Journey From The Center Of CityCenter

West
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
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Helmut Jahns Veer Towers at CityCenter

Helmut Jahn's Veer Towers at CityCenter.

And so it begins. MGM Mirage’s 67-acre, 18 million square foot, $7.8 billion CityCenter, one of the biggest  developments in the history of mankind, officially opened today. It includes buildings by Cesar Pelli, Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Viñoly, Helmut Jahn, KPF and Norman Foster. We can’t wait to put together our commentary. Here are some initial thoughts after our first day here: Read More

Bay Bridge Babylon

West
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
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The new span of the Bay Bridge in progress. Photo by jitze on Flickr

The new Bay Bridge in progress. Photo by jitze/Flickr

Launching last Tuesday, Dave Eggers’ one-time-only Panorama newspaper celebrated the good old days of  investigative journalism with a muckraking piece on the Bay Bridge. Its “above-the-fold” piece, “Unparalleled Bridge, Unparalleled Cost” (which, unlike the rest of the issue, is available online), is a massive 22,000-word exploration into the bureaucratic issues that have caused the new Bay Bridge to be delayed for years and go from an original estimate of $1.8 billion to a final cost around $12 billion. Read More

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Doing Ollies In Watts

West
Thursday, December 10, 2009
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A rendering of the proposed skate park

A rendering of the proposed skate park

Whoah, Dude… The LA Times reports that a group including skateboarding legend Tony Hawk is backing a proposal to build a neighborhood skate park about 40 yards from LA’s Watts Towers. The colorful towers, made of twisting steel and shards of ceramics, among many other things, were built by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia between 1921 and 1954. They’re arguably South LA’s most important landmark. According to the story the skate park—whose circular bowls are reminiscent of the towers’ plans—is being pushed by councilwoman Janice Hahn and the Wasserman Media Group, an L.A. sports management and marketing company. And “Although no formal plan has been submitted, a conceptual plan has been drawn and fundraising is already underway, with an early boost from Hawk.” Most in the Towers’ camp seem irked by the idea, fearing excess noise and distraction. “It sounds like it would be great for Watts, but not near the towers,” said Michael Cornwell, chairman of the Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts. Should be interesting…

The Newest LA Award Show

West
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
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The proposed Hollywood Freeway Park won a SPARC award

The proposed Hollywood Freeway Park won a SPARC award

The Urban Land Institute LA’s inaugural LARC (Los Angeles Real Creativity) Awards was not your average design show. Mistress of ceremonies Frances Anderton, the host of KCRW’s “Design and Architecture,” set a light tone that discouraged back slapping and the stodgy speeches that often accompany such congratulatory musings.  As dinner was served by Wolfgang Puck, guests seated at tables in the lobby of Wayne Ratkovich’s recently renovated William Pereira building at 5900 Wilshire were treated to a crash course in some of LA’s most innovative projects.  And the winners were: Read More

Only 18 More Shopping Days Until Shanghai!

West
Monday, December 7, 2009
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A bit of glitz for the holidays, from the office of Charles Blozsies.

What to wear for the holidays, from the office of Charles Blozsies.

Even Union Square, San Francisco’s high-end shopping mecca, sports the occasional empty storefront these days. To beautify a few for the holidays, the Union Square Association brought in four architecture firms to work their magic, a pro bono effort that also “highlight(s) the vibrant creativity of local architecture firms in a whole new way,” says the press release.  A delightful idea–but in execution, somewhat of a mixed bag, as you will see. Read More

Estolano Takes a Bow

West
Monday, December 7, 2009
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Estolano.

Estolano.

She still hasn’t commented on WHY she left the LA Community Redevelopment Agency (we’ve called a bunch of times…) for Oakland-based non-profit Green For All. But Cecilia Estolano did give an exit interview to the Planning Report. Here’s an excerpt. In it she discusses her changes and achievements at the CRA, including shifting the focus from “blight elimination and building shopping centers” to “creating economic opportunity.” She also takes one more shot at the state government and its “fundamentally broken finance system,” which has recently pilfered much of the CRA’s funds. Finally she makes comments about her new job that suggest it may be a much more efficient place for her to change lives of struggling city dwellers: “I’m going to help Green For All across the country, city by city by city, to utilize economic stimulus funds, federal funds, and other funds to implement organization programs, energy efficiency programs, and incorporate job training and career apprenticeship programs for poor folks.” Sounds like a pretty good gig…

Gaga for Gehry

West
Friday, December 4, 2009
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Lady Gaga rocks her Frank Gehry-designed hat at a MOCA LA benefit.

Lady Gaga rocks her Frank Gehry-designed hat at a MOCA LA benefit. (Courtesy Gaga Daily)

We knew Rem Koolhaas had a crush on Miuccia Prada, but now Frank Gehry and her have teamed up, and it’s not for a new “epicenter.” As The New Yorker details in a Talk piece this week, the Santa Monica architect was asked by his artist friend Francesco Vezzoli to design a hat for none other than walking art piece Lady Gaga, and the hat, along with her dress, were made by Prada for a benefit at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art last month. As Dana Goodyear describes it, “Gaga wore the Gehry hat all folded in on itself, a millinery version of Walt Disney Hall.” But this being The New Yorker, there were no pictures, only a drawing, so we had to see the hat for ourselves, which, thanks to Gaga Daily, we found it. Read More

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.

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