Do you ever wonder why tract housing is so banal? Why Mediterranean knockoffs have become the vernacular of American residential architecture? Why our favorite architects don’t get involved in this gargantuan world? Then join us on March 17 at 7pm at the SPF:A Gallery (8609 Washington Blvd) in Culver City for a panel called BetterHomeBuilding, which will join architects and homebuilders in a discussion to not only improve the quality of tract residential developments but get architects more involved.
Last night we enjoyed a sold-out lecture at LACMA by the force that is Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. At age 36 the founder of BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) has accomplished more than most architects do in their lifetimes. How does he do it? We’re still trying to figure that out. Here are a few theories: 1.) He acts on every smart and/or crazy impulse and actually follows through. 2.) He marries utopian ideas with pragmatism 3.) He’s an amazing speaker and marketer. 4.) He seems to have more energy than just about anyone.
Take for example, the video (after the jump) of Ingels riding a bike through his spiral-shaped Danish Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. What better way to show off his architecture and his boundless energy. Genius. Stay tuned for our interview with Ingels, coming soon…
In Elegy: Reflections On Angkor, John McDermott’s monochromatic photographs of the famous Hindu-Buddhist temple complex in the jungle of Cambodia are a haunting paean to an inspiring and sacred place. Made up of a complex of temples and holy spaces, which the World Monuments Fund called “one of the most significant buildings erected during the ancient Khmer empire,” Angkor is a site under siege from an influx of tourists as well as the elements of modern day life. Using specialized black and white film, McDermott captures the ghostly grandeur of the former the seat of the Khmer empire and produces sepia-toned silver gelatin prints, like Twisted Tree, Ta Prohm, 2001 (after the jump). He photographed the temple complex at Angkor before restoration efforts began on this UNESCO World Heritage Site, providing a glimpse of monuments in a state that no longer exists.
Over the past year or so we’ve been hearing grumblings about how the LA Community College District has been conducting its huge $5.7 bond-funded building program. So had the LA Times, which yesterday kicked off a large investigative series documenting the corruption and the incompetence prevalent in that campaign.
The verdict, according to the Times: “Tens of millions of dollars have gone to waste because of poor planning, frivolous spending and shoddy workmanship.” The first story uncovers an email from the LACCD’s construction manager Larry Eisenberg admitting that quality control was “horrible,” and that, “We are opening buildings that do not work at the most fundamental level.”
Our favorite example of waste: The district paid photographers up to $175 an hour to take pictures of trustees at a construction award banquet. We also learn that the district’s board has little to no experience with construction. And that’s just the beginning. Check out the piece and fear for our public programs. Who said investigative journalism was dead?
Last week we checked out the opening of the new Lafayette Park Recreation Center, right outside of Downtown LA. Designed by Kanner Architects, the 15,000 square foot, $9.8 million complex represents a complete about-face from what was once a decrepit senior center with a drug and weed infested park.
It includes the airy renovation of 60′s architect Graham Latta’s whimsically modern 1962 senior center (with its barrel arched concrete canopies), a light-infused new gym (thanks to a large double-layered glass curtain wall—why don’t most gyms have those?), and new fields and picnic tables.
At the same time that Palm Springs is celebrating all things Modern at its Modernism Week, we just came across the pretty-much-completed demolition of Beverly Hills’ 1961 Friars Club at 9900 Santa Monica Boulevard. The windowless, space age Modern building, designed by Sidney Eisenshtat, was one of several important structures by the architect, including Temple Emmanuel in Beverly Hills, Sinai Temple in Westwood, and the Wilshire Triangle Center. Read More
Ok, get ready for the strangest, most audacious project you’ve seen in a long time. Our friends at Architizer just tipped us off to BOOM, a $250 million community being developed in Rancho Mirage, outside of Palm Springs, that includes some pretty inventive, or (maybe more like it) wacky designs by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, LOT-EK, J.Mayer H., and seven more firms. The ultra-expressive project, set to begin construction next year, will include 300 residences built in eight neighborhoods, each designed by a different firm (important note: the developer, Matthias Hollwich, is a co-founder of Architizer). Read More
LA starchitect Thom Mayne recently took some time to share his art/sculpture with our friends at Form magazine. The three-dimensional pieces reveal his love for investigating hard-edged metallic shards, architectural movement, faceted surfaces, hovering forms and general chaos; all major forces in his architecture.
[ Updated 02.08.2011: Added the interview video, a gallery of Scarpa's 502 Colorado project, and more. ]
You know you’ve hit the big time when you’re not only invited to appear on Oprah, but you’re interviewed by Leonard DiCaprio on Oprah. Such is the case with Larry Scarpa, of Santa Monica firm Brooks + Scarpa, who talked to Leo about his former firm Pugh + Scarpa’s 502 Colorado in Santa Monica, which DiCaprio calls the “first green affordable housing project in the country.”