Thursday, April 21, 2011

May 21 > John Chase's West Hollywood > WeHo

Rico Gagliano, Frances Anderton and John Chase

It still stings for us to think about the great urban designer John Chase, who passed away last year. As the urban designer for West Hollywood for 14 years, John left an indelible mark on one of LA's most vibrant cities, and as an enthusiastic friend of de LaB, he supported and nurtured our little organization into a thriving community. He's seen above with Rico Gagliano and Frances Anderton just before he read at our City Listening II event last summer. He's the one on the right, and yes, indeed, he does have his facial hair dyed blue for the occasion.

We've been wanting to do something special to help remember John and were thrilled when Frances (his best friend) asked us to partner with her on a very special event that would bring John's West Hollywood to life. On May 21, John's birthday, we're joining forces with KCRW's DnA: Design and Architecture, and the LA Forum, who has set up a fund in John's name, to lead a tour through the city, stopping at all the buildings, parks and places that John helped bring to life. More details will be coming soon, but we want you to save the date and time, and get ready for an incredible walk through West Hollywood to honor one of our favorite Angelenos.

John Chase's West Hollywood: An Architectural Walking Tour
Saturday, May 21, 2011

10:00 a.m.: Tour departs from West Hollywood Gateway
7100 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood
Meet in front of the Starbucks in the courtyard

5:30 p.m.: Drinks at Barney's Beanery
8447 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood
You can take the 704 or 4 bus back to the start

Presented by KCRW's DnA: Design and Architecture, design east of La Brea and The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design

The late John Chase was the City of West Hollywood's urban designer for 14 years. During that time, he made his mark on every corner of West Hollywood, helping transform Santa Monica Boulevard into a pedestrian-friendly strip, shepherding high-quality development, commissioning well-designed signage, and carving out much-needed pocket parks. On May 21, John's birthday, a group of his friends, family, co-workers, and collaborators will lead a walking tour across the city to experience John's legacy. Architects and city leaders will meet the group at the various projects to talk about working with John and offer advice on how designers and developers can collaborate on successful urban spaces. The walk will conclude with drinks at Barney's Beanery, one of John's favorite places in West Hollywood.

Stops include: Formosa 1140, Plummer Park, The MAK Center, Habitat 825, Holloway Park Veteran's Memorial, Sierra Bonita Affordable Housing, 8140 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood City Hall, the urban design and streetscape of West Hollywood, a closer look at the dingbats and "exterior decoration" that John described in his books and essays, plus many more (and a few surprises!). The walk will conclude at Barney's Beanery for drinks and more memories around 5:30 pm.

Speakers include: Frances Anderton, Christopher Hawthorne, John Keho, Jennifer Davis, Katherine Spitz, Deborah Murphy, John Kaliski, Margaret Crawford, Lorcan O'Herhily, Richard Loring, Merry Norris, Andy Liu, Wade Killefer, Pat Smith, Bruce Kaye, and more to be announced.

A printed map of John Chase's West Hollywood designed by Keith Scharwath will be provided by the John Chase Memorial Fund, recognizing a great friend and supporter of The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design.

RSVP here so we can get an accurate headcount. If you RSVP you'll also receive more detailed information via email by Thursday, May 19 about the route, timetable, and where to meet us along the way.

We've also put the itinerary on Tripline, a cool new mapping app (whose offices are in West Hollywood!). You can download the app and follow along there.

Remember if you can't make it at 10:00 a.m., you can always follow us on Twitter at @de_LaB to find us along the way. We will stop for lunch around 1:00 p.m. at the corner of Crescent Heights and Santa Monica Blvd. and plan to finish at Barney's Beanery around 5:30 p.m. for drinks.

View John Chase's West Hollywood in a larger map

Photos: City Listening photo by Monica Orozco; Sierra Bonita Mixed Use Affordable Housing Project for People Living with Disabilities, one of the project John helped enable. Photo by Art Gray via Wikipedia

May 9 > Osteria La Buca > Hollywood

Osteria La Buca has come a long way, baby, since it was a hole in the wall with Mamma in the kitchen. The once tiny restaurant has expanded up and out twice in the last few years - most recently with an overhaul by relative newcomer Brendan Ravenhill.
Ravenhill is a designer with a degree in sculpture from Oberlin and a masters in industrial design from RISD. A trip to LA turned into a permanent move for Ravenhill and his wife last year. And an article on his "rustic but refined" bottle openers turned into a meeting with La Buca's owners, who promptly hired him to redesign the restaurant.

Join us on Monday, May 9th for a peek at the redesign and to meet the designer. Brendan will talk to us about how he's gone from designing bottle openers to an entire restaurant, and the challenges of renovating a restaurant that hasn't closed during the process. Plus, we'll have food and drink specials courtesy of Osteria La Buca.

First Look at La Buca
Monday, May 9th
Join us for drinks and snacks at 6pm
Discussion and tour at 7pm

Osteria La Buca
5210 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Due to seating constraints, we have limited availability for this event. Please save your spot through Eventbrite!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April Recap > Sam Lubell and Julius Shulman and Los Angeles

Hooray Sam and his book!

Just when you thought you'd seen all of Julius Shulman's famous photographs, a new book comes out and completely changes the way you see the photographer himself. Last Friday, about 75 architects, students, friends, and fans at the Julius Shulman Institute in Burbank were wowed by many of Shulman's rarer images at a panel discussion of Sam Lubell and Douglas Wood's Julius Shulman Los Angeles: Birth of a Modern Metropolis.

Through his lens, Shulman had witnessed a very unique period of LA's history: from a city reliant on public transportation to an auto-centric megalopolis; from a place that borrowed architectural tradition to one that reinvented the type of modern design we identify with it today. And the entire time, Shulman was snapping photos documenting the changing city. Lubell and Wood spent over a year digging through the archives at the Getty Research Institute to find new and unseen photos that could help tell this story.

Dion Neutra talking trees

The panel included Shulman's gallerist Craig Krull; the Getty Research Institute's Anne Blecksmith (who knows the archives better than anyone else on the planet); Shulman's daughter Judy McKee; Lubell and Wood; and moderator and architectural historian Alan Hess. Among the special guests in the audience was Dion Neutra (above), son of Richard Neutra, who admitted to being recruited to hold tree branches in the frames of Shulman's shots so the photos would look more vegetated!

Admiring Sam's book

Afterwards, the group was treated to drinks and delicious appetizers by Large Marge Sustainables while Lubell and Wood chatted with fans (including Sam's parents!) and signed books. We highly recommend buying the book, which was designed by friends of de LaB Volume. Even for someone who isn't an architecture fan, this is a beautiful and extremely surprising look at Los Angeles from one of its biggest boosters.

Jonathan is the winner

And who won the evening's giveaway? Jonathan Louie got our trivia question correct and received a signed copy of the book. (Even though he's throwing what look like some "Westside" gang symbols here, we still love him.) The trivia question was: Which architect designed Julius Shulman's home? Would you have known the answer?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April Recap > The Tile House > Obscura Day

Last Saturday, a group of de LaBbers hopped into a passenger van (sponsored and chauffeured by Willard Ford and Ford&Ching) and carpools to trudge up to the Tile House in the east Hollywood Hills for Obscura Day. Owned by octogenarian George Ehling, the house has been lovingly tiled by hand for the past 40 years by George himself.

The house, built in 1927 and bought by George in 1967 is covered from wall to wall by intricate inlays and complex mosaic patterns. The living room (above) also features family portraits (done in tile, natch) and a grand piano for George's piano virtuoso son.
George discovered his love of creating mosaics in his 40s. He not only designs them, he also cuts many of the found materials he uses - bottles, ceramic, discarded porcelain - into the tesserae he needs for his masterpieces. George entertained our group with stories of his days as a professional wrestler in Europe before WWII, and as an actor in Hollywood, as well as a carpenter for the studios. 

Miss Obscura Day? Check out more photos of the house here and here.

And be sure to come to this Friday's book party for Sam Lubell's Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis at the Julius Shulman Institute at Woodbury University.