WSJ. Magazine recently visited the studio of Frank Gehry to explore his life, work and his plans for the future. As one of the world's most famous architects, Gehry and his work are intrinsically linked to Los Angeles. Today, he chooses from many proposals for the projects he wants to take on. Gehry discusses his early love for Los Angeles architecture and wood-framed housing, as well as his insecurities and some of his most famous projects.
Los Angeles River: The Latest Architecture and News
In recent years, many ambitious proposals have been brought forward to revitalize and improve the area around the Los Angeles River. The Lower Los Angeles River Revitalization Plan (LLARP), proposed by Perkins + Will Architects in conjunction with various community groups and public institutions, aims to connect residents to the river and improve the environment surrounding it.
The City of Los Angeles has revealed preliminary designs for seven different downtown segments of the Los Angeles River revitalization master plan, envisioned by Gruen Associates, WSP, CH2M, Chee Salette, Mia Lehrer + Associates, AECOM, and Tetra Tech. The project, known as the LA River Downtown Design Dialogue, asked designers to create potential schemes for development of the Downtown Corridor that “focus on interventions to improve connectivity and access to the river” and “imagine how to achieve function while embracing bold, world-class design,” while integrating in river adjacent projects currently in development, such as BIG’s 670 Mesquite.
The City of Los Angeles has selected a team led by Gruen Associates to design a 12-mile section of the Los Angeles River Greenway as a part of Frank Gehry’s comprehensive master plan. The design team will also include architects Oyler Wu and landscape firm Mia Lehrer + Associates, who recently won a competition for a new park at First and Broadway in downtown LA. Upon its completion, the greenway will allow residents to walk and bike nearly 30 miles between the neighborhoods of Canoga Park and Elysian Valley.
Frank Gehry is “a Robert Moses With the Soul of a Jane Jacobs” in This Long-Read on the Los Angeles River
A river is not usually the province of an architect. Cities grow around rivers, and buildings are built near rivers, but rarely is the river itself the subject of a design problem. Ever since news broke that Frank Gehry is leading a master plan effort for the Los Angeles River, there has been a marked increase in discussion of the river, though rarely with much historical background. Joseph Giovannini tries to correct this omission with his recent piece in the Los Angeles Review of Books, laying the groundwork from when the Army Corps of Engineers decided to line the river in concrete in the late 1930s to prevent flooding, and introducing all of the major players who have been working more recently to return the river to a more natural state.
In this wide-ranging video, drone videographer Ian Wood captures the diversity of the built environment in Los Angeles, featuring architectural gems on equal footing with freeways and freight trains. The buildings and locations featured in the video span over a century of architectural history in LA, and cover the region’s vast geography, including such icons as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, Cesar Pelli’s Pacific Design Center, Eric Owen Moss’ Stealth building, and Morphosis’ recently completed Emerson College Los Angeles.
But what truly sets this video apart is how it highlights the many murals spread throughout the city. Often utilizing otherwise blank facades facing parking lots and alleys, these murals are nonetheless an integral part of LA’s urban fabric, as illustrated in this video. Sadly though, as Wood notes on the video description, there were many more murals that vanished before he was able to get them on video.
In the mid-1980s, after literature had long been held hostage by postmodernist irony and cynicism, a new wave of authors called for an end to negativity, promoting a "new sincerity" for fiction. Gaining momentum into the 1990s, the movement reached a pinnacle in 1993 when, in his essay E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, pop-culture seer David Foster Wallace, a proponent of this "new sincerity," made the following call to action: “The next real literary ‘rebels’ in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles... These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the ‘Oh how banal.'"
Architecture, ever in debt to the styles and ideas of other art forms, could learn a thing or two now from the resuscitation of American fiction at the turn of the millennium. It too is enduring an identity crisis, mired by pessimism and uncertainty - a reality made painfully clear this past January when a New York Times Op-Ed by Steven Bingler and Martin C. Pedersen, How to Rebuild Architecture, divided camps and made the design world fume. In the editorial, the authors spoke vehemently of an architectural profession that has become mired by egos and been disconnected from public needs. Things quickly got ugly, critics wrestled with critics and subsequently the public got involved. What no one seemed to take into account is that this type of hounding is at the core of the problem. In its current landscape the discipline has struggled with its past, been deferential to its present, and wrestled with the uncertainty of its future. In a moment when we have become addicted to despondency, can anyone win?
Since the Los Angeles Times broke the news that the LA River Revitalization Corp has enlisted Gehry Partners to lead a new master plan effort for the Los Angeles River, there have been a slew of negative responses: the Friends of the Los Angeles River have refused to endorse the Gehry effort, reactions collected by the Architects Newspaper ranged from skeptical to angry, and Alissa Walker at Gizmodo did not mince words when her headline declared “Frank Gehry is the Wrong Architect to Revitalize the Los Angeles River.” These responses raise real and legitimate concerns - progress on the LA River has been years, if not decades, in the making. There is already a master plan, prepared by Mia Lehrer and Associates, and the US Army Corps of Engineers approved a plan to restore 11 miles of the river, known as Alternative 20, just this past July. There are worries that this new effort could threaten the current approvals and funding.
Frank Gehry is an easy target for criticism. His buildings can be polarizing, and his detractors are quick to seize on any defect. Details are trickling out slowly, but a recent presentation to reporters revealed that the plan would eventually identify locations for parks and real estate developments, as well as establish a unified design theme for future improvements such as pedestrian and bicycle paths. For his part, Gehry has emphasized the water reclamation aspects of the project - an especially timely subject in drought-stricken California. And in an interview with Frances Anderton on KCRW’s “Design and Architecture,” Gehry was quick to clarify, “It’s not a building, I’m not doing a building!”
The Solar Bytes pavilion, designed by assistant professor at Kent State University Brian Peters, is a temporary structure which highlights the potential of new techniques available to architecture: robotic arms, 3D printing, smart technologies such as lighting sensors, and solar energy.
Leveraging the strength and range of motion of a robotic arm, the pavilion was printed in three dimensions with an experimental extruder, resulting in a structure composed of 94 unique modules that capture energy during the day, and shine at night. After their initial function, the plastic modules making up the pavilion will be completely crushed and reused in a new structure.
From 17th century Postmedieval English homes to the “McMansions" of the 90s, check out Pop Chart Lab's structured survey of 121 North American homes from the past 400 years. Sorted into seven major categories and 40 subdivisions, the comprehensive diagram highlights the morphology of homes throughout the US.
Each print is signed and numbered by the artists, much like the Brooklyn-based company's popular "Schematic of Structures" poster that features mankind's 90 greatest architectural achievements.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has reported a "healthy and sustained" Architecture Billings Index (ABI) for the month of July. Though slightly down from a mark of 55.7 in June, the July ABI score was 54.7, reflecting an increase in design serves within the US. The new projects inquiry index was 63.7, up slightly from a reading of 63.4 the previous month.
A breakdown of regional highlights and foresight from the AIA Chief Economist, after the break.
Walt Disney has unveiled the company's largest single theme land expansion ever: Star Wars Land. An extraterrestrial land of humanoids, aliens, and droids, the 14-acre development is expected to be built at Orlando, Florida's Disney World and Anaheim, California's Disneyland by 2020.
Nearby in Los Angeles, rumors are saying Star Wars director George Lucas may consider building his self-titled museum there, rather than in Chicago where Lucas is facing fierce opposition over his MAD museum design (more on that here).
Read on to see more images of Star Wars Land and to watch the unveiling of the project.
Images of Souto Moura Arquitectos' first US project has emerged. Aimed to replace a former gas station at 2715 Pennsylvanian Avenue NW in Washington DC, the five-story red brick and concrete building will feature a ground floor restaurant and eight 2,000-square-foot apartment units with balconies, a gym and penthouse terrace.
As BizJournals reports, the proposal is being pitched by EastBanc Inc. as the new "entrance to Georgetown." The Portuguese architect chose red brick "because it seems to be the most appropriate for this part of the city."
Alongside the release of the American Institute of Architects' (AIA) annual Compensation Report comes a new (free!) Salary Calculator Tool that allows you to compare your income with 17 architectural staff positions - from CEO to Intern 1. You can use the tool to see the overall mean and median salaries throughout the US or by region, and even by firm size (organized by annual firm revenue). Compare your salary here.
Populous has unveiled plans for a new Chargers football stadium that is meant to capture the "essence of San Diego," California. The 68,000-seat stadium, planned to be built on the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley, will feature a "kinetic skin" that will mimic the sound of the ocean as it sways in the wind.
"We wanted to make sure as a team that we were making this a really authentic place and people who see it will say, 'That represents our city - that represents where the Chargers should be. They've been here over 50 years and they should stay here.' This stadium represents that. This is an expression of San Diego," Populous senior principal Scott Radecic told the San Diego Union Tribune.
In an ongoing effort to ease the path to licensure, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has accepted proposals from 12 accredited US architecture schools to implement an "Integrated Path" to licensure. The initiative would give students the opportunity to complete the Intern Development Program (IDP) requirements and take the Architect Registration Exams (ARE) prior to graduation. Students would not be required to pass all ARE divisions in order to graduate.
“The programs in this inaugural class exhibited a high degree of creativity, and are focused on strengthening the relationship between schools, the practice community, and licensing boards,” said Licensure Task Force (LTF) Chair Ron Blitch, a Louisiana architect who is a former NCARB President and current member of the NAAB Board of Directors and the Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners.
Frank Gehry is said to be "quietly" working on a masterplan for the Los Angeles River in California. Prematurely announced by the Los Angeles Times, the City's mayor Eric Garcetti has confirmed the news, saying Gehry is producing "a master plan, in the truest sense of the word,” pro bono.
“To have the [Frederick Law] Olmsted of our time focusing on this, I think, is extraordinary,” Garcetti said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
One of the first and most successful examples of urban renewal, Detroit's 78-acre Lafayette Park is known for being the world's largest collection of works by Mies van der Rohe. Now, the mid-century modern "masterpiece" is the first urban renewal project to be declared a National Historic Landmark. This is partially due to the fact that, as Ruth Mills, architectural historian for Quinn Evans Architects told the Detroit Free Press, "Lafayette Park was one of the few urban renewal projects that's done it successfully." It is now Michigan's 41st landmark.