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View Full Version : Grand Avenue - Presentation Tuesday 22 February 2005



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BrighamYen
Jul 13, 2005, 9:06 PM
I think it'll actually be really cool to have that art piece. In the future, I also see some low-rise vegetation near the edge of the sidewalk by the street adding some color and softening it up a bit(possibly well pruned bushes - no pun intended - and flowers) instead of just a concrete sidewalk.

citywatch
Jul 13, 2005, 9:49 PM
^ I hope your organization promotes that idea, LAB. If Gehry didn't want trees blocking views of his bldg from Grand Ave, then I don't see why he'd have problems with your suggestion. I also hope you and the DCBID are keeping on top of plans to light up Disney Hall at night.

POLA
Jul 13, 2005, 9:56 PM
I like the bare sidewalks. Go figure.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 13, 2005, 10:27 PM
Fantastic news about Gehry taking over the project. Hopefully his people will continue to work behind the scenes to get the county courts building torn down.

I'm not so happy about Collar and Bow, can you say Triforium? There's distinctive, and then there's just plain ugly. Oh well.

Greenery would be a good thing. I would imagine no landscaping was done because that will be a part of the Grand Avenue Project. Nobody wants to plant a row of trees only to have to tear them down again right away.

Besides, maybe those folks should avoid greenery - remember the old tree in the Disney Hall garden? A century old, the Disney Hall folks bought it from some old woman who grew up with it. They planted above Disney Hall, and within three weeks it was dead!

ocman
Jul 13, 2005, 10:43 PM
New York-based Related dabbled with a series of architects before putting Mr. Gehry in sole charge. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Thom Mayne's firm Morphosis, Elkus/Manfredi Architects, and Brenda Levin were all involved at some point. The two sides are expected to sign a contract in early August.



Fantastic news! I was wondering who the big named architect was going to be. I hoped for Renzo Piano, or one of the Japanese architects like Tadao Ando. But Gehry is a good choice.
From the above quote, does that mean Owings/Merrill and David Childs aren't associated with the project anymore? What about Levin? My speculation was that David Child's reputation as being type-A personality didn't click well with the others which may be why he left.

Although this is good news, I hope Gehry doesn't get to choose the public art as his choice of Oldenberg's "collar and bow" takes a lot away from the building. Hopefully Gehry steps back from using steel as it would take away from the building as well. My wish is that he experiments with bronze like his Barcelona Fish. I hope he brings in some other architects to make the whole project more varied and democratic. Bring back Thom Mayne?

The great thing about Gehry is that we are almost guaranteed that LA will have atleast a couple unique eye-catching buildings that can finally give personality to the bland LA highrise skyline. (Even though I dislike highrises all together)

BrighamYen
Jul 13, 2005, 10:48 PM
^ Add in Brat Pitt!!! :D

citywatch
Jul 13, 2005, 10:54 PM
I would imagine no landscaping was done because that will be a part of the Grand Avenue Project. Nobody wants to plant a row of trees only to have to tear them down again right away.

I believe the sidewalk in front of the hall was purposefully left without any trees because Gehry wanted unimpeded views of his bldg. However, ppl like Pola & apparently Gehry himself don't mind such a large stretch of concrete being without any greenery, while I think it seems too barren & hot, esp on very sunny summer days. Similarly, there have been a variety of POVs, pro & con, regarding Disney Hall itself, just as there will be towards the new sculpture. IMO, I think that addition will make the area, certainly around the intersection of 1st & Grand, more interesting & dramatic. But, yea, it all comes down to ppl's personal & sometimes conflicting tastes.

BrighamYen
Jul 13, 2005, 10:56 PM
^ I like the new sculpture! I'm glad it's going up

ocman
Jul 13, 2005, 11:05 PM
I hope the New Yorkers give a good fight against Gehry's "tasteless" Atlantic Yard. That way we should have the Gehry anticipation all to ourselves.

By the way, I wouldn't mind having his tilting buildings as it's still better than most buildings in downtown:

http://mural.uv.es/serbama/F.O.Gehry.jpg

citywatch
Jul 13, 2005, 11:09 PM
(Even though I dislike highrises all together)
Damn, it really is a matter of personal taste.

I had a debate with WestheAngeleno not long ago, where I said I'd never have predicted his opinions of certain issues, such as what's going on in the Westlake dist, would have made him a likely visitor to SSP. And then I see another SSPer saying he doesn't like highrises....on a board connected to "skyscraperpage"?!

As for your or LBU's reaction towards the new sculpture, although I don't agree, I think lots of ppl may feel the same way you folks do. But, then again, you don't even like highrise bldgs! :eek:

ocman
Jul 13, 2005, 11:11 PM
I would imagine no landscaping was done because that will be a part of the Grand Avenue Project. Nobody wants to plant a row of trees only to have to tear them down again right away.

I believe the sidewalk in front of the hall was purposefully left without any trees because Gehry wanted unimpeded views of his bldg. However, ppl like Pola & apparently Gehry himself don't mind such a large stretch of concrete being without any greenery, while I think it seems too barren & hot, esp on very sunny summer days. Similarly, there have been a variety of POVs, pro & con, regarding Disney Hall itself, just as there will be towards the new sculpture. IMO, I think that addition will make the area, certainly around the intersection of 1st & Grand, more interesting & dramatic. But, yea, it all comes down to ppl's personal & sometimes conflicting tastes.

But the thing will Oldenburg is that it's been done over and over and over again. A giant shovel, giant binoculars, giant clothes pin, giant bowling pins and countless others. Collar and Bow. Because it's a concert hall? Okay, we get it.

It's ubiquitous and it isn't going to draw the acclaim that a brand new Richard Serra would probably have gotten. This sculpture I can almost guarantee is going to be panned by critics across the boards as one of the worse decisions.

LA should have scrapped him and went with Richard Serra. Gehry doesn't want trees to block the view, but this is an even greater offense to his building.

citywatch
Jul 13, 2005, 11:13 PM
^ I like the new sculpture! I'm glad it's going up
If not that, then at least a large fountain or whatever always seems to have been needed between Disney Hall & the DC Pavilion. When I'm at 1st & Grand, I see two large entities, meaning the 2 bldgs on either side, & I feel there should be another element between the two.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 13, 2005, 11:16 PM
I had a debate with WestheAngeleno not long ago, where I said I'd never have predicted his opinions of certain issues, such as what's going on in the Westlake dist, would have made him a likely visitor to SSP. And then I see another SSPer saying he doesn't like highrises....on a board connected to "skyscraperpage"?!

These boards are as much about the city as they are about skyscrapers.

There are lots of ways to experience the city. Some people's main interest is in catching up with NYC and Tokyo in the skyscraper competition. Other people are more interested in the experience of having lots of places to go, things to do, and people to meet - the type of experience you only find in a city.

citywatch
Jul 13, 2005, 11:19 PM
LA should have scrapped him and went with Richard Serra.
I think a lot of average schmoes perceive Serra's work as being too brutal & avant garde. So if some (or many) will judge Oldenburg's collar & bow as being too gimmicky or corny (as the art critic for the LA Times does, who started some of the negative feedback about the new sculpture), then I think others prob would have rated a work by Serra as too chunky, abstract & cold.

Again, it all comes down to ppl's personal taste.

And now that I think of it, both sculptors are among Gehry's favorites!

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 13, 2005, 11:21 PM
^ I like the new sculpture! I'm glad it's going up
If not that, then at least a large fountain or whatever always seems to have been needed between Disney Hall & the DC Pavilion. When I'm at 1st & Grand, I see two large entities, meaning the 2 bldgs on either side, & I feel there should be another element between the two.

In a few years, there will be tons of things to look at. At that point, maybe the sculpture will be more noise than art.

BTW, I think a fountain would be great in a location like that.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 13, 2005, 11:26 PM
Again, it all comes down to ppl's personal taste.



So artistic taste is subjective, but urban taste is absolute? :devil:

citywatch
Jul 13, 2005, 11:27 PM
In a few years, there will be tons of things to look at.

I think a major reason I'm looking forward to the new sculpture is so that the wide strip of plain concrete sidewalk it's going to sit on will no longer look so barren. I guess if there had been some of the elements placed out in front of the hall as suggested by LAB, I wouldn't have that nagging sense that something was missing at 1st & Grand. And, yea, if there also wasn't that big deadzone directly across the street, where the Grand Ave proj is to go up, my current impressions of the area would be different.

citywatch
Jul 13, 2005, 11:30 PM
So artistic taste is subjective, but urban taste is absolute? He he.

Hey, LBU, nothing is absolute, except the idea that MY taste & opinions are the best ones around! :D

ozone
Jul 14, 2005, 12:19 AM
First I must say I’m a long time fan of Frank Gehry -especially his early LA work (Before his winning formula’ set into his work). I’m a little hesitant about Gehry doing all the work @ Grand Ave. I’m just afraid it will take away from the WDCH. I think it needs contrast. On the other hand I think continuity is sorely lacking in LA (and most modern cities). I hope he can design something that will be both Gehry-esque (how could he not?) and yet contrast enough with his WDCH to ensure it remains unique.

As for trees along Grand Avenue? Yes plant them! I don’t care if the architect doesn’t want to “hide” his work. The thing is built for the people not for the architects and/or architectural photographers. (What a *&%@ retro 60’s modernism outlook.) Trees won’t take away from the hall as much as they’ll help frame it and create inviting beauty around it. A plus is that that they’ll cut down on the sun glaring off the building. IMO palms are too formal and would not look good next to the hall. Something like Jacaranda, Camphor, or Silk Floss would be better choices. I could be wrong and that’s where a good simulation (artist/computer) comes in handy.

The sculpture is contemporary pop art but also very programmatic which as you know has a “long” history in Los Angeles.

bobcat
Jul 14, 2005, 2:34 AM
If not folliage then I'd like to see maybe some street vendors fill up the sidewalk in front of WDCH. It would add lots of energy to that corner. BTW, I actually think the Oldenberg sculture is ok. The Triforium, OTOH, is an ugly piece of vomit.

I hope the New Yorkers give a good fight against Gehry's "tasteless" Atlantic Yard. That way we should have the Gehry anticipation all to ourselves.
Since the NYC development is somewhat off the beaten path in Brooklyn, I see the Grand Ave Project as being the higher profile development, it being in a much higher profile location in DTLA across from Disney Hall.

Well, upscale retail can only be found in a few places, like Rodeo Drive and Melrose and Robertson, which are all scattered.

We can consolidate them into one area. Imagine having John Varvatos, Kitson, Jimmy Choo, Marc Jacobs, Thomas Pink, Mango, Cartier, TSE, Frette, Ron Herman, Ghost, etc. all in one place...
I'm ashamed to admit I've never heard of most of these stores,
:blush: but I can now definitely see this project luring some fairly exclusive stores. I mean, with Gehry doing the designs, the whole thing just screams "CHIC!!!" to me.

ocman
Jul 14, 2005, 4:00 AM
Well, upscale retail can only be found in a few places, like Rodeo Drive and Melrose and Robertson, which are all scattered.

We can consolidate them into one area. Imagine having John Varvatos, Kitson, Jimmy Choo, Marc Jacobs, Thomas Pink, Mango, Cartier, TSE, Frette, Ron Herman, Ghost, etc. all in one place...
I'm ashamed to admit I've never heard of most of these stores,
:blush: but I can now definitely see this project luring some fairly exclusive stores. I mean, with Gehry doing the designs, the whole thing just screams "CHIC!!!" to me.

If any high profile starchitect is doing the design, it brings a certain validation to the whole Grand Avenue project. It doesn't seem so out of reach anymore. Haute architecture attracts haute retailers.

ocman
Jul 14, 2005, 6:24 AM
^ Add in Brat Pitt!!! :D

If Brad Pitt gets to design one of the buildings, that may even surpass the hype surrounding Gehry. You'd be having Access Hollywood and ET covering Grand Avenue.

citywatch
Jul 14, 2005, 6:39 AM
The story that bobcat posted today about this proj has raised my hopes & curiousity about it. Previously, I was starting to lose some interest & optimism in it. In fact, the news this morning about Gehry getting involved again in DT has made me want to check out SSP.com a lot more today. However, he's at that age where every second counts, & I hope the devlprs can keep the time line a lot smoother & faster than, by comparison, the one for the Ralph's/condo proj on 9th St.

citywatch
Jul 14, 2005, 7:46 AM
LA Times, July 14, 2005

L.A.'s Skyline to Get Gehry Touch

The architect is picked to design a skyscraper for the Grand Avenue residential and retail complex. He will again work with Eli Broad.

By Jia-Rui Chong, Times Staff Writer

Architect Frank O. Gehry will design a 40- or 50-story skyscraper next to his iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall, as well as other elements of the $1.8-billion complex planned along Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, officials said Wednesday. The selection had been rumored for weeks but nonetheless was greeted with cheers from project planners as well as experts, who said it would make the tower one of the most anticipated architectural efforts in the nation. It would also bring Gehry's distinctive touch to Los Angeles' skyline.

"Disney Hall is especially impressive and a great landmark, when you're directly there. The tower will be able to be seen across the horizon…. It won't blend in," said Robert Harris, professor emeritus of architecture at USC. "From quite a distance, one sees the tower and it marks the cultural center of downtown."

The choice will re-team Gehry with philanthropist Eli Broad, who co-chairs the Grand Avenue Committee and has talked of turning the street — already home to Disney Hall, the Music Center, Museum of Contemporary Art and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels — into a version of the Champs-Elysees. "I think it clearly is going to get international attention, international acclaim and it will complement what Frank already did at the Walt Disney Concert Hall," said Broad, whose committee is shepherding the project on behalf of the city, Los Angeles County and the Community Redevelopment Agency.

Gehry and Broad have previously clashed, once over Broad's personal residence in Brentwood and then over Disney Hall, where Broad was a key fundraiser. Gehry threatened to quit when the two disagreed on who should complete the working drawings for the concert hall. But the two eventually resolved their differences. "That's ancient history," Broad said Wednesday. "We're social friends. We meet up at least once a month with our wives for dinner."

Broad noted that his committee only reviews plans submitted by the developer, Related Cos., so that firm will be the one working closely with Gehry.

In addition to the tower, Gehry will work on the design for part of the large retail and commercial development planned in the streets around Disney Hall. The Gehry skyscraper, which Related Cos. has described as "the iconic tower," would rise on Grand Avenue above 2nd Street, across the street from Disney Hall.

On the other side of the street, two residential towers would be built along with a movie theater, bookstore, grocery store and other retail businesses. A 35- to 40-story residential tower would rise a block south on Olive Street. Nearby, the developers plan a 15- to 20-story office building at Hill and 1st streets above a Metro Rail stop and a 25- to 30-story residential building on 1st and Olive streets.

Architects for the other portions of the development have not yet been chosen, but Doug Gardner, the project executive for Related Cos, said he expected Gehry to have some input on those buildings. "If we have other designers involved for the balance of the first phase, we would certainly expect for it to be a collaborative effort," he said.

The company had hammered out a tentative agreement to make Gehry Partners the "lead architect" for the first phase of construction, Gardner said. They expect to finalize the contract within the next two weeks.

Gehry's most famous works include Disney Hall and the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry, who represents downtown, said she is eager to see what Gehry designs. "He's provocative, he's controversial and unafraid," she said. "He is a visionary, and he needs to execute that."

RAlossi
Jul 14, 2005, 7:56 AM
However, he's at that age where every second counts,

I literally burst out laughing when I read that!

ocman
Jul 14, 2005, 8:58 AM
Architects for the other portions of the development have not yet been chosen, but Doug Gardner, the project executive for Related Cos, said he expected Gehry to have some input on those buildings. "If we have other designers involved for the balance of the first phase, we would certainly expect for it to be a collaborative effort," he said.

"

Good. There is still hope for another great architect to be added to the project.

yeah215
Jul 14, 2005, 4:00 PM
I think this one is pretty cool. Its at MIT.

http://i.timeinc.net/popsci/images/future/future04gehry_d700x522.jpg
http://www.kegz.net/archives/images/gehry_mit.jpg

colemonkee
Jul 14, 2005, 5:25 PM
Architects for the other portions of the development have not yet been chosen, but Doug Gardner, the project executive for Related Cos, said he expected Gehry to have some input on those buildings. "If we have other designers involved for the balance of the first phase, we would certainly expect for it to be a collaborative effort," he said.

"

Good. There is still hope for another great architect to be added to the project.

Somebody call Norman Foster, stat!!

sbocguy
Jul 14, 2005, 6:08 PM
Very pleasing news... the iconic tower will benefit from Gehry's flashiness, while his input on the remaining buildings will help the place to look coherent and unified... at the same time, I think most of this dev't needs to be complementary to the icons that are already there, or at least offer a more subdued and reassuring counterpoint to the eye-popping deconstructivism of Gehry, and hopefully the other architects will keep that in mind...

POLA
Jul 14, 2005, 6:22 PM
This had me cracking up on SSC. His vestion of what Grand Ave will look like if Gehry designs it:

http://img315.imageshack.us/img315/3319/akai0069bg.jpg

Bernd
Jul 14, 2005, 7:08 PM
^ LOL.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 14, 2005, 8:47 PM
^ Damn Gehry! I would've had the neosporin in the middle, not on the right!!! ;)

Wright Concept
Jul 14, 2005, 8:59 PM
:nono: All wrong POLA.

You've got to crumble up some tin foil have poop actually on the Toilet paper and have the stuff oozing out of the tubes to be Contemporary Gehry. That arrangement is so 1981 Gehry.

Geeeeesh!, Amatuers :D

POLA
Jul 14, 2005, 9:06 PM
Heh. But I didn't make that photo

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=234372

Anyways, I still am excited about Gehry being on the project!

LAMetroGuy
Jul 14, 2005, 9:08 PM
What if the iconic tower resembled the NY Times building? It does blend well with the Disney Concert Hall....???

http://www.guggenheim.org/exhibitions/past_exhibitions/gehry/images/projects/projects_images/ny_times13_lg.jpg

citywatch
Jul 14, 2005, 9:53 PM
I hope the New Yorkers give a good fight against Gehry's "tasteless" Atlantic Yard. That way we should have the Gehry anticipation all to ourselves.
Here's some of that sentiment you're referring to, or what seems to be a touch of NIMBYism, mixed in with some anti bigness & anti avant gardism, & a sprinkle of pro proletarianism:

NYPress.com

GRUMBLES ABOUT GEHRY

Ratner’s Atlantic Yards plan finally gets the attention in deserves.

By Aaron Naparstek

Suddenly, momentum is shifting in the Atlantic Yards debate. For months now, Bruce Ratner’s plan to build 17 high-rise towers and a luxury sports arena in Brooklyn has steamed ahead, resistance seemingly futile. Three events, in quick succession, have changed the game and put the politically connected developer on the defensive.

First, on Tuesday, the New York Times splashed Frank Gehry’s latest designs for Atlantic Yards across the front page. Ratner has long been criticized for the cheap, fortress-like architecture of his other Brooklyn projects. Gehry, the celebrity architect renowned for designing buildings that look like crumpled balls of tinfoil, was brought aboard to neutralize that critique and provide aesthetic cover. Yet, Gehry’s designs did what months of petitioning, protesting and public meetings couldn’t. They got “sensible,” well-heeled, politically connected Brooklynites pissed off, paying attention and preparing to fight.

For neighborhood advocates who have been working diligently to get an apathetic public to pay attention to the travesty underway at Atlantic Yards, Gehry’s architectural models were a gift. Then, on Wednesday, London won the 2012 Olympics bid. Suddenly, it’s no longer unpatriotic to suggest that a 19,000-seat arena at the traffic-choked intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic might be a bad idea.

With the Olympics bid and Manhattan stadium debate finally out of the way, New Yorkers are finally examining Ratner’s Atlantic Yards proposal on its own merits. They’re seeing that the project has little to do with the genuine needs of the communities and city around it. Real estate industry insider Peter Slatin reports that the Atlantic Yards project “is being driven not by the requirements of the district nor by a compelling urban vision, but rather by the high price,” the $300 million, Ratner paid for the New Jersey Nets basketball franchise.

According to Slatin, “The project ballooned in size under pressure from Ratner’s co-investors on the Nets, who are increasingly concerned that their investment pay off.” The Ratner plan suffered a third blow on Wednesday when a rival real estate developer submitted a surprise bid for the railyards, just under the MTA’s deadline.

The Extell Corporation’s bid adheres to most of the urban design recommendations put forward in the Unity Plan, a development proposal generated through community-based design workshops. Unlike the Ratner plan, Extell’s has no arena, it makes a genuine effort to knit together and fit in to the low-rise neighborhoods around it, and, most important, it requires no eminent domain. Extell isn’t asking the government to seize people’s homes and workplaces. Granted, the odds of the MTA accepting the Extell bid are slim. You’d think the cash-strapped agency would have put real effort into marketing its valuable property. Yet, from the beginning, the MTA treated the bidding process as a mere formality. The Extell offer materialized only because neighborhood advocates took it upon themselves to send out the MTA’s requests for proposal to scores of developers.

Regardless of how the MTA treats it, Extell’s bid is a huge win for the community. Extell legitimizes the Unity Plan by putting real money behind it, the competition keeps the Atlantic Yards story in the news, and that ensures light will shine on the sweetheart dealings, lack of democratic process and disregard for community input that have defined the project up to now.

But let’s get back to Gehry’s gift to the Atlantic Yards opposition, the architectural model and sketches he showed Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff. The designs are so bad they’re almost funny. Gehry calls the 70-story skyscraper at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush “Miss Brooklyn,” as in, “We’ll sure miss Brooklyn if this crap gets built.”

The arena itself is barely visible beneath Gehry’s “delirious pileup of forms.” For Ratner and his political supporters, this is a problem. They’d much rather you focus on the return of professional sports to Brooklyn than pay attention to the 21-acre land grab and mountainous landscape of new skyscrapers. To help you do that, Gehry has wrapped an entire city block with a 10-story tall, glowing Nets billboard, complete with, what I believe is a massive Jason Kidd head looming over Flatbush Avenue. Easter Island’s got nothing on the New Brooklyn.

With skyscrapers jutting up at odd angles, Gehry’s design gives an overall impression of towers simply bursting out of the earth like giant crystal formations. Ouroussoff explains to us little people that the design reflects the energy and vitality of today’s Brooklyn. As usual, the master planners and architectural theorists forget that a city’s energy and vitality is generated on its streets and in its neighborhoods, not by “a skyline fraught with visual tension.”

Gehry’s attempt to create an energetic urban metropolis from scratch ends up looking like the New York New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, a cartoon version of a real city. Our city.

LosAngelesSportsFan
Jul 14, 2005, 11:09 PM
I think this one is pretty cool. Its at MIT.

http://i.timeinc.net/popsci/images/future/future04gehry_d700x522.jpg
http://www.kegz.net/archives/images/gehry_mit.jpg

Ya, ive seen it up close. its a conversation piece at the least and you cant stop starring at it.

ocman
Jul 14, 2005, 11:25 PM
Architects for the other portions of the development have not yet been chosen, but Doug Gardner, the project executive for Related Cos, said he expected Gehry to have some input on those buildings. "If we have other designers involved for the balance of the first phase, we would certainly expect for it to be a collaborative effort," he said.

"

Good. There is still hope for another great architect to be added to the project.

Somebody call Norman Foster, stat!!

I wouldn't mind an LA version of Sage Gates. He was connected with Gehry in the previous team that lost, so hopefully.


http://www.keyscorner.com/archives/Sage_Gates.jpg

colemonkee
Jul 14, 2005, 11:40 PM
^I wouldn't mind an LA version of Hearst Tower. Or the Gherkin, for that matter.

citywatch
Jul 15, 2005, 12:20 AM
its a conversation piece at the least and you cant stop starring at it.
I think no less will do for the Grand Ave proj. It's going to take a lot of showmanship & pizzaz to make up for the lack of demand for new office, hotel & retail space in the hood. And hopefully the current demand for condos & apts in DT runs very deep & very wide.

BrandonJXN
Jul 15, 2005, 2:15 AM
Look what I found. It's the old Rapid Transit Center: http://skyscraperpage.com/gallery/data/577/28losangeles-rapidtransitcenter.jpg

deehrler
Jul 15, 2005, 5:30 AM
I have always thought that Gehry is to architecure like the Spielberg is to movies. Lots of money flying around!

But Spielberg projects have no upkeep, Gehry's does. I would hate to be locked into an Association to maintain it.

Just the same I think it is great!

It fits right into this fantasyland called LA.

soleri
Jul 16, 2005, 12:04 AM
^
Yes. Gehry is perfectly LA. A vertiginous skyscraper across the street from his signature sculpture would make downtown the coolest place in all of SoCal.

Swansea
Jul 17, 2005, 9:11 PM
GRAND INTERVENTION
Pump genius into our park
By Martin Kaplan

The announcement last week that architect Frank O. Gehry has been asked to design a 40- to 50-story skyscraper, to be built in the space next to his Disney Hall as part of downtown Los Angeles' $1.8-billion Grand Avenue project, offers a new opportunity for the city to focus on the park that will be created in the Gehry building's shadows.

Running from City Hall to the top of Bunker Hill, the 16-acre space will be "the new front lawn of the city," its proponents say — "our Central Park." The Related Cos., developers of the Grand Avenue project, will pay for the park with a $50-million lease advance on the land underlying the project. Long before the sure-to-be iconic Gehry building was announced, the park-to-be had attracted a wish list of civic hopes, including cultural performances, political gatherings, farmers markets and pickup sports games.

But will it rise to those hopes? Are those the boldest proposals this city has to offer? And are the developer's focus groups really the best way to find the best suggestions?

My bet is that it's not too late to bust things open for an eruption of creative energy, to ventilate and galvanize and democratize the design process, to invite citizens of Los Angeles, architecture fans, design junkies and imagineers from around the world to brainstorm truly breakthrough ideas for our 21st century civic space.

Architecture is a kind of public theater. You playwrights and screenwriters, you set designers and choreographers, you producers and impresarios — what could you do with Los Angeles as a stage?

And how about you Hollywood lighting designers — how would you create drama without turning us into Las Vegas?

David Rockwell, you're a master of narrative architecture. What story could the design of our park tell?

Bran Ferrin, Bill Mitchell, Adam Powell and you other digital wizards out there: How could our park use Wi-Fi, HyperSonic Sound, pod-casting and the other cool tech in your toolkit to turn the public sphere into an information commons, a knowledge network, a virtual performance space?

The city's artists must have plenty of ideas, from subversive to sublime. Robbie Conal? Ed Ruscha? Robert Graham? MekOne?

And where are all the visionary urbanists? Manuel Castells? Witold Rybczynski? Norman Klein? Kevin Starr? How about conceiving a park for this era when the boundaries between work and leisure, entertainment and politics, consumption and citizenship have never been more porous.

Elizabeth Moule, Stefanos Polyzoides and you other New Urbanists: Isn't the Grand Avenue park a matchless opportunity for your movement to strut its stuff?

What about all you professors and students of architecture, planning and landscape design? Surely you could build on or better the 50 international proposals for a Los Angeles Civic Park solicited by the LA H* Urban Bureau, a group of artists and architects, in 2003.

And how would you Zen garden designers create silence in the midst of urbanity?

You commuters and loft-dwellers, you pedestrians and picnickers, you Westsiders and Valleyites, you school groups and teachers, you protest marchers and soapbox orators, you in the pueblo and you in the 'hood: Don't you want a hand in making this park a magnet for you?

Please don't be discouraged that the park already seems like a done deal.

The upside of the planning process so far has been its benevolent despotism, which has overcome inertia and infighting to push the project to this point. The Grand Avenue Committee, chaired by billionaire developer and philanthropist Eli Broad, has pulled together the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, the county Board of Supervisors and other city and state players.

Instead of holding a design competition, which would have involved asking developers to submit physical plans, a Grand Avenue Committee-created Joint Planning Authority invited companies to submit their qualifications to handle the project. Finalists were then asked for "design thinking": not plans, but a demonstration of how they would organize their creative process if they got the contract.

It was only after the Related Cos. won "exclusive right to negotiate" agreements last August that the architects and designers on its team, which include a number of stars, began the project.

At the same time, the Grand Avenue Committee launched a series of community outreach sessions — two in 2004 to comment on "design principles," and five in 2005 to comment on preliminary plans. These focus groups resulted in laundry lists of dreams for downtown. In May, the developers gave the public its first look at detailed plans. Some called the design exciting. Others criticized it as too beholden to commercial interests, too inward-looking, not ambitious enough.

The developer's drawings and models are still short on detail, but the scheme has been forwarded to the City Council, the county Board of Supervisors and the Community Redevelopment Agency for approval.
More focus groups will be scheduled. But as any official knows, a public comment process can be a means to create the appearance of openness without letting citizens make any decisions. And there's a difference between asking the public to comment on what the developers' chefs serve up and inviting the most awesome imaginations on the planet to come into the kitchen and cook.

This may be impractical for the commercial and residential real estate part of the Grand Avenue development. But for the park — a civic space, owned and meant to be enjoyed by us all — the current process seems at best paternalistic and at worst self-defeating. It may be a sign of hard times that we've had to turn over to a private development group the financing of a civic park, but it makes no sense to completely outsource its design to them and then hope for the best.

So here's calling for a raucous competition for the design of our city's front lawn. At a minimum, it would give the developers new designs to try to top, and it would give the public alternatives to compare. It's in the Grand Avenue Committee's own interest to encourage a riot of park proposals. Why wouldn't it want to embrace this ferment and prove that its choice of developers is giving Los Angeles the best there is?

Warning that finance had gotten ahead of design, a July 2004 Times editorial said that the design "is still at the grandiose-talk stage, with disconcertingly few details and dismayingly little public debate over what one of the largest developments in downtown history should look like."

The year since then has done too little to change that. If the Grand Avenue powers-that-be don't want to open up at least the park design process to a dazzling competition and a robust debate, I say it's time for a loving civic intervention.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 18, 2005, 1:40 AM
^ Fantastic article, right on the money. I'd hate for that park to become yet another failed urban space in L.A., due to being the misguided egotrip of a single designer.

Much more than with the other parts of the project, the park plan really can and should be the result of many voices, from specialists and interested citizens, so that we get the best park possible for L.A.

Grand Square Park is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and should be the product of all the creative talent L.A. has to offer.

ocman
Jul 18, 2005, 1:51 AM
If you have any ideas/designs for the park or a section of it, you can submit them at the website below. The best proposals will be posted on their website.

http://www.learcenter.org/html/home/?hp=1031775414

POLA
Jul 18, 2005, 2:37 AM
Thanks ocman! What does everyone here think the park should be? I would really love to see it all natural. Nothing but grass, rocks and trees. No scultures, monuments, etc. and even the paved paths should be flagstone or something. and NO concrete. the lawn would need to be a place where you can go to sunbath, flykites, play frisbe, or wateever. Well, that's my dream. And hey, it would be cheap! I guess simialar to central park, maybe not so much in look, but in feel. It doesn't feel like a park, but rather a parcel of land that no one had built on yet.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 18, 2005, 7:29 AM
^ I definitely prefer a more natural park, except maybe directly in front of City Hall (which ought to be more like a plaza IMO). Lots and lots of trees and grass, windy textured paths, benches, historic lamps, etc.

More than anything, for me, no modernist touches please!!! I don't want to challenge my assumptions or deconstruct my accepted notions, I just want a place to relax, have lunch, take a pleasant walk, meet with friends, etc. This is what a park is for, so make it a traditionally-designed park, one that works!!!

I think the hill is a golden opportunity, not an obstacle. Imagine the potential views (esp. once those county buildings are gone)! I'd prefer a natural hill to a terrace, unless it's absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, let's look for inspiration from places like Montmartre in Paris, where they've taken a challenging hill, built in great stairs and vista points, and made it absolutely breathtaking.

BrandonJXN
Jul 18, 2005, 4:02 PM
I wouldn't mind seeing a park not unlike the Botanical Gardens at Balboa Park in San Diego.

Swansea
Jul 18, 2005, 5:22 PM
It would be nice to have some trees that actually respond to seasonal changes. Or would it be too weird strolling under a canopy of bright red and yellow leaves on an 80 degree November day ;)

bobcat
Jul 18, 2005, 8:05 PM
Kaplan's commentary sounds like a pitch for a new reality TV show! :laugh:

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 18, 2005, 8:49 PM
ocman, this website you mentioned is fantastic! Lots of photos, diagrams and other resources. I plan to submit my ideas as soon as I get a chance.

Everyone else, click below for details.
http://www.learcenter.org/images/grandintervention250.jpg (http://www.learcenter.org/html/about/?&cm=grand)

RAlossi
Jul 19, 2005, 12:38 AM
I think we should have something the exact opposite of Pershing Square. We need nature in the heart of downtown, to offer a nice break from the concrete and asphalt and cars and jackhammers that will plague workers, residents, and tourists.

In addition, I think that the landscaping should offer NATIVE CALIFORNIA PLANTS. I can't stress this enough. California has some of the most beautiful plantlife in the world. It's time that we start celebrating it. Everywhere you go in this city you see people planting things that don't belong here.. kind of a yearning on their part for some other ideal -- East Coast, tropical, Southern, etc.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have a beautiful park filled with California oak, maybe some poppies, and other native species?

POLA
Jul 19, 2005, 12:48 AM
^Great point. Maybe not chaparral, but we should look to the coastline of Malibu, and, hell, even fern dell in Griffith park are wonderful places that are truely native.

cookiejarvis
Jul 19, 2005, 12:48 AM
matilija poppy would be a nice addition to any Native California garden park (they grow pretty big too):

http://www.wildscaping.com/plants/plantphotos/Rom_coul_400dm.jpg

ocman
Jul 19, 2005, 3:32 AM
Something California Friendly. I like those orange eucalyptus trees along the freeway. There should be lots of flowering trees. And none of the east coast or colorado trees.

LA rehab
Jul 19, 2005, 6:48 AM
^Great point. Maybe not chaparral, but we should look to the coastline of Malibu, and, hell, even fern dell in Griffith park are wonderful places that are truely native.

Actually, a lot of the chaparral and coastal sage species have a very nice architecture. The manzanitas are eminently prunable and sculptable. Even Calif Sage, Calif buckwheat, White Sage, Blk Sage, Chamise and the Rhus species are usable when properly maintained.

Coast Live Oak, Mexican Elderberry, Calif Walnut, Cottonwood, Sycamore, Bigleaf Maple, Coulter Pine, Big Cone Doug Fir are all short statured to large species that come to mind and most are found in the mountain ranges surrounding LA.

How well they tolerate the air quality at street level is anyone's guess but I've seen many of the listed species growing happily in the inland quagmire along roadcuts of major highways.

I look to Davis and Sacramento as models for street trees. Some of those are simply incredible.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 19, 2005, 5:14 PM
Here's my rant for the morning. :)

One thing for everybody to remember is the small area available to work with. This park will cover 16 acres, with the upper section covering less than 10 acres. That's a pretty tiny park. Seeing it in person is a good reminder of this.

There's only so much that can go into a park of 10 acres. So, I don't necessarily think a single "great lawn" for the purpose of an occasional frisbee or football game is the best use of that little bit of land.

Don't get me wrong, a lawn is necessary, but walking paths, trees and benches are also necessary and shouldn't be sacrificed/pushed to the side just to create a single unbroken "great lawn". IMO.

I wish the park were the size of Central Park in Manhattan or Boston Common, but alas it isn't. So the challenge is to see how much we can reasonably get into the park without making everything compromised and half-ass.

BrandonJXN
Jul 19, 2005, 6:12 PM
Something California Friendly. I like those orange eucalyptus trees along the freeway. There should be lots of flowering trees. And none of the east coast or colorado trees.

I love eucalyptus trees. They have a strong, tangy smell and they leave bark everywhere. But they are tall and really beautiful trees.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 19, 2005, 6:24 PM
^ Eucalyptus trees are nice, but their definitely not indigenous (they're from Australia), and they act like weeds in that they tend to take over and push other species aside.

BrandonJXN
Jul 19, 2005, 6:34 PM
Or we could go with the trusty California Palm.

POLA
Jul 19, 2005, 6:39 PM
No palms!! The provide no shade. And i really don't think they look THAT good.

Swansea
Jul 19, 2005, 10:00 PM
Here's my rant for the morning. :)

One thing for everybody to remember is the small area available to work with. This park will cover 16 acres, with the upper section covering less than 10 acres. That's a pretty tiny park. Seeing it in person is a good reminder of this.

There's only so much that can go into a park of 10 acres. So, I don't necessarily think a single "great lawn" for the purpose of an occasional frisbee or football game is the best use of that little bit of land.

Don't get me wrong, a lawn is necessary, but walking paths, trees and benches are also necessary and shouldn't be sacrificed/pushed to the side just to create a single unbroken "great lawn". IMO.

I wish the park were the size of Central Park in Manhattan or Boston Common, but alas it isn't. So the challenge is to see how much we can reasonably get into the park without making everything compromised and half-ass.

Assuming the lawn will take up most of the space extending from Spring to Hill that just leaves the block between Hill and Grand for a small forest. This is just more reason to tear down the county buildings as they are occupying valuable park space.

Wright Concept
Jul 19, 2005, 10:04 PM
There's a small space Between Broadway And Spring by First Street that could work it's way into the Forest. If you're going to tear down a building the main building to tear down is the courthouse since that will directly effect the streetscape along First Street. But again I say this will be all null and void without a strong Street edge on the Development Project.

yeah215
Jul 19, 2005, 10:28 PM
Here is a question, do you think the buildings will be torn down. In an ideal world, I would tear down all of them. The County Courthouse, the Hall of Admin, the Criminal Courts Building, and the Hall of Records. I think that these buildings could be rebuilt where they are now. It is a quesiton of design. With good innovative design, there could be great civic buildings. Just some thoughts. I like the placement of many of these buildings. Having them around park is nice. The question is can they be designed to preserve views, and enhance the experience. I think what actually happens in the buildings (courthouse etc) is irrelevant.

DJM19
Jul 19, 2005, 11:02 PM
If the buildings ever do get torn down, Related has a design for those footprints that would blend with the already known park space.

Wright Concept
Jul 19, 2005, 11:17 PM
That has been my arguement from day one. As a realistic alternative since there are too many unknows with the parking structure and how it's structured to handle the extra loads when the building is being torn down.

The entrances to the courthouses can be programmed for re-use as a small al-fresco cafe something that will activate the corners and open the delievery area and Olive Street area into a patio for a resturant. The key thing is to have something even a simple 7-11 or a oversized newsstand on those corners to allow people to have something conveinent to sit down and just relax.

Also to design them to preserve views is very possible, the current problem with the existing Courthouse is that it blocks Olive Street.

BrandonJXN
Jul 20, 2005, 12:44 AM
You know what would be perfect for the park? Borders. Something alongside the park where people can go in, buy in a book/music/cup of coffee and a small sandwhich, then walk outside and sit and relax.

If not along the Grand Park then elsewhere in downtown.

ocman
Jul 20, 2005, 2:50 AM
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-ed-gehry19jul19,0,279418.story?coll=la-home-oped



Yes to more Gehry
The involvement of architect Frank Gehry in the sweeping Grand Avenue project in downtown Los Angeles seemed never to be a sure thing. His fights with philanthropist and former housing developer Eli Broad over the adjacent Disney Hall, for instance, were legendary. In the end, Gehry out-waited Broad and essentially got the daring design he wanted. But Gehry would no doubt have thought hard before getting involved in a bigger and more commercial project with Broad.

But with an announcement last week, Gehry became firmly part of the Grand Avenue project, as architect of at least one of its two major towers. His presence should extend to the commercial project some of the buzz and admiration generated by Disney Hall.

The better news, historians may argue, is that Gehry will be getting his chance at a larger idea that he and others once envisioned for Bunker Hill along with Disney Hall.

The part of the project likely to be under Gehry's wing (negotiations between the developers and the architect haven't concluded) would be anchored by his "signature" skyscraper, including a hotel and condos. The Related Cos. (the developer) and the Grand Avenue Committee, which is headed by Broad and oversees the project on behalf of the city, have yet to say who will build the second tower. If Gehry isn't chosen, it is expected that he will have something to say about that and other buildings in the mixed development (including a badly needed downtown grocery store).

This may be Gehry's first realized skyscraper, though not the first he has designed. Currently Southern California's favorite son, Gehry was spurned as the new financial-district spires of Los Angeles grew over several decades. He did his most acclaimed pre-Disney work for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (the building that put the sagging industrial city on the international tourism map).

Gehry's presence gives the new development international glamour and credibility that a commercial developer such as the Related Cos. would otherwise have trouble mustering. It also is a guarantee of an engaging process and high-flying imagination.

The Grand Avenue project now anchors Gehry to Los Angeles and its architectural future. Having taken so long to embrace him, the city now can't imagine letting him go.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 20, 2005, 3:18 AM
If I could get rid of one building, it would be the County Courthouse. This would do two things:

:yes: expand the upper part of the park into a very large square; and

:yes: connect the currently separated streets, neighborhoods and views.

Kudos to Molina, Gehry, and others who have wished out loud that that building would be torn down. Hopefully they will push this important issue until it's a reality.

I'd be open to replacing it with a tower on one corner, if that's necessary. But the current building has got to go.

Separate issue, I wouldn't want any major retail (like Borders) in the park. I think the park should be the one place you can escape everything, including stores. Noone would think to drop a Borders into Manhattan's Central Park, Tokyo's Ueno Park, Paris' Luxembourg Gardens, or Boston Garden. Coffee/sandwich vendors, fine. Chain store, no thanks.

Across the street in the Grand Avenue Project is close enough for me. Should everything be designed well (including demo of the Courthouse), I'd think it would be a pleasure to walk across the street to get a book to read in the park.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 20, 2005, 3:19 AM
Also, Gehry had better get moving on this thing. At 76, he's not getting any younger.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 20, 2005, 3:49 AM
Response from John Crandell (on newdowntown.yahoogroups.com) to the L.A. Times editorial:


Right, Mr. Kaplan. Almost.

But how in the hell can you call it a 'front lawn' with the mall
being hidden away and veritably sealed off from the street by two gawd-awfull County buildings? I like your programming ideas though; very much so.

But if those buildings were to remain, there would need to be something primal and elemental at the far northwest end interacting with and ameliorating the grade separation from Grand Avenue.

Might this element rise above the most creative 'progamming' possible? So magnetic that even Westside minions would surrender, no longer heed that garish sun. At long last, adios to Hollywood.

citywatch
Jul 20, 2005, 1:36 PM
Also, Gehry had better get moving on this thing.
The following is a MAJOR reason it's been hard for anyone to get moving on projs in DT, architects or devlprs.

These stats are from a report put out by the same organization where LAB works, & it shows how weak or sleepy the hood's economy has been in filling up office space. And when that type of space can't be filled up, then there's not much left to make up for it, other than hotel, retail or residential----& most of those haven't been in great demand either, as new space for apts & lofts began showing some life only within the past few yrs.

This shows the owners of bldgs in DT have been stuck with too much vacant space since the early 1990s!! What's worse, is the vacancy rate often has gone UP, following a short period when it's dropped, even though no new office bldg, such as what would be a part of the Grand Ave proj, has been added to the hood in over 15 yrs.

1990 Q1 14.9%
90 Q2 14.0
90 Q3 13.5
90 Q4 13.3
91 Q1 17.9
91 Q2 18.2
91 Q3 17.8
91 Q4 19.2
92 Q1 18.9
92 Q2 19.8
92 Q3 21.0
92 Q4 20.0
93 Q1 19.6
93 Q2 19.6
93 Q3 19.4
93 Q4 19.4
94 Q1 19.6
94 Q2 20.4
94 Q3 20.4
94 Q4 21.3
95 Q1 21.0
95 Q2 20.1
95 Q3 19.4
95 Q4 20.3
96 Q1 20.0
96 Q2 19.8
96 Q3 18.9
96 Q4 18.0
97 Q1 17.6
97 Q2 17.5
97 Q3 16.3
97 Q4 17.0
98 Q1 17.0
98 Q2 16.2
98 Q3 16.0
98 Q4 15.4
99 Q1 16.7
99 Q2 18.0
99 Q3 18.0
99 Q4 17.3
00 Q1 20.0
00 Q2 22.1
00 Q3 21.2
00 Q4 20.4
01 Q1 20.3
01 Q2 18.5
01 Q3 17.5
01 Q4 17.7
02 Q1 17.3
02 Q2 18.5
02 Q3 18.5
02 Q4 19.6
03 Q1 19.4
03 Q2 20.6
03 Q3 19.9
03 Q4 19.6
04 Q1 19.8
04 Q2 20.0

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 20, 2005, 3:12 PM
^ That's why the project is primarily residential. The residential market has no such vacancy problem, so I doubt Grand Avenue will have any trouble filling up.

deehrler
Jul 21, 2005, 1:42 AM
Thanks Citywatch. I have been concerned with those depressing statistics for years. Downtown has been a loser for jobs, other than government and legal, for the last 15 years. The city had better catch on and make it a better place to do business....soon!

bobcat
Jul 21, 2005, 2:57 AM
I think those figures that citywatch cites are only for direct vacancy rates and do not include sublet space. During the 90's there were massive amounts of sublet space and the effective vacancy rate was probably over 25%. So in that sense, the vacancy rate in DT is vastly improved. (Of course, of you're a glass-empty kinda person then that just underscores how horrible the situation was 10 years ago.)

From what I've read, most real estate punids believe downtown's office vacancies and hotel occupancies will improve in the coming years as more people move into the area. Indeed, most of the reports I've seen lately now have the vacancy rate well down into the teens.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 21, 2005, 3:34 AM
Rail + civic improvements
--> residential + reputation
--> tourists + retail
--> good place to locate a business.

Anyway, that's how it worked in San Francisco. The key to the cycle listed above is enlarging the pool of professionals who want to be Downtown. You do that by creating a certain vision of an urban lifestyle and urban amenities, and by creating more transportation options.

Of course, the other issue is more bottom line: the cost of doing business in Downtown L.A. The City needs to do a better job of calibrating its business fees and taxes to be competitive with places like Burbank and Glendale.

ocman
Jul 21, 2005, 6:55 AM
what kind of trees are these? Anyone know? I'd love to see park walkways lines with these.

http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a28/dktshb/LA004.jpg

citywatch
Jul 21, 2005, 9:09 AM
I think those figures that citywatch cites are only for direct vacancy rates and do not include sublet space.
You're prob correct. If so, then those figures in reality were & are even weaker.

Indeed, most of the reports I've seen lately now have the vacancy rate well down into the teens.
It's been in the teens, but the high teens, for most of the past 15 yrs, so I'm sure you mean the rate moving towards the lower teens. However, I just read the following in today's newspaper, & although the amt of unused space in DT LA, in fact, has dropped, it's only returned to the level it last was at in 1999----when fewer, if any, office bldgs had been switched to apts or condos.

But more telling, notice what's happening up north.

Anyway, that's how it worked in San Francisco.
SF got really burned by the last recession & dotcom bust, but that town's DT already has recovered faster & better than what's been going on in DT LA for over 14 damn yrs!! And that's in spite of such hoods having less of their former office space being converted to lofts, as, again, what's occurred in DT LA over the past 2 yrs.


The vacancy rate for central business districts in U.S. cities fell to 13.7% from 14.2% in the previous three months and 15% a year earlier, according to data provided by New York-based real estate service provider Cushman & Wakefield. Last quarter's vacancy rate was the lowest since 2002's first quarter, when it was 13.2%.

Washington's central business district had the lowest office vacancy rate in the country, dropping to 7.6% from 8.1% a year earlier. Vacancy rates dropped across Florida in the second quarter, declining 2.2 percentage points from a year earlier to 15.6% in Miami, and 2.1 percentage points to 11% in Palm Beach.

San Francisco and surrounding areas, which had been hurt by the decline in the technology industry, continued to recover in the second quarter. The vacancy rate in downtown San Francisco fell to 15.5% from 18.6% a year earlier, and rents in the city surged 7.8% to $29.76 a square foot, Cushman said.

Other cities where vacancies declined in the second quarter include Midtown Manhattan, which fell to 9.2% from 11.3% a year earlier; downtown Los Angeles, which declined to 15.9% from 17.7%; and Orange County, which dropped to 10.5% from 15.9%. Rents rose in each of the three areas in the quarter.



When you see what's going on here & what's going on, & has been going on, elsewhere, it's easy to be a half-glass full type of person. :D :brickwall:

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 21, 2005, 4:52 PM
^ citywatch, did you read the figures you posted and highlighted? Downtown SF and Downtown LA have virtually the same vacancy rate (15.5% vs. 15.9%).

BTW, I'm glad to hear you've decided to become an optimistic (half-glass full) type person!

When you see what's going on here & what's going on, & has been going on, elsewhere, it's easy to be a half-glass full type of person.

:D

bobcat
Jul 21, 2005, 8:39 PM
I think those figures that citywatch cites are only for direct vacancy rates and do not include sublet space.
You're prob correct. If so, then those figures in reality were & are even weaker.



I guess I didn't make it clear that there is not much sublease space available anymore, which is why rents in DT are increasing. But, whatever, you will obviously believe whatever you want to believe.

deehrler
Jul 21, 2005, 8:56 PM
what kind of trees are these? Anyone know? I'd love to see park walkways lines with these.

They look like Acacias. Maybe not. Acacias are being torn out all over by local governments because they tear up sidewalks.

If local governments had their way, this street would be lined with palms. Palms with their hands out.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 21, 2005, 10:06 PM
They look like Acacias. Maybe not. Acacias are being torn out all over by local governments because they tear up sidewalks.

Then those would be fine for in a park, so long as their not too close to sidewalks.

ocman
Jul 21, 2005, 10:27 PM
I don't think they are acacias. The leaves are way too bright green .

Here's a flowering acacia by the way. Extremely beautiful. They grow well in Australia, which means that they probably grow well in California as well.
http://www.laurentins.com/images/photos/mimosa-640.jpg

ocman
Jul 21, 2005, 10:46 PM
From LA Times:

"As expected, the City Council approved a master plan Wednesday to build parks, shopping venues, and office and residential towers along Grand Avenue and Olive Street near Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The plan must be approved by the county Board of Supervisors, which is expected to take up the issue in the next month."

ocman
Jul 22, 2005, 5:11 AM
ARCHITECTURE
Starring Frank Gehry
*By taking leading roles in billion-dollar projects in L.A. and New York, he has helped usher in the era of 'starchitects.'


By Christopher Hawthorne, Times Staff Writer

At the age of 76, Frank Gehry may be changing the rules of architecture yet again.

His Los Angeles firm, Gehry Partners, has already created the first successful model for fully integrating digital technology into architectural practice. And with his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, which opened in 1997, he proved that progressive architecture can itself operate as a kind of urban planning — that if a new building is enough of a draw, it can revitalize a city or region as effectively as the most comprehensive master plan.


Now comes the news that Gehry has been named lead architect on a massive project in each of America's two largest cities: one along Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, for the developer Related Cos., and the other atop the Atlantic Rail Yards in Brooklyn, with Forest City Ratner.

The combined budget of the projects tops $5 billion. Together, they suggest that we've entered an era in which ambitious developers are not just open to the notion of working with architecture's boldest talents but, in certain high-profile cases, are desperate to avoid working without them. So-called "starchitects" have become too valuable now, as urban alchemists and as marketing vehicles, for developers to ignore. This is particularly true when those developers are relying on public approval — and public opinion — as is the case with Grand Avenue.

The fact that Gehry seems largely to have dictated the terms of these agreements only strengthens that impression. In each case, he's negotiated the architectural equivalent of final cut for a Hollywood director.

While some directors given carte blanche from big studios are invigorated by the responsibility, others find it overwhelming or lose their creative focus. The same is true in architecture. And Gehry has tended to do his best work when he is constrained — by tight budgets, political squabbles or awkward sites — and his most disappointing when he is fully autonomous. That alone is a reason for a measure of wariness about this pair of projects, in which the developers have taken pains to smooth the architect's path.

To be sure, Gehry is a singular figure in the profession these days. It is not just the exuberant, provocative nature of his buildings that makes him attractive to Related and Forest City. It is also his successful track record when it comes to high-stakes urban designs, such as Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Guggenheim, and the rigorous process his partners have developed for executing his high-flying formal language.

Fairly or unfairly, Gehry is viewed as less temperamental and more of a known quantity than any other architect who can credibly claim to be experimentally minded. It is hard to imagine an American commercial developer giving such a free hand to Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid or Thom Mayne, for example, at this stage in their respective careers.

And as the plain-speaking Gehry himself is quick to point out, he knows how to talk to developers. In large part, he landed these commissions because by all accounts the men at the helm, Related's Stephen Ross and Bruce Ratner of Forest City, felt comfortable taking a risk with him.

Still, the sheer size and cost of the developments and the prominence of their sites mean that they will be seen as test cases for a new relationship between commercial real estate and urban design in this country. After steering clear of cutting-edge architects for decades, developers in a few cases have begun recruiting them, particularly for high-end housing. In Manhattan, architects including Richard Meier, Winka Dubbeldam and Santiago Calatrava are working on or have completed residential buildings where cutting-edge design is a central part of the marketing package. But seen in the larger context of the real estate industry, that's been little more than a flirtation.

This is a full-on love affair.

Officials at Related admit they "begged" Gehry this summer to sign on as more than simply an advisor to the $1.8-billion Grand Avenue project, which will combine retail space and residential towers with a large new civic park. Advising had been the extent — officially, anyway — of his role in recent months as he worked behind the scenes to help shape a master plan produced by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and unveiled in May.

Related executives — and local power brokers including Eli Broad, who chairs the Grand Avenue Committee overseeing the redevelopment — knew they were lacking both an architect with wide fame and a prominent local talent for Grand Avenue. Gehry knew they knew. And that meant lots of leverage for the architect.

He ultimately worked out a deal to take on the bulk of the project's $500-million first phase, which includes a mixture of residential and retail on a site bordered by Grand Avenue and 1st, Olive and 2nd streets. Gehry will design a 50-story hotel and condominium tower at the corner of Grand and 2nd Street, across the street from Walt Disney Concert Hall. It will be his first skyscraper in Los Angeles (a residential tower in Lower Manhattan that he is building with Forest City Ratner may well be completed earlier) and by far his most sizable project in his adopted hometown.

Significantly, Gehry will produce the tower without the aid of a so-called executive architect, a larger corporate firm that is often called in to work alongside experimental or high-design architects on projects of this scale.

Gehry Partners will also handle the two- to four-story retail pavilions lining 2nd and Olive and meandering through the middle of the site toward Grand and 1st: roughly 225,000 square feet of retail space in total, set in a landscape designed by Laurie Olin. Related had originally penciled in Howard Elkus, whose Boston firm Elkus Manfredi Architects designed the suffocatingly earnest Grove open-air shopping center here, for those retail pavilions.

It remains unclear who will design the second tower in phase one, which will rise roughly 30 stories near the corner of Olive and 1st. If it is not Gehry, it is likely to be one of his former young colleagues now working independently — say, Michael Maltzan Architecture or Daly, Genik Architects. In either case, Gehry would serve a complicated paternal role in overseeing the tower's progress.

Gehry's work on the $3.5-billion Brooklyn project, proposed for a six-block-long site atop the Atlantic Rail Yards and awaiting final approval, will be even more sweeping. The development, which will also proceed in phases and thus may be scaled back over time, will begin with the construction of a 19,000-seat arena for the NBA's Nets, which now play in New Jersey, and four complementary towers. In all, Gehry could wind up designing more than a dozen buildings in the project. His firm is also entirely responsible for the master plan and for the connective tissue that will join the various towers at ground level.

Gehry, who studied planning briefly at Harvard and worked early in his career with the planner and shopping mall pioneer Victor Gruen, has occasionally, and rather hopefully, described himself an "architect/urbanist" in recent years. He sometimes complains that he's underrated as a planner, and that the public mistakenly believes his office does little more than produce buildings that stand defiantly apart from the surrounding urban context.

In 2000, working with David Childs of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Gehry produced a fluid design for a Manhattan skyscraper to house the offices of the New York Times, a project that ultimately went to Renzo Piano. (For his part, Piano was content to collaborate on the design with a more conservative firm, in this case Fox & Fowle.) He later landed the Manhattan residential tower job with Forest City Ratner. And Gehry Partners is now at work, with the firm Cooper, Robertson Partners on a master plan for an extension of the Harvard University campus across the Charles River.

Still, Gehry has never designed anything that approaches either the Brooklyn or Grand Avenue projects in cost or complexity. To commit to both at essentially the same moment suggests that he has his eye fixed on his legacy and on ensuring a continuing flow of work and more prominent roles for some of his partners, notably Edwin Chan, Marc Salette and Craig Webb. The fees from these two jobs could keep a good-sized firm going for close to a decade.

While the firm's participation is good news for both cities, there is surely such a thing as too much Frank Gehry. To that end, it is encouraging to learn that the architect's recent focus on the Brooklyn project has been convincing Forest City to reduce its bulk by several hundred thousand square feet. In Los Angeles, the participation of other, younger designers — for the park as well as the commercial parcels — may help the project achieve something more than a vibrantly monolithic appearance.

In the end, what makes these projects exciting and precarious is that in their level of ambition, and their just-add-water approach to urbanism, they resemble nothing an American architect has ever had the chance to attempt. College campuses have occasionally been given over to a single firm, but never whole parcels of urban development at this scale, and certainly never to a figure as prominent, and as forward-looking, as Gehry. As the architect himself acknowledges, there are no models here, no precedents — in his own career or anyone else's.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 22, 2005, 5:20 AM
Just received via email: announcement of two meetings about Grand Avenue Project, on August 2 and 22, at the LATC (Los Angeles Theatre Center). Subjects: community benefits plus project update. RSVP requested, (213) 891-2965, rsvp@grandavenuecommittee.com.


GRAND AVENUE REIMAGINED-Community Benefits

Join us to learn about the Grand Avenue project’s community benefits and the current status of project planning.

August 2nd & 22nd, 2005
6:00-8:00 p.m.
Los Angeles Theatre Center,(LATC) 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA

Parking at Joe’s Auto Park at 530 S. Spring, just South of LATC. $5 fee will be validated at LATC & reimbursed upon return to lot. Light refreshments will be provided.

In addition to physical improvements, the project will have tremendous economic benefits for the City, County and general public, both in terms of ongoing annual tax revenues as well as one-time tax revenues from construction. The development of the project will also follow the social policies of the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, including affordable housing requirements, living wage policies, utilization of minority and women-owned businesses and public art policies, among others.

More Info/RSVP:
Call 213-891-2965
rsvp@grandavenuecommittee.org
www.grandavenuecommittee.org

deehrler
Jul 22, 2005, 5:41 AM
This whole thing is like watching molasses race into a form that will be accepted by 1000 differing Frenchmen. I am delighted that Gehry has the upper hand now. That is 80% of the battle. It is unfortunate that most creative jobs are 20% work and 80% bullshit. Frank is good at both.

I can't wait to see what he is going to come up with. It looks like he has been given the artistic go-ahead to make Grand a truly grand place.

Art
Jul 22, 2005, 5:47 AM
I don't think they are acacias. The leaves are way too bright green .

Here's a flowering acacia by the way. Extremely beautiful. They grow well in Australia, which means that they probably grow well in California as well.
http://www.laurentins.com/images/photos/mimosa-640.jpg

They may be jacarandas, but I can't tell from so far away. I dream of shade tree canopies on hot summer days.

ocman
Jul 22, 2005, 7:23 AM
I'm almost certain that they aren't jacarandas. THat pic was taken recently from a forumer, so we would still see some flowers on atleast a few of them in that pic.

ocman
Jul 22, 2005, 7:37 AM
This whole thing is like watching molasses race into a form that will be accepted by 1000 differing Frenchmen. I am delighted that Gehry has the upper hand now. That is 80% of the battle. It is unfortunate that most creative jobs are 20% work and 80% bullshit. Frank is good at both.

I can't wait to see what he is going to come up with. It looks like he has been given the artistic go-ahead to make Grand a truly grand place.

If he's steering the whole project, I think that perfect. Better him than Related. But as the Times writes "In Los Angeles, the participation of other, younger designers — for the park as well as the commercial parcels — may help the project achieve something more than a vibrantly monolithic appearance."

A collection of architects is much better for the project. I think Michael Maltzan would be a very good choice to contrast with Gehry. He seems more "Renzo Piano" than "Frank Gehry".

citywatch
Jul 22, 2005, 8:18 AM
Downtown SF and Downtown LA have virtually the same vacancy rate (15.5% vs. 15.9%).
Although that gap right now is only 0.4%, what makes it at least symbolically as wide as the Grand Canyon is that the bldgs here have been stuck with lots of unused space for over 14 yrs, while the bldgs in SF were almost totally full just a few yrs ago & also during many yrs of the past 14.

Making that 0.4% even wider, symbolically or otherwise, is that owners of office bldgs in SF have way more space to offer than their counterparts in DT LA do. LAB posted a list of various DTs in America a few months ago & there are millions of more sq ft of office space in DT SF than in DT LA.

And even with a gap of only 0.4%, it's exasperating that in purely numerical terms the bldgs here still manage to rank on the lower side of that fraction of a percent.


But, whatever, you will obviously believe whatever you want to believe.
Whether the amt of sublease space is high or low right now, the fact remains that at least X percent of space has to be added to any of the direct-lease figures. Trust me, bobcat, if it were merely a matter of believing, I'd happily ignore the various stats provided by the media & professionals & wish for an ending where "they lived happily ever after."

citywatch
Jul 22, 2005, 8:31 AM
What if the iconic tower resembled the NY Times building? It does blend well with the Disney Concert Hall....???

http://www.guggenheim.org/exhibitions/past_exhibitions/gehry/images/projects/projects_images/ny_times13_lg.jpg

I think this item from a NY web site (along with today's article by the LA Times architecture critic, posted by ocman) gives added insight into the pic above, &, in turn, the Grand Ave proj. I like to think the type of frustration Gehry faced when working on the the NY Times proj won't crop up as he & others make their way forward on the Grand Ave proj:


Perhaps the best illustration of the different interests, ambitions and temperaments of the two architects is their convergence in the 2000 competition to build the New York Times Building, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2007.
 
Mr. Gehry was reportedly the favorite going into the final weeks of the competition, but his friends and colleagues said he grew increasingly frustrated about the corporate approach of The Times, including requirements that he open an office in New York and fly in from his headquarters in Santa Monica at least once a week. The site was also part of the 42nd Street Development Project, so city and state officials held a certain sway over Mr. Gehry’s proposed skyscraper.
 
In the end, Mr. Gehry pulled out of the competition, though he maintains that it was a purely logistical decision. “It was a deadline issue,” he said.
 
Some of his friends say otherwise.
 
“He was really offended by those people,” said David C. Levy, who worked closely with Mr. Gehry as the former president and director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, referring to the Times executives. Mr. Levy recalled a conversation that he’d had with Mr. Gehry soon after the Times negotiations fell apart, in which Mr. Gehry summed up The Times’ attitude as wanting to build offices on spec for maximum profit, and not caring if he built a box with a mouse hole in it.

“Frank Gehry is not interested in a box with a mouse hole in it. You have to be interested in architecture with a capital A,” said Mr. Levy. “He said he walked into that room and then walked right out. The atmosphere was that this project wasn’t going to work out.”

edluva
Jul 22, 2005, 9:17 AM
well, the only thing i would make of this is that if built, this project, along w/disney hall, would further fuel proponents of a "los angeles school" in-case that idea held little weight prior to grand ave. although I'd still be a bit confused as to what exactly it constitutes.

RAlossi
Jul 22, 2005, 6:43 PM
I believe it's called a Golden Shower tree. Don't laugh.


From
http://www.chiangmai-chiangrai.com/nine_auspicious_trees.html

The Golden Shower (Cassia fistula linn also known as Laburnum) shows brilliant yellow blossoms during February and May, which hang in a cascade from the branches, during the hot, dry season. It, too, can grow to a height of 15 meters. This is Thailand's national tree, especially for auspicious ceremonies and important events.

http://mgonline.com/cassia01.jpg

Wright Concept
Jul 22, 2005, 6:51 PM
This whole thing is like watching molasses race into a form that will be accepted by 1000 differing Frenchmen. I am delighted that Gehry has the upper hand now. That is 80% of the battle. It is unfortunate that most creative jobs are 20% work and 80% bullshit. Frank is good at both.

I can't wait to see what he is going to come up with. It looks like he has been given the artistic go-ahead to make Grand a truly grand place.

If he's steering the whole project, I think that perfect. Better him than Related. But as the Times writes "In Los Angeles, the participation of other, younger designers — for the park as well as the commercial parcels — may help the project achieve something more than a vibrantly monolithic appearance."

A collection of architects is much better for the project. I think Michael Maltzan would be a very good choice to contrast with Gehry. He seems more "Renzo Piano" than "Frank Gehry".

The hell with someone like Renzo Piano., Give us Piano or Rafael Moneo(who designed the Cathedral on Temple/Grand) to do it. These architects craft enviroments rather than Ego-driven icons.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jul 22, 2005, 7:03 PM
I believe it's called a Golden Shower tree. Don't laugh.


He he! :eek: :laugh:

ocman
Jul 22, 2005, 10:27 PM
I doubt Grand Avenue can get Renzo Piano, especially if they had a hard time getting Frank Gehry. I suspect the best LA can probably do is to get someone associated with Gehry on his previous team, (Foster, Hadid, Nouvel) or his former associate like Michael Maltzan, although sort of unknown, his work is very elegant, very subdued. And so what if he isn't a huge name? We already have Frank Gehry.


http://www.hammer.ucla.edu/resources/2737/theatre.entrance_web.jpg http://www.hughpearman.com/illustrations3/momaqnslobby1.jpg

bobcat
Jul 23, 2005, 7:08 PM
Gehry Partners will also handle the two- to four-story retail pavilions lining 2nd and Olive and meandering through the middle of the site toward Grand and 1st: roughly 225,000 square feet of retail space in total, set in a landscape designed by Laurie Olin. Related had originally penciled in Howard Elkus, whose Boston firm Elkus Manfredi Architects designed the suffocatingly earnest Grove open-air shopping center here, for those retail pavilions.



Does anyone know if Gehry has designed any similar type of retail development before? Some people may call the Grove "suffocating," but you can't deny that it's still a very popular place where people like to hang out. While I'm sure Gehry's designs will be unique and iconic, I'm wondering if visitors will actually find them enjoyable.

POLA
Jul 23, 2005, 8:45 PM
Good question bobcat... Hell, just get the blueprints for the grove and reverse them.;)