Metro Rail Station Site : Problems Real in AIA Competition

Leon Whiteson is a Los Angeles-based design writer

The problem set by the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects' 1988 "Real Problems" architectural student competition was to design a mixed-use project titled Metrosquare.

The Metrosquare site would be above the proposed Metro Rail Westlake Park Station to be built on the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Alvarado Street, across from MacArthur Park.

The problem turned out to be a little too real for most of the 80 students and non-licensed architectural professionals who registered for the competition, and the 11 who submitted qualifying designs.

This was the view of several members of the panel of jurors who judged the competition Jan. 13.

"The program was at once too complex and too specific for inexperienced designers," said juror Jon Jerde.

Winning Team Chosen

The $600 first prize winning entry by the four-person team of Phillip Dube, Domenic Silvestri, Brian Donnelley and Steve Fernandez--all graduates of the Southern California Institute of Architecture--was chosen by the judges as "the only entry that expresses an idea with a capital 'I'," and for its innovative notion of bringing the subway station above ground".

The "Real Problems" agenda called for restaurants, day-care center, retail space, including a Latin mercado, theaters, offices and a bureau for the homeless.

The jury included architects Jon Jerde, Spyros Amourgis, Eugene Kupper and Nils Finne, plus Susan Cloke, planning deputy in Councilwoman Gloria Molina's office, and landscape architect Emmet Wemple.

Honorable Mention

Honorable mention winners were Jacqueline Karsevar and Jon Basseman, Richard Prantis and Julie Smith, Owen Nelson, Michael Kent and Eyal Perchik and Rebecca Grihalva.

Several entries searched for social and design clues from MacArthur Park. Few, though, seemed aware of the new design guidelines recently issued by the MacArthur Park Community Council to establish a coherent policy for the evolution of the park and its surrounding district.

"Real Problems" committee member Barbara Horton Gibbs said the competition's main intent was "to create interest in the area's challenges, not find specific answers.

Selected "Real Problems" projects will be on display at the Otis/Parsons Gallery, 2401 Wilshire Bvd., through February.

DESIGN NOTES: "Black Architects," an exhibition of photos, models and drawings illustrating the work of Paul Williams, Jack Haywood and Vincent Jarvis Proby will be on display in the City Hall Bridge Gallery and the West Los Angeles City Hall Gallery, 1645 Corinth Ave., through February 24.

Two exhibitions featuring the work of Frank Lloyd Wright are offered by the L.A. Municipal Art Gallery, 4800 Hollywood Boulevard, in Barnsdall Park, through March 13.

"Frank Lloyd Wright and the Johnson Wax Buildings: Creating a Corporate Cathedral" focuses on the late-1930s S. C.Johnson & Son headquarters in Racine, Wis.

"Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles: An Architecture for the Southwest" examines his work in Southern California during the 1920s. A series of lectures on Wright accompanying the exhibition are scheduled Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

The UCLA Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning winter lecture series, scheduled Tuesday or Thursday evenings at 8 p.m. in Perloff Hall, includes German architect Gunter Behnisch discussing "Buildings and Projects" (Feb. 11), UCLA Prof. Dolores Hayden on "The Power of Place" (Feb. 25) and Columbia University Prof. Susana Torre "On Continuity and Change" (March 15).

"Oranges & Lemons," an annual program sponsored by local professional and preservation organizations to showcase the best and the worst of the L. A. design scene, is soliciting nominations for 1988.

Categories include architecture, public art and graphics, environmental solutions, historic preservation, interior design, landscape architecture and planning and urban design. Nominations should be sent to P.P.Box 3243, Redondo Beach 90277.

The Community Redevelopment Agency is soliciting nominations for appointments to a Design Advisory Committee that will play a role in guiding new development downtown.

Design professionals, community leaders and representatives of the development community are invited to apply to fill the six positions. For further information write to: Design Advisory Committee RFQ Request, 354 S. Spring St., Suite 800, Los Angeles 90013-1258.

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