Another symbol of downtown Los Angeles’ transformation is the ongoing renovation and rebranding of the Spring Arcade Building. Modeled after the great Beaux Arts arcades of Europe, the space has long been a grubby home for non-distinct shops. The Arcade—actually two 12-story towers connected by the skylit, glass roofed, three-level arcade—was built in 1924 by architects Kenneth McDonald and Maurice Couchot. With its Spanish Baroque entryway, it originally contained 61 shops, and later added a Venetian-style bridge across its center. It now contains space for 21 shops and restaurants and still contains the landmark KRKD radio towers on its roof.
We like to give Frank Gehry a hard time for his foibles, but he has actually undertaken a lot of pro bono work, including a Make It Right home in New Orleans and the Pasadena Playhouse and Jazz Bakery Theater in Los Angeles. His latest effort is in one of the most troubled neighborhoods in Los Angeles: Watts. Gehry Partners has agreed to design a new campus for the Childrens Institute (CII), a social services non-profit. They’re collaborating with Inglewood firm (fer) Studio, who will be Executive Architect.
It seems like just yesterday that Los Angeles opened its first downtown Parklet, a sparkling new design on Spring Street by architects utopiad.org, designers Berry and Linné, and builders Hensel Phelps. But a few weeks ago that design (already getting a little shabby from weather and use) was rammed and badly compromised by an errant motorist, leaving it closed, and leaving downtown without a parklet to speak of more than two years after the city’s parklet program began.
Beverly Hills gained a vacant lot this week as crews demolished the former Robinsons-May department store at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard. The four-story, marble-clad building, designed by Charles O. Matcham, Charles Luckman, and William Pereira in 1952 with interiors by Raymond Loewy and Associates, was retailer J.W. Robinson’s first store in suburban Los Angeles.
While Los Angeles implements plans for new bike lanes and other pedestrian improvements along its streets, there is still plenty of work to do. As part of that struggle, Highland Park residents and local activists this week staged the “Walk For The Dead,” along North Figueroa Street, wearing Day of the Dead makeup and costumes as a reminder of the pedestrians and bikers who have been killed by cars on the thoroughfare.
As AN recently reported, AEG’s plans for an expanded Los Angeles Convention Center are looking dim, so LA’s Bureau of Engineering’s is planning a design competition for the facility’s expansion and renovation. The Bureau recently released its Task Order Solicitation (PDF) for the project, shedding more light on what’s to come.
After four years of stops and starts, MyFigueroa, the $20 million proposal to transform Los Angeles’ Figueroa Corridor from a regional throughway to a bike– and pedestrian-friendly destination, appears to be moving ahead. Overseen by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) with design assistance from Melendrez, Troller Mayer Associates, and Gehl Architects, MyFigueroa will add separated cycle tracks or buffered bike lanes, bike racks, and improved transit shelters, lighting, and landscaping to 4.5 miles of streets between LA Live and Exposition Park.
No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station
Los Angeles Public Library, Central Library
630 West 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA
Through August 10
Known as the “Last of the Great Railway Stations,” Los Angeles Union Station receives due recognition with the exhibition entitled No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station. Organized by the Getty Research Institute, the exhibition will span from the station’s construction in 1939, when its construction became an incidental platform for racial issues of the era, to today, when it serves 60,000 commuter passengers daily. Photographs, architectural drawings, and other archival items will all relay the story of the station’s journey from a basic transportation hub to an important centerpiece of Southern California architecture. The Los Angeles Public Library—an iconic cultural centerpiece itself—hosts the exhibition until August 10.
Long-time Mar Vista Lanes diner, Pepy’s Galley, an iconic, authentically Googie-style restaurant, closed its doors forever on Monday. By most accounts, the interior will be a total loss, as the building’s new owner, BowlmorAMF, intends to convert Pepy’s into a catering space for the adjacent bowling alley. The Mar Vista Lanes complex was designed by famed architects Armet & Davis, a seminal Los Angeles firm also known for Pann’s and the original Norm’s restaurant.
At long last, it appears Los Angeles is getting its train to the airport. Last week, the board of LA County’s transit agency, METRO, agreed to proceed with a $200-million light-rail station, part of the new Crenshaw Line, connecting to a proposed people mover that will usher passengers to their terminals. The new station would be located about a mile and a half east of LAX’s central terminal area, and about a half mile north of the Crenshaw Line’s Aviation/ Century Stop, at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard.