RIP Columbia Savings Bank?

West
Thursday, December 3, 2009
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courtesy LA Conservancy

courtesy LA Conservancy

Curbed LA reports that LA’s 1965 Columbia Savings Bank on Wilshire Boulevard, which we just discussed in our recent preservation feature, is now all-but doomed. On December 1 the city’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee approved developer BRE’s plans for a new apartment building on the site. BRE’s six story development, designed by Thomas P. Cox Architects, would include 482 apartments and have about 40,000 square feet of retail. The LA Conservancy  nominated the unique midcentury structure, designed by architect Irving Shapiro, for listing in the California Register of Historical Resources, but the nomination won’t be heard until next year, which is too late.  City council will vote on the BRE project’s EIR tomorrow, but many sources say it’s a fait accompli. Those who want to save it can go to the meeting tomorrow and speak out.

Moss Out In Venice

West
Friday, November 20, 2009
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According to our friends at Curbed LA, Eric Owen Moss’s planned Venice project , on the corners of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards, has been put on the shelf. Fred Mir, who works for the developer, Group III Investments, told Curbed that the neighborhood “didn’t like the height,” and that they had decided to scrap the project back in August, after a bumpy community meeting. No sign of what will replace Moss’s scheme, but we’ll be looking into it…

Broad Museum: 90210 vs 90402

West
Monday, November 16, 2009
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An overhead of Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards, where the museum might end up.

An overhead of Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards, where the museum might end up.

After making nary a peep about his proposed Beverly Hills museum since last April, Eli Broad is again making it clear that he wants the project to move forward. And that he wants it to be much bigger. According to the LA Times, a plan sent last month to the Beverly Hills Planning Department calls for nearly 50,000 square feet of exhibition space (including a 6,100 square foot outdoor area for sculpture), up from the 25,000 previously anticipated. According to the story he’s also included Santa Monica as a possible contender for the museum, for which he would create a $200 million endowment. And now the cities are jockeying for position: Kevin McKeown, a Santa Monica city councilman, told the Times, “I’ll do everything I can to make this happen.” Meanwhile Cheryl Burnett, the city of Beverly Hills’ spokeswoman, issued a statement saying, “While we recognize that the Broad Foundation has many options. . . . There’s no better place than Beverly Hills to showcase this world-class contemporary art collection.” Let..the..fireworks..begin.

Yes We CAN

West
Friday, November 13, 2009
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Gensler and Arup's "Pump-can"

Last night CANSTRUCTION LA, organized by the Society for Design Administration, announced the winners of its 2009 competition at 5900 Wilshire Boulevard. All 60,000 cans—from anchovies to pumpkin pie filling— used to build the amazing structures will go directly to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, as will over $7,700 in donations.  The structures will be on display at 5900 Wilshire through this Sunday. Check out this fantastic teaser video for the competition, which shows a clever can making its way from the supermarket to the venue. And here’s a video of winning team Gensler putting together their entry. All 10 participating teams produced stellar constructions, but a few stood out. They were: Read More

Connecting a Fractured California

West
Thursday, November 12, 2009
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We first found out about this from our friends at Planetizen. Apparently California has awarded Berkeley-based Calthorpe Associates a $2.5 million contract to devise a set of detailed growth scenarios for the state. The effort, known as “Vision California,” will investigate land use and transportation investments in California and it will also include merging the state’s existing regional plans from organizations like the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). Does this mean coordinated regional planning? In California? They’re all TALKING to each other? Could it really be?? Stay tuned…

Moss: SCI-Arc Staying Put

West
Friday, November 6, 2009
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Architect and SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss talked to us the other day to correct our recent post on SCI-Arc’s future in the LA Arts District. Yes, he agreed, SCI-Arc does want to eventually own its own home (it tried unsuccessfully to buy its building from its landlord, developer Meruelo Maddux, a few years ago) . But the school’s lease is not up next year, nor does SCI-Arc face any pressure to leave anytime soon.

“SCI-ARC’s not going anywhere. SCI-Arc has no plans to go anywhere, and is not obligated to go anywhere,” he said. Read More

Bad News For LA: Estolano Out!

West
Thursday, November 5, 2009
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Estalano

Estalano

We’ve just learned thanks to the LA Times and Curbed that LA Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA) CEO Cecilia Estolano is stepping down from her post at the end of this month. Estolano was widely-praised for her aggressive moves to promote affordable housing, turn around struggling neighborhoods, establish a Clean Tech corridor in Downtown LA, and bolster the agency’s funding, even in difficult economic times. We just ran a Q+A with Estolano in our last issue, which can be read here. Estolano is reportedly taking a job with Green For All, an Oakland-based environmental group focused on generating green jobs in underserved neighborhoods. We’re trying to get a follow-up with Estolano now, so stay tuned…

LA Architects Learning To Promote Selves

West
Monday, November 2, 2009
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…Or so hope the creators of Architects Reaching Out, a series of panels sponsored by the A+D Museum and the AIA Los Angeles, in which journalists, PR experts, photographers and web designers will give architects the tools to improve their self-presentation skills. Lessons will include getting good pictures, pitching to media outlets, creating monographs, composing press releases, and even putting together virtual building tours. The panels, moderated by architecture writer Michael Webb, will take place at the A+D’s new location at 6032 Wilshire Blvd in LA on November 14 and 21. Panelists will include KCRW’s Frances Anderton, AN’s California Editor Sam Lubell, architect Lorcan O’Herlihy, photographer Benny Chan, PR maven Christine Anderson, and web designer Shannon Vincent-Brown.

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SCI-Arc Moving?

West
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
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The LA Downtown News and Curbed LA report that SCI-Arc (the Southern California Institute of Architecture) is having some serious issues with its current location in LA’s Arts District, and may be considering a move to Hollywood, the Wilshire Corridor, or the Westside. The school rents its massive train-depot-turned-school building from  developer Meruelo Maddux, which apparently charges a pretty penny (and recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy). Their lease is up in one year. According to Jamie Bennett, SCI-Arc’s COO, the school has not yet decided on whether it will renew the lease, and wants a building of its own.  “We will be operating in our own self-interest. We haven’t been unhappy down here in the Arts District. We’ve got flexibility in terms of our future and we have optimism about our future, but our future will include owning where we are,” he told the Downtown News. Stay tuned, because we know downtown doesn’t want to lose one the Arts District’s driving forces…

Metro Finally Gets It Right (sort of)

West
Thursday, October 22, 2009
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Bet you didnt know: This is the current LA Subway Map.

Bet you didn't know: This is the current LA Subway Map.

As the LA Times and Curbed LA both reported yesterday, the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) finally voted yesterday (after several postponements) to approve its Long Range Transportation Plan. The plan outlines  how METRO will spend  about $300 billion over the next 30 years, focusing on mass transit projects like the Westside subway extension of the Red Line to Santa Monica, for which the county will be seeking substantial federal funding (most of the projects will need support from the feds, although LA County is aided by its new sales tax increase approved last year).

Other major initiatives include the Gold Line extension east from Pasadena, a downtown regional connector, the continuation of the Expo Line to Culver City and Santa Monica, and a Green Line extension to LAX. Of course before Angelenos get too excited about all this rail-related news,  it’s worth noting that more than 2/3 of the plan is dedicated to highway (widening and surface improvements) and bus-related expenditures (rail makes up about 1/6). And then there’s the timeline: is there one? We haven’t seen it yet… Please help us find it!

Young Architects, Start Your Engines

West
Thursday, October 22, 2009
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The AIA/LA, which just hosted its lavish awards ceremony at the Egyptian Theater last night (more on that soon..) on Monday sent out a call for entries for its new ARCH IS___ Competition, set to pick 2 standout young LA architects or firms, who will win a $500 cash prize, give a lecture at the Pacific Design Center, and be featured on the AIA/LA chapter website. Competitors must have graduated from architecture school in the last 5 to 12 years, so sorry Mssrs. Mayne and Gehry. The jury will include UCLA Architecture Dean Hitoshi Abe, LA Times Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne, curator Brooke Hodge, and architects Scott Johnson and just-awarded AIA/LA Gold Medalist (and outed newlywed) Michael Rotondi. Registration must be completed by December 8, and 20 page digital portfolios must be submitted to the AIA by January 8.  The winners will be announced on February 16. Good luck young ones! Any more questions? Email Carlo Caccavale at carlo@aialosangeles.org.

One Santa Fe Finally Moving

West
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
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It’s been a long time coming, but the fully-entitled One Santa Fe mixed-use project, designed by Michael Maltzan in downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District,  is finally nearing the start of construction. After nearly a year of reworking the final drawings to minimize costs, the $150 million project, developed by a partnership that includes the McGregor Company, Polis Builders, and Goldman Sachs,  will begin construction in mid 2010 with an anticipated completion 36 months thereafter. Read More

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