The Bethlehem Baptist Church _ South Los Angeles

image

The Bethlehem Baptist Church (1944)
by Rudolph Michael Schindler (1887-1953)
South-west corner of Compton Ave. and E 49th St.

In South LA, there is a little church building that was designed by R. M. Schindler. The church was commissioned and built in Schindler’s iconic modernist style for an African-American congregation in an urban setting, and is probably the only mid-century modern in South LA. But it was all but abandoned and boarded up for at least the past decade, and fell into blight.

image

Starting around late 2013, a new congregation moved in. With the help of the LA Conservancy and a 2009 LA City Historic-Cultural Monument designation, the congregation has been quietly repairing and renovating the property, which is how I found it when I stumbled upon it in February.

image

I had always known about the legendary and derelict Schindler church in South LA, but had never had to opportunity to visit it. Which is why when I biked past it, I was surprised to find that not only were the windows replaced and the graffiti painted over, but also the gates were open. Some of the church members were working on site, and let me walk through the architectural gem. They even unlocked the access to the roof for me.  image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

The congregation will be holding an Open House on April 12th, 2014.  4901 Compton Ave.

Comments
Comments

The Passage Ride _ The Afterlife of Architecture

image

The Brown Derby Dome _ Wilshire & Alexandria

"Los Angeles is known as a place ready to bulldoze its past in order to make way for what it sees as its future. This has less to do with instances of individual, architecturally-significant structures being demolished (though examples of this are not hard to find either), than the city’s willingness throughout its history to erase whole neighborhoods from its grid in the name of economic development — or, all too often, highways. The callousness (and classism and racism) needed to see people’s homes as, essentially, empty space on the map is galling.

This is perhaps the big story, but it is not the whole story. Because the city’s relationship to its built environment is quite complicated and probably unique. For one, there is the seismology factor: many older structures that would be perfectly satisfactory in most other places come to be understood as unsafe here. Some are torn down; some sit unused for decades as they await their fate. And then there is the motion picture industry: buildings that, elsewhere, would probably either be actively repurposed or otherwise meet the wrecking ball live on as only occasionally occupied shells here. Countless “available for filming” signs designate this ubiquitous backlot crosshatching the city.

Other stories exist as well, of course, but there’s only so much one can (or should) say in an event announcement email, right? So let’s get to the point: this week’s ride will visit a few sites that have managed to escape the urban cycle of erasure and live on past the end of their initial usefulness in one way or another — sometimes heroically and sometimes decidedly otherwise — be it through conscious and caring preservation, reuse and recycling, or merely historical accident.”

image

The Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools (the former Ambassador Hotel) _ Wilshire & Alexandria

image

The Bunker Hill Towers _ Figueroa & 3rd St.

image

The John Ferraro Building _ 1st St.

image

The State Office Building _ Spring St. & 1st St.

image

image

San Fernando Rd. & Arroyo Seco Parkway

image

Heritage Square Museum _ Montecito Heights

image

Morengo St. & the 10 Freeway _ City Terrace

image

City Terrace Park _ City Terrace

image

image

image

image

image

image

Comments

Los Angeles City Hall _ Downtown LA

image

After a lunch picnic at neighboring Grand Park with buddy Kelli, we ventured into LA City Hall.  Having lived in LA City for the majority of my independent adult life, I still had not stepped foot into our city’s iconic city hall.

LA City Hall is open to the public.  I know, right?  After passing through security on the 1st floor at the Main St. entrance, visitors have access to most of the floors, including the viewing platform on the top 27th Floor.  

image

Grand Park.  Surprisingly, there aren’t many other tall buildings surrounding City Hall, so you are able to get a very impressive, expansive, and unblocked views in LA’s urban core.

image

The empty parcel at the corner of 1st and Spring St. still has the outline of the demolished state office building which used to stand there (the marble floors are still there!).  The site has been razed, empty, and fenced off for over 20 years.  The City recently purchased this corner parcel, and plans to develop it into an adjoining park to the very successful Grand Park.  I vote for a swimming pool!

image

The Tom Bradley Room on the 27th Floor.

image

I was also able to visit good buddy Ashley, who works for the Mayor.

image

Third Floor Rotunda.

image

Surprisingly, City Hall has many touristy accommodations that I did not have time to fully explore - like the vintage photos lining the halls of the entire 4th floor.  It’s hard to think that the building is simultaneously an office building and a public tourist attraction at the same time.

Comments

Cage Aux Folles Metal Working Workshop _ South LA

image

The newest installation going in to Materials & Applications’ Silver Lake courtyard will be Cage Aux Folles by architect Warren Techentin.  However, it’s being constructed and pre-assembled 8-miles away in South LA.  I rode down to the Slauson workshop of Ramirez Ironwoks to volunteer in the construction of the steel tube structure.

image

image

Comments

Materials & Applications: Building Something (Beyond) Beautiful: Projects, 2002-2013 Exhibit Opening _ University Art Museum, Long Beach

image

I was the Programs Director of M&A for almost 2 years when I first moved to Los Angeles.  I owe my appreciation for LA and Bruce’s Buddies inspiration from the collaborative spirit that surrounded me at M&A’s Silver Lake studios and courtyard.  After 11 years, Materials & Applications is getting their own retrospective show at the University Art Museum at California State University Long Beach.  I am so honored to have played a small part in that history.  The exhibit runs till April 13th, 2014.

image

Comments

Deborah Sussman Loves Los Angeles _ WUHO, Hollywood

image

Deborah Sussman Loves Los Angeles is a retrospective exhibit at WUHO chronicling the early work of designer Deborah Sussman, famous for her work on the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.  The exhibit ran through January 16th, 2014.

I was lucky to attend a question and answer evening with Deborah herself!  She spoke at the event which was organized by Design East of La Brea (deLaB).

image

image

image

image

#losangelesbeautiful

Comments

The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA _ LACMA

image

I think many Angelenos would agree that the eastern campus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is cluttered, difficult to navigate, and not the best public frontage or “front door” for the museum campus.  But it wasn’t always like that.  William Pereira’s original 1965 master plan called for a pleasant entrance courtyard off of Wilshire, surrounded by a trio of core buildings.  Hardy, Holzman, Pfeiffer Associates’ 1986 addition esentially created a wall along Wilshire Blvd., eliminating the open frontage to the museum.  Pity.

image

So this exhibit of Peter Zumthor’s vision for a new LACMA campus is funny in that, like its predecessors, it reimagines a new campus without these original core museum buildings.  This plan, and those famously proposed by OMA, call for the demolition and removal of all existing structures, and developing a new mega-museum building, one that houses all the museum’s functions under one roof.  Nice.  But maybe too easy? Is there nothing redeemable about the existing master plan to be salvaged?  It would be a much bigger feat, and more admirable, if architects were able to reuse some parts of the original buildings, tapping into the sentimental and emotional connections people have with the existing campus.  Instead of simply starting over?

Comments

Happy Birthday, Ashley! _ The Bradbury, Palm Springs

image

I don’t get out to Palm Springs much.  In recent years, it’s become a weekend get-away destination for the young kids - just look at the ACE Hotel.  But I’ve never had an enticing enough reason to venture out 2-hours to the desert town.  Until now. 

image

Good buddy Ashley rented a 1957 vintage Alexander home, in the south Palm Springs neighborhood of Twin Palms, to celebrate her birthday weekend.  Oh, and the house was once owned by Ray Bradbury!

image

The neighborhood was comprised of all single family homes, mostly of the mid-century, post-war era.  Some were restored, some were not.  But there was a very distinct air of modeled perfection as we drove through the orthogonal, manicured neighborhood called Twin Palms.

image

image

The house itself still carried a lot of its original charm - shag carpet, louvered windows, vintage appliances, succulent atrium.  Three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a pool.  It was in this setting that I roasted a whole chicken for Ashley’s birthday in Ray Bradbury’s kitchen, using an infrared, portable oven.  How fitting.

image

image

image

Comments

The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center

image

The Anchorage Museum.  2010 expansion by David Chipperfield.

image

image

image

image

image

The Smithsonian Institution’s Arctic Studies Center

image

Mount McKinley by Sydney Laurence

Comments