Alas. One of LA’s greatest weird treasures, the Bahooka Family Restaurant, is set to close on March 10. The gem, which opened its Rosemead location in 1976, is perhaps the most ornate example of Tiki architecture in the city. Not only is it full of every Polynesian tchotchke imaginable—Easter Island heads, hula dancers, blowfish, diving bells—but most of its walls are covered with fish tanks, creating the feeling of being inside Sponge Bob’s home. The restaurant’s owners have said they’re simply ready to retire, which we certainly understand, but we must admit we’re a little sad.
Last week we reported on Gensler’s planned triangular Nvidia headquarters in Santa Clara, the latest addition to the architectural arms race that is Silicon Valley. (We’re seeing zoomy new headquarters for Apple, Samsung, HP, Nvidia, etc, etc.) Now there’s yet another. Google’s new project adjacent to its “Googleplex” in Mountain View, has unveiled their new designs by NBBJ. The new campus, which is being called Bay View, is comprised of nine crimped, predominantly-four-story buildings. Each building will be connected by a bridge; a connectivity that has become a staple of NBBJ’s office work around the world, including its new headquarters for Samsung nearby. The competition to out-campus the competition seems to be heating up. Who’s next?
The Grand, the multi-million-dollar, mixed use project on top of LA’s Bunker Hill, is finally… slowly… moving forward with an Arquitectonica-designed residential tower, which just broke ground. But it appears that Frank Gehry’s days on the project may be numbered. After a recent call with Related, we got no assurances that the starchitect was still part of the project. A report in the Downtown News got similarly uncommitted answers.
Just across the street from the Grand we hear that The Broad (what’s with all the THEs?)—Eli Broad’s multi-million-dollar art museum—is getting ready to add an upscale market to its rear, just above the parking lot. If it’s even close to as successful as Chelsea Market in New York, Downtown LA could have yet another hit on its hands. Meanwhile, decking is being laid for a new park to The Broad’s south, but still no renderings of the park have been unveiled. Let’s make this public, Mr. Broad. We can’t wait to see your plans, which could single-handedly make or break Grand Avenue.
Silicon Valley definitely has the architecture bug. We’ve recently seen remarkable new designs put forth by Foster + Partners for Apple and NBBJ for Samsung. Now Gensler has released ambitious new designs for tech company Nvidia, located in Santa Clara. The 24-acre complex’s two 500,000-square-foot buildings are each shaped like triangles, a configuration that Gensler principal Hao Ko explains facilitates collaboration by allowing connections to each side of the building to be the shortest. (The triangle, he adds, is also “the fundamental primitive that defines all shapes in the digital realm.”) Undulating roofs will be made up of smaller triangle pieces, breaking down the overall mass and allowing for ample skylighting, in the in-between spaces. Construction is set to begin this summer, with completion in 2015. Apple’s circle now has geometric competition. Who’s next?
Hammer Projects: Dara Friedman
10899 Wilshire Blvd.
Through April 14
Miami-based artist Dara Friedman is known for her black and white films of dancers dancing through city streets. For her film Dancer (2011) she used a 16mm camera to examine urban space and individuals within these spaces, filming improvisational dancers in a variety of styles, from flamenco, to ballet, to belly and break dancing, and more. In her work, Friedman also investigates accepted concepts of performance-based art. Her grainy films sometimes capture the sounds of street traffic, and she sometimes dubs music that is not always in rhythm with the dancers’ movements. For her first exhibition in Los Angeles, Friedman has prepared an 8mm film that is a follow-up to Dancer.
Another weekend, another Modernism Week. One of our favorites: a look inside the Palm Springs Art Museum’s future Architecture and Design Center, located inside E. Stewart Williams’ sleek Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan (1960). The International Style building is being renovated by Marmol Radziner, who also worked on Richard Neutra’s nearby Kaufmann House. The museum has already raised more than $4 million to buy and renovate the building, and is now just $1 million shy of what’s needed to get work underway. The organizers hope to break ground in the next few months and open the center by fall 2014. But for now, its interior is still lots of quirky fun, including a chance to walk inside the old bank vaults, check out the old drive through teller, and explore the old kitchens and mechanical systems.
Every year architects across the country take their talents to CANstruction, creating fascinating structures out of tin cans. CanstructionLA recently announced this year’s winners, and there are some impressive results to share. Participants created local icons like the LAX Theme Building (RBB Architects), the California state flag (Clark Construction and Thornton Tomasetti), and the Port of LA (RBB Architects). The jury’s favorite, Filling a (Growing) Need, by NBBJ and Buro Happold, was made up of an undulating landscape of canned kidney beans, potatoes, beets, and mixed vegetables. The event contributed 21,076 pounds of food and $12,034 to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
San Francisco’s North Beach library, which AN reported on today is finally under construction after more than two years of delays, is the last of more than 20 city library branches to be repaired or rebuilt thanks to a $105 million bond measure that SF voters passed in 2000 called the Branch Library Improvement Program (with the unfortunate acronym, BLIP). The measure has spurred innovation from several of the city’s top firms, and we couldn’t resist sharing more of their work in the slideshow below. Only two remain: North Beach and the Bayview Branch Library, designed by THA Architecture in collaboration with Karin Payson A+D, which is scheduled to open later this month. Find a full list of library projects here.
A new video released by LA METRO gives us all a much clearer conception of the construction sequencing of the Regional Connector, the 1.9 mile downtown underground light rail line that will connect Los Angeles’ now-dispersed Gold, Blue, and Expo lines. The $1.3 billion connector, funded largely by 2008′s Measure R sales tax increase, is set to begin construction later this year. It will travel primarily under Flower Street and 2nd Street, and is set to open by 2019. Movement of utilities around the line began in December. Yes, more transit in Los Angeles. This is really happening!
It looks like things at long-maligned LAX are looking up. First AN reported that AECOM is working on a big makeover of the airport’s roadway spaces and that Fentress Architects is completing a new Tom Bradley Satellite Terminal. Now we’ve gotten our hands on a secret shortlist for LAX Terminal 4 Connector, the next component of the airport’s international spaces. And the finalists are… Corgan (with Turner) and Gensler (with Hensel Phelps). Now if only they could get the subway to go there, LAX might actually become a world-class airport!
Once upon a time, being at SCI-Arc meant development was a four-letter word, and developers were akin to the destroyers of cities. Eric Owen Moss, SCI-Arc’s director, played a significant role in changing that perception by working with developer Tom Gilmore, who, since 2001, has also been on SCI-Arc’s board of trustees. Mr. Gilmore, founder of Gilmore Associates, is a former architect, so he has a great appreciation for architecture’s potential, especially in formerly blighted areas of Downtown Los Angeles, where his vision has been unfolding since the early 1990s. This might explain why he recently included SCI-Arc in his estate plans by setting up an endowed chair to the tune of a cool $1 million, the first gift of this magnitude the institution has ever received.
The gift will fund the Gilmore City Chair, a position dedicated to supporting educational initiatives focused on the dynamics of urban development around the world. Moss, in an expression of gratitude quoted Machiavelli, saying, “I believe the greatest good to be done is that which one does to one’s own city.” Further details regarding the scope of the Gilmore City Chair will be forthcoming and may even be revealed by Mr. Gilmore himself when he presents a public lecture at SCI-Arc this Wednesday, February 13 at 7:00 p.m.