Covering the Basin, by Ben Caffey – October 1989
           
           
   
 
 
 
 
       
         
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This column will endeavor to report not only interesting projects due to be constructed around town, but also to spot trends that raise questions about the development in Los Angeles.

Downtown continues to boom with more than 7 million square feet of new office space planned or under construction.  Office buildings by SOM and Cesar Pelli are under construction while towers by Helmut Jahn, Kohn Pedersen Fox, and Michael Graves are well into design development or working drawings.

Excavation is under way for 550 South Hope Street by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates with Langdon Wilson Mumper as Associate Architects.  It will replace “The Church of the Open Door” which was torn down last year.  By way of a settlement with T. V. evangelist Gene Scott, Koll/Ohbayashi will erect the church’s famous “Jesus Saves” sign atop the United Artists Theatre on Broadway which Scott is now leasing.  KPF’s latest addition to Los Angeles’ downtown presents a stark contrast to the classicized Coastal Savings Building fronting the Harbor Freeway.  This 26-story, 400,000 square foot building is one of KPF’s many high-rises which deal with overlapping planes of curtain wall, granite, and glass systems. The tower rests on a metal and glass plinth which attempts to deal more directly with the scale of the adjacent Central Library to the north (currently being rehabilitated and expanded by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates).  Excavation work is now underway with the steel delivery expected sometime in December 1989.  Lita Albuquerque has been commissioned to provide environmental art to guide pedestrians from Hope Street to a retail concourse buried within.

At California Plaza, Barton Myers Associates has re-master planned the north end, including the second and third phase residential buildings and the Intercontinental Hotel.

The hotel is now in design development with construction due to begin in March of 1990.  Meanwhile, work has begun on the second phase office tower and performance garden by Arthur Erickson as well as the first phase residential tower by Fujikawa Johnson of Chicago.

Across and up Grand Avenue, Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall project is being adapted to include a hotel.  Word has it that the concert hall is evolving from a “Berlin Philharmonic” configuration to a more traditional “shoe box” type.

The county has only to confirm the rumors regarding their choice to develop the First Street property of Bunker Hill.

Across the Harbor Freeway, the City Center West Development Master Plan by Meyer and Allen Associates has been presented to the CRA and is currently undergoing public review.  It will be either a rival downtown or the logical evolution of the current title holder.  Director of Planning Kenneth Topping, apparently favoring the latter view, has declared the Harbor Freeway “the new Main Street”.

The most obvious project downtown, I.M. Pei’s Library Square Tower, is nearly enclosed.

Apparently eschewing any public input, the City of Los Angeles has chosen Michael Graves as design consultant to architect Ernest P. Howard for a new Venice library.  The 11,000 square feet facility is currently in schematic design.

The Craft and Folk Art Museum will be moving into temporary headquarters for Arquitectonica’s office building at Wilshire and Robertson.  A rendering depicts it as one of their cool (as opposed to tropical) projects and as looking strangely contextual in relation to its 50s/60s atectonic neighbors.  The structure will have three floors above grade and contains 116,000 square feet of office space.  Their San Francisco office has been open about a year with projects in the Bay Area and San Diego in the works.

Antoine Predock has several projects underway in town.  His residential “college” at UCLA is under construction and due to be completed in 1991.  Esherick, Homsey, Dodge & Davis and Barton Myers provided the Master Plan and has designed the Commons Building.  Executive architect is Gensler and Associates, Mr. Predock has of course been awarded the commission for the Thousand Oaks Civic Center with Dworsky and Associates.  Completion is imminent for this Rosenthal House in Manhattan Beach and Venice house at 23rd and Speedway.

Coop Himmelblau has opened an office in Los Angeles.  The “Open House” adapted from a project for a site in Austria, is due to begin construction in Malibu by the first of the year.  The L.A. office is producing their folly for the Osaka Folly project in Japan.

Morphosis is also currently designing their folly for Osaka.  They will be opening an office in Japan to oversee work for a country club in the Ohiba Prefecture and the Hagashi Ozabu office tower in Tokyo.  Their Crawford House in Santa Barbara is just about completed and they are finishing design for the School of Philosophy at Princeton and a Performing Arts Center for the city of Cincinnati.  A monograph of their work is due from Rizzoli within the month.

You may all be reporters for this column.  Please pass on any information on local projects or firms to Ben Caffey at 466-4051.

Ben Caffey


"Open House", Malibu, Architect: Coop Himmelblau

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