Posts by Gregory Han

DTLA Historic Core & Fashion District Homes Tour
Join DTLA Rendezvous for an insider tour to explore the various living spaces in the Historic Core and Fashion District of Downtown LA! From mixed-use projects to converted and adaptive reuse properties, we’ll be guided through the history of the residential spaces and these two distinct and historical Downtown neighborhoods. We’ll start by meeting in the Spring Arcade Building in front of Green Grotto Juice Bar. Our guide will then walk us through to several buildings showing off their lobbies, living spaces, balconies and rooftops! We’ll finish the tour with complimentary beverages and a goodie bag!
When: August 19th, 3:45 PM – 6:00 PM
Where: Tour begins at Green Grotto Juice Bar, 541 South Spring Street #133, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Three Cities: Transformations in the Urban Environment
“Art, culture, and architectural design have played significant roles in the revitalization of cities, both large and small, through the renewal of decaying and obsolete industrial infrastructure. Moderated by Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director, architect Frank Gehry; William Weld, former Governor of Massachusetts; and Thomas Krens, Director Emeritus, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation will talk about their various and overlapping roles in the transformation of three cities—North Adams, MA; Bilbao, Spain; and Los Angeles—by creating cultural centers in former industrial sites, rejuvenating polluted rivers, and rebuilding the urban landscape for the larger edification and enjoyment of both local residents and international visitors.”
When: August 14, 2017, 7:30pm
Where: Bing Theater, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Nisei Week Japanese Festival
The Nisei Week Japanese Festival has lots of great events to participate in, including Nisei Week Rubik’s Cube Open – JACCC Plaza, 8am, the Golden Circle Dinner – Double Tree by Hilton, 4:30 pm (Dinner), the Coronation event at the Aratani Theatre, 7:00 pm, and the Grand Parade on Sunday, August 20th.
When: August 19th-20th
Where: Various across Little Tokyo.

Muse ‘Til Midnight – LACMA
Muse ’til Midnight brings hundreds of art lovers together every summer for the ultimate late night at LACMA. Celebrate Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles with more than a dozen DJs both inside and outside the galleries from 8 pm ’til midnight, curated by ArtDontSleep and drawing inspiration from Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.
When: August 19th, 8pm
Where: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Unique LA Summer Market
Shop more than 150 independent designers and makers selling everything from “home goods, clothing, leather goods, bath products, gourmet edibles, children’s goods, and so much more!” This market is held 2-3 times a year. I really enjoy attending the Unique fairs. All of the vendors are really lovely and friendly, so the good vibes are always there floating around.
When: August 19th & 20th, 11 – 6 PM both days
Where: Barker Hangar – 3021 Airport Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Breakout: What’s Inside DTLA?
“Join an intimate group of ‘Breakers’ on August 19th, as we have in store a day-long deep dive throughout DTLA. Be prepared to hear from activists, social entrepreneurs, artists, wellness experts, and creatives about ‘what’s inside’ and what makes them who they are and propels their work. Our canvas will be an immersive journey through the Arts District and Boyle Heights. A detailed agenda will be released the week of the event.”
When: August 19th, 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Where: Row DTLA, 777 Alameda, Los Angeles, CA

Pholisma sonorae (sand food) is a rare plant found in the deserts of southeastern California, Arizona, and El Gran Diesierto in Sonora, Mexico.
This parasitic plant has a long stem that reaches about 6 feet below the surface where it attaches to the root of a nearby host plant such as desert buckwheat. Photo by USFWS/Jim A. Bartel (CC BY 2.0)

The Most Bizarre Wildflower In The United States: “One of the most interesting of all dune plants, and certainly one of the most bizarre wildflowers in North America is ‘sand food’ (Pholisma sonorae). This amazing parasitic flowering plant grows in the Algodones Dunes of southeastern California and adjacent Arizona, and in the sand dunes of El Gran Desierto in Sonora, Mexico (north of Bahia Adair in the Gulf of California). Within this area, the plants grow on sand dunes produced by wind transport of sand from the beaches of ancient Lake Cahuilla and the Colorado River delta.”

L.A. is park poor. So why is one of the most beautiful green spaces in the city locked behind a fence?:  “DWP isn’t in the parks business,” Adams points out. “But we are open to opportunities to use our properties in different ways.” In other words, the Rowena Reservoir isn’t a lost cause. City Council District 4, which contains it, could take it on. So could the Los Feliz and Silver Lake neighborhood councils. And if study and retrofitting are what’s required, why not consider larger possibilities as well?

How Driverless Cars Could Be a Big Problem for Cities: “To assess how vulnerable cities’ budgets could be, Governing conducted the first national analysis of how city revenues might be affected by autonomous vehicles. For the 25 largest U.S. cities, we requested and obtained revenues for parking collections and fines, traffic citations, traffic camera fines, gas taxes, vehicle registration, licensing and select other fees. In all, these 25 cities collectively netted nearly $5 billion in auto-related revenues in fiscal 2016, or about $129 per capita.”

Disrupting the Park Bench: “Data-collecting street furniture is one of the first areas where the smart city concept has spilled over from buildings and infrastructure into green space, though one could argue that features such as free Wi-Fi in parks, GPS-guided interpretive walks, interactive light and water installations, and computerized controls of lighting and irrigation systems—increasingly common in the urban environment—also fit the bill.

A happy 115th birthday to Trenton’s Cadwalader Park: “The beauty of Trenton’s Cadwalader Park endures. And as this sylvan oasis — designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture — marks its 115th birthday, people who treasure the city’s biggest park are working hard to make sure it not only survives but also thrives.

Heppest of the Hep: Cruising through Los Angeles in the 1950’s (1954-1957 to be more specific)! In this compilation you’ll see the “glamorous” streets of Hollywood, the hustle and bustle of Downtown Los Angeles, and the seedy streets of Skid Row!”

ATLAS OF PLACES: A non-profit educational journal of architecture, photography, cartography, print and academics. We share essays, criticism, photography, maps, design, narrative journalism, as well as academic projects and university publications that deserve a wide audience.

Check Out This Amazing Map That Features Every L.A. Neighborhood: “Eric Brightwell (a self-described adventurer) has…produced a map that outlines the borders of pretty much every neighborhood in L.A. County. While the L.A. Times has its own mapping project (which provides plenty of insightful information about the individual neighborhoods), Brightwell takes it to the next level when it comes to breaking down the territories. Downtown L.A., for instance, is parsed out as the Historic Core, Bunker Hill, Skid Row, and Gallery Row, among others.”

1,730 New Plant Species Were Described Last Year: “An estimated 2,000 new plant species are discovered on an annual basis. We aren’t even close to grasping the full extent of plant diversity on this planet. What plants desperately need, however, is more attention.”

Will Drones Lead to a Boom in Landscape Architecture?: “In Siegel’s near-distant future, 90 percent or more of the privately owned and organically operated cars currently on the roads will no longer be necessary, and society will reap a windfall of real estate that it has never before had the luxury to reconsider. Landscape architects—the design professionals responsible for planting grassed swales that convey stormwater runoff, siting benches that line pedestrian thoroughfares, and meeting the demand for shade with tree canopies—will be the front line in re-thinking the built environment.”

““The unfathomable, gloomy elegance of this splashing and rumbling landscape painting — the movement of the waves, the circling of the birds, the lifting of the cloud cover — is followed by an arc shot resembling a brushstroke that tells us about everything we have already forgotten while gazing at the static and precisely framed mountain: the world beyond the image.” – Alejandro Bachmann

Austrian artist Lukas Marxt initially began in search of landscapes untouched by humankind – remote places across the globe unknown or forgotten, existing in what is often referred to in geological durations as “deep time”. Across these increasingly disappearing spaces devoid of human activity, Marxt’s solitary interactions and observations within barren landscapes conjures the temporal nature of humankind’s imprint upon the planet, appearing in an instant, then as quickly fading back into the confluence of time. Over time his work has evolved to fold humankind into the narrative of the greater landscape, superimposing our world back onto a holistic perspective. His works evoke equal moments of wonder and sadness, connection and solitude.

Currently residing in Southern California during a six month residency researching the ecological and socio-political structures surrounding the Salton Sea, seven of Marxt’s videos will be screening next week on Wednesday at the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles. Even if you’re unable to attend next, anyone can immerse themselves into the flow of Marxt’s deep time work thanks to Vimeo.

“Aerial photography has existed since we flew balloons. What interests me is that everybody now has access to it. It has sort of become a common object. I would no longer call it a god’s-eye view because it has become so present. What interests me most is that you can steer it yourself and direct it. You can take flight and rescale the landscape in ways in which it becomes difficult to distinguish between the macro and the micro.” – Lukas Marxt

Our backyard, from about a year and a half ago, lush after the autumn rain. Photo: Gregory Han

The concept of the garden has loomed heavily on my mind lately. This is in no small part because my wife and I have been working diligently in reshaping and remediating our minute slice of Los Angeles land from the serpentine invasion of ivy, grasses, and the unabating appearance of Ailanthus altissima (anything but a tree of heaven in my book). Dreams of reconstructing an interpretation of something closer to the original landscape that once blanketed Mt. Washington guides every swing of the mattock, advises each planting, directs every placement of rock. We’ve collected a small library dedicated to gardening respectful of the existing environment and ecosystem, attempting to learn how to work with the land instead of against it. It’s a humbling process of perpetual attempt and failure…heavy on the failure.

Every stone and rock pulled from our backyard is reused to create paths or protect erosion. Photo: Gregory Han

Musings about the garden also weave in and out of my daily thoughts in due part to a healthy dose of online series like the Nowness Great Gardens videos, NHK’s At Home with Venetia in Kyoto, and books like Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher’s Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change. Even my playlist has been seeded to provoke botanical action. If all those fail to tempt, the views from my home office glimpsing out toward our side and backyard hillside are always enough to remind me there’s work to be done.

Gardening in our hillside section of Mt. Washington is regularly an archeological affair, with remnants of previous generations revealed within the dirt.

With sandstone and rock and embedded like nuts in nougat, our steep clay soil hillside provides a difficult challenge, the stingy canyon sunlight even more so. Erosion is perpetually a concern, the invasive species relentless, and the sunlight passes with a speed that results in tall plants with supermodel stalks. Even so, work in the backyard is always satisfying, constantly educating. Where navigating a mouse and pecking at a keyboard barely registers as activity, swinging a pick axe, shoveling dirt, shouldering rocks, and arranging plants with hand in soil feels like a sort of homecoming, an earthly pleasure satiating the innate desires to shape, nurture, and move.

Our greatest successes reveal themselves when our efforts result in the appearance of more life local to Los Angeles. Native and migrating insects, birds, the occasional foraging mammals, and even rarer amphibian all play a part as friends or foes to our plans. Connections between flora and fauna unfold at every corner, more exciting than any Game of Thrones episode (with equal likelihood of sex and violence to witness).

“We have increasingly less and less control of what is going on out there, and in our gardens we can make the sort of world we that we wished lived in.” – Anna Pavord, author of The Tulip.

A path along the Cedars Sinai Plaza Healing Gardens designed by AHBE Landscape Architects. Photo: ©Heliphoto.net

In Rebecca Solnit’s “Wanderlust: A History of Walking“,  architects Charles W. Moore (who worked on my favorite residential stretch of California coast, Sea Ranch (1963) with landscape architect Lawrence Halprin), William J. Mitchell, and William Turnbull’s express a poetic affinity for the garden path: “a thread of a plot, connecting moments and incidents into a narrative. The narrative structure might be a simple chain of events with a beginning, middle, and end. It might be embellished with diversions, digressions, and picaresque twists, be accompanied by parallel ways (subplots), or deceptively fork into blind alleys like the althernative scenerios explored in a detective novel.”

It’s a comforting thought, one I try to remember as I wipe away the sweat while extracting yet another large sandstone from the clay soil – a barbaric dentist armed with gardening tools. Slowly a garden path is forming, this personal novel of our backyard being written. But where writing an article, poem, or novel eventually concludes with the final page punctuated with a period, the pages of a garden disappear quickly to be rewritten again with every passing season…a lifetime of writing chapters, with unimaginable pages and stories to spring forth, most we’ll never be around to ever read.

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