360° Coverage : Why "Starchitects" Should Leave Santa Monica's...

2 Updates
Why "Starchitects" Should Leave Santa Monica's Skyline Alone
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

Why "Starchitects" Should Leave Santa Monica's Skyline Alone

Dec 28 2013, 12:07am CST | by

If the building gods have their way, the ocean views in Los Angeles may soon be overshadowed by towers of swirling steel and glass. A string of high-profile architecture proposals by Rem Koolhaus,...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

42 weeks ago

Why "Starchitects" Should Leave Santa Monica's Skyline Alone

Dec 28 2013, 12:07am CST | by

If the building gods have their way, the ocean views in Los Angeles may soon be overshadowed by towers of swirling steel and glass. A string of high-profile architecture proposals by Rem Koolhaus, Frank Gehry and Cesar Pelli (designer of Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers) have been batted around lately as part of a “revitalization” effort in Santa Monica. Some projects scored approval, others didn’t. But the idea is the same: Each envisions massive construction aimed at luring hoards of international visitors and Angelenos to the famously low-key neighborhood.

At the risk of sounding like a fusty old crank, I’d rather not see the changes go forward as planned. Santa Monica’s allure has always been its absence of glitz. In many ways, it’s the un-Beverly Hills. Surfers and A-list screenwriters mix and mingle without fuss on Main Street, and even glamor girls know to ditch their Birkin bags for canvas totes at the iconic Wednesday and Saturday farmer’s markets off Third Street Promenade. SaMo is super wealthy, for sure, but it is wealth that errs on the side of modesty and moderation. Showing off status might mean absentmindedly flashing your Google employee laminate or perhaps plugging your electric vehicle into one of the new publicly-accessible EV charging stations at Santa Monica Place Mall or the Pier.

But here’s what the city’s Planning Commission has in mind for the beach town’s future. Let’s start with Gehry. He’s a son of Santa Monica, so I get it. The bungalow residence he designed with corrugated steel and chain link on 22nd Street is a local landmark, and it’s been 35 years since his most notable design there — Santa Monica Place, which was torn down and redeveloped several years back.

The new Ocean Avenue Project is based around a 22-storey, 244-foot tall hotel with a mirrored white facade on nearly two acres to include retail and restaurants, an art museum, observation decks and a deep parking garage.

The designs are typical Gehry: swirly and mesmerizingly beautiful. But the project brings major density, scale and what some have called “Manhattanization” to the ocean front. Currently, there’s a four-storey limit on new buildings in downtown Santa Monica (this one got a workaround by adding public art spaces and parking). And while there’s nothing wrong with a bit of skinny vertical (can you ever be too rich or too thin?), I worry this could be a gateway to a bigger-is-better mindset in a place where building size hasn’t mattered much — mainly because Santa Monica residents never let size get out of hand.

That’s why people gasped a little when the city approved Cesar Pelli — designer of the 1,500-foot-tall Petronas Towers in Malaysia, once the tallest structures in the world — for an ambitious makeover of the 86-year-old Fairmont Miramar hotel at the end of Wilshire Boulevard. The Argentina native, best known locally for the monumental Pacific Design Center, has plans for three new buildings built around a tower that rises more than 300 feet over Ocean Ave.

Residents weren’t happy with the proposal. A meeting at Civic Auditorium went on for five hours as locals voiced concerns about everything from clogged traffic to “the selling of the sky” over Santa Monica. With this and other mega-projects suddenly on the town’s radar, one resident stepped to the mike to say his town is taking a “Jackson Pollock approach to development.”

More is definitely more in the proposal Rem Koolhaus’s firm submitted this year, which may explain why it got shot down at the 11th hour. It’s not that I’m not a Koolhaus fan. Seattle’s Library is one of the most arresting buildings I’ve ever seen, inside and out. But it worried me to think about a 400,000-square-foot town plaza under a 225-room  hotel, chockablock with restaurants, shops and parking for more than 1,200. Even without the construction nightmare to come from all this, Santa Monica is already too busy with cars most afternoons and weekends.

The World's Tallest Residential Towers

The Koolhaus build was full steam ahead last July after beating out a rival proposal by the firm of Robert A.M. Stern. But then in August, the city of Santa Monica changed its mind. Voting 5 to 1 to oppose the project, the city council shot down the mixed-use structure with a curious statement from Santa Monica’s mayor, Gleam Davis, who said, “It may be the most perfect project on this site. But does that make it the right project?”

Developers went back to the drawing board and Santa Monica got a much-needed time out. No doubt, a massive building project will emerge again. It’s simply a matter of addressing issues like public access to open space and the amount of affordable housing. Or maybe there’s a chance that the old Santa Monica spirit will prevail as people declare that bigger isn’t necessarily better and that saying no is as important a development for this laid back beach community as anything these starchitects might dream up.

What’s your opinion? Am I just being a stick-in-the-sand?

Follow me at @davidhochman or @letterfromla

Source: Forbes Business

 
Update
2

7 weeks ago

Khazanah throws MAS RM6b lifeline

Aug 29 2014 5:01pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 30, 2014 1:15 AMKHAZANAH Nasional will inject RM6 billion (SS$2.4 billion) over three years to resuscitate loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under a recovery plan that includes even an Act of Parliament. Other key moves are migrating its operations, assets and liabilities to a new company (NewCo) and slashing the work ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

MAS posts loss of RM307m for Q2

Aug 28 2014 5:00pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 29, 2014 1:13 AMMALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) registered a loss of RM307 million (S$122 million) for the second quarter to end-June, but warned of worse to come in the second half when the "full financial impact of t ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Spanish nurse cured of Ebola
Madrid, Oct 21 (Xinhua) Spanish nursing auxiliary Teresa Romero was pronounced cured of the Ebola virus disease according to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines after the results of a second test confirmed Tuesday that she no longer had the virus in her blood.
 
 
Clinical trials of Ebola vaccine start Nov 1 in Switzerland
Geneva, Oct 21 (IANS/EFE) The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced Tuesday that it will begin clinical trials Nov 1 in Switzerland of one of the two anti-Ebola vaccines currently under development.
 
 
Colombia to launch world's first floating gas liquefaction plant
Bogota, Oct 21 (IANS/EFE) The world's first floating gas liquefaction plant is due to begin operating next year off the coast of northern Colombia under a pact between Canada-based Pacific Rubiales Energy and Belgian shipbuilder Exmar.
 
 
Paralysed man walks again after pioneering cell therapy
London, Oct 21 (IANS/EFE) A paralysed man has been able to walk again after therapy that involved transplanting cells from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord, the BBC reported Tuesday.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Keira Knightley was 'a goody two-shoes'
Keira Knightley was ''a goody two-shoes'' when she was younger. The 29-year-old actress claims she was a ''boring'' well-behaved child and never skipped school because she didn't want to upset her parents or teachers....
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kat Dennings is in love with Kim Kardashian
Kat Dennings thinks Kim Kardashian's butt is ''amazing.'' The '2 Broke Girls' actress was ''very nervous'' when the 'Keeping Up with the Kardashians' star filmed a cameo for the show's 80th episode and was too shy to...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Taylor Swift doesn't 'need some guy' for inspiration
Taylor Swift is ''figuring out how to cope'' with life on her own. The 'Shake It Off' hitmaker hopes her upcoming album, '1989,' will prove she doesn't ''need some guy'' to help her ''make a great record'' or to feel...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Sarah Hyland is 'great'
Sarah Hyland says she is ''great'' after obtaining a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend. The 'Modern Family' star is happy to be focusing on her career again after a judge recently granted her a three-year...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
India re-elected to UNHRC for two years
United Nations, Oct 21 (IANS) India was Tuesday re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the term 2015-2017 in a keenly contested election in the UN General Assembly in New York. Other...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Spanish nurse cured of Ebola
Madrid, Oct 21 (Xinhua) Spanish nursing auxiliary Teresa Romero was pronounced cured of the Ebola virus disease according to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines after the results of a second test confirmed...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Gurdwara closed in Belgium
Brussels, Oct 21 (IANS) The mayor of the town of Vilvoorde in Belgium, Hans Bonte, has ordered the closure of the local gurdwara, Guru Nanak Sahib, for one month. Belgian media Tuesday charged that the Sikh temple "...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Air strikes kill 28 militants in Pakistan
Islamabad, Oct 21 (IANS) At least 28 militants were killed when the Pakistani army launched an air strike in the country's northwest tribal town of Datta Khel Tuesday, military said. In a statement, Inter Services...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Report reveals large-scale torture in China's 'Black Jails'
Beijing, Oct 21 (IANS/EFE) The use of hotels and factories as clandestine prisons where thousands of people -- mostly women -- are tortured to prevent their complaints against the government from coming to light has...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Clinical trials of Ebola vaccine start Nov 1 in Switzerland
Geneva, Oct 21 (IANS/EFE) The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced Tuesday that it will begin clinical trials Nov 1 in Switzerland of one of the two anti-Ebola vaccines currently under development. WHO Assistant...
Read more on Business Balla