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

Taking Aim at the Downturn

West
Friday, July 31, 2009
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OK, it’s time to start doing something about this economic debacle. Next Tuesday, August 4, in Los Angeles, AN, The California Real Estate Journal, and Gensler will be co-hosting a panel to devise ways for SoCal firms to cope with the downturn. Topics will include finding architectural projects, exploiting creative measures like design-build, shaking loose financing, and securing public money and jobs, among other things. The panel will include Larry Scarpa of Pugh+Scarpa; Rob Jernigan of Gensler; Dan Rosenfeld of development firm Urban Partners (and Deputy for Economic Development to LA Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas); Cecilia Estolano, CEO of the LA Community Redevelopment Agency; Denise Bickerstaff of real estate consulting firm Keyser Marston Associates; and Jerry Neuman of real estate law firm Allen Matkins Leck. The event will take place at 6 pm at Poliform, 8818 Beverly Blvd. Networking, of course, to follow. Don’t miss this chance to pull yourself up by your bootstraps!

Designing Better Healthcare

West
Thursday, July 30, 2009
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Mahlum's Providence North Portland Clinic. (All images courtesy AIA)

The healthcare reform battle’s getting ugly, but at least it can play out against some pretty backdrops.

The two built winners of this year’s AIA National Healthcare Design Awards, both in Portland, Oregon, are glossy and inviting. Mahlum’s Providence North Portland Clinic runs alongside a transit line downtown, greeting the street with a long wall of windows revealing glimpses of murals within. And a dramatic new pavilion at the Oregon Health and Science University (by Perkins + Will in joint venture with Petersen Kohlberg & Associates) spans a 75-foot change in elevation, creating a cascade of expansive vistas and terraces with a pedestrian walkway snaking through them. Read More

See The Chops For Yourself

West
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
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Finally, the (budget) sun sets on the California State Capitol in Sacremento. (Courtesy terragalleria.com)

California has finally solved its budget impasse, but it wasn’t pretty. Many programs have been cut, including several that affect architects. To see a summarized version of the gruesome details, go here. Among the cuts, 100 state parks will now be closed and $1.7 billion in statewide redevelopment funds will be shifted to schools. Yikes.  That’s not to mention $52.1 million cut from AIDS programs, $50 million cut from the Department of Health Care Services, and $50 million in services for young children.

AIA LA Presidential Awards: Be Like Mike

West
Monday, July 27, 2009
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Gold Medal winner Michael Rotondi (being interviewed at his new Madame Tussauds building in Hollywood by ANs Michael Webb)

Gold Medal winner Michael Rotondi (being interviewed at his new Madame Tussaud's building in Hollywood by AN's Michael Webb)

It’s not exactly Hollywood style to give away the winners to an awards show three months before it’s held. But that didn’t stop the AIA/Los Angeles from announcing the winners of its Presidential Awards today. The event itself, which will also include the winners of the local Honor Awards (still a secret for now) will be held on October 21 at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theater. The big winners were Michael Rotondi, who will take home the Gold Medal, and Daly Genik, who will be given the Firm Award.  Others included AN Advisory Board member and KCRW host Frances Anderton. Here’s the complete list of Presidential winners: Read More

Hot Wax

West
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
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Visitors pose with (wax) Marilyn Monroe

Today Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, George Clooney, and Justin Timberlake came out for the opening of Michael Rotondi’s new Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Hollywood, right next to Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Ok, it was their wax likenesses, but the way they mingled with the waxy Hollywood crowd, it was often hard to tell the difference. The building, originally designed on spec, has an impressive folded zinc facade that wraps around an irregular courtyard; another needed public space in a place with so few of them (one of the best ones is right next door in front of the Chinese Theater). Our next issue will feature a full critique of the building, so make sure to check it out. Here are some teaser pix to get you interested. None of the celebrities are real. Or are they? Read More

Woo-ing Cal-Poly

West
Friday, July 17, 2009
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Former LA City Councilman and current LA City Planning Commissioner Michael Woo has been named dean of Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Environmental Design. Since joining the commission in 2005, Woo has been involved in a number of its most high-profile initiatives. He helped launch a moratorium on new billboards and opened a review of the health effects of polluted air in residential developments near freeways. He also helped draft the city’s “Do Real Planning” principles, adopted in 2006, which call for more affordable housing and jobs near mass transit, improving the city’s aesthetics, reducing visual blight, and improving walkability. He served on the LA City Council from 1985 to 1993 before leaving to run for mayor (he lost). Cal Poly’s College of Environmental Design combines the school’s departments of architecture, art, landscape architecture, and urban and regional urban planning. Woo’s appointment begins on July 30.

Remembering Julius Shulman

West
Thursday, July 16, 2009
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Julius Shulman and his camera. (Dan Winter/Courtesy LAMag.com)

Julius Shulman and his camera. (Dan Winter/Courtesy LAMag.com)

As you may have learned by now, renowned architectural photographer Julius Shulman died Wednesday night at age 98. (You can read our obituary here.) We encourage you to share memories, thoughts, and impressions of one of the most influential figures to ever engage with the built environment. Just leave a comment below. To start things off, we’ve posted the trailer to the forthcoming documentary about the great photographer, Visual Acoustics, by Eric Bricker. It was moving to watch even before this sad news, but now it really puts into perspective–almost as well as his own photos–the sheer genius that was Julius Shulman. You can watch it after the jump. Read More

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