Vermonica Lives!

 

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Two years ago I received the news that Vermonica had been dismantled and moved. . A lot has transpired and one silver lining is realizing the impact and support for this work. . So many threads to this story- which I hope will be illuminated, disclosed and discussed. . Because of the continued sleuthing and inquiry by Richard Schave and Kim Cooper of Esotouric, a trove of emails were found that were damning to Bureau of Street Lightning and the city and therefore forced the city to do the right thing. . I have a contract to rebuild the piece on Santa Monica Boulevard near the Bureau with a hopeful opening in early May- the 27th birthday of Vermonica. . Hope to see you there. . More soon, feel free to share this news, I am hopeful. . Sheila . . . #sheilaklein #vermonica

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We’re delighted to finally be able to share the thrilling news that Sheila Klein’s Vermonica, the original vintage Los Angeles street light sculpture and cultural landmark (accept no imitations!) will once again be installed in the heart of East Hollywood under the direction of the artist. Her New Years Day Instagram post (above) let the cat out of the bag.

The unbelievable story of Vermonica’s mysterious removal and half-baked duplication has been featured on this blog previously. Catch up by reading Part One and Part Two.

Getting to a place where the city agreed to right this wrong took a lot of hard work by a dedicated crew who refused to accept the loss of the landmark as a done deal. When progress stalled, Adrian Riskin of government transparency blog MichaelKohlhaas.org uncovered a shocking tranche of emails that revealed precisely how a city department had violated Sheila Klein’s artist’s rights. To the city’s credit, they came back to the table to hammer out a deal that satisfies the artist and gives the artwork back to the East Hollywood community.

For us, the lesson of this 2+ year restoration and accountability campaign is clear: Never give up on the things you believe in, and let the light of Vermonica be your guiding star as you set out every day to be a good Angeleno and to make this city a better place for your neighbors and those who will come after.

So save the approximate date of early May 2020, for a big party at Vermonica’s new, nearby location. We cannot wait to dance in the streets by the light of our beloved urban candelabra with Sheila Klein, music, tacos and YOU!

Esotouric’s Holiday Gift to You: Architect Richard Neutra’s Recipe for Tongue-Goulash

Los Angeles is a magnificent melting pot, a city constantly reinventing itself as adventurous eaters explore and adapt the comfort foods of cultures not their own.

Today, we have Yelp and Instagram to help us find the freshest taste sensation. But in old Los Angeles, cultural foodways were shared in small-run amateur recipe books, published to promote historic preservation, celebrate civic engagement, or raise funds for a favorite charity.

Recently, at a library book sale ($2!), we picked up a copy of the 1942 Victory Edition of Burnt Toast, a regional recipe book published by the Women’s Auxiliary of the California Babies and Children’s Hospital (now called Eisner).

The conceit of “burnt toast” was that young wives were clueless in the kitchen, but could develop their skills by carefully copying the signature dishes of established community members. And these were not just women of a certain age, but men, too, because Southern California has always been a progressive place.

Every regional charitable recipe book is interesting, but those from Los Angeles can hold some cool surprises in the form of recipes from well-known cultural figures. And we’re pleased to share with you the coolest surprise in Burnt Toast: architect Richard Neutra’s recipe for old world Tongue-Goulash. (We like to think that the hyphen represents the tongue sticking out.)

Not a fan of meaty goulash? Perhaps you’ll enjoy Mrs. Dione Neutra’s Graham Cracker ice box cake. So simple, even a newlywed can do it, and taste tested by the sophisticated Neutra household!

Here’s wishing you and yours a season of delicious treats shared with those you like best, from your pals at Esotouric and Burnt Toast! Please let us know if you make either of these dishes, and how you like them.

3-D Tour of the Original Bob Baker Marionette Theater

Welcome to the eleventh in a series of 3-D explorable tours of off-the-beaten-path Southern California spaces, created by Craig Sauer of Reality Capture Experts using cutting-edge Matterport technology.

Our love for the Bob Baker Marionette Theater is no secret. It is a zone of pure creativity and whimsy that could only have flowered in Los Angeles. Bob was a dear friend, and in 2013, we were privileged to help see that his visual archives were safely preserved by the Los Angeles Public Library, at a time when the theater’s future was uncertain.

Uncertainty is a funny thing, though. Yes, the original Bob Baker Marionette Theater is a “protected” city landmark which a developer nevertheless intends to demolish for a generic housing development. But the young puppeteers who took up the management strings after Bob’s death in 2014 have proved to be terrific stewards. They’ve nourished a nonprofit arm, built thriving community partnerships, and just last week opened up their lovely new, much larger puppet theater on a busy stretch of York in Highland Park.

The sweet, silly and inspiring shows that Bob Baker created for the mid-century kids of Los Angeles will continue to blow the minds of new generations.

Still, it’s hard to see such a Los Angeles treasure displaced, and we wanted to mark the transition. So we reached out to Craig and asked if he’d be interested in bringing his Matterport camera over and documenting the theater, backstage, workshops and Bob Baker’s personal research library loft (up the stairs, stage left), where Bob selected the music for shows and gained visual inspiration for puppet costumes, backdrops and props.

The results are a time capsule, three-dimensional love letter to Bob Baker’s genius as it manifested in the final days, before the world he made was boxed up for the move to Highland Park.

On a day when The New York Times honors our hometown marionettes with a lengthy feature, we’re sending out this bittersweet remembrance of the funky, original Bob Baker Marionette Theater in its historic home of 56 years. We hope you enjoy the opportunity to creep around this magical place which no longer is a public space, but which welcomes you virtually inside any time you feel its call.

And we heard the funniest thing on opening day in Highland Park: that developer who bought the building and planned to tear it down hasn’t been heard from lately. Rumor has it, nothing’s happening at 1345 West First Street any time soon.

But the marionettes have already moved on, and invite you to come see a show in Highland Park. Bring on the dancing cats and raise the traditional post-performance cup of ice cream to the next 56 years of joy!

 

City Hall Testimony Against LACMA Crossing Wilshire and Barton Phelps critiques Peter Zumthor

Yesterday in Los Angeles City Hall, our Richard Schave (representing the nonprofit Save LACMA and the LACMA Lovers League’s 1850+ petitioners) and Save LACMA board president Rob Hollman gave public comment against the granting of city-owned air rights over Wilshire Boulevard to allow LACMA to build its unpopular, undersized new bridge-style building.

Also speaking in opposition were Steve Luftman (Friends of Lytton Savings), Oscar Peña (artist and former LACMA employee) and Barton Phelps, FAIA (architect and preservationist who was instrumental in saving Central Library).

Drawing attention to the museum’s controversial partnerships with Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Quatar, final speaker Oscar Peña said, “As funding is stalling, LACMA is settling up with dictators, slave states and totalitarian regimes. We need real public oversight.” His powerful remarks earned a round of applause from the audience.

Later, Barton Phelps shared his strong and well reasoned opposition to Peter Zumthor’s design directly with LACMA director Michael Govan. He explained to Govan how the proposed building fails to respect the site and the history of this significant portion of the Miracle Mile, and expressed regret that he had not been able to be a part of the project conversation at an earlier stage. He continued this conversation later still with our Richard Schave, and those remarks are included at the end of this video. And his complete statement to City Council is transcribed below.

What about the result of the City Council vote? As decided long before today, the city eagerly granted the air rights request. But the fight continues!

Learn more about our Pereira in Peril campaign here.  Join Save LACMA.

Below you will find Barton Phelps’ intended comments for City Council, which he was unable to make in full due to outgoing Council President Herb Wesson’s anti-democratic one minute time limit, and which he personally handed to LACMA director Michael Govan:

• President Wesson, Honorable Council Members, I’m Barton Phelps, Principal, Barton Phelps & Associates, Architects and Planners, Los Angeles. We design buildings that support cultural and educational activity. I’m a former professor of architecture at UCLA and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Thank you for this chance to speak critically on this important matter.

• I’m not pleased to say what I must today and I don’t envy your responsibility for making sense of the layers of complexity this potentially wonderful project unfolds before us.

• I’m reminded that 44 years ago I stood in this exact spot attempting unsuccessfully to convince your predecessors on the City Council (especially the charismatic Gilbert Lindsay whose district this was) that replacing the 1926 Central Library with a so-so office building, although already designed, was not a great idea.

• A suit, brought jointly by the AIA and the National Trust, was, after many years, the City’s salvation.The library, restored and expanded, became an anchor of downtown renewal. I think of that effort by many people as a test of cultural maturity. Los Angeles rose to the occasion. The rest is history. I’m hoping it will again.

• The current L.A. County design proposal for much needed expansion and improvement to LACMA poses a similarly destructive threat to an iconic Los Angeles place but this time the threat is subtler in approach and, in its imagery, more socially and artistically beguiling.

• Given pressing limitations in site size, budget, function it seems odd that a design team composed of such brilliant design talents should persist in pursuing a fictional landscape of a site largely cleared of useful existing structures and capped by a simplistic, space-hungry, dated-looking, elevated single story composition. In refusing to fully recognize the truly daunting complexity of this project it unsuccessfully searches formalist simplicity for anchorage. It’s simply the wrong response.

• As if to demonstrate design team’s desperation, the current plan casually tosses a large suburban-looking volume across seven lanes of Wilshire Boulevard almost exactly where the corridor’s volume executes a graceful turn onto (or off of) the L.A. grid. But it will need your permission to do so.

• Aside from its painful impacts on sidewalks, park, and local neighborhoods the bridging of Wilshire Boulevard would crudely violate the historically-defining spatial continuity that generations of Angelinos have respected and delighted in for nearly a hundred years.

• (If I may) I’ll quote landscape historian, the late J.B. Jackson: “A landscape without visible signs of political history is a landscape without memory or forethought. We are inclined in America to think that the value of monuments is simply to remind us of origins.They are much more valuable as reminders of long-range, collective purpose, of goals and objectives and principles. As such even the least sightly of monuments gives a landscape beauty and dignity and keeps the collective memory alive.”

Thank you,
Barton Phelps, FAIA

Farewell to Fred Krinke, L.A.’s Fountain Pen King

We’re saddened to learn that Fred Krinke, third generation proprietor of The Fountain Pen Shop—founded in Downtown Los Angeles in 1922, housed in recent years in a Monrovia industrial park—died on Sunday.

Fred was a cool, wise character who is probably responsible for turning more Southern Californians on to the frustrations and fussy pleasures of fountain pen use than anyone else. A visit to his shop was always a kick for us, with Richard testing nibs of newly manufactured daily pen options, while Kim, who owns more vintage fountain pens than she’ll be able to wear out in this lifetime, explored Fred’s mini-museum in the front room.

The future of the family-run Fountain Pen Shop is uncertain, but Fred’s sweet influence will never be forgotten. Our sympathies go to his family, and to the extended family of scribers who will start feeling anxious as their stock of Fred’s Secret Sauce pen cleaner runs low.

We hope you enjoy these photos of Fred’s magical shop, taken on a visit in April 2017, when we were able to share with him the happy news that Angels Flight Railway would soon be running again. With his passing, a door closes on a lost era of Downtown Los Angeles, and a golden thread of generations of writers creative and practical, who appreciate the old ways and the cultured gentleman who always kept their pens, and by extension their thoughts, flowing. Farewell and thank you, Fred!

Public Benefit Corporation SAFER challenges validity of Onni Group’s Times Mirror Square EIR

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Last Wednesday morning, we joined a passionate band of concerned Angelenos at Los Angeles City Hall in a last ditch effort to halt the runaway Planning Department train that appears intent on approving demolition of half of the historic, landmark Los Angeles Times Mirror Square compound, despite the stench of civic corruption surrounding the project.

Included in our group were preservationists, historians, architects, affordable housing advocates, longtime L.A. Times and Times Mirror executives, neighbors, tenants and descendants of the newspaper’s founders. You can read their comments, and see full video, here.

We did our best to give the planners pause, pointing out the ongoing FBI investigation that has ensnared Councilman Jose Huizar, the bizarre alteration of the landmark designation by Huizar’s PLUM committee, the architectural and cultural distinction of the threatened buildings, the significant impact on those living and working close to the project site, the mediocrity of the proposed towers, the glut of market rate housing and office space in the Downtown market, the project’s failure to do anything to alleviate our city’s horrific homeless crisis, and the risk that in approving the project the city would incur significant legal settlement costs and enable money laundering.

Did they listen to us? Politely, to be sure, and with no time limits. But does Eric Garcetti’s Planning Department ever truly listen to concerned citizens?

Still, something had their attention. During the hearing, project lead William Lamborn mentioned that his office had received a significant written response to the EIR that morning. This mysterious comment hung over the room all through the public comment period.

Then Alan Como, who led the hearing, closed public comment with the following words: “So, given the discussion and testimony today, including the item that was received this morning—the letter, which I believe you said Will was rather lengthy—I’m going to take this under advisement for a period of approximately one week to give planning staff an opportunity to review that letter. And so, yeah, no action will be taken today.”

We of course requested a copy of that “rather lengthy… item,” which was promptly provided by Mr. Lamborn, and have read it with growing and complete fascination, awe and gratitude.

(Parenthetically, do you ever stop to wonder just how it is that corruption has run so utterly amok in our City of the Angels? Do you think, like we do, it might have something to do with our checked-out local media, which cannot even be bothered to send an intern to attend the Planning Department’s final hearing for a huge redevelopment project that is central to the FBI’s investigation of Jose Huizar and his special favors for real estate industry donors, a project which calls for the demolition of the most distinguished newspaper industry landmark in Southern California?)

So yeah, that’s why the blog of a scrappy historic Los Angeles tour company is breaking the news that the nonprofit California public benefit corporation Supporters Alliance For Environmental Responsibility (“SAFER”), which is closely associated with the Laborers International Union of North America Local 300 (“LIUNA”), has fired an astonishing shot across the bow of Onni Group’s Times Mirror Square project, calling on the Los Angeles City Planning Department to halt the EIR approval process and address serious flaws, falsehoods and misinterpretations under CEQA in its analysis of the project’s environmental impact, and then circulate a corrected and factual RDEIR (revised draft environmental impact report) for public review.

Among the serious issues raised by SAFER’s expert analysts in their 100+ page letter, are:

• A flawed interpretation of the state law that protects historic resources like the locally landmarked and California State Register eligible buildings on the site;

• The concern that the project would cause significant bird death, including to locally nesting and migrating Vaux’s Swifts, due to the huge expanse of glass windows;

• A non-trivial cancer risk from the off-gassing of formaldehyde in all the new plywood and other mass produced crap slated to replace the fine materials used in William Pereira’s building;

• An unjustified rejection of project alternatives that would protect historical resources and cause less pollution and traffic, simply because they fail to match the property owner’s arbitrary determination of what “must” be included in their proposed development. 

• And finally, an objection which made us laugh out loud: the incomplete and inaccurate traffic impact analysis must be completely re-done, not least because the EIR fails to account for the impact on and from Jose Huizar’s ridiculous Downtown Streetcar Inc. boondoggle!

All of the above is thoroughly explained in the lengthy letter from leading environmental attorney Richard Toshiyuki Drury of Lozeau Drury LLP sent on behalf of SAFER, which you can read for yourself here.

If you appreciate this information, we are always grateful for your tips (both monetary and in the form of offbeat Los Angeles lore sent via email). Thank you, SAFER. And viva Pereira!

(December 2, 2019 update from L.A. City Planning on Times Mirror Square: Expected letter of determination NOT issued. No scheduled hearings at this time and it’s highly unlikely one will be scheduled this year. We think no news is good news for the Pereia in Peril!)

 

Video: Concerned citizens testify at L.A. Times Mirror Square Planning Hearing

In 2016, we launched a consciousness-raising campaign for the benefit of the mid-century architect and city planner William Pereira and his endangered buildings. Since then, the risk to Pereira’s legacy has been regularly discussed in the architecture press, his CBS Television City was named a Los Angeles landmark (nomination by Pereira in Peril core member Alan Hess), and there is now a non-profit called Save LACMA.

Our most active Pereira in Peril campaign is The Los Angeles Times Mirror HQ addition (1973), unanimously accepted by the Cultural Heritage Commissioners as part of the landmarked Times Mirror Square complex in September 2018.

On November 7, 2018, Downtown councilman Jose Huizar was raided by the FBI, then removed from his powerful PLUM Committee chairmanship. Nevertheless, on November 27, PLUM deferred to Huizar’s request and altered our landmark nomination by removing Pereira’s building, clearing the way for Canadian developer Onni Group to demolish it for one of their proposed twin towers. City Council passed the politically re-written landmark designation with no discussion.

Then in February 2019, The Los Angeles Times reported that just prior to the PLUM vote, Onni Group had donated a whopping $50,000 to a political action group supporting the since-suspended City Council candidacy of Jose Huizar’s wife Richelle (Huizar himself cannot run again due to term limits).

PLUM’s bizarre Times Mirror Square landmark changes certainly appear to be part of a quid pro quo vote buying operation. To quote our own written response to the Draft EIR: “Frankly, it smells.”

Almost a year after the raids, with the FBI investigation ongoing and now expanded to include serious allegations of corruption at the DWP, there have been
NO INDICTMENTS
NO ARRESTS
NO CHARGES and
NO ANSWERS for the citizens of Los Angeles who wonder who among their elected officials is working not for the people but for property developers and other special interest groups.

Meanwhile, Onni Group’s Times Mirror Square project moves through the city planning process. On October 16, 2019, a hearing was held by the Los Angeles Planning Department to consider the final EIR before the project goes on to the Planning Commission for final approval. The room was packed, with lobbyists, attorneys and union reps supporting the developer, and with historians, preservationists, neighbors, those with deep ties to the Los Angeles Times, tenants and low income housing developers opposing.

Not in attendance was anyone representing Councilman Jose Huizar—even though the hearing room is only a 30 second elevator ride from his office.

This video includes the public comments made in opposition to the project, in which concerned citizens raise serious concerns about corruption in the planning process, money laundering, exacerbation of the homeless crisis, violations of the rights of tenants and neighbors, the developer’s contempt for Los Angeles history shown by their mediocre tower designs, and the very real possibility that the city will be successfully sued for pushing through a project that raises so many red flags.

One mystery left unexplained during the hearing: who is the author of the lengthy response to the EIR that was received the morning of the hearing, which had planning staff so concerned that they made no determination on the project, deferring any decision for about a week? We’re trying to find out, so stay tuned!

We thank the concerned citizens who came to testify at City Hall with no monetary compensation, for their love for Los Angeles and their faith that the city will “do the right thing” for Times Mirror Square. Select quotes from their testimony follows:

“Pereira’s work represents a critical chapter in late Southern California modernism and must be preserved so that future generations can learn from his work… It is a wonderful example of late modernist architecture, and if brought back to its full glory it would be a complement to the civic square around City Hall.” – John Southern (Architect / USC School of Architecture)

The Times Mirror building and the Times are an integral part of Los Angeles. It’s part of our history, and I think the building should be preserved.” – Jay Lorick (Times Mirror Co.)

“The irony here is when Onni says, ‘Our number one goal is historic preservation,’ and they’re willing to tear down the historic building that my father dedicated. It makes this a bit of a mockery. You can’t embrace historical preservation and tear down a William Pereira building.. I think Onni’s plan could easily accommodate building on top of it. Take a bit of the Pereira building off and keep the paseo. I think keeping the lobby and keeping the atrium where Dorothy Chandler, my grandmother, planned the Music Center—there’s a lot of history in that building and I think it would be a shame and a crime to demolish it.” – Harry Chandler (Family Built L.A. Times / Neighbor)

“At this time where this country is divided by serious allegations of corruption, allegations that have touched this project as evidenced by an ongoing FBI investigation, I ask you to stand up for what is right. Stand up for the history of this building…. As a journalist who spent more than thirty years in that building, I can assure you that it was the site of events and decisions that had more significance to the development of Los Angeles than just about any other building in the city, and on par with City Hall itself.” – Leo Wolinsky (Managing Editor, Los Angeles Times)

“These buildings couldn’t be more common. They’re like tin cans, they’re everywhere you look. There is no architectural distinguishing feature. They will add just more common skyscraper moneymakers. They might as well just be a stack of dollar bills…. Don’t vote for blight. Don’t vote for housing that’s a joke, that everyone knows we don’t need, just for a few people who are already fabulously rich to make money, while others have to camp out on the sidewalk.” – Miki Jackson (AHF / Healthy Housing Foundation)

“Why on earth would anyone approve structures that would tower over and diminish the impact of City Hall and the architectural Deco gem that is the original L.A. Times? If I have to go to court to stop this tragedy, I will!” – Allan Harris (Neighbor)

“I personally believe somebody is getting paid off to do it, and if we HAD the fourth estate down here… that sits as our eyes and ears as citizens to look at the corruption in City Hall, look at the corruption in the Planning Department… we might be able to get at it. Do you know, when they bought that building, they ran the L.A. Times out of that building. And you know how they did it? They sent the rents skyrocketing… So they banished the fourth estate from our civic core, and I think it’s a real disaster.” – Cheryl Younger (Neighbor)

“We are a tenant in the Onni building, since 2013 when the L.A. Times was still in the building… We have a lease that continues for several years, and we have an option to renew… We were not advised of any of the development plans, we received no communication from the building, I only happened upon the scheduling of this meeting. We would be displaced if this were to continue…. I am very concerned, because it does seem existing obligations are not a high consideration.” – Aileen Tang (Corporate Counsel, VXI Global Solutions / Tenant)

“I agree that L.A. needs more housing, but I don’t believe we need more luxury housing.”- Sarah Ochoa (Concerned Citizen)

“The city center, its historic core, its heart, has a unique identity. By throwing up generic towering condos that echo those in other Downtown L.A. neighborhoods we will lose this essence— forever. Development should be done thoughtfully and in service to the city and the community’s long term goals, and not just for the short-sighted benefit and profit of those who don’t actually live here.” – Linda Cordero (Neighbor)

“I support this project with the adoption of Alternative #5. The Pereira building is not only an excellent example of late modern architecture by a master architect, but it also represents the L.A. Times changing from a reactionary organization to a very progressive organization, that endorsed a Black mayor, that hired Hispanic reporters. The elimination of this building will eliminate part of our history.” – Steven Luftman (Historic Preservationist)

To learn more about the Pereira in Peril campaign, visit http://www.esotouric.com/pereira

Announcing Save LACMA

If you’ve followed Esotouric for any time at all, you know that we’re big fans of William L. Pereira‘s civic and commercial architecture, and have advocated for the preservation of such endangered buildings as the Metropolitan Water District HQ, Los Angeles Times Executive Building and Los Angeles County Museum of Art as part of a broader Pereira in Peril campaign.

Today we begin a new chapter in this work, with announcement of the launch of Save LACMA (http://www.ourlacma.org), a registered 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Corporation formed to amplify the voice of the community to help steer the museum’s future, not just with the proposed Wilshire-straddling new building project, but in all its change and growth to come.

The more we learned about LACMA’s current plans, the more we felt the need to advocate not just for the historic campus, but for the survival of the museum as an institution. We are proud to join with other concerned Angelenos to volunteer our time as board members, taking our LACMA Lovers League petition campaign to a new level under the Save LACMA nonprofit banner.

We look forward to meeting you at LACMA-focused events in the near future. For now, we hope you’ll visit the website to learn more, sign up for the occasional newsletter, follow Save LACMA on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and share this exciting news with your arts loving friends. It’s going to be a campaign to remember, and we can’t wait to share it with you!

Planning Commission To Decide Fate of Times Mirror Square

The Angelenos who landmarked the Los Angeles Times buildings cordially invite you to be a part of their history, by asking the Planning Commission to “do the right thing” at the Final EIR hearing on October 16 and approve a redevelopment plan that preserves and protects this architecturally and culturally significant place, while rejecting the appearance of political corruption steering land use decisions in Los Angeles. There is still cause for hope that the Times buildings will be treated with due respect during redevelopment, but they need your help!

Please join us at Los Angeles City Hall on Wednesday, October 16 at 10:30 am to give public comment to the Planning Commission on the Final EIR for the Times Mirror Square Project. (Or send an email by October 15; see instructions at the bottom of this page.) (Facebook event link.)

FOR THOSE GIVING PUBLIC COMMENT: If you plan to attend the October 16 hearing, please email us at tours@esotouric.com, and we can give you more info and let you know what to expect. We don’t know exactly when this agenda item will be heard, but the hearing begins at 10:30am in room 1020.

To support preservation in your public comment, please include these words, then add your own personal reasons for speaking: “I oppose the Project because under CEQA, the Executive Building is a recognized historical resource eligible for the California Register for its association with the Times Mirror Company and Otis Chandler, and is a significant example of the work of master architect William L. Pereira. I urge you to select Alternative 5, Full Preservation Alternative, the environmentally superior alternative.”


THE SITE: A square block sitting kitty corner from Los Angeles City Hall, comprised of Gordon B. Kaufmann’s 1935 L.A. Times Building, Rowland Crawford’s 1948 Mirror Tower, William L. Pereira’s 1973 Executive Building, and a Pereira-designed parking garage.

THE THREAT: Canadian developer Onni Group wants to demolish the garage and Executive Building to build two high-rise towers. The Executive Building is fully integrated into the 1935 L.A. Times Building. This project would not only destroy a significant work by William Pereira, but leave a gaping hole in the side of the most architecturally significant structure on the site.

THE STORY: On September 20, 2018, the Cultural Heritage Commission accepted our Times Mirror Square landmark nomination in full, disagreeing with the Office of Historic Resources’ claim that Pereira’s Executive Building should not be included. The nomination would next go to City Council’s PLUM Committee, where we were concerned that the chair, Councilman Jose Huizar, would reject it outright, to clear the way for Canadian developer Onni Group to erect two towers. However, between the CHC and PLUM hearings, the FBI raided Huizar’s City Hall office and home, and Huizar was removed from PLUM. Nevertheless, on November 27, 2018, PLUM deferred to Huizar’s request and altered the landmark nomination by removing Pereira’s building. The altered nomination was then approved by full City Council. In February 2019, the Los Angeles Times reported that developer Onni Group had given $50,000 to Huizar’s political fund two months prior to the PLUM vote. It is against the backdrop of this appearance of quid pro quo vote buying that the Planning Commission will decide the fate of Times Mirror Square.

To learn more about the L.A. Times landmarking nomination, and the wider Pereira in Peril campaign, click here.

To read the Final EIR for this project, and our feedback, click here.


FOR EMAIL SUPPORTERS: You can also send a statement of support via email ASAP, but no later than end of day Tuesday, October 15.

Below is an example of how a statement of support should be formatted.
Subject line: ENV-2016-4676-EIR
Email to: william.lamborn@lacity.org
cc: tours@esotouric.com (that’s us, the landmark team)

Dear Planning Commission,

I oppose the Project because under CEQA, the Executive Building is a recognized historical resource eligible for the California Register for its association with the Times Mirror Company and Otis Chandler, and is a significant example of the work of master architect William L. Pereira.

I urge you to select Alternative 5, Full Preservation Alternative, the environmentally superior alternative.

sincerely, (your name, your address, your email)

PLEASE NOTE: Uniquely personal remarks, even just a line or two, really make a difference. Please consider adding this sentence and filling in the blank: These buildings are important to me because ____________.

 

City Librarian John Szabo unveils The Well of the Scribes at Central Library

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Feeling quite awed to see this Los Angeles treasure in the flesh (photo: Stephen Gee)

We had the opportunity today to attend a small ceremony in which a section of sculptor Lee Lawrie’s Well of the Scribes fountain was unveiled in the Rare Books room of Los Angeles Public Library.

The bronze fountain has been missing since 1969, when Central Library’s garden became a parking lot and its decorative elements went into city storage… only to vanish. Had the fountain been stolen away by a private collector, misplaced in some remote storage area, or melted down for scrap?

For fifty years, its fate remained a mystery. But answers may be forthcoming: one panel was recently found in the care of Arizona antique dealer Floyd Lillard, after he reached out offering to return the lost treasure.

While the relief sculpture is in remarkably good condition for its decades on the road, it needs a little love. So following today’s ceremonial return to the building it was designed for, it will be sent to a conservation lab for cleaning and stabilizing. Then it will go on public view in a location yet to be determined at Central Library.

While you wait for that auspicious day, enjoy these close-up views of the Well of the Scribes and the happy folks from the library and Alta Magazine, publishers of a recent feature story which helped to bring this beautiful object back home. The Library and Alta are eagerly seeking the remaining two sections of the fountain, so keep your eyes peeled in your travels for Pegasus and his scholarly pals.

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