A couple weeks back, Eli Broad unveiled the design for his new contemporary art Museum, to be built on Grand Avenue opposite MoCA and next door to the Walt Disney…
A couple weeks back, Eli Broad unveiled the design for his new contemporary art Museum, to be built on Grand Avenue opposite MoCA and next door to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. It is designed by admired Manhattan architects Diller, Scofidio and Renfro, who brought us the fantastic High Line in New York and the overhaul of the Lincoln Center, among many other projects. And it is conceived as a light-filled warehouse space for art encased in a diaphanous concrete structure that the designers call the “veil.”
Like many of the high profile buildings of the last decade, it looks like a piece of sculpture in itself and makes a dramatic feature out of its “skin.” It will join the other high art institutions on Grand Avenue and is meant to help round-out the vision, shared by Eli Broad and other downtown power-brokers, of a cultural heart in a pulsating downtown. But looking at the fly-throughs and the photos and the plans, one cannot help but wonder if yet another high profile project on this street of icons will salvage what continues to ail Grand: lack of street life.
I went to Grand on a recent Sunday afternoon and found it almost empty save for people attending matinees. I asked people what they felt was missing and repeatedly I heard, not fine architecture, but the basics of a good street: cafes, small businesses, trees, shade, public seating. On today’s DnA, we talk about the role of the street in making a place come alive. And we hear about other destinations in Los Angeles that somehow capture the public imagination.
Also on the show, rare earths. I know next to nothing about materials science but have been curious at the stories in the press about rare earths, their connection to everything that makes our connected lives function, and how they’ve become a geopolitical issue. I met with materials science researcher, Richard Seymour, in the “Collaboratory for Advanced Computing and Simulation” at USC. Surrounded by large flat screen TVs on which he and fellow researchers simulate materials and structures, we discussed the dirtier side of this story: the mining and environmentally risky procedures that enable the production of the gadgets we take for granted. Note: if you are interested in reducing toxic waste, Rich Seymour says the simplest thing you can do is be sure to recycle lithium batteries.
And last but not least, the show catches up with Tim Durfee, curator of an upcoming show at Art Center called Made Up: Design’s Fictions. The term, Design’s Fictions, was invented by Sci-fi writer Bruce Sterling, and the show looks at architecture, graphics, fashion and more that is influenced by fantasy. It opens to the public January 29, with a talk by Sterling himself.