Fire Blast

West
Friday, September 4, 2009
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The fire this time. (Photo: Mary Beth Trama)

The fire this time. (Photo: Mary Beth Trama)

Among other scary lessons, the latest L.A. fire reminds us why it’s important to stick to a small footprint. As of this writing, the Station Fire in Los Angeles County has destroyed 64 homes, three commercial buildings, and 27 outbuildings, and has burned through at least 145,000 acres of land. In the midst of the blaze stands the historical Mt. Wilson Observatory, which was in danger from the nearby flames, but now appears to be safe. Read More

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Perfect Angle for Treasure Island: 68 Degrees

West
Friday, September 4, 2009
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(Rendering courtesy CMG Landscape Architecture.)

Sixty-eight degrees happens to be the best angle for the streets in San Francisco’s Treasure Island project, a utopian vision of green, pedestrian-centric living. The planners have realized that nobody will walk if they’re buffeted by blasts of wind that sweep the island from the southwest, so they came up with a compromise that blocks wind while giving cars enough clearance to turn.

It was just one of the interesting factoids that came up during yesterday’s tour, organized by the AIA SF for their Architecture + the City Festival, going on right now  (still time to catch one of the other tours and get in on the learning and schmoozing!). Read More

That Empty Lot Problem? Solved.

West
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
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While the recession has put a damper on development along San Francisco’s Octavia Boulevard, the mayor’s office has reached out to Douglas Burnham of Envelope A+D to come up with something cool to temporarily fill the two vacant lots that front Hayes Green at the intersection of Octavia and Fell.

Burnham’s plan sounds like a lot of fun. He plans to transform the space into a mini-shopping, dining, and entertainment destination called PROXY–using a series of modular units that will be recyclable in two or three years when things ratchet up again. The vision includes a group of  pop-up stores,  a food court served by “slow food” carts, an art gallery, and a courtyard for projecting outdoor movies.  Design-wise, the spaces will make their transient nature apparent, revealing their infrastructure (e.g., wiring, water storage) and their modular assembly.

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Pint-Sized City

West
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
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AN contributor Christina Chan sends this wee report from Irvine:

Pretend City is populated entirely by kids–this mini replica of a city is Irvine’s newest children’s museum. The 28,000-square-foot facility, which just opened its doors to visitors, has taken over a decade to come to fruition. Philanthropists Alexandra Airth and Sandra Peffer are behind the new mini-metropolis. The museum includes interactive learning exhibits geared for kids up to eight years of age.The city includes a farm where little ones can learn about the food they consume, a ATM for financial learning, a café with mock ovens and menus, and a beach that will teach about the effects of pollution. And for budding architects, there is even a construction site where kids (and perhaps grown-ups, too) can build structures with wooden planks.

How Fruity?

West
Friday, August 28, 2009
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Alan Tossman of Santa Monica's Farmers’ Market Movable Spaces, one of three submissions already approved in the competition.

Alan Tossman of Santa Monica's Farmers’ Market Movable Spaces, one of three submissions already approved in the competition.

Just a reminder that everyone has until Tuesday, September 1, to make their submissions to the Redesign Your Farmers Market competition launched earlier this month by us, GOOD, The Urban & Enviromental Policy Institute at Occidental College, and the LA Good Food Network. They’ve updated the submission guidelines, so be sure to check ‘em out, as well as three proposals that have already gotten the thumbs up.

Gehry Shines in Court

West
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
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The goods. (Courtesy Hello Designers)

The goods. (Courtesy Hello Designers)

He may have lost Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and Grand Avenue in Downtown LA, but at least Frank Gehry won’t have to forfeit half the proceeds from his jewelry line designed for Tiffany & Co. Yesterday, a judge threw out a case from Culver City-based Circa charging it was owed a fee for a 2003 agreement it struck with the Santa Monica designer for half the profits from any jewelry deal, though it was apparently rescinded a year later, though the two sides differ on this point. Gehry later entered into a direct deal with Tiffany, excluding Circa and its proprietors, Fred and Anthony Nicholas, though people at the company claim to have introduced the architect to New York jeweler. “I couldn’t understand why he wanted so much money for doing nothing,” Gehry told NBC LA outside the courthouse following LA Superior Court judge Jane Johnson’s decision not to hear the case. Maybe this explains the tagline for Gehry’s Tiffany line: “Beauty Without Rules.”

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Architect as.. Indiana Jones?

West
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
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TV program developer William Wiegman is looking for a sexy architect (yes, that does exist) to host a new reality show he’s pitching that “takes viewers on an exploration of the world’s most famous rooftops.” Details on the show are still vague (the producers don’t want anyone stealing their ideas…), but according Wiegman, the “architect must be photogenic, male, 30-45, adventurous, and have an engaging personality on-camera. He must possess the physical agility of a rock climber and the intellectual prowess of an architectural historian.” Good idea, because this architect needs to be filmed standing on building roofs, among other things.  Send resume and photos to williamwiegman@hotmail.com. Deadline for submissions is September 20.

Only In Vegas

West
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
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After a recent visit we saw that Las Vegas’ 18 million square-foot City Center project, with buildings by Daniel Libeskind, Norman Foster, Cesar Pelli,  Helmut Jahn, Rafael Vinoly, and KPF, among others, is well underway. In fact despite delays (remedied by foreign investors), the project’s web site still claims it will be done by this year. We also noticed that Libeskind’s new building is sporting a conspicuous Louis Vuitton logo. Only in Vegas.

Oy, Danny, What a Mezuzah!

West
Friday, August 21, 2009
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Daniel Liebeskind has designed a mezuzah for the Contemporary Jewish Museum. It could be mistaken for a massing model. (All images courtesy CJM)

Daniel Liebeskind has designed a mezuzah for the Contemporary Jewish Museum. It could be mistaken for a massing model. (All images courtesy CJM)

Some of the greatest architects happen to be Jewish, such as Frank Gehry, Louis Kahn, and Robert A.M. Stern. Some are unabashedly so, and none more than Daniel Libeskind. The Polish-born accordion prodigy of two Holocaust survivors, Libeskind made his name designing for the Chosen People, beginning with his first and arguably best work, the Jewish Museum Berlin. Others have followed, such as the Felix Nussbaum Haus, the Danish Jewish Museum, the Wohl Center at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and, most recently, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. As if that weren’t enough, Liebeskind has now designed a mezuzah for that same museum. Read More

Eavesdrop CA 06

West
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
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Coming to Town: AIA/LA is looking to build a center for architecture like the one in New York. (Courtesy AIANY)

Coming to Town: AIA/LA is looking to build a center for architecture like the one in New York. (Courtesy AIANY)

PACKING UP CAMP
Now that Donald Fisher’s CAMP project in San Francisco is officially dead, talk is swirling about where the Gap founder’s art collection will go. The whispers have focused on one obvious suspect: SFMOMA, which has already begun planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion that could get even bigger. One rumor has it that the museum is talking to the city about acquiring an adjoining fire station and building a new one elsewhere in return, in order to offer the Fishers their own digs. SFMOMA director Neal Benezra coyly parried questions with the comment: “We welcome the opportunity to partner with the Fishers to find a home for their collection as part of an expanded SFMOMA campus.” Read More

Pulp Fiction

West
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
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City Hall

City Hall

He had my wrists now, instead of me having his. He twisted them behind me fast and a knee like a corner stone went into my back. He bent me. I can be bent. I’m not the City Hall.

Leave it to Raymond Chandler to come up with architectural descriptions that pack a wallop.  Excerpts of the taut prose that would define a whole genre of American fiction are brilliantly paired with Catherine Corman’s photographs of the L.A. of the 1930s and ’40s in her new book, Daylight Noir: Raymond Chandler’s Imagined City (Charta, $40). The evocative black-and-white images taken by Corman–who is the daughter of horror-movie maven Roger Corman–linger with great deliberation on architectural details like an arch or a building corner, turning each page into a world of suspense. With a poetic forward by Jonathan Lethem: “If architecture is fate, then it is Marlowe’s fate to enumerate the pensive dooms of Los Angeles, the fatal, gorgeous pretenses of glamour and ease…” Altogether, a thoroughly enjoyable way to “read” a building.

Pre-CAD: Architects With A Sketch Pad

West
Monday, August 17, 2009
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Frank Lloyd Wright, Cottage Studio for Ayn Rand, 1946

Rare drawings by major architects are on display at Edward Cella Art + Architecture, a new gallery at 6018 Wilshire Blvd, across from LACMA. Highlights include Frank Lloyd Wright’s sketch of an unrealized ocean-front house for Ayn Rand, the semiliterate guru of the loony right; a color pastel rendering by Richard Neutra of the Tremaine house in Montecito, and floor plans of the Empire State Building. Carlos Diniz, the LA illustrator, created a presentation drawing for Minoru Yamasaki, showing how tenants might exploit the unbroken floor plan to create an interior townscape. The most surprising feature of the exhibition is Berlin Underground, a suite of twenty drawings by Lebbeus Woods. Commisioned by the Aedes Gallery of Berlin in 1988, a year before the Wall came down, they imagined a subterranean link between the two halves of the divided city. Woods’ tortured vision evokes alien life, lurking beneath the surface and bursting into view at the Alexanderplatz. On view until October 10 and after the jump. Read More

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