Posts tagged with "Westwood":

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Hammer Museum Announces Expansion into Occidental Petroleum Tower

A bigger Hammer is happening in Westwood. The museum just announced that the museum a 99-year lease and will be expanding into 40,000 square feet of gallery and support space. In addition to remaining in their existing building, they are taking over square footage in the first five floors of the adjoining mid-century office tower by Claud Beelman, who in addition to designing the 1962 Occidental Petroleum building created the Superior Oil Company headquarters (aka the downtown Standard Hotel) and the Art Deco Eastern Columbia Building in DTLA. The  property recently purchased by UCLA, which will occupy floors six through sixteen of the tower. New York architect Edward Larrabee Barnes designed the original Carrara marble-clad Hammer Museum building in the early 90s, but in the years since it’s been renovated several times by L.A.’s own Michael Maltzan. He designed the Billy Wilder Theater, the Museum Café, and most recently the John V. Tunney Bridge. The Hammer did not say if Maltzan would be participating in the expansion. “There could not be a more ideal situation than to share our building with UCLA, with whom we have such a long affiliation. We believe this is the best possible outcome for the museum; our missions are aligned, we have a strong working relationship, and share a long-term commitment to the students and community,” said museum director Ann Philbin. “We are excited about our future plans to expand, improve, and transform our space.” According to the Hammer press release, the additional space will not only allow for larger galleries, but for ones dedicated to the Hammer Contemporary Collection and works on paper. A new study center for the UCLA Grunwald Center Collection, a classroom, and support spaces will round out the new scheme. To pay for the expansion and upgrade, the museum received a $25 million cash payment to be invested in what the Hammer calls its “quasi-endowment.” A capital campaign will follow. No date was given for the opening of the improvements.
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Eavesdrop> Building Bruins: UCLA looks to build off Playa Vista success in Westwood

UCLA Architecture and Urban Design’s new campus at the Hercules Hangar in Playa Vista has been a great success. Now we hear from a source that the school is looking to design an addition to its Perloff Hall in Westwood. Whispers say that the designer will be the campus architect, which probably wouldn’t make the school’s talented architects very happy. Stay tuned for a potential gossip blockbuster.
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Maltzan Bridging Gap at Hammer Museum

Michael Maltzan is getting into the bridge business. He’s already part of the HNTB-led Sixth Street Bridge team in Los Angeles, he's finishing up a bridge in Chengdu, China, and parts of his One Santa Fe (which we will profile in a future issue of AN) in the city’s Arts District themselves form a bridge, extending over the ground plane and allowing peeks toward the L.A. River. Now he’s been tapped by the Hammer Museum to design the John V. Tunney pedestrian bridge, above the institution’s large garden courtyard, finally connecting its 2nd floor western permanent galleries to its eastern ones. The new bridge will encourage visitors to explore all sides of the institution and give curators more flexibility, perhaps allowing them to design shows utilizing both wings of the museum. The bridge, which Maltzan designed with engineers Guy Nordenson and John A. Martin, is almost in place, and will officially open early next year. The tapered, 33-foot-long span, connected to the buildings' structural bays, ranges from 30-feet-wide to 8’ 8”. Its flanks will be made of white painted steel, and its flooring will consist of composite metal deck and concrete slab. The bridge's angular curve, Maltzan pointed out, will allow more sunlight to reach the courtyard, create a feeling of movement, and give the bridge a distinctive look. "We think the bridge will be a destination in itself," said Maltzan. "A phenomenal place to look over the courtyard and be among the tree canopies and to even say hi to your friends in the courtyard." Maltzan has worked on several of the Hammer's changes in recent years, including the Billy Wilder Theater and the museum cafe, which are both glass-fronted, adding transparency and activity to the courtyard, which has become a welcome gathering space. Since this component needed to be constructed quickly and during off hours, most was prefabricated off-site and then craned into place on a recent evening. (See time lapse above). The bridge’s criss-crossing understructure will appear as a cat’s cradle from below, with several frosted glass circular cutouts (12-inches in diameter) in the floor deck, emitting daylight and artificial light, depending on the time of day. The diagonal pattern is both structural and aesthetic, said Maltzan. "Having worked with Guy (Nordenson) before on so many buildings, there is an ongoing conversation about the inherent relationship between architecture and structure," summed up Maltzan. As for the bridge: "It's a permanent piece of sculpture," he said.
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Relocation Time on the West Coast

Everybody seems to be opening up new offices these days. One of our favorite firms, Barton Myers Associates, is moving from Westwood all the way to Santa Barbara, which doesn’t sound promising. Cunningham Group has opened new digs in Culver City’s Hayden Tract, the collection of arts offices made famous by the wild constructs of Eric Owen Moss. And UCLA Architecture will remain in Westwood. But it’s ready to open a new robotics lab inside the old Playa Vista research facilities of Howard Hughes.
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Neutra Strathmore Apartments Threatened

AN contributor Michael Webb not only writes about Modernism, but he lives it: for the last 31 years he has resided in one of the units in Richard Neutra's Strathmore Apartments in Westwood. According to Webb, developer Landventures is proposing to build a five-story block directly across the street from the Neutra apartments, which would block light and views, aggravate the noise and congestion on a heavily trafficked street, and "degrade an architectural masterpiece." He and other residents are encouraging people to attend tommorow night's hearing of the Westwood Community Design Review Board (7pm in the community room A of the Westside Pavilion at Pico and Westwood) to oppose the project. To see what the apartments mean to Webb, check out this essay he wrote about his unit a few years ago: I live in an apartment that feels like a tree house on a hilltop just north of Westwood Village, two blocks from UCLA.  I moved in 27 years ago, drawn here by the timeless beauty of a modern complex that was built in the year I was born—1937. The architect was Richard Neutra, an Austrian immigrant who settled in LA in 1925, quickly won acclaim for the Lovell Health house in the Hollywood Hills, and went on to design 300 modern houses in his 45-year career. Here, he borrowed his ground plan from the traditional bungalow court—a hollow square with an axial path leading through—but placed it on a steep slope with steps in place of a walkway and eight apartments climbing the hillside. Early photos show it as a white cubist sculpture standing alone; the trees that would shield and soften it came later. It proved a tough sell, so Neutra was delighted when Luise Rainer—another Austrian immigrant, who had won two Best Actress Oscars back-to-back—moved into what is now my apartment. She had separated from her husband, Clifford Odets, and was probably trying to elude her fans. In a letter to the architect she explained that she had always thought of modernism as being cold and unfriendly, but now felt a great sense of serenity. Orson Welles, newly arrived from New York, briefly lived across the way with Dolores del Rio, and Fritz Lang is reputed to have installed his mistress in a third apartment. However, the friendly ghosts in mine are those of Charles and Ray Eames, the designers who met at the Cranbrook School of Art, drove to LA in 1941 to pursue their careers undisturbed, and lived here until they built their own house in Pacific Palisades, eight years later. Ray Eames, writing in Mademoiselle, declared: “We live in the most modern house in LA.” For the Eameses, the airy hilltop apartment was a retreat as well as their first workshop, “offering moments of calm and rest and pleasure at the beginning and end of each day,” as Ray wrote. Neutra had provided “a beautifully clean and simple shell [that] imposes no style on the tenants, but leaves them free to create their own surroundings through color, texture, use of area and equipment needed for everyday life and activities.” I inherited a blank canvas and, having little to spend and no certainty I would stay, I camped out with a minimum of furnishings for the first 15 years, leaving doors and windows open through most of the year. The good proportions and abundant natural light were a blessed release from the claustrophobia of an old dark house that my ex wife had chosen in Washington DC. Then came the big quake of 1994, which spared the apartment and spurred me to celebrate the different traditions of modernity it stood for. With the encouragement of friendly professionals, and the participation of talented artisans, I’ve fleshed out the spaces as a tribute to the cool geometry of Neutra and the organic rigor of the Eameses. The goal was to foster a dialogue—enriched by personal memories and enthusiasms—between those giants, weaving together metal and wood, angles and curves, plain and colored surfaces. White stucco walls, ribbon windows with silver trim and a wood-strip floor provide the frame. To avert cabin fever--I often spend entire days at a time in this 1000-square-foot apartment when there’s a book to be finished--I wanted each space to have a distinct character. My bedroom is a homage to De Stijl, the Dutch modernists of the 1920s who enlivened their cubist compositions with primary red, yellow and blue, plus black, gray, and white. Everything in the room is in one of those tones and I felt justified in doing this because Neutra himself used iridescent blue tiles in one of the bathrooms. Waking, I feel I’m in a golden cornfield, with a clear blue sky above, and a comforting red glow behind me. The bed, Eames couch, and chest are black and a Navajo rug adds a splash of scarlet. The chest  was designed by architect Lorcan O’Herlihy as a Constructivist composition of cantilevered drawers, some faced with woven steel mesh. Tom Farrage, a skilled metalworker, made the chandelier—a brushed aluminum disc like a full moon, with branching arms that spotlight witty artworks by Saul Steinberg, Claes Oldenberg, and a photographer friend, Jenny Okun. Ingo Maurer’s Don Quixote lamp sits atop a Saarinen side table; a deliberate contrast of klutzy and sleek forms. I spend most of my time in the office—the Eameses’ workroom, where they kept their “Kazam” press and boarded Gregory Ain—so I’ve made it as serene and functional as I could. A broad ash ply worktop wraps around two sides of the room, supported on filing cabinets in the Cherokee red that Wright popularized, and industrial-grade Douglas fir plywood shelves, made by Jim Matranga, Frank Gehry’s favorite carpenter, complete the circuit. The stucco is painted celadon, the ceiling a shade lighter than the walls, complementing the charcoal gray sisal carpeting, two chairs--the Aeron and Gehry’s CrossCheck--and wood Venetian blinds. A row of turned wood bowls occupy the raised glass top of stepped bookshelves, and there’s a forcola (goldola rowlock) hand-carved in Venice by one of the last surviving craftsmen, and a fragment of beeswaxed paneling from an early English Tudor house—a crude provincial copy of a Renaissance model. Also, three vintage photos: Mark Shaw’s shot of the Kennedy’s sailing off Hyannisport in the election summer of 1960, Horst’s surrealist study of a Balmain hat taken in Paris in 1938, and Andreas Feininger’s 1942 view of mid Manhattan, taken from the Jersey palisades with a telephoto lens that flattens six blocks of backlit towers, giving the city the ethereal air of a Japanese ink wash painting. As in the bedroom, there’s a deliberately jarring juxtaposition: Maurer’s whimsical Mozzkito table lamp and Sapper’s rigorous flat screen IBM computer. Handcarved Finnish birch birds dangle from a ceiling light. Black and white vintage photos are a passion I’ve had to curb for lack of wall space. I still believe with Mies that “less is more”—though I’m always willing to consider one more treasure. The hall leading past the kitchen (Neutra’s floor plan is as traditional as his exterior is modern) is hung with shots of Paris in the 1950s, culminating in a classic image by Melvin Sokolsky of a fashion model appearing to float in a plexi bubble on the Seine. In the living room, everything is sensuously rounded—from the molded plywood frames of the Eames and Aalto lounge chairs and a tubular metal sofa by Gilbert Rhode, to the truncated glass oval of the dining table, and the sexy Philippe Starck side chairs. The living room is my laboratory, a place to mix elements and see what the chemical reactions may be, and a place to show off favorite things. A hand-tufted Chinese silk rug, designed by two young Americans in an abstracted wood-grain pattern, is echoed in the wire base of a Warren Platner coffee table and a bamboo sculpture of torqued curves by Syoryu Honda. Bamboo pieces by Kenichi Nagakura—one inspired by a bird’s nest, another by a Henry Moore draped figure—complement the Honda. (A third is pinned to the bathroom wall). Two sculptural paper lamps by Ingo Maurer cast their reflections in Nolli’s map of Rome with its labyrinth of streets and squares. A Richard Serra etching, as violent as an explosion of molten lava, arches over a curvilinear drinks trolley with glass shelves and a goatskin-covered frame that was made in Italy around 1950. An Australian aboriginal painting—a stylized map of white dots—is displayed against a black Eames screen, and the Eameses’ leg splint—mocked up in this apartment in 1942—hangs over the entrance. Finnish glass, metal sculptures, framed photos of Rainer and the Eameses in this apartment, along with fragments of celebrated buildings sit atop wall-mounted book shelves of glass and black-laquered wood. Sixty four steps lead up to my front door, dense foliage shuts out the street noise, and my desk is a few steps from my bed. So it’s tempting to live the life of a recluse, surrounded by books and art, enjoying the play of sunlight through the day, and writing without distractions.  For most of the year I can sit out on the narrow terrace among the tree tops. Sitting there, I reflect on how Neutra’s machine has been swallowed up by its garden, and how the house that was new when the Eameses moved in has become one of LA’s youngest Historic-Cultural Monuments.