The Architect’s Newspaper is heading to the desert for the annual Palm Springs Modernism Week. This small city of 45,000 residents was, like other wealthy post-World War II communities including Sarasota, Florida, and New Canaan, Connecticut, fertile ground for modernist architectural experimentation. Palm Springs has perhaps the largest per-capita number of what are now called “midcentury” modern houses, shops, and public facilities, as well as landmarks by Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, John Lautner, and others. These will all be on display during Modernism Week from February 12 to 21, as well as house tours, a John Lautner exhibition at the Palm Springs Art Museum, and an encampment of Airstream trailers. The silver aluminum mobile homes will be huddled around the Ace Hotel and Swim Club—itself a renovated 1965 Howard Johnson’s hotel. It should be a great week!
Just when we thought budget cuts couldn’t get any deeper in LA, the City Council has put forward a motion to eliminate the Department of Cultural Affairs’ only regular revenue stream, the 1% allocation from the city’s Transient Occupancy Tax. The tax now funds a large portion of the department’s operations and programs. Local non-profit Arts For LA is hoping to block this move by organizing testimony against it at the LA city council meeting this Wednesday. They’re also calling on all concerned to reach out to their local council people. Here’s a link to find yours. So go ahead. Save the day.
Bay Area architect Joseph Bellomo was putting the finishing touches on one of his side projects, a modular studio for a client in Hawaii, when he heard about the earthquake. Because of the nature of the structure, which had been designed specifically for a tropical climate, he couldn’t help but think that it might be a good option for those made homeless by the devastation. Read More
Now that downtown LA has tossed its hat into the ring to compete for Eli Broad’s new contemporary art museum, we’ve finally reached Broad saturation. Broad has gotten the cities of Santa Monica, Culver City, and Beverly Hills to also compete for the museum, assuring that he gets the sweetest of sweetheart deals. Meanwhile, he basically controls most of the major public architecture and art in the city. There’s now the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum in Miracle Mile, the Broad Art Center at UCLA, as well as MOCA (bailed out and greatly influenced by Broad), the LA High School For the Performing Arts (largely funded by Broad), Disney Hall (pushed and funded by Broad), and the Grand Avenue Project (also largely supported by Broad). Phew. It’s great to have a guiding hand and all, but GEEZ! Ok, we promise not to mention the name Broad again. Until at least tomorrow…
Why don’t more contemporary art museums commission works from architects? Those big open galleries could be so much more fun to explore. The Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archives‘ executive director, Larry Rinder (someone who is fast becoming adept at making the most of a space) had the brilliant idea of asking Thom Faulders to come up with an “internal landscape” for the museum’s 7,000-square-foot atrium. Read More
The winter rains in the Bay Area, as usual, seem to be too much of a good thing. There’s a fair number of flooded streets and general consternation about this stuff falling from the sky. But if we thought about it differently, it might seem more like manna from heaven. I did a little calculation this morning to see what was going down the drain. Read More
Steven Spielberg has captured some dicey events on film: World War II, Alien Invasions, and Dinosaurs gone wild. But none of that can prepare him for the mess that he’s about to cover: the World Trade Center. Spielberg is producing a documentary for the Science Channel called Rebuilding Ground Zero, a six-part series set to run next year. The show is the brainchild of architect Danny Forster, who hosts and produces the Science Channel’s Build It Bigger, and it will be directed by Jonathan Hock, who shot Through the Fire, a documentary about Coney Island basketball star and NBA dud Sebastian Telfair. Each episode of Rebuilding will chronicle one aspect of the ultra-slow redevelopment, including the Freedom Tower, the memorials, the park, the museum, and the transportation hub. Perhaps Spielberg will conjure up some CGI magic to make the site look like more than a hole in the ground? We’ll have to wait and see.
Just when we thought that Santa Monica was all set to get Eli Broad’s new art museum (Santa Monica City Council is expected to vote on an “agreement in principal” for the museum on January 19), the LA Times gets an email from the Broad Foundation saying it wouldn’t make up its mind on a location for a few months. In the email, dated January 13, the Broad Foundation said: “There are more than three cities that have expressed an interest in the Broad Art Foundation headquarters/museum. Discussions are still ongoing, so we can’t say more at this point. But we’re keeping our options open and hope to make a decision on a location this spring.” The story also seems to resolve the location of that mysterious third possible location for the museum: a 10-acre parcel on the campus of West L.A. College in Culver City (although West L.A. College President Mark Rocha said he hasn’t heard a peep from Broad). This saga will obviously be drawn out until 2050, so we prescribe patience for those who want an answer soon.
Stanley Saitowitz’s highly original Conduit restaurant in San Francisco, which used slender and sculptural copper piping as a unique design focus, closed its doors in mid-January. Located on Valencia Street, the restaurant had won several design awards, including a 2008 AIA San Francisco Honor Award. On its Facebook page owner Brian Gavin noted: “The dining population shrank. We had a great first year,… then a roller-coaster second year. We just didn’t have enough diners.”
UPDATE: A source close to the museum writes in with this: “Who knows what Deitch will do? It probably depends on what Eli Broad tells him to do.” Which is pretty much what you might have guessed reading the (New York) Times‘ story on the whole affair on the Arts front today. Looking for hints in Tyler Green’s first-out-the-gate interview with Deitch, we found none. Design was mentioned exactly once, in reference to a MOCA satellite at the Pacific Design Center. And yet Deitch’s shows and showiness have a certain architectural scale about them. As always, anything goes and anything can happen.
There’s hope for the greening of Downtown LA…. Last month the AIA’s Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT), a group of eight sustainability experts (including architects, landscape architects, urban designers, transportation planners, business development professionals, and workforce training experts) from across the country, presented their preliminary ideas for Downtown to the local community. The event came thanks to a grant awarded to the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) by the AIA’s Center for Community Design. The team recommended that the DLANC’s Sustainability Committee start or continue working on small scale interventions like tree plantings, community gardens, bike lanes, rerouting buses, its Harlem Place stormwater management/open space project, a sustainability website, Parking Day LA and other outreach events. It also proposed developing a vision that included a checklist of reminders that for all began with E (Empowerment, Equity, Environment, Economy, and Example). The SDAT team’s final report is to be delivered to the Neighborhood Council in early February 2010. We’ll let you know what they come up with.
According to the Santa Monica Daily Press (via our senseis at Curbed) Santa Monica has basically claimed victory in its battle against Beverly Hills for Eli Broad’s new contemporary art museum. According to the story the Santa Monica City Council could vote on the deal as soon as this Tuesday. “I feel that the vast majority of issues have been discussed thoroughly and agreed to,” City Councilman Bob Holbrook told the Daily Press. Meanwhile in Beverly Hills city spokeswoman Cheryl Burnett told the Daily Press she wasn’t aware of any new developments in negotiations with the Broad Foundations. Doesn’t look good for Beverly Hills.. Read More