Over the past year or so we’ve been hearing grumblings about how the LA Community College District has been conducting its huge $5.7 bond-funded building program. So had the LA Times, which yesterday kicked off a large investigative series documenting the corruption and the incompetence prevalent in that campaign.
The verdict, according to the Times: “Tens of millions of dollars have gone to waste because of poor planning, frivolous spending and shoddy workmanship.” The first story uncovers an email from the LACCD’s construction manager Larry Eisenberg admitting that quality control was “horrible,” and that, “We are opening buildings that do not work at the most fundamental level.”
Our favorite example of waste: The district paid photographers up to $175 an hour to take pictures of trustees at a construction award banquet. We also learn that the district’s board has little to no experience with construction. And that’s just the beginning. Check out the piece and fear for our public programs. Who said investigative journalism was dead?
Last week we checked out the opening of the new Lafayette Park Recreation Center, right outside of Downtown LA. Designed by Kanner Architects, the 15,000 square foot, $9.8 million complex represents a complete about-face from what was once a decrepit senior center with a drug and weed infested park.
It includes the airy renovation of 60′s architect Graham Latta’s whimsically modern 1962 senior center (with its barrel arched concrete canopies), a light-infused new gym (thanks to a large double-layered glass curtain wall—why don’t most gyms have those?), and new fields and picnic tables.
Mega Watts. The Los Angeles Times reports that the James Irvine Foundation has granted $500,000 toward the preservation of LA’s Watt’s Towers, declaring the folk-art stalagmites “an important cultural icon.” (Photo courtesy Robert Garcia/Flickr)
Luck in School. The NY Times relays the story of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck who has chosen to pursue a degree in architectural design at Stanford’s School of Engineering rather than head off to the NFL draft. We wish Mr. Luck, well, all the best in his endeavors, but life as an architect can make the NFL seem like a walk in the park.
Al Matisse? Variety brings us news that Al Pacino has been selected to play Henri Matisse in an upcoming film called Masterpiece detailing the French painter’s relationship with his nurse, model, and muse Monique Bourgeois. Producers will soon be looking for female leads.
Like Jane. The Rockefeller Foundation is accepting nominations for this year’s Jane Jacobs Medal honoring two living individuals who have improved the vitality of NYC and, among other things, “open our eyes to new ways of seeing and understanding our city.”
LA starchitect Thom Mayne recently took some time to share his art/sculpture with our friends at Form magazine. The three-dimensional pieces reveal his love for investigating hard-edged metallic shards, architectural movement, faceted surfaces, hovering forms and general chaos; all major forces in his architecture.
The recent unveiling of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Broad Art Foundation has been generating a lot of buzz in the past couple weeks. The defining architectural element of the museum is its porous structural concrete veil which the architects hope will create an interplay between interior and exterior spaces. The Broad’s concrete skin won’t be Los Angeles’ first, however. Sitting just two miles away on Wilshire Boulevard, the American Cement Building features a mid-century veil of its own.
Yesterday, Sam Lubell detailed The Broad Foundation’s much-anticipated LA museum complete with all the renderings. Now, we have a video fly-through of the new Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed space and isn’t it something! You can really start to appreciate the porous nature of The Broad‘s structural concrete “veil” and the views inside and out it will offer. You also gain a sense of its street presence sitting alongside Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall, which appears rather large in comparison. What do you think?
Finally. The design for Eli Broad’s new contemporary art museum in Downtown LA, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is being unveiled on Thursday, according to a press release sent out today. The event will take place at 11:00 am at Walt Disney Concert Hall (next to the new museum site), giving us lazy journalists plenty of time to make it. According to the release, the museum will be “home to the worldwide headquarters of The Broad Art Foundation,” and will provide a home for Broad’s collection of more than 2,000 works by 200 artists. Since the museum saga has dragged out over several years between several cities, and because he’s hired one of the country’s top architects, Mr. Broad has done an excellent job of building our expectations. Hope it’s good!
If you think LA’s skyline seems a little flat, you’re not the only one. Apparently LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa thinks so too. According to LA Department of Building and Safety General Manager Robert “Bud” Ovrom, the Mayor was disappointed at how the skyline stood in comparison to what he saw in a recent trip to China. The city’s flat-topped skyline was investigated in a two part-series from Curbed LA. We followed up with Ovrom. Read More
The Architect’s Newspaper‘s Sam Lubell tells us about revitalization plans for Los Angeles’ once bustling Inglewood. Architects Christopher Mercier and Douglas Pierson of (fer) Studio see a vibrant future for Market Street:
“Nobody knows about Market Street,” said Mercier. “But it already has the infrastructure to be something special.” The street is narrow, pedestrian-friendly, and lined with shops, rich plantings, small islands, and beautiful (if not well-kempt) historic buildings along its entire length. “Everyone wants to save downtown, but they don’t have the faith in what it can be,” added Pierson.
Read the entire article about revitalizing Inglewood at The Architect’s Newspaper.
A slideshow of Inglewood’s Market Street after the jump.
AN has just learned that Gwynne Pugh of well-known Santa Monica firm Pugh + Scarpa has decided to leave the firm to start his own company, Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio. Pugh and Lawrence Scarpa have led the firm for the past 22 years—Pugh actually hired Scarpa in the ’80s. Pugh’s new company, which “specializes in the design of structures, urban design, planning, sustainability, and consultation to companies and public entities,” launched on September 1. In 2011, firm principal (and Scarpa’s wife) Angela Brooks, who now runs Pugh+Scarpa’s sustainable development department, will be elevated to principal-in-charge, precipitating a new firm name: Brooks+Scarpa. The firm would not comment on the changes (and Pugh’s profile is already off the firm’s site), but we will keep you informed as more information becomes available.
According to a story in Governing Magazine, while LA is only dreaming of building its freeway cap parks, several US cities are either planning or have completed their own. Dallas’ 5.2-acre park over its Woodall Rodgers Freeway downtown will be done by 2012. Other cities that have completed decked freeway parks include Boston (the Big Dig of course!), Phoenix, Seattle, Trenton, N.J., and Duluth, Minnesota. And besides LA Cincinnati and St. Louis are also proposing deck parks. While quite expensive, the article points out, the parks help knit cities back together, provide valuable civic space, are built on free land, and send adjacent property values skyrocketing. In short: Let’s Do This People!! Pix of more parks can be seen here: Read More