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Fall Marks Season of Revival for Architecture in Los Angeles

originally posted on: The Los Angeles Times by Christopher Hawthorne
September 12, 2014

Achitecture is not just slow. It’s a hurry-up-and-wait profession at its core, chancy and contingent, as vulnerable to the cold feet of clients as the whims of capital markets. During the Great Recession, as financing dried up and confidence cracked, the construction of important new buildings in Los Angeles ground nearly to a halt.

And so this fall, which brings with it a number of significant architectural debuts, is both welcome and a little alien: For the first time in nearly a decade, thanks to a stronger domestic economy and an influx of investment from China, South Korea and elsewhere, a steady supply of ambitious, market-tested architecture is emerging from the city’s cultural pipeline.

The crop includes ground-up projects by some of L.A.’s most talented architects. The city is also learning to reuse its underappreciated older buildings in inventive ways.

All in all, it’s a season of marked if still cautious revival for Los Angeles architecture: a fall that feels more like a spring.

An improving economy tends to produce what might be called a reverse domino effect. A big project coming out of the ground pulls up others by sheer force of momentum. Witness the buildings, good and mostly bad, sprouting like mushrooms in the shadow of L.A. Live’s Marriott hotel tower downtown.

Even stalled projects can have this effect. Opening next month on Bunker Hill, across a new plaza from Eli Broad’s delayed contemporary art museum, is the Emerson, an expedient-looking residential tower by the firm Arquitectonica with 271 apartments on 19 floors.

More impressive models for new residential architecture have popped up in Santa Monica, where the second phase of the Expo Line is expected to begin running to the beach by early 2016 and where a mid-rise collection of condos and apartments has just opened across the street from popular Tongva Park. Divided into a section of affordable rental units by Koning Eizenberg and condos by the Santa Monica firm Moore Ruble Yudell, the complex offers a compelling combination of spare neo-modern design and generous open space.

Click here to read full story and view gallery images at the Los Angeles Times

Photo: Bicyclists pass the new One Santa Fe apartment building in the downtown arts district. (Mel Melcon, Los Angeles Times)

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