Wednesday, November 30, 2005

welcome starchitect stalkers!

some of the people you've been googling that brought you here:
  • lorcan o'herlihy
  • cedd moses
  • brad pitt
  • gunther domenig
  • michael lafetra
  • anna wintour
  • barclay butera
  • john lautner
  • evan cole rachel ashwell (they're so in love they've already become a single search)
  • william hablinski
  • danny teeson
  • rick schroder (the searcher is both able to spell his name correctly and respectful of his desire to be known as "rick," dispensing with the puerile "ricky." but he will ALWAYS be ricky to me).
  • helena arahuete
the question now is how many of these are actually lorcan o'herlihy self-googling? lorcan, just bookmark this page, I promise to write more about you.

expendable architecture and ed ruscha

One of 142 gelatin silver prints in Ed Ruscha’s "Now & Then," at Gagosian Gallery

artnet covers the ed ruscha exhibit currently at the gagosian - Then and Now:

is an extended meditation on [the subject of LA's "expendable" architecture]. Inside the lush Richard Meier-designed space is a long white vitrine containing Ruscha’s photographs of every building along the main stretch of Hollywood Boulevard as he photographed them in black and white in 1973 and as he re-photographed them in color in 2004. The work references his ground-breaking 1966 artist’s book, Every Building on the Sunset Strip and Steidl Verlag has published these 142 Hollywood Boulevard photographs as Then and Now, the artist’s first book project in many years.
also covered is julius shulman's retrospective at the getty and tim street-porter's photographs of los angeles.

its an honor just to be nominated

after reading about a daily dose of architecture's three URB nominations, urban blogging awards run by gridskipper, I clicked on the link to vote for one of my favorite blogs. imagine my surprise to find this little blog has also been nominated for World’s Best Urban Architecture Blog. you like me, you really like me! actually, I have no idea what I'm doing there, since I pretty much I have no idea what I'm doing here. even I wouldn't vote for me. so rather than sending you off to gridskipper for what is inevitably another popularity contest, go there and vote instead for someone who knows whereof they write, like archinect or a daily dose.

fire up the tivo

thom mayne is on charlie rose tonight. he's sure to make the other guests, Thomas Frank and David Sanger, both white house correspondents, look like pussies.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

great gift ideas

I've been leafing thru this month's assorted collection of shelter and fashion mags, each with their own "holiday gift guide" but none of them come close to the job the excellent blog, design*sponge, is doing. and to be honest, I'm not even buying that many gifts this year. my family dispensed with the chrismukkah craziness long ago so we just take a name out of a hat. one name, one gift. so really I'm just shopping for me. regardless, the girl has some great design sense and each week will be arranged by price. this week is gifts for under $50. enjoy.

Monday, November 28, 2005

smart, smart, smart

welcome to the wiki-based archi-tourist. [via a daily dose of architecture]

some upcoming holiday events

a couple of architecture-related holiday events next weekend:

M&A Holiday Party

The overwhelming success of Maximillian's Schell, the Ball-Nogues installation at M&A, has prompted M&A to extend the show through the end of the year.

Come celebrate with us and enjoy warm cider or a cold holiday beer made just for this event by Ruthless Brewing (Jonny Lieberman and Nick Salerno).

James Lumb (Electric Skychurch) will be creating live sub-sonic music on the "Public Vibrator," the integrated sound installation that rumbles beneath the ground directly under Maximillian's Schell.

1619 Silver Lake Blvd. @ Effie
Los Angeles,CA 90026

LA Forum Event: Forum Holiday Party
Sunday, December 4, 2005, 5pm on
The Mountain Bar, Chinatown

Please join the Forum together with co-editors Cynthia Davidson and
Denise Bratton in celebrating the holiday season and the Los Angeles
launch of Log 6 at the Mountain Bar in Chinatown, Sunday evening,
December 4, 2005, from 5 on.

Festivities will include free Dim Sum + (not free, but inexpensive
and great) no host bar. Cynthia Davidson will talk briefly about the
birth of Log in the aftermath of Any magazine and the Any
conferences. We will be joined by a number of Log collaborators from
Los Angeles and San Diego, including Forum President Kazys Varnelis,
Teddy Cruz, Tom Gilmore, Craig Hodgetts, Wes Jones, Bruna Mori,
Florencia Pita, and newly appointed director of the Canadian Centre
for Architecture Mirko Zardini.

Come celebrate the holidays, another great year of the LA Forum, and
the launch of Log 6.

monday media

easing back into blogging after the long thanksgiving weekend. lots of turkey, a little shopping, plenty of napping throughout the weekend. so now back to blogging:

  • CA is bigger, older and more diverse than other states. or at least it will be in the next 15 years. according to this huge pdf file, the three most significant demographic changes CA will experience:
  • Between 2000 and 2020, the state is projected to add approximately 10 million people, roughly equivalent to the population of the state of Michigan.
  • By 2020, whites’ share of the state’s population is expected to shrink to 33.7 percent, while Latinos’ share is projected to rise to 43.0 percent and Asians’ share is expected to increase to 12.7 percent.
  • The number of Californians age 65 and above is expected to increase by 71.3 percent between 2000 and 2020.
  • One of the things I miss most about new york is the convenience, authenticy and variety of chinese food. I grew up in flushing, queens - now a predominantly asian community so we didn't just discuss going out for chinese, the discussion included a debate on sichuan vs. cantonese vs. shanghai. travel + leisure covers the SGV, LA's answer to flushing. less convenient, but pretty much the only spot to score xia long bao, possibly the world's greatest dumpling ever. ever.
  • a unique solution to preservation: sell an architecturally and historically significant home for $1, spend $1 million to saw it into 24 pieces and move it to pasadena, another $2 million on renovations. paul williams is a fascinating architect to me - in a way he represents LA in a way no other architect can. LA exercises a certain kind of historical amnesia, forgetting or ignoring racial biases, its spatial polarization and restrictive housing covenants designed to separate whites from minorities. williams built homes he wasn't allowed to live in. but its also easy to assign a certain mythology to him that intersects with LA's self-perception as a city for re-invention, of limitless possibility and opportunity. I'm just waiting for jamie foxx to play him in the inevitable biopic.

Monday, November 21, 2005

is habitat 825 harming the schindler house?

I feel bad for poor lorcan o'herlihy. no sooner did he get a kickass commission in the heart of west hollywood than he faced opposition from the mak center, who mounted a competition for architects to submit proposals for the building to be erected next door. all moot, of course, since the mak center has no jurisdiction over the adjacent lot. so a talented architect, heavily influenced by the ideas of schindler (and neutra and their contemporaries) was attacked by those appointed to protect schindler's legacy. cruel, cruel irony.

so I don't want to besmirch his work - and in fact, his design is extremely sensitive to the schindler house. the north side of the development should even be outside of the sightline of the bamboo on schindler's south side.

but this is the internet, and I would be remiss as a blogger if I didn't add more rumor and conjecture to the (non)controversy. I've been a docent at the schindler house for about a year and a half now, and have watched as the grounds have been repeatedly restored after an event or de-installation, as the roofers were called in last winter to repair leaks, as the rain saturated the concrete floor and water started to rise..from below. (the strange after-effect has been the "ghosts" of linoleum where you can clearly see the tiles pauline schindler had installed to piss off her ex-husband).

the point is, I'm fairly sensitive to minor changes in the house. and its a little disturbing to see a crack in the foundation - one that has always been somewhat substantial, I'll admit - near the schindler's side entryway, grow significantly more pronounced since construction began next door. and I'm not the only one who has noticed - john pointed it out to me as well. he mentioned it to bob sweeney, who runs FOSH, who has also noticed it. apparently, the construction next door may be impacting the foundation of the schindler house. we're not at a critical point yet, but let's hope the impact from lorcan's apt building is as minimal as possible to a house that's already fragile and requires expensive upkeep to maintain (ah, the ironies of modernism!).

monday media: the nytimes edition

the gray lady has been busy covering our little 'burb. always on the bleeding edge, the paper has discovered...abbot kinney and whole foods:

  • janelle brown takes a stroll down abbot kinney and discovers a coffee shop, bookstore and a japanese sneaker shop. the article actually gives short shrift to the street, missing beechwood at the south end and joe's, primitivo and lilly's at the north. no mention of any of the bars and she may have strolled past jin patisserie and could have missed it entirely.
  • hippies love hemp! the times takes a look at whole food's new "lifestyle" store in weho with $164 organic cotton jeans and $34 Ecobaby onesies. ok, I'll admit it - I'm a sucker for bobo consumerism and totally want to go today.
  • and ouroussoff reviews the (about to be) newly reopened getty villa in malibu. he likes it, he really likes it! (despite the constant barrage of academic architectural references). and he manages to get in a few digs at renzo piano and bolster rem koolhaas, so I am immediately suspect. I am also completely perplexed by a couple of statements:
When it comes to Los Angeles, I count myself among the believers. The city's mix of high and low cultures, its relative youth and indifference to history, and its vast expanses of affordable land made it the greatest laboratory of 20th-century architecture in America.

In recent years, its unique landscape has inspired architects like Frank Gehry and Thom Mayne as well as a rising generation that includes Michael Maltzan, Neil Denari and the team of Kevin Daly and Chris Genik. In Los Angeles, they found a fertile creative terrain fostered by anonymity, shifting definitions of suburbia, cheap rents and hedonistic pleasures.

high and low culture? check. relative youth? check? indifference to history? check. affordable land? he must be on crack. granted, he refers to that as a 20th century phenomenon, so I"ll let it slide.

but then he drops this bomb:

But those architects have never been embraced by traditionalists. And increasingly they have had to contend with the mentality of arrivistes who are more concerned with the appearance of good taste than with new or challenging ideas.
gehry and mayne not embraced by traditionalists? both have won the pritzker. and both have won commissions from those wacky, transgressive, non-traditionalists like disney, caltrans, the state of california office for public school construction. ouroussoff seems to have a hard on for gehry regardless, offering glowing praise for gehry's much maligned plan for the brooklyn rail yards. what all that has to do with the newly restored getty villa, I'm not sure. he devotes almost 1500 words to the villa without a single mention of richard meier, yet meanders off to discuss koolhaas and piano. bizarre.

Friday, November 18, 2005

new preservation fight

after the losing battle to save the ambassador hotel, the latimes turns its attention to a new preservation controversy brewing. the ambassador hotel, where bobby kennedy was killed, was a difficult fight - pitting preservationists against LAUSD. the hotel wasnt supposed to be razed for greedy developers to build a megamall of more gaps and starbucks, or luxury condos for the millionaires priced out of beverly hills. so this new preservation battle, over simple one-story ranch homes in west LA, is smaller in scale but underscores more clearly where preservation efforts are headed. and the bad guy isn't well-meaning school administrators in need of more space to relieve overcrowding - this time it is developers, salivating over the possibility of developing denser housing on the site to exploit rising home values in the neighborhood. unfortunately, getting these homes declared a historic-cultural monument hasn't been a breeze:

The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission recently voted 3 to 2 against declaring the Westdale Village apartment complex a historic-cultural monument.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents Mar Vista, is attempting to push the monument designation through the City Council. The council is expected to decide the matter next week after hearing a committee's recommendation.

question of the day

my dilemma: what city to spend new year's in? yeah I know its pretty much amateur night and I would prefer to stay home with season 2 of arrested development and some takeout. but like a lemming, I usually brave the bitter cold and gypsy cab robbery in ny to go out and actually see people. now I'm left wondering - should I spend the evening in ny or LA? thoughts? suggestions?

breaking a promise

I never wanted this blog to be about me specifically. I wanted to avoid the narcissistic self-indulgence of other blogs. oh well. here I am with jean-claude van damme and rob reiner at arianna huffingtons.
ok, so its actually neil budde from yahoo and some other guy, not the muscles from brussels. but that makes a better story. found the pic somewhere on flickr.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

now I don't need to namedrop

LAist does it for me, covering the yahoo/gawker/huffpo paty last night at the huff's home. I can't really add anything here other than arianna is an amazon. she towers over bill maher, ron silver and me.

forbes weighs in on architecture

not content just to report on the ups and downs of the stock market, or the fortunes of america's CEOs, forbes decides to name the top 10 "tastemakers" in architecture - according to them " who are most influencing the American landscape." LA, not surprisingly, is heavily represented, with gehry, greg lynn (who bears a striking resemblence to gene shalit), mayne, and meier (who they list as new-york based but I'm going to count him as an angeleno).

the one woman on the list is zaha hadid (who seems to be the default female on any list of "great" architects - she provides the double bonus of being not only a woman but also a minority).

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

porn and corn

what's a public art project without accusations of pornography? the cornfields inspire yet another "but is it art?" controversy - with one artist/pornographer claiming he was kicked out of the cornfields - he claims art, the lapd claims porn. hard to tell from the article who's got the more legitimate claim. he may just be a guy in the wrong place at the wrong time: "Landy said he had been falsely blamed after Not a Cornfield employees found a section of cornstalks flattened and condoms scattered around the ground." after one of the lectures a few weeks ago, one of the organizers mentioned there had been a "wiccan orgy" of about a dozen women that week. there's just something about tall stalks of corn that seems to inspire some midnight lovin'. oh - again - the most unintentionally hilarious detail in the story:

Landy disputed that suggestion when he returned to the field Thursday with a friend, Hollywood musician Danny Shorago, to do more filming. Shorago was clad in what he called "mutant lounge-wear" — a red-spattered tuxedo outfitted with a fake pig's snout.
sounds like just another saturday night on hollywood blvd.

[via blogdowntown]

long overdue lorcan update

its been months since I actually uploaded some photos of habitat 825's construction site. but this morning, I was at the schindler house to give a tour to a student group, so I snapped a few photos of the site. and its progressed significantly. the construction is now up to street level - I missed a few weeks of construction and its hard to tell from the photo, but it looks like there is a sub-ground level - not sure what's down there since I'm not used to buildings in LA that have a basement. and as a sidenote, the gehry-designed ticketmaster building on sunset (the afterthought to new york's headquarter) looks almost ready to open, except the lobby of the east side is still unfinished and looks a little like a rubble-strewn house in kashmir. unless that's what gehry intended - sometimes its hard to tell.

Monday, November 14, 2005

postscript: paris blame game


after kotkin's ridiculous opinion piece on the paris riots, plastic takes another angle: architecture is to blame. specifically, le corbusier.

monday media

not a lot of time to catch up on everything that took place while I was gone. while I managed to jump "off the grid" - no email, no cell phone, I did tune into CNN daily. but alas, CNN world doesnt cover much of what's going on in LA (thankfully), but did offer much greater coverage of the earthquake in pakistan and africa's first female president in liberia than I've seen in the states. so there's just no way to catch up with LA news. but here are a few articles for today:

  • half a million bucks just doesn't buy what it used to. The latimes looks at what the median price of a home in LA adds up to - not much apparently.
  • fast company looks at the top cities for creative workers, ignoring places like ny and LA in favor of up-and-comers. the results are interesting - all but one are west of the mississippi. CA gets two - san diego and sacramento.
  • joel kotkin is at it again - this time he's written a piece in the wsj entitled "why immigrants don't riot here" - the title itself hints at the self-congratulatory condescension to follow, the implied moral superiority to everyone's favorite country they love to hate (freedom fries, anyone?), the historical amnesia. he makes no mention of home-grown riots in america, the social and racial upheaval that accompany them and the disenfranchisement felt by so many in the underclass. his answer to france's problem? the favored solution by most of the right - just deregulate and everyone will propser and love each other. I dont' know whether to laugh or cry.

I heart LA

back after a much needed and well deserved vacation in costa rica. it was beautiful, relaxing, blah blah blah. ok, so back to LA. after a somewhat rocky re-entry into "real life" on sat, C and I decided to play tourists in this town on sun, hitting a few spots he had never been to, even tho he's lived here longer than me. on yesterday's itinerary:
  • griffith park - I lapped C on a short hike.
  • lake hollywood - unfortunately, still closed after last winter's rain.
  • hollywood forever cemetary to see joey ramone's grave - his tombstone is a lifesized statue of himself holding a guitar and epitaphs from annoying hipsters like vincent gallo. he deserves better for my boy from queens.
  • la brea tar pits and lacma's sculpture garden. - we skipped the museum and just enjoyed the late afternoon sun
  • skooby's - why do people wait in line for hours for pinks? better hot dogs, great fries, homemade lemonade. pinks must have a better publicist.
yes, its a lot for one afternoon. and then we topped it with an advance screening of memoirs of a geisha at the DGA with a q&a between sydney pollack and rob marshall. how's that for a name-dropping hollywood evening? (it helps to have a cousin who's a member).

so I rapidly made up for lost time in one afternoon. the movie? sort of like a geisha itself - beautiful to look at but in the end, kind of pointless. but I should mention we also caught kiss kiss bang bang and besides reigniting my back to school/weird science/less than zero era crush on robert downey jr., its also a love letter to downtown los angeles. the standard is practically the third lead, and much more svelte than val kilmer these days.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

leaving on a jet plane

blogging will be temporarily suspended as I spend the next week in the jungles of south america. or more accurately, in a luxury resort that is jungle-adjacent (my momma didn't raise no fools).

here's some interesting stuff going on in the next week I will not be attending [most via cheapskatin' LA bc I'm lazy and need to pack]:

  • joan didion reading at the hammer. try to avoid inane questions like "how did it feel to lose your husband and daughter the same year?"
  • world kickball association regional tournament - the humiliation doesn't have to end after jr. high graduation.
  • cumming: the conversation. everyone's favorite celebrity with an eponymously named perfume is also at the hammer next week (no, not britney), this time with theaterical director robert wilson.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

not a cornfield's not a conversation

one of the great things about graduate school is that you're not longer taught by overworked, underpaid TAs. you get to sit in a classroom with the big guns. in my grad school program, there were really only 2 or 3 professors that inspired fits of hero-worship from me. who are deserving of the moniker "genius" and who help change the way you understand the world. when I was in london, saskia sassen was that professor. in LA, it was manuel castells, who earned near-mythic status in london as required reading for every. single. class. so when I got to LA, of course I took his class. and in fact, my thesis was born in that class and encouraged by him. sure, he occasionally had to reschedule classes because he had to be at a meeting with Ricardo (Lagos Escobar) or Jacques (Chirac) but these intermittent interruptions were worth it.

so I find it a little surprising (but just a little) that he's arranged to speak at the not a cornfields project. it makes sense - castells is all about urban development and reclamation. but I hope he offers a strong critical analysis of the project, there's been a ton of hype, very little criticism overall.

unfortunately, I'll just be getting back to the states that day so its unlikely I'll be able to make it. but I wish I could - listening to manuel talk is always a pleasure. details below:

'If you want a better urban life, you invent it, then fight for it'

Manuel Castells in conversation with Not A Cornfield artist Lauren Bon

Friday November 11, 2005 / 7:30pm - 10:30pm
At the Not A Cornfield project site, 1201 North Spring St.

'If you want a better urban life, you invent it, then fight for it'
Internationally renowned sociologist Manuel Castells' theory of the
Network Society describes the spatial form of our time as the
'metropolitan region' - a constellation of multiple nuclear centers,
settlements, populations, and activities that are held together as a
unit by transportation and communication networks.

Stretching from Ventura to Tijuana, Los Angeles is the 'ultimate
region'. A huge urbanized sprawl with many centers in which already
extreme social, ethic and economic segregation is increasing and the
real estate engine drives the city ever deeper into the desert,
causing widespread environmental degradation as it goes.

In this contemporary context the need to develop new forms of livable
high density becomes urgent. In particular, if cities are to be saved
on behalf of citizens, then innovation will come from urban planners,
architects, professionals and concerned citizens forming alliances
that take a holistic approach to creating multiple meaningful social
spaces all around the metro landscape.

In conversation with artist Lauren Bon - whose Not A Cornfield project
reclaims a brownfield site for public use and restores meaning to the
historic birthplace of LA - Professor Castells will discuss his
groundbreaking analyses and thoughts regarding the state and direction
of human experience in the Network Society.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

ny vs. la: art scandals

LA doesn't need to keep suffering from its second-city syndrome anymore, at least not in terms of the art scandal. NY is giving us a run for the money, but in mind there's no comparison. let's look at the two major art scandals in ny and LA right now.

the museums and endowments
new york: guggenheim, endowment was approximately $45.4 million as of Dec. 31, 2004
los angeles: getty, about $5.5 billion
winner: not even close. getty wins by a cool $5 billion or so.

the allegations
new york: thomas krens, the director of the guggenheim, dipped into the museum's endowment to pay for operating expenses. he pissed off art critics with exhibitions about motorcycles. and de riguer for any museum scandal, some questionable accounting practices.
los angeles: this is where we really pull ahead of new york. sure, we have questionable financial practices, allegations of improper loans for a vacation home in greece, extravagant spending by board president barry munitz, and even a california attorney general investigation. and is right - the latimes is doing a bang up job of covering the mess, as is MAN. but all that stuff is about as exciting as deciphering this chart. no, where the getty wins is in international intrigue. much sexier than financial malfeasance, since it involves italians, are allegations the getty was knowingly trafficking in stolen antiquities. the goods were illegally dug up, smuggled out of the country and sold by shady dealers. marion true, the director of antiquities, faces trial in italy next month. if krens intends to beat that, he may want to read up on this profile of marion true, in order to provide a more perplexing public image.
winner: greek vacation homes, italian court case, stolen Etruscan bronze candelabras. hello, this case was practically made for the movies! if only there was an art world version of "behind the music." getty wins again.

fallout: resignations
new york: krens resigned as director of the museum, but continues to serve as director of the guggenheim foundation.
los angeles: let's count. 1. director deborah gribbon last year. 2. deborah gribbon's interim replacement, william griswold. 3. getty's public relations officer. 4. barry munitz's chief of staff. 5. and finally, antiquities curator marion true.
winner: the guggenheim's resignation doesn't even count. he's only half-resigned. the getty's utter chaos and multiple resignations gives it the edge here.

fallout: legal ramifications
new york: huh?
los angeles: attorney general investigation and italian trial. for the art world's relatively insular community, this is their enron. its still an unfolding drama.
winner: getty takes it again.

so there you have it. new york has a long way to go before it matches LA for excessive art world greed, profligate spending, and suspicious financial transactions. a couple of donated motorcycles don't measure up to rare european antiquities, island vacation homes and a director jetting around cuba to arrange chess matches. even our scandals have a made-for-hollywood quality to them.

curbed launches in LA

after a few months of rumors and conjecture, curbed LA launched today. let's hope its coverage of LA is as good as its NY blog. welcome to the left coast.