Even Union Square, San Francisco’s high-end shopping mecca, sports the occasional empty storefront these days. To beautify a few for the holidays, the Union Square Association brought in four architecture firms to work their magic, a pro bono effort that also “highlight(s) the vibrant creativity of local architecture firms in a whole new way,” says the press release. A delightful idea–but in execution, somewhat of a mixed bag, as you will see. Read More
She still hasn’t commented on WHY she left the LA Community Redevelopment Agency (we’ve called a bunch of times…) for Oakland-based non-profit Green For All. But Cecilia Estolano did give an exit interview to the Planning Report. Here’s an excerpt. In it she discusses her changes and achievements at the CRA, including shifting the focus from “blight elimination and building shopping centers” to “creating economic opportunity.” She also takes one more shot at the state government and its “fundamentally broken finance system,” which has recently pilfered much of the CRA’s funds. Finally she makes comments about her new job that suggest it may be a much more efficient place for her to change lives of struggling city dwellers: “I’m going to help Green For All across the country, city by city by city, to utilize economic stimulus funds, federal funds, and other funds to implement organization programs, energy efficiency programs, and incorporate job training and career apprenticeship programs for poor folks.” Sounds like a pretty good gig…
NORBERT HAS LEFT THE BUILDING
Two issues ago, we brought your attention to a lawsuit in which Reed Construction Data accuses the McGraw-Hill Construction Group of industrial espionage, mail fraud, and racketeering. Norbert Young, president of the construction group, which includes Architectural Record, was mentioned twice as the alleged spy supervisor. Since then, an internal memorandum on November 9 seems damning in its terseness: “I wanted to inform you that Norbert Young has left The McGraw-Hill Companies.” That’s it. No reason given, no thank you for years of service—just the name of the person-in-charge-for-now and a boilerplate pledge to sound leadership and innovation. Cold. Read More
We knew Rem Koolhaas had a crush on Miuccia Prada, but now Frank Gehry and her have teamed up, and it’s not for a new “epicenter.” As The New Yorker details in a Talk piece this week, the Santa Monica architect was asked by his artist friend Francesco Vezzoli to design a hat for none other than walking art piece Lady Gaga, and the hat, along with her dress, were made by Prada for a benefit at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art last month. As Dana Goodyear describes it, “Gaga wore the Gehry hat all folded in on itself, a millinery version of Walt Disney Hall.” But this being The New Yorker, there were no pictures, only a drawing, so we had to see the hat for ourselves, which, thanks to Gaga Daily, we found it. Read More
Curbed LA reports that LA’s 1965 Columbia Savings Bank on Wilshire Boulevard, which we just discussed in our recent preservation feature, is now all-but doomed. On December 1 the city’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee approved developer BRE’s plans for a new apartment building on the site. BRE’s six story development, designed by Thomas P. Cox Architects, would include 482 apartments and have about 40,000 square feet of retail. The LA Conservancy nominated the unique midcentury structure, designed by architect Irving Shapiro, for listing in the California Register of Historical Resources, but the nomination won’t be heard until next year, which is too late. City council will vote on the BRE project’s EIR tomorrow, but many sources say it’s a fait accompli. Those who want to save it can go to the meeting tomorrow and speak out.
The feature that I wrote for issue 20 is about personal rapid transit. PRT, as it is called, is a mass transportation concept that swaps high-capacity trains for small “pod cars.” These individualized vehicles run on dedicated tracks from origin to destination, bypassing all other stations along the way. Such a system is currently being installed at London’s Heathrow Airport and Foster + Partners is developing a PRT solution for its Masdar City project, but the idea has been around at least since the 1950s. In the late 60s and 70s several prototypes were developed and tested for possible urban application, but—aside from a semi-PRT system installed in Morgantown, West Virginia—none of them were ever realized. The one that came the closest was Cabinentaxi, which was to be rolled out in Hamburg, Germany. A recession in 1980 sank the project, but luckily they made this lovely film before falling into the dustbin of history. Enjoy.
In the future, will there be a Brutalist Revival? Decked out with stainless steel trimmings by Mark Cavagnero Associates, the Oakland Museum of California is getting ready to usher in a Brutalist appreciation. Or at least a bit of nostalgia for a time when architects couldn’t get enough of the monolithic purity of craggy concrete, before they realized what the environmental costs of melting down rock and reforming it were. The 1969 complex is undergoing the first phase of a $58 million retrofit and will reopen in May 2010. Read More
It was a low-key but engaging evening at The Storefront for Art & Architecture on Thursday at the opening reception for Marina Ballo Charmet’s peculiarly-titled exhibition of photos and a video, At Land: Bodyscape & Cityscape. Trained as a psychoanalyst, Charmet’s work is driven by her self-professed interest in “inattentive, unintentional observation, irrational and without direction.” As you might guess from the exhibition’s title, the works on display range in scale from the extremely intimate to the nearly impersonal, and were culled from four separate series the artist has been compiling since the mid-1990s. Their common denominator, explains curator Jean-Francois Chevrier in the text that accompanies the show, is Charmet’s proclivity to move “at land, to quote the first film by Maya Deren. [...] She makes her way as one would sail, through cities and parks, among bodies, giving her pictures an oceanic and kinematic dimension.” Read More