Down The Drain In That Other Venice

Other
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
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Artist Mike Boucher was excited to bring American suburbia to the Venice Biennale, constructing a floating McMansion—complete with cheesy yellow vinyl siding—set to grace the city’s famed canals. Unfortunately the house tilted off a failed pontoon and sank; a disaster for the artist (who actually seems to find the whole thing hilarious), but a good symbol for our housing market back in the USA.

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The Sea In Silverlake

Other
Monday, June 1, 2009
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Silver Lake’s newest restaurant is certainly unexpected. First of all Territory is a Barbecue joint, not exactly a So Cal specialty (luckily the owners are from North Carolina and Texas, so they’re legit, and they serve some of the best pulled pork and ribs we’ve had in LA). Second they sell rare and vintage records; and third is the architecture part: it’s located inside one of the strangest buildings in LA. The bright green restaurant is fun, and relatively normal, on the first floor, wth a pleasant patio for noshing with fellow hipsters. But above rises a tall green appendage that makes half the building resemble a lighthouse. One of the owners, chef Curtis Brown (who only uses his grandmother’s recipes), isn’t sure why the building was designed that way when it went up years ago. But he theorizes that it may have originally been a seafood restaurant, hence the nautical theme (it’s most recent incarnation was as a pizza joint.)

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Best. Video. Ever.

Other
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
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Our friends at Architecture W in Portland recently completed this masterfully low-tech stop-action video— entitled House of Cards—depicting their plans for a new sustainable house made only out of structural wood panels. “We’ve become bored with glossy computer generated imagery,” explains firm partner Brian White. There’s not much more we can say besides check it out. And notice the strategic use of the Yoda action figure, of course.

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Heading West

Other
Friday, May 15, 2009
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We’re hitching the wagons this weekend to head to the 30th annual Venice Art Walk & Auctions, which include artist studio tours, gallery visits, a silent art auction, live music, and the yummy “food faire”. Of course our first stop will be the Art and Architecture tours of some of Venice’s coolest houses. We can’t wait to see Dennis Gibbens’ Multi-Use Townhouse (above). Here are a few more we’re excited about:

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Pieces Of History

Other
Friday, May 15, 2009
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One of Benjamin Dominguezs La Laguna de San Gabriel historic structures

One of Benjamin Dominguez's La Laguna de San Gabriel historic structures

Yesterday the Los Angeles Conservancy held its annual Preservation Awards at a packed ballroom in the Biltmore Hotel in Downtown LA. Some interesting tidbits we picked up about the winners: The Biscuit Factory Lofts Downtown used to be a Nabisco bakery, making Oreos and other treats. Cole’s, the famous French Dip restaurant Downtown that opened over 100 years ago, is located in a former terminal for red car street cars. The day prohibition ended Cole’s served 2,000 gallons of beer. Griffith Park’s application for landmark status was 400 pages long. And the La Laguna De San Gabriel Park Historic Structures include Stella the Starfish, Peanut the Green Dolphin, and Ozzie the Octopus. The winners were all impressive. Here’s the list:

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New Practices on the Horizon

Other
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
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Edmonds + Lee, Marblehead Residence

Edmonds + Lee, Marblehead Residence

After spending a while at the AIA convention in San Francisco, we’re excited about new architecture there. One of the highlights of the trip was the AIA SF’s announcement of the winners of New Practices San Francisco, a juried competition based on the work of firms who have been practicing in the Bay Area since 1999 or later (yours truly, AN editor Sam Lubell, was on the jury, which also included Ila Berman, Director of Architecture, California College of the Arts, as well as architects Anne Fougeron,  Jim Jennings, and Cathy Simon).

The winners will be featured in an exhibition at the Center For Architecture in New York from June 4-September 19, and then the exhibition will be on display at the AIA San Francisco Center For Architecture + Design Gallery from November 12-January 29, 2010.

And without further ado, here they are below, along with snippets of their amazing work:

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Getting Smarter By The Day

Other
Monday, May 4, 2009
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Siemens' Sitraffic Scala traffic management system

The New York Times last week reported on “Smart Infrastructure,” or computer-controlled systems (energy grids, highways, trains, food distribution, health records, water systems, etc)  that could increase efficiency and save millions of dollars. I.B.M, for instance, has had success monitoring congestion pricing in places like Stockholm and London, it’s improving management for bus and train systems worldwide, and it’s working with food producers to limit the billions worth of food that are thrown away every year. So the U.S. is creating much of the innovative technology, but other countries have been first to implement it. Well one for two isn’t bad.. The good news: On April 30 IBM announced $2 billion in financing to make such systems more easily available for stimulus-related projects in the U.S.

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Escape From Moscone Center

Other
Saturday, May 2, 2009
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Sand Studio's South Park Residence

One of the highlights of visiting the AIA Convention has been leaving the convention hall to see some of the wonderful new architecture in San Francisco. We got to see favorites like Daniel Libeskind’s new Jewish Museum, Herzog & De Meuron’s De Young, and Renzo Piano’s Academy of Sciences. But perhaps more unique were the AIA SF Home tours, where we could step inside homes otherwised closed to the public. Two highlights were in the lovely South Park Neighborhood: the Gallery House, by Ogrydziak/Prillinger Architects and the South Park Residence + Studio by Sand Studios. Both are studies in contrast. The first, which boasts a world class art collection and a visually interconnected series of vertical spaces, contrasts huge exposed steel beams with pristine white art-ready walls. The second combines the exposed concrete and wood of an old warehouse space with sophisticated, and layered modern finishes.

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Illusions at the AIA Convention

Other
Friday, May 1, 2009
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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

Earth-sized Mural

Other
Monday, April 27, 2009
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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…

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Do Not Overlook This!

Other
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
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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

LA Investigates Firing of Planner

Other
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
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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.

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