FROM Alan Hess
LACMA's bridge to the future A rendering of the new LACMA campus, showing it crossing Wilshire Boulevard Photo courtesy Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner / The Boundary For years now we've been hearing about a proposed building by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor to take the place of four existing ones at LACMA. Well, this project, estimated to cost upwards of $600 million, is creeping towards reality. Right now the scheme is in the midst of an environmental impact report and public comments for the draft EIR are invited through Friday. The final EIR is due to be completed by middle of next year. Then the County and City will sign off on the project, and in 2019 demolition of the Bing Theater, the Ahmanson, Hammer and the Art of the Americas buildings is expected to begin. The point of the draft EIR however is not to address the design of the new building, which consists of an S-shaped main gallery level lifted over parkland on seven thick legs, or cores, containing naturally-lit galleries. Critics of the scheme have a number of concerns about the design, among them the anti-urban nature of the building, the sheer expanse of building that will loom over visitors' heads, and whether the design fits Los Angeles. DnA went to a draft EIR meeting and met with LACMA director Michael Govan, architecture historian Alan Hess as well as EIR consultants and a local resident named John Freedland. While Freedland expresses his enthusiasm for the project, welcoming "the cafe space, more green space, the nice serpentine flow of the building, the glass outdoor/indoor aspect of the display," Hess was less convinced. "I'm always looking for a building which is really really rooted in the character, the climate, the people of the place," he tells DnA, adding that he's not sure the Zumthor design achieves that. But the most dramatic and controversial aspect of the design is that the sandy-colored concrete and glass structure will extend across Wilshire Boulevard to a site at Spaulding on Wilshire's south side. This will house a theater, and the bridge will itself serve as a gallery space for viewing art and passing traffic underneath. This move was introduced when it became evident that the original black amoeba-like scheme of Peter Zumthor's could not fit on the north side of Wilshire, because of Govan's insistence the museum be one story tall. So will the resulting bridge feel like a freeway overpass? "All I can think of," says Hess, "is the experience of driving up to it, having this big ribbon blocking your view of the sunset as you're driving west." Au contraire, says Govan, telling DnA that it will instead be a sculptural work of art that pulls the boulevard "into the vision of the museum" in a way that makes it "literally part of architecture and part of the environment." Another concern is the expanse of unadorned concrete, both inside and out, in the 30 feet high, bare chapel-like display spaces in the cores, on the undersides of the raised gallery spaces, and on the walls of the supporting structures. Govan says that what you find in Zumthor buildings is "the weightiness of the real materials punctuated by the ephemerality of light and shadow, which he so beautifully choreographed. So he's got the heavy materials but they're always being modulated by light and shadow." These heavy materials won't be grim, he said, "because it's going to be actually beautifully textured. And then the light changes so much that actually you will think there are different colors."
Saving Pereira's buildings Los Angeles architect William Pereira designed the former Metropolitan Water District headquarters in Echo Park, opened in 1963, as well as three buildings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, opened in 1965. Both are threatened with demolition. We talk to those who want them removed as well as those who want them preserved.
Fifty Years of LACMA When Michael Govan took over LA County's Museum of Art in 2006, it was a bastion of old money. This past Saturday night, the 50th birthday gala demonstrated how much he has made it the darling of the entertainment industry. Nobody disputes LACMA's renaissance over the past 10 years. Mayor Garcetti calls it proof that this is "LA's second golden age." But Peter Zumthor's building does have some people grumbling. To make way for the Zumthor Building , three buildings designed by William Pereira are scheduled to come down. See more models and details of Zumthor's proposed new building for LACMA
Silvertop For Sale Silvertop, an iconic hillside residence that embodies the quintessential L.A. showpiece home, is on the market for the first time since 1974. We take a look at the history of the home, and the legacy of the architect behind it, John Lautner. Lautner created dramatic, space-agey homes all over Southern California from the late ‘40s through the ‘80s and was a leader during the region’s golden age of modernist design. Image: John Lautners Silvertop Residence in Silver Lake, Los Angeles
Alan Hess Alan Hess, a historian and writer of many books on California architecture, believes that at minimum we should study Pereira’s legacy carefully, before willfully demolishing his buildings at LACMA. He tells DnA why he found the LACMA show frustrating and why we should consider the past as we imagine the future on the Miracle Mile.
In Memoriam: John Chase Last Friday, the local design community was shocked to hear of the passing of John Chase. As West Hollywood's urban designer for 14 years, Chase made a profound impact on the city and its residents. Ann McIntosh, director of community development for the City of West Hollywood points out some places in the city where you can find his mark (we've compiled a list with addresses and a map) . One of them is Formosa 1140, an apartment building designed by Lorcan O'Herlihy, which carved out part of its property into a public pocket park. Richard Loring, the developer responsible for the project, speaks about Chase's influence in making the park a reality. In addition to his work in West Hollywood, Chase was also an accomplished critic and writer on the urban experience. Margaret Crawford, co-authored Everyday Urbanism with Chase and John Kaliski, and architectural historian Alan Hess explain his legacy. The Chase family will hold a public memorial on Tuesday, August 24 from 4pm to 7pm at Fiesta Hall in Plummer Park, 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood. Chase's impact was widespread and the internet is awash in tributes. Curbed LA posted a note which has garnered many lovely comments and remembrances, as well as a eulogy by former Curbed editors Marissa Gluck and Josh Williams. Friend and ollaborator John Kaliski writes about Chase as " A Substantive Design Man ." Writers who Chase mentored remembered his enthusiastic guidance: Mimi Zeiger focused on all that glitters ; Alissa Walker crowned him king of public space . The LA Forum posted a tribute which includes a link to Reyner Banham's review of Chase's Exterior Decoration : Hollywood’s Inside Out Houses . Tibby Rothman says LA will not be the same . The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports on John's impact on the city where he lived and attended school. Christopher Hawthorne writes the obituary for the Los Angeles Times . There are additional stories at LA Observed and the LA Weekly . Chase's Facebook page has also become a memorial filled with tributes. We invite you to add your memories and stories of John Chase in the comments below. Sierra Bonita Apartments for people with low-incomes and special needs, designed by Patrick Tighe 1200 N. Sweetzer Condos designed by Aleks Istanbullu for Urban Moment, Inc.
Felix the Cat Becomes Permanent Fixture in L.A.’s Cityscape Rome has the Coliseum, Paris the Eiffel Tower and Washington the memorials to various presidents. Last week, LA history buffs were delighted when the Cultural Heritage Commission designated Felix Chevrolet a cultural monument—because of the rooftop sign featuring the comic character Felix the Cat.
In 'Speechless,' Scott Silveri combines comedy, family & disability Scott Silveri has written and produced sitcoms for more than 20 years. In all that time, he never encountered a TV family that looked anything like the one he grew up in -- with a mom, a dad...and a brother with cerebral palsy. He changed that with his show Speechless on ABC. Silveri tells us about looking to his own past for stories, and why he was determined to make a family comedy and not just a "disability show."
George Saunders: Lincoln in the Bardo (Part I) Lincoln in the Bardo dramatizes a grieving President Lincoln as he visits the grave of his beloved son Willie, who died at age eleven. In the novel, the buried dead believe they're not dead -- "they're sick and refer to their coffins as "sick boxes."
Why is Trump so behind on filling staff jobs, establishing concrete policies? Yesterday Donald Trump signed a “decision memo” to revamp the air traffic control system. But there was little legislative detail in the plan. There’s not much to other splashy announcements from the White House, including tax cuts and the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. And hundreds of positions are unfilled in federal agencies.
Farewell LA freeways, Peter Shire is back Angelenos don't want more freeways but we seem not to want mass transit either. Metro has killed the 710 freeway extension, and bus and train ridership is down across the region. What's the future of getting around in LA? And, Peter Shire is having a comeback. What attracts a new generation to his playful ceramics and furniture?