Recently, long-standing architecture critic for the LA Times Christopher Hawthorne announced that he was stepping down to take up the position of chief design officer for the City of Los Angeles in Mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration. According to Hawthorne, the role will involve raising “the quality of public architecture and urban design across the city — and the level of civic conversation about those subjects.” This dramatic shift from the question: what is the role of the critic and architecture criticism in shaping civic architecture?
La: The Latest Architecture and News
The American Institute of Architects Los Angeles (AIA|LA) just announced the winners of their 2017 Design Awards honoring Los Angeles based architects and architecture. The ceremony took place Monday, October 30th, at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, recognizing each of the winners.
As the race for the 2024 Olympics bid has been narrowed down to just two cities, the LA 2024 committee has revealed the latest plans for its bid. While the central appeal of Los Angeles would be its existing sports and transportation infrastructure (a key concern following the economic struggles of many recent host cities), the city would still see a comprehensive update of venues and several new structures.
The team led by Tom Wiscombe Architecture has been selected as the winner of the Sunset Spectacular Billboard Competition, which tasked firms to design a multi-dimensional, kinetic billboard to “bring creativity and originality back to the Sunset Strip.”
Triumphing over finalist proposals from Gensler, TAIT Towers Inc. and Zaha Hadid Architects, the winning design, titled “West Hollywood Belltower,” draws from West Hollywood’s unique history and relationship with the billboard, and builds on its evolution from 2-dimensional sign to 3-dimensional icon-object.
Now on display as part of CURRENT: LA’s Public Art Biennial is “The Waterfall Pavilion,” designed by Los Angeles architects wHY’s Objects Workshop division in coordination with contemporary artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. The temporary installation is located at the point where water from Lake Balboa flows via a waterfall into the Los Angeles River, and consists of an open pavilion and a water purification wagon, corresponding to this year's festival theme of 'Water.'
The City of Los Angeles has selected landscape architects Mia Lehrer + Associates (MLA) with partners OMA and IDEO to design a new public park at First and Broadway in downtown LA. Located across from Los Angeles City Hall, the new development, to be known as “FAB Park,” will connect into the existing Grand Park, turning the area into one of the city’s most important civic spaces.
The SAH Los Angeles Seminar bridges the Society's efforts in historic conservation to the contemporary built environment and the local public and professional community. The LA Seminar will critically look at SurveyLA, a five-million dollar, city-wide study of historic resources sponsored by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the City of Los Angeles. As described online, “SurveyLA – the Los Angeles Historic Resources Survey – is Los Angeles' first-ever comprehensive program to identify significant historic resources throughout our city. The survey marks a coming-of-age for Los Angeles' historic preservation movement, and will serve as a centerpiece for the City's first truly comprehensive preservation program."
The Los Angeles Conservancy is now accepting applications for their 2016 Preservation Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in the field of historic preservation in Los Angeles County. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, January 29, 2016.
An independent jury of experts in architecture, historic preservation, and community development will select the award recipients. Submissions that illustrate the value and power of preservation are encouraged from across Los Angeles County.
Projects honored in the past have varied widely, from sensitive restoration, rehabilitation, and adaptive reuse projects, to groundbreaking advocacy and education efforts undertaken by individuals or groups.
BLOCK is a video game that "will breach the digital with the physical" and allow anyone to become an active participant in the future of Los Angeles. Described by FAST Co.Exist as "Minecraft for real life" the gameplay, which also bears similarity to The Sims, is founded on understanding the interdependencies of city entities such as housing, shops, parks and infrastructure. The objective of the game is to both educate people and to generate user data for design patterns for the Los Angeles of 2050, producing the first database of a future city. BLOCK allows the player to understand the ecology of the urban realm (focusing on resources such as money, waste, and social capital) ultimately encouraging entrepreneurship "through the design of an ecological urbanism." Fundamentally, it allows for new opportunities to be conceived in the city.
The GSA has announced that Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill have been selected as the architects of the new Los Angeles Federal Courthouse, which will house the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, and the U.S. Marshals Service. The architects beat out 3 other shortlisted teams to win the $318 million project.
According to the GSA, "The new 550,000-square-foot building will be a sustainable, cost-effective, state-of-the-art court facility that includes security upgrades that are not available in the current 312 North Spring Street courthouse."
The site, located at 107 South Broadway (down the street from Morphosis’ Caltrans building, LA’s City Hall, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall) has been dormant since 2007; although a $1.1 billion design by Perkins + Will was selected soon after, it was abandoned when Congress slashed the GSA's construction budget. The GSA considers the approval of the new redevelopment plan a "major milestone."
More info and images, after the break...