5 design things to do Nov 16 - 22

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The Beatitudes banner created by Corita for the Vatican Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair. Available at Corita Art Center.

This week: Binge on films at the Design and Architecture Film Festival; consider the future of 1970s architecture in Los Angeles; celebrate Corita Day with an art materials giveaway and an art class; compete to design low-rise housing; and walk across LA.

A stylish Albert Frey (1903 -1998), pictured here in Palm Springs around 1939. Frey II: The Architectural Interpreter, by director Jake Gorst, debuts at this year's festival. This follows Frey I: The Architectural Envoy was finished in 2018. Photo Courtesy ADFF.

1) Architectural and Design Film Festival

If you can take a break from bingeing on The Queen's Gambit or that other Royal power play The Crown, check out the films at the Architecture and Design Film Festival (ADFF). The annual smorgasbord of documentaries about designers and design issues has gone online this year, and kicks off this week with a two week virtual run.

The lineup includes a curated selection of 18 films that touch on issues including the environment, gentrification, urbanization along with race and gender in the design professions.The films take you around the world to Los Angeles, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Denmark, Italy, Finland, and more. Highlights include new films on Southland favorites Albert Frey and Paul R. Williams; also Charlotte Perriand, Alvar Aalto, Ryūe Nishizawa and Bjarke Ingels. 

Making a Mountain tracks the making of the Danish architect's project to create a waste-to-energy plant with a ski slope on top. See how he realized this clever concept combining waste management, architecture and recreational urban space. 

Each of the films will be preceded by an introduction with a special guest and followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker. Watch on your own schedule (but once you start a film you have 48 hours to finish). Read more about the complete list of films here

When: Nov 19 - Dec 3

Where: Online. Access available after ticket purchase, between Nov 19 and Dec 3.

Tickets: Single film $10 / 5 pack $40 / $110. You can get tickets here.

Charles Young, artist known for paper models of buildings, has created imagery for the Low-Rise Housing Challenge.

2) City of LA launches Low-Rise Housing Challenge

LA has been a laboratory over the past century for multifamily housing as much as for the single family home. Just think of residential complexes by Irving Gill, Richard Neutra, Gregory Ain and many others. Now today’s design community is being called upon to dream up the next generation of low-rise, multi-unit buildings, at a time of greater pressures than the middle of the last century. 

“Low-Rise: Housing Ideas for Los Angeles” is a design challenge to be launched Tuesday by the Mayor’s Office and the Chief Design Officer Christopher Hawthorne.  Teams of architects and landscape designers are invited to make proposals for low-rise housing that might achieve a number of goals: architectural merit; affordability; housing equity and environmental sustainability. These are all to be achieved in ways that might be appealing and acceptable to low-rise residential neighborhoods where there is anxiety about overdevelopment. 

Designers can tackle four categories of housing type, including fourplexes and division of an existing house.

You can apply starting Tuesday and proposals are due in February, 2021. 12 winning proposals will share $60,000 in cash prizes, with $10,000 for first place, $3,500 for second place and $1,500 for third place. 

When: Teams can register now and proposals are due February 12, 2021.

Where: lowrise.la

Tickets: No fee to apply. Contact Christopher Hawthorne directly with questions and interest at christopher.hawthorne@lacity.org

Pacific Design CenterIn 1975, an enormous, bright blue building (quickly nicknamed "The Blue Whale"), designed by architect Cesar Pelli and Norma Merrick Sklarek for Gruen Associates, rose from a low-scale residential and commercial neighborhood. The Green, then Red buildings followed. Photo Courtesy of Los Angeles Conservancy.

3 ) LA Conservancy: The 70s and Beyond

Once buildings hit 50 they are eligible to be considered for designation on the National Register of Historic Places. So what should one do about buildings from the 1970s?

The decade of disco, shag carpet and hard drugs was also a unique period of architectural design and experimentation in Los Angeles - from Gehry's 1978 Santa Monica home to Cesar Pelli's Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. But some of the concrete and glass-skinned late Modern, corporate buildings were also perceived as unpleasant, inside and out, putting them at risk for extensive remodels and alterations. 

A panel Thursday will ask how to balance the preferences of the public with the duty of historic preservation, and what this could mean for future preservation efforts. The conversation will be moderated by Frances Anderton, with panelists Christopher Hawthorne, Chief Design Officer, City of Los Angeles and Tom Mayes, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel for National Trust of Historic Preservation.

Following the discussion, join an online tour of the Pacific Design Center. Designed in stages (blue, green then green) the complex was created to serve as a one-step facility for the design trade, with workshops, showrooms and restaurants. A conservancy docent will lead you on a virtual tour of the iconic Blue Building, by architect Cesar Pelli and Norma Merrick Sklarek for Gruen Associates.

This event is part of a yearlong Conservancy initiative celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1970s.

When: Thursday, Nov 19, 6 - 8 pm. Panel starts at 6 pm; tour starts at 7:15 pm.

Where: Online

Tickets: GA $25, Conservancy Members $20. You can get tickets here.

The Corita art trailer will be at the live event giving away Coirta 101 boxes that contain free art supplies, art worksheets, and Corita memorabilia. Photo Courtesy of The Corita Art Center.

4) Corita Day 

Corita Kent (1918 - 1986) was a nun and educator at the Immaculate Heart College in Hollywood who become a much-celebrated pop artist, known for her social justice screenprints and watercolors in the 1960s. Now there is a day named in her honor: November 20th. To celebrate, the Corita Art Center will give away Corita 101 boxes containing free art supplies, worksheets, and Corita memorabilia at Cruzita's Deli And Cafe in Huntington Park. They will also host a free virtual workshop to learn more about Corita's politically and socially charged art, recreate some of Corita’s most famous works, and make zines!

The Corita Art Center team and allies are also rallying support to save Corita's former art studio at 5518 Franklin Avenue, now slated for demolition. Learn more about those efforts here.   

When: Saturday, November 21, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm (in person) 1:30 - 3:00 pm (online)

Where: In person event Cruzita's Deli And Cafe, 7121 State St, Huntington Park 90255. You can register here for the online event.

Tickets: Free, click here for more information about the workshop.

man carrying long board walking beside white fencePhoto Courtesy of Unsplash/Brooke Cagle

5) The Great Los Angeles Walk

Something really special happens when you see the city at walking speed. Storefronts and architecture take on new interest, neighborhoods seamlessly merge together, and conversations last a little longer. To counter the cliches about nobody walking in LA, every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the Great Los Angeles Walk encourages Angelenos to walk from one side of the city to the other. This year’s socially distanced route traces the nearly 16 mile length of Wilshire Boulevard from Downtown L.A. to the oceanfront in Santa Monica. You can hop on or off the walk whenever and wherever you like, and though no reservations are required, RSVPs are appreciated. 

Here are some things to know about Wilshire Boulevard, named for socialist entrepreneur Henry Gaylord Wilshire, and once little more than a dirt road measuring a mere four miles long.

Check out Angels Walk's Wilshire page for information about Wilshire Blvd landmarks. Included are a map of dozens of things to see, including the 15 Angels Walks stanchions located in the Westlake district; a PDF guidebook of sites to check out and more. The booklet is now a tad dated, but most of the landmarks remain.

When: Saturday, Nov 21. No specified start time.

Where: Walk Wilshire Boulevard from DTLA to Santa Monica

Tickets: Free. Click here for more information.