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Friday, December 31, 2010

Downtown Stadium Plans Revealed

Stadium design rendering by Gensler.  Image from The Architect's Newspaper and Gensler.  All Rights Reserved. 
2011 may bring a new football stadium to downtown Los Angeles, at least as far as development group AEG is concerned.  The firm released three finalist designs for a downtown stadium a few weeks ago, and all of the schemes provide an interesting look at how a new stadium might be integrated architecturally into the fabric of downtown.  Less certain, though, is how a stadium would really augment or improve the landscape of downtown Los Angeles, especially given the concerns of parking, traffic, limited yearly use, and, of course, the simple fact that LA does not actually have an NFL franchise at this point.  Certainly, the stadium would be a draw during football season and events such as concerts, but a new stadium does not seem to provide much quality of life for future downtown residents beyond access to another sports-based activity center such as that currently provided by the Staples Center.  The Architect's Newspaper has further details and a number of renderings:
The LA Rams and the LA Raiders are long gone, and Los Angeles still has no NFL team. But that hasn’t stopped developer AEG from pushing ahead with an elaborate effort to lure one, unveiling three plans for a proposed $1 billion stadium in Downtown LA last night.
The three schemes belong to Gensler, HKS, and HNTB, which were narrowed down from an initial RFP list of 9. Their designs all include a 1.7 million square foot stadium with a retractable roof, to enable convention events when football is not in town. The winner, according to the developer, will be chosen within the next month, and the stadium would be located on the site of the LA Convention Center’s West Hall, which would be demolished and relocated to a site over Pico Boulevard to the south.
. . .
Should be interesting to see how the schemes develop, especially with a competing proposal suggested for the City of Industry.   Further info and comments on the proposals for a new stadium in LA can also be found at Forbes - LA Downtown vs. City of Industry.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Break-up Billboards

Billboard on Venice Blvd just west of the 405.  Image from AdiosLA.  All Rights Reserved. 
Map of Billboard Locations - all locations are tagged in Google Maps for easy directions.  Image from AdiosLA.  All Rights Reserved. 
In the spirit of change and new beginnings, an LA-bred designer brings some year-end cheer to LA with AdiosLA, an art project using billboards and the web to publicly break-up with the City of Los Angeles as he prepares to move to New York for a new job.    Curbed LA has the story:
Designer Jon Jackson grew up in Glendale and has lived in and around Los Angeles his whole life (right now he's in Santa Monica), but recently he decided to take a job as a creative director at an interactive advertising agency in New York, and he's breaking up with his long-time lovah via billboard. You couldn't have texted, Jon? Jackson tells Curbed in an email that he thought this was an appropriate way to say goodbye to "a city where art is always tough to find, but rewarding when you do." He writes: "I hope that there will be a bit of inspiration from the boards, intrigue and definitely a laugh. I think we all have things in our lives big or small that we know we need to 'break up' with." While a friend at a billboard company helped him out with the project, he says that prices are low right now and "I paid what anyone else would pay." Jackson's five designs went up yesterday and will stay up until January 15. You can see some outtakes here.
· Adios LA [Official Site]
Definitely a funny way to say goodbye to your hometown, and a nice way to use an iconic feature of LA to communicate your message, similar to the MAK Center's billboard-based art exhibit earlier this year.  Good luck to Jon in New York,  although I have a feeling LA will be happy to take Jon back if he changes his mind sometime in the future. She is a forgiving mistress. 

Year End Review

Near the top of the list of year-end, best of lists has to be the Curbed Awards 2010 at Curbed LA.  My personal favorites worth checking out:
Although, really, the whole list is worth a good look.  Hopefully, with a (slightly) rebounding economy, 2011 should bring an even better group of nutty renderings and real estate offerings to enjoy.

US Census Mapping

Image produced at NY Times website.  All Rights Reserved
As we near the new year, nothing like a bit of reflection on where we are at now, and what may lay ahead.  The best way to understand where you might be going is to know more about where you are, and the NY Times, with the help of Google Maps, has a great tool showcasing the results of the US Census in a graphic, interactive map.  Find out a bit more about your neighborhood demographics here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Total Lunar Eclipse

Monday night promises a relatively unique celestial event - a total lunar eclipse will be visible from 11:41pm until 12:53 a.m.  This will be the first total lunar eclipse in almost three years.  Don't worry if weather might be an issue where you live (especially since LA might very well be in the midst of a long-lasting rain event that night) because NASA will be streaming the eclipse live on their website.

Further coverage of the eclipse is below from the LA Times:
A total eclipse of the moon will be visible throughout North and Central America from 11:41 p.m. PST Monday until 12:53 a.m. Tuesday, the first such eclipse in almost three years.

Weather permitting, observers will see the moon enter the Earth's inner shadow, or umbra, at 10:33 p.m., with a red-brown shadow creeping across the bright moon. This shadow has a curved edge, a fact that was taken as proof to at least some ancients that the Earth is round. The sky will get darker as the shadow progresses across the moon, and more stars will be visible as sunlight reflected from the moon fades.

The total phase of the eclipse will last 72 minutes, then the moon will begin to emerge from the umbra, coming totally out of the inner shadow at 2:01 a.m.

Unlike during a total solar eclipse, when the sun is blotted out, in a lunar eclipse the moon rarely appears black. Because of sunrises and sunsets around the world that scatter and refract light from the sun, the moon generally appears bright and coppery orange, or sometimes brown or dark red-black, depending on how much pollution is in the atmosphere.
The most recent total eclipse of the moon was on the night of Feb. 20, 2008.

Also unlike a solar eclipse, which can generally only be seen from select places on the Earth's surface, a lunar eclipse can be seen from anywhere on the side of the Earth facing the moon at the time.

The next lunar eclipse is June 15, 2011, but North America will be facing the wrong way. Another eclipse, on Dec. 10, 2011, will be interrupted by moonset and sunrise.

The next total lunar eclipse for the entire continent doesn't occur until April 14-15, 2014, an unusually long wait.

NASA will be hosting Web chats about the eclipse and, for those encountering bad weather, showing it live at

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Capture Rainwater!

Image from Tree People and San Gabriel Rivers / Watershed Council.  All Rights Reserved.
Still wondering whether localized rainwater harvesting is a good idea in Los Angeles?  TreePeople recently posted one of the better graphics I have seen from the San Gabriel Rivers / Watershed Council detailing exactly where all of Los Angeles's water comes from, including how far it travels to get here.  As they noted:
This is a critical issue for L.A. County because more than half the water used by our ten million residents comes from distant locations such as the Colorado River. Transporting this water to L.A.'s faucets and lawns is expensive and wasteful.

Harvesting rainwater will reduce our need to import this costly water; supply us with additional water during dry months; and reduce urban runoff that pollutes our rivers, bays, and ocean.
Given how far the water travels to get here, the least we can do is attempt to use our water wisely, but the best we can do it maximize ways to reduce the amount of water we have to import to LA.  

Still not convinced?  TreePeople provides a great summary of options and resources on their website.  Here are some links on the benefits of capturing water and both small and larger steps you can take.

Tejon Wilderness Conservation Easements Approved

The state of California approved the purchase of conservation easements for 62,000 acres in Tejon Ranch a few weeks ago, ensuring the preservation of at least 62,000 acres, but hopefully laying the groundwork for more than 240,000 acres to be protected in the future.  This initial, but critical step, is vital to helping preserve ecologically diverse open space in Southern California for future generations.  The LA Times has the fully story:
The state on Thursday approved the purchase of conservation easements on 62,000 acres in Tejon Ranch, the first step in implementing an agreement that would protect up to 240,000 acres of wild lands in one of the largest pieces of private property in California.
The $15.8-million grant from the state Wildlife Conservation Board will establish one of the largest conservation easements in California's history.

"If the Tejon Ranch is the Holy Grail of conservation in California — and it is — the Wildlife Conservation Board is the people's knight in shining armor," said Joel Reynolds of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of five conservation groups that signed the 2008 agreement with the Tejon Ranch Co., which owns the 270,000-acre ranch that stretches from Los Angeles County to Kern County and is thought to contain some of the state's most ecologically rich landscapes.

The conservation board's grant will be used by the Tejon Ranch Conservancy, which was created to manage the newly protected lands, to purchase easements on five parcels that include Joshua tree and oak woodlands, Mojave Desert grasslands, riparian woodlands and San Joaquin Valley grasslands.

Graham Chisholm, chairman of the Tejon Ranch Conservancy board of directors and executive director of Audubon California, said Thursday's announcement ensured the original deal will be honored.

"While the 2008 agreement was a landmark achievement for the conservation of these lands, the purchase of these easements really cements the victory," he said.

The conservation easements will prevent the Tejon Ranch Co. from future development of the properties but allows ranching and hunting activities to continue. The conservancy will have authority to plan for conservation of the land and public access to the property.
The Tejon Ranch Co. has agreed to place 178,000 acres in conservation easements, but that process is dependent on approval of the company's development projects elsewhere on the ranch.