Posts Tagged ‘Architecture’

SERIES – Visions of the Ambassador: Introduction

ambassador2Today I was remembering a fancy corporate event I witnessed in the mid-90s. It was the kind of an all-out, over-the-top shindig people simply don’t *have* in economic times like these. The theme of this party was the famous Cocoanut Grove nightclub… so for one night, Disney paid to have the Ambassador Hotel returned to its former glory. A friend had been invited by a client, and I won the lottery as his plus one.

ambassadorUntil I physically got out of the car that night, it really didn’t register what I was about to experience. I knew about the Cocoanut Grove and I knew Robert Kennedy had been shot in the kitchen… but walking up to the front, surrounded by klieg lights, the night ended up being more profound and emotional for me than I’d expected. There was plentiful food and drink, and fortune tellers and games scattered around… but it was the building that entertained me. At one point I remember walking through the nightclub just mesmerised by the palm tree columns that still existed. After a few drinks, while everyone else was busy shmoozing, I then became obsessed with seeing where Kennedy died. A small group of us convinced a waiter to let us sneak back into the kitchen and I remember tipsily wandering around muttering “Where is it?” until a busboy pointed down at the ground. I sobered up instantly as a very haunting image flashed into my brain and wouldn’t leave. The past became so vivid for a moment that I felt a bit of an Overlook Hotel vibe. I was a bit quieter for the rest of the night.

When the party was over, I knew in my heart that I’d been touched by a place that wasn’t going to exist much longer. The importance wasn’t lost on me… as I walked outside I felt like someone hesitating to leave their sickly grandparent’s house, knowing they probably weren’t going to see them alive again. And sure enough, I didn’t… as the Ambassador faced the wrecking ball, I avoided driving by it. I found its destruction too depressing to think about.

On the 24 acres where the Ambassador once stood, a $571-million kindergarten-to-12th-grade school campus is gradually opening its doors now. I’m not complaining about this… what’s happened has happened and as I see it the hard facts here are simple ones. Both of these statements are true and indisputable: 1) Schools are good. 2) We have lost something very special. So this month I’m going to do a little series focusing on the incredible glory of Los Angeles’ former jewel The Ambassador Hotel. It was too fantabulous and important of a place for one single post to do it justice.


RIP – Pierre Cabrol, Architect of the Cinerama Dome

cineramaPierre Cabrol, an architect with Welton Becket and Associates who was the lead designer for the Cinerama Dome and other projects, died Oct. 8 at his home in Los Angeles, his family said. He was 84 and had dementia.

From 1957 to 1987 Cabrol worked for Becket, the noted Los Angeles architect whose designs include the iconic Capitol Records building in Hollywood and the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles. Cabrol, who had worked for innovative architect R. Buckminster Fuller while attending graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, used Fuller’s geodesic dome concept for the modernist movie palace that opened on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood in 1963. (more…)


VIDEO – Golden Eras of L.A.

This video explores the “epicenter of kitsch” is hosted by Charles Phoenix, Billy Shire and architectural historian John English.


RIP – Julius Schulman, California Cool Photographer

Case Study House No. 22 Sometimes I’ll start researching an article and then realize someone else has already crafted the post I was about to do. This is one of those times, so rather than re-invent the wheel, let me just say that Flavorpill did a great post on late architectural photographer Julius Shulman this morning. Schulman, who passed away on July 15th at 98, masterfully framed the “California cool” lifestyle as modernism entered the Southland landscape. His photos make me want to sit on an avocado green divan and drink a martini. Yes, I know it’s 10am. Your point?


ONGOING – The Sketches of Richard Neutra

neutra self-portraitWhat: RICHARD NEUTRA, Architect: Sketches and Drawings
When:
Until November 1, 2009
Where: Central Library – Getty Gallery, 630 W. 5th Street, Downtown (213) 228-7000

Richard Neutra (1892-1970) was a pioneer of 20th century architecture whose geometric, airy structures helped to instill West Coast modernism across the landscape of Los Angeles. This exhibit at the Main Library downtown features 140 rare drawings spanning most of Neutra’s career.

“Nearly 50 years ago, architect Richard Neutra donated a collection of his drawings and sketches to UCLA. They included illustrations of famous projects he had worked on as well as those he had hoped to begin but could never get off the ground.

But the collection was notable because it also included drawings that have nothing to do with architecture: self-portraits, sketches of family members and landscapes that he created while vacationing in Europe and the U.S.

The drawings are stored in the university’ special collections and, for the most part, they have remained out of public view. Now, a new exhibition at the Central Library in downtown L.A. is offering a glimpse into this little-seen facet of Neutra’s output.” (SOURCE)

If you are more interested in checking out his architecture up close, you can take yourself on a tour of Neutra’s buildings around L.A. His former office in Silver Lake still stands as a registered historic place.


IMAGERY – Sister Aimee’s Stained Glass

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnHNUIx-bks[/youtube] Up until a few days ago, I had never set foot in the Angelus Temple in Echo Park. Not being much for organized religion myself, this might not seem unusual… except that the temple is one of the more noteworthy parts of my family heritage. At 19, my Grandma Beulah preached at Pentacostal tent revivals alongside the woman who built the temple, Sister Aimee Semple McPherson, and often babysat Aimee’s son Rolf who recently passed away. I’ve passed the huge structure so many times that getting out of my car and walking inside was a long overdue experience.

To say that Sister Aimee was one of the most influential and controversial women of the 20th Century in America is an understatement. Let me put it this way… her following was so large that she estimated the entire $1.2 million cost of the temple (we’re talking 1924, people – think about it) was paid for with an average donation of TWO CENTS. I’ll be writing more about her in the future… now that I have this site, I have a great excuse to make myself get off my rear and do some research. My dream is to go through their archives and find some incredible photo of my nutty Grandma as a young girl speaking in tongues or something, but that will take time. So for the moment I’ll just share with you a photo I took of one of the temple’s original stained glass window after the jump. Sister Aimee is the woman portrayed kneeling on the bottom left. CLICK ON THE IMAGE FOR A LARGER VIEW.
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