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

A Beautiful Complexion

West
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
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310 University, designed by WRNS Studio

310 University, designed by WRNS Studio

When architects talk about the “skin” of a building, I realize they’re going techie on me, but I also appreciate the sense of lightness and fluidity that the word conveys. (Did they talk about  “la peau d’un bâtiment” in those Ecole des Beaux-Arts days?)

A delightful “skin” has shown up recently on an office building in Palo Alto, the Peninsula town next to Stanford University. Read More

Next Up For Ambassador Site

West
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
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Facade of the new High School

The once-great Ambassador Hotel is gone. And in its place rises the Central Los Angeles Learning Center #1, a 4,000+ student megacomplex that will include  elementary, middle, and high schools. The elementary school was just completed (article forthcoming in our next issue) by Gonzalez Goodale Architects, and the other two schools will be done next fall. On our tour we got a preview of the Ambassador, circa 2010.  The High School will have a huge glass curtain wall, allowing onlookers on Wilshire Boulevard to spy into classes. The Ambassador’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub is being recreated to form the school’s new auditorium. Like the Cocoanut, it will have some intricate ornamentation and even recreations of trees (via projector). Two pieces from the original building will remain: its east wall, and its west canopy (pictured above). Other recreations will include the hotels’ cavernous ballroom, which will hold the school’s library (pictured below). Read More

Snow Job

West
Monday, October 12, 2009
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Reminding us that ski season is upon us, Portland-based architecture and design studio Rhiza A+D on October 3 opened the Entrance Tunnel of the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood in Oregon.  Its undulating parabolic outer frame is more than a formal exercise – it translates to the interior’s  parabolic frame that will carry the load for the eventual 20 feet of snow resting on top of it.   The design, made of a dozen waterjet cut, half inch aluminum plate arches, will be constructed every year in October and taken down and stored every May. Read More

Haven For Hipsters

West
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
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For those of you  Silver Lake architects looking for new offices, may we recommend a great, and ironically cool spot. The Haven of Rest, once the 1970’s offices for a radio ministry of the same name (where you could “take the good ship Grace to Jesus with Captain Bill as your guide,”) is now a haven for creative workers. The spot, which opened in September (it sits next to the Haven’s original recording studio, which looks not unlike a giant boat)  currently rents out workspaces and cubicles to filmmakers, writers, editors, a dancer, and a record company, among others. It was renovated back in the late 90’s by architect Barbara Bestor for record company Dust Bro’s, so it includes much of her brightly colored modern aesthetic. There are three or four offices left; contact Dirty Robber, the production company who leases the spaces, if you’re interested. Read More

Machines in the Garden

West
Monday, October 5, 2009
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Inside Schindlers How House, Looking Out

Inside Schindler's How House, looking out.

The MAK Center‘s  Silver Lake/ Los Feliz house tour yesterday helped once again put to rest the fallacy that Modernist homes have to be cold boxes with no regard for their contexts. On the contrary, the homes by Schindler, Ain, Ellwood, Soriano, and Harris focus on natural materials and highlight their landscapes: framing fantastic views, incorporating  secluded gardens, and opening up with cross breezes, open courtyards, and double-height windows. Our favorite houses, Schindler’s Howe House (1926, just painstakingly restored by preservationist Michael LaFetra) and Ellwood’s Moore House (1965), induced zen-like contemplative states with their breathtaking landscapes, light-filled interlocking spaces, and warm wood cladding. And who knew that Soriano’s Schrage House (1952) had a waterfall and a killer model train setup in its garden? Read More

Water Water Everywhere

West
Friday, October 2, 2009
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Could rising sea levels do this to New York?

Kurt Russell surfs on the LA River in Escape from LA. Could be in California

With its economy in the toilet and its legislature stuck in gridlock, California is .. hurting. But there is one area where the Golden State is still a leader. It’s one of the few states in the country to be developing an actual plan for rising sea levels: the California Climate Adaptation Strategy Draft. This, and other very relevant topics will be discussed tomorrow at a UC Berkeley symposium tomorrow called Battling The Sea Level Rise: Climate Adaptation Plans in California & Lessons for Developing World Cities. Read More

Redeveloping Round 2

West
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
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For the time being, redevelopment funds are flowing once again from Sacramento.

For the time being, redevelopment funds are flowing once again from Sacramento.

Yesterday, the California Redevelopment Association celebrated another victory, as the state decided against pursuing its appeal of an April decision in Sacramento Superior Court that kept the Legislature from seizing $350 million from the association’s 397 member agencies. That money was meant to cover a shortfall in the 2008-2009 state budget, but at the cost of the agencies operations. As we reported early last month, however, the state has done it again this year, attempting to tae $2.1 billion from the various redevelopment agencies, which work on economic development projects, affordable house, and, as Cecilia Estolano explained last week, brownfield remediation. Association president John Shirey hopes yesterday’s victory is a sign of continued success. “One down, one to go,” he said in a release. But according to the Contra-Costa Times, the state remains undaunted, believing it has crafted this years bill in a way that avoids the constitutional pitfalls of the previous effort.

Architects as Music Prodigies

West
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
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If you thought architects had no other talents outside of making shop drawings, you were wrong. But don’t take our word for it, check out “Unfrozen Music: Architects in Concert,” a show taking place in downtown LA this Saturday night with the talents of John Friedman Alice Kimm’s Alice Kimm (classical piano prodigy), NBBJ’s Jonathan Ward (Jazz legend), Landry Design Group’s Dan Murphy (guitar hero), and a bunch of others playing genres as varied as rock, country, and some form known as “Boogie.” (What exactly is Boogie?) The event will take place at 7:30 pm at the Colburn School’s Zipper Concert Hall, 200 South Grand Avenue. Tickets are $15, and all proceeds will benefit Habitat for Humanity. The host will be our good friend, KCRW’s Frances Anderton.

And the Gehry Goes To

West
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
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WIs that an award or a paperweight? It's both! Thanks Frank.

Is that an award or a paperweight? It

The Urban Land Institute is hosting a new awards program for Los Angeles called the ULI LARC (Los Angeles Real Creativity) Awards, which will be presented annually to “four recipients who, through their extraordinary vision and creative action, are helping to change our world” The winners will be divided into four categories: Design (conceptual designs), Enterprise (innovative companies or initiatives), Place (a completed building or space), and Idea (for a big idea with profound effects).  The fun part is that anyone can nominate a candidate here until October 14. The awards ceremony will take place at 5900 Wilshire Blvd (former home of the A+D Museum) on December 5, and award presenters will include none other than Frank Gehry, who has also “designed” the award’s trophies. That is to say the ULI is handing over some Gehry-designed paperweights. Granted it’s a $975 paperweight the architect made for Tiffany’s, so it’s not too shabby of an award after all.

Police Drama

West
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
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Workers prepare to move the LAPD Memorial

Workers prepare to move the LAPD Memorial

Gensler yesterday installed their shimmering Memorial to Fallen Officers, a 11,000 pound, backlit structure made up of hundreds of staggered brass plaques, in front of AECOM’s  almost-finished Police Headquarters in Downtown LA. The structure travelled via trailer from Kansas City over the weekend. That was the good news. The not-so-good news, according to the LA Times, is that after the memorial was craned into place the designers realized it was facing the wrong way! Instead of swiveling the whole structure, they’re going to have to unscrew all the plaques and re-install them on the other side. Someone’s gonna have to investigate this one…

When SCI-Arc Had Soul

West
Monday, September 21, 2009
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SCI-Arc, back when it had character. (All photos Courtesy Orhan Ayyüce)

SCI-Arc, back when it had "character." (All photos Courtesy Orhan Ayyüce)

We recently noted the impending demise of SCI-Arc’s original building in Santa Monica, which the school’s founder, Ray Kappe, didn’t consider much of a loss. As he put it, referring to renovations subsequent to SCI-Arc’s departure, the building “had good character, but now it’s got dumb character.” We didn’t exactly get what he meant, but then the fine folks at Archinect were kind enough to link to our story, and therein occasional AN contributor Orhan Ayyüce posted some pics from his time at SCI-Arc back in the day, some of which we’ve posted here (click the above link to see the rest). Now we get it, are kinda sorry we missed it, and sorry to see it go. Read More

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