Just weeks after LA City Planning Commission President Jane Usher resigned, Southern California is down another major planner: The LA Times has reported that LA County’s chief planner Bruce McClendon (pictured) was just fired by County Chief Executive Officer William T. Fujioka.
McClendon told the Times that he believed the firing was likely in retaliation for becoming a whistle-blower against the Board of Supervisors. He said he had told Fujioka that supervisors’ aides often tried influencing hearing officers’ decisions on whether to permit development plans. “It was illegal, and they can go to jail for doing it,” McClendon told the Times. Read More
AN’s California Editor Sam Lubell will be hosting a panel about the creation of new and unconventional design at Gensler and USG’s Design Process Innovation Symposium this Saturday at 10:55 a.m. at the A+D Museum. Panelists will include none other than Gaston Nogues, of inventive Silver Lake architecture/art installation/sculpture firm Ball Nogues; Matthew Melnyk, of the omnipresent and hyper-advanced design and engineering firm Buro Happold; Richard Whitehall, whose firm, Smart Design, patterns everything from cool-looking thermometers to Serengeti sunglasses; Scott Robertson, a creator of ultramodern, books, bikes, and even the cars used in video games; and Tali Krakowsky, of Imaginary Forces, who co-designed the flashy set for this year’s Victoria Secret fashion show. Another talent-loaded panel, at 2:30 p.m., will be hosted by KCRW and Dwell’s Frances Anderton.
Tickets ($70, $45 for students) are still available: visit http://www.gensler.com/xtr/dpi2/
LA Times critic Christopher Hawthorne yesterday summed up the problems with L.A. Live!, the behemoth development in Downtown LA’s South Park district, whose second phase is now opening. Hawthorne decries its “placelessness,” its buildings that “have almost nothing to say to or about downtown Los Angeles,” and worst of all, its inability to help the rest of the area.
“When we trap the energy of an urban crowd inside this sort of self-contained world,” he writes, “and when we allow developers and their architects to heighten the differences between that world and the streets around it so dramatically, we help keep the rest of our blocks underused and, as pieces of the city, undernourished.”
Amen brother. While the development, with its mix of residences, hotels and entertainment venues, should certainly bring activity and money downtown in tough times, it is still a wasted opportunity.
Last Thursday AN California Editor Sam Lubell (author… ahem… of this post) moderated the first in a series of panels hosted by the AIA/LA called Design Dialogues. The discussion centered around educational design, and panelists included Hraztan Zeitlian of Leo A Daly Architects, John Enright of Griffin Enright Architects, and John Friedman of John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects. Read More
Without further ado, here are the winners of the AIA LA’s 4th Annual Restaurant Design Awards. The awards were announced on October 16, and judges included architects David Montalba and Michael Hogdson, Joachim B. Splichal, founder of the Patina restaurant group, and LA Weekly writer Margot Dougherty.
Blue Velvet designed by Tag Front
The Los Angeles Business Journal reports that Jean Nouvel’s 45-story tower in LA’s Century City, 10000 Santa Monica Blvd. (pictured above), has been put on hold. The “Green Blade,” as it had been nicknamed, was to have an extremely thin 50-foot floorplate, permitting north and south glazing for all of its 177 units. Each unit was also to be wrapped outside with plants, resting on projecting podiums.
“We have been unable to obtain assurances of continued funding that would allow us to move forward with confidence at this point in time,” the building’s developer, SunCal, said in a statement.
According to the Journal’s story, vacancy rates have doubled in parts of Los Angeles, Class A office buildings are opening without tenants, and high-profile marquee projects are “being all but abandoned.” Yikes.
Two blockbuster California buildings are set to open this week:
Renzo Piano’s California Academy of Sciences opens to the public this Saturday. We’re working on a critique of the building and another story about the unheralded team that put the project together with Renzo Piano’s firm for our October California issue. The amazing LEED Platinum structure, with its undulating Green Roof, has already received some critiques. Alan Hess, writing for the San Jose Mercury News, finds the design “timid.” Despite praising the roof, Hess worries that it’s not well integrated into the rest of the project. As for the rest, it doesn’t manage to “draw attention to itself.” Inhabitat, meanwhile, considers the Academy a “crowning achievement of sustainable architecture.”
Meanwhile SOM’s Cathedral of Christ the Light, in Oakland, opens this Thursday. According to SOM, “With the exception of evening activities, the Cathedral is lit entirely by daylight to create an extraordinary level of luminosity.” Indeed. Douglas fir beams also help warm the interior, while glass and concrete will create a unique exterior shell. Can’t wait to see it when it opens.