Star Axis

When completed it will be eleven stories high and one-fifth of a mile long.  (Star Axis by Charles Ross, not Vali)

Star Axis was begun in 1971. The Star Tunnel is the central element of Star Axis. It frames our north star, Polaris. The Star Tunnel is precisely aligned with the earth’s axis. Within it a stairway rises 10 stories toward a circular opening at the top that frames all of the orbits of Polaris throughout the ages. As you climb the stairway toward the circular opening you see larger and larger views of the sky. The view from each stair frames an orbit of Polaris for a particular time in the 26,000 year cycle called precession. The smallest orbit of Polaris, viewed from the bottom stair, is about the size of a dime held at arms length. The largest orbit of Polaris, viewed from the top stair, encompasses your entire field of vision.


Architecture of Downtown Los Angeles

Annual tradition: a day of architectural touring with Craig D.

otium

The restaurant Otium, with the Broad Museum to the right and some building to the left.

Craigs’s house is beautiful.

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Craig helping wife Abby

First stop: LA’s Cathedral.

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The cathedral was designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. Using elements of postmodern architecture, the church and the Cathedral Center feature a series of acute and obtuse angles while avoiding right angles.

Rafael Moneo

Rafael Moneo

Cardinal Roger Mahony’s decision to rebuild the Los Angeles Cathedral in such elaborate and postmodern architecture has drawn great criticism. Many argued that a church of that size and expense was unnecessary, overly-elaborate and money could have been better spent on social programs. Many felt that either St. Vincent Church on West Adams Boulevard or St. Basil Church on South Kingsley Drive could easily perform the functions required of a cathedral with minimal additional cost. Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral was also criticized for its departure from historical California Mission-style architecture and aesthetics.

Had been reading this book:

Sidwalking

which talks a lot about why LA feels so odd to the pedestrian, and the ways LA’s public buildings have of shutting off the street:

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I’ll say:

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LA’s cathedral, finished in 2002, seemed a bit ’90s to me:

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That’s the Grand Arts School / Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts behind Craig.

IMG_4631Disaster waiting to happen at the mausoleum?

Quick tour through Grand Central Market:

IMG_4651A walk past the retired Angels’ Flight:

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On February 1, 2001, Angels Flight had a serious accident that killed a passenger, Leon Praport (age 83), and injured seven others, including Praport’s wife, Lola. The accident occurred when car Sinai, approaching the upper station, reversed direction and accelerated downhill in an uncontrolled fashion to strike car Olivet near the lower terminus.

On to the truly bizarre angles of the Bonaventure Hotel designed by John C. Portman, Jr.

IMG_4665I mean what is going on here?:

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In his book Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory (1989), Edward Soja describes the hotel as

a concentrated representation of the restructured spatiality of the late capitalist city: fragmented and fragmenting, homogeneous and homogenizing, divertingly packaged yet curiously incomprehensible, seemingly open in presenting itself to view but constantly pressing to enclose, to compartmentalize, to circumscribe, to incarcerate. Everything imaginable appears to be available in this micro-urb but real places are difficult to find, its spaces confuse an effective cognitive mapping, its pastiche of superficial reflections bewilder co-ordination and encourage submission instead. Entry by land is forbidding to those who carelessly walk but entrance is nevertheless encouraged at many different levels. Once inside, however, it becomes daunting to get out again without bureaucratic assistance. In so many ways, its architecture recapitulates and reflects the sprawling manufactured spaces of Los Angeles

You said it, pal.

Hely at Bonaventure


Frank Gehry, William Pereira and SoCal architecture

 

Is this a good building?

Is Frank Gehry, who designed it, a good architect?

How would we answer that?

What is good or bad architecture, really?

INTO this NY Review of Books piece by Ingrid Rowland which explores these questions.

gehry bilbao

http://www.archdaily.com/tag/guggenheim-museum-bilbao, credited to flickr user Iker Merodio

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Whoa.  FullSizeRender (30)

I can only find one of those three “exquisite little paintings” on the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum’s very decent website.  The Annunciation:

el greco annunci

El Greco was rad, my goodness.  FullSizeRender (31)

burial

Here, Rowland talks about Gehry’s house in Santa Monica:

FullSizeRender (32)Let’s have a look, photo from Google Street View:

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Maybe the most eye-opening part of this piece to me though was Rowland talking about earlier SoCal architect and Gehry mentor William Pereira.  This guy designed so many buildings that I see every day!  5900 Wilshire

5900 Wilshire, for example.

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Pereira’s Oscar was for Reap The Wild Wind:

Did he design boats or something?  The history of Irvine is topic for another day, but here’s some of Pereira’s work on the UC campus there:

murray krieger hall

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The Theme Building of LAXtheme

(Wikipedia doles out the credit a bit more generously:

It was designed by a team of architects and engineers headed by William Pereira and Charles Luckman, that also included Paul Williams and Welton Becket. The initial design of the building was created by James Langenheim, of Pereira & Luckman.

Luckman was no slouch himself, he went on to do Boston’s Prudential Tower:

 

prudential

Wikipedia asks me to credit user RhythmicQuietude with the photo

Luckman did the Forum here in LA as well:

forum

A modest sentence from his Wiki:

Then in 1947, President Truman asked him to help feed starving Europe.

Here’s Pereira’s ziggurat for the Chet Holifield Federal Building:

chet holifield

which is of course modeled on Chet Holifield’s head:

chet holifield

More Pereira from UC Irvine:

library at uc irvine

The Disneyland Hotel:

CBS TV City:

CBS TV City

dope tumblr Jet Set Modernist has some good classic pics of CBS TV City in all its Mad Men era glory.

Not sure which of these buildings in Newport Beach Pereira did, but they all have a style we might call Pereiraesque:

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Wiki asks for attribution to user: WPPilot

More more! :

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Here’s the Assyrian-revival tire factory turned Outlets:

And the Patriotic Hall I always wonder about when I see it south of the 10:

Bob Hope Patriotic Hall

You can see Frank Gehry in the first few minutes of Kate Berlant’s episode of The Characters:

Berlant

 


A Reader Writes:

Gaudi

Re: architects whose works sound like their names, how could you forget Gaudi?

Good point!

gaudi 2

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 11.11.24 AM

 


Calatrava

Auditorio_de_Tenerife_Pano

In my opinion, this is the architect whose stuff looks the most like his name sounds.

Calatrava_Jerusalem

Ciutat_de_les_Arts_i_les_Ciències_-_L'Umbracle

Seville

1280px-The_Samuel_Beckett_Bridge

800px-The_Turning_Torso,_Malmo

Second place?  Rem Koolhaas.

1024px-Be_Dutch_Embassy_01

Although isn’t an architect called Cool House a bit on the nose?

1280px-WLANL_-_Kleiobird_-_Kunsthal_(3)

1024px-SCL2