Architecture isn’t just for rich, young caucasians. In fact with explosions in senior, minority and student populations it’s time to take a hard look at how these changes impact architecture. You can do that tonight at a panel called Designing By Demographics at LA’s Brewery, sponsored by AN. The event, hosted by journalist and media expert Marissa Gluck, brings in experts from architecture, art and community redevelopment to discuss how demographics impact design, from senior housing, to childcare, and low income communities. Panelists include architect Patrick Tighe, designer of the Sierra Bonita affordable housing project in West Hollywood; Edgar Arceneaux. Executive Director of the Watts House Project, an arts and community redevelopment project in Watts; and a great lineup of architects, artists, and academics. No to mention The Brewery is one of our favorite locations in LA ( Telemachus Studio at the Brewery, 672 South Avenue 21 Unit 2).
We got to see one of our favorite new architectural documentaries on Sunday, called Unfinished Spaces: Cuba’s Architecture of Revolution, by Alysa Nahmias and Ben Murray. The film documents the creation, and subsequent scuttling, of Cuba’s National Arts Schools. Designed by architects Ricardo Porro, Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti, the highly expressive Modernist schools, built mostly of Terra Cotta, were an example of visionary architecture and idealistic arts education for all, from dance to visual arts. But after the Castro government wearied of creative expression and embraced Soviet-style building, they changed their minds, shutting down construction, although classes later continued in the schools’ ruins. Now the country has once again done an about-face and is hoping to save them, despite a lack of government funding. Look at our next issue for a full review. And if you’re in LA, check out more screenings of the film on June 24 and June 25. Read More
Michael C. McMillen: Train of Thought
Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak Street, Oakland
Through August 16
The Oakland Museum of California’s new exhibit looks at four decades of work by Michael C. McMillen, a California-based mixed-media artist. Curated by Philip Linhares, who is also a long-time collaborator of McMillen’s, the retrospective includes sculptures, tableaus, paintings, drawings, films, and large-scale installations. Found objects have long played an important part in McMillen’s work since childhood, when he began crafting toys for himself out of old radios and other discarded items. The artist’s creations often call to mind the cinematic landscapes of a Hollywood picture, somewhat appropriate given that he once worked making miniatures, like the motel model above, and props for films, including such sci-fi classics as Blade Runner and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. McMillen often uses architectural references and clever visual cues to transport viewers into an altered reality. He wants viewers to “come away from the experience seeing the world in a slightly different way,” McMillen said in an artist’s statement.
Los Angeles is gearing up for a two week, citywide celebration of design in its first ever edition of the L.A. Design Festival. (Ticket giveaway details at the end of the post!) The ladf, which launched last night, features an overwhelming number of events (more than 20!), including the Dwell on Design Conference (June 24-26), the AIA/LA Design Conference (June 24), A+D Museum’s Come In! 2 (June 14-July 24) tours of Richard Neutra’s VDL House (June 18 and 25) and Kanner Architects’ new Lafayette Park Rec Center (tonight), and a load of panels and parties, including Design for Demographics, which investigates how our changing population is influencing the design process. And don’t miss this highlight: Silver Lake non-profit Materials & Applications is staging a provocative look inside some of LA’s more daring design firms this weekend. The self-guided Summer Series—which also doubles as a fundraiser for M&A’s future installations—includes tours inside the creative spaces of past and future collaborators with the organization, like Ball Nogues Studio, Oyler Wu Collaborative, LOHA and the Office of Mobile Design.
David Hertz’s 747 House in Malibu— literally made from the wings and fuselage of a a retired 747— is not quite done (it’s residents are moving in now). But we’ve been able to get a few pictures of the house from photographer Sara Jane Boyers, who has been documenting the project since June 2008. Hertz obtained the 747 for $50,000, and has used every bit of it in the construction of the main residence and six ancillary structures (note the wing roofs and the engine fountain, for starters). Besides the obvious green-ness of being recycled from an airplane, the house also uses Solar power, radiant heating and natural ventilation. Enjoy these pix and stay tuned for more as the house finishes up.
We know Thom Mayne and Morphosis are moving. Now we know they’re moving REALLY soon. Their new headquarters, located just next to the new Expo Line tracks in Culver City, started construction last summer and are wrapping up this month. They need to move in by July 1, said Mayne, because the lease to their rented warehouse space next door is up. That should get things moving, despite some delays because of this year’s heavy rains.
Pasadena is celebrating its 125th Anniversary today and will continue partying all month and into the fall. Now a significant city with over 140,000 residents, it was a rural settlement when it decided to become the fourth city to incorporate in Los Angeles County on June 12, 1886. While many know Pasadena for its Rose Bowl, Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena Playhouse, and California Institute of Technology, the city is also home to “Bungalow Heaven,” a 16-block Historic Landmark District neighborhood featuring nearly 1,000 Craftsman bungalows. This month features tours of these homes and more.
Now you’ve got another date to look forward to next month besides July 4. The city of Los Angeles has officially declared July 16, 2011, which would have been John Lautner’s 100th birthday, John Lautner Day. That event will kick of the John Lautner Turns 100 Series, created by the John Lautner Foundation, which will feature a ridiculous amount of exhibitions, film screenings, home tours, symposia and receptions. By the way, if you haven’t visited a Lautner house before, you better do it now. A full list of activities below, and here. Read More
Yesterday we visited one of our favorite sites in Los Angeles: Watts Towers. The amazing complex, which includes four towers, a gazebo, fountains, and a slew of other jumbled elements, was designed by Simon, or Sam Rodia, a tile factory worker who labored on the project basically without stopping for over thirty years (from 1921-1954).
The structures rise as high as 100 feet and are clad with broken bottles, tiles (over 15,000 of them), sea shells, and pretty much anything else Rodia could get his hands on. Their frame is made from chicken wire, barbed wire, coat hangers, and other makeshift materials.
The feat is all the more amazing considering that Rodia didn’t study any sort of building trade and was illiterate. He usually worked until 1 or 2 in the morning then went back to work in a factory the next day.
After attending the recent Alt Build Expo in Santa Monica it became clear to us at AN that the aging Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, a Decorative Modernist structure designed by Welton Becket back in 1958, was in serious need of an update. (Becket, by the way, designed the Capitol Records Building, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and a good deal more of mid-Century Los Angeles.)
Well it looks like our wish is coming true: On May 26 the Santa Monica City Council voted to approve a $47 million remodel and seismic retrofit of the auditorium, using Santa Monica Redevelopment Agency funds (the vote to allocate funds was sped up because such monies may soon be frozen once the state budget is passed).
No firm has been chosen, but we will keep our eyes peeled on the RFP, which was posted here last month. ”They anticipate a design build contract,” said Santa Monica spokesperson Carol Lemlein, who noted that perspective teams will be made up of architects, contractors, engineers, and preservation experts. Read More
Tonight gives Angelenos the chance to check out the classic film The Music Man inside the Los Angeles Theater. With its glass chandeliers, Corinthian columns, and intricate Baroque details, the Los Angeles is one of the most ornate movie palaces you’ll ever visit. It’s the second week of Last Remaining Seats, the LA Conservancy’s popular series that opens up Broadway’s once great (and now mostly dormant) theaters again. That includes the Orpheum, the Million Dollar Theater, and more. This year is Last Remaining Seats’ 25th Anniversary. Other engagements include King Kong at the Los Angeles and Sunset Boulevard at the Palace. Find tickets here. More pix of theaters after the jump. Read More