Writer Anne Taylor Fleming recently interviewed Frank Gehry for Los Angeles Magazine, getting a glimpse into what the architect thinks about Los Angeles and the meaning of his work there. Gehry tells Fleming about some of the missed planning and architectural opportunities that continue to challenge the city, including the push to make a bona fide downtown, which he believes stems from clinging to old ideas about what a city should be.
Never Built: Los Angeles
A+D Architecture and Design Museum
6032 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
July 27–September 29th, 2013
It is difficult to envision the city of Los Angeles any differently than it exists today, but AN West editor Sam Lubell and co-curator Greg Goldin, in collaboration with Clive Wilkinson Architects, have organized an exhibition at the Architecture and Design Museum that grants visitors the rare opportunity to get a glimpse of the city as it could have been. The team gathered a diverse assortment of renderings, models, and various media depicting parks, buildings, master plans, and transportation schemes that were designed with the intention of being built, but were deemed too novel to actually be brought to life. The collection features unrealized projects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1925 Civic Center Plan, William H. Evans’s 1939 design for the Tower of Civilization, and B+U Architect’s 2009 design for an office building on Firestone Boulevard, as well as many other projects that, had they been carried out, would have completely changed the physical reality of the city of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles, are you ready to design your own Central Park? Friends of the Hollywood Central Park (FHCP), a nonprofit formed in 2008 devoted to developing a 44-acre street-level park capping Hollywood’s 101 Freeway, has initiated a new web feature encouraging residents to imagine their own dream parks in order to transform Hollywood’s densely populated, park-deprived neighborhoods into healthy, prosperous green spaces. In collaboration with Central Hollywood, East Hollywood and Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Councils and the Hollywood Chamber Community Foundation, the ambitious venture will reunite the communities presently separated by the Hollywood Freeway.
San Francisco shone for the two days during the Facades+ conference on July 11th and 12th. Following the 2012 series dedicated to innovation, this year’s series focused on a variety of topics regarding sustainability. The conference not only addressed energy in building facades, but also the synergy of perspectives from architecture, engineering, and the construction industry that expand our understanding of high-performance building. Read More
Things didn’t work out for installation experts Ball-Nogues Studio at MOCA’s New Sculpturalism show, but the firm has rebounded nicely. They’ve just completed mounting one of their most ambitious works yet: a 70-foot-tall upside-down replica of William Pereira’s Transamerica Pyramid, for the show Modernist Maverick: The Architecture of William Pereira, on view at the Nevada Art Museum in Reno, NV. The installation, made out of chain link and stainless steel plates, hangs from the ceiling via steel cables attached to the museum building’s structure.
“We distilled it to its barest essentials. It looks like the ghost of the building,” said Ball-Nogues principal Gaston Nogues. Each chain could only be attached at a specific point, so the hardest part was fine tuning the model, stretching and moving each possible iteration, added Nogues. “It’s quite labor intensive to make sure it looked flat, and that each chain had the right tension,” he said. The show, which opens next week, runs from through October 13. It looks at many other noted Pereira projects, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the University of California, San Diego Geisel Library, and the Theme Building at LAX.
Engineering group ARUP and art and design studio Rebar have announced a design for a rainwater-harvesting, solar-powered, portable pop-up spa that receives every watt of energy it requires from the sun. The energy comes from heat exchangers and efficient equipment to heat and power the “healthy hedonist” experience called SOAK. The shipping container-spa conserves resources with thoughtful engineering and provides the core experience of the conventional bathhouse in a microcosm. The project, a prime example of tactical urbanism, joins personal wellness with social vitality while combining the most intelligent form of energy and alternative resources.
Los Angeles-based firm Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA) has won the “Switch to Pure Volvo” competition to design a portable pavilion showing off the Swedish car company’s V60 plug-in electric hybrid. The 13-foot-tall, 16-foot-wide project’s sinuous form is composed of a moiré-patterned, vinyl-coated polyster fabric imbedded with flexible photovoltaic panels tensioned over CNC-bent aluminum rods. The display’s three sections echo the three modes of the car—hybrid, gas, and all-electric—and its curving form is also practical—its torqued compression between frame and skin enables the structure to stand without any extra support.
In 2005, the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles became one of the most notable buildings in U.S. history to be torn down. Now a new documentary, After 68: The Rise and Fall of the Ambassador Hotel, is hoping to tell its story. Its filmmakers are raising money to finish the project through a Kickstarter campaign. Directed by Camilo Silva, the film explores the history of the hotel, once a symbol of LA’s opulent westward expansion.
The Ambassador hosted, among others, Albert Einstein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Winston Churchill, Amelia Earhart, Salvador Dali, Buzz Aldrin, Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Frank Sinatra, and Charlie Chaplin, and every U.S. president from Herbert Hoover to Richard Nixon. And of course Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at its Coconut Grove nightclub, a location that also hosted six Academy Awards ceremonies.
In 2005 the beleaguered hotel was torn down to build a $600 million school complex for the LA Unified School District. The film digs into the building’s past and the controversy over its end, and captures the oral histories that are some of its only remaining memories. The Kickstarter campaign ends in two weeks.
We like to think of the Hollywood Palladium, recently renovated by Coe Architecture, as a groovy place to see a show. But it looks like it’s about to become a whole lot more, as one of the future centers of Hollywood’s unprecedented building boom. Curbed LA reports that a mixed use development is now being planned on the parking lots behind the landmark theater, including residential units, street level shops and restaurants, and, potentially, a hotel.
Welton Becket’s 1958 Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, once a beacon of midcentury optimism, this weekend shuttered its doors. The bending, intricately ornamented auditorium hosted several Academy Awards in the 1960s, as well as concerts by the likes of Eric Clapton, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Prince, and Bob Dylan.
But the facility recently fell on hard times, as bands gravitated to larger venues (leaving it mostly hosting trade fairs), and as a planned $52 million renovation was recently cancelled when California abolished its Community Redevelopment Agencies.
Santa Monica Civic, a working group strategizing the venue’s future, told the LA Times that it will take several months to develop a new plan for the landmarked structure, including film screenings, live theater, or even restaurants.