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.
There is a lot to like about Chicago’s Quincy Court, an alley turned public space outside the Mies van der Rohe-designed Dirksen Federal Building that opened this summer. The General Services Administration (GSA) initiated the project to help beef up security around the federal campus, and they can certainly be praised for hiring a design firm to reimagine the space, in this case Rios Clementi Hale of Los Angeles, instead of just bolting a bunch of bollards into the ground. And while the design has a certain whimsy, which may appeal to some, we’re having a hard time getting over the giant plastic palms. Read More
Rare drawings by major architects are on display at Edward Cella Art + Architecture, a new gallery at 6018 Wilshire Blvd, across from LACMA. Highlights include Frank Lloyd Wright’s sketch of an unrealized ocean-front house for Ayn Rand, the semiliterate guru of the loony right; a color pastel rendering by Richard Neutra of the Tremaine house in Montecito, and floor plans of the Empire State Building. Carlos Diniz, the LA illustrator, created a presentation drawing for Minoru Yamasaki, showing how tenants might exploit the unbroken floor plan to create an interior townscape. The most surprising feature of the exhibition is Berlin Underground, a suite of twenty drawings by Lebbeus Woods. Commisioned by the Aedes Gallery of Berlin in 1988, a year before the Wall came down, they imagined a subterranean link between the two halves of the divided city. Woods’ tortured vision evokes alien life, lurking beneath the surface and bursting into view at the Alexanderplatz. On view until October 10 and after the jump. Read More
LA architects Taalman Koch have taken their prefab sensibility from projects like the Off Grid iT House in Pioneertown to, of all places, The Americana at Brand, Grove-developer Rick Caruso’s latest lifestyle center/historic town recreation/playland in Glendale. The project, created for marketing and event company Sparks Exhibitions, is a temporary demo space for the new Palm Pre on the Americana’s large central lawn. The 12×20 structure (with a 12×16 deck) was constructed in about 12 hours on site. It was made with aluminum framing, swiss pearl walls, galvanized steel roof, and redwood floors, all prefabricated off site and tested at Spark’s factory. “When it got to the Americana it was completely ready; we didn’t even need a tape measure,” said Taalman Koch principal Alan Koch. The structure’s next stop, on Monday, is The Grove itself, where it will stay for two weeks. Read More
Thirty-five years ago in Austin, Texas, Willie Nelson forged an historic accord between the hippies and the rednecks. Today, some 200 miles to the north in Arlington, Texas, Gene and Jerry Jones, owners of the Dallas Cowboys, are forming a similar pact, this time between the artists and the jocks. The Jones family has kicked off an ongoing initiative to commission contemporary artists to create site-specific installations for the newly completed Cowboys Stadium. The initial blitz of 14 works includes pieces by such art world luminaries as Franz Ackermann, Annette Lawrence, and Oafur Eliasson. See more after the jump.
Dwell and inhabitat’s REBURBIA competition last month drew hundreds of schemes for making the suburbs more sustainable, and now they want your votes to pick a “readers’ choice” winner from the 20 finalists. (The official winners will be picked next week by a jury, and featured in Dwell’s December/January issue). Read More
Plans for a $175 million expansion project for The Autry National Center of the American West in LA’s Griffith Park have been shelved. The expansion was proposed for the Autry’s Southwest Museum of the American Indian (the Center’s other two cultural facilities include the Museum of the American West, and the Institute for the Study of the American West). But according to the LA Times, its approval hinged on the Autry making a commitment to support the museum as a fully functioning art institution. And in a letter delivered to members of the Los Angeles City Council today, the Autry stated that such a commitment “would be irresponsible” and that it was withdrawing its proposal. As pointed out by Curbed LA, the Autry had put forward a contemporary-style proposal by architect Brenda Levin last spring, which would basically have doubled the museum’s size, from 142,000 square feet to 271,000 square feet, including exhibition and visible storage space for the collection. To see a walkthrough of the plans with Levin, visit here. The Autry says it will still care for the Southwest’s Native American art collection and historic building, and that they will convert Autry storage space into more galleries.
Having lost its political fight to preserve most of Admiral’s Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Municipal Art Society has hit upon a novel idea and is now focusing its energy on the developers who are vying to redevelop the old naval officers’ houses into a grocery store. The RFP was recently released for the project, and through that process, MAS is hoping to persuade prospective builders where the Army National Guard and the city were not. “We hope that our experience and information will be helpful to responders looking to create an exciting new development at Admiral’s Row that combines both new construction and the preservation of the incredibly-significant historic buildings,” Melissa Baldock, a preservation fellow at the MAS, recently wrote on the group’s blog. The effort seems like fighting a nuclear submarine with cannon balls, but who knows. In these cash-strapped times, a developer might look favorably upon some pro-bono design work and the imprimatur of one of the city’s leading civic groups.
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
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