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Friday, August 27, 2010

Broad Museum to go Downtown

Broad Museum will be built on the parking lot adjacent to Disney Hall.  Image from LA Times.  All Rights Reserved.
The LA Times reported this week that Eli Broad has announced that he will build a museum downtown next  to Disney Hall to house his personal art collection.  Sites in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica were considered, but ultimately Broad is committing to adding another cultural destination to the downtown fabric.  The LA Times story outlined some of the motivations for the decision:
In a move that adds another contemporary art museum to the city's busy art scene, Eli Broad announced formally Monday that he would build his Broad Collection museum downtown and chose a blue-chip New York architecture firm to design it.

By choosing to build downtown rather than in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, Broad will oversee the first building in the stalled Grand Avenue project, investing in his personal vision for Los Angeles, one in which downtown is a "vibrant center," as he put it, for the city's cultural community.

. . . .
But Broad was clearly thinking in term of its impact on Grand Avenue's rejuvenation. "I think we're going to create a downtown cultural alliance," said Broad, referring to the site's proximity to the Music Center and MOCA. He added that he hopes the museum will jump-start the Grand Avenue Project — a costly initiative intended to revitalize the downtown neighborhood with stores, hotels, condominiums and restaurants that has been stalled by the sour economy.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro will design the approximately 120,000-square-foot museum, which will include exhibition space, offices and a parking garage on a site that is now a parking lot. The Broad Foundation said the designs would not be released until October. The price tag for the building, which is expected to break ground in October and open in late 2012, is estimated at $80 million to $100 million, which Broad will fund.
Broad's intentions are highly laudable, and with noted architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro designing the museum, the downtown core will certainly have another flashy building to add to its mix.  Certainly moving the stalled Grand Avenue project forward  is a potential boon for downtown, and the project could dovetail nicely with the Civic Park project.   However, even with the best intentions, I guess the question remains as to whether another museum here will really help push downtown further.  At this point cultural amenities in that part of downtown are plentiful.  If anything, the addition seems to be promoting the immediate future of Grand Avenue as a sort of cultural district akin to the National Mall (minus the connective open space), with the Broad Museum joining Disney Hall, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, The Ahmanson Theater, Mark Taper Forum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown.  If highly successful, the project could entice visitors to spend a day enjoying a mix of art, theater, and open space (in the form of the new, nearby Civic Park), and create another amenity to entice people to live downtown and promote redevelopment along Grand Avenue.  How successful this will be, though, remains to be seen.  At the very least, the addition of the museum to Grand Avenue will provide another asset to bring people downtown, and of course, provide the public an opportunity to access noted cultural assets. Should be interesting to see how the design for the new building develops, and what the residual impact of the museum will be for downtown.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

John Chase

Image from LA Times.  All Rights Reserved.
The LA design community is mourning the passing of John Chase, former Urban Designer for West Hollywood, author, and larger-than-life figure, who died suddenly last Friday, August 13th. The LA Times published an obituary this week chronicling John's life, and KCRW's architecture and design program, DNA, had a nice remembrance of John on Tuesday's show.  A number of people have also been blogging about John's personal and professional impacts.  A memorial service is planned for next Tuesday, August 24th from 4 - 7pm at Plummer Park in West Hollywood.  Below are some links about John - he will be sorely missed.
LA Times Obituary 
DNA Blog - Discusses projects that define John's fun, eclectic, and passionate approach to urbanism 
LA Observed
Gelato Baby - Personal remembrance of John's impact
LA Weekly - Includes link to an interview with LAist from 2005
WeHo News  - Includes info on memorial service

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

LA River Video

View more news videos at:

Here is an NBC 4 Los Angeles follow-up story on kayaking in the LA River.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

LA River Events and News

Image from LA Times.  All Rights Reserved.
The LA River has had a good couple of weeks, including first its designation as a navigable river by the EPA (which might seem laughable given its general low flow and concrete banks, but is actually an important step towards potential restoration of the river), and then a couple of interesting profiles of cultural uses of the river from the LA Times.  The first showcased a couple of environmentalists attempt to kayak down the LA River, and the second highlight an artist's performance project within the river
Image from LA Times.  All Rights Reserved.
Image from LA Times.  All Rights Reserved.
I thought both were interesting because they provided striking images and views of the river in a mix of environmental, cultural and aesthetic contexts, highlighting how the current form of the river has a unique value that shouldn't be minimized or lost, but also a great future potential.