Just When Things Were Looking Up At LAUSD

West
Thursday, March 17, 2011
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Hodgetts + Fung's prototype classroom.

Last month we reported on the LAUSD’s push to design new schools and temporary facilities using innovative prefab prototypes designed by Hodgetts + Fung, SLO, and Gonzalez Goodale. But today we learned from the LA Times that the jump starter of that project, LAUSD facilities chief James Sohn, has just resigned (among other things, the Times story noted questions about various conflicts of interests with contractors). So the fate of this, and other LAUSD projects may be up in the air.

The good news: According to Richard Luke, LAUSD’s Deputy Director of Planning and Development, “there should be no impact” on the prototypes program. “We’re proceeding with those, and we’re trying to move to the next step,” he tells AN. We’ll be watching to make sure all goes ahead with those and other new plans at the district.

Kudos to Young Turks

West
Thursday, March 10, 2011
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Patterns' FYF Residence in Argentina

AIA/LA has just announced the winners of its second annual “Arch Is” competition, open to California designers who have graduated from architecture school in the past five to twelve years. The victors are two of our favorites: FreelandBuck, headed by David Freeland and Brennan Buck, and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, led by Georgina Huljich and Marcelo Spina. Both are on the cutting edge of digital fabrication and complex, layered (not to mention curvy) design. See some of their work, below. And stop drooling. And check out a public forum featuring the winners at LA’s A+D Museum on March 24 a 7pm. Read More

Art Center Dialing Down in Pasadena

West
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
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Art Center's Downtown Campus, located inside a former wind tunnel

Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design has always been ambitious about building. But after some pushback, it’s toning things down. Most architecture buffs know about the school’s iconic black steel hillside campus designed by Craig Ellwood, and its equally ambitious downtown campus designed by Daly Genik, located inside a former Douglas Aircraft wind tunnel.

But after its last director, Richard Koshalek, got pushed out largely for his super ambitious $150 million expansion plan, including a $45 million Frank Gehry-designed research center (many thought the school was putting more emphasis on facilities than teaching and students), the school’s new expansion plans, confirmed this week, involve renovations and smaller expansions, not big gestures, reports the Pasadena Star News.

More on the school’s future plans after the jump.

Facebook Charrette Offers Big Ideas for Menlo Park

Newsletter, West
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
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Residential towers with green roofs overlook a nature trail and bicycle path along wetlands. (Courtesy Paul Jamtgaard of Group 4 Architecture.)

Last Saturday, architecture took a cue from Project Runway. The assignment: In one fast-paced day, redesign a less-than-inspiring edge of a California town as a glamorous new transit-oriented development—starting with site analysis and ending in a formal presentation of conceptual designs. Among the days visions to sashay onto the stage were mixed-use high-rises, a light-rail station, green roofs and solar collectors, and an alluring gateway arch.

Read more after the jump.

Do You Want To Improve Homebuilding?

West
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
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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.

Check out who made the panel after the jump.

Ride Bjarke Ride

West
Friday, March 4, 2011
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BIG's Danish Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 (Courtesy BIG/Iwan Baan)

BIG's Danish Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 (Courtesy BIG/Iwan Baan)

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…

Bjarke proves he can ride a bike after the jump.

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Event> Elegy: Reflections on Angkor in Beverly Hills

West
Thursday, March 3, 2011
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(Courtesy John McDermott)

(Courtesy John McDermott)

  • Elegy: Reflections On Angkor, Photographs By John McDermott
  • Sundaram Tagore Gallery
  • 9606 S. Santa Monica Blvd.
  • Beverly Hills, CA
  • Through March 12

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.

Check out a couple more photos after the jump.

Neon Baby!

Newsletter, West
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
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A sign from the Golden Nugget, which was taken down when Steve Wynne renovated the casino.

We’ve recently returned from Las Vegas, where we visited one of the coolest institutions in the world: The Neon Museum, located on the far northern end of The Strip. The museum, about to celebrate its 15th anniversary, and ready to open its new visitors center next year (a rehab of the swooping, Paul Williams-designed La Concha Hotel), features a beautiful jumble of over 150 old signs that tell the story of Vegas, from mobster Bugsy Siegal’s El Cortes Hotel and Casino to the Moulin Rouge, Vegas’ first integrated casino, to the Atomic Age Stardust.

 

 

Read more after the jump.

LA Community College DEBACLE

West
Monday, February 28, 2011
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LA Trade Tech's Student Services/ Administrative Building by MDA Johnson Favaro

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?

Kanner Architects′ Impressive Before and After

West
Monday, February 28, 2011
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Rec Center before...

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.

Check out the transformation after the jump.

Another One Bites The Dust

West
Thursday, February 17, 2011
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Courtesy ICF International

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

BOOM BOOM BOOM In The Desert

West
Friday, February 11, 2011
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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

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