Sometimes photographs are used to tell a story. Other times they mark the passage of time or celebrate a joyous moment or memory. And if we are lucky, we can catch a glimpse of what interested the photographer and how they experienced that moment. Today, we view much of our architecture through the literal and figurative lens of professional photography that circulates on design websites, firm pages, and social media. But how do architects see their own work? The work of their contemporaries? What happens when the architect takes control of the camera? The University of Southern California has digitized approximately 1,300 slides by architect Pierre Koenig and architect and color slide company owner, Fritz Block. Those images now reside in a public database documenting the pair's photographs of mostly 1950s and 1960s midcentury modern architecture on the West Coast. Koenig had already selected certain images for digitization in the late 1990s, though unfortunately that didn't come to pass. But now architects, designers, midcentury modern fanatics, and history buffs can get a unique glimpse into a wide range of modern architecture. The photo database's of projects include Koenig’s Case Study #22, John Lautner's Foster Residence, and Pietro Belluschi's Central Lutheran Church. “The Block and Koenig slides are two of the smaller unique collections in the possession of the USC Libraries,” explains USC on the collection's webpage. “They document examples of 20th century California architecture that developed stylistically from the foundations of the International Style as established by the 1932 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, titled Modern Architecture: International Exhibition, and of European pre-World War II Modernism.”
Posts tagged with "West Coast":
Hem Sweet Hem. We love this quirky story from our friends at Curbed. The Swedish-based IKEA is well on itsway to worldwide domination of the budget-furniture market -- and who doesn't love wandering through the cavernous stores and imagining life in the mini habitats arranged throughout the store? Photographer Christian Gideon sure did. His latest project documents what life might look like if you lived in one. Subsidy Switch. LA's Mayor Villaraigosa promised not to spend any taxpayer money to a proposed football stadium in the city, but the project's lead architect is another matter entirely. According to LA Weekly, the mayor is sending $1 million slated for the city's poor to lead-architect Gensler as they prepare to move their offices from Santa Monica to downtown LA. Elvis Goes Danish. Think living at IKEA was strange enough? Well, the Historic Sites Blog hopes to top that. Apparently there is now a replica of Graceland in Denmark. Yes, Denmark. If those photos weren't enough, the BBC has a brief video of the Danish dupe. Empire Example. According to gbNYC, the Empire State Building plans to be in the LEED when it comes to retrefotting historic buildings. Though owner Anthony Malkin, the man behind the green curtain, didn't set out to achieve the green label for one of the city's highest profile building, he's apparently changed his tune.
Despite the sting felt countrywide by largely left-leaning architects, architects in California have a lot to smile about after yesterday's elections: particularly because a number of ballot propositions went their way. Most importantly Prop 23, which aimed to suspend AB 32, the state's anti-pollution, pro-sustainability legislation, was trounced, preserving green building and retrofitting funds not to mention important environmental and anti-sprawl measures. Also the defeat of Prop 22, which prohibits the state from taking certain local funds (like city redevelopment funds), to replenish its coffers should help preserve money that architects often tap into. On the negative side—particularly for landscape architects—Prop 21, which would have increased vehicle license fees to help fund state parks, was defeated. And of course prop 19, which would have legalized marijuana in California, went down as well. Sorry architects. You can't have everything!
Another day, another corporate architecture takeover. But this time it’s not the usual suspect, AECOM, which has recently swallowed Davis Langdon, Ellerbe Becket, DMJM, and EDAW. It’s Canada's largest architecture firm, Stantec (whose stock ticker on the NYSE, for the record, is STN), which already has a total of 10,000 employees in North America and designs behemoth projects ranging from airports to wastewater treatment plants. The firm today announced it was eating up storied SF firm Anshen + Allen. Anshen, famous for building the original Eichler Homes in California, the amazing Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona, and a big chunk of the University of California campuses, still has a firm stronghold in healthcare, education, and research. Recent projects were at Cornell University, UCSF Medical Center, UC Santa Cruz, Stanford, and Kaiser Permanente. Some have decried the move as part of architecture’s inexorable march toward just a few “too big to fail” firms. But one of AN’s Deep Throat sees it as a smart move for Anshen in this economy: “Mid-size firms, even larger mid-size firms, are going to have a rough go of it during the next few years,” our source said. “You need a larger platform to keep getting healthcare (and presumably other institutional) work."
For better and worse, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled yesterday that the California legislature had not violated the state constitution in seizing some $2 billion from hundreds of local redevelopment authorities across the state, money that will continue to be used to cover educational shortfalls within the state's sagging budget. This is good news in that it does not further imperil already tenuous state finances that have pretty much been trimmed well into the marrow. At the same time, as we detailed last year, this is an unprecedented taking of local funds—covered through special property taxes having nothing to do with the Legislature—that could also imperil the state's economy by limiting the work the redevelopment authorities can do, work that often times goes to architects. The group representing the 397 authorities has already decided to appeal the ruling and is requesting a stay on the taking of the money pending that appeal. In a statement, John Shirey, executive director of the group, the California Redevelopment Association, argued this gives the Legislature undue power:
We strongly disagree with Judge Connelly’s ruling which effectively says the Legislature has unlimited discretion to redirect local redevelopment funds to any purpose it wishes. Under that logic any state program could be called redevelopment. The Legislature needs to deal with its budget problems by making hard decisions using its own limited resources—not by taking away local government funds.Meanwhile, a Schwarzenegger spokesperson tells the Times that being overruled on the case would have compounded the state's budget problems. As for the association's continued legal challenges, it's a battle the group has won before, and quite possibly could do again. It's worth noting, though, that the judge who supported the association's efforts last year was the same one who denied them this go round. Whatever the outcome, its impacts will likely be felt for years to come.
LA is rarely thought of as the country's greenest town, what with all the traffic and sprawl, but it's doing a lot better than you think, as the News informs us. For the second year in a row, Los Angeles has been ranked number one in terms of energy efficient buildings, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star ratings. LA made it to the top of the list by having the most rated buildings—ones that use 35 percent less energy than the average—with 293. The top five include Washington, D.C. (204), San Francisco (173), Denver (136) and Chicago (134). This does not exactly mean it is the most efficient period, given that there are so many more buildings in LA—usual suspects like Seattle and Portland are missing from the top five, as is New York, which we'd like to think is missing because it's so dense, though probably the real issue is that it's so old an inefficient to begin with. Still, no matter how you look at it, this is a step in the right direction for all of us.
TORCH BEARERS On January 5, our New York colleagues attended a wake to mourn last month’s folding of I.D. magazine, the 55-year-old trusted chronicler of design where pioneer modernist Alvin Lustig was art director and a young John Gregory Dunne was an editor before turning to novels and screenplays. The bi-coastal bash was more of a gathering of the fellowship than a farewell, with Pentagram grandee Michael Bierut and former editors Chee Pearlman and Julie Lasky hosting. Fresh from Silicon Valley, newly appointed National Design Museum director Bill Moggridge, formerly of IDEO, was also there studying local rituals. YOU WISH Hagy Belzberg’s Skyline Residence sits on a gorgeous mountaintop ridge site. But much of its architectural innovation came cheap, with off-the-shelf parts and materials. Which made us sit up and take envious notice when we heard that the house sold for an over-the-rainbow $5.6 million, according to real-estate site Redfin. Maybe that means a new generation of buyers really value good design, or it could just be more proof of the old saw: location, location, location. However, Eavesdrop wants to believe it was the book-signing party for AN editor Sam Lubell’s new book Living West (own your own copy today!) that pushed the sale over the top. After all, Steven Ehrlich, Hadrian Predock, and Jennifer Siegal showed up. GREENER PASTURES Eco-prophet Paul Kephart of landscape design firm Rana Creek, which created the much-acclaimed green roof atop Renzo Piano’s California Academy of Sciences, has had a turbulent few years. First he left his wife for an employee, throwing the small company into chaos. Then we heard the plants on the roof were turning brown, and that Kephart himself had a brush with near death. Now, Eavesdrop is glad to report that things have stabilized with the arrival of a new Baby Kephart. Take heart: Dad is definitely not the first larger-than-life personage to also have a complicated personal life. AIN’T IT GRAND? We love when planners decide to let loose with gossip-worthy statements. Last month, Paul Novak, the land planning deputy for LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, spouted freely to the Los Angeles Business Journal about the city’s long-stalled Grand Avenue development: “The project should be abandoned.” And he elaborated: “We need to rethink what goes on that land and how the county and city can maximize their returns. But it’s not this deal. We should probably start from scratch and issue a new request for proposals.” Meanwhile, the Grand Avenue site looks exactly the same as it has since we started the California edition three years ago. And we thought we were the ones who played fast and loose with deadlines. Send gag orders and blank slates to Eavesdrop@archpaper.com
REVEALING BITS Stephen Ehrlich is known to be a mild-mannered LA architect. But it looks like that wasn’t always so. As part of his tribute at Julius Shulman’s memorial service in September, Ehrlich bared not only his praise for Shulman, but also his butt cheeks. He wasn’t at the event, but the Getty presented an image that Shulman took of him in his—shall we say—perkier days. He was obviously hitting the beach a lot then, because we saw some serious tan lines. Uncle Julius, maybe you had another career waiting in the centerfolds? YOUR PINK SLIPS ARE SHOWING The layoffs continue unabated. But it’s even more painful when the firm doing the layoffs just bought your company. Our always (well, almost-always) reliable sources tell us that architecture giant Perkins + Will has just laid off more than 25 people in its San Francisco office. Around ten of them are former employees of SF firm SMWM, which merged with Perkins + Will about a year ago. Guess that M&A plan wasn’t such a good idea, was it? EASY LISTENING The gossip goldmine that is the Monterey Design Conference has delivered yet again. ... Send tips, gossip, and job fairs to Eavesdrop@archpaper.com
Yesterday, the California Redevelopment Association celebrated another victory, as the state decided against pursuing its appeal of an April decision in Sacramento Superior Court that kept the Legislature from seizing $350 million from the association's 397 member agencies. That money was meant to cover a shortfall in the 2008-2009 state budget, but at the cost of the agencies operations. As we reported early last month, however, the state has done it again this year, attempting to tae $2.1 billion from the various redevelopment agencies, which work on economic development projects, affordable house, and, as Cecilia Estolano explained last week, brownfield remediation. Association president John Shirey hopes yesterday's victory is a sign of continued success. "One down, one to go," he said in a release. But according to the Contra-Costa Times, the state remains undaunted, believing it has crafted this years bill in a way that avoids the constitutional pitfalls of the previous effort.
Just when it looked like things might be getting better, the California construction outlook for the year, it appears, has gone from bad to worse. According to McGraw-Hill Construction’s 2009 California Construction Outlook: Mid-Summer Update, the state’s budget crisis has had a nasty effect on our industry, “reducing state tax revenues and worsening the state’s construction declines.” The report says that construction starts for the state are expected to drop 22% in 2009 to $36.5 billion. Here are some of the sobering figures in the report:•Single family starts are expected to fall 31% and multifamily starts will decline 39% in 2009. •Commercial and industrial construction is set to drop 37% this year, a consequence of the weak California economy and continuing budget crisis. •Institutional building project starts are expected to slip 23% in 2009, due to pressures on federal, state and local tax revenues from the budget crisis. •Public works projects, despite the legislature’s inability to balance the state budget, are expected to benefit from the federal stimulus package and 2006’s Proposition 1 bond referenda, so this sector will slip only 5% in 2009. Utility construction, given the focus on alternative energy, will gain 4% over the year.
Architects have, for obvious reasons, been fascinated with earthquakes for as long as they have been knocking over buildings. Lots of structural systems and building materials have been explored, but what about invisibility? Capitalizing on recent advances in invisible cloak technology, scientists in France and Britain think they can hide buildings from those damning shockwaves coursing through the earth. New Scientist explains the tech thusly:
The new theoretical cloak comprises a number of large, concentric rings made of plastic fixed to the Earth's surface. The stiffness and elasticity of the rings must be precisely controlled to ensure that any surface waves pass smoothly into the material, rather than reflecting or scattering at the material's surface. When waves travel through the cloak they are compressed into tiny fluctuations in pressure and density that travel along the fastest path available. By tuning the cloak's properties, that path can be made to be an arc that directs surface waves away from an area inside the cloak. When the waves exit the cloak, they return to their previous, larger size. [...] When it comes to installing them into buildings, they could be built into the foundations, Guenneau suggests. It should be possible to make concrete structures with the right properties. To protect a building 10 metres across, each ring would have to be about 1 to 10 metres in diameter and 10 centimetres thick. The concentric ring design can also be scaled down, and could offer a way to control vibration in cars or other machinery, he adds.Now if only we could perfect fire-proof buildings. (Via Twitter, where BLDG BLOG also pointed us to what looks like a failed attempt at an earthquake-proof building--those tubes certainly look like what's described above. Which leads us to wonder if the old jibe that "Made in China" is a sign of inferior quality no longer stands.)
This week Pasadena's Art Center College hosted its summit, Expanding the Vision of Sustainable Mobility. Lots of interesting ideas, some of them making us realize that despite our financial ruin, science fiction has already arrived (even if we can't pay for it). These include Leik Myrabo's laser-powered rocket ship (no, we're not making that up), Neville Mars' constantly-moving subway, his plan for "dynamic density," and his floating city, and Paul Wilbur's plug-in, ultra-aerodynamic Aptera car. One of the most interesting ideas, though, came from an Art Center student... Jake Loniak's Deus Ex Machina (pictured above), powered by high-energy-density batteries, is a vehicle that's essentially an extension of the body, or a "wearable motorcycle." Moving up to 75 mph, the three-wheeled, stand-up machine, supported with a column of "vertabrae", is controlled through the movement of your muscles. Just be careful when you get mad in traffic and want to start flashing signs at people... Can we have one?