The Housing Chronicles Blog: L.A. Times architecture critic calls L.A. Live a bust

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

L.A. Times architecture critic calls L.A. Live a bust

Just when many Angelenos were on the verge of clinching a potential icon that would represent downtown Los Angeles in the 21st century with L.A. Live, L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne considers the second phase a bust, offering us this:

Even by the rather forgiving standards of a city whose leaders -- and whose public, for that matter -- demand little from developers when it comes to civic-minded design, the project is relentlessly focused on creating its own wholly separate commercial universe: a brighter, more strategically frenzied place than the world outside its doors...

The trouble is that the new buildings -- designed by RTKL, a Baltimore-based firm that also created the master plan for L.A. Live -- have almost nothing to say to or about downtown Los Angeles. Clad in glass and panels of metal and limestone, they are adamant in their sleek placelessness.

Their primary concern is matching, in palette and spirit, the Staples Center next door (which, not coincidentally, is also an AEG property).
When you get right down to it, their architecture is fundamentally not really architecture at all but an extensive series of armatures on which the developer and its tenants can hang logos, video screens and a sophisticated range of lighting effects.

"...not really architecture at all but an extensive series of armatures?" As my 7-year-old niece would say, "How rude!" But maybe he's trying to make a larger point:

For decades, we have largely built the city with a kind of all-or-nothing zeal, pouring money and architecture into stand-alone projects of increasingly massive scale and failing to coax developers to knit them into their neighborhoods with any real care.

For cities, the benefit of a gargantuan new development is not only the boost it gives to the tax base but also, in urban terms, its spillover effect -- energy and people flowing into the surrounding area. The entirety of the AEG development downtown -- Staples plus L.A. Live -- is designed like an airtight cruise ship, turning not a welcoming face but the architectural equivalent of a massive hull to the neighbors. Its spillover effect may be measured not in gallons but in drops.

Click here for entire article.

1 comment:

I'm Not POTUS said...

I guess this guy never read Defensible Space. Otherwise he might realize it is not the fault of owners nor Architects for what we have at LA Live.
Citizenship is no longer a participatory act in America. You are a consumer and nothing more. The Owners lure you in to spend money and Architects make sure you want to come back. Nothing more is required nothing else is expected.
If you want something different start by getting to know your neighbors. After you learn their names, invite them for a soccer game in the park, maybe ask them to help you clean up the gutters of your street.