In one of the more surprising analyses of his tenure as architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, Christopher Hawthorne recently came out with breathless praise for The Vermont, a green glass residential tower by Jerde Partnership on Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. According to Hawthorne, the building’s “sleek steel-and-glass profile is a reminder that new apartment buildings in Los Angeles can be something other than bland, stucco-covered, stick-built neo-dingbats.” Eavesdrop is no architecture critic, but let’s just say we do not totally agree.
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Laser scanning technology helped a Minnesota bridge find its third home
One of 24 historic bridges chosen for preservation by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Bridge 5721 is one of the state’s only remaining wrought iron bridge structures. The bridge was originally built to carry pedestrians over a river in Sauk Center, Minnesota, in 1870, before modern steel production methods had become available. In 1937, the bridge was disassembled and moved to span the Little Fork River near the town of Silverdale. But more than two years ago, the structure began its journey to a third incarnation, this time as an equestrian and pedestrian bridge for the Gateway Trail in the town of Stillwater, near Minneapolis. Because of the bridge’s provenance and the desire to keep its wrought iron parts intact, the Minnesota DOT worked with new owner Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and structural engineers at HNTB and Olson & Nesvold Engineers (O.N.E.) to collect crucial data for the rehabilitation using new 3-D laser scanning technology.
Continue reading after the jump.
High up. The New York Times‘ Edward Rothstein went out on a ledge for the paper today. The critic took on the glass boxes that protrude from the Willis Tower in Chicago known appropriately as the Ledge. The critic waxes poetic about the vulnerability of the city and the fully human sensations that occur when floating some 1,353 feet above the street. He also takes the opportunity to point out the redundancy of the Ledge’s cousin, the Grand Canyon Skywalk.
Tear Down. Christopher Hawthorne balked at SFMOMA‘s public relations campaign to portray the museum’s new Snøhetta-designed wing as a wallflower respecting its Mario Botta-designed neighbor. But as Hawthorne points out in the LA Times, the new building is anything but quiet. Rather it’s more a “chiseled behemoth.” Hawthorne finds the museum’s affront to its Botta as part of a larger trend in the American museum world where the tendency is to drop good, but alas, old architecture in lieu of ever newer names and trends. Read: Whitney, MoMA, Barnes, to name but a few.
Put a Lid on It. In a totally biased and unabashedly opinionated piece for City Watch, Jack Humphreville writes that a back room deal may have LA ratepayers of the Department of Water and Power footing the bill for a new twelve-acre park designed to cap the underground reservoir replacing the Elysian Reservoir. Humprhies argues that the $85 million park should fall under the auspices of the City and the Department of Recreation and Parks.
Manhattanhenge. Gothamist reminds us that tonight at 8:17PM the full sun will set in perfect alignment with east west axis of Manhattan’s street grid. Remember not to stare, mesmerized, for too long.
Leave it to Eli Broad, who is putting up his own museum in Downtown LA, to make a mockery of the public process. Despite getting a great deal on one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the city he still hasn’t shared any of the designs for the new museum. His only nod was inviting the LA Times Christopher Hawhthorne to see the contending models a few weeks ago, and not letting any other members of the press in. Hawthorne, it appears, could not publish his thoughts until after a winner was chosen, and even then his article didn’t show any photos. And the Broad Foundation doesn’t plan to share any images of the winning scheme until after ground is broken. This is a disaster for LA, which will effectively have no say over one of the most important cultural institutions in its history.
When I was out in LA at Postopolis!, one of the most interesting and memorable talks I heard was Christopher Hawthorne’s, on the chilling, almost creepy, effect the recession has had on the United Arab Emirates, in particular Dubai. While he still hasn’t written up his version of his trip–and we wish he would, because the talk was so interesting–the basic gist was that construction had all but stopped in Dubai, and to some degree in Abu Dhabi (to say nothing of New York and LA), because the spigot of liquidity-né-money had dried up with the collapse of the financial system. He termed it Ponzi-scheme urbanism. Well, it seems some things are still moving out in the wild, sandy yonder, as RMJM’s Princeton office (formerly Hillier) just passed along the following impressive photo of its Capital Gate tower passing the half-way mark. Read More
Architecture was heard and not seen at City Listening, the latest installation of de LaB (design east of La Brea), LA’s semi-regular design gathering hosted by AN contributors Haily Zaki and Alissa Walker (the writer of this post, but better known to you as “we“). Monday night’s event was held at the new Barbara Bestor-designed GOOD Space in Hollywood, where design writers and bloggers crawled out from under their keyboards to show us their faces, and in some cases, their feelings. The evening was packed with AN contributors and readers, including two pieces out of seven read that were originally published in AN!
LA Times critic Christopher Hawthorne yesterday summed up the problems with L.A. Live!, the behemoth development in Downtown LA’s South Park district, whose second phase is now opening. Hawthorne decries its “placelessness,” its buildings that “have almost nothing to say to or about downtown Los Angeles,” and worst of all, its inability to help the rest of the area.
“When we trap the energy of an urban crowd inside this sort of self-contained world,” he writes, “and when we allow developers and their architects to heighten the differences between that world and the streets around it so dramatically, we help keep the rest of our blocks underused and, as pieces of the city, undernourished.”
Amen brother. While the development, with its mix of residences, hotels and entertainment venues, should certainly bring activity and money downtown in tough times, it is still a wasted opportunity.