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

Americana goes prefab

West
Friday, August 14, 2009
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LA architects Taalman Koch have taken their prefab sensibility from projects like the Off Grid iT House in Pioneertown to, of all places, The Americana at Brand, Grove-developer Rick Caruso’s latest lifestyle center/historic town recreation/playland in Glendale. The project, created for marketing and event company Sparks Exhibitions, is a temporary demo space for the new Palm Pre on the Americana’s large central lawn. The 12×20 structure (with a 12×16 deck) was constructed in about 12 hours on site. It was made with aluminum framing, swiss pearl walls, galvanized steel roof, and redwood floors, all prefabricated off site and tested at Spark’s factory. “When it got to the Americana it was completely ready; we didn’t even need a tape measure,” said Taalman Koch principal Alan Koch. The structure’s next stop, on Monday, is The Grove itself, where it will stay for two weeks. Read More

Autry Not Expanding Anymore

West
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
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The south elevation of Levin's plan

Plans for a $175 million expansion project for The Autry National Center of the American West in LA’s Griffith Park have been shelved. The expansion was proposed for the Autry’s Southwest Museum of the American Indian (the Center’s other two cultural facilities include the Museum of the American West, and the Institute for the Study of the American West). But according to the LA Times, its  approval hinged on the Autry making a commitment to support the museum as a fully functioning art institution. And in a letter delivered to members of the Los Angeles City Council today, the Autry stated that such a commitment “would be irresponsible” and that it was withdrawing its proposal. As pointed out by Curbed LA, the Autry had put forward a contemporary-style proposal by architect Brenda Levin last spring, which would basically have doubled the museum’s size, from 142,000 square feet to 271,000 square feet, including exhibition and visible storage space for the collection.  To see a walkthrough of the plans with Levin, visit here. The Autry says it will still care for the Southwest’s Native American art collection and historic building, and that they will convert Autry storage space into more galleries.

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What is your favorite billboard?

West
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
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LA's most classic billboard..

With the LA City Council banning multi-story supergraphics, digital billboards and some freeway signs last week (thanks Curbed, as always for the juicy details), we’ve suddently gotten nostalgic for these building-sized ads. So we thought we’d put together (ok, it was just me) some of our favorite mega-billboards from recent times, including the most ridiculous, of course. We encourage you to post your own favorite billboards here. C’mon people, let’s find some good ones! Here are some of our faves (oh, and check out our next issue to read about how the billboard ban will affect architects): Read More

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The Future Is Video

West
Monday, August 10, 2009
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When CAD rose up in the ’80s and began replacing hand-drawing as the preferred means of rendering architecture-to-be, practitioners began decrying the death of the field. Obviously that was not the case, but in our increasingly digitized age/culture/lives, where sexy renderings predominate (to the cost of real architectural discourse, some might say, and probably rightly) on blogs and, uh, architectural websites and beyond, videos are becoming an increasingly important component of the process of placemaking. Or at least competitionwinning, as the above video by SPF:architects shows. Read More

Design Your Vegetables

West
Monday, August 10, 2009
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AN is sponsoring a new competition put together by Good magazine, the Urban & Enviromental Policy Institute at Occidental College, and the LA Good Food Network called Project: Redesign Your Farmers Market, which asks designers and non-designers alike to improve upon the current model for farmers markets. Entrants will have until September 1 to design a new venue, product, distribution method, or marketing mechanism to increase returns to farmers and access to healthy foods for consumers. It’s all about helping local farmers give us more good food. What could be better than that??  Check out more here. Read More

Upending The Bad News

West
Thursday, August 6, 2009
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(From right to left) panelists Denise Bickerstaff, Cecilia Estolano, Rob Jernigan, Jerry Neuman, Dan Rosenfeld (obscured), and Larry Scarpa. Co-moderator Jennifer Caterino.

On Tuesday night AN, Gensler and the California Real Estate Journal (CREJ) hosted our panel discussion, Upending The Downturn at the Poliform showroom in Beverly Hills. Participants did their best to keep the tone positive, and suggested tips for surviving, and even excelling, during the recession and beyond. Most hinted that we’re almost out of the woods. Potential bright spots for architects and builders included affordable housing, government work (including slowly-moving stimulus-related projects), sustainable projects (including work in LA’s new Clean Tech corridor), health care, and design/build . Some even suggested that small projects are getting financing, and that larger ones should by the end of the year. The recession, one panelist pointed out, will be announced officially over in September. What?? And more good news: co-moderator Jennifer Caterino of the CREJ, noted that according to the Commerce Department US Construction spending rose .3 percent in June. What’s next? Constant sunshine? Oh yeah, it’s LA. There is constant sunshine.

Pixel Count

West
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
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SmithGroups new Mission Bay building

SmithGroup's new Mission Bay building

You know that if a trend has hit a major office building, it’s really gone mainstream. The pixelated effect that has been seen in hip textiles and interior design is used for the glass facade on this SmithGroup project going up in Mission Bay. For people driving down Third St., it adds a bit of sparkle to the vista, reflecting the blueness of the open sky around it. Compared to the new Rafael Vinoly-designed UCSF cancer research building next to it (which Mitchell Schwarzer twitted for its blandness), it’s the sequined cocktail dress next to the Gap khakis.

Saving the Century

West
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
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Minoru Yamasakis Century Plaza hotel and the towers that threaten it. (Courtesy Curbed LA)

Minoru Yamasaki's Century Plaza hotel and the towers that threaten it. (Courtesy Curbed LA)

Our friends over at Curbed report today that the LA City Council’s PLUM committee (gotta love the name–Planning and Land Use Management) voted in favor of “initiat[ing] a nomination to include the Century Plaza hotel on the city’s list of historical-cultural monuments,” which, in non-planner speak, means the Minoru Yamasaki-designed hotel will soon be on the cusp of garnering support for its historical bona fides. This would make it harder but not impossible for a developer to tear the building down and replace it with the towers you see above. Read More

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Neutra Strathmore Apartments Threatened

West
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
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Proposed Grandmarc Westwood project

Proposed Grandmarc Westwood project

AN contributor Michael Webb not only writes about Modernism, but he lives it: for the last 31 years he has resided in one of the units in Richard Neutra’s Strathmore Apartments in Westwood. According to Webb, developer Landventures is proposing to build a five-story block directly across the street from the Neutra apartments, which would block light and views, aggravate the noise and congestion on a heavily trafficked street, and “degrade an architectural masterpiece.” He and other residents are encouraging people to attend tommorow night’s hearing of the Westwood Community Design Review Board (7pm in the community room A of the Westside Pavilion at Pico and Westwood) to oppose the project. To see what the apartments mean to Webb, check out this essay he wrote about his unit a few years ago: Read More

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