Another strange day at the AIA Convention in San Francisco. And perhaps the weirdest place of all is the Expo floor, where you can examine products ranging from stainless steel bathroom stalls to impact resistant drywall to powder coatings for steel systems (actually not a bad idea). But perhaps the strangest, and perhaps most intriguing product award goes to a company called Sky Factory, which manufactures “virtual windows” and “sky ceilings” which create the illusion that you have a beautiful waterfall or an ocean view outside your building. Read More
The Long Beach Press-Telegram and Curbed LA report that on Earth Day marine artist Robert Wyland painted a 2.8 acre mural of planet earth, called “Earth: The Blue Planet,” on the roof of the Long Beach Arena. Wyland did the work for free, but in corporate fashion, the mural is “inspired” by the new Disney film Earth, according to Wyland’s web site. The same week he finished a renovation of his 1992 whale and marine life mural, “Planet Ocean,” on the arena’s exterior walls. That 116,000 square foot, 10-story-tall work was declared the largest mural in the world when completed. Not bad Long Beach. Now if they could only replace one of the chain restaurants on the Harbor with a local eatery…
On Saturday LA residents and park rangers alike celebrated the opening of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City. Located on a hill 500 feet above the city, the new 50 acre state park has probably the most complete view of Los Angeles that exists, with close to 360 degree vistas that stretch from Downtown LA to the Pacific Ocean. Read More
The LA Times has reported that Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller Wendy Watanabe is investigating the January 16 firing of former LA County Planning Chief Bruce McClendon. According to the paper, McClendon has said he was fired for protecting his staff from the efforts of County Supervisors’ aides to influence zoning and development decisions in the county. The results of the investigation should be released “in the coming weeks.” One possible conflict: Watanabe was appointed by the board of supervisors only months ago. But, she assured the Times that her office would be able to carry out an independent investigation. “My integrity and reputation are at stake,” she said.
It’s rare that journalists get to live the fabulous life. So when we do, we have to share it with you. Myself and AN contributor Greg Goldin took part in a great media panel on Friday in Palm Springs for the California Preservation Foundation Conference, with co-participants including author Alan Hess, Christopher Hawthorne (LA Times), Martha Groves (LA Times) and Kimberli Meyer (MAK Center). But what we really want to brag about was our dinner that night at Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House; one of the most famous homes in America. Read More
Sorry, this post was accidentally erased last week.
Finally, the public events for AN’s New Infrastructure competition have ended! (there’s one more at the AIA/Mobius Conference in June, but that’s not exactly public..) The final event- also one of the last at GOOD magazine’s space at 6824 Melrose Avenue, which is moving down the street in the coming months (more details to come as they emerge)- included a workshop led by Metro planner James Rojas, in which the audience was asked to build their own transit systems out of found materials like beads, legos, wooden and foam blocks, plastic figures, chess pieces, and much more. The ideas, concocted in just minutes, were stunning in their beauty and creativity, revealing a public desire to make LA’s transit systems more efficient, user-friendly, and most of all fun. Read More
At SCI-Arc last Wednesday Eric Owen Moss, introduced by good friend Thom Mayne (who broke Moss’s brain down into its essential parts, as seen above), lectured on his firm’s most recent projects; an impressive combination of new technology, structural research, and wild rule-bending that has unfortunately produced precious few actual buildings, but many competition near-misses around the world. The good news is that this trend is turning around, Read More
Perhaps one explanation for why there’s so much mediocre architecture and planning in this country is that we were never taught anything about it as youngsters. In fact most kids don’t even have access to an art history class until they reach college; and don’t even try asking them who their favorite architect is. But a few new kids architecture books could help change that, or at least inspire younger people to start appreciating the built world around them.
Where Things Are From Near To Far (Planetizen Press), by Tim Halbur and Chris Steins (with illustrations by David Ryan) introduces very young kids to basic concepts of urban planning, giving them an appreciation for the changing, dynamic urban environment. The colorful book follows the path of a young boy, Hugo, as he Read More
Curbed LA reports that designs for the 12-acre, Rios Clementi Hale-designed downtown Civic Park, connecting City Hall with the LA Music Center, have been updated (drawing above). The new designs, they find, will overhaul and lengthen the park’s fountain, remove a series of trellises, enlarge the park’s community terrace, and remove the “viewing bridge” at the foot of City Hall. Read More
We just came across a story (above) by David Dunlap in the New York Times whose headline reads: Recession Is Ravaging Architectural Firms. In it architects bemoan the state of the industry and make claims like “it will never be the same again,” and “I’ve had the chance to see a lot of ups and downs. This one, to me, is without a doubt the worst.” Dunlap suggests that ‘Now, having shrunk, firms may decide to stay smaller.’ And one architect thinks this is the next Great Depression: “We don’t see a way out, a real turning point, until the end of the decade. If you’re talking about no significant work until the latter half of the decade, you’re talking about a situation that is somewhat similar to the 1930′s.”