Welton Becket’s 1958 Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, once a beacon of midcentury optimism, this weekend shuttered its doors. The bending, intricately ornamented auditorium hosted several Academy Awards in the 1960s, as well as concerts by the likes of Eric Clapton, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Prince, and Bob Dylan.
But the facility recently fell on hard times, as bands gravitated to larger venues (leaving it mostly hosting trade fairs), and as a planned $52 million renovation was recently cancelled when California abolished its Community Redevelopment Agencies.
Santa Monica Civic, a working group strategizing the venue’s future, told the LA Times that it will take several months to develop a new plan for the landmarked structure, including film screenings, live theater, or even restaurants.
Norma Merrick Sklarek, the first African American woman to become a licensed architect in the country, died on Monday in Los Angeles, The Los Angeles Times reports. Sklarek, a native of Harlem, went to Barnard College before graduating from Columbia’s architecture school in 1950. She passed the New York State exam in 1954, becoming the first African American woman to receive her professional architecture license and earning her the nickname “the Rosa Parks of Architecture.” She later moved to California where she was turned down for work 19 times before going on to work for SOM, Gruen Associates, Welton Becket, and the Jerde Partnership.
After attending the recent Alt Build Expo in Santa Monica it became clear to us at AN that the aging Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, a Decorative Modernist structure designed by Welton Becket back in 1958, was in serious need of an update. (Becket, by the way, designed the Capitol Records Building, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and a good deal more of mid-Century Los Angeles.)
Well it looks like our wish is coming true: On May 26 the Santa Monica City Council voted to approve a $47 million remodel and seismic retrofit of the auditorium, using Santa Monica Redevelopment Agency funds (the vote to allocate funds was sped up because such monies may soon be frozen once the state budget is passed).
No firm has been chosen, but we will keep our eyes peeled on the RFP, which was posted here last month. “They anticipate a design build contract,” said Santa Monica spokesperson Carol Lemlein, who noted that perspective teams will be made up of architects, contractors, engineers, and preservation experts. Read More