A little background on the presenters in the “Out There, Doing It” lecture series: Frank Israel, who will open the series on January 30, recently exhibited his work at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The exhibit will travel to San Francisco this Spring. His Propaganda Film Studio in Hollywood can be seen from the vantage point of a coffee bar that is open to the public. AKS Runo is made up of Bahraim Shirdel, Andy Zago and Bill Taylor. They designed the original area plan for the West Coast Gateway Competition and were finalists in the Olympic Garden West Competition. Eric Kahn and Ron Golan make up the Central Office of Architecture. Their pamphlet “Recombinant Images” will be published by the Forum in February. Steve Johnson used to work for Morphosis, and Jim Favaro is a Rome Prize-winner who recently taught at USC. Together, they are working on several residential projects. Michele Saee is also a graduate of Morphosis. Recent completed works include the West Los Angeles branch of Angeli, Ecru clothing store on Melrose and the Design Express on La Cienaga (on the way to the airport). Ron McCoy, who teaches at SCI-Arc and is working·with Venturi Rauch and Scott Brown on their UCLA Medical Center project, just won a Citation from Progressive Architecture for a house he designed in Marina del Rey. Norman Millar, formerly of A2Z in Portland, is also working on several residential projects. Neil Denari was a finalist in the West Coast Gateway Competition. He is currently showing his work in Frankfurt and is preparing an exhibition in New York. Neil lectures and enters competitions around the globe. Peter Pfau and Wes Jones of Holt, Hinshaw, Pfau & Jones’s Challenger Memorial was on the cover of the Progressive Architecture Awards Issue – they won an honor award, their third from that magazine. Based in San Francisco, they have now opened a Los Angeles office and looking forward to expanding in Southern California.
The Forum welcomes Michael Pittas, Ann Zollinger and Natalie Shivers to its Board. We have also formed an Advisory Board. Members include Frank Gehry, Richard Keating, Tony Bill, Craig Hodgetts, Richard Weinstein, Michael Rotondi, Frank Israel, Tom Hines, Abby Sher, Julia Bloomfield, Elyse Grinstein, Pamela Burton, Peter de Bretteville, Fred Fisher, Kurt Forster and Robert Harris.
As mentioned above, the Central Office of Architecture is preparing “Recombinant Images” for publication as Forum Pamphlet #4. Currently in the works are pamphlets on computers and architecture (which will be distributed as a Macintosh diskette), boulevards (by Forum Board member Doug Suisman) and maps. Suggestions, proposals and completed pamphlets are still welcome.
The Forum apologizes for misspelling R.M Schindler’s hallowed name.
Towards Designed Public Spaces in LA
Craig Hodgetts is finally designing the new home of the American Cinematheque. After proposals for the Pan-Pacific Auditorium and several other sites, the Cinematheque has now been incorporated into the Hollywood Promenade development at Hollywood and Highland. John Jerde, who made Westwood so much richer with the Westside Pavilion, and whose Olympic fragments are still cherished potholders in many L.A. homes, will design the whole glitzy shebang. Next door, East Coaster David Schwartz will discipline us with a two-block scheme for a thousand units of housing and some commercial space in a style one observer has called “not so much classical as Golden-Age-of-Hollywood – you know, sort of Art Deco.” Developers? The irrepressible Bass brothers of Texas, late of the S&L bailout and the Board of the National Trust.
While postmodernism reigns over the redevelopment of Hollywood, West Hollywood is turning the corner into Re-Modernism – note the corner of La Cienega and Santa Monica, for instance. Roger Sherman and Edmund Chang are finally at work on the Civic Center scheme they defended in front of the Forum nigh a year ago. New Primitivism is fragmenting itself to be more effective: Josh Schweitzer and David Kellen of City Restaurant fame broke up. Now David Kellen has designed a crumbling mesa taco stand on Robertson, and Josh just finished a new L.A. Eyeworks in South Coast Plaza and is turning a building on La Brea formerly owned by Charlie Chaplin into another “reasonably priced” restaurant.
The Big Boys are also on the move: after Kohn, Pedersen and Fox did a Postmodern Panel design for Coast Savings, they moved on, and are now proposing a Neo-Pravda scheme for a thirty-story tower on Hope Street. Then again, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill long ago caught the constructivist bug, and are now designing a fragmented gridnumber for Library Square. Their Neo-Morphosis work on Wilshire in Beverly Hills will soon be joined by an Arquitectonica-designed Bank of America. This commercialization of the avant-garde is not too shocking when your realize that Benneton has opened a Neo-d’Urso emporium on Melrose.
Our candidates for missed design opportunities: the Santa Monica Mall, South Hope Street, Hollywood, La Brea (they’re opening an $8 million car dealership there soon), Miracle Mile, the Olympic “Garden District” and every median strip which could house mass transit which might actually mean something. But we’re open to suggestions.
And if you really want to make a difference, participate in one of the Urban Design Charrettes sponsored by UDAC and the City Planning Department. These charrettes involve you in five days of intensive interviews with the community and a survey of the local resources. The result is a 60 to 90 page report and, one would hope, some useful design alternatives which break through the economic and bureaucratic morass in which both sponsoring organizations are themselves still mired. The first charrette looked at Van Nuys, and next up is Barnsdall Park, with Watts and the Center City to follow. Contact Emily Gable at 485-2470 and become responsible.
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