Yesterday will be remembered as a historic day for Los Angeles planning wonks. First, city council approved the Hollywood Community Plan, which, among other things, paves the way for increased density near transit, more mixed-use development, and more integrated transit plans in the ever-improving entertainment center of LA. Right afterward, we learned from Curbed LA that the council also approved the Comprehensive Zoning Code Revision Ordinance, which will help the city—through a new trust fund—overhaul its zoning code for the first time since 1946. According to LA City Planning, the new code, when completed, will “include clear and predictable language that will offer a wider variety of zoning options to more effectively implement the goals and objectives of the General Plan and accommodate the City’s future needs and development opportunities.” In other words, simpler, streamlined zoning tailored to individual neighborhoods and needs. Also in the mix, the new codes will include a dynamic, web-based zoning code, a layperson’s guide to zoning, and a unified downtown development code. Hallelujah!
Now that it’s clear that Christian de Portzamparc’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Museum in Hollywood will not happen (the Academy will instead reimagine the old May Company building for the museum), the Academy recently shared its plans with the LA Times to build a new amphitheater and 17,000 square foot event space on the dead project’s land. The group purchased the 3.5-acre lot near the intersection of Vine Street and Fountain Avenue in 2005 for $50 million. According to the Times, the amphitheater (to be used, of course, to screen movies) will include a raised grassy area and will seat about 300 people. Plans call for a 10,000-square-foot patio adjacent to the amphitheater designed for special events. It looks like the space is probably temporary, as Academy President Tom Sherak said the Academy will keep the space until the site’s value climbs back to its 2005 level. On second thought, this amphitheater could be here a while.
Cul-de-Sacked. Emily Badger of The Atlantic‘s newly launched Atlantic Cities argued that the cul-de-sacs—the suburban answer to the overcrowded urban grids—may be a dead-end in more ways that one. Badger said cul-de-sacs are responsible for our decreased sense of safety, and moreover, happiness.
Talking Transit. Gothamist is right on calling out New York’s MTA as being “really into technology this month.” In a win for the constantly connected and a potential loss for our already-hectic commutes, starting Tuesday, AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers can pull out their cell phones and talk away on underground cell service through the 14th Street corridor. It will take the MTA five years to fully cover the entire New York subway system. Five more years of relative peace-and-quiet.
Paramount Makeover. The LA Times reported that Paramount Pictures is planning a whopping $700-million upgrade to its Hollywood lot, creating nearly 7,300 jobs during construction over next two decades. Rios Clemente Hale Studios and Levin & Associates Architects are charged with improving a place that hasn’t seen much change since the Gary Cooper days without compromising its old Hollywood charm.
Park(ing) police. A Miami-based PARK(ing) Day organizer created a green oasis for the day-long celebration of public space, putting up planters and bringing seats, tables, and WiFi, but according to police, he lingered a little too long. Police arrested the man for taking too long to clean up his parklet the next day, reported Streetsblog.
Michael C. McMillen: Train of Thought
Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak Street, Oakland
Through August 16
The Oakland Museum of California’s new exhibit looks at four decades of work by Michael C. McMillen, a California-based mixed-media artist. Curated by Philip Linhares, who is also a long-time collaborator of McMillen’s, the retrospective includes sculptures, tableaus, paintings, drawings, films, and large-scale installations. Found objects have long played an important part in McMillen’s work since childhood, when he began crafting toys for himself out of old radios and other discarded items. The artist’s creations often call to mind the cinematic landscapes of a Hollywood picture, somewhat appropriate given that he once worked making miniatures, like the motel model above, and props for films, including such sci-fi classics as Blade Runner and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. McMillen often uses architectural references and clever visual cues to transport viewers into an altered reality. He wants viewers to “come away from the experience seeing the world in a slightly different way,” McMillen said in an artist’s statement.
So the iconic HOLLYWOOD sign was nearly turned into the backyard for a bunch of mansions, but fortunately the recession intervened—one of a surprising number of upsides to the downside, it seems. But that doesn’t mean those big white letters aren’t seeming a little tired, and so a Dutch designer has come up with a rather clever new use that Curbed tipped us off to: turn the sign into a giant hotel. As Christian Bay-Jorgensen explained it to the Daily News, “The ultimate goal would be to preserve an internationally recognized landmark while helping the city generate badly needed funding.” If that weren’t bad enough, our pal Alissa Walker points us to Jeffrey Inaba’s plan to uproot the individual letters, loaning them out to areas of town in need of cache. The design provocateur explains after the jump, plus images of both, uh, projects. Read More
It all seems so hush-hush, which is surprising in Hollywood, but the Hollywood Sign has apparently been in trouble for some time. Chicago-based Fox River Financial Resources has been trying to sell large parcels on the hill just next to its “H” for luxury homes. The company bought the land from the estate of Howard Hughes in 2002. Luckily the Trust For Public Land has secured an option to buy the 138-acres on Cahuenga Peak for about $12 million, hoping to maintain views of and around the sign, and to preserve local recreation and habitats. The Trust has already raised about $6 million from sources like the Tiffany & Co Foundation and from Hollywood celebrities like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Virginia Madsen, and Aisha Tyler. Now all that’s left is for the group to raise another $6 million more by April 14 to complete the deal. To donate, go here.
Or a puzzle. At least that’s what New York mag said the would-be-architect said to Parade mag this weekend. To be more precise:
Architecture is like play to me. As a boy, you play with Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, Legos, and you get interested in how things are made, like cars and drills and all that. Years later you come back around to what interested you as a boy. Now, if I have something that I’m dealing with that’s causing me a lot of stress, my mind goes to architecture. I walk around the yard and start thinking about what I need to do to the house structurally. It’s similar to puzzles in that way, like a crossword puzzle or anything else I can put my mind into. It’s a relief for me.
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
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
Yesterday while brunching in Hollywood we happened upon the biggest sign we’ve ever seen. Of course this being LA, it belongs to none other than the Church of Scientology. On July 3 their big blue building at the corner of Franklin and L.Ron Hubbard Way (yes that’s the name of the street) was officially fitted with a brand new sign that’s 84 feet long, 16 feet tall, and weighs 5.2 tons. It’s about three times the size of the former, well-known sign on the site. What’s more the marker, which reads “SCIENTOLOGY” in big white letters, is fitted with LED lights so the letters glow at night (unlike the famous Hollywood sign nearby, by the way). Read More
Since we’re in LA, it was only a matter of time until The Architect’s Newspaper got to visit a celebrity party. This Saturday we were invited to the launch of author Jerry Stahl’s new thriller Pain Killers, thrown by none other than Ben Stiller and his wife Christine Taylor. How did we get in? Thanks to voiceover artist-cum-architect-extraordinaire Janna Levenstein, who designed the 5,000 square foot Hollywood Hills pad (pictured above) that housed the festivities: 1615 Rising Glen. Read More