Chistopher Hawthorne, Architecture Critic

Design tweaks can't overcome Academy Museum's dramatic flaws

5:00 AM PDT, April 15, 2014

Design tweaks can't overcome Academy Museum's dramatic flaws

For Kerry Brougher, newly named director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' planned film museum, the bubble may be nothing compared with the spaceship.

 Review: Thom Mayne frames Emerson College with towering sense of self

1:00 PM PDT, March 28, 2014

Review: Thom Mayne frames Emerson College with towering sense of self

A frame, an arch, a studio stage set, a proscenium: The first question about Emerson College's hulking new Hollywood campus on Sunset Boulevard, designed by Thom Mayne and the Culver City firm Morphosis, is simply what to call the architectural box in which it comes packaged.

Oscars 2014: Architecture's precise role in Steve McQueen's films

11:00 AM PST, February 28, 2014

Oscars 2014

Oscars 2014: Architecture's precise role in Steve McQueen's films

The Statue of Liberty is filthy. Rust stains on the copper. Dirt in the folds of her gown. In need of a good scrubbing.

Encore performances for two L.A. architectural landmarks

5:00 AM PST, February 12, 2014

Encore performances for two L.A. architectural landmarks

Laugh all you want at those old public-access television clips of the late Dr. Gene Scott, the eccentric televangelist who sometimes wore two pairs of glasses at once and shouted at viewers to "Get on the telephone!" whenever his fundraising totals ebbed. He and his Los Angeles Universal Cathedral, operating from the 1927 United Artists Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, turned out to be surprisingly good friends to historic preservation.

Broad museum plaza is welcome, but who will own it?

9:26 AM PST, February 10, 2014

Broad museum plaza is welcome, but who will own it?

The leaders of Eli Broad's planned Grand Avenue museum of postwar and contemporary art, to be called simply the Broad, will make news in three separate ways on Monday.

CicLAvia closes a few streets to cars but can open the city's mind

5:00 AM PST, January 25, 2014

CicLAvia closes a few streets to cars but can open the city's mind

What is CicLAvia?

Spike Jonze's 'Her' a refreshingly original take on a future L.A.

2:00 PM PST, January 18, 2014

Spike Jonze's 'Her' a refreshingly original take on a future L.A.

The most surprising thing about "Her," the new Spike Jonze movie, is not that it dares to suggest an otherwise sane person might fall in love with the operating system that runs his computer and his smartphone. Or that middle-aged men look good in high-waisted pants. Or that it will be possible someday soon to ride a subway from downtown Los Angeles to the beach.

 Review: Tentative signs of progress in Metro's transit network design

5:00 AM PST, December 31, 2013

Review: Tentative signs of progress in Metro's transit network design

For two decades, and especially since voters approved a $40-billion transit tax in 2008, the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has ranked among the most important patrons of public architecture in Southern California.

 A new L.A. identity takes shape in 2013 as city embraces urban life

7:30 AM PST, December 20, 2013

A new L.A. identity takes shape in 2013 as city embraces urban life

The revolution is no longer a fragile or tentative one.

Best of 2013: Christopher Hawthorne picks Citi Bike, L.A.-centric 'Her'

7:30 AM PST, December 20, 2013

Best of 2013: Christopher Hawthorne picks Citi Bike, L.A.-centric 'Her'

In this time when news is disseminated ever more quickly, we asked our critics to list the best of culture in 2013 in tweet form:

Review: A timely look at L.A. designer Deborah Sussman

5:00 AM PST, January 6, 2014

Review: A timely look at L.A. designer Deborah Sussman

Even after the windfall of the Getty's Pacific Standard Time Presents series of exhibitions in 2013, there's still a significant list of postwar Los Angeles architects and designers whose careers remain underexplored.

Review: 4 World Trade Center as ground zero's reputation-builder

5:30 AM PST, December 2, 2013

Review: 4 World Trade Center as ground zero's reputation-builder

NEW YORK — The mess at ground zero has been a collaborative production.

 Frank Gehry's Grand vision to go before project committee

6:00 AM PST, November 25, 2013

Frank Gehry's Grand vision to go before project committee

Frank Gehry and Related Cos. have kissed and made up. Now we'll see if city and county officials bless the reconciliation.

 What the Houston Astrodome can teach us

12:00 PM PST, November 16, 2013

What the Houston Astrodome can teach us

Now that voters have rejected a plan to save the Houston Astrodome, a marvel of engineering muscle and space-age glamour and easily the city's most important building, it would be easy to conclude that modern architecture has a major image problem in this country.

Why the Astrodome is worth saving

6:00 AM PST, November 5, 2013

Why the Astrodome is worth saving

HOUSTON — Forget Monticello or the Chrysler building: There may be no piece of architecture more quintessentially American than the Astrodome.

Review: Wallis Annenberg Center is a step forward for Beverly Hills

7:30 AM PDT, November 2, 2013

Review: Wallis Annenberg Center is a step forward for Beverly Hills

The new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, designed by Zoltan Pali and the firm Studio Pali Fekete, is a work of architecture that arrives with a long list of storylines attached.

Dealey Plaza: A place Dallas has long tried to avoid and forget

9:30 AM PDT, October 25, 2013

Dealey Plaza: A place Dallas has long tried to avoid and forget

DALLAS — I hadn't been standing in Dealey Plaza more than five minutes when I watched a man dash out into the street to pose for a picture. He was heading straight for a white X in the pavement that marks the location of John F. Kennedy's limousine when the 35th president was fatally shot on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963.

Grand Avenue project: Uncertainty could be a good thing

5:00 AM PDT, October 2, 2013

Grand Avenue project: Uncertainty could be a good thing

The recent turmoil over the Grand Avenue redevelopment effort leaves a bunch of pretty basic questions unanswered.

Pacific Standard Time was an ambitious but flawed look at post-war Los Angeles

5:30 AM PDT, September 14, 2013

Pacific Standard Time was an ambitious but flawed look at post-war Los Angeles

It took me a few weeks to catch on, but the Getty's Pacific Standard Time Presents series, whose final shows come to a close Sunday and Monday, wasn't notable just as a wide-ranging reassessment of Southern California's postwar architecture.

Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall is inextricably of L.A.

9:47 AM PDT, September 21, 2013

Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall is inextricably of L.A.

In a lecture at Harvard in the early 1990s, the Spanish architect Rafael Moneo referred to Frank Gehry as a "noble savage."

Skirball's Moshe Safdie retrospective includes the center itself

1:30 PM PDT, September 12, 2013

Fall Arts Preview

Skirball's Moshe Safdie retrospective includes the center itself

When a major retrospective of Moshe Safdie's work opens at the Skirball Cultural Center next month, visitors to the museum near the top of the Sepulveda Pass won't just get to see the architect's designs in the form of models and sketches under glass. They'll also be walking through one of Safdie's most extensive projects: the Skirball campus itself.

Review: Nature sinks its roots into Santa Monica's new parks

5:00 AM PDT, August 28, 2013

Review: Nature sinks its roots into Santa Monica's new parks

Who knew James Corner, the landscape architect best known for his work on the acclaimed High Line elevated park in Manhattan, had such a picturesque streak?

Wilshire and LACMA are a new world for Peter Zumthor

11:00 AM PDT, August 9, 2013

Wilshire and LACMA are a new world for Peter Zumthor

HALDENSTEIN, Switzerland — The architect Peter Zumthor has arranged his personal and professional lives so that the divide between them is vanishingly thin.

 Prison design faces judgment

1:00 PM PDT, August 30, 2013

Prison design faces judgment

It might be the most carefully hidden building boom in American architectural history.

Review: 'Windshield Perspective' is a tricky way to look at L.A.

6:00 AM PDT, July 4, 2013

Review: 'Windshield Perspective' is a tricky way to look at L.A.

For the last several weeks, the best way to try to understand Beverly Boulevard has been to head for a different boulevard — Wilshire — and the western end of the Miracle Mile.

Le Corbusier as a force for nature?

6:00 AM PDT, June 15, 2013

Le Corbusier as a force for nature?

NEW YORK — It's easy to imagine that "Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes," a vast, dense and beautifully installed new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, began as a kind of parlor game. You can almost picture the curators, Jean-Louis Cohen and Barry Bergdoll, brainstorming to come up with the most unlikely, counterintuitive thesis about Le Corbusier they could — and then setting out to defend it with straight faces, deep scholarship and a good deal of museological firepower.

L.A. River advocates wait for watershed Army Corps study

6:00 AM PDT, July 24, 2013

L.A. River advocates wait for watershed Army Corps study

This summer marks a moment of truth for the Los Angeles River.

Review: MOCA's revamped architecture show a model of insularity

10:00 AM PDT, June 29, 2013

Review: MOCA's revamped architecture show a model of insularity

The new architecture exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art — and we'll get to its ever-changing title in a moment — is the product of a museum in significant disarray.

 For LACMA's 'old' buildings, no time like the present

3:05 PM PDT, July 19, 2013

For LACMA's 'old' buildings, no time like the present

A couple of major ironies are folded into the title of the big new architecture exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, "The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA."

 LACMA draws up ambitious plans for a $650-million new look

5:00 AM PDT, May 1, 2013

LACMA draws up ambitious plans for a $650-million new look

At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, an acclaimed Swiss architect is hoping to pull off what an acclaimed Dutch one could not.

Review: '10 Buildings That Changed America' is a rewarding tour

7:00 AM PDT, May 11, 2013

Review: '10 Buildings That Changed America' is a rewarding tour

The new PBS program "10 Buildings That Changed America" is nothing if not efficient.

Paolo Soleri dies at 93; architect of innovative city Arcosanti

1:50 PM PDT, April 10, 2013

Paolo Soleri dies at 93; architect of innovative city Arcosanti

Paolo Soleri, an Italian-born architect who created a visionary prototype for a new kind of ecologically sensitive city in the remote Arizona desert four decades ago, only to watch the suburban sprawl he detested begin to creep near it in recent years, has died. He was 93.

 Sunnylands presidential summit spotlights estate's public mission

5:00 AM PDT, June 7, 2013

Sunnylands presidential summit spotlights estate's public mission

Even when it was just an architectural glimmer in the eye of Walter and Leonore Annenberg, the desert estate where President Barack Obama will greet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday was never in danger of being confused with a mere vacation house.

MOCA's 'A New Sculpturalism' faces uncertain future without Gehry

5:00 AM PDT, May 3, 2013

MOCA's 'A New Sculpturalism' faces uncertain future without Gehry

Frank Gehry has pulled out of a major architecture exhibition set to open June 2 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, a move that could force the show to find a new venue or face the prospect of being canceled altogether.

On Harbor Boulevard, a pretense of business as usual

10:35 AM PST, November 23, 2012

On Harbor Boulevard, a pretense of business as usual

The protests that roiled Anaheim this summer had no regular home base, no Zuccotti Park or Tahrir Square. Instead, demonstrators angry over a series of shootings by Anaheim police marched on several days along Harbor Boulevard and a handful of other streets.

Motion Picture Academy unveils ambitious plans for film museum

5:00 AM PDT, April 12, 2013

Motion Picture Academy unveils ambitious plans for film museum

Will the Academy's big bubble pop before it has a chance to be built?

Ada Louise Huxtable dies at 91; renowned architecture critic

2:40 PM PST, January 8, 2013

Ada Louise Huxtable dies at 91; renowned architecture critic

Ada Louise Huxtable, the architecture critic who in two decades of writing for the New York Times became a powerful force in shaping New York City and was better known than many of the architects she was covering and certainly more feared, has died. She was 91.

New Barnes Foundation offers up its treasures in Philadelphia

June 10, 2012

New Barnes Foundation offers up its treasures in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia, the city that gave us Poor Richard, cheese-steak sandwiches and the American Constitution, just opened a new treasure: the Barnes Foundation, one of the premier privately assembled collections of painting in the U.S. with more dreamy Renoirs and searching Cézannes than in the whole of France.

Atlantic on the move

6:40 PM PDT, May 16, 2012

On the boulevards

Atlantic on the move

As Los Angeles' boulevards reassert their place in the public realm, the transformation along Atlantic offers glimpses of a new city identity taking shape.

Portland, Ore., is a smaller, cleaner, wetter alternative to L.A.

May 13, 2012

Weekend Escapes

Portland, Ore., is a smaller, cleaner, wetter alternative to L.A.

The Portland Hop. I know, it sounds like a dance craze in 1937. But really, it's what you do when Southern California gets you down and you need to drink small-batch beer, eat Northwestern locavore meals and see bike commuters in the rain. My wife, daughter and I hit Portland, Ore., for a few days last August. Here's the report.

Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia: What did the critics think?

11:39 AM PDT, August 25, 2012

Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia: What did the critics think?

One of the most controversial moves in recent art-world memory, the relocation of the Barnes Foundation, has drawn the national press to Philadelphia where the venerated art institution opened its new building earlier this month.

Ricardo Legorreta dies at 80; Mexican modernist architect

January 8, 2012

Ricardo Legorreta dies at 80; Mexican modernist architect

Ricardo Legorreta, the architect who introduced Mexican modernism to a global audience and who brought his crisp, brightly colored aesthetic to downtown Los Angeles with a controversial 1993 redesign of Pershing Square, has died. He was 80.

Architecture review: National September 11 Memorial

August 12, 2011

September 11: A decade after

Architecture review: National September 11 Memorial

If you were expecting the National September 11 Memorial to turn out to be a visionary or uncompromising monument to human tragedy and architectural destruction, you probably haven't been paying sustained attention to the process that created it. And who could blame you? The rebuilding effort at the World Trade Center site has been marked by enough grandstanding, backbiting and power grabs, among politicians and designers alike, to push even the most dedicated optimist toward utter cynicism.

'Julius Shulman Los Angeles' has some new angles

April 6, 2011

'Julius Shulman Los Angeles' has some new angles

This week, Rizzoli publishes "Julius Shulman Los Angeles," a new book featuring a variety of shots taken in Southern California by the famed architectural photographer, who died two years ago at age 98. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne recently caught up with one of the book's co-authors, Sam Lubell, who is also West Coast editor of the Architect's Newspaper. What follows is a condensed version of their email exchange.

Critic's Notebook: Metro douses expectations on Union Station project

5:30 AM PDT, April 27, 2012

Critic's Notebook: Metro douses expectations on Union Station project

Talk about raining on your own parade.

At auction: architectural history

June 3, 2008

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

At auction: architectural history

As part of a high-powered campaign to promote Richard Neutra's 1946 Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, which it auctioned during its big evening sale of postwar and contemporary art two weeks ago, Christie's produced a glossy booklet on the house and its setting. Near the front was a quote from Neutra himself: "The desert is subject to an infinity of moods, some of them violent."

Anthony J. Lumsden dies at 83; Southern California architect

7:24 AM PDT, October 10, 2011

Anthony J. Lumsden dies at 83; Southern California architect

Anthony J. Lumsden, a prolific Southern California architect who helped develop new ways of wrapping buildings in smooth glass skins, accelerating a shift that reshaped skylines around the world, died Sept. 22 in Los Angeles. He was 83.

Critic's Notebook: Shifting horizons in Santa Monica parks design

7:28 PM PDT, July 30, 2011

Critic's Notebook: Shifting horizons in Santa Monica parks design

Standing atop a patch of churned-up dirt on a recent morning, James Corner was surrounded by mismatched palm trees, chipped sidewalks and sagging chain link: a typical slice of Southern California landscape caught unawares, hardly ready for its close-up.

Critic's notebook: Skyscrapers remain powerful symbols, post 9/11

September 4, 2011

Critic's notebook: Skyscrapers remain powerful symbols, post 9/11

Any skyscraper is a contradiction.

'Inception' dreams big, unlike its architect

August 8, 2010

'Inception' dreams big, unlike its architect

Everybody has an opinion about "Inception," and mine comes in the form of a question: Why are the movie's architectural settings, for the most part, so hackneyed?

U.S. embassy: An outpost as a signpost

March 21, 2010

ARCHITECTURE CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

U.S. embassy: An outpost as a signpost

The two stories that have dominated the architectural press over the last few weeks -- the unveiling of a winning design for a new American embassy in London, and the death, in a downtown Los Angeles traffic accident, of the 76-year-old Austrian architect Raimund Abraham -- have more in common than just a spot on the calendar.

Critic's Notebook: Hollywood landmark at a crossroads

May 29, 2011

Critic's Notebook: Hollywood landmark at a crossroads

When it opened in 1956, the Capitol Records building was surrounded mostly by surface parking lots, making it easy to spot from the nearby — and brand-new — Hollywood Freeway. The cylindrical design for the building, by Welton Becket and a young architect in Becket's office, Louis Naidorf, played beautifully to its mobile audience and that wide-open urban landscape. The result was a 13-story tower with the confidence and allure of a major skyscraper.

John Chase dies at 57; writer, urban designer for West Hollywood

August 18, 2010

John Chase dies at 57; writer, urban designer for West Hollywood

John Chase, who as a writer and urban designer championed civic space and vernacular architecture in Southern California, finding poetry in stucco-clad apartment buildings, down-market modernism and overlooked corners of the urban realm, died Friday morning. He was 57.

Jeanne Gang brings feminine touch to Chicago's muscled skyline

January 17, 2010

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

Jeanne Gang brings feminine touch to Chicago's muscled skyline

Before we turn to an assessment of Aqua, a new residential skyscraper in Chicago, permit me a quick (and relevant!) detour to a sidewalk news conference in Lower Manhattan, held recently at the foot of the under-construction Beekman Tower.

Critic's Notebook: Eli Broad and the Diller Scofidio + Renfro museum design

August 24, 2010

Critic's Notebook: Eli Broad and the Diller Scofidio + Renfro museum design

The news that New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro has finally, officially been named architect of the new Broad Collection museum in downtown Los Angeles proves a couple of things quite clearly. One is that in a design competition as constrained and carefully controlled as the one Eli Broad has been running, a few big conceptual ideas dramatically presented — rather than an inventive treatment of a building's shape — can go a long way. Another is that a little flattery never hurts.

L.A. Unified's faulty vision for schools on Ambassador site

July 18, 2010

L.A. Unified's faulty vision for schools on Ambassador site

Along one edge of the old Ambassador Hotel site, where the Los Angeles Unified School District has been building a controversial collection of schools, there is a new park dedicated to the life and work of Robert F. Kennedy. Created by artists May Sun and Richard Wyatt and running parallel to Wilshire Boulevard, the park includes a series of quotations from Kennedy, who was shot and killed inside the hotel on a June night in 1968, and a few others.

Critic’s Notebook: What L.A. might ask of Eli Broad

April 29, 2010

Critic’s Notebook: What L.A. might ask of Eli Broad

It's a familiar recipe for urban revitalization in downtown Los Angeles.

Raimund Abraham dies at 76; Austrian-born architect, theorist and teacher

March 6, 2010

OBITUARY

Raimund Abraham dies at 76; Austrian-born architect, theorist and teacher

Raimund Abraham, an Austrian-born architect known for his powerfully enigmatic drawings and fierce idealism, and whose narrow, blade-like 2002 Austrian Cultural Forum building in New York is among the most forceful pieces of architecture built in the last decade, was killed early Thursday when the car he was driving collided in downtown Los Angeles with a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus. He was 76.

Frederick Fisher's radical vision

October 25, 2009

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

Frederick Fisher's radical vision

The Los Angeles architect Frederick Fisher, who turned 60 earlier this year, is anything but a doctrinaire designer or a dogmatic personality. His houses, museum galleries and other buildings have over the years been executed in a relatively broad stylistic range, reflecting his curiosity, his interest in context and place and the diverse tastes of his well-connected clients. On the website of his firm, Frederick Fisher and Partners, you'll find curtain walls as well as gables, mahogany a few clicks away from corrugated metal.

Critic's Notebook: 'Architecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970'

August 1, 2010

Critic's Notebook: 'Architecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970'

Thomas S. Hines, a professor emeritus at UCLA, is the dean of architectural historians in Los Angeles, the author of major studies of the pioneering modernists Richard Neutra and Irving Gill. In "Architecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970," he has produced a doorstop-sized magnum opus: a massive but terrifically detailed distillation of his thinking on the city where he has lived and taught, with only minor interruptions, since 1968.

Architecture: Star architects emerge, but even they find limits

December 20, 2009

NOTES ON THE DECADE

Architecture: Star architects emerge, but even they find limits

Architecture, arguably for the first time in its history, found itself at the very center of American cultural and political life in the decade that is wrapping up. That centrality helped make stars out of architecture's top talents. With the aid of powerful software, adventuresome clients and, not least, a flood of new wealth and easy financing, it also produced a rush of inventive buildings, in styles stretching from fluid to wildly sculptural to neomodern.

L.A. as filtered by love in '(500) Days of Summer'

July 31, 2009

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

L.A. as filtered by love in '(500) Days of Summer'

"(500) Days of Summer" is a movie about obsessions -- gentle, often charming and non-stalkerish obsessions, for the most part, but obsessions all the same. Chief among them -- after romantic love, the subject that stands always at the heart of the story, its existence always up for impassioned, practically theological debate -- is architecture.

'Conversations With Frank Gehry' by Barbara Isenberg

April 19, 2009

BOOK REVIEW

'Conversations With Frank Gehry' by Barbara Isenberg

Conversations With

Digital video runs a screen on the cityscape

January 24, 2010

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

Digital video runs a screen on the cityscape

Apple is expected to unveil its much-anticipated touch-screen tablet on Wednesday morning. A few journalists see the device as a possible savior for the newspaper business. Me? I'm wondering how it'll affect the skyline.

Pass/fail for L.A.'s new arts school

May 31, 2009

ARCHITECTURE REVIEW

Pass/fail for L.A.'s new arts school

At the new arts high school downtown, it has become nearly impossible to separate the substance of the architecture, by Wolf D. Prix and the Austrian firm Coop Himmelblau, from debates over cost overruns or questions about who will attend the campus when it opens in September.

Frank Gehry considers an accomplished past and uncertain future

March 1, 2009

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

Frank Gehry considers an accomplished past and uncertain future

Frank Gehry, who turned 80 on Saturday, is the most famous architect in the world by a healthy margin. He is also, arguably, the most significant talent in American architecture since Frank Lloyd Wright. His firm, Gehry Partners, has streamlined a process in which his free-flowing sketches are turned into digital designs and then into dazzlingly unorthodox buildings around the world.

1960s architecture: L.A. and the paradox of preservation

October 11, 2009

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

1960s architecture: L.A. and the paradox of preservation

Modern architecture is growing old. The groundbreaking designers at Germany's Bauhaus began building nearly a century ago. Many landmarks of midcentury Modernism, while somewhat younger, are also showing their age, their curtain walls taking on water, their cantilevers askew. And now the most recent examples of the style, late-modern buildings from the 1960s, are nearing the half-century mark.

Abu Dhabi's fortune favors the bold

June 28, 2009

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

Abu Dhabi's fortune favors the bold

The longstanding sibling rivalry between the two biggest members of the United Arab Emirates, always complex, has taken a remarkable turn in recent months.

What's the future of 'The Infrastructural City' of L.A.

February 15, 2009

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

What's the future of 'The Infrastructural City' of L.A.

The timing could hardly be better for "The Infrastructural City," a new collection of essays on Los Angeles edited by Kazys Varnelis, director of the Network Architecture Lab at Columbia University. A book with a title like that, unless written by Mike Davis or John McPhee, would typically have a tough time steering clear of the remainder bin. But in recent weeks, as the details of the stimulus package were being hammered out in Congress, the same few questions moved near the top of the political agenda not just in Washington but in cities around the country: In 2009, what is infrastructure, exactly? Is it just roads, bridges, train lines and tunnels -- the muscle and bone of the city -- or can we update that New Deal-era definition to include a greener, more flexible or even purely digital set of urban initiatives? If so, how best to integrate that new, "soft" infrastructure with the hard variety?

Century Plaza as L.A. statement

June 1, 2009

ARCHITECTURE

Century Plaza as L.A. statement

If nothing else, the debate over the fate of the Century Plaza hotel is a reminder that there is no preservation controversy quite like a preservation controversy in Los Angeles.

It's all about the house

July 7, 2005

L.A.'S ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE

It's all about the house

The private home vividly expresses the ideas on which Southern California was built. In this issue, we begin an occasional series on the architecture that defines the city past and present.

Measure R is more than roads and rails

October 30, 2008

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

Measure R is more than roads and rails

This is the first of two articles on the intersection of public transit, urbanism and architecture on next week's ballot.

Dubai development may be down, but it's not out

June 21, 2009

ARCHITECTURE

Dubai development may be down, but it's not out

If a city can be spectacularly quiet, this waterfront city-state has certainly qualified in recent months. Hundreds of abandoned construction cranes languish above Dubai's gated communities and beach-side developments and, most dramatically, up and down Sheikh Zayed Road, its high-rise spine. According to a recent estimate in the Middle East Economic Digest, projects worth a staggering $335 billion in the United Arab Emirates -- of which Dubai, with a population of about 2 million, is the largest member -- are stalled or have been canceled outright.

Venice Architecture Biennale

September 17, 2008

ARCHITECTURE REVIEW

Venice Architecture Biennale

WHILE THE Venice Architecture Biennale remains the most anticipated and ambitious design show in the world -- not to mention the only one featuring cocktail parties in canal-side palazzi -- every edition is marked by a curious split personality. There is a core exhibition, organized by a single curator and displaying work by the leading names of the profession, and along with it a scattered collection of national pavilions filled with designs by mostly anonymous younger architects. Because the pavilions vary so much in quality -- and theme -- they always knock the central exhibition at least a bit off message.

Jorn Utzon dies at 90; Danish architect of Sydney Opera House

November 30, 2008

Jorn Utzon dies at 90; Danish architect of Sydney Opera House

Jorn Utzon, the Danish architect whose eye-catching, nautically inspired design for the Sydney Opera House overcame a series of controversies surrounding its budget and acoustics to become one of the most recognizable landmarks of the 20th century, helping to usher in the current era of buildings beloved for their daring and photogenic forms, has died. He was 90.

The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage

October 11, 2008

ARCHITECTURE REVIEW

The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage

THE NEW Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at Santa Monica College, which will open officially tonight with a program featuring the mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, is a happily, even confidently unresolved piece of architecture. Rather than try to smooth over the gaps between its various architectural impulses -- and between its wide-ranging technical and programmatic requirements -- it seems content, for the most part, to leave them on display. It's not a bad strategy: The design gains some power from its all-over-the-map variety, and in fact it's in those spaces where it tries to hide its character or engage in a bit of architectural sleight-of-hand that it begins to falter most obviously.

California Academy of Sciences designs sustainability

September 27, 2008

ARCHITECTURE REVIEW

California Academy of Sciences designs sustainability

RENZO PIANO'S original concept for the new California Academy of Sciences building in Golden Gate Park was elegantly simple: Slice out a huge, rectangular section of the park landscape, lift it 36 feet into the air and slide a new piece of architecture underneath. The floor of the park would become a green roof atop the facility -- a feature Piano dubbed "the flying carpet."

Architects take Beijing's smog into account

August 8, 2008

ARCHITECTURE IN THE NEW BEIJING

Architects take Beijing's smog into account

Last in a series

Rising generation of Chinese architects thrives on innovation

August 6, 2008

ARCHITECTURE OF THE NEW BEIJING

Rising generation of Chinese architects thrives on innovation

Fourth in a series on the changing face of China's capital.

Architecture critic finds no regrets

August 22, 2008

ON SECOND THOUGHT

Architecture critic finds no regrets

Everyone has had the experience of disagreeing with a critic, but do critics ever second-guess themselves? We asked Calendar's critics whether there are any reviews they regret. One in a series of occasional articles.

Stunt climbers use buildings for their own causes

June 7, 2008

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

Stunt climbers use buildings for their own causes

Renzo Piano, the Italian architect who designed the New York Times tower on 8th Avenue at 40th Street in Manhattan, made a point of keeping the building transparent at ground level. His goal, he said before the building opened last summer, was to avoid the forbidding, fortress-like appearance that marks other post- 9/11 towers in Manhattan. He wanted the final product to look inviting.

The renovated Mark Taper Forum

July 29, 2008

ARCHITECTURE REVIEW

The renovated Mark Taper Forum

OF THE three buildings that make up architect Welton Becket's original Music Center on Bunker Hill -- the Ahmanson Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion -- it is the smallest of the group, the Taper, that can make the most credible claim to true landmark status. The decorated drum of a design, its exterior wrapped in a lacy precast relief by Jacques Overhoff, is among the most finely detailed and conceptually coherent buildings of Becket's long and varied career, during which his firm seeded Los Angeles with a number of its most recognizable pieces of architecture: the Capitol Records tower, the Beverly Hilton, the Theme Building at LAX (with William Pereira, Charles Luckman and Paul Williams) and the Equitable tower on Wilshire Boulevard, among countless others.

John Lautner retrospective at the Hammer Museum

July 14, 2008

ARCHITECTURE REVIEW

John Lautner retrospective at the Hammer Museum

If there is a single big idea driving "Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner," which opened Sunday at the Hammer Museum, it's that Lautner needs to be rescued from his own hardened reputation. Most museum retrospectives begin with an effort to dust off or polish up the historical record. This one, at times, feels like a full-on rehabilitation campaign.

Architect Rafael Viñoly gets inventive for UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute

April 27, 2008

ARCHITECTURE REVIEW

Architect Rafael Viñoly gets inventive for UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute

UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute, or CNSI for short, is the first Los Angeles project by the New York-based architect Rafael Viñoly. It is something of a stealth building. Its broad, low façade, overlooking the Court of Sciences near the southern edge of the UCLA campus, has a modesty that borders on the bland.

Obama turns to Greek columns for support

August 30, 2008

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

Obama turns to Greek columns for support

In 1960, after John F. Kennedy decided to move his convention acceptance speech from the brand-new Sports Arena to the larger Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum next door, he addressed a crowd of 80,000 from a stage that seen through 21st century eyes looks innocent and modest, if not clumsy. On the front of the lectern, just beneath the microphones, was a simple sign, its capital letters as skinny as Kennedy's tie, reading "Democratic National Convention." Below that, a large painted eagle spread its wings.

Ethics' place in China's building boom

August 5, 2008

ARCHITECTURE OF THE NEW BEIJING

Ethics' place in China's building boom

Third in a series on the changing face of China's capital.

June 30, 2005

DESIGN

Green, with a high gloss

What sort of image comes to mind when you hear the phrase "green architecture"?

Huntington Art Gallery's grand plan

May 27, 2008

ARCHITECTURE REVIEW

Huntington Art Gallery's grand plan

From the start, the Beaux-Arts house in San Marino that Myron Hunt designed for Henry and Arabella Huntington was marked by a level of ambition far beyond the merely residential. The couple always envisioned it as much as a place to show off their growing fine art collection -- and frame their worldliness -- as rest their heads. Not long after moving in, in 1915, they began making plans to turn their estate over to the public after their deaths.

'Sketches of Frank Gehry'

May 19, 2006

MOVIE REVIEW

'Sketches of Frank Gehry'

Architecture is the slowest of the arts, by far: It often takes a full decade for a building to go from sketch to ribbon-cutting, a journey that can be pushed off course by zoning officials, fussy clients and the laws of gravity. But in "Sketches of Frank Gehry," director and first-time documentarian Sydney Pollack manages to make his own art form look like the sluggish one.

Their declarations of independence

August 12, 2005

ARCHITECTURE REVIEW

Their declarations of independence

The 1970s and 1980s were an odd, freewheeling and sometimes combative golden age for Los Angeles architecture. During those two decades, a handful of young designers, each trying do his own thing with as much stubborn independence as possible, managed to come together as a loose band of self-styled mavericks.

Seeing stars — in the sky

September 10, 2006

ARCHITECTURE

Seeing stars — in the sky

Compared to other cities its size, Los Angeles has always been short on icons of public architecture; when one falls out of commission, as the Griffith Observatory did 4 1/2 years ago, we notice the absence all the more.

A glitch in the glitz

May 9, 2005

ARCHITECTURE REVIEW

A glitch in the glitz

You've probably heard by now that the Wynn Las Vegas is something of a rarity: a new hotel and casino on the Strip that doesn't have an architectural theme, the way the Venetian, the Paris, the Luxor and countless others do. But it turns out the Wynn does have a theme — just a very odd one:

A grand park plan? Not really

April 21, 2008

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

A grand park plan? Not really

When Mark Rios takes the microphone Tuesday evening at a public hearing inside Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, he'll be presenting two very different designs for the new civic park downtown. The first is what his Los Angeles firm, Rios Clementi Hale Studios, calls a "base" plan, for which the projected $56-million cost is already in hand -- paid by Related Cos. as part of its deal to develop a commercial project with Frank Gehry across Grand Avenue from Walt Disney Concert Hall. The second is an "enhanced" version showing what might be possible with an infusion of new funding.

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