Thursday, March 3, 2022

On The Schedule, March 2022

This month, I talk with Steve Chiotakis on this broadcast of KCRW's Greater LA about the Sixth Street Viaduct, which I visited with architect Michael Maltzan. It is nearing completion and looking like it will be a more than worthy replacement for the former iconic bridge, especially for cyclists....

I'll give a public talk at USC's Roski Graduate Gallery in the Arts District on Tuesday March 22, about Radical Retrofitting as a means to reduce the waste in design and architecture without losing the thrill of the new. I hope you will join me and host April Greiman.

We say goodbye to the terrific deCoding Asian Urbanism exhibition at Helms Bakery District with a talk with Farooq Ameen, Kulapat Yantrasast and Astrid Haryati. The evening opens with Olga Severina, of PosterTerritory, discussing the crisis in Ukraine and how designers are pleading for peace, both at Helms Bakery District. 

Also, catch Episode 1 of Season 3 of Rodeo Drive: The Podcast, helmed by Pari Ehsan and Jason E.C. Wright, with a writing assist from yours truly. They explore today's convergence of art and fashion, effectively modeled by guest Jeffrey Deitch, the art dealer/curator, in a Dior suit designed with artist Kenny Scharf.

And, in case you missed it, check out my conversation with architect Diébédo Francis Kéré, on this past DnA. Kéré, above, in front of his installation at Coachella Music Festival in 2019, is the winner of this year's Pritzker Prize. He is the creator of gentle, lovely spaces and places rich in color, craft and community, inspired by the protective baobab trees of his native Burkina Faso. Kéré is the first architect from the continent of Africa to garner the prestigious prize. Long overdue and very well-deserved.


The Sixth Street Viaduct is reborn, and may become a new icon for LA

The old Sixth Street Viaduct, built in 1932, was a beloved landmark that suffered from “concrete cancer” and was torn down in 2016. The city of Los Angeles launched a competition to find a design that would replace an icon with a new icon.

The architect Michael Maltzan and engineers HNTB won the commission with a design intended to be architecturally spectacular, and provide amenities not usually associated with large bridges, like bike lanes and parks, for the communities at each end. Now the replacement bridge, seen above from Whittier Boulevard, is coming into focus and it promises to be a graceful and dramatic structure, with ten pairs of arches that feel as if they are leaping to infinity. 

Perhaps the most surprising element is a spiraling ramp that will enable cyclists to pedal from the bike lane by the river up to their lanes on the bridge. The climb is not for the faint of heart. “You have to put in a bit of an effort to earn the climb, absolutely,” says Maltzan, a keen cyclist himself. “If you're going to be king of the mountain, you have to do a little bit of work.” Catch the full story on this episode of Greater LA.


"Radical Retrofits:" USC Roski Talk

Tuesday, Mar 22, 7pm

Please join me on March 22 for a talk about "radical retrofits" that I'll give at the USC Roski Graduate Gallery, at the invitation of the inimitable designer and USC professor April Greiman. It takes off from conversations I had with students while researching the KCRW radio series Wasted. They expressed a pessimism at putting more stuff into the world, saying we have enough already and should cleverly reuse what we already have.

This approach was validated when a jury gave the prestigious Pritzker Prize for 2021 to Lacaton and Vassal, the French firm that adapts existing buildings in highly innovative ways, instead of building ground-up structures in place of old ones. “Demolition is violence,” they say.  Now preservationists, sustainability advocates and innovative designers may be finding common ground.

On Tuesday I will talk about this emerging worldview and will show examples of repurposing old buildings and products, from making structural changes to creative painting as at St. Elmo Village, above.

Get all the details here


Rodeo Drive: The Podcast, Season 3

Launches March 16

"We've seen some artist fashion collaborations that are dead on arrival. But then we've seen others that are just fantastic and inspiring." So says Jeffrey Deitch, art dealer and curator, as he sported a Dior suit designed in collaboration with the artist Kenny Scharf at the recent Frieze art fair. Hear Deitch in conversation with Pari Ehsan on Episode 1 of Season 3 of Rodeo Drive: The Podcast, a series I've been helping write.

Ehsan is the Iranian American founder of Pari Dust, an influential, digital platform in which she artfully poses in settings that bring together art and fashion. Jason E.C. Wright is the founder of Burntsienna Research Society, and has long experience in retail. They are, respectively, the new host and field correspondent for this series about the luxury thoroughfare, featuring stories about the entrepreneurs who transformed the onetime bridle path in semi-rural Beverly Hills into the three-block capital of luxury, along with profiles of the makers and shakers behind high fashion brands.

The kickoff episode of this third season is about art, fashion and Beverly Hills. Ehsan and Wright join the VIPs at Frieze art fair, including Hunter Drohojowska-Philp and Eric Buterbaugh, and then Ehsan sits down with Jeffrey Deitch, art dealer and curator and discusses art-fashion collaborations. Next comes sport and fashion, sustainability in high fashion, why sneakers are big on Rodeo Drive, and shopping in the metaverse.


deCoding Asian Urbanism: A Discussion

Thursday, March 3, 6:30pm

deCoding Asian Urbanism is a timely book and exhibition about the unprecedented, meteoric growth of Asian cities, and the “urban acupuncture” projects that are making them more liveable. This Thursday, March 3, Helms invites you for a reception and conversation about the issues raised by DAU. What happens to cultural identity in the face of such extreme change and what can designers do to recreate a sense of place? Does the extreme density of Asian cities represent the future for all growing cities?

I will talk about all this with Farooq Ameen, Bangladesh-born architect, planner and creator of DAU; Astrid Haryati, Indonesian-born architect, planner and past deputy on public policy for Indonesia’s Minister of Trade; and Kulapat Yantrasast, Thailand-born architect and thought-leader in the fields of architecture, art, and sustainable design.

While there, visitors can tour the DAU exhibition. Ameen, designer Caglar Gokbulut, filmmaker Miriam Kuhlman, Swinerton construction and other talents have transformed a showroom at the design center at Helms Bakery District into a maze of tight spaces, containing vivid photographs, visualizations of stunning population growth data, kaleidoscopic films of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Hong Kong and Tokyo by Kuhlmann, as well as moments of respite from the chaos in depictions of ancient culture and in new developments aimed at reconnecting residents to cultural touchpoints and to nature.

Get the details here

Olga Severina, Ukraine and a Call to Designers

Thursday, March 3, 6pm

Olga Severina
is a graphic designer and founder of PosterTerritory, which creates global poster competitions around a theme, exemplified last year in her wonderful Biophilia exhibition at Helms Bakery District. Severina was raised in Ukraine and has work and family in Russia. Now she sees her country being crushed, fraternal ties tragically frayed and a global geopolitical crisis in the making. 

So she is supporting a new poster campaign, making the visual case for peace (poster by Agnieszka Srokosz, above.) On Thursday, March 3, Severina will speak at Helms; she will reflect on her native country and offer thoughts on how artists and designers might make their voices heard. Catch my conversation with her, before deCoding Asian Urbanism: A Discussion (see above.)


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