Writer Anne Taylor Fleming recently interviewed Frank Gehry for Los Angeles Magazine, getting a glimpse into what the architect thinks about Los Angeles and the meaning of his work there. Gehry tells Fleming about some of the missed planning and architectural opportunities that continue to challenge the city, including the push to make a bona fide downtown, which he believes stems from clinging to old ideas about what a city should be.
On May 2, the ever-controversial Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project—designed to restore the lagoon to its natural shape after years of disruptions and enhance the visitor experience—had its official ribbon cutting ceremony. Or, in this case, kelp cutting ceremony. The newly revamped lagoon glinted in the sun as egrets skittered along the water’s surface. Inappropriately-dressed (dark suits and ties) state officials and project leaders posed for photographs, congratulated team members, and handed out certificates while protesters (some shirtless and in shorts), brandishing hand-made signs saying “Paradise Lost” and “Lagoonicide,” booed and shouted at every opportunity. It was another beautiful day at the beach.
On Monday, members of LA’s design and architecture cognoscenti descended on the Tesla store on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to celebrate the official relaunch of KCRW’s DnA (Design and Architecture). The event featured a discussion between DnA host and executive producer Frances Anderton and Elon Musk, the visionary founder-CEO of Tesla and Space X. Those present included Michael Rotondi, Ray Kappe, Thom Mayne, developer Tom Gilmore, and Getty architecture curators Wim de Wit and Christopher Alexander.
SCI-Arc is hosting a competition—called 40/40—open to all graduates for the design and construction of an installation capable of digitally presenting the work of the school’s alumni. The installation will celebrate the school’s upcoming 40th anniversary. To tie into the April 11 Downtown Art Walk, the exhibition will first be installed—or rather the winner of the competition has to figure out how it will be installed—in the lobby space of the monumental downtown Farmers and Merchants Bank. It will subsequently move to SCI-Arc for the 40th Anniversary Celebration Weekend of April 19-21, 2013.
El Segundo, CA-based developer CenterCal recently revealed plans for a revamped Redondo Beach waterfront near Los Angeles, which includes parts of the Redondo Beach Pier, as well as the nearby boardwalk and Seaside Lagoon. According to The Daily Breeze, CenterCal presented its plans to residents, local business owners, and community groups at a meeting on February 23.
Once upon a time, being at SCI-Arc meant development was a four-letter word, and developers were akin to the destroyers of cities. Eric Owen Moss, SCI-Arc’s director, played a significant role in changing that perception by working with developer Tom Gilmore, who, since 2001, has also been on SCI-Arc’s board of trustees. Mr. Gilmore, founder of Gilmore Associates, is a former architect, so he has a great appreciation for architecture’s potential, especially in formerly blighted areas of Downtown Los Angeles, where his vision has been unfolding since the early 1990s. This might explain why he recently included SCI-Arc in his estate plans by setting up an endowed chair to the tune of a cool $1 million, the first gift of this magnitude the institution has ever received.
The gift will fund the Gilmore City Chair, a position dedicated to supporting educational initiatives focused on the dynamics of urban development around the world. Moss, in an expression of gratitude quoted Machiavelli, saying, “I believe the greatest good to be done is that which one does to one’s own city.” Further details regarding the scope of the Gilmore City Chair will be forthcoming and may even be revealed by Mr. Gilmore himself when he presents a public lecture at SCI-Arc this Wednesday, February 13 at 7:00 p.m.
Right now you can log on to Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany’s Leuphana Digital School and participate in online courses being led by none other than Daniel Libeskind. Professor Libeskind, on the faculty at Leuphana since 2007, is collaborating with other professors and a team of tutors to guide students on the “Ideal City of the 21st Century.” The university conceived of the project as a “cost- and barrier-free academic course for collaborative web-based learning.” Online students will participate in six team assignments through the end of April. Their goal: to design an ideal city and invite others to experience it through digital visualization.
Enrollment is on-going so students can enter for any of the assignments and even arrange for college credit with home institutions. Students are asked to upload text, diagrams, photographs, and videos as the project progresses. Video lectures will also be presented by Libeskind and participating faculty. In the end, a winning team will be announced and all material could eventually be published. We’ll be sure to report on the outcome of the project once it’s complete.
If you have ever seen the film To Live and Die in L.A. then you know the Gerald Desmond Bridge. It has a starring role in the opening sequence, when Treasury agent Richard Chance (played by William Peterson) bungee jumps off of it. You probably haven’t bungeed off it yourself, but If you’ve ever driven across it, you might get why it needs replacing. The original bridge, according to the project website, “is nearing the end of its intended lifespan.” In fact, the old bridge, while considered safe, is a little scary. Netting has been suspended beneath it to catch pieces of falling concrete. Additionally, its approaches are too steep, it’s too narrow, and perhaps most importantly, the newest container ships can’t fit under it.
AN contributor Guy Horton remembers California icon Huell Howser, who passed away on January 7.
I once emailed Huell Howser about an idea I had for an episode of “California’s Gold,” his much-loved public television show that for nineteen years took him and viewers all over the state. He even did fifteen shows devoted to Downtown LA, its communities, history, and architecture. I knew he would get it. Read More
[Editor’s note: Our fearless correspondent Guy Horton shares his thoughts—Gonzo Style—on the AIA/LA Awards Ceremony that took place on the Broad Stage in the Santa Monica Performing Arts Center. And he was surprisingly assured by it all. Read ahead, if you dare. And enjoy the slideshow of the Design Award winners at the end.]
To those who missed it,
Man you should have been there. It was crazy. Honestly, the most insane Awards I’ve been to in years. Moby was there. You know he’s been doing this LA architecture blog. He called LA urbanism a “shit show.” Can you believe that? Brilliant. That got repeated a lot and I imagine it will become the buzz-word for the 2012 Awards: The Shit Show. In a good way, of course. He looked a little nervous. Saw him before he went on stage to introduce things. Told me the whole architecture economic situation really sucks. I know, I told him. But that’s OK. We get by.
Guy Horton, a frequent contributor to AN, here adds his thoughts on the still-steaming controversy over MVRDV’s twin towers.
MVRDV’s design for what they call The Cloud, a twin high-rise with a connecting “cloud” above the waistline, has resulted in an blitz of negative criticism. Americans who have never heard of the Dutch firm are now phoning and emailing threats and condemnation non-stop—some are personal threats aimed at individuals. They have even been called “Al Qaeda lovers.”