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.”
After years of trying, it looks like SCI-Arc is finally going to own its building in Downtown LA’s Arts District. According to the school the project should close escrow before this May. According to blogdowntown, the school will pay $23.1 million for the 100,000-square-foot building and its surrounding 4.75 acre lot. The deal had been held up because of property owner Meruelo Maddux’s continuing bankruptcy, but the company just settled with its debtor, Legendary Investors Group, which has pledged to honor the deal. “We don’t want to be renters anymore. SCI-Arc is absolutely committed to downtown,” SCI-Arc director Eric Owen Moss told AN when recently discussing the project. Interesting facts about the building: The quarter-mile-long Santa Fe Train Depot was converted into the school’s campus in 2000. Built in 1907, the depot was designed by Harrison Albright. At 1,250 feet long, if it were upended, it would be as tall as the Empire State Building.
Could this be the future of architectural photography? The LA Times this weekend published a wonderful virtual tour of Ray Kappe’s own house on a heavily wooded lot in the Palisades. Thanks to huge glass walls, skylights, clerestories, floating interior planes and cantilevered wooden decks, trellises and platforms, the house appears to float over its sloping site.
It’s truly one of the most spectacular houses ever built. And the tours of its facade, main room, kitchen, and deck do it more justice than any two dimensional pictures could. Now if only Kappe could get more props himself. When is he gonna win a Pritzker already?
Now THIS is what we call a hotel. On March 4 interior designer Tracy Beckmann and furniture maker Ryan Trowbridge will open the Hotel Lautner: their painstaking renovation of John Lautner’s Desert Hot Springs (CA) Motel, originally built in 1947, and still one of Lautner’s masterpieces. We stumbled upon the renovation this weekend on a trip to Palm Springs and bring you the details.