Posts tagged Los Angeles Conservancy

All photos: Jessica Roberts

It is always eye opening to play tourist in the city you call home. My mom – a long-time lover of all things Art Deco  – came to town and signed us up for an architectural Art Deco walking tour of Downtown organized by the Los Angeles Conservancy. Although I work Downtown, time for exploration and lingering to take in views can be limited, so the opportunity to play urban tourist with my mom was a welcome occasion.

From a landscape designer’s perspective the tour was a lot of looking up at object-oriented architecture. During the 20s and 30s architectural styles were changing in the United States, transitioning from the favored Beaux-Arts neoclassical style to what was then considered a more modern style, Art Deco, a pastiche of many styles from all over the world. Our tour began in Pershing Square, a place of controversial style in and of itself. The historic Biltmore Hotel across the street was used as a Beaux-Art foil to the more modern styles of the surrounding Art Deco buildings.

The former headquarters of the Southern California Edison building is an interesting example of the evolving urban environment. As we stepped in to view its beauty you could tell the workers there took pride in the architecture. Our tour guide showed our group an image of the Victorian homes that once inhabited Bunker Hill, all eventually torn down. Bunker Hill itself had been slightly leveled to accommodate new construction. In the 1980s the interior of the Edison building was “modernized” with drop ceilings and carpets, covering up the ornate details original to the building. Thankfully the current owners are now removing those alterations and taking steps to restore the building to its original glory.

As we continued on our walk, we looked up at the towers that had replaced the Richfield Tower, an Art Deco landmark of 1929 that was demolished in 1969 to make room for the construction of newer and more modern construction. It was interesting to see such strong opinions of style come from the tour group. One woman shouted “What a shame!”.

Other buildings were described as “Disco”. I couldn’t tell if the group reaction was favorable or not. Our tour guide mentioned that she saw some public opinions starting to shift in favor of Disco Era architecture. I myself couldn’t help but feel a certain affection for them.

Some buildings represented a transition in style, such as the Los Angeles Public Library. To get the full story you’ll have to go on the tour, but my favorite takeaway was that architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue had allegedly switched out the neoclassical dome he depicted in his drawings – a style he knew would sell – for the Egyptian-inspired pyramid you see today. Apparently the cultural influence that led to this switch was the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922.

We all struggle to understand the world around us, and these struggles often manifest in what we create. Style is political, personal, reactionary, and unpredictable. Style reveals priorities, views on nature, and technology, and is far from passive or innocent. When we got back to Pershing Square I couldn’t help but feel a certain empathy for the park, with its funky and seemingly outdated style, and wondered how opinions of it might change after it’s gone.

A city could be imagined as the sum of its various architectural pasts. If so, then our city’s historical and evolving urban environment are inherently the roadmap to Los Angeles’ future.

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cityLAB, Times Ten
For the past ten years, cityLAb – UCLA has been at the center of innovation thought about the architecture of the city. The “cityLAb, Times Ten” exhibition showcases the lab’s research on some of the critical challenges facing the 21st century metropolis ranging from housing to density and transportation. A series of evening panels called “Lab Talks” will bring people together to debate design’s role in the city. Collaborative, experimental projects serve as prototypes of progressive architecture that holds multiplier effects, with the potential to impact the urban fabric of Southern California and beyond. The work from cityLAB is exhibited in three categories: Desk, Neighbor, and Place.
When: February 3 – April 9, 2017
Where:  EXHIBITION at the A + D MUSEUM
Architecture and Design Museum of Los Angeles
900 E. 4th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

2017 AIA|LA City Leaders Breakfast Series
An opportunity for architects & designers and other community stakeholders to meet directly with key individuals transforming Los Angeles in a roundtable setting to discuss innovative ideas that will ensure a healthy, sustainable and economically competitive future. This week’s guest will be Councilmember Gil Cedillo, representing the Council District #1, City of Los Angeles.
When: Thursday, February 9 (8:00 – 9:30am)
Where:  NAC Architecture, 837 N Spring St, Third Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90012-2323

Los Angeles: Detailed
Curated and organized by Mark Indig, Los Angeles: Detailed is an example and an examination by nine diverse Los Angeles-based photographers (native and non-native) who are drawn to very different specifics of this ever-changing city and region. Often drawn to and obsessed by details, marks and captured moments, photographers often do their deepest and most contemplative work close to home. Saturated lifeguard towers, power lines, closed storefronts, abstractions of a marked landscape, architectural landmarks, intimacies from ethnic celebrations and street life – these are all a part of what makes this a vibrant and special space to record.
When: Ongoing
Where: Annenberg Community Beach House
415 Pacific Coast Highway *
Santa Monica, CA, 90402

Audio Tour of Chinatown by L.A. Conservancy
Learn about the multi-cultural history of L.A.’s Chinatown. Produced for our one-day-only tour in April 2016, you can explore Chinatown using this PDF booklet, or even better, accompanied with audio developed by the Los Angeles Conservancy and presented using the free Geotourist app, available in the iTunes store and Google Play store.
When: Ongoing
Where: Chinatown, Los Angeles

Los Angeles Mycological Society Mushroom Fair
The abundance of rain has resulted in a bountiful fruiting of mushrooms across parks, backyards, and lawn. The Los Angeles Mycological Society (LAMS) holds its annual Wild Mushroom Fair, an event that will include demonstrations on growing, cooking, and identifying mushrooms. Professional mycologist(s) will be on site for consultation. The public is invited to bring their found mushrooms for identification. Free with regular admission; members free.
When: February 12, 2017
Where: Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, 301 North Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007