Everybody seems to be opening up new offices these days. One of our favorite firms, Barton Myers Associates, is moving from Westwood all the way to Santa Barbara, which doesn’t sound promising. Cunningham Group has opened new digs in Culver City’s Hayden Tract, the collection of arts offices made famous by the wild constructs of Eric Owen Moss. And UCLA Architecture will remain in Westwood. But it’s ready to open a new robotics lab inside the old Playa Vista research facilities of Howard Hughes.
In a city obsessed with spectacle, it seems only fitting that graduate architecture students at UCLA would investigate the subject in one of its most literal forms. The students (including the author of this blog post) have designed objects, known collectively as Space Oddities, or Variations on the Disco Ball, for a 10-week technology and construction seminar led by professor Jasson Payne. The pieces, morphed from their disco ball origins, are now neither spherical nor symmetrical. Hung in a darkened gallery, they cast a dizzying array of reflections, shapes, shadows, and forms across the room.
Try selling one Japanese garden, and all hell breaks loose. That’s what UCLA is discovering after announcing plans to sell the UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in Bel-Air, which it has owned for more than 50 years, since 1964. The property also contains a lovely Georgian Colonial house and a traditional Japanese tea house.
UCLA claims that the move is necessary due to budget cuts (the site costs over $100,000 a year to maintain, it says), and because the property serves no academic or research purposes. But garden and architecture lovers fear that the site—regarded as one of the nation’s preeminent postwar gardens—will be in jeopardy if it transfers hands. UCLA says it hopes to find a responsible owner. We’ll see how this shakes out.
Ever wonder what LA will look like in 30, 50, or 100 years? Little Tokyo Design Week, which launched last night in downtown Los Angeles, captures a glimpse of the future city through the eyes of innovative designers and companies inspired by technology from Japan. The four-day celebration takes place in one of the country’s few remaining Japan-towns and includes panels, exhibitions, parties, pop-up stores and even pub crawls. It opened last night with a forum from LA architecture school leaders Hitoshi Abe, Qingyan Ma, Ming Fung, and Andrew Zago, an outdoor screening of Hayo Miyazaki’s beloved anime classic My Neighbor Totoro, and a discussion of urban life as a customizable, sustainable existence with Tim Durfee, Ben Hooker, Keiichi Matsuda, Jon Rafman and Sputniko! Basically, this design week is about how to face the future of a more populated globe.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. That was the theme at today’s LA symposium, Imminent Danger: Earthquake Disaster and Risk Reduction in US Cities. The UCLA-hosted event brought together seismologists, engineers, architects, assessors and others to discuss preparation for the inevitable Big One, which, as everyone agreed, is not a question of if, but when. Despite the LA Times’ questions about whether the conference’s sponsors stood to gain from spreading earthquake fear, the insights to us seemed sincere and terrifying. We’ve compiled a few of the more sobering points, which should get you caring a little more about seismic retrofits and earthquake kits. Read More
It sounds like a summer blockbuster, but it’s actually one of the most important symposia this year. Imminent Danger: Earthquake Disaster and Risk Reduction In U.S. Cities. It’s being held on December 1 at UCLA, and features engineers, physicists, geologists, architects, and public officials getting together to discuss how to best prepare for the inevitable ground shaking disasters that will hit our cities in the near future. Thanks (unfortunately) to recent quakes in Haiti, Chile, and China, the group has a lot of new input to discuss. “Every time there’s a large seismic event we learn more,” said Gensler principal Rob Jernigan, who is one of the event participants. He adds that the conference is also a way for architects, engineers and other experts to come up with innovative earthquake-proof buildings that don’t look like large bunkers: “We have to design for lateral movements without making giant, clumsy joints. We can develop a level of refinement,” he said.
Now that downtown LA has tossed its hat into the ring to compete for Eli Broad’s new contemporary art museum, we’ve finally reached Broad saturation. Broad has gotten the cities of Santa Monica, Culver City, and Beverly Hills to also compete for the museum, assuring that he gets the sweetest of sweetheart deals. Meanwhile, he basically controls most of the major public architecture and art in the city. There’s now the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum in Miracle Mile, the Broad Art Center at UCLA, as well as MOCA (bailed out and greatly influenced by Broad), the LA High School For the Performing Arts (largely funded by Broad), Disney Hall (pushed and funded by Broad), and the Grand Avenue Project (also largely supported by Broad). Phew. It’s great to have a guiding hand and all, but GEEZ! Ok, we promise not to mention the name Broad again. Until at least tomorrow…