Finally. After 39 years of wandering around Los Angeles and trying to convince its landlord to sell, SCI-Arc today announced that it has bought its building in LA’s Downtown Arts District. The 1,250 foot-long Santa Fe Freight Yard Depot building, a reinforced concrete structure designed by architect Harrison Albright, stretches seemingly forever along Santa Fe Avenue. Students like to bike or skateboard inside it to get to class.
The school moved to the former rail depot 10 years ago after a 2001 renovation by architect Gary Paige. The school’s opening came when building owner Meruelo Maddux Properties filed for bankruptcy—meaning it really needed the money. The school bought the property for $23.1 million. Other homes for the school have included Marina Del Rey and Santa Monica. But now it finally has a real home.
And their edgy, coarse and lively corner of downtown, as SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss has pointed out, is where it’s always wanted to be. “SCI-Arc is absolutely committed to Downtown,” he told AN in a recent interview, adding that the area is a laboratory for architectural and urban development. “We are staying Downtown. Period.”
Last month we reported on Beverly Hills’ virtually nonexistent preservation policies and the destructive results for Modern architecture. Well those (lack of) rules seem to be at issue again, as we learn from Curbed LA that Richard Neutra’s 1955 Kronish House is for sale, with a listing on Redfin emphasizing the land’s “huge upside potential as a major estate.”
Why doesn’t landscape architecture in Southern California get the same attention as architecture? That’s one of the questions that will be answered at Friday’s Landscapes for Living conference at SCI-Arc. The event, organized by the Cultural Landscape Foundation, will focus on Post War Landscape designs in the region, which have largely stayed under the radar. For instance, who has heard of Ralph Cornell, who designed legendary landscapes like the Torrey Pines preserve near San Diego, Beverly Gardens in Beverly Hills and the Civic Center Mall and Music Center plaza in Downtown LA ? Other subjects will include Ruth Shelhorn, the only female architect to work on the original plans for Disneyland, and designer of the park’s entrance and Main Street; Bridges and Troller, who designed Century City; Lawrence Halprin, better known for his parks in the Pacific Northwest but also active in California; and of course the legendary (but under appreciated) Garret Eckbo.
If you love the work of Richard Neutra or his son Dion, check out the round of festivities in LA this weekend that we like to call NEUTRAPALOOZA! They’re otherwise known as the Neutra Practice 85th anniversary Celebration Party. Our favorite event is the “Followers of Famous Design Fathers” symposium on Saturday, which will include Eric Lloyd Wright, Emily Ain, and Nathaniel Kahn, among others. And for you lucky Neutra house owners, there’s the Reunion of Neutra Owners, Clients, Collaborators, and Builders later in the day. The events end on Sunday with a comprehensive Neutra Interiors tour and a tour of Neutra’s famous Lovell Health House in Los Feliz. If you’re a Neutra fan you really shouldn’t miss this. And if you’re not, you’ll probably become one if you go. Either way you can’t lose.
After years of waiting, as of this past weekend Silver Lake residents can finally enjoy the “Meadow,” a 6-acre swath of grassy land adjacent to the Silver Lake Reservoir and west of Silver Lake Boulevard that’s been fought over and delayed for several years. It was determined that the Meadow could be opened to the public because the Reservoir itself will soon be replaced as a drinking water source by underground storage tanks north of Griffith Park (plus restless neighbors fearing outsider encroachment and the destruction of local habitats finally relented). We finally had a spare second to check it out today, and were very impressed.
As California’s redevelopment agencies face possible extinction, one notable group has thrown its hat into the ring. The LA Conservancy has announced that it will give its annual President’s Award to the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) for “Its commitment to reusing historic structures—and promoting historic preservation” in its redevelopment plans. “We thought it was a timely way to recognize what they’ve been doing and their role in trying to foster strategic investments across the city,” said Adrian Scott Fine, the Conservancy’s Director of Advocacy, who pointed to the agency’s help with, financing, surveys, and in some cases purchase of historic buildings to attract investment in historic conservation.
Although LA still does not have an NFL Team, developer AEG today awarded architecture giant Gensler the design of the city’s hypothetical 1.7 million square foot downtown stadium, called Farmers Field. Gensler beat out HKS and HNTB who were also shortlisted for the project back in December. If the $1 billion project moves forward it will seat 65,000 to 75,000 people, contain about 200 luxury suites, and have a retractable roof, enabling it to facilitate convention events as well as football games. Gensler’s proposal also features a lightweight ETFE roof, bulging outward and taking on an oval-shaped profile. Read More
Our friends at Oyler Wu are putting the finishing touches on their collaboration with artist Michael Kalish that brings a pixelated face of Muhammad Ali to L.A. Live’s plaza in Downtown Los Angeles. The sculpture, reALIze, which has its official unveiling tomorrow night, consists of a large frame of hundreds of aluminum tubes on which 1,300 speed bags are hung via steel cables. From most angles it looks like a bit of a jumble, but from straight on, the composition of light and dark bags indeed forms an impressive likeness of the champ.
When anyone thinks of U.S. immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries they picture Ellis Island. But the West Coast’s counterpart was the US Immigration Station at Angel Island, a 1910 collection of modest timber buildings located off the coast of Tiburon, just outside San Francisco.
Until the end of World War II thousands of immigrants arrived here; most from the far east. And while Ellis Island was no picnic, this was an even harder place. Technically a detention center, its crowded barracks held hundreds of people for up to a year at a time. Thanks to California State Parks’ recent $20 million renovation by SF-based Architectural Resources Group and Tom Eliot Fisch, you can now visit.
In response to the lack of, ahem, any money in architecture these days, AIA/LA has announced a new scholarship to help members pay for the chapter’s ARE (Architect Registration Exam) seminars. The Saturday seminars usually cost $85 each for members, so if someone wants to take all ten, that’s worth $850. Preference goes to unemployed or under-employed architects, and right now there’s no limit to how many will be handed out. The chapter is about to award its first six scholarships today, says Matt Krinsky, AIA/LA’s Director of Programs and Events. By the way, for those struggling young architects hoping to get inspiration, check out the winners of the AIA’s Arch Is competition — Freeland Buck and Marcelo Spina— at LA’s A+D Museum tonight.
Take a look at the responses to our March 17 event, BetterHomeBuilding, at SPF:a Gallery in Culver City. The VERY lively panel of architects and developers discussed (often at top volume) how to improve large-scale home building in Southern California, and how to get architects more involved.
Participants included legendary architect William Krisel; Leo Marmol of Marmol Radziner Architects, Zoltan Pali of SPF: architects; Neal Payton of Torti Gallas and Partners; Harlan Lee of Lee Homes; Frank Vafaee of Proto Homes; and Brian Geis of Brookfield Southland.