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

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

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