FROM Craig Hodgetts
Remembering John Portman, architect of Bonaventure Hotel John Portman, the architect and developer of gleaming hotels and office buildings that defined the future back in the 1960s and 70s, died this past Friday at age 93. Angelenos will best know him as the architect of the iconic Westin Bonaventure Hotel, completed in 1976. The hotel was part of the wholesale redevelopment of Bunker Hill, and its design -- four cylinders of shiny brown glass and flying see-through elevators -- was in the spirit of the car-based planning of the area with elevated pedways and entrances via underground parking structures. Initially heralded for helping revitalize downtowns, Portman’s buildings came to be criticized by a new generation of planners for their lack of connection to the streets around them. But the futurism of the Bonaventure Hotel made it a constant source of inspiration for movie-makers. DnA talks to the LA Conservancy’s Cindy Olnick, who grew up in Georgia and recalls the thrill of his Peachtree Center district. Ken Bernstein, manager of the City of LA’s Office of Historic Resources and Principal City Planner, reflects on the Bonaventure’s impact on his appreciation of Los Angeles architecture. Craig Hodgetts, architect and keen student of futurism, talks about how Portman channeled the popular science and culture of the time -- and why he had to become a developer to create his visionary buildings.
Syd Mead and Craig Hodgetts A concept drawing by Syd Mead of a futuristic street scene for "Blade Runner" (1982) Syd Mead envisioned the Spinner flying police cars in Blade Runner, the Light Cycles in Tron and the U.S.S. Sulaco in Aliens. His fingerprints are also on the built universes these vehicles inhabit. Now he and architect Craig Hodgetts have published a new book The Movie Art of Syd Mead: Visual Futurist and together they talk to DnA about Mead's talent for creating a "plausible reality" in movie worlds, as well as what's around the corner in lived reality: avatars taking our meetings for us; cities reshaped by self-driving cars and super-powerful graphene to hold up buildings. Hodgetts, who will chat with the 84-year-old Mead at SCI-Arc Tuesday night, tells DnA that Mead has a unique ability to "look into the crystal ball and not create a fantasy image, but create a future image and a future reality, which is very firmly based on our physical laws and on the environment that we exist in now." He does this through "just hypnotic and extremely visceral images" made "with the simplest of tools: a colored pencil and a piece of paper."
Utopia and Arcosanti It's been 500 years since Thomas More published his great work of social and urban philosophy, Utopia. More's vision inspired the ideal cities of the Renaissance, the garden city movement, Le Corbusier's modernist City of Tomorrow, as well as the Israeli kibbutzim and the hippie communes of the 1970s. It's also inspired the theme for this year's London Design Biennale. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley firms are thinking about future "smart cities." DnA learns about Utopian planning, future -- and past, with a visit to Arcosanti , an experimental community built in 1970 on a mesa in Yavapai County in central Arizona.
Zaha Hadid Zaha Hadid was just five years out of architecture school in London when she stunned her peers with her 1982 winning design for The Peak, a leisure club on Victoria Peak overlooking the Hong Kong Harbor. With this project, described by Joseph Giovannini as "an explosion or a geode or some kind of rock crystal that had been expelled from a mountainside", she "invented a new form of beauty," and she went on to become one of the most sought-after architects in the world, and a role model to many, especially women. Giovannini and others discuss her legacy.
Culver City Braces for Closure of Community Ice Arena The beloved Culver Ice Arena is closing because it can’t afford a new market rent. Today’s show explores the fight to save the rink, and what its demise says about the changing character of Los Angeles as buildings, and land values, rise and rise. With Culver City councilmembers Micheál O’Leary and Andrew Weissman, Calarts Norman Klein, Shannon Takahashi of Culver Ice Arena, and supporters of the rink. Renee DeAngelis, owner of Planet Granite, responds. Also, the movie Her depicts an LA of towers and public transit. But is that the LA we want? With Chris Nichols, Norman Klein, Craig Hodgetts, Evan Kleiman and Sam Lubell.
Hyperloop Craig Hodgetts is a professor of architecture and urban design at UCLA and starting next August he will co-lead a “Suprastudio” of graduate students to help develop the Hyperloop. On board with him are Marco Villa, the former director of mission operations for SpaceX, and Patricia Galloway, the first woman president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The studio is part of a coalition that includes the newly formed Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc. and JumpStartFund, a crowdfunding site. The group reportedly has Elon Musk’s “blessing” if not -- yet -- his money.
A Last Stand for Grand Avenue? The Grand Avenue Project on LA’s Bunker Hill was first envisioned back in the 1960’s as a cluster of world-class cultural institutions along a broad, pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare. Ten years ago, architect Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall gave new life to the idea. Later, he designed a larger plan for the street that never happened. It was replaced by a downsized plan that recently was rejected by the Grand Avenue Authority, chaired by LA Supervisor Gloria Molina. The developer, Related, now has until early next year to come up with a scheme she likes better.
“Sculptural” Architecture at MOCA and LACMA In the last couple of weeks, two of the large-scale Pacific Standard Time Presents exhibits have opened; one at LACMA, showcasing Peter Zumthor’s design to replace four buildings on the museum site; the other is at MOCA. MOCA’s is an exhibit that stalled along the way, largely to do with the framing of the show, as “A New Sculpturalism.” About a month ago, architect Thom Mayne helped assemble a team to realize the installation. They maintained more or less the same designers, but changed the layout. So how does the show look and feel now? And more importantly what does the “sculptural” building actually proposed for LACMA mean for Los Angeles? We heard from architecture writer Sam Lubell, installation manager Anne Marie Burke, architect Peter Zumthor and LACMA director Michael Govan and architect Craig Hodgetts.
Can California Afford to Build High-Speed Rail? California’s High Speed Rail project and the California High Speed Rail Peer Review Group were created by state voters in Proposition 1A. The Review Group is a high-powered panel that provides the legislature with progress reports on the multi-billion dollar system to link the state’s major cities. But its latest report is a dire warning: the project represents “an immense financial risk to California” because there are no “credible sources of adequate funding.” The Rail Authority says the report is flawed—and that just releasing it will “create a cloud” threatening the very support the Review Group finds lacking.
A Pacific Standard Time Preview The big self-love fest that is Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945-1980 is about to launch with many exhibits across Southern California. Part of the story of that creative period in postwar Los Angeles is the innovation in design, craft and architecture. Gloria Gerace, managing director of Pacific Standard Time tells how design was linked to the art experimentation of those "happening" years. One of the biggest design exhibitions opens soon at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and curators Wendy Kaplan and Bobbye Tigerman give a preview of Living In a Modern Way: California Design 1930—1965 . Then, architects Craig Hodgetts and Ming Fung walk through their exhibition design that includes the Case Study House program, open plan and indoor-outdoor living, Julius Shulman photographs, and the explosion of consumption that followed the deprivations of the Great Depression and World World II. The cover of the magazine Arts & Architecture, which published the Case Study Houses Top image: Swimsuits designed by the company Catalina, which were made in L.A.
de070918The_Incredible_Being Petals Ceiling Treatment Firm: Studio Lilica Designer: Carl Royce Skateboard Design by Geoff McFetridge TOPO Table Firm: NON Designs, LLC Designer: Scott Franklin Additional: MIAO MIAO TOPO Table Firm: NON Designs, LLC Designer: Scott Franklin Additional: MIAO MIAO Mike Andrews "hand on string" Firm: Champion Graphics Designer: Geoff McFetridge Client: Mike Andrews
Securing Public Spaces, Super Wealthy Asians Vehicles are increasingly being used as weapons, as seen in the London Bridge attack over the weekend and in New York’s Times Square last month. The Compton-based company Calpipe is designing security bollards to help make public spaces safer. And novelist Kevin Kwan satirizes the “crazy rich” Asian jet set and their luxurious tastes in his latest book, “Rich People Problems.”
Morgan Parker: There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé Morgan Parker says that the poems in her book There Are Things More Beautiful than Beyoncé take a stand against the clichés of the dominant culture.
Lucia Micarelli: An Evening with Lucia Micarelli Violinist and actress Lucia Micarelli visits The Treatment to discuss her emotive performances as she prepares for PBS' An Evening with Lucia Micarelli.
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?