The studio abroad program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design offers advanced students the opportunity for intense interaction with renowned part-time faculty in a setting near or in their design firms. Visit us: gsd.harvard.edu

CONGRATS GRADS!

imageThe Graduation ceremony in Gund’s backyard

This is the Last LA Post, but perhaps the most joyous. The majority of our studio graduated this year and they all deserve a shout out.

Congratulations…
Hope Hardesty
Kangil Ji
Karina Contreras
Karol Malik
Mikaela Spielman-Pearson
Tianci Han
Yong Tang

!!!

Landscape Tour and Farewell Party

imageA view in LA’s Natural History Museum gardens by Mia Lehrer+Associates

Mia Lehrer and Margot Jacobs curated a day of tours topped off with a party overlooking downtown from the new Vista Hermosa Park by MLA.

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We began at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles for a tour of the recently opened campus that has become an urban destination for outdoor exhibits. Michelle Sullivan, Principal of ML+A, gave us a tour of the various gardens of local flora and fauna. More here: Natural History

imageOn the way to Calvin Abe’s office.

Before the day was over we visited a series of offices including SWA, Ahbe Landscape Architects, and Rios Clementi Hale Studios. Each office was unique and it was enlightening to see the variety of office work and culture in the span of one day.

imageThe crew exploring Mia’s Vista Hermosa Park. Downtown LA serves as a frequent anchor to your place in the city as you wander. Find out more here: Vista Hermosa

We finished the day at the Vista Hermosa Park completed in 2008 and the first park built in the area in over 100 years. It’s not easy to build beautiful open and green spaces in Los Angeles and for that we are extremely grateful to Mia Lehrer. Mia is a true advocate for LA as well as being an incredible designer. We look forward to what becomes of the LA river in the future and we can be sure that Mia makes sure it exceeds expectations.

imageTianci Han learned to drive a car and walk a dog while in Los Angeles, thus completing his course in Becoming American. Hopefully, he and our other brilliant international students stick around!

The party was great including the special lemonade and delicious Armenian food. We thank everyone involved and hope to see you all again soon.

imageAw shucks

We love you LA…

Post and photos by David J Pearson

Downtown Architecture Tour of MMA Work

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Tianci Han looks up into the New Carver Apartments by Michael Maltzan Architecture

Jen Lathrop of MMA gave us a great tour of 2 of MMA’s best known projects. We began the day at the New Carver Apartments adjacent to the 10 freeway in downtown Los Angeles. We glimpsed inside not only a piece of progressive architecture but of rehabilitation for the less fortunate of Skid Row in Los Angeles.

imageAnd then looking down

imageHope Hardesty basks in the California sunshine. 90°+ day

imageFind out more here: New Carver Apartments

After Carver we headed to the Inner City Arts building, Michael’s first groundbreaking project. The Inner City Arts is a one acre campus in Skid Row that provides education in the arts for over 10,000 at-risk youth.

imageInside one of the art studios

imageFind out more here: Inner City Arts

And then on to the nearly finished Star Apartments, a 95,000 square foot mixed-use multi story complex for the homeless. The block takes on a strong presence in contrast to the typical association for transitional housing. It clearly states an agenda that protects and further advocates for the homeless in light of the downtown police station across the street.

imageFind out more here: Star Apartments

The semester took us throughout LA and southern California, even into Tijuana. Every project we visited offered unique approaches to building in a city that demands architecture as an urban production. In a city of dispersion and individual competing American, dreams architecture is often the best and the last avenue for instilling a sense of the civic. And if it doesn’t we always have the freeways.


Post and photos by David J Pearson

Final Review

Our final review was held in the office and included prominent architects, landscape architects, thinkers, and educators from LA, greater California, and beyond. Special thanks to all the jurors-there were too many to name!

imageMichael warms up the jury as Mikaela Spielman-Pearson and David Pearson wait to kick off the presentations. Craig Hodgetts and Michael Lehrer near front.
Photo: Kangil Ji

imageChris Reed, Associate Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at the GSD comments on the project of Kangil Ji, Karol Malik, and Tianci Han titled Little Los Angeles. Seminar professor Alison Hirsch at left.
Photo: David J Pearson

imageYong Tang and Karina Contreras present their proposal for a flexibly programmed disaster center.
Photo: Kangil Ji

imageChristina Yang at left and Hope Hardesty present their project el Valle, speculating on the secession of the Valley from the City of Los Angeles.
Photo: Kangil Ji

imageGroup Photo!

Each project speculated on a near future LA, igniting vibrant conversations among the jury. The semester was a success and we are all grateful for the immersive experience of LA.

Special special thanks to Michael, Mia, Andrew, Margot and the GSD for the opportunity.

Post by David J Pearson

Pittman Dowell Residence Visit

The final review and graduation brings these posts a little late, but nevertheless look forward to more posts from our time in LA.

Two days before final review we were lured out of studio for a project visit of the Pittman Dowell Residence by Michael Maltzan Architecture. Despite the timing we couldn’t resist a guided tour by Michael and artist Roy Dowell plus cookies and drinks.

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The house sits on a site shared with a mid century Richard Neutra home and a fabulous garden designed and cared for by artists and owners Roy Dowell and Lari Pittman.

imageAndrew and Roy enter the garden. Roy and Lari’s garden sits in an arroyo not far from the home.image

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imageThe Residence Appears

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Mirrored Scallop

imageTrimmed Cylinder


Each facade including the fifth is not only masterfully composed but sophisticates the interior’s centripetal notion of space and direction. As a 7 sided form no two walls are parallel. While the walls create the feeling of a continuously connected interior the courtyard and facades reinforce a relaxing centrality.

imageViews from the Courtyard
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imageThe Mountains of La Crescenta BeyondimageRising around up the driveway to the Neutra House you begin to see the fifth facade.

imageThe Fifth

imageThe Crew Gazing


The visit was a great opportunity to get out of studio for a couple hours and recharge for the final push.

Special thanks to Michael and especially to Roy Dowell and Lari Pittman for welcoming us to their home.

Post and Photos by David J Pearson

Jesus Christ, LA is like a Montessori town, everyone is doing whatever they want.
Rem Koolhaas to Rene Daalder comparing their Montessori education in Amsterdam to the culture of Los Angeles.

Private Screening of Leaning Towers about Rem Koolhaas

We were fortunate to have filmmaker Rene Daalder screen his upcoming documentary on Rem Koolhaas. Rene is a friend of Koolhaas’ since childhood. The two of them worked on films together after high school including the Divine Slave, a feature film which will be released soon.

The documentary offers an intimate glimpse into the architect and thinker who is already legendary. Good documentaries on architects are hard to come by, but this one is sure to be a hit.

*There is no confirmed release date yet but be sure to check it out when it comes out.

There are few truly great educators in the world; but there are truly great students, that is not the problem.
In conversation with Rene Daalder

It’s Official, We Went Abroad! (Trip to Tijuana)

imageA Warm Welcome throughout Tijuana

imageObligatory Pre-Border Crossing Photo
Photo: David J Pearson

imagePhoto: David J Pearson

From the Mexico side you can see the San Diego communities of Imperial Beach, Coronado and the Downtown skyline. Despite being a mere 20 minutes apart San Diego and Tijuana feel worlds apart. That juxtaposition makes the area incredibly rich.

imageWhere the Border Meets the Sea
Photo: David J Pearson

Architects, professors, and Tijuana natives Adriana Cuellar (GSD Alum MDes) and Marcel Sanchez of CRO Studio  guided us throughout Tijuana. They were absolutely incredible and according to everyone gave an amazing tour.

We began at Playas de Tijuana also known as Chilangolandia for the number of residents of Mexico City who have moved there. Here you can see the multiple walls and the extent of Border Patrol surveillance that occurs along the US-Mexico Border. Much of the fence is built from Gulf War 1 ad hoc landing strips.


imageAnd the Line Ends
Photo: David J Pearson

imagePhoto: David J Pearson

At Playas we walked along the Malecón (esplanade) spotting surfers, joggers, and possibly the only 7/11 in the world with a view of the ocean before stopping at a nice little seaside cafe for breakfast.

Next was Camino Verdeimage
Photo: David J Pearson

imageLooking down the arroyo towards the soccer field
Photo: David J Pearson

Recent government investment in community program has given Camino Verde a strong community spine infused with various civic program. What used to be a waste strewn arroyo dividing two communities has become a public seam of soccer fields, classrooms, dance spaces, a digital library and more.

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View towards the southern hill community from a roof garden along the arroyo.
Photo: David J Pearson

imageCasa de las Ideas by CRO Studio (http://www.crostudio.net/)
Photo: David J Pearson

We were especially excited to see Adriana and Marcel of CRO Studio’s P/A award winning Casa de las Ideas along the Camino Verde spine (P/A Award). The project is a digital library and a strong community gathering place.
When we arrived there was a public forum going on. Casa de las Ideas provides comfortable indoor and outdoor places to go online in a community where internet infrastructure is unavailable.
The building is designed as a variety of stages opening up to the outside. While there it was clear the community was appropriating the stages for various activities.

imagePhoto: Christina Yang

imagePhoto: David J Pearson

imageLooking down the hill next to the outdoor amphitheater. Casa de las Ideas proved to be one of our favorite stops of the day.
Photo: David J Pearson

Our Camino Verde tour ended at the Farmlab by Torolab/Raul Cardenas (http://torolab.org/). Unfortunately, a community workshop was going on so we had only a few minutes to see it. The Farmlab is saddled on the other side of the hill from the other projects we visited. Its distance from the others means less activity but its bunker like presence is undeniable.

imageA Popular Rock
Photo: David J Pearson

imageCEART, a lonely museum along Tijuana’s Parque Morelos
Photo: David J Pearson

After Camino Verde we headed north to CEART and later the Culinary Art School for a delicious welcome.

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Seafood Tapas and White Wine from Valle de Guadalupe
Photo: David J Pearson

Baja California is home to a food renaissance and the Culinary Art School made us believers. For more check out Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations: No Reservations.

The school was designed by Jorge Gracia of Gracia Studio and is one of many works by Gracia in the region. http://www.graciastudio.com/

imagePhoto: David J Pearson

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Obligatory Group Photo
Photo: David J Pearson

imageTianci Han Approves
Photo: David J Pearson

imageA Quick Visit to San Diego and Boston based architect Sebastian Mariscal’s Centro de Aprendizaje (Sebastian Mariscal)
Photo: David J Pearson

After some tacos came some walking around downtown…

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La Bola! (Tijuana’s Cultural Center - CECUT)
Photo: David J Pearson

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imageViews from atop Via Corporativo, one of a few towers in Tijuana. Thanks to Architect Ramon Guillot (http://guillotarquitectos.com/) for the tour of the building and the incredible view.
Photo: David J Pearson

imageSome Avenida Revolucion architectural hijinks
Photo: David J Pearson

imageMore hijinks
Photo: David J Pearson

imageCurios of Pasaje Rodríguez Sede Cultural. Curios are as the name suggests objects that evoke curiosity. The guy on the right was gluing a seashell to a motherboard that had been carved up beyond recognition.
Photo: David J Pearson

imagePasaje Rodríguez Sede Cultural
Photo: Christina Yang

imageGreat Craft Beer from architect Jorge Gracia. Not only is he an architect, but he brews great beer and is starting an architecture school this fall (https://www.facebook.com/EscuelaLibreDeArquitectura). It’s that entrepreneurial spirit that makes the border region so vibrant and unexpected. 
Photo: David J Pearson

imageYum Elote…
Photo: David J Pearson

imageYum Tuétano and more…
Photo: David J Pearson

We finished the night with another great meal at Caesar’s, home of the Caesar salad from back in Tijuana’s Hollywood glory days.

imageObligatory Return Border Crossing Photo
Photo: David J Pearson

As if LA isn’t diverse and engaging enough our weekend in San Diego and Tijuana proved even more so. It was great to go abroad officially and hopefully we’ll make it down again before wherever it is we go next.

Thanks to all those we met along the way for their hospitality and exchange and a very special thanks to Adriana and Marcel!

For a map of our journey: https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zY_gjbx2ShJ0.k-hQdyMADKEk

Post by David J Pearson

San Diego with Mike Davis!

Urban theorist, historian, and political activist Mike Davis gave us a tour of his hometown San Diego last Friday.
From political terrain vague community struggles to the Hell’s Angels and the military industrial complex the tour was fascinating.

imageMike Davis crosses the street after jumping out of the car to look at igneous rocks.
Photo: David J Pearson

imageYes, San Diego is beautiful. Balboa Park
Photo: David J Pearson


imageWe met at Mike’s house designed by Teddy Cruz. The boy’s bathroom.
Photo: David J Pearson

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Then to Chicano Park, where the local community galvanized when the construction of a bridge to the affluent Coronado Island threatened their neighborhood. Although the bridge was constructed the local identity remained and today Chicano Park serves as a great source of pride. Incredible murals canvas the infrastructure of the surrounding freeways.
Photo: David J Pearson

imageOn the other side of the Bay from Chicano Park lies Tidelands Park in Coronado.
Photo: Christina Yang

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Foreground: Urban Foraging; Middleground: Sailboats of Coronado; Background: Behind the bridge lies NASSCO, the last major naval shipyard on the West Coast.
Photo: David J Pearson

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Port in middleground: Dole pineapples enter here
Photo: David J Pearson

imageThe Tower Bar in the City Heights neighborhood, home to interesting redevelopment by Sol Price, founder of Price Club, i.e. Costco.
Photo: David J Pearson

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We left downtown San Diego proper for a tour through El Cajon, titled the strange fate of a blue-collar suburb after industrialism.
Passing from coastal San Diego to El Cajon is strange. As you drop into the valley you get the sense that you have entered the West, like the Wild West.
Photo: Christina Yang

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Mike explains El Cajon’s transformation from the leftest town in California in the 60s to its current state where “the Christian Right has a monopoly on all local government institutions.”
We had lunch at the Wrangler, a great BBQ joint.
Photo: David J Pearson

imageA model of a harmonious city powered by Tesla Coils and surrounded by a 100’ wall of alabaster. Unfortunately, their city planning concepts didn’t hold up to questioning.
Photo: David J Pearson

After a brief stop at the Hell’s Angels Headquarters (it was pretty quiet since a drug raid hauled off a good amount of their members recently) we visited the Unarius Academy of Science. In Mike Davis’ words Unarians are “a flying saucer cult based on inter-galactic love and life in Utopian cities powered by Tesla Inventions.” Founded in 1954 during the same period as Scientology, they are humanists of gentle persuasion who want to have fun according to Mike. Apparently having fun isn’t an indicator to cult success.
8 out of 9 of us made it out.

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Photo: David J Pearson


imageThey don’t make models like that anymore. Each tower is 150 stories.
Photo: David J Pearson

From there we stopped in Little Baghdad for snacks and drinks before heading up into the Shadow Mountain area, site of perpetual wildfires. Fires burn the homes and the homes come back bigger and stronger.


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Photo: David J Pearson

imageBefore heading back to Mike’s house we stopped by Sycuan Casino for zombie watching.
Photo: David J Pearson

imageWe finished the day with a view and conversation at Mike’s house.
Photo: David J Pearson


Post by David J Pearson