#1 // Walt Disney Concert Hall
p257 // Los Angeles // Frank Gehry // 2003
Jumped off the plane at LAX…
My journey through LeBlanc’s 263 Key American Buildings began on my 23rd birthday and before I even owned the book. Ironically my first photo is almost identical to the cover of ‘The Architecture Traveler’. Anyway, Gehry haters can hate, but I (sometimes secretly) like his work. My previous Gehry visits include two trips to the Dancing Houses in Prague under the age of 20, along with touring the DZ Bank in Berlin on architecture class trip from Sweden.
It was my fourth visit to LA but first alone and first since the age of 15. In a state of confusion, overdressed for the LA heat (black dress of course) and delirious from stepping off the direct flight from Australia at 6.30am, I decided I’d visit the concert hall whilst ‘waiting’ for my hotel room. Little did I realise, One Bunker ‘Hill’ is an understatement. I climbed the mountain and turned the corner and there it was, a shiny gleaming slice of LA that I’d seen in so many movies, books and learned about at architecture school.
I scampered across the road, discovered the daily architecture tour had begun 2min ago – joined two other tourists, a first time guide and unknowingly the 263 hunt had begun.
// 262 remain // RM
#2 // Los Angeles City Hallhttp://263sitevisits.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/2-los-angeles-city-hall/
p47 // Los Angeles // John C. Austin, John and Donald Parkinson, Albert C. Martin Sr // 1928
After spying this friendly monster in the lonely planet, I was bemused when it appeared dwarfed at the bottom of the hill as viewed from the plinth outside the Disney Concert Hall and LA Opera. Our guide showed us how to line the building up with a sculpture of a door on the plinth which framed it perfectly. Obviously I was too tired to take a photograph, as all I have is a blurry photo of the shadow of the door.
I walked past the building on my way back to the hotel from Sci-Arc. A revisit and tour of this eclectic masterpiece is a must.
Revisit // 261 remain // RM
#3 // Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Arthttp://263sitevisits.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/3-los-angeles-museum-of-contemporary-art/
p180 // Los Angeles // Arata Isozaki // 1986
This was my second adventure out of my hotel, it was still my epic 42hour birthday thanks to the time difference with Australia. At the time I was in the middle of designing an extension to University of Queensland Art Museum, so this was one of my top hits for the trip. Thursday night is free admission, so I climbed all the way back up One Bunker Hill only to delve down the steps into Isozaki’s building. I loved the red tiles, book shop and spent time looking at the skylight details. Of course I enjoyed a coffee and delicious sandwich at the cafe before I went anywhere near the art.
// 260 remain // RM
#4 // Los Angeles Central Libraryhttp://263sitevisits.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/4-los-angeles-central-library/
p42 // Los Angeles // Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue and Carleton Winslow Sr // 1926
I traipsed through the LA Central Library a number if times as the perfect short cut between the galleries of One Bunker Hill and the Standard (my nightclub, hotel and eating hub). I was a little too shy to scope out the historic reading room so a revisit and tour of this civic masterpiece is required.
Revisit // 259 remain // RM
#5 // The Getty Center
p233 // Los Angeles // Richard Meier // 1997
I don’t even know where to start with the Getty Center. I guess for locals like most galleries it becomes part of civic life and the so called ‘fabric’ of the city. I’m not a giant Meier fan, but I have to say my first visit to this series of buildings took my breath away.
On approach along the freeway, I pointed and screamed to the taxi driver ‘that’s where we’re going’ with excitement – I couldn’t care less about the $75 taxi fare – I was prepared. Then there was the tram ride up to the museum, winding through the landscape and all I’d learnt about Los Angeles unravelled in front of me. The dry cacti, the oodles of houses and sprawl, palm trees popping out everywhere and views out to Santa Monica. Suddenly the maps made sense, I could see Beverly Hills, Century City and Downtown in the distance.
I loved the landscape design (probably because it was by an architect) especially one of the round gardens at the end of an axes which represented LA with small cacti being the houses and taller cacti as Downtown.
Naturally I joined the first architecture tour of the day, learned about the grids and plan of the building, history of the different whites and all the functions that were up there. I was sucked in my Meier’s references to Spain, my Mum’s favourite painting the ‘Irises’ in the flesh and of course an amazing exhibition of Climt’s drawings.
Needless to say, I’ll try to visit the Getty everytime in LA – the taxi fares are worth it! Their exhibition on late 20th century architecture in 2013 will be fabulous!
// 258 remain // RM
an on-going record of a USA based architectural adventure // Rachael McCall
#6 // Pacific Design Centerhttp://263sitevisits.wordpress.com/2012/09/07/6-pacific-design-center/
p145 // Los Angeles // Cesar Pelli and Gruen Associates // 1975
I caught a fleeting view of the red cloud and blue whale (famous nicknames for these buildings) from a taxi in Beverley Hills between the Getty Center and Schindler House. Hence, a revisit is required to really count this monster.
Revisit // 257 remain // RM
#7 Schindler House
p36 // Los Angeles // Rudolf Schindler // 1922
The Schindler House! Was what my hipster tutor squealed when I mentioned I was going to LA for four days… So on the way back downtown from the Getty, I made a stop at the Kings Road masterpiece. Alas, my first visit to one of the ‘Los Angeles Houses’. It was delicate, beautiful and modern… but tiny and felt like I needed to scale my body to about 70% and back to the 1920s to really enjoy it.
Visiting this house confirmed the connection between southern Californian architecture and ‘the Queensland school’ in Australia. It just felt right. I also felt a surprising connection between this house and the heritage Machiya, I had visited and stayed in earlier this year in Kyoto. There was a strong link between the scale, sliding doors, planning, stripped back raw finishes, thin battens and layers of stained timber.
There were a number of unexpected moments, which once again confirm my mantra regarding the importance travelling and actually visiting architecture. A number of pretty ordinary installations were scattered around the building by artists in residence, although I thought they disrupted the house they probably brought my attention to a number of beautiful details of the house that I may not have noticed otherwise. The little roof terrace covered in vines was an absolute highlight and retreat – that old idea of ‘prospect and refuge’ and my love of ‘Juliette verandahs’ was absolutely tied into this little 3x3m space. Finally, the planning of the rectangular gardens at different levels for different functions was a surprise and reward, this level of detail just completed the whole house and my visit to LA, before I delved into the mad awesome-ness of Sci-arc thesis weekend.
// 256 Remain // RM