Someone has stolen key works of furniture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and R.M. Schindler from a University of Southern California (USC) storage facility. The Los Angeles Times reports that a pair of lamps designed by Wright and a cushioned chair by Schindler disappeared from a South Los Angeles warehouse in 2012. The items, likely worth tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, were brought to the storage facility from the Samuel Freeman House, a textile block–style home designed by Wright in 1923. According to The Times, the theft had gone unreported until recently, when a reader sent an anonymous letter to the newspaper detailing the suspected theft. The Samuel Freeman House is located on a slope in L.A.’s ritzy Hollywood Hills. It is designed to take advantage of the changing grade to make the three-story home appear from the street to be shorter than it actually is, according to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation website. Like the Ennis, Storer, and Millard homes, the Freeman Residence is built on a modular grid from thousands of 16-inch precast concrete blocks—12,000 in this case—designed by Wright to unify aesthetic expression and structural assembly. The resulting home cascades down its rugged site, revealing a partially-submerged bedroom level and descending terraces. Throughout its life as a private residence, the Freeman home hosted salons and other gatherings. In 1986, the owners donated the home to the USC School of Architecture. Like several other textile block homes, the structure was heavily damaged in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake; it was structurally stabilized by the university in 2005. The home is currently undergoing additional renovations due to the earthquake damage. The textile block homes were built using only the aforementioned blocks and with little in the way of shear walls, lateral structure, or other seismic safeguards. While Wright designed the initial structure, Schindler renovated and added to the residence in the decades after it was completed. See here for a full set of Historic American Building Survey drawings and other information on the Freeman House. Since USC acquired the home, it has been used extensively as an educational tool and venue. In 2000, as USC geared up to renovate the home, the items in question were moved to the storage facility. A few years later, the items had disappeared. According to The Times, the circumstances surrounding the stolen furniture are somewhat strange. First, the items were located in a locked room that could only be accessed by a limited number of people. There are no suspects as of yet, but it appears that whoever stole the pieces likely had previous access, as investigators have not uncovered signs of forced entry into the storage area. Second, despite word of the missing items reaching the upper levels of the USC School of Architecture administration, the theft went unreported to authorities for years. And then there’s the issue of a recently-auctioned textile block believed to belong to the home. According to The Times, one of the home’s original blocks recently fetched $5,000 in an online sale. It is believed that the slightly-damaged block was removed from the home’s garage, perhaps directly after the Northridge quake or during the renovations. To boot, several other furniture works by Schindler were recently stolen from another storage facility in Los Angeles, this one managed by the Friends of the Schindler House, a nonprofit that maintains Schindler’s former residence in West Hollywood, home to the MAK Center for Art and Architecture. It is unclear if the two thefts are connected. According to the report, the Los Angeles Police Department is conducting a preliminary investigation into the missing pieces.
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[Editor’s Note: This the third in a three-part series documenting the winners of the AIA 2018 Honor Awards, which are broken down into three categories: architecture, interior architecture, and urban design. This list covers the regional and urban design awards, but additional segments spotlight winners in architecture and interior architecture.] The American Institute of Architects announced its 2018 recipients of the Institute Honor Awards January 12. The 17 winners were pulled from approximately 500 submissions from across the globe and only three regional and urban design projects took home the prize. The designs range from the double-award winning Chicago Riverwalk, to frameworks for dealing with sea level rise. In one way or another, this year's notable topic was living with water. The five-person jury that selected this year’s AIA Regional and Urban Design Honor Award winners included:
- Roger Schluntz, FAIA (Chair), School of Architecture and Planning, University of Mexico
- Lisa Chronister, AIA, City of Oklahoma City Planning Department
- Suzanne DiGeronimo, FAIA, DiGeronimo Architects
- Tim Griffin, AIA, Minnesota Design Center
- Gerry Tierney, AIA, Perkins+Will.
Clifford Pearson, deputy editor at Architectural Record, will direct USC's American Academy in China
Clifford Pearson, deputy editor at Architectural Record, is leaving his post to join the University of Southern California's (USC) School of Architecture as Director of the American Academy in China (AAC). The AAC was founded in 2007 by USC School of Architecture Dean Qingyun Ma. The program uses the humanities, art, and architecture to understand contemporary China. In addition to directing the AAC, Pearson will teach a class on architectural journalism at the academy. He will assume his new role in January 2016, though he will continue at Architectural Record as a contributing editor. Why China now? Pearson explains that, because China's building boom is slowing down, this is an ideal time to "catch our breath and examine what's happened over the past 25 years." Currently, the AAC is a six-week summer program open to U.S. and Chinese students. Its programs are geographically far-reaching and immersive: this past summer, students from 12 universities traveled to Shenzhen, Beijing, Xi’an, and Lushan to study how the mass migration from the countryside to the city has influenced the rural-urban dynamics across China. Pearson would like to enhance AAC's profile among university students in these two countries by expanding the academy into a year-round series of seminars, lectures, and events in Los Angeles and cities throughout China. Pearson envisions the AAC as China's answer to the American Academy in Rome. Similar to the AAR, there will be fellows living on site and working on China-focused research projects. Pearson was tapped for the role because of his expertise in the culture and development of China. From 2005 to 2013, he was editor-in-charge of Architectural Record China, and he is currently co-director of the Asia Design Forum, a think tank that fosters debate around the built environment. He intends to use his "journalist's eye" to create programming that contextualizes and critically examines China today.
After years in the spotlight it appears that University of Southern California (USC) uber-alum Frank Gehry has decided it's time to give back. The school announced today that Gehry has been named the school's Judge Widney Professor of Architecture. He's also taught at Columbia and Yale, but this is his first time teaching at his Alma Mater. It's not clear yet what classes he's going to lead. Gehry, 81, graduated from USC (B.Arch) back in 1954. He's arguably the school's most famous alumnus, but there is good competition, including architects Thom Mayne and Gregory Ain, astronaut Neil Armstrong, filmmaker George Lucas, and, of course, O.J. Simpson.