The once-great Ambassador Hotel is gone. And in its place rises the Central Los Angeles Learning Center #1, a 4,000+ student megacomplex that will include elementary, middle, and high schools. The elementary school was just completed (article forthcoming in our next issue) by Gonzalez Goodale Architects, and the other two schools will be done next fall. On our tour we got a preview of the Ambassador, circa 2010. The High School will have a huge glass curtain wall, allowing onlookers on Wilshire Boulevard to spy into classes. The Ambassador’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub is being recreated to form the school’s new auditorium. Like the Cocoanut, it will have some intricate ornamentation and even recreations of trees (via projector). Two pieces from the original building will remain: its east wall, and its west canopy (pictured above). Other recreations will include the hotels’ cavernous ballroom, which will hold the school’s library (pictured below). Read More
Reminding us that ski season is upon us, Portland-based architecture and design studio Rhiza A+D on October 3 opened the Entrance Tunnel of the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood in Oregon. Its undulating parabolic outer frame is more than a formal exercise – it translates to the interior’s parabolic frame that will carry the load for the eventual 20 feet of snow resting on top of it. The design, made of a dozen waterjet cut, half inch aluminum plate arches, will be constructed every year in October and taken down and stored every May. Read More
For those of you Silver Lake architects looking for new offices, may we recommend a great, and ironically cool spot. The Haven of Rest, once the 1970′s offices for a radio ministry of the same name (where you could “take the good ship Grace to Jesus with Captain Bill as your guide,”) is now a haven for creative workers. The spot, which opened in September (it sits next to the Haven’s original recording studio, which looks not unlike a giant boat) currently rents out workspaces and cubicles to filmmakers, writers, editors, a dancer, and a record company, among others. It was renovated back in the late 90′s by architect Barbara Bestor for record company Dust Bro’s, so it includes much of her brightly colored modern aesthetic. There are three or four offices left; contact Dirty Robber, the production company who leases the spaces, if you’re interested. Read More
The MAK Center‘s Silver Lake/ Los Feliz house tour yesterday helped once again put to rest the fallacy that Modernist homes have to be cold boxes with no regard for their contexts. On the contrary, the homes by Schindler, Ain, Ellwood, Soriano, and Harris focus on natural materials and highlight their landscapes: framing fantastic views, incorporating secluded gardens, and opening up with cross breezes, open courtyards, and double-height windows. Our favorite houses, Schindler’s Howe House (1926, just painstakingly restored by preservationist Michael LaFetra) and Ellwood’s Moore House (1965), induced zen-like contemplative states with their breathtaking landscapes, light-filled interlocking spaces, and warm wood cladding. And who knew that Soriano’s Schrage House (1952) had a waterfall and a killer model train setup in its garden? Read More
With its economy in the toilet and its legislature stuck in gridlock, California is .. hurting. But there is one area where the Golden State is still a leader. It’s one of the few states in the country to be developing an actual plan for rising sea levels: the California Climate Adaptation Strategy Draft. This, and other very relevant topics will be discussed tomorrow at a UC Berkeley symposium tomorrow called Battling The Sea Level Rise: Climate Adaptation Plans in California & Lessons for Developing World Cities. Read More
If you thought architects had no other talents outside of making shop drawings, you were wrong. But don’t take our word for it, check out “Unfrozen Music: Architects in Concert,” a show taking place in downtown LA this Saturday night with the talents of John Friedman Alice Kimm’s Alice Kimm (classical piano prodigy), NBBJ’s Jonathan Ward (Jazz legend), Landry Design Group’s Dan Murphy (guitar hero), and a bunch of others playing genres as varied as rock, country, and some form known as “Boogie.” (What exactly is Boogie?) The event will take place at 7:30 pm at the Colburn School’s Zipper Concert Hall, 200 South Grand Avenue. Tickets are $15, and all proceeds will benefit Habitat for Humanity. The host will be our good friend, KCRW’s Frances Anderton.
The Urban Land Institute is hosting a new awards program for Los Angeles called the ULI LARC (Los Angeles Real Creativity) Awards, which will be presented annually to “four recipients who, through their extraordinary vision and creative action, are helping to change our world” The winners will be divided into four categories: Design (conceptual designs), Enterprise (innovative companies or initiatives), Place (a completed building or space), and Idea (for a big idea with profound effects). The fun part is that anyone can nominate a candidate here until October 14. The awards ceremony will take place at 5900 Wilshire Blvd (former home of the A+D Museum) on December 5, and award presenters will include none other than Frank Gehry, who has also “designed” the award’s trophies. That is to say the ULI is handing over some Gehry-designed paperweights. Granted it’s a $975 paperweight the architect made for Tiffany’s, so it’s not too shabby of an award after all.
Gensler yesterday installed their shimmering Memorial to Fallen Officers, a 11,000 pound, backlit structure made up of hundreds of staggered brass plaques, in front of AECOM’s almost-finished Police Headquarters in Downtown LA. The structure travelled via trailer from Kansas City over the weekend. That was the good news. The not-so-good news, according to the LA Times, is that after the memorial was craned into place the designers realized it was facing the wrong way! Instead of swiveling the whole structure, they’re going to have to unscrew all the plaques and re-install them on the other side. Someone’s gonna have to investigate this one…
We recently noted the impending demise of SCI-Arc’s original building in Santa Monica, which the school’s founder, Ray Kappe, didn’t consider much of a loss. As he put it, referring to renovations subsequent to SCI-Arc’s departure, the building “had good character, but now it’s got dumb character.” We didn’t exactly get what he meant, but then the fine folks at Archinect were kind enough to link to our story, and therein occasional AN contributor Orhan Ayyüce posted some pics from his time at SCI-Arc back in the day, some of which we’ve posted here (click the above link to see the rest). Now we get it, are kinda sorry we missed it, and sorry to see it go. Read More
At The Late Show Gardens, visitors were reminded that one of the temporary installations at this new garden show in Wine Country was, in fact, extremely temporary. A representation of global warming, the six-foot-high wall of ice was designed by a group that included Berkeley’s Peter Walker and Partners. In the 90-degree heat of a September day in Sonoma, the wall dramatically collapsed shortly before 3pm. The luminous ice was juxtaposed with thin green columns of cactus reflected in a pool of water–a startling and otherworldly image that could have come straight out of a Hayao Miyazaki movie. Read More
Last week, we wrote about Christopher Alexander winning the prestigious Scully Prize. Now, he’s been named the third most important urban thinker by venerable planning site Planetizen, after Jane Jacobs and Andrés Duany and ahead of F.L. Olmsted and Kevin A. Lynch. Even Daniel Burnham, who’s celebrating the centennial of his eponymous plan was lower on the list. If we sound surprised, it’s because many of us here in the office had either never heard of Alexander or long forgotten about him, his heyday having been so long ago. But clearly he is on people’s minds, considering Planetizen‘s list of the 100 most influential urban thinkers comes from a survey of its readers.
Perhaps Ned Cramer put it best, when we discussed Alexander’s selection by the Scully jury, of which the Architecture editor was a part: “I think it’s a lot like Venturi in the 90s, people are really starting to recognize a very influential designer, someone they’d been drawing on for years without even realizing it.”