the press today so easily being given that level and quality of access. Across New York City, cultural, architectural, and urban institutions were taking advantage of this moment of being heard by the city’s policy leaders and decision makers. There were forums, exhibitions, and commissioned works of the highest caliber that could realistically hope to have an impact on the urban environment. Of course, the entire population was also watching every progressive—and regressive—move around rebuilding at the World Trade Center site. AN was there too. In 2010, I recall tagging along with a crew from City Hall trailing behind Barry Bergdoll, then MoMA’s chief curator of architecture and design and engineer Guy Nordenson as they explained the innovations for dealing with climate change offered up by an extraordinary roster of architects, landscape designers, engineers, and more in the exhibition Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront. Many public servants at that time probably still believed the way to cope with flooding was with concrete barriers. Rising Currents changed that idea, for good. In 2013, the Architectural League took on the city’s intractable housing problem by sponsoring architects to develop solutions, including micro-units for single adults. By 2016, people were moving into the first micro-loft buildings. But for me, it was actually when the Great Recession hit that I witnessed what members of this profession are truly made of. As offices closed and shrank—including ours—and people of great talent found themselves unemployed and unmoored from even the possibility of designing much in the near future, I beheld an extraordinary resilience. Many times I would hear from principals of offices once 20-plus strong, forced down to one architect and a part-time draughtsperson, saying it was great to be a hands-on designer again. Others entirely reinvented themselves and developed new expertise in health care or the suddenly relevant field of security design. Turning a personal mission into a public mandate, Jonathan Kirschenfeld founded the Institute for Public Architecture in 2009, championing integrity and quality for building types—childcare facilities, low-income housing, prefab—too often churned out on the cheap. The speed and ingenuity with which architects showed they could halt, pivot, and charge in a new direction was astonishing. The old cliché that designing is problem-solving finally made real sense to me: Whatever the economy threw at them, architects could figure it out. Especially gratifying and illuminating for me were a series of interviews we conducted, called “Recession Tales.” We talked to architects from different generations, professional backgrounds, and experiences about how they had handled personal or professional setbacks in the past: Harry Cobb, James Polshek, Rob Rogers, and David Adjaye among them. Whether it was Cobb describing being blacklisted in the 1970s after curtain wall failures at the John Hancock Tower in Boston, or Adjaye admitting his severe financial woes, every architect we spoke to drew intimately vivid pictures of tough times endured with courage, revealing impressive strengths and an extraordinary ability to pull together. I suppose the profession has never been for the faint of heart. The expand-and-contract nature of the building trades is always rolling through cycles. Still, as editor of The Architect’s Newspaper during one of the toughest roller-coaster rides in recent memory, I was buckled into a front row seat, and the ride was unforgettable. Sam Lubell West Editor 2007–2015 I arrived at The Architect’s Newspaper at just the right time. It was fall 2006, and I was a West Coast newbie. Little did I know that the region was undergoing fundamental shifts that I would get to record, experience, and even influence, over the next nine years. In my head, L.A. was still a single-family, concrete, and car-dominated place. But it was quickly shifting to a much denser one full of new subway lines, high-speed rail, corridors of mixed-use development, new parks, and anti-sprawl legislation. Its architects were taking advantage of a magical mix of schools, creative energy, and technical capability to create some of the best work in the world. And the rest of the region—from San Diego up to Seattle—was steadily churning out similar innovation, and, thanks largely to booming tech giants, growing like never before, welcoming some of the world’s most famous architects while developing an impressive new garde (despite a major lull during the Great Recession). Of course, they were facing darker issues as well, like booms and busts, gentrification, affordability crises, gridlock, and mushrooming homeless populations. Through it all, I drove my beat-up Hyundai to offices, meetings, classrooms, and building sites, making friends, and getting the scoop. My role as AN’s West Coast editor helped me become—despite my outsider-ness—embraced by a coast, and a design community that I learned favors innovation, creativity, and sheer will over status and hierarchy. It started with our first launch events, which drew hundreds of designers eager for a publication to help pull them all together. And AN encouraged me to pursue new features and investigations, promote competitions, find my voice through editorials, and build community one event at a time. The Architect’s Newspaper, for me, represented much more than a publication. It represented a home. That’s what it’s done for writers, and of course, architects, around the country. I no longer have that Hyundai, but the many design circles AN has helped nurture and connect are still as strong as ever. Aaron Seward Executive Editor 2014–2015 I started working at The Architect’s Newspaper in September 2005 when it was still being run out of the Menking loft on Lispenard Street in New York’s Chinatown. My title was Projects Editor and my primary task was producing a custom publication for the Steel Institute of New York called Metals in Construction. It was one of the many sidelines that the publisher, Diana Darling, would initiate over the years to keep the paper in the black. Her frenetic energy and torrent of business ideas put a fine point on just how audacious an endeavor it was to launch a newspaper in an era in which every pundit with half a platform was declaiming the death of print, not to mention the death of the authoritative publication itself, which was prophesied to wither away under the “democratizing” glare of the internet. Well, here we are. AN is 15 years old and flourishing, doing a better job than ever of presenting just how exciting and essential architecture is to society. Meanwhile, the internet gave us Twitter, Facebook, and Donald Trump. Thank you very much. My tenure at AN lasted a decade before I left to edit Texas Architect. There were many highs and lows during that time, but nothing sticks in my mind quite so much as those early days in the loft, which was an education in itself, full of books and art, emanating an edgy, downtown vibe. It was a family business, and we were all part of the family. The editors worked in an office at the front of the loft, Diana had her space at the back, and the rest of us—the production team, the grunts—were piled cheek by jowl into a separate apartment at the rear corner—the loft’s Siberia, if you will. Bill and Diana’s daughter, Halle, eight at the time, was around. She would swipe our scissors right off our desks. And there was a puppy, Coco, who would lope into Siberia, dashing in and out. The work was intense and focused, but there was no shortage of fun. A certain sense of wry humor, which found its way into the editorial (an enduring legacy of the paper), bound us together, as did the awareness that we were part of the larger cultural phenomenon called architecture, whether it wanted us or not. At this point, it seems to have wanted us. Long Live AN! Matt Shaw Current Executive Editor It is always fun to go back to the very first issues of AN for inspiration. I noticed a small box on the back page of those issues marked “Punchlist,” a section that named websites for reference. Many were unfamiliar, as we might expect, but what struck me was the prescience of anticipating the digital-analog media conundrum in 2003. Since the beginning, AN has been attempting to build bridges between print and the internet. How do they relate? Is the paper a legacy print publication that has a website? Or is it two entirely different beasts? The speed of the web (and thus the news cycle in general) is always increasing, while print stays relatively the same. This means that at AN we are constantly trying to rethink the relationship between print and digital. In January 2018, we debuted a new section in the paper called “In Case You Missed It,” a roundup of all the things that happened online while we were making the issue. It not only serves as a curated briefing for those who don’t troll Twitter all day, but it also sequesters the news into a neat area, leaving the rest of the paper to entertain longer, more insightful articles: in-depth follow-ups, expert takes, off-the-wall stories, and historical ruminations that don’t need to fit into the ebbs and flows of the 24-hour news cycle. The strategy seems to be working: We have published some high-impact articles that have shifted the discussion on a number of topics, as well as news stories that have gotten hundreds of thousands of views and exposed us to new reaches of the internet. In an era of Instagram and memes, it is imperative that we keep rethinking what the media is today and how architectural news and discourse are affected by current shifts in technology, information dissemination, and the degradation of our attention spans. On the website, this battle will take place as we begin to put print content online in a way that starts to mimic the curated and cohesive feel of a print publication. For instance, we might put entire features online all at once with a single web page serving as a datum through which other articles can be accessed. In print, we will try to relate back to the speed and timeliness of the web by providing links for reference. We look forward to embracing these challenges and are excited for where they will take us.
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Gimme Shelter: Inaugural A+D Museum exhibition promises to rethink Los Angeles housing

Opening August 20, Shelter: Rethinking How We Live in Los Angeles, the inaugural exhibition at the A+D Museum's new Arts District space presents works by architects and designers that challenge and improve upon L.A. housing typologies. The single-family house has long been the touchstone for experimental architecture in Los Angeles, from the Case Study Houses to Gehry’s own home in Santa Monica, replete with (now-removed) domesticated chain-link fencing. But as the cost of real estate puts pressure on residential architecture, new solutions for single- and multi-family housing are desperately needed. Curators Sam Lubell and Danielle Rago invited local practices to develop proposals for the Wilshire Corridor and along the Los Angeles River, these include Bureau Spectacular, LA Más, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, MAD Architects, PAR, and wHY Architecture. (Editor's Note: Both Lubell and Rago are regular contributors to AN, and Lubell is AN's former West Coast editor.) Works by Kevin Daly Architects, Michael Maltzan Architects, Bestor Architecture, OMA, R&A, and Koning Eizenberg, will also be on view. AN spoke with the curators. The title is Shelter, the absolute basis for architecture, but what does it mean to “rethink how we live” and why is this reassessment so pressing right now? Sam Lubell: LA is going through monumental changes, re-embracing density, transit, and the public realm while facing unprecedented challenges around affordability, the environment, and congestion. But while the city has always been a center for residential innovation, most residential architecture here today does not properly respond to the changes taking place. We're hoping to help spur a dialogue about reshaping our housing and our lifestyles to today's realities. It’s a great line up of practices in the show. What were your criteria for selecting participants? Danielle Rago: The show features [six new proposals] by Los Angeles design practices—each occupies a different position in the field of architecture. Yet, we believe all approach residential design in interesting and innovative ways. SL: We also wanted a mix of emerging and established firms, and practice-oriented and research-oriented firms. We think it's a great mix, full of energy, creativity, and some surprise. How did the designers address some of Los Angeles’ hot button topics: density, affordability, accessibility, and sustainability? SL: The designers have done an excellent job addressing several of these issues. wHY, for instance, tackled both density and affordability by proposing new configurations of development in underused, residual public spaces along Wilshire Boulevard. LOHA tackled environmental issues by creating homes that utilize the aquifers near the L.A. River to capture and store water. And MAD has created a new type of outdoor living within a dense cluster of interconnected, extensively landscaped towers. DR: The invited teams all investigated one if not more of these pressing issues currently affecting Angelenos. LA Más' design addressed density and affordability by reconsidering the granny flat as a new model for low-rise high-density development in Elysian Valley along the L.A. River. PAR responded to increasing density and new transit offerings on the Wilshire Corridor with their proposal for a courtyard housing tower, where each unit maintains a visual connection to nature. And Bureau Spectacular investigated environmental challenges through the study and re-application of vernacular domestic architecture in L.A.
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Sunday> Explore the transformation of Los Angeles’ Broadway with The Architect’s Newspaper

You may have noticed a few articles in our pages about the development of Los Angeles' long underexploited street, Broadway, which is experiencing a phenomenal resurgence. Now it's time to take a look at the progress made so far. This Sunday, June 29, AN is co-organizing a (second) tour of the thoroughfare with the A+D Museum, guided by AN West Coast Editor Sam Lubell and LA institution Mike the Poet. The event will stop at some of Broadway's greatest architectural treasures—including the Bradbury Building, the Los Angeles and Rialto Theaters, the Wurlitzer Building, and the Herald-Examiner— and it will look at its future, including revamped and widened sidewalks, new towers and businesses, and even a streetcar. Tickets range from $5 to $20 and are available from the A+D Museum.
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Friday> Join AN at the West Edge Design Fair in Santa Monica

photo Have you ever wondered why our buildings are not as digitally smart as our phones? Well that's changing fast, and AN West Coast editor Sam Lubell will be moderating a panel on the topic this Friday at the West Edge Design Fair in Santa Monica. The panel is entitled "Embracing Technology: The Client Wants it, Are you Prepared?" It will include Santa Monica architect Peter Grueneisen, who has developed a speciality working for music companies and tech-savvy clients, as well as several technology experts from around the city. A major focus will be on home technologies, but the panel will also explore technology in the hospitality and commercial realms. We bet you didn't realize how much work goes into making home tech systems seem simple and seamless? How much coordination must take place between tech experts and architects? How much security is becoming an issue? And how our homes will in fact quickly merge with, yes, our phones.
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On View> “Never Built: Los Angeles” Opens July 27 at the A+D Museum

Never Built: Los Angeles A+D Architecture and Design Museum 6032 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles July 27–September 29th, 2013 It is difficult to envision the city of Los Angeles any differently than it exists today, but AN West editor Sam Lubell and co-curator Greg Goldin, in collaboration with Clive Wilkinson Architects, have organized an exhibition at the Architecture and Design Museum that grants visitors the rare opportunity to get a glimpse of the city as it could have been. The team gathered a diverse assortment of renderings, models, and various media depicting parks, buildings, master plans, and transportation schemes that were designed with the intention of being built, but were deemed too novel to actually be brought to life. The collection features unrealized projects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1925 Civic Center Plan, William H. Evans’s 1939 design for the Tower of Civilization, and B+U Architect’s 2009 design for an office building on Firestone Boulevard, as well as many other projects that, had they been carried out, would have completely changed the physical reality of the city of Los Angeles.

Give To Never Built: A Look at the Los Angeles That Never Was

AN's West Coast Editor Sam Lubell is curating an exhibition at LA's A+D Architecture and Design Museum that examines a whole new world called Never Built: Los Angeles. The show explores the amazing schemes dreamed up for the city over the years that never happened, including buildings by some of the most famous architects in the world (Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolph Schindler, Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, etc.), as well as unbuilt subways, parks, amusement parks (Disneyland in Burbank!), and even flying buses. The show, organized around a giant floor graphic of LA, will create an alternative city through models, prints, installations, drawings, and animations. If you'd like to donate to the exhibition, check out the kickstarter link here. Proceeds will pay for building and installing the exhibition.
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EVENT> Julius Shulman Los Angeles book launch in LA (tonight!) & NYC (April 21)

This week Rizzoli releases Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis co-authored by AN's own West Coast editor Sam Lubell and Doug Woods. The book features the seven decades' worth of images (many never published), not only of Shulman's iconic photographs of mid-century houses by Neutra and Eames but also of his lesser known explorations of the streetscapes and surroundings of the city he most adored, Los Angeles. The publisher is marking the occasion with events in Los Angeles (April 15) and New York City (April 21). TONIGHT in Los Angeles! 7:00 p.m., Friday, April 15 : Meet the authors, who will discuss the book as part of a panel (among the featured speakers is Judy McKee, Shulman’s only child and the executor of his estate) and book signing. Location: Julius Shulman Institute at Woodbury University, 7500 Glenoaks Boulevard, Burbank , CA   NEXT WEEK in New York! 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 21: Book signing with author Sam Lubell. Location: Rizzoli Bookstore, 31 West 57th St., New York   Please visit AN's diary for more info.
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City Listening Hears LA’s Great Voices in Architecture

Architecture was heard and not seen at City Listening, the latest installation of de LaB (design east of La Brea), LA's semi-regular design gathering hosted by AN contributors Haily Zaki and Alissa Walker (the writer of this post, but better known to you as "we"). Monday night's event was held at the new Barbara Bestor-designed GOOD Space in Hollywood, where design writers and bloggers crawled out from under their keyboards to show us their faces, and in some cases, their feelings. The evening was packed with AN contributors and readers, including two pieces out of seven read that were originally published in AN! Frances Anderton opened the night with a piece published in AN over two years ago that reflected on her first impressions of LA as a newly-arrived Brit. After making a Chapter 11 joke that made a few LA Times freelancers twitter nervously, Christopher Hawthorne read a piece from the LAT about last year's wildfires (isn't that great, we now have an annual wildfire tradition). We loved Curbed LA editors Josh Williams and Marissa Gluck riffing on the disturbing proliferation of floral wallpaper and velour furnishings as part of their regular feature "That's Rather Hideous" (their excellent Flickr stream with photos by their readers provided background imagery the rest of the evening).
Jade Chang's tribute to minimalls published in Metropolis made us blush with nostalgia and was the perfect bookend to Sam Lubell's wistful critique of Americana at Brand, also published in AN (speaking of, Sam will be signing his new book London 2000+ at the LA Forum tonight!). We tried to lift spirits dampened by the economy with our poem The Night Before Layoffs, predicting what local designers from Frank Gehry to Shepard Fairey will need to do to weather the downturn. Although the crowd roared regularly throughout the evening—who knew design writers were so drop dead hilarious?—nothing quite matched West Hollywood Urban Designer John Chase's account of love, guilt, soul-searching, urban planning, and..er, um, how do we say this...hard-ons with a local homeless man. Unfortunately, this was an unpublished (and probably unpublishable) piece. Believe us when we say you had to be there for that one. More photos, thanks to Keith Wiley.