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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Red Building Cometh

Adding another 400,000 square feet to the already monumental space of the two existing buildings of the Pacific Design Center (PDC), the new "Red Building" will complete the triumvirate of edifices promised when the old, blighted rail head property was first redeveloped in 1975.

While it will have taken 35 years for the vision of the original structures' architect, Cesar Pelli, to finally be consummated when the project is completed next year, it will not look the way originally expected. In fact, as first proposed the three buildings would have had a very 1970s, post-modern totality in their exterior aesthetic, as this was the plan as I have been told:

The Blue Building (aka, the Blue Whale):
A long, blue horizontally oriented cylindrical and rectangular blue building encompassing a million square feet. It was built as expected, in spite of a lone holdout--a business called Hugo's Plating--which occupied a postage-stamp parcel of land outside the sleek grand entrance on Melrose Blvd.

The Green Building:
A green pyramid. One could argue that the Green Building is a pyrimad. But it's really pyramid-esque. It's actually more like an upside down pyramid with it's point dipping into a giant shoebox. My favorite part of the Greeen Building is the back wall of the new parking structure that came with its construction in 1988. The structure is a ultra-pale green which, with its several floors of tree-filled terraces rising over the classical WeHo cottages and bungalos, makes me feel cool just by looking at it even on a hot August day.

The Red Building, which I will attempt to give an aka to now, that being The Giant Letter Opener
However, the original plan would not have rendered so apt a nickname, because it called for the final structure at the Pacific Design Center to take the most elemental geometric shape of all time...the sphere. Yes, the red building was expected to be a big round ball 35 years ago.


I believe the City of Los Angeles and the City of West Hollywood; the State of California and the U.S.A are lucky to have been graced by the work and talent of Mr. Pelli, who also designed the renowned Petronis Towers Kuala Lumpur--the first structures to snatch away the from the United States the mantle of home of the tallest buildings in the world--on all three buildings.

I always think of the made-for-tv movie, lipstick, starring both Hemmingway girls, as well as a Jeep CJ-7, and the Blue Whale--all four icons of my childhood.

While the 1990s brought vastly improved landscaping and outdoor public spaces and art, as well as the MOCA cube (actually an annex of the "real" Museum of Contemporary Art, whose primary space is located downtown), it's the massive color-changing lightscapes that adorn the the Blue Building's facade.

However, it is the 1970s, 1980s, and the current decade (has anyone figured out what we're calling this decade yet?) whose stylistic signatures will forever live on in the heart of the nation's most creative cities.

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