The collection of buildings that make up the Pacific Design Center is a bold, massive landmark of West Hollywood, in Los Angeles. Better known to Angelenos perhaps than the outside world, the PDC has aged remarkably well since the first of its buildings was completed in 1975. The building complex is visually striking and unmissable in its unusual use of primary colors and the asymetrical shapes of the buildings and their arrangement. The architecture was conceived by Argentine architect Cesar Pelli and the PDC seems as fresh a presence as any more recent and contemporary buildings in the area.
On a recent visit to WiSpa, a sprawling Korean day-spa complex in Los Angeles, we spied from the spa’s rooftop lounge the top half of an elegant, old high-rise building in the distance. Atop the building was its name, Royale, in large, dark blue letters.
The building is a New York-style apartment building officially known as the Royale Wilshire. It stands out in the otherwise gritty urban landscape of its neighborhood, a blighted area tucked between the fringes of Downtown LA and Koreatown. Buildings of this style, size and age are rare in Los Angeles and harken to a bygone golden era of Hollywood glamour.
In spite of our many years of frequent visits to L.A. and living in the city part-time or for short spells, we’d never seen the Royale. A renovation of the building is planned as the neighborhood itself is slowly shedding its shabby skin and giving way to the gentrification wave. We imagine the building will become re-discovered landmark as the neighborhood’s profile rises in the years ahead.
Street art superstars Faile have just completed a massive new mural on the side of tall brick building in Midtown Manhattan, in New York City. The scale of this piece is epic. Find it on E. 44th Street, on the north side of the street just west of Eighth Avenue, across from the Intercontinental Hotel.
The glass-and-steel tower at the L.A. Live building complex in Los Angeles is an imposing presence on the skyline as you approach city’s downtown from almost every direction but the north. The building is the first major new skyscraper in L.A. since 1992. Since it’s completion a few years ago, it has become an unmistakeable if unadventurous and uninspired part of L.A.’s architectural identity. Whatever people think of it, it’s a huge structure by skyscraper-shy L.A. standards. The building is home to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, and at night its edges light up with strings of lights that outline the tower’s shape and dynamically change over time.
The spire was finally added to the Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site in New York City last week. The photos below show the Tower, with its newly added spire, as seen from SoHo. The addition of the spire was a momentous occasion, a milestone charged with the symbolism — the building is now 1,776 feet tall, which is an important date in America’s history of independence. The event makes the Freedom Tower the tallest building in the western hemisphere.
The capital city of Costa Rica doesn’t have much of a high-rise skyline to speak of. But one unmissable architectural landmark on San Jose’s urban landscape is a massive brutalist skyscraper that’s home to the Instituto Nacional de Seguros.
Depending on your point of view, the building is either an ugly eyesore, an oddly ambitious and out of place gesture of modernist architecture, or it’s an architectural gem, a shining, living example of brutalism.
In any case, the structure is one of the largest in San Jose and it’s architecturally significant. The brutalist style was an influential architectural movement that came of age in the 1950s and was in vogue for a time in the ’60s and ’70s, a time when many large cities in Latin America were experiencing a building boom. (See more examples of San Jose architecture here and here.)
Our “Visual Culture of Japan Series” continues with this post on famed Osaka-based Japanese architect Tadao Ando and some images of his buildings, including the the “4×4 Houses,” “Church of Light” and Awaji Yumebatai in Japan. Ando is one of the world’s leading architects. His Osaka firm has designed buildings through Japan and around the globe. Among his recent landmark building is the 21_21 Design Site in Tokyo.
Related to Japanese Architecture: Shigeru Ban’s Nomadic Museum
4×4 Houses photo and copyright: Hiromitsu Morimoto / HET Gallery
“Church of Light” photo and copyright Buou / Chris He