Mayne Street

West
Monday, November 2, 2009
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Were as surprised as he is.

We're as surprised as he is.

Granted he’s won the Pritzker Prize and had a string of recent successes, but all the same we were more than surprised to get a forwarded White House press release from Morphosis today touting the appointment of Thom Mayne, one of the industry’s gruffer individuals, to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He is the only practicing architect on the list. Created in 1982, the committee, according to its website, brings, well, the arts and humanities into the White House. Headed by the First Lady, activities under the previous administration included an “unprecedented” cultural exchange with China, a “bi-national cultural communique” with Mexico, and the creation of the Coming Up Taller awards to honor school-age artists. Read More

Fancy Digs For Crime Fighters

West
Monday, October 26, 2009
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On Saturday the LAPD cut the ribbon on its new police headquarters in downtown LA. The $437 million dollar facility, designed by AECOM, will house officers and staff within a 10-floor building that includes a rooftop helipad, glass-walled passageways, a large plaza, and exterior concrete walls with energy efficient high-performance glazing. Visitors will be able to eat at the 200-seat restaurant, LA Reflections, before viewing the outdoor memorial created to honor officers killed in the line of duty. AECOM partnered with a massive team that also included landscape architect Melendrez, Gensler, John Friedman Alice Kimm, and many many more. Read our review of the building in the next California issue, where we also give props to interesting new police buildings in LA by A.C. Martin, Perkins + Will and others.

Metro Finally Gets It Right (sort of)

West
Thursday, October 22, 2009
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Bet you didnt know: This is the current LA Subway Map.

Bet you didn't know: This is the current LA Subway Map.

As the LA Times and Curbed LA both reported yesterday, the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) finally voted yesterday (after several postponements) to approve its Long Range Transportation Plan. The plan outlines  how METRO will spend  about $300 billion over the next 30 years, focusing on mass transit projects like the Westside subway extension of the Red Line to Santa Monica, for which the county will be seeking substantial federal funding (most of the projects will need support from the feds, although LA County is aided by its new sales tax increase approved last year).

Other major initiatives include the Gold Line extension east from Pasadena, a downtown regional connector, the continuation of the Expo Line to Culver City and Santa Monica, and a Green Line extension to LAX. Of course before Angelenos get too excited about all this rail-related news,  it’s worth noting that more than 2/3 of the plan is dedicated to highway (widening and surface improvements) and bus-related expenditures (rail makes up about 1/6). And then there’s the timeline: is there one? We haven’t seen it yet… Please help us find it!

One Santa Fe Finally Moving

West
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
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It’s been a long time coming, but the fully-entitled One Santa Fe mixed-use project, designed by Michael Maltzan in downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District,  is finally nearing the start of construction. After nearly a year of reworking the final drawings to minimize costs, the $150 million project, developed by a partnership that includes the McGregor Company, Polis Builders, and Goldman Sachs,  will begin construction in mid 2010 with an anticipated completion 36 months thereafter. Read More

Next Up For Ambassador Site

West
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
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Facade of the new High School

The once-great Ambassador Hotel is gone. And in its place rises the Central Los Angeles Learning Center #1, a 4,000+ student megacomplex that will include  elementary, middle, and high schools. The elementary school was just completed (article forthcoming in our next issue) by Gonzalez Goodale Architects, and the other two schools will be done next fall. On our tour we got a preview of the Ambassador, circa 2010.  The High School will have a huge glass curtain wall, allowing onlookers on Wilshire Boulevard to spy into classes. The Ambassador’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub is being recreated to form the school’s new auditorium. Like the Cocoanut, it will have some intricate ornamentation and even recreations of trees (via projector). Two pieces from the original building will remain: its east wall, and its west canopy (pictured above). Other recreations will include the hotels’ cavernous ballroom, which will hold the school’s library (pictured below). Read More

And the Gehry Goes To

West
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
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WIs that an award or a paperweight? It's both! Thanks Frank.

Is that an award or a paperweight? It

The Urban Land Institute is hosting a new awards program for Los Angeles called the ULI LARC (Los Angeles Real Creativity) Awards, which will be presented annually to “four recipients who, through their extraordinary vision and creative action, are helping to change our world” The winners will be divided into four categories: Design (conceptual designs), Enterprise (innovative companies or initiatives), Place (a completed building or space), and Idea (for a big idea with profound effects).  The fun part is that anyone can nominate a candidate here until October 14. The awards ceremony will take place at 5900 Wilshire Blvd (former home of the A+D Museum) on December 5, and award presenters will include none other than Frank Gehry, who has also “designed” the award’s trophies. That is to say the ULI is handing over some Gehry-designed paperweights. Granted it’s a $975 paperweight the architect made for Tiffany’s, so it’s not too shabby of an award after all.

Police Drama

West
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
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Workers prepare to move the LAPD Memorial

Workers prepare to move the LAPD Memorial

Gensler yesterday installed their shimmering Memorial to Fallen Officers, a 11,000 pound, backlit structure made up of hundreds of staggered brass plaques, in front of AECOM’s  almost-finished Police Headquarters in Downtown LA. The structure travelled via trailer from Kansas City over the weekend. That was the good news. The not-so-good news, according to the LA Times, is that after the memorial was craned into place the designers realized it was facing the wrong way! Instead of swiveling the whole structure, they’re going to have to unscrew all the plaques and re-install them on the other side. Someone’s gonna have to investigate this one…

Park It Here

West
Friday, September 18, 2009
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AN Contributor Alissa Walker enjoys the pocket pasture at Silverlake restaurant Local

AN Contributor Alissa Walker enjoys the pocket pasture at Silverlake restaurant Local

Today  is Park(ing) Day LA. It’s the third year that the City Of Angels is participating in this transformation of metered parking spots into temporary microcosms of park-like environments — some replete with bench seating, grassy areas, and fresh food off the grill. San Francisco-based art and activist studio, Rebar, created the idea in 2005 as a comment on the lack of quality public spaces as well as to promote social interactions and critical thinking among urbanites. And the meters? Organizers are continually plunking change into the metal coin collectors while the parks occupy the parking spot. Some highlights include: Read More

Emerson Morphs in Hollywood

West
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
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Thom is right at home with this Emerson project. (Courtesy Curbed)

Thom is right at home with this Emerson project. (Courtesy Curbed)

When Boston’s Emerson College chose to open a satellite “campus” for students studying and interning in LA (it’s really just one building), the school would have been hard pressed to find a more suitable architect than Thom Mayne. After all, Morphosis has had a string of academic successes of late, including the new 41 Cooper Square in New York and the Cahill Center for Astronomy at Caltech. Indeed, some of the firm’s earliest successes were two high schools in Southern California. Now, Curbed alerts us to this latest project, complete with the above rendering. The details are kind of sketchy, though we do know there will be 224 residences in that La Defense-like box with classrooms in the inner blob, which is, like, so Thom Mayne.

Pulp Fiction

West
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
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City Hall

City Hall

He had my wrists now, instead of me having his. He twisted them behind me fast and a knee like a corner stone went into my back. He bent me. I can be bent. I’m not the City Hall.

Leave it to Raymond Chandler to come up with architectural descriptions that pack a wallop.  Excerpts of the taut prose that would define a whole genre of American fiction are brilliantly paired with Catherine Corman’s photographs of the L.A. of the 1930s and ’40s in her new book, Daylight Noir: Raymond Chandler’s Imagined City (Charta, $40). The evocative black-and-white images taken by Corman–who is the daughter of horror-movie maven Roger Corman–linger with great deliberation on architectural details like an arch or a building corner, turning each page into a world of suspense. With a poetic forward by Jonathan Lethem: “If architecture is fate, then it is Marlowe’s fate to enumerate the pensive dooms of Los Angeles, the fatal, gorgeous pretenses of glamour and ease…” Altogether, a thoroughly enjoyable way to “read” a building.

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

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