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.

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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

LA Architects Learning To Promote Selves

West
Monday, November 2, 2009
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…Or so hope the creators of Architects Reaching Out, a series of panels sponsored by the A+D Museum and the AIA Los Angeles, in which journalists, PR experts, photographers and web designers will give architects the tools to improve their self-presentation skills. Lessons will include getting good pictures, pitching to media outlets, creating monographs, composing press releases, and even putting together virtual building tours. The panels, moderated by architecture writer Michael Webb, will take place at the A+D’s new location at 6032 Wilshire Blvd in LA on November 14 and 21. Panelists will include KCRW’s Frances Anderton, AN’s California Editor Sam Lubell, architect Lorcan O’Herlihy, photographer Benny Chan, PR maven Christine Anderson, and web designer Shannon Vincent-Brown.

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SCI-Arc Moving?

West
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
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The LA Downtown News and Curbed LA report that SCI-Arc (the Southern California Institute of Architecture) is having some serious issues with its current location in LA’s Arts District, and may be considering a move to Hollywood, the Wilshire Corridor, or the Westside. The school rents its massive train-depot-turned-school building from  developer Meruelo Maddux, which apparently charges a pretty penny (and recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy). Their lease is up in one year. According to Jamie Bennett, SCI-Arc’s COO, the school has not yet decided on whether it will renew the lease, and wants a building of its own.  “We will be operating in our own self-interest. We haven’t been unhappy down here in the Arts District. We’ve got flexibility in terms of our future and we have optimism about our future, but our future will include owning where we are,” he told the Downtown News. Stay tuned, because we know downtown doesn’t want to lose one the Arts District’s driving forces…

Fancy Digs For Crime Fighters

West
Monday, October 26, 2009
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On Saturday the LAPD cut the ribbon on its new police headquarters in downtown LA. The $437 million dollar facility, designed by AECOM, will house officers and staff within a 10-floor building that includes a rooftop helipad, glass-walled passageways, a large plaza, and exterior concrete walls with energy efficient high-performance glazing. Visitors will be able to eat at the 200-seat restaurant, LA Reflections, before viewing the outdoor memorial created to honor officers killed in the line of duty. AECOM partnered with a massive team that also included landscape architect Melendrez, Gensler, John Friedman Alice Kimm, and many many more. Read our review of the building in the next California issue, where we also give props to interesting new police buildings in LA by A.C. Martin, Perkins + Will and others.

Metro Finally Gets It Right (sort of)

West
Thursday, October 22, 2009
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Bet you didnt know: This is the current LA Subway Map.

Bet you didn't know: This is the current LA Subway Map.

As the LA Times and Curbed LA both reported yesterday, the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) finally voted yesterday (after several postponements) to approve its Long Range Transportation Plan. The plan outlines  how METRO will spend  about $300 billion over the next 30 years, focusing on mass transit projects like the Westside subway extension of the Red Line to Santa Monica, for which the county will be seeking substantial federal funding (most of the projects will need support from the feds, although LA County is aided by its new sales tax increase approved last year).

Other major initiatives include the Gold Line extension east from Pasadena, a downtown regional connector, the continuation of the Expo Line to Culver City and Santa Monica, and a Green Line extension to LAX. Of course before Angelenos get too excited about all this rail-related news,  it’s worth noting that more than 2/3 of the plan is dedicated to highway (widening and surface improvements) and bus-related expenditures (rail makes up about 1/6). And then there’s the timeline: is there one? We haven’t seen it yet… Please help us find it!

Young Architects, Start Your Engines

West
Thursday, October 22, 2009
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The AIA/LA, which just hosted its lavish awards ceremony at the Egyptian Theater last night (more on that soon..) on Monday sent out a call for entries for its new ARCH IS___ Competition, set to pick 2 standout young LA architects or firms, who will win a $500 cash prize, give a lecture at the Pacific Design Center, and be featured on the AIA/LA chapter website. Competitors must have graduated from architecture school in the last 5 to 12 years, so sorry Mssrs. Mayne and Gehry. The jury will include UCLA Architecture Dean Hitoshi Abe, LA Times Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne, curator Brooke Hodge, and architects Scott Johnson and just-awarded AIA/LA Gold Medalist (and outed newlywed) Michael Rotondi. Registration must be completed by December 8, and 20 page digital portfolios must be submitted to the AIA by January 8.  The winners will be announced on February 16. Good luck young ones! Any more questions? Email Carlo Caccavale at carlo@aialosangeles.org.

One Santa Fe Finally Moving

West
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
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It’s been a long time coming, but the fully-entitled One Santa Fe mixed-use project, designed by Michael Maltzan in downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District,  is finally nearing the start of construction. After nearly a year of reworking the final drawings to minimize costs, the $150 million project, developed by a partnership that includes the McGregor Company, Polis Builders, and Goldman Sachs,  will begin construction in mid 2010 with an anticipated completion 36 months thereafter. Read More

The Walled City

West
Monday, October 19, 2009
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Steinberg Architects livens up Palo Alto

Steinberg Architects livens up Palo Alto

At the risk of sounding schmaltzy, let me say that the SF Peninsula’s new Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, which had its grand opening yesterday, is an admirable stab at making up for what we lack in contemporary American society: non-institutional housing for the elderly, daycare for the toddlers, a state-of-the-art gym–all wrapped up in an architecturally interesting package. My friend Angharad, who lives nearby and has three boys under the age of 5, said wistfully, “I mean, I could be Jewish.” Read More

Behold the 4th Bin

West
Thursday, October 15, 2009
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d

First-prize logo winner Green Team, from design firm Two Twelve.

How many New Yorkers are ready—or have even heard of—Local Law 13? Known as The Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act , the law makes it illegal for New York residents to dispose of any electronic item in the trash after July 1, 2010, and requires all electronics manufacturers doing business in New York to “accept their products in NYC for recycling at no cost to the consumer.” Read More

Monterey Is Gossip Country

West
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
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Asilomars Julia Morgan-designed lodge

Asilomar's Julia Morgan-designed lodge

The gossip goldmine that is the Monterey Design Conference (held at the lovely Asilomar conference center) has delivered yet again. Somehow all the ocean mist, the fragrant Pine trees and the camp-like atmosphere (not to mention plenty of booze) seem to open up the floodgates that are architects’ mouths. Thom Mayne started the fireworks with tirades against big American firms working in China and Dubai (“HOK, and those other H architects”) against GM (“They have no idea”) and even against rural folk (“all the intelligence in this country comes out of the cities”). Perhaps even more interesting was the war of words launched by some of the older architects in attendance against the fancy young whippersnappers. Read More

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