Breaking Ground: Chinese American Architects in Los Angeles (1945–1980)
The Chinese American Museum
425 North Los Angeles St., Los Angeles
Through June 3
As part of the Pacific Standard Time initiative, the Chinese American Museum presents Breaking Ground to showcase the pioneering contributions made by four Southern California–based Chinese American architects. These architects, Eugene K. Choy, Gilbert Leong, Helen Liu Fong, and Gin Wong, all made contributions to the development of postwar California architecture, from Choy and Leong’s playful Chinatown Modernism to Wong’s radical masterplan for LAX and Fong’s development of the Googie style (think neon signage and cantilevered boomerang-shaped roofs). Original and reproduced photographs, blueprints, renderings, and drawings of works by the architects are on display, including original photographs by architectural photographer Julius Shulman (above, The Choy House).
LA’s proposed 44-acre Hollywood Central Park, which would be set atop the capped 101 Freeway between Santa Monica and Hollywood boulevards, made new friends in Washington last week, according to the LA Daily News. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood met with local congressman Adam Schiff and Friends of the Hollywood Central Park (FHCP), a non-profit formed in 2008 to raise funds for the park. LaHood expressed interest in the project, and provided insights on its development and possible benefits. He also offered to have members of his staff contribute to its planning process.
Those of you who thought Ice Cube was the only music star to love architecture, think again. It turns out that the bespectacled hipster god Moby is an even more dedicated disciple, even producing his own blog on the topic. The web site, simply called Moby Los Angeles Architecture Blog, launched about two weeks ago. While Moby calls his ramblings “pointless,” “self-indulgent,” and “oddball,” we love it.
With all the news coming out of Gensler lately we’ve officially declared November Gensler Month. The latest is the firm’s new offices inside the Jewel Box building in Downtown LA, a glassy former bank branch located between huge towers at City National Plaza.
Yesterday, Gensler unveiled its newest plans for Farmers Field, Downtown LA’s proposed football stadium, which, of course, is still awaiting a team to play in it (as are several other proposed stadiums in California). The biggest changes to the design involve the roof, which will now have large projecting wings (likely made of ETFE, said one Gensler architect). The roof will no longer be retractable, but “deployable,” meaning the roof can be taken off, but not instantaneously, which will bring the structure’s cost down significantly, Gensler pointed out. The new roof design, which will open up views to the city, was likened to “shoulder pads” by Curbed LA, perhaps a fitting design for a football stadium?
So that the stadium doesn’t dwarf the rest of the adjacent LA Live, it will be partially sunken into the ground, noted Curbed. Meanwhile two levels of stadium meeting and suite space will connect directly to the new convention center that developer AEG is also planning for the site. AEG hopes to have the stadium ready by the 2016 football season.
Just when we were getting used to Behnisch Architekten having an office in Venice we learn that leader Christof Jantzen is leaving and the office is closing. Stuttgart-based Behnisch opened the outpost back in 1999 and the location has worked on projects ranging from a lab at Yale, student housing at UC Berkeley, and an upcoming parking garage in Santa Monica. Now Behnisch’s only U.S. office is in Boston.
“It’s an evolution,” described Jantzen. “We had a successful story together.”
Here comes the good news: Jantzen is starting his own firm, Christof Jantzen Architecture, just down the street, and he hopes to take some of Behnisch’s eight Los Angeles employees with him. Jantzen described the venture as on the “smaller scale” to begin but noted, “we’ll see how it develops.” The web site isn’t yet live, but it will be www.cjantzen.com.
In last issue’s Eavesdrop we noted that world famous LA architectural writer Reyner Banham (Architecture of Four Ecologies), who died back in 1988, now has a Facebook page with over 600 friends, most of whom think he’s still around. We’ve discovered who’s behind the fake page. Architect Parsa Khalili tells us he started it for an assignment in a seminar course at Yale School of Architecture in 2008. Khalili says he forgot about the account until one day he signed in and saw 30 people waiting to be his friend. Since then Banham has accrued friends from around the world, sending him birthday wishes and thanking him for the great honor of friending them. “Honestly I have no idea why I even bother but it has become such an absurdity it’s hard to totally let go,” explained Khalili.
New York isn’t the only city celebrating Archtober. In Los Angeles, October has officially been “Architecture Month” since Mayor Villaraigosa declared it so back in 2007. The AIA/LA hopes the month-long festivities will help to “educate the public about architecture and architects, celebrate the profession and encourage the dialogue between those interested in the built environment.”