Just west of Los Angeles, a relaxed beach town on the California coast has recently received some major architecture news headlines. In 2013, some of the biggest firms in the country, from OMA to Gehry Partners, have set their sights on development projects in Santa Monica, planning to raise the skyline and increase the architectural density of the city.
Not everyone is happy about this attention, though. This week, Curbed LA reports that the Wilmont Neighborhood Coalition, a group of Santa Monica residents from the high profile neighborhood from Wilshire Boulevard to Montana Avenue, have called for a moratorium on all development plans in the city. With a unanimous vote at their annual meeting, the group pleaded with the City Council to stop architectural projects in Santa Monica until the solidification of a zoning ordinance next year.
Santa Monica Main Library
Saturday, October 26th, 2013
Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium
601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA
It’s that time of year again: time for local architects to put down their laptops and pick up their musical instruments. This Saturday, October 26, Shimahara Illustration will hold its fifth annual Unfrozen Music concert at the Santa Monica Main Library. The concert program includes six short sets performed by Los Angeles architects. AN‘s West Coast Editor, Sam Lubell, will MC the event.
Santa Monica’s Tongva Park, which had its soft opening last month, officially opened this past weekend. Already, the undulating, grassy expanse, located west of Santa Monica City Hall, has become a huge hit in the community. AN reporter James Brasuell reported on the park previously and has now returned to explore James Corner Field Operations‘s newest park in more detail in the video above.
Welton Becket’s 1958 Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, once a beacon of midcentury optimism, this weekend shuttered its doors. The bending, intricately ornamented auditorium hosted several Academy Awards in the 1960s, as well as concerts by the likes of Eric Clapton, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Prince, and Bob Dylan.
But the facility recently fell on hard times, as bands gravitated to larger venues (leaving it mostly hosting trade fairs), and as a planned $52 million renovation was recently cancelled when California abolished its Community Redevelopment Agencies.
Santa Monica Civic, a working group strategizing the venue’s future, told the LA Times that it will take several months to develop a new plan for the landmarked structure, including film screenings, live theater, or even restaurants.
One of the few regions that superstar Bjarke Ingels has yet to invade is Southern California, and he’s made it clear that he wants that to change. It just might, soon. Ingels, we hear from an unnamed source, has been added to one of the teams competing to design the city’s 4th and Arizona mixed use project in Santa Monica, a city experiencing the beginnings of a building boom. They’ll replace RTKL on a team that also includes local firms Koning Eizenberg and Rios Clementi Hale. So now this shortlist is the most starchitect-heavy of any in the region, including not just BIG, but OMA with VTBS and Robert A.M. Stern with Brooks + Scarpa. In addition to a building that could reach up to 130 feet, the RFP calls for a “programmable gathering space that adds to the community’s civic life with public gatherings and seasonal activities.” Currently, the city hosts an ice skating rink on the site in the winters. According to the RFP a winner is expected to be chosen by Santa Monica’s city council by this August. Stay tuned.
On Monday, members of LA’s design and architecture cognoscenti descended on the Tesla store on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to celebrate the official relaunch of KCRW’s DnA (Design and Architecture). The event featured a discussion between DnA host and executive producer Frances Anderton and Elon Musk, the visionary founder-CEO of Tesla and Space X. Those present included Michael Rotondi, Ray Kappe, Thom Mayne, developer Tom Gilmore, and Getty architecture curators Wim de Wit and Christopher Alexander.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced the winners of its Mayors Challenge, a competition meant to generate innovative ideas for the improvement of city life. Out of the 300 cities that submitted proposals, the giving institution created by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg gave the Grand Prize for Innovation to Providence, RI, and its mayor, Angel Taveras. The city was awarded $5 million to implement its project, what Bloomberg Philanthropies called a “cutting-edge early education initiative.” Under the initiative, participating children will wear a recording device home that will monitor the conversations they have with their parents or other adults. The transcripts of these conversations will then be used to develop weekly coaching sessions in which government monitors or someone will coach the grownups on how better to speak with their children.
The fabrication team cut, folded, and welded 264 aluminum panels into 66 uniquely shaped sun shades.
One of the challenges of designing affordable housing, points out Kevin Daly, principal at LA firm Daly Genik Architects, is “managing a balance between the economic forces that demand repeatability and the risk that monotony comes with that repetitiveness.”
Daly Genik and LA fabricators Machineous came up with a great solution for Broadway Apartments, an affordable project at the corner of Broadway and 26th Street in Santa Monica, developed by Community Corporation of Santa Monica. Read More
Architects do a lot of things outside of CAD details. Don’t believe us? Check out Unfrozen Music tomorrow night at the Santa Monica Public Library’s MLK Jr. Auditorium, hosted by AN West Coast Editor Sam Lubell. The concert will feature classical piano, chamber music, and jazz performed by LA architects like John Friedman Alice Kimm’s Alice Kimm, Gensler’s Terrence Young, NBBJ’s Gary Popenoe. And trust us, these guys are good. This is our third year going. More details here.
Unfrozen Music: Architects in Concert
Santa Monica Main Library
Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Tomorrow night a few talented Los Angeles architects—several featured on the pages of AN over the years—will be showing off their skills at the third annual Unfrozen Music, a concert at the Santa Monica Library‘s MLK Auditorium. Emcee’d by AN West Coast Editor Sam Lubell, the lineup ranges from chamber music to jazz to indie rock. And here’s a secret—they’re all really good.
After attending the recent Alt Build Expo in Santa Monica it became clear to us at AN that the aging Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, a Decorative Modernist structure designed by Welton Becket back in 1958, was in serious need of an update. (Becket, by the way, designed the Capitol Records Building, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and a good deal more of mid-Century Los Angeles.)
Well it looks like our wish is coming true: On May 26 the Santa Monica City Council voted to approve a $47 million remodel and seismic retrofit of the auditorium, using Santa Monica Redevelopment Agency funds (the vote to allocate funds was sped up because such monies may soon be frozen once the state budget is passed).
No firm has been chosen, but we will keep our eyes peeled on the RFP, which was posted here last month. ”They anticipate a design build contract,” said Santa Monica spokesperson Carol Lemlein, who noted that perspective teams will be made up of architects, contractors, engineers, and preservation experts. Read More