When you see architects working feverishly into the night to arrange food cans into strange sculptures it can only mean one thing: CANstruction is back again! This year CANstruction LA took place at Westfield Culver City and featured creative designs from the likes of RTKL, HKS, Callison, and several other architecture and engineering firms. This year’s big winner was “Take a Bite out of Huger,” by RTKL, made of beans emerging from water waves to feast on tiny goldfish, but other fun designs included UFOs, abstract sculptures, and even food trucks. The event was organized by the Society for Design Administration, and all cans used go to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
If you want to vote for the Peoples’ Choice award, go to Westfield Culver City’s Facebook page.
For the first time in 20 confabs the Monterey Design Conference, the AIA California Council’s bi-annual gathering of architectural talent and inspiration, didn’t follow a theme. One participant said that this year’s event was about materiality and light; others talked about science, optimism, and the potential of the future. The organizers did an excellent job reaching out to diverse voices and knew that each attendee would concoct their own theme. After many years the event has evolved to the point it doesn’t need too many impositions.
PHOTOGRAPHY OF RICHARD BARNES
The Julius Shulman Institute at Woodbury
7500 N Glenoaks Blvd.
Through October 22
In Unnatural Spaces, co-curators Emily Bills and Eve Schillo present the featured work of photographer Richard Barnes at the Julius Shulman Institute at the Woodbury University School of Architecture. Showcasing highlighted works from his Unabomber (1999) and Animal Logic (2009) series, the exhibit suggests that architecture is both a willing participant in, and also an unknowing target of, presentation. The show encompasses commissioned works of Barnes ranging globally from Los Angeles to Kazakhstan, and new work such as “Revel Casino Construction,” from Atlantic City (above). Barnes is a Rome Prize recipient for photography and was featured in the 2006 Whitney Biennial for his work documenting the cabin of Ted Kaczyinski. The venue, the Julius Shulman Institute, was established as a cultural destination dedicated to the promotion of photography and understanding the built environment.
In last issue’s Eavesdrop we noted that world famous LA architectural writer Reyner Banham (Architecture of Four Ecologies), who died back in 1988, now has a Facebook page with over 600 friends, most of whom think he’s still around. We’ve discovered who’s behind the fake page. Architect Parsa Khalili tells us he started it for an assignment in a seminar course at Yale School of Architecture in 2008. Khalili says he forgot about the account until one day he signed in and saw 30 people waiting to be his friend. Since then Banham has accrued friends from around the world, sending him birthday wishes and thanking him for the great honor of friending them. “Honestly I have no idea why I even bother but it has become such an absurdity it’s hard to totally let go,” explained Khalili.
If you’ve ever wanted to know more about LA’s architects than the results of their projects in steel and stone, check out Success By Design by writer and photographer Jenn Kennedy. The book profiles 25 of them, including Steven Ehrlich, Barton Myers, Ray Kappe, the late Stephen Kanner, and Hodgetts + Fung. Architects divulge all sorts of secrets like Myers’ insecurities about getting upstaged by students; Art Gensler’s original desire to start a “small” firm (his firm, Gensler, has over 2,000 employees); Randy Peterson of HMC’s amazing lack of free time; Kanner’s struggles with fees; and Kappe’s surprising facility with the business end of architecture. The book recently launched its digital version and a web site. See some interesting quotes below.
New York isn’t the only city celebrating Archtober. In Los Angeles, October has officially been “Architecture Month” since Mayor Villaraigosa declared it so back in 2007. The AIA/LA hopes the month-long festivities will help to “educate the public about architecture and architects, celebrate the profession and encourage the dialogue between those interested in the built environment.”
Despite the controversy over Ed Fickett’s now-endangered West Hollywood Library, the city’s new library, designed by architects Johnson Favaro, is set to open to the public this Saturday. The 32,000 square-foot project, with its undulating white facade, will feature two large murals by artist Shepard Fairey (part of a collaboration by Vanity Fair magazine and Cadillac) as well as an interior installation by artist David Wiseman. The master plan for the area calls for 2.5 acres of parkland and open space, new tennis courts and 400 parking spaces in two municipal garages. We’ll be taking a closer look at all this after the library opens, so stay tuned…
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Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott, principals at IwamotoScott Architecture first established a relationship with Obscura Digital, a digital media company, three years ago in order to collaborate on a new hemispheric theater encased in a geodesic dome in Dubai. While the project was scuttled by the recession, the two firms stayed in touch, and when Obscura acquired new office space in a 1940s-era warehouse in an up-and-coming San Francisco neighborhood, they again called on IwamotoScott to design it, and even invited the architects to move into their new space.
Working with a tight budget, IwamotoScott injected digitally fabricated details that would give focus and add drama to the large industrial space. A black-box conference room that Scott describes as bringing “shrink-wrap to seismic bracing” is perched on the edge of a second-floor mezzanine while a 32-foot laser-cut screen wall comprised of cells that appear to collapse into fluid scales sequesters the architect’s space within the digital media company’s headquarters.