RIP Columbia Savings Bank?

West
Thursday, December 3, 2009
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courtesy LA Conservancy

courtesy LA Conservancy

Curbed LA reports that LA’s 1965 Columbia Savings Bank on Wilshire Boulevard, which we just discussed in our recent preservation feature, is now all-but doomed. On December 1 the city’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee approved developer BRE’s plans for a new apartment building on the site. BRE’s six story development, designed by Thomas P. Cox Architects, would include 482 apartments and have about 40,000 square feet of retail. The LA Conservancy  nominated the unique midcentury structure, designed by architect Irving Shapiro, for listing in the California Register of Historical Resources, but the nomination won’t be heard until next year, which is too late.  City council will vote on the BRE project’s EIR tomorrow, but many sources say it’s a fait accompli. Those who want to save it can go to the meeting tomorrow and speak out.

Brutalizing Oakland

West
Monday, November 30, 2009
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The main museum entrance is now framed in stainless steel. Photo by Tim Griffith

The main museum entrance is now framed in stainless steel. Photo by Tim Griffith

In the future, will there be a Brutalist Revival? Decked out with stainless steel trimmings by Mark Cavagnero Associates, the Oakland Museum of California is getting ready to usher in a Brutalist appreciation. Or at least a bit of nostalgia for a time when architects couldn’t get enough of the monolithic purity of craggy concrete, before they realized what the environmental costs of melting down rock and reforming it were. The 1969 complex is undergoing the first phase of a $58 million retrofit and will reopen in May 2010. Read More

Moss Out In Venice

West
Friday, November 20, 2009
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According to our friends at Curbed LA, Eric Owen Moss’s planned Venice project , on the corners of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards, has been put on the shelf. Fred Mir, who works for the developer, Group III Investments, told Curbed that the neighborhood “didn’t like the height,” and that they had decided to scrap the project back in August, after a bumpy community meeting. No sign of what will replace Moss’s scheme, but we’ll be looking into it…

OSKA Now OK After Name Chop

West
Thursday, November 19, 2009
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Olson Sundberg's Wing Luke Museum (courtesy Martina Dolejsova)

Long-named Seattle firm Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects (OSKA) announced this week that it will be changing its name to Olson Kundig Architects, effective January 1. The OSKA name has been active since 2000, but with Scott Allen leaving the firm to create an independent design studio, and Kirsten Murray and Alan Maskin becoming partners in 2008, it was apparent that they should reflect the changing tides of leadership. The firm is now led by the five owners; Jim Olson, Tom Kundig, Rick Sundberg, Kirsten Murray and Alan Maskin. Read More

Broad Museum: 90210 vs 90402

West
Monday, November 16, 2009
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An overhead of Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards, where the museum might end up.

An overhead of Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards, where the museum might end up.

After making nary a peep about his proposed Beverly Hills museum since last April, Eli Broad is again making it clear that he wants the project to move forward. And that he wants it to be much bigger. According to the LA Times, a plan sent last month to the Beverly Hills Planning Department calls for nearly 50,000 square feet of exhibition space (including a 6,100 square foot outdoor area for sculpture), up from the 25,000 previously anticipated. According to the story he’s also included Santa Monica as a possible contender for the museum, for which he would create a $200 million endowment. And now the cities are jockeying for position: Kevin McKeown, a Santa Monica city councilman, told the Times, “I’ll do everything I can to make this happen.” Meanwhile Cheryl Burnett, the city of Beverly Hills’ spokeswoman, issued a statement saying, “While we recognize that the Broad Foundation has many options. . . . There’s no better place than Beverly Hills to showcase this world-class contemporary art collection.” Let..the..fireworks..begin.

Yes We CAN

West
Friday, November 13, 2009
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Gensler and Arup's "Pump-can"

Last night CANSTRUCTION LA, organized by the Society for Design Administration, announced the winners of its 2009 competition at 5900 Wilshire Boulevard. All 60,000 cans—from anchovies to pumpkin pie filling— used to build the amazing structures will go directly to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, as will over $7,700 in donations.  The structures will be on display at 5900 Wilshire through this Sunday. Check out this fantastic teaser video for the competition, which shows a clever can making its way from the supermarket to the venue. And here’s a video of winning team Gensler putting together their entry. All 10 participating teams produced stellar constructions, but a few stood out. They were: Read More

Connecting a Fractured California

West
Thursday, November 12, 2009
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We first found out about this from our friends at Planetizen. Apparently California has awarded Berkeley-based Calthorpe Associates a $2.5 million contract to devise a set of detailed growth scenarios for the state. The effort, known as “Vision California,” will investigate land use and transportation investments in California and it will also include merging the state’s existing regional plans from organizations like the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). Does this mean coordinated regional planning? In California? They’re all TALKING to each other? Could it really be?? Stay tuned…

A One of a Kind Line

West
Monday, November 9, 2009
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All aboard! The first stop on LAs newest light rail line

All aboard! The first stop on LA's newest light rail line

After more than a decade of waiting (up to 15 years, depending who you ask), a light-rail Breda train will depart for East L.A. from Union Station this Sunday, November 15 as part of Metro’s new Gold Line Eastside Extension. The eight-station line, with stops in Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles, will offer continuing service on the first phase of the Gold Line, which heads northeast through Pasadena and was completed in 2003. Read More

Moss: SCI-Arc Staying Put

West
Friday, November 6, 2009
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Architect and SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss talked to us the other day to correct our recent post on SCI-Arc’s future in the LA Arts District. Yes, he agreed, SCI-Arc does want to eventually own its own home (it tried unsuccessfully to buy its building from its landlord, developer Meruelo Maddux, a few years ago) . But the school’s lease is not up next year, nor does SCI-Arc face any pressure to leave anytime soon.

“SCI-ARC’s not going anywhere. SCI-Arc has no plans to go anywhere, and is not obligated to go anywhere,” he said. Read More

Bad News For LA: Estolano Out!

West
Thursday, November 5, 2009
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Estalano

Estalano

We’ve just learned thanks to the LA Times and Curbed that LA Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA) CEO Cecilia Estolano is stepping down from her post at the end of this month. Estolano was widely-praised for her aggressive moves to promote affordable housing, turn around struggling neighborhoods, establish a Clean Tech corridor in Downtown LA, and bolster the agency’s funding, even in difficult economic times. We just ran a Q+A with Estolano in our last issue, which can be read here. Estolano is reportedly taking a job with Green For All, an Oakland-based environmental group focused on generating green jobs in underserved neighborhoods. We’re trying to get a follow-up with Estolano now, so stay tuned…

Window, Window, On the Wall

West
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
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A mid-rise condo in the Millenium Tower, with its lower operable windows.

A mid-rise condo in San Francisco's Millenium Tower, with its lower operable windows.

For the last couple of weeks, every night’s been a party as the Millenium Tower plays host to Icons of Design, one of those opportunistic design events where hopefully everyone wins: High-end real estate is shown off, designers display their creative chops, charities get money, and the public gets a chance to wander through fantasy, “cost-is-no-object” spaces.

Read More

Mayne Street

West
Monday, November 2, 2009
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Were as surprised as he is.

We're as surprised as he is.

Granted he’s won the Pritzker Prize and had a string of recent successes, but all the same we were more than surprised to get a forwarded White House press release from Morphosis today touting the appointment of Thom Mayne, one of the industry’s gruffer individuals, to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He is the only practicing architect on the list. Created in 1982, the committee, according to its website, brings, well, the arts and humanities into the White House. Headed by the First Lady, activities under the previous administration included an “unprecedented” cultural exchange with China, a “bi-national cultural communique” with Mexico, and the creation of the Coming Up Taller awards to honor school-age artists. Read More

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