Video> Metropolis II Sends Miniature Cars Careening in Perfect Harmony

West
Thursday, January 12, 2012
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Metropolis II, opening at LACMA on January 14, is installation artist Chris Burden’s action-packed, raucous, optimistic view of Los Angeles sometime in the not-to-distant future. Eleven-hundred custom-made, die-cast cars, about twice the size of a Matchbox car, race through a multilevel system of 18 roadways that twist and turn and undulate amid buildings that seem vaguely familiar but are not replicas of any specific landmark (although, strangely, there is what looks like an Eiffel Tower).  The cars whip along on a plastic roadway at fantastic speeds, producing an enormous din that echoes off the gallery walls like the incessant roar of real-life freeway traffic.  HO-scale trains and 1930s-era trolley cars roll along tracks of their own, adding a cheerful nostalgia to the mix.

Continue reading after the jump.

Slideshow> Organic Architecture Catches Fire in Coachella Valley

Newsletter, West
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
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Ken Kellogg's GG's Island restaurant before the fire. (Keith Daly / Flickr)

Ken Kellogg's GG's Island restaurant before the fire. (Keith Daly / Flickr)

Southern California critic Alan Hess tells us more about Ken Kellogg’s GG’s Island Restaurant (formerly the Chart House), which was ravaged by fire on Tuesday morning. The extent of the damage and the potential for repair have not yet been determined.

Palm Springs may be best known for sleek steel and glass Modern architecture, but the 1978 Chart House by San Diego architect Ken Kellogg (one of a series he designed for the restaurant chain) makes it impossible to ignore the fact that Organic Modernism is just as much a part of the Coachella Valley heritage. Set along Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage, Chart House’s low-slung, serpentine shape hugs the contours of a small, rocky butte.

Outside, it’s the image of protective desert shelter: the taut vaulted roof stretches down, like the fabric of an umbrella or the shell of a crab, almost to touch the landscape berms rising to meet it. Inside, however, the heavy timber columns, curving glu-lam roof ribs, and rubble stone walls wind their way through the restaurant like a well-designed forest. They create layers of space, naturally lighted by a skylight curving along the spine, with an appealing complexity. Kellogg’s fifty-five year career, including residences, churches, and commercial and institutional buildings, continues to show the vitality of organic design.

View a slideshow of the restaurant before and after the fire.

FXFOWLE and CO Architects form Bi-Coastal Coalition

Newsletter, Shft+Alt+Del, West
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
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FXFOWLE'S SAP Americas Headquarters (David Sundberg/Esto)

FXFOWLE'S SAP Americas Headquarters (David Sundberg/Esto)

They seem hesitant to call it a merger, but architecture biggies FXFOWLE and CO Architects announced today that they are joining forces in a “joint venture.” The New York and Los Angeles firms made the move, they said in a release, “In order to expand each firm’s geographic and expertise reach.” The companies will maintain their individual identities, with the exception of joint projects, under which they’ll be called CO/FXFOWLE.

CO Architects, it should be noted, is known for its institutional and healthcare work, while FXFOWLE’s portfolio, marked by its focus on sustainability, is a little more wide-ranging, from architecture to interior design to planning.

The move actually took place in December, and the firms are emphatic that both will remain on equal footing. The deal, said the announcement, “represents a genuine collaboration between the two firms in all project services, rather than the customary design architect/associate architect relationship.”

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New Year Brings CRA Disaster in California

Newsletter, West
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
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The CRA's dissolution could be the final death knell for the $3 billion Grand Avenue Project (The Related Companies)

The CRA's dissolution could be the final death knell for the $3 billion Grand Avenue Project (The Related Companies)

Now that California’s Redevelopment Association (CRA) has doubled down and lost its bet with the California Supreme Court, leading to the scrapping of all the state’s CRAs, building projects across the state are in severe jeopardy. There are about 400 municipal redevelopment agencies in the state. Here are the projects in trouble for just one (albeit the largest): the Los Angeles CRA. They include nearly $100 million in grant funds to improve public infrastructure and create affordable housing and transit oriented development, the 126-unit Noho Senior Arts Colony in North Hollywood, the renovation of the historic Westlake Theater near downtown, the 35,000 square foot Wattstar Theater in Watts, the Cleantech Manufacturing Center south of downtown, and the biggest, the $3 billion Grand Avenue Project downtown. More than 20 projects in total are in danger. More to come on this huge news, including more lawsuits than you ever wanted to see.

On View> The House That Sam Built

West
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
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(Courtesy Huntington Library)

(Courtesy Huntington Library)

The House That Sam Built:
Sam Maloof and Art in the Pomona Valley, 1945–1975

The Huntington Library, Art Gallery, and Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, CA
Through January 30, 2012

The exhibit explores over 100 works of renowned midcentury furniture craftsman, Sam Maloof (1916–2009) and his circle of friends, who gathered at the Maloof residence and workshop—which have become a central part of the dynamic Pomona Valley art community—to share a meal and their common interest of hand-crafted objects. The exhibit showcases some of the earliest Maloof pieces, such as a round, plywood coffee table with walnut legs, decorative arts and crafts such as ceramic works by Otto and Gertrude Natzler (above), an office chair made for the prominent industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, three iterations of his classic rocking chair, a table lamp by William Manker, among other objects. Visitors will also find two rare watercolors produced early in Maloof’s career. The exhibit is part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980, a Getty collaboration spanning six months, bringing together over 60 cultural institutions all across Southern California.

Zen-otaph: Steve Jobs and the Meaning Behind Apple’s New Campus

Newsletter, West
Thursday, December 29, 2011
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Aerial view of Apple's proposed new headquarters in Cupertino, California. (Courtesy Foster + Partners)

Aerial view of Apple's proposed new headquarters in Cupertino, California. (Courtesy Foster + Partners)

Apple’s new campus in Cupertino has left the design community a bit perplexed.

Back in September most of the architectural critics who weighed in on the issue expressed a one-two combination of shock and disappointment. Precisely because of Apple’s design bona fides and Sir Norman Foster’s involvement as the lead architect, they were expecting better. Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times called it a “retrograde cocoon,” marking it down as a car-centric, “doggedly old-fashioned proposal.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Hollywood’s Field of Dreams? The Academy Plans an Amphitheater

West
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
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Rendering of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' plan for an outdoor theater for screening classic films. (Courtesy AMPAS)

Rendering of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' plan for an outdoor theater for screening classic films. (Courtesy AMPAS)

Now that it’s clear that Christian de Portzamparc’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Museum in Hollywood will not happen (the Academy will instead reimagine the old May Company building for the museum), the Academy recently shared its plans with the LA Times to build a new amphitheater and 17,000 square foot event space on the dead project’s land. The group purchased the 3.5-acre lot near the intersection of Vine Street and Fountain Avenue in 2005 for $50 million. According to the Times, the amphitheater (to be used, of course, to screen movies) will include a raised grassy area and will seat about 300 people. Plans call for a 10,000-square-foot patio adjacent to the amphitheater designed for special events. It looks like the space is probably temporary, as Academy President Tom Sherak said the Academy will keep the space until the site’s value climbs back to its 2005 level. On second thought, this amphitheater could be here a while.

Clothing Becomes A Canopy at SCI-Arc

Dean's List, West
Monday, December 19, 2011
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Friday's review of the two new structures (courtesy Chung Ming Lam)

For the last several years, SCI-Arc’s Studio 1A has given new students the chance to literally make their mark by producing projects that become permanent fixtures at the school. On Friday, this year’s class revealed a project that started as a piece of clothing, then became a wire model, then became a mockup, and finally ended as a new undulating and faceted canopy and wall. Made of a recycled carbon fiber called Nyloboard, the project’s more than 2,000 pieces were all hand cut and, somehow, none are exactly alike. They’re attached with Gorilla Glue, nails, and screws. “It’s something that exists at the scale of the world, which can take years for an architect,” said Nathan Bishop, who along with Jackilin Hah Bloom and Jenny Wu led the studio.

Check out more photos after the jump.

Stanford is Ennead Country

Newsletter, West
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
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Ennead's new Anderson building would be located just west of its soon-to-be complete Bing Concert Hall. (courtesy Stanford University)

Ennead Architects (formerly Polshek Partership) seems to be taking over Stanford University one building at a time. First they built the Cantor Center for the Visual Arts in 1998. Then they finished the Stanford Law School Academic Building in 2010. They were also commissioned to build the Bing Concert Hall, which will open in 2013. And now they’ve just been chosen to build a $30.5 million, 30,000 square foot building for the Anderson Collection, a renowned compilation of post-World War II American Art. The building will also contain a library, offices, and storage spaces. Designs for the project will be released this Spring, according to Stanford. The Anderson, the Bing, the Cantor, and the new 96,000 square foot Burton and Deedee McMurtry Building, awarded in April to Diller Scofidio+ Renfro and containing undergraduate art and film studios, galleries, and an art and architecture library, will form the center of Stanford’s “arts district.”  Read More

Gehry Goes to the Grammys With New Poster Design

West
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
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Frank Gehry's poster design for the Grammy Awards. (Courtesy Grammys)

Frank Gehry's poster design for the Grammy Awards. (Courtesy Grammys)

Adding to his pop culture resume (appearing on the Simpsons, designing a hat for Lady Gaga, starring in a documentary) Frank Gehry has designed the official poster for the 54th Grammy Awards, which takes place in February. It appears that Gehry simply placed the Grammy trophy in front of a collection of models at his office, leaving the question, can you spot any specific projects? If so leave a comment. We’d like to see Gehry’s interpretation of the iconic gramophone made of his signature curving titanium forms. Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, said in a statement, “Frank’s exemplary creative accomplishments through a variety of artistic platforms have been inspirational. We are honored to work with such a well-respected talent who has served as an influential figure within the arts on a global scale.”

Coincidentally, Gehry will be designing sets for the LA Philharmonic’s production of Don Giovanni at Disney Hall this May. The Philharmonic is nominated for a Grammy this year for its performance of Brahms Symphony Number Four.

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Ice Cube Pays a Visit to the Eames House

West
Thursday, December 8, 2011
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Ice Cube reflects on the Eames for Pacific Standard Time.

Ice Cube reflects on the Eames in a video for Pacific Standard Time.

Earlier this fall the rapper Ice Cube pleasantly surprised us by turning up in posters promoting the Getty’s exhibition series Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, a sweeping SoCal round-up that also covers the work of architects and designers.  It turns out that before founding the group N.W.A., Ice Cube studied architectural drafting, and in the process he became a fan of Ray and Charles Eames.

In a video just released by the Getty, Ice Cube communes with the designer couple’s famous Case Study #8 house in Pacific Palisades, walking around the exterior to admire the “off-the-shelf factory windows, prefabricated walls” and then kicking back in a 670 lounge chair inside to hold forth on the Eames’ approach of mixing the new with the old, comparing it to sampling in music: ” They was doing mash-ups before mash-ups even existed.”  But the most instructive part of the video may be Ice Cube’s decoding of the traffic specific to L.A. freeways…watch for it here:

For more on Ice Cube’s take on design, read his interview with the New York Times.

Bergamot 2? Art-Filled Market Planned on the San Pedro Waterfront

West
Thursday, December 8, 2011
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Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles. (Courtesy Zeno Design)

Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles. (Courtesy Zeno Design)

The developers of Santa Monica’s gallery haven Bergamot Station are planning another art center, this time in San Pedro. “Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles,” which was just approved by the Los Angeles Harbor Department (city council approval is still pending) will offer paintings, sculptures, and other artworks sold by 500 artists sitting in open stalls. The facility, set to open next summer, will be located inside the city’s warehouses No. 9 and 10, located near Cabrillo Marina. The structures, totaling 140,000 square feet, were used by the Navy during the 1940s, then later for storage. Their clerestory windows and huge doors will allow lots of light and air inside.

Continue reading after the jump.

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