Just west of Los Angeles, a relaxed beach town on the California coast has recently received some major architecture news headlines. In 2013, some of the biggest firms in the country, from OMA to Gehry Partners, have set their sights on development projects in Santa Monica, planning to raise the skyline and increase the architectural density of the city.
Not everyone is happy about this attention, though. This week, Curbed LA reports that the Wilmont Neighborhood Coalition, a group of Santa Monica residents from the high profile neighborhood from Wilshire Boulevard to Montana Avenue, have called for a moratorium on all development plans in the city. With a unanimous vote at their annual meeting, the group pleaded with the City Council to stop architectural projects in Santa Monica until the solidification of a zoning ordinance next year.
The architecture business seems to beâ€”slowlyâ€”rounding back into form in Southern California. One indicator? A bunch of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and Requests for Qualifications (RFQs) for major public projects. One of the most significant is the $70 million renovation of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, whose management was taken over by the University of Southern California (USC) this summer. The iconic Parkinson & Parkinsonâ€“designed building will undergo long-delayed updates throughout, including improved sight lines, seating, concessions, audio/visual, lighting, restrooms, and much more. The stadium’s last major upgrade came in 1993. The shortlist for the project for now includes Populous, NBBJ, DLR, HNTB, Gensler, and 360 Architecture.
Los Angelesâ€“based artist Cliff Garten has just completed his latest commission: Ribbons, a series of landscapes and sculptures in the courtyard of the Beaux-Arts 50 United Nations Plaza in San Francisco. The symmetrical design riffs on the existing structure’s classical uniformity by inserting a sculptural collage of paving, seating, fountains, and plantings into the building’s 20,000 square foot courtyard.
California Republicans (yes, there are a few, we think), your leader has arrived. After a multiyear battle, Mitt Romney has finally gotten permission to tear down their existing beachfront house and build an 11,000-square-foot mansion in La Jolla. Although it was approvedÂ in 2008 by the California Coastal Commission, neighbors were able to stymieÂ the projectâ€”questioning whether it exceeded square footage allowancesâ€”until commissioners upheld their approval. According to the Los Angeles Times, the home is more than four times larger than the median house in the area. (As is this house by Zaha Hadid also planned for La Jolla.) Itâ€™s proof that Mitt truly loves the earth. And exploiting resources on top of it.
Beyond the Assignment:Â Defining Photos of Architecture and Design
Julius Shulman Institute
7500 Glenoaks Boulevard, Burbank, CA
Through November 1
Beyond the Assignment celebrates the work of ten of todayâ€™s leading architectural photographers in the United StatesÂ who draw inspiration from their image-making predecessors,Â such as Julius Shulman and Ezra Stoller. The exhibition,Â curated by Bilyana Dimitrova, is being showcased at the Woodbury University Hollywood Gallery, and will be running from October 5 to November 1.
Last Thursday in his keynote address to the Transit Oriented Los Angeles conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the creation of the “Great Streets Initiative.” Â In an executive directiveâ€”his first since taking office on June 30â€”Garcetti outlined a program that “will focus on developing streets that activate the public realm, provide economic revitalization, and support great neighborhoods.” Continue reading after the jump.
The architecture school at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco was only founded in 1986 and did not have its own campus until 1997. But the schoolâ€”housed in a light filled old bus shed in the city’s Potrero Hill Design Districtâ€”is quickly carving out a unique role for itself as a center of architectural creativity and pedagogy. The College, with its dynamic president and acting director of architecture David Gissen, seems to be trying to work forward from its Arts and Crafts traditions (the CCA itself was founded in 1907 in Oakland) but link up with the vibrant and young tech industries and attitude that proliferate in this south of Market area.Â A sign of this new spirit isÂ a small but fascinating exhibit,Â An Olfactory Archive: 1738-1969,Â curated by Gissen and new faculty member Irene Cheng and designed by Brian Price and Matt Hutchinson.
We at Eavesdrop donâ€™t like to toot our own horn, but sometimes we canâ€™t help ourselves. So we have to point out the scene for the late July opening of Never Built Los Angeles, co-curated by our very own Sam Lubell. The event looked more like a Hollywood club opening than an exhibition opening, with a line that snaked around the corner and angry would-be partygoers trying to convince the bouncer (a.k.a. the fire marshal) to let them in. We especially love the description by AN contributor Guy Horton, here writing for KCRWâ€™s blog: â€œThe line of black clothing wrapped around the corner and kept going, reaching all the way down to a stretch of houses where local residents nervously peeked out to see what was going on. Cars were pulling all sorts of questionable maneuvers on Wilshire and adjacent streets as distracted, anxious architects hustled for parking. People were walking in from blocks away as if drawn from some invisible force. At any moment I was expecting police helicopters to appear overhead. That would have made my night complete.â€
Peter Zumthorâ€™s design for a new central building at LACMA has some experts concerned with its environmental effects. Critics including John Harris, chief curator of the National History Museumâ€™s Page Museum, worry that the project could disrupt the La Brea tar pits, the same ecological features that inspired the buildingâ€™s blob-like shape. At a meeting last month the county Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to request a presentation from the Page Museum fleshing out the curatorâ€™s concerns. That presentation has not yet been scheduled, according to the Page Museumâ€™s press office.
LAX finally opened its shiny new Tom Bradley terminal, designed by Fentress Architects, to quite a hullabaloo in July. The throngs who showed up forÂ â€œAppreciation Daysâ€ got to enjoy shopping, music, and even free LAX keychains and knickknacks. But one of the most prominent elements was missing: the public art. Major pieces by Ball-Nogues, Pae White, and Mark Bradford were all delayed for what one participant called â€œa lack of sophistication on LAXâ€™s partâ€ in shepherding such work through. In other words, the officials didnâ€™t get how to pull this kind of thing off. Well never fear, despite the bumps, contract disputes, and many miscues, the installations will begin opening in late September and continue through the end of the year. Better late than never.