Archive for the ‘Caltech’ Category

In L.A. County, a Mayne goes up, a Gehry comes down

09/26/2008




Thom Mayne and Morphosis’ new $50 million home for astronomers, the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Caltech in Pasadena. Though not yet open, the building already appeals to me more than does much of the work of Morphosis. Mayne seems to be softening, here and at his La Phare tower in Paris. This work is less aggressive, more contextual, even beautiful the way the sun hits the ochre, Italian-ish panels. I like how he brings natural light in to the lower level. The interior will have stairwells and other areas designed to cause random interaction between the scientists working there.

This all gives me hope for Morphosis’ new academic building at Cooper Union in NYC which we know will be interesting on the interior. But that one has the mesh metal facade that Mayne / Morphosis seem to favor. They’ve softened it up, compared to their earlier work but it still risks being too hard and sharp for an urban environment.

In Pasadena, much of the budget went to provide special conditions for the laboratories, and of course to safeguard it all in the event of an earthquake. Why do so many L.A. buildings look as if the quake already hit? I guess I answered my own question.

While the Mayne goes up…. remember


Frank Gehry’s Santa Monica Place mall from 1980, renovated in 1991 and again in 1996?


Kiss it good-bye.


To be replaced by next year with a new mall designed by the Jon Jerde partnership.

Gehry’s adjacent gridded parking lot remains



at least for now. That’s the one with – on the other side – “Santa Monica Place” writ large in the chain link.


(Blocked by trees. Ah, what architects suffer!) Santa Monica Place was not Gehry’s greatest work but I’d have liked to have seen him design the new mall on this site.

Well, as they’d say in L.A., the glory of Santa Monica Place will live on forever in film and TV such as Pretty in Pink, Terminator 2 and Beverly Hills 90210.
.
.