Floating Creatures Descend on LA

West
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
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Back in April we took a sneak peak at CO Architects’ $107 million renovation of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s 1913 building. The project is finally done, and includes major seismic and structural upgrades, new exhibit installation, as well as the uncovering of original details like the ceramic-tiled exterior dome; an original stained glass skylight; and original marble walls. The museum re-opened a couple weeks ago, but only now released a whole batch of great pictures (courtesy of Tom Bonner). And they’re worth looking at. We especially appreciate the floating dinosaurs animals hung from the ceiling via carefully placed wires just below large skylights. Enjoy! Read More

Steven Kanner Dies At 54

West
Monday, July 5, 2010
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Unfortunately we have to share the tragic news that our good friend, the excellent architect Stephen Kanner, has passed away. Kanner, principal at Kanner Architects and founder of the A+D Museum, died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. We plan to publish an obituary shortly, but until then we thought we’d share this wonderful tribute by Frances Anderton. Kanner really left us too soon. We wish his family our most heartfelt condolences.

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Moving Past Dingbats

West
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
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Professional Winner: Microparcelization

The LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design just announced the winners of its Dingbat 2.0 competition, developing new designs to replace one of the most prevalent types of post-war LA apartment blocks. An exhibition of the winners went on display last Thursday, and will run through July 24 at LA Forum Events @ Woodbury Hollywood, 6518 Hollywood Boulevard. The winning professional scheme was “Microparcelization,” by the team of Carmen C. Cham, James Black, and Tyler Gross. The scheme replaces multi-family Dingbats with a new neighborhood made up of diverse, very small single family lots. The winning student team, from the Universidad Nacional del litoral in Argentina, transformed service streets into green spaces and deconstructed Dingbat boxes into diverse and original array of compositions. Incidentally, the third student prize went to Columbia University’s Ryan Lovett. We couldn’t help but notice that his entry, Substantiating Surface, looked exactly like his entry for the AN/SCI-ARC New Infrastructure competition last year (see bottom two pix after the jump). Hmm.. The idea—self sustaining communities within a tight urban grid—is strikingly similar as well. That’s not good.. Read More

Trade Show Wandering

West
Monday, June 28, 2010
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The poker table at Har-Bro's booth. The company specializes in property damage restoration.

After having rolled through the AIA Convention in Miami and Dwell on Design in Los Angeles, we just can’t get enough of the weirdness of American trade shows. Finally we’ve found a show that tops them all: The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Conference in Long Beach. The convention, which runs through tomorrow, is a delight for those looking to find those unsexy items that really make buildings run and last, like security systems, anti-mold measures, insurance, parking systems, janitorial services, outdoor lighting, and so on. And the exhibitors have outdone themselves with creative ways to get people to look at things that at first blush might not be too enticing. Start with the prospect of ipods, iphones, ipads, and flip video cameras, and move into interactive fare like a candy booth, a poker table, monogrammed golf balls, several golf putting greens, fresh-baked cookies, a wii station, a dart board, a wheel of fortune, and a good old fashioned raffle, to name just a few. Read More

Swooping Into the Newest LACMA Wing

West
Monday, June 21, 2010
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LACMA’s new Resnick Pavilion by Renzo Piano doesn’t open until October, but the museum has given visitors a few chances to look inside. The results, which we took advantage of last week, are impressive. The single story, open-plan space feels raw, exposed, and much more comfortable in its skin than its neighbor, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (also by Piano, by the way). Here are some of my snaps of the new building, which is fitted with an installation by Walter De Maria (called The 2000 Sculpture) made up of hundreds of repetitive plaster shapes that make up a mesmerizing grid, really bringing out the best in this new building. Read More

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Broad Museum Leak Number 100: Diller Scofidio + Renfro?

West
Monday, June 7, 2010
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Diller Scofidio + Renfro's Alice Tully Hall redesign

In a selection process with more leaks than the Titanic (or, ahem, the Gulf of Mexico) the LA Times reports (thanks to a number of anonymous sources) that Eli Broad is favoring Diller Scofidio + Renfro for his new contemporary art museum. In a previous leak the  Times reported the narrowing of firms to Diller Scofidio and Rem Koolhaas’s OMA. This of course follows the leak that we first reported in March: that Broad was favoring downtown for the museum instead of Santa Monica. Of course none of this is official. In fact Broad hasn’t even formally announced a shortlist or a location. And he’s still waiting for city approval to lease the Bunker Hill site for $1 per year for 99 years (the LA CRA now owns the site, just next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall). But all this insider information is giving Washington politics and Wall Street banking a run for its money. Man, this Broad guy really knows how to play cities, and the media, doesn’t he? He should become a businessman or something. Meanwhile, is any firm hotter than Diller Scofidio + Renfro?

The M Cube: LA’s Rebuttal

West
Monday, June 7, 2010
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LA’s City Planning and Building and Safety departments, which we could not reach last week, have finally spoken up on the now-imperiled M Cube in Venice. To remind you LA City Council on Thursday rejected designer Mark Baez’s request to allow his floating modular, glass-clad, cube shaped apartment building an exception to remain two feet above the Venice Specific Plan’s requirement of 30 feet. Baez asserted that building inspectors informed him too late that the building was too tall, that his contractor bungled the height, and that the city was nitpicking over a height limit that other buildings are able to surpass. Baez may now resort to tearing down the building instead of going through with the costly changes. City planner Kevin Jones and building and safety investigator John Kelly beg to differ. Read More

California Dreaming of High Speed Rail

West
Thursday, June 3, 2010
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Yes, we will someday have high speed rail in California (Anaheim, for instance, is already nailing down its plans and San Francisco has a swanky new downtown station planned). And no, there aren’t enough innovative ideas. That’s why RailLA, a collaboration between the LA Chapters of the AIA and the American Planning Association have launched a Call for Ideas to collect more innovative thinking on the topic. Entrants are encouraged to submit designs, plans, papers, videos, models and other studies about stations, rail infrastructure, architecture, neighborhood planning and anything else having to do with effective high speed rail. In short, say the founders,  the primary goal is to show “how rail can help us recapture our individual American dream.” Wow, that’s a tall order. The top five submissions will receive $2500, and a select group of submissions will be shown off at an exhibit in downtown LA.

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You Can Save The M Cube

West
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
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One of Venice’s great new houses—the  M Cube by designer Mark Baez— is in danger of being at least partially demolished because of a local height restriction that says it’s about two feet above code (32 feet instead of 30). The prefab, modular building glows from within thanks to exterior windows and sliding doors  made of translucent fiberglass. These and other elements make the cube look like a Japanese Tatami home floating above the city.  The structure also uses radiant heating powered by solar panels on the roof. A hearing on the home is scheduled for June 2 (at LA City Council chambers at 10 a.m.) , and the architect is urging supporters to email their local councilman Bill Rosendahl at councilman.rosendahl@lacity.org. So what’s two feet between friends, right?

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Broad Narrows His Sites on Downtown

West
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
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The possible location of the new Broad museum.

According to both the New York Times and the LA Times, Eli Broad appears to have settled once and for all on a Downtown LA site for his new museum, and has gone so far as to hold a new competition for its architect. Further background has it that Thom Mayne, who had been favored to design Broad’s museum, is now out, and the new  finalists are Rem Koolhaas, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Herzog & De Meuron, Christian de Portzamparc, Foreign Office Architects, and recent Pritzker Prize winners SANAA. According to the New York Times, the jury appeared to favor Diller  Scofidio + Renfro and Koolhaas. A choice, according to their story, could be made within the week. Read More

Architects Design For Themselves in Venice

West
Friday, May 21, 2010
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Tony Coscia's Skywave House

One of the perks of being an architect is the excuse to build yourself the coolest of all possible houses (despite any budget holes it may push you into). An excellent way to explore this phenomenon comes at this weekend’s Venice Art Walk + Auctions, and their Art and Architecture Tours. Featured on the tours is one of the wackiest houses we’ve ever seen: Architect Tony Coscia’s own Skywave House (above), a serpentine sculptural form unraveling itself from a single plane and hovering over a glass base. Another highlight is Glenn Williams’ Guitar House, a cubist creation that  the architect designed for himself after being inspired by a Picasso painting of a guitar. Read More

CityCenter: Hold The Fireworks

West
Thursday, May 20, 2010
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New Las Vegas megaresort City Center, which we reviewed in January (it features buildings by Daniel Libeskind, Cesar Pelli, Rafael Viñoly, Helmut Jahn, and others) just reported its first quarter results. They weren’t good. The’s $8.5 billion project, owned by MGM Mirage and  Dubai World (which has finally worked out a debt restructuring deal with its creditors), recorded an operating loss of $255 million, and has only been able to sell about 100 of its 2,400 luxury condominiums, according to the Wall Street Journal. MGM is also locked in a lawsuit with its contractor, Perini Building Co, for defective workmanship and overbilling. For what it’s worth the company claims that it will soon begin to turn a profit on the project. Now that’s a Vegas bet we’re interested in following.

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