5 design things to do this week

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The UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010 designed by Thomas Heatherwick

This week, through Sept. 1: check out the reinvigorated Music Center Plaza; hear Michael Govan in dialogue with USC architecture dean Milton Curry; catch architect Thomas Heatherwick in conversation with Dezeen's Marcus Fairs; learn about the influence of high art on Disney Imagineering; and see a screening of the video essay "Los Angeles Plays Itself."

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1) Music Center Plaza Re-Opening Celebration

The Music Center opened to the public with great fanfare in 1964. But the plaza connecting the Welton Becket-designed Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theatre and Mark Taper Forum was difficult to access and languished for years, underused. After nearly two years and $41 million, the Music Center Plaza is ready to open its newly renovated outdoor space.  

Designed by Los Angeles-based Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH Studios) - which also designed Grand Park, Grand Avenue Streetscape and led the renovation of The Music Center’s Mark Taper Forum - the reinvigorated space features a new welcome center, a full-service restaurant, wine bar, coffee bar, gardens with expansive vistas, interactive art installations and more. "What we've created here is an incredible space for people to engage in art in all new ways," says Music Center COO Howard Sherman in an interview with DnA.

The Plaza re-opening will also mark the return of The Music Center Plaza fountain, a centerpiece of the space, while the Jacques Lipchitz-designed “Peace on Earth” sculpture has been relocated to the Hope Street entrance to The Music Center complex.

When: Celebration opens with a civic dedication Wednesday, August 28 at 10 am, and there are free public events throughout Labor Day Weekend. You can see the full list of events here.

Where: Music Center Plaza, 135 N Grand Ave, Los Angeles 90012

Tickets: Free

Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director 

2) USC Architecture Dean’s CreativeTalks: LACMA Director Michael Govan and Dean Milton S. F. Curry

Since his arrival at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2006, Govan has galvanized the century-old institution. In addition to acquiring more than 27,000 works for the permanent collection, he has overseen the transformation of the 20-acre campus with buildings by Renzo Piano and monumental artworks by Chris Burden, Michael Heizer, Robert Irwin, Barbara Kruger. He is now in the midst of his most ambitious project: the demolition of four structures (three designed by William Pereira, and the Art of the Americas buildings by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer) to be replaced by a monolithic concrete and glass structure raised one level above the ground and spanning Wilshire Boulevard. The project, designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and estimated to cost more than $600 million, has garnered support from donors and county leaders but mixed reviews from the architecture community; and consternation from some art enthusiasts who worry that Govan is dismantling the museum's encyclopedic collection. Govan is also leading the expansion of the museum into satellites in less affluent parts of LA. He will talk about all of this and more in a conversation with Milton Curry, dean of USC's architecture school.

When: Wednesday, August 28, 6 pm

Where: USC Harris 101, 850 Bloom Walk, Los Angeles 90089

Tickets: Free. More information here.

Pandora, The World of Avatar, a ride at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando 

3) Bernini in the Theme Park—How Art Informs the Design of Modern Entertainment

Find out how high art inspires populist art when the Getty hosts Joe Rohde, portfolio creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, in conversation with Richard Rand, associate director for collections at the Getty Museum. They will discuss how theme park designers find inspiration in the visual vocabulary of great historical artists, like Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Claude Lorraine, and Casper David Friedrich. 

Rohde has worked on numerous design projects at Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World, where he oversaw the design and construction of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, including its new attraction Pandora -The World of Avatar.

When: Wednesday, August 28 at 7 pm

Where: Getty Center, Harold M. Williams Auditorium

Tickets: Free, but advance ticket is required; get tickets here.

The Vessel, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, is a destination at the Hudson Yards development in New York City.

4) In conversation: Thomas Heatherwick and Dezeen editor Marcus Fairs

Thomas Heatherwick is famed for ingenious designs that are empirical, tactile, humanist and defy trendiness. Projects include the newly opened Vessel, an architectural folly at Hudson Yards (above), London Transport's bendy buses, the Olympic Cauldron at the London Olympics and the UK Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo 2010 (top of page). Heatherwick drops into LA this week for a conversation with Dezeen founder and editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs. The chat will take place in the The Second Home Serpentine Pavilion at La Brea Tar Pits (designed by Selgascano). Expect topics to include the new Google HQ in Silicon Valley as well as "the future of the city, the impact of the virtual realm, and how to create meaningful public spaces that bring people together."

When: Thursday, August 29; 6:30 pm for a 7 pm prompt start.

Where: The Second Home Serpentine Pavilion at La Brea Tar Pits, 5801 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Tickets: Free but you need to RSVP here. Tickets will be released Tuesday morning. Follow @secondhome_la or click here for more info. 

5) Los Angeles Plays Itself

Thom Andersen's sardonic video essay Los Angeles Plays Itself includes hundreds of archival and film clips revealing the City of Angels as told through its representation in films. This Sunday, the rarely screened movie, now remastered and re-edited for its 10th anniversary, gets an outing at Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan has called Los Angeles Plays Itself “the best documentary ever made about Los Angeles.”

When: Sunday, Sept 1, 7:30 - 10:30 pm

Where: Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave, Santa Monica 90403

Tickets: General Admission $12. You can get tickets here.