Without a doubt the big winner at Wednesday’s AIA/LA Design Awards, held in the shadow of Cesar Pelli’s almost-done Red Building at the Pacific Design Center, was Neil Denari. In an unprecedented display of dominance his firm‘s No Mass House took home Best in Show for unbuilt work (Next LA Awards), his firm’s HL23 Residential Tower in New York took home Best in Show for built work (Design Awards) and then Denari won the AIA/LA Gold Medal. Now that’s a good night. (By the way, we thought Best In Show was reserved for dog shows, but that’s besides the point…) In accepting the medal Denari, who was born in Texas, talked about being inspired not only by the light and sunshine of California, but also by its darkness, a tension that’s palpable in his work. To check out more of the design awards winners check out the AIA/LA’s new app on iTunes. And to check out the new Red Building you’ll have to wait until it’s finished early next year.
Corey Martin, co-founder of Portland-based PATH Architecture (we featured their Butler Residence in our pages a little while back) has left the five-person firm to become a principal at 45-person Portland firm THA Architecture. Martin worked at Richard Potestio and Allied Works prior to starting PATH in 2005 with partner Ben Kaiser. The firm has gone on to produce critically acclaimed projects ranging from the Park Box multi-family residence to a locker room for the University of Oregon.
When you see architects working feverishly into the night to arrange food cans into strange sculptures it can only mean one thing: CANstruction is back again! This year CANstruction LA took place at Westfield Culver City and featured creative designs from the likes of RTKL, HKS, Callison, and several other architecture and engineering firms. This year’s big winner was “Take a Bite out of Huger,” by RTKL, made of beans emerging from water waves to feast on tiny goldfish, but other fun designs included UFOs, abstract sculptures, and even food trucks. The event was organized by the Society for Design Administration, and all cans used go to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
If you want to vote for the Peoples’ Choice award, go to Westfield Culver City’s Facebook page.
Steve Jobs would have been proud. So would Richard Neutra. The Neutra VDL House in Silver Lake now has its own iPad App. Developed by Sarah Lorenzen and David Hartwell, the app includes stunning new pictures of the iconic modernist house, tons of information about Neutra, an annotated historic timeline of the home, guided virtual tours, and information about the house’s design, construction, and materiality. We especially love the 3d models, plans, and sections, which can be rotated on axis, giving you a new understanding of the house and providing some classic iPad fun.
In last issue’s Eavesdrop we noted that world famous LA architectural writer Reyner Banham (Architecture of Four Ecologies), who died back in 1988, now has a Facebook page with over 600 friends, most of whom think he’s still around. We’ve discovered who’s behind the fake page. Architect Parsa Khalili tells us he started it for an assignment in a seminar course at Yale School of Architecture in 2008. Khalili says he forgot about the account until one day he signed in and saw 30 people waiting to be his friend. Since then Banham has accrued friends from around the world, sending him birthday wishes and thanking him for the great honor of friending them. “Honestly I have no idea why I even bother but it has become such an absurdity it’s hard to totally let go,” explained Khalili.
If you’ve ever wanted to know more about LA’s architects than the results of their projects in steel and stone, check out Success By Design by writer and photographer Jenn Kennedy. The book profiles 25 of them, including Steven Ehrlich, Barton Myers, Ray Kappe, the late Stephen Kanner, and Hodgetts + Fung. Architects divulge all sorts of secrets like Myers’ insecurities about getting upstaged by students; Art Gensler’s original desire to start a “small” firm (his firm, Gensler, has over 2,000 employees); Randy Peterson of HMC’s amazing lack of free time; Kanner’s struggles with fees; and Kappe’s surprising facility with the business end of architecture. The book recently launched its digital version and a web site. See some interesting quotes below.
New York isn’t the only city celebrating Archtober. In Los Angeles, October has officially been “Architecture Month” since Mayor Villaraigosa declared it so back in 2007. The AIA/LA hopes the month-long festivities will help to “educate the public about architecture and architects, celebrate the profession and encourage the dialogue between those interested in the built environment.”
Despite the controversy over Ed Fickett’s now-endangered West Hollywood Library, the city’s new library, designed by architects Johnson Favaro, is set to open to the public this Saturday. The 32,000 square-foot project, with its undulating white facade, will feature two large murals by artist Shepard Fairey (part of a collaboration by Vanity Fair magazine and Cadillac) as well as an interior installation by artist David Wiseman. The master plan for the area calls for 2.5 acres of parkland and open space, new tennis courts and 400 parking spaces in two municipal garages. We’ll be taking a closer look at all this after the library opens, so stay tuned…