Sunday, May 01, 2016

The Two Second Pershing Square Designs & A Rendering of the Best Design


The Best Project - Corner/Fisher
THE TWO SECOND BEST PERSHING SQUARE DESIGNS
When I woke up this morning, I knew my subconscious had been working all night when I instantly visualized all four plans without even trying. And then, when I got to my desk in my office - and relooked at everything - it quickly became ever clearer that the Corner/Fisher design is far and away the best plan for the local community. And that it would also work the best for casual visitors and, with a few changes and additions, it might also be the best design for tourists coming to DTLA.
It is also the only plan which – with some tweaks - might approach becoming that long thought mythical type of uncommon - common space - which everyone has long been seeking as the Holy Grail of urbanism. And when I walked the area early this morning, I was able to confirm what I had only suspected last night. Their plan also addresses the adjoining streets, sidewalks and buildings in ways none of the other designs attempt – and in provocative ways I had never before – even remotely – ever thought of.
And – amazing, it also appears to have the best financial plan of the projects.
In fact this plan is so good – I am – almost – tempted to not bring two baskets of really over-ripe tomatoes to hurl at the face of James Corner every time he deliberately mispronounces the name of our city.
And, yes – I did say – almost; because I’m not even remotely near there yet.
And before I move on from here, unless you were at the event last night – and had seen the additional slides and renderings beyond what has been up on-line, I know it will be difficult for anyone to understand some of the better qualities of their project – as well as harder to understand some of the issues in the other projects. So I will see what I can do about putting up some updated photos regarding that plan - which I will go over in detail in my third and final post today on Pershing Square.
But first, in this initial post I will address the two second best plans and why, while they were very good in many ways, they were less successful and a touch less daring than the Corner/Fisher plan. First up is ‘Agence Ter and Team’ and I first need to admit – with one big exception, there is very little that doesn’t work in this plan – except for maybe the open edible garden….
And the plan’s sole major problem was the removal of the diagonal paths across the park and the placement of the huge lawn area – at grade – right in the middle of square. And that is the exact plan USC tried to implement on the huge grass area between its two main libraries; a grass area which instantly became a muddy grassless wasteland because - absolutely everyone – had walked across the lawn where the diagonal paths should have been until USC - finally - realized that bad planning could not defeat human nature or common sense - and reinstalled the diagonals..
But even though that can be easily fixed in the plan – my real problem was that there wasn’t enough there – there. Nothing that grabbed my attention as something new, something that might make a real difference. But there were a number of details I would like to know more – such as the liquid sky and certain aspects of the pavilions. There might be a pace for them somewhere in DTLA – such as the Grand Park. Particularly if they can be easily uprooted and moved.
Considerably better in the interesting ideas category was the plan by wHY + CIVITAS. Again, there is not much wrong with it except that too many of the green spaces were small islands surrounded by pavement – or they were consumed by the conceit that they were standing in for the lost urban foothills of Los Angeles; a concept that didn’t do anything for me.
Those ‘foothills’ also wasted too much unusable land that’s too up in the air as opposed to the Corner/Fisher project with its one very impressive hillside and its very different second raised area. And the wHY + CIVITAS design also has areas covered with decomposed granite; a product Satan himself (unless women want to claim him now)had to have designed since it always leaves dust, dirt or mud on your shoes. And if there is one restriction the City of LA should insist upon – it’s that no decomposed granite shall be used in any part of Pershing Square or any urban park in DTLA.
And as for wHY + CIVITAS’s proposal’s many good qualities – they are quite similar to what I like about Corner/Fisher project. But I prefer how Corner/Fisher executed those ideas. But, in the other hand, it’s also a plan which has details I can’t quite see or yet know enough about to have an opinion on; so I am looking forward to seeing if their more detailed plans might shed some more light on them.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Two Second Best Pershing Square Designs

When I woke up this morning, I knew my subconscious had been working all night when I instantly visualized all four plans without even trying.   And then, when I got to my desk in my office - and relooked at everything - it quickly became ever clearer that the Corner/Fisher design (see photo above) is far and away the best plan for the local community.  And that it would also work the best for casual visitors and, with a few changes and additions, it might also be the best design for tourists coming to DTLA.
It is also the only plan which – with some tweaks - might approach becoming that long thought mythical type of uncommon - common space - which everyone has long been seeking as the Holy Grail of urbanism.  And when I walked the area early this morning, I was able to confirm what I had only suspected last night.  Their plan also addresses the adjoining streets, sidewalks and buildings in ways none of the other designs attempt – and in provocative ways I had never before – even remotely – ever thought of.  
 And – amazing, it also appears to have the best financial plan of the projects.
In fact this plan is so good – I am – almost – tempted to not bring two baskets of really over-ripe tomatoes to hurl at the face of James Corner every time he deliberately mispronounces the name of our city. 
And, yes – I did say – almost; because I’m not even remotely near there yet.
And before I move on from here, unless you were at the event last night – and had seen the additional slides and renderings beyond what has been up on-line, I know it will be difficult for anyone to understand some of the better qualities of their project – as well as harder to understand some of the issues in the other projects.  So I will see what I can do about putting up some updated photos regarding that plan - which I will go over in detail in my third and final post today on Pershing Square.

But first, in this initial post I will address the two second best plans and why, while they were very good in many ways, they were less successful and a touch less daring than the Corner/Fisher plan.  First up is  ‘Agence Ter and Team’ and I first need to admit  – with one big exception, there is very little that doesn’t work in this plan – except for maybe the open edible garden….
And the plan’s sole major problem was the removal of the diagonal paths across the park and the placement of the huge lawn area – at grade – right in the middle of square.  And that is the exact plan USC tried to implement on the huge grass area between its two main libraries; a grass area which instantly became a muddy grassless wasteland because - absolutely everyone – had walked across the lawn where the diagonal paths should have been until USC - finally - realized that bad planning could not defeat human nature or common sense - and reinstalled the diagonals..  
But even though that can be easily fixed in the plan – my real problem was that there wasn’t enough there – there.  Nothing that grabbed my attention as something new, something that might make a real difference. But there were a number of details I would like to know more – such as the liquid sky and certain aspects of the pavilions.  There might be a pace for them somewhere in DTLA – such as the Grand Park.  Particularly if they can be easily uprooted and moved.
Considerably better in the interesting ideas category was the plan by wHY + CIVITAS.  Again, there is not much wrong with it except that too many of the green spaces were  small islands surrounded by pavement –  or they were consumed by the conceit that they were standing in for the lost urban foothills of Los Angeles; a concept that didn’t do anything for me. 
Those ‘foothills’ also wasted too much unusable land that’s too up in the air as opposed to the Corner/Fisher project with its one very impressive hillside and its very different second raised area.  And the wHY + CIVITAS design also has areas covered with decomposed granite; a product Satan himself (unless women want to claim him now)had to have designed since it always leaves dust, dirt or mud on your shoes.   And if there is one restriction the City of LA should insist upon – it’s that no decomposed granite shall be used in any part of Pershing Square or any urban park in DTLA.  
And as for wHY + CIVITAS’s proposal’s many good qualities – they are quite similar to what I like about Corner/Fisher project.  But I prefer how Corner/Fisher executed those ideas.  But, in the other hand,  it’s also a plan which has details I can’t quite see or yet know enough about to have an opinion on; so I am looking forward to seeing if their more detailed plans might shed some more light on them.
Next up, in a few hours, I will be posting why a modified SWA/MORPHOSIS project - which I really, really I hated when saw it last night   - actually might work quite well as an urban experiment in sustainability.   But not – in any way shape or form – will it work in Pershing Square. Because it is what it is – and trying to make it into a concept for a major urban public space that needs to appeal to everyone – is simply not what it is.  
And just as I was typing that last line…. – it suddenly all came to me.  The way to build and test thisconcept – in a real world situation – in the type of place it fits.  And then it further came to me – exactly where it needs to be built. 
Because, if it did work there –  and its chances of success would be far greater there than in Pershing Square - then another one could be built -  right next door – giving it more of an economy of scale.  And if that too worked, then it could then be replicated – again and again – dozens or even hundreds of times more.  
OK – it now may take me just a bit longer to write and type that…








Thursday, April 28, 2016

Visions of Pershing Square - One Winner, Two Runner-Ups and a Foul Ball

I just got back from the Palace Theater  in Downtown Los Angeles and the presentations by four groups of designers on the Re-Imaging of Pershing Square - one of Councilman Jose Huizar's many projects for Downtown Los Angeles.

And the good news is that there is a clear winner!  James Corner Field Operations (who for some reason went out of his way to - repeatedly - mispronounce the name of our city throughout his presentation) with Frederick Fisher and Partners - totally out-classed (other than in manners. of course) two of the other projects (Agence and Team, & wHY + Civitas) while SWA/Morphosis had a really... bizarre.... concept of making Pershing Square into an urban farm (among other things) with a massive metal building totally walling off 5th Street from the park.

Much more tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Discover Historic Downtown Los Angeles this Sat. April 30th & Sun. May 1st 10:30 - 12:30 starting at The Last Bookstore at 5th & Spring.

My Saturday and Sunday Morning tours of Historic Downtown LA from 10:30 to 12:30 every Saturday and Sunday ($15 per person)  are starting at THE LAST BOOKSTORE this Saturday April 30th & Sunday May 1st at 5th & Spring in the Spring Arts Tower. And each of these tours can be customized - within reason, of course - to meet the interests of those who reserve ahead of time.

The Last Bookstore  presents  2 hour walking tours  of the The Secret Lives of Historic Downtown Los Angeles -  FEATURED In GQ MAGAZINE and Endorsed By - LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE and AMERICAN COWBMAGAZINE,
 
Among the many things you will learn this weekend is that if a friend of Wyatt Earp's had not built the Alexandria Hotel - it would have been impossible for George Gershwin to have written his iconic Rhapsody in Blue.

And all tours start at THE LAST BOOKSTORE in the Spring Arts Tower at 5th and Spring - enter on the 5th street side - and they are still only $15 per person.

And  besides our regular scheduled tours, we will be offering customized tours on different days and different times and from one to three hours including weekdays - depending on your schedule.  With a minimum of four reservations, we will design a tour of any part of Downtown focusing on any subject matter you choose.  These tours can be after work, during lunch breaks - or??

FOR MORE INFORMATION  - contact Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 - or bradywestwater@gmail.com
BRADBURY BUILDING
All tours begin at THE LAST BOOKSTORE at 453 S. Spring Street in the Spring Arts Tower and will be led by long time Downtown resident Brady Westwater who, besides being involved with the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council, the Historic Downtown BID, Gallery Row, Art Walk, and the BOXeight and the CONCEPT Fashion Weeks, has brought over 150 businesses, artists and non-profit institutions to Downtown.  All tours are only $15 per person.  
Wyatt Earp

If you are a participant in 'Historic Downtown Los Angeles 101' Tour, you will see the first motion picture theater built,  the place where Babe Ruth signed his contract with the Yankees, the hotel where Charlie Chaplin lived when he made his early films (and the place where he made his Los Angeles vaudeville debut in 1910) - plus the homes and haunts of everyone from actor Nicholas Cage, the Black Dahlia, Rudolph Valentino, LA’s version of Jack the Ripper, President Teddy Roosevelt, the Night Stalker, western outlaw Emmet Dalton,  actor Ryan Gosling and more.  And you will also visit where O. J. Simpson bought his knife.

You’ll explore an intersection where all four buildings were often visited by gunfighter/sheriff Wyatt Earp since they were all built or occupied by friends of his from Tombstone during the shoot-out at the OK Corral.  At this intersection you will also discover what John Wayne, a prime minister of Italy, Houdini, Winston Churchill, boxer Jack Dempsey, Greta Garbo, President Woodrow Wilson and multiple Mexican boxing champions all had in common here.

You will also see where the first new lofts were opened, the places where Gallery Row and the Art Walk began and where Fashion Week returned to Downtown.  You will see many of the new boutiques, designer showrooms and stores that have recently opened in the area along with getting a sneak preview of what will soon be happening in the area.

Tickets for either tour are only $15 per person - free for children under 8 - and reservations can be made by calling Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 or emailing bradywestwater@gmail.com.  All credit card orders will be processed  at Last Bookstore and cash payments may be made at the start of the tour.   All proceeds will go towards the revitalization and the study of the history of the neighborhood.  
Lastly, future tours will feature specialized areas of interest such as architecture, art of all kinds, shopping and food, single streets, sports (from steer wrestling to luchador wrestlers to a Sumo wrestler), transportation, specific periods of history, the hidden Wild West history of Los Angeles, movie locations, Downtown after hours and many other aspects of the neighborhood. And custom designed can be developed by request  for groups of four or more.
We will also be soon starting weekday and evening tours on what it's like to live in Downtown Los Angeles. You will be introduced to the many of stores, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues (and often their owners, too) - along with being given previews of one of a kind special events - so you can get a feel for what it is like to live in Downtown Los Angeles.

We expect this tour to be popular with not only people considering moving to Downtown and people who work in Downtown and who would like to know what to do after hours in Downtown - but also to recent and even long established Downtown residents who want to know more about their neighborhood.

Monday, April 25, 2016

DTLA Ritz-Carlton Penthouse Sells for $6,700,000 - Almost Double What it Sold for 3 Years Ago

Even though the headline of the 'gossip column' says the Sugarman's  'dumped' the condo - it had closed in April 2013 for 3.5 million and it just sold  for 6.7 million for its 4500 square feet.   And with all the new condos about to start hitting the market - it will be interesting to see what the new few high end units will be asking - and getting.
YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: It was good ol’ real estate yenta Yolanda Yakketyyak who first whispered in this property gossip’s eager ear and property records do indeed confirm that Burt Sugarman and Mary Hart sold a house-sized penthouse at the Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA Live in downtown Los Angeles for $6.7 million. Even though the couple took a staggering $2.1 million less than their last official $8.8 million price tag, they still made out pretty well on the glass-walled downtown aerie that was acquired according to property records in April 2013 for $3.5 million. Listing details show the 4,250-square-foot spread, with glittery, wrap-around city-lights views, has three en suite bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms plus a spacious combination living/dining room, and expensively outfitted kitchen with eating area, and a separate family room. The penthouse transfers with two parking spaces in the valet-serviced on-site garage and other creature comforts available to those who can afford to buy into the five-star high-rise include 24/7 concierge and doormen, hotel-style in-room dining and housekeeping services, a state-of-the-art fitness facility and 8,000-square-foot full-service spa, private screening room, and a rooftop swimming pool.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Discover Historic Downtown Los Angeles this Sat. April 23rd & Sun. April 24th 10:30 - 12:30 starting at The Last Bookstore at 5th & Spring.

My Saturday and Sunday Morning tours of Historic Downtown LA from 10:30 to 12:30 every Saturday and Sunday ($15 per person)  are starting at THE LAST BOOKSTORE this Saturday April 23rd & Sunday April 24th at 5th & Spring in the Spring Arts Tower. And each of these tours can be customized - within reason, of course - to meet the interests of those who reserve ahead of time.

The Last Bookstore  presents  2 hour walking tours  of the The Secret Lives of Historic Downtown Los Angeles -  FEATURED In GQ MAGAZINE and Endorsed By - LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE and AMERICAN COWBMAGAZINE,
 
Among the many things you will learn this weekend is that if a friend of Wyatt Earp's had not built the Alexandria Hotel - it would have been impossible for George Gershwin to have written his iconic Rhapsody in Blue.

And all tours start at THE LAST BOOKSTORE in the Spring Arts Tower at 5th and Spring - enter on the 5th street side - and they are still only $15 per person.

And  besides our regular scheduled tours, we will be offering customized tours on different days and different times and from one to three hours including weekdays - depending on your schedule.  With a minimum of four reservations, we will design a tour of any part of Downtown focusing on any subject matter you choose.  These tours can be after work, during lunch breaks - or??

FOR MORE INFORMATION  - contact Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 - or bradywestwater@gmail.com
BRADBURY BUILDING
All tours begin at THE LAST BOOKSTORE at 453 S. Spring Street in the Spring Arts Tower and will be led by long time Downtown resident Brady Westwater who, besides being involved with the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council, the Historic Downtown BID, Gallery Row, Art Walk, and the BOXeight and the CONCEPT Fashion Weeks, has brought over 150 businesses, artists and non-profit institutions to Downtown.  All tours are only $15 per person.  
Wyatt Earp

If you are a participant in 'Historic Downtown Los Angeles 101' Tour, you will see the first motion picture theater built,  the place where Babe Ruth signed his contract with the Yankees, the hotel where Charlie Chaplin lived when he made his early films (and the place where he made his Los Angeles vaudeville debut in 1910) - plus the homes and haunts of everyone from actor Nicholas Cage, the Black Dahlia, Rudolph Valentino, LA’s version of Jack the Ripper, President Teddy Roosevelt, the Night Stalker, western outlaw Emmet Dalton,  actor Ryan Gosling and more.  And you will also visit where O. J. Simpson bought his knife.

You’ll explore an intersection where all four buildings were often visited by gunfighter/sheriff Wyatt Earp since they were all built or occupied by friends of his from Tombstone during the shoot-out at the OK Corral.  At this intersection you will also discover what John Wayne, a prime minister of Italy, Houdini, Winston Churchill, boxer Jack Dempsey, Greta Garbo, President Woodrow Wilson and multiple Mexican boxing champions all had in common here.

You will also see where the first new lofts were opened, the places where Gallery Row and the Art Walk began and where Fashion Week returned to Downtown.  You will see many of the new boutiques, designer showrooms and stores that have recently opened in the area along with getting a sneak preview of what will soon be happening in the area.

Tickets for either tour are only $15 per person - free for children under 8 - and reservations can be made by calling Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 or emailing bradywestwater@gmail.com.  All credit card orders will be processed  at Last Bookstore and cash payments may be made at the start of the tour.   All proceeds will go towards the revitalization and the study of the history of the neighborhood.  
Lastly, future tours will feature specialized areas of interest such as architecture, art of all kinds, shopping and food, single streets, sports (from steer wrestling to luchador wrestlers to a Sumo wrestler), transportation, specific periods of history, the hidden Wild West history of Los Angeles, movie locations, Downtown after hours and many other aspects of the neighborhood. And custom designed can be developed by request  for groups of four or more.
We will also be soon starting weekday and evening tours on what it's like to live in Downtown Los Angeles. You will be introduced to the many of stores, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues (and often their owners, too) - along with being given previews of one of a kind special events - so you can get a feel for what it is like to live in Downtown Los Angeles.

We expect this tour to be popular with not only people considering moving to Downtown and people who work in Downtown and who would like to know what to do after hours in Downtown - but also to recent and even long established Downtown residents who want to know more about their neighborhood.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sport Chalet - Another (formerly) LA Based Retail Chain - Closes Their Doors



One of the last major retail chains once headquartered in Los Angeles - Sport Chalet -  is closing - now. I have long known the DTLA store was in trouble - as are a number of other stores - and when I tried to see if there was any assistance they might need, by calling corporate, I soon figured out that the whole chain was likely to close.

So - despite the 'recovery' - LA still has a lot of work to do to rebuild its economy and its business sector but - so far - none of the things that need to be done, are even being discussed - much less acted upon.  Instead, both the city and the state - and the feds - pass laws, rules, guidelines and taxes - that make it harder and harder for businesses to survive.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Walking Tours of Historic Downtown Los Angeles 11:30 - 1:30 Sat. April 16 & Sun. April 17 at The Last Bookstore at 5th & Spring.

My Saturday and Sunday Morning tours of Historic Downtown LA from 10:30 to 12:30 every Saturday and Sunday ($15 per person)  are starting at THE LAST BOOKSTORE this Saturday April 16th & Sunday April 17th at 5th & Spring in the Spring Arts Tower. And each of these tours can be customized - within reason, of course - to meet the interests of those who reserve ahead of time.

The Last Bookstore  presents  2 hour walking tours  of the The Secret Lives of Historic Downtown Los Angeles -  FEATURED In GQ MAGAZINE and Endorsed By - LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE and AMERICAN COWBMAGAZINE,
 
Among the many things you will learn this weekend is that if a friend of Wyatt Earp's had not built the Alexandria Hotel - it would have been impossible for George Gershwin to have written his iconic Rhapsody in Blue.

And all tours start at THE LAST BOOKSTORE in the Spring Arts Tower at 5th and Spring - enter on the 5th street side - and they are still only $15 per person.

And  besides our regular scheduled tours, we will be offering customized tours on different days and different times and from one to three hours including weekdays - depending on your schedule.  With a minimum of four reservations, we will design a tour of any part of Downtown focusing on any subject matter you choose.  These tours can be after work, during lunch breaks - or??

FOR MORE INFORMATION  - contact Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 - or bradywestwater@gmail.com
BRADBURY BUILDING
All tours begin at THE LAST BOOKSTORE at 453 S. Spring Street in the Spring Arts Tower and will be led by long time Downtown resident Brady Westwater who, besides being involved with the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council, the Historic Downtown BID, Gallery Row, Art Walk, and the BOXeight and the CONCEPT Fashion Weeks, has brought over 150 businesses, artists and non-profit institutions to Downtown.  All tours are only $15 per person.  
Wyatt Earp

If you are a participant in 'Historic Downtown Los Angeles 101' Tour, you will see the first motion picture theater built,  the place where Babe Ruth signed his contract with the Yankees, the hotel where Charlie Chaplin lived when he made his early films (and the place where he made his Los Angeles vaudeville debut in 1910) - plus the homes and haunts of everyone from actor Nicholas Cage, the Black Dahlia, Rudolph Valentino, LA’s version of Jack the Ripper, President Teddy Roosevelt, the Night Stalker, western outlaw Emmet Dalton,  actor Ryan Gosling and more.  And you will also visit where O. J. Simpson bought his knife.

You’ll explore an intersection where all four buildings were often visited by gunfighter/sheriff Wyatt Earp since they were all built or occupied by friends of his from Tombstone during the shoot-out at the OK Corral.  At this intersection you will also discover what John Wayne, a prime minister of Italy, Houdini, Winston Churchill, boxer Jack Dempsey, Greta Garbo, President Woodrow Wilson and multiple Mexican boxing champions all had in common here.

You will also see where the first new lofts were opened, the places where Gallery Row and the Art Walk began and where Fashion Week returned to Downtown.  You will see many of the new boutiques, designer showrooms and stores that have recently opened in the area along with getting a sneak preview of what will soon be happening in the area.

Tickets for either tour are only $15 per person - free for children under 8 - and reservations can be made by calling Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 or emailing bradywestwater@gmail.com.  All credit card orders will be processed  at Last Bookstore and cash payments may be made at the start of the tour.   All proceeds will go towards the revitalization and the study of the history of the neighborhood.  
Lastly, future tours will feature specialized areas of interest such as architecture, art of all kinds, shopping and food, single streets, sports (from steer wrestling to luchador wrestlers to a Sumo wrestler), transportation, specific periods of history, the hidden Wild West history of Los Angeles, movie locations, Downtown after hours and many other aspects of the neighborhood. And custom designed can be developed by request  for groups of four or more.
We will also be soon starting weekday and evening tours on what it's like to live in Downtown Los Angeles. You will be introduced to the many of stores, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues (and often their owners, too) - along with being given previews of one of a kind special events - so you can get a feel for what it is like to live in Downtown Los Angeles.

We expect this tour to be popular with not only people considering moving to Downtown and people who work in Downtown and who would like to know what to do after hours in Downtown - but also to recent and even long established Downtown residents who want to know more about their neighborhood.