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Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Hawthorne’

Surprise! The CAA Death Star Really Does Look Like the Death Star


W scores the media coup that the Los Angeles Times could not: A really good on-the-record peek, with lotsa photos, of the new Gensler-designed CAA headquarters here in LA.

The article even uses the colloquial name for CAA’s new building, the Death Star, a term which should be properly attributed to Jedi master Mark Lisanti at Defamer, lest we forget. Unfortunately, the article forgets. What they do mention, as you’ll remember, is that Christopher Hawthorne was given a top-secret tour for the LAT that was so top-secret that CAA partner Bryan Lourd actually used his dark-side powers to take back all information previously given to Hawthorne during the interview.

But when it comes mentioning the Death Star to Lourd, W misses the chance to make a really great joke:

Small wonder then that Hollywood gawkers, industry insiders and rival agents have dubbed the place the Death Star, in recognition of the attraction, envy and, likely, fear that CAA inspires. “I don’t understand what it means,” deadpans Lourd. “Is that Star Trek or Star Wars?”

Really? Because Lourd used to date Carrie Fisher.

And he left her for another man. Even back then, Princess Leia knew she did not want anything to do with that Death Star.

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Geoff Manaugh Takes a Walk With Christopher Hawthorne


Architectural futurist and BLDG blogger Geoff Manaugh has abandoned us here in the fair City of Angels for the green design pastures of Dwell. But from time to time, we still get his Los Angeles reflections–like this amazing essay from just a few weeks back–and this weekend’s walk and talk with Christopher Hawthorne (which was actually conducted before he left, but apparently these things take time). Although the story’s short on any “sights and sounds of Culver City” besides a Starbucks and the Sony lot, there are three things we learn about Manaugh:

1. He wanted to be poet (makes sense) and toured with Allen Ginsburg as his opening act (wow).

2. He loves “really dumb things” like the La Brea Tar Pits.

3. His hair used to be bleached blond.

Christopher Hawthorne Hates the Building, Loves April Greiman’s Rice


Perpetually picky Christopher Hawthorne has hated on Lorcan O’Herlihy, gone out of his way to define ugly, compared Rem to Rove, and this week, trashes Arquitectonica‘s new project in LA. But maybe if he focused on reviewing gigantic public art installations, he would be a lot happier. Because this week, even though he despised the building it straddles, he sure loved April Greiman‘s rice bowl:

What caught my attention first was a huge, brightly colored mural by April Greiman, which covers two ends of the building as they converge at the corner and shows an abstracted rice bowl. The whole ensemble — broad-shouldered, street-hugging architecture meets gigantic work of art — struck me as both full of and larger than life.

We dunno, we say he’s got a second career as a graphic design critic. We wish we could say the same about a few commenters who give their two cents about the mural in the feedback section. Like this one: “Long-time residents are being shoved out of their homes and on to the sidewalks, begging for fair and affordable housing. Is that what the ‘abstracted rice bowl’ is supposed to symbolize?”

Dining With David Adjaye


You may think the days of a design blogger are filled with poolside daiquiris, mani-pedis, and long leisurely naps. And you’re right. But it’s not every day we get to go to lunch with The Man Most Likely To Be Named the Next Starchitect, David Adjaye.

We were gathered by the lovely people at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver to discuss their new building designed by Adjaye (not to be confused, mind you, with the pointy Libeskind-ized Denver Art Museum). We met curator Cydney Payton who is way excited about the museum’s first show in the new space, “Star Power: Museum as Body Electric,” which could also accurately describe Adjaye’s glowing box of gray etched glass.

As we dipped into our velvety carrot soup on a sunkissed patio at Lucques, we finally met Christopher Hawthorne , who was very nice and quite reserved–not all the cantankerous pot-stirrer we envisioned. But we have to admit we were entertained when Frances Anderton took him to task for his recent piece slamming Lorcan O’Herlihy’s Habitat 825. Thank god for Hawthorne, actually; he’s the only reason we still read the LA Times.

We compared notes with LA Mag’s Greg Goldin about PARK(ing) Day and met two new art friends, Jeff Marinelli of Art and Living and George Melrod of Art Ltd. And far away at the other end of the table was Dana Harris, who writes the sharp blog The Knife for Variety, about dining and the entertainment industry, a delicious little slice of LA life.

When we asked Adjaye what else he was working on, he lit up. Researching a book about contemporary African architecture has taken him to 30 countries, nine of them this summer alone. 30 countries? How many more to go? “23,” says Adjaye with that huge, adorable grin. “There are 53 countries in Africa.”

When you have lunch with David Adjaye, you’re bound to learn something.

Heath Ceramics Honored By Museum of California Design


As kind of a bonus parting gift from the Dwell on Design conference, we got to meet Heath Ceramics owners husband-and-wife Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey, who were giving a talk with Michael Carabetta from Chronicle Books and Adam Brodsley from Volume, who published and designed the Heath Ceramics book respectively. Our friends at PrairieMod went one step further, having the foresight to arrange a studio tour of Heath while in town.

Turns out the Heath crew (including two-year-old Jasper, who also took the stage during the talk) jetted down to LA to accept the Museum of California Design’s 2007 Henry Award the next day, presented by tireless crusader Christopher Hawthorne at the home of Steven Ehrlich. The Henry Award, by the way, is named after industrial designer Henry C. Keck, who designed the Roadside Barrier Light. We think it’s quite fitting. Just like our perfect Heath pieces, it’s a simple, quintessentially Californian object we use every single day.

Karl Rove and His Merry Gang of Architects


It’s a hot, sticky hump day out here in LA which has got us in one heck of a sour mood. So what could possibly lift our sweaty, humidified spirits? Why Christopher Hawthorne, of course!

In today’s installment, Hawthorne gets political with his tome “Architects want to move closer to the centers of power” starring none other than the Bush campaign “architect” Karl Rove. In fact, says Hawthorne, lots of people want to be architects:

What is it about architecture that makes it so attractive as a metaphorical job description? There’s Bill Walsh, the NFL coach who after he died last month was widely remembered as “the architect of the West Coast offense.” And Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Osama bin Laden‘s Rove, often is called the architect of 9/11. Don’t forget James Madison, architect of the Constitution, or Alfred Hitchcock, labeled by one of his biographers “the architect of anxiety.” The computer industry is full of information and software “architects” who do their building with zeros and ones.

And, of course, there’s God: architect of the universe.

The problem with all this, says Hawthorne, is that real architects don’t get the same level of respect; even people like Thom Mayne and Rem Koolhaas want to be more like Rove.

Interesting. We thought they wanted to be more like God.

Giving Up On Green Architects, Hawthorne Settles for the Ugly Ones


While he finds it incredibly difficult to locate architects working in the field of sustainability, Christopher Hawthorne has no trouble naming names when it comes to architects creating eyesores.

Earlier this year he cringed with other architectural luminaries when judging Curbed LA’s Ugliest Building Contest (which we judged alongside Hawthorne). In a long-awaited commentary, “Bringing ‘Ugly’ Back,” he provides his analysis of ugliness, including naming Eric Owen Moss, Thom Mayne and Frank “F’in” Gehry the Fathers of Fug.

We hope the Los Angeles Times also got the hint when publishing the name of its own building as the ugliest runner-up in Curbed’s contest, to which Hawthorne quips: No Comment.

Christopher Hawthorne Wishes He Could Find Some Green Designers to Write About For Once


With Philip Nobel lighting the way for architecture critics to speak their tainted little minds, critics everywhere are now making pointed attempts at abrasiveness. But sometimes it just doesn’t fly. When Christopher Hawthorne at the LA Times finally makes it out to NY to review the “Design for the Other 90%” show, he tries to make some kind of point about the lack of green designers. We only have to wonder…what on earth is he talking about?

Rem Koolhaas has offered what seems like a dozen explanations–some of them rather convincing, actually–for his willingness to take commissions from the Tibet-paving, coal-belching Chinese government. Peter Eisenman has long been happy to play the charming villain for the green crowd. Zaha Hadid‘s buildings show a mesmerizing disdain for the idea that she bears responsibility for anything beyond the health of her own legacy.

Horrible use of the starchitect card. Ho hum. Nothing new there. Try again.

Among the green generation, who is heading up the charge? Well, nobody, really. This may be the first movement in architectural history whose followers are more famous than its leaders. Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Orlando Bloom are well-known fans of green design. Among green designers, on the other hand, we have the ambitiously principled (read: sorta vanilla) Cameron Sinclair, who leads Architecture for Humanity; the great, greatly mustachioed and soft-spoken Shigeru Ban; and William McDonough, who is beginning to project an Andy Rooney vibe.

Although we can’t disagree with either the vanillaness of Sinclair or the Rooneyness of McDonough (or the greatness of Ban), we have to say it’s clinically insane to say that there’s a dearth of well-known green designers. Really? Leo and Brad are the greenest architects you could find?

Hawthorne, what are you smoking? We bet that’s green.

Hollywood & Highland Declared the Fugliest of All By Curbed LA


Disclaimer: There will be no jokes in this post about how easy it is to hold an Ugliest Building Contest in Los Angeles.

Nevertheless, today Curbed LA declared its winner: Hollywood & Highland, the triumphantly ever-morphing mall for tourists. When asked to judge this contest with such local luminaries as Christopher Hawthorne, Lorcan O’Herlihy and Ryan from LosAnjealous, we fully expected that H&H would be a front runner, but we swore to ourselves that we would not malign the white elephants. Hollywood & Highland is not only the building nearest to our hearts (literally) but it truly is the building dearest to our hearts. And by dearest to our hearts, we mean they have a Beard Papa’s, something we simply cannot write this blog without. Say what you will about Hollywood & Highland, but we say: a strawberry cream puff is not ugly.

Thanks to everyone at Curbed LA for this invaluable experience.