In recent weeks we’ve seen a number of important developments in Downtown Los Angeles, like the groundbreaking of the Arquitectonica-designed apartments on Grand Avenue, and the topping out of The Broad next door. The red-hot area continues to make headlines, from the advancement of its upcoming streetcar to the murkiness of its proposed football stadium.
As confirmed on its blog yesterday, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has made a proposal to acquire the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (MOCA). “Our chief desire is to see MOCA’s program continue and to serve the many artists and other Angelenos, for whom MOCA means so much,” said LACMA director Michael Govan in an online letter. Reportedly LACMA would preserve MOCA’s two buildings, located on Grand Avenue and in Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles. According to the LA Times, the offer was made back on February 24. As part of the arrangement, LACMA would raise $100 million for the combined museums as a condition for completing the deal, according to their story.
Another suitor for struggling MOCA is the University of Southern California (USC), which has been reported to have been in talks to merge with MOCA as well. That arrangement has a model in UCLA, which is partnered with the Hammer Museum in Westwood. Either way, it looks like something has to be done about financially-troubled MOCA: “If not us, who?” Mr. Govan said in an interview with the New York Times yesterday.
Alas. One of LA’s greatest weird treasures, the Bahooka Family Restaurant, is set to close on March 10. The gem, which opened its Rosemead location in 1976, is perhaps the most ornate example of Tiki architecture in the city. Not only is it full of every Polynesian tchotchke imaginable—Easter Island heads, hula dancers, blowfish, diving bells—but most of its walls are covered with fish tanks, creating the feeling of being inside Sponge Bob’s home. The restaurant’s owners have said they’re simply ready to retire, which we certainly understand, but we must admit we’re a little sad.
Last week we reported on Gensler’s planned triangular Nvidia headquarters in Santa Clara, the latest addition to the architectural arms race that is Silicon Valley. (We’re seeing zoomy new headquarters for Apple, Samsung, HP, Nvidia, etc, etc.) Now there’s yet another. Google’s new project adjacent to its “Googleplex” in Mountain View, has unveiled their new designs by NBBJ. The new campus, which is being called Bay View, is comprised of nine crimped, predominantly-four-story buildings. Each building will be connected by a bridge; a connectivity that has become a staple of NBBJ’s office work around the world, including its new headquarters for Samsung nearby. The competition to out-campus the competition seems to be heating up. Who’s next?
Silicon Valley definitely has the architecture bug. We’ve recently seen remarkable new designs put forth by Foster + Partners for Apple and NBBJ for Samsung. Now Gensler has released ambitious new designs for tech company Nvidia, located in Santa Clara. The 24-acre complex’s two 500,000-square-foot buildings are each shaped like triangles, a configuration that Gensler principal Hao Ko explains facilitates collaboration by allowing connections to each side of the building to be the shortest. (The triangle, he adds, is also “the fundamental primitive that defines all shapes in the digital realm.”) Undulating roofs will be made up of smaller triangle pieces, breaking down the overall mass and allowing for ample skylighting, in the in-between spaces. Construction is set to begin this summer, with completion in 2015. Apple’s circle now has geometric competition. Who’s next?
Another weekend, another Modernism Week. One of our favorites: a look inside the Palm Springs Art Museum’s future Architecture and Design Center, located inside E. Stewart Williams’ sleek Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan (1960). The International Style building is being renovated by Marmol Radziner, who also worked on Richard Neutra’s nearby Kaufmann House. The museum has already raised more than $4 million to buy and renovate the building, and is now just $1 million shy of what’s needed to get work underway. The organizers hope to break ground in the next few months and open the center by fall 2014. But for now, its interior is still lots of quirky fun, including a chance to walk inside the old bank vaults, check out the old drive through teller, and explore the old kitchens and mechanical systems.
Every year architects across the country take their talents to CANstruction, creating fascinating structures out of tin cans. CanstructionLA recently announced this year’s winners, and there are some impressive results to share. Participants created local icons like the LAX Theme Building (RBB Architects), the California state flag (Clark Construction and Thornton Tomasetti), and the Port of LA (RBB Architects). The jury’s favorite, Filling a (Growing) Need, by NBBJ and Buro Happold, was made up of an undulating landscape of canned kidney beans, potatoes, beets, and mixed vegetables. The event contributed 21,076 pounds of food and $12,034 to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
San Francisco’s North Beach library, which AN reported on today is finally under construction after more than two years of delays, is the last of more than 20 city library branches to be repaired or rebuilt thanks to a $105 million bond measure that SF voters passed in 2000 called the Branch Library Improvement Program (with the unfortunate acronym, BLIP). The measure has spurred innovation from several of the city’s top firms, and we couldn’t resist sharing more of their work in the slideshow below. Only two remain: North Beach and the Bayview Branch Library, designed by THA Architecture in collaboration with Karin Payson A+D, which is scheduled to open later this month. Find a full list of library projects here.
A new video released by LA METRO gives us all a much clearer conception of the construction sequencing of the Regional Connector, the 1.9 mile downtown underground light rail line that will connect Los Angeles’ now-dispersed Gold, Blue, and Expo lines. The $1.3 billion connector, funded largely by 2008′s Measure R sales tax increase, is set to begin construction later this year. It will travel primarily under Flower Street and 2nd Street, and is set to open by 2019. Movement of utilities around the line began in December. Yes, more transit in Los Angeles. This is really happening!
It’s obvious that Moby, whose L.A. architecture blog has become quite the sensation, has now become the official mainstream spokesperson for the city’s design community. First he made the big address starting off the AIA/LA awards in Santa Monica. Now he put together a video (above) to accompany his address for the kickoff of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. Some of Moby’s many statements about LA architecture: “baffling,” byzantine,” “mind-numbingly complicated,” “fantastically uncohesive,” and, a little better, “LA has the most diverse, interesting architecture of any city on the planet.” Now we can only guess where he’ll pop up next. Meanwhile he becomes the latest in a line of celebs the Getty has tapped to promote its offerings, from Ice Cube to Anthony Kiedis. Move over Starchitects. Here come architecture stars.
Earlier this week, AN reported on the opening of Los Angeles’s first parklet in Eagle Rock. Thursday saw the arrival of the city’s second and third sidewalk-extending mini-parks, located on Spring Street in Downtown LA’s historic core. Created by architects/developers utopiad.org, designers Berry and Linné, and builders Hensel Phelps, the 40 foot by 60 foot parklets, located just a few parallel parking spots from each other, are impressively detailed and fitted, with wood planter boxes, minimalist bench seating, stone pavers, hardwood decking, and quirky touches like seat swings, astro turf, bar seats, colorful fences, foosball tables, and exercise bikes.