Thursday, April 26, 2012

May 10 > Subway Terminal Building Tour > Downtown

Credit: Tom Wetzel ( 
Given LA's ongoing commitment to public transit (can you say Expo Line?), de LaB has decided to look back on the golden age of our subway—the original Los Angeles subway.

On May 10th, we invite you to join us for a special tour of the former Subway Terminal Building (now known as Metro 417), located just off Pershing Square in Downtown. The Italian Renaissance Revival building currently houses luxury apartments (fitting, in that original architects, Schultze and Weaver, were best known for their luxury hotels), but once served as the downtown terminus for the "Hollywood Subway" branch of the Pacific Electric Railway Interurban rail line, which follows a similar route to today's Metro Red Line.

Credit: Metro Transportation Library and Archive
Built in 1925, the Subway saw its peak in 1944 - the trains carried an estimated 65,000 passengers through the tunnel each day. But as we all know, increased dependence on cars and the emergence of our beloved freeways led to the station's closure in the 1950s. The tunnel is now on the US National Register of Historic Places and the list of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments (#77).

Architect John Lesak of Page & Turnbull, Evan Janney of Metro 417, and Frank Frallicciardi of Forest City Development will offer us a sneak peek of this incredible slice of LA history.

Metro Transportation Library and Archive
For the full experience, we challenge you to meet us there via rail! After the tour, we'll go for drinks and nibbles at the new Umamicatessen on Broadway, before heading into the streets for the Downtown Art Walk.

Thursday, May 10
4:00 to 5:00pm Tour of Subway Terminal Building
417 South Hill Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

5:30 to 7:30pm Drinks at Umamicatessen
852 Broadway Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014

Downtown Art Walk on your own

RSVP via Eventbrite. The event is free.

Google Maps

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

May 2 > LA Bloom and Little Tokyo Happy Hour > Little Tokyo

As the saying goes, showers in April bring blossoms in May.  This month we head to Little Tokyo for a special tour of the Japanese American Cultural Community Center's iconic Noguchi Plaza which has temporarily been transformed into a resplendent ecoartspace for the first-ever LA Bloom Festival.  Our guide will be LA Bloom co-curator, acclaimed performance artist, Shingon Buddhist priest, master archer, and all-around modern day zen master Hirokazu Kosaka.

The concept for LA Bloom stems from a 16th century painting of a traditional Japanese fair.  Based on this depiction of a community bound together by simple, shared activities, Kosaka has curated an eclectic mix of over 120 artists, designers, and performers to bring Japanese culture to life.  The underlying theme for the festival is the blossom, or Hana, and the centuries-old Japanese spring time Hanami or "flower viewing" tradition.

Kosaka will lead us on a tour of the grounds, including a closer look at the ten-thousand-thread colorful Mare Nubium rainbow which is being installed during the opening night performance of LA BloomMare Nubium is an abbreviated reprise of Kosaka's much-lauded Kalpa performance that kicked of Pacific Standard Time back in October, not to be missed if you missed it the first time.

We'll all end up in the zen garden just in time for Little Tokyo Happy Hour @ LA Bloom.  The grounds and exhibitions will be open to all for the rest of the evening.

Wednesday, May 2nd

6:00pm to 7:00pm Tour with Hirokazu Kosaka
7:00pm to 10:00pm Little Tokyo Happy Hour

LA Bloom
Japanese American Cultural Community Center (JACCC)
244 S. San Pedro Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Meet in Noguchi Plaza

RSVP via Eventbrite.  Admission is free.

View Larger Map

Friday, April 13, 2012

April 28 > Obscura Day > Tile House

It's back! Last year, a group of de LaBbers headed to the hills - the Hollywood Hills, that is - to tour octogenrian Geoge Ehling's amazing home for Obscura Day (an international "day of expeditions, back-room tours and hidden treasures in your hometown"). George has poured over four decades of sweat equity in the home, tiling much of it by himself. The house, built in 1927, was bought in 1967 and George has been designing and creating intricate tilework ever since.

Join us once again, as George generously leads a tour through his amazing home, with generous support from furniture showroom Ford & Ching. Learn how George has used found materials ranging from wine and beer bottles to old discarded tiles, cut down to create hand-made tesserae for these mosaics.

The tour is limited to only 35 people, and will likely sell out quickly. We can only take a limited number of vehicles to the site, so when you RSVP through Eventbrite (no Facebook rsvp's will be honored), you'll receive more detailed information about where to meet and what to do.

This year, we're asking participants to carpool to the home, and will be meeting at El Paseo de Cahuenga Park as a group prior to the tour.

Saturday, April 28
12:30pm Meet at El Paseo De Cahuenga Park for carpooling
3300 Cahuenga Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90068

Park across from Oakcrest Market on Cahuenga and Oakshire Road. We'll organize carpools and give directions from here.

Tour begins at 1pm

Buy tickets here. Cost is $5 and space is extremely limited.

Please note, the house has some very steep stairs. Children under 12 not allowed. Thanks for understanding!

And many thanks again to our friends at Ford & Ching!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 25 > Sunset Triangle Tour > Silver Lake

Sunset Triangle

If you've passed through Silver Lake in the past month, you've no doubt noticed Sunset Triangle, a brand-new polka-dot plaza that's become a lively gathering space for the neighborhood. L.A.'s first street-to-plaza conversion project was created by temporarily closing one block of Griffith Park Boulevard to cars for one year, and adding amenities like moveable chairs, tables, and planters. Sunset Triangle Plaza was created by a group called Streets for People, which is an initiative of the City of Los Angeles City Planning Commission in partnership with the County Department of Public Health. The plaza was modeled after the successful pedestrian plazas in New York City and was designed by Frank Clementi of Rios Clementi Hale Studios. Check out more photos of Sunset Triangle.

On Wednesday, April 25, Clementi will be joined by Streets for People's Margot Ocañas and Anna Peccianti, who will lead a tour of this incredible transformed space, which is being used by people of all ages and physical abilities for everything from coffee-sipping to bike-riding to basketball-playing to bike-tuning. Then we'll walk across the street to Cliff's Edge, which has also seen a transformation of sorts: The addition of celebrity chef Ben Bailly and a revamped cocktail menu.

Wednesday, April 25
5:30pm Meet at Sunset Triangle, corner of Sunset Boulevard and Griffith Park Boulevard
6:00pm Tour and talk with Frank Clementi, Margot Ocañas and Anna Peccianti
7:00pm Drinks at Cliff's Edge, 3626 Sunset Boulevard (right across the street)

Free, but please RSVP so we can get a headcount.

RSVP here.

See who's going on Facebook.

Sunset Triangle Plaza from Streets for People on Vimeo.

Friday, April 6, 2012

March Recap > Designing for Drylands Tour of BWP's EcoCampus

Despite grey skies and scattered rain, over forty people came out to take this special tour of the BWP EcoCampus with landscape architect Calvin Abe.  The tour started with a quick sit down session in the auditorium.  Hadley Arnold of Woodbury's Arid Lands Institute gave a brief introduction about the Drylands Design Competition and Exhibit on view at the A+D Museum and this month's earlier conference at Woodbury, followed by a few words by BWP's John Cassidy and some background with Calvin.  Guests were also show a quick video.

After that we were invited up onto the roof deck to check out the roof top gardens.

And to get a bird's eye view of the state's first sustainable industrial campus.

The slight rain actually helped give everyone an idea of how many special water catchment systems are integrated into the design.  Calvin and John continued the conversation up top.

And luckily, the sun eventually popped out just in time for our tour.

Guests were also invited to explore the Centennial Park, a private green space for BWP employees that resides in the footstep of a former electrical substation.  Parts of the electrical skeleton remain as a super trellis.

Eventually, BWP would like to open this to the public.  For now, due to security restrictions, the park is only for employees.  Considering what it used to look like, it's clear why the employees have built an outdoor barbecue.

Overall, this project disproves the notion that industry and environment can never co-exist.  It serves as an example of what successful drylands design looks like in the real world.

Check out another photo essay from Avoiding Regret.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

March Recap > Echo Park Home Tour

On March 24th, de LaB hosted its first-ever home tour, in the highly walkable, dense neighborhood of Echo Park. Dubbed S, M, L, XL (shout out to Rem Koolhaas - what up, dog?) we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day to tour four incredible homes in the neighborhood, all within walking and biking distance of each other.
No shoes allowed. 

The homes were chosen not just for proximity, but also to highlight new design for urban infill, and each of the homes underscored four different models for sustainable yet stylish living.
Photo by Elizabeth Daniels/Curbed LA

The smallest of the homes was designed by John Oddo at Good Idea Studio, and clocked in at just 495 square feet. Despite its jewel-box size, the house manages to maximize space, sun and outdoor living. Our medium-sized home was designed by architect Simon Storey of Anonymous Architects. Simon managed to accomplish a pretty major feat - he packed a nearly 1,000 square foot home onto a 780 square foot lot, thanks to smart design and a vertical orientation. He even was able to include a roof garden and small patio in back.
Photos by Elizabeth Daniels/Curbed LA

Just on the other side of Sunset on Echo Park Blvd was our "large" home, a nearly 1,600 square foot townhouse duplex, known as Dick + Jane by brothers Kevin and Harde Wronske of Heyday Partnership. And last but not least was our "XL" home, the first Sunia Home by real estate developer and designer Jerome Pelayo. The 2,000 square foot home features a plethora of green amenities including solar panels, a greywater harvesting system, a wood pellet stove for heating and bamboo flooring.

Post-tour, we gathered for drinks at new neighborhood fave, Red Hill. Thanks to Jason Michaud and the crew there for their hospitality and generosity. We couldn't have had a more gracious host when the hungry hordes descended.

And thanks to all of our docents - we could not have done it without you! You're all awesome (and according to Curbed LA, the best-looking docents in town, to boot)!

For more great photos of the homes, check out Curbed LA's tour herehere and here.