Downtown News: Wilshire Grand Week


  • By Nicholas Slayton
  • Updated

DTLA – It could be said that the middle of the new Wilshire Grand Center is somewhat common. It’s huge to be sure, but the 889 hotel rooms and 400,000 square feet of office space are similar to other offerings in Downtown Los Angeles.

What really makes the 73-story project stand out — in addition to being the tallest structure west of the Mississippi and a game-changer for the Downtown skyline — is what’s on top, and what’s on the bottom.

The Wilshire Grand is the first Los Angeles high-rise that doesn’t have a flat top for helicopter landings. At the base of the structure are seismic elements that would allow the building to withstand a magnitude 7.5 earthquake from one of the 29 active fault lines within 50 miles of the building.

The Wilshire Grand has an 18-foot-thick concrete foundation. That provides some of the greatest seismic support, according to Gerard Nieblas, president of Brandow & Johnston, one of the structural engineering firms that worked on the building.

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Los Angeles Downtown News

Wilshire Grand Week: The Man Who Built the $1.2 Billion Tower

Architect Christopher C. Martin Talks About the Tallest Structure in the West, Project Changes and the Personal Side of a $1.2 Billion Development

Photo Credit: Gary Leonard 

  • By Eddie Kim

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1.7 Million Documents Become an Explorable ‘Library of Babel’

Using AI and machine learning, artist Refik Anadol has turned 1.7 million digital documents from a Turkish museum into a massive nod to Jorge Luis Borges.

The SALT Istanbul institution in Turkey is home to a library of over 40,000 publications including the Ottoman Bank Archives that cover Turkish contemporary and modern art, architecture, and economics from 1997 to 2010. It also has over 1,700,000 digitized items that can be viewed both online and off.

You might imagine that in the future these archives and printed materials might be accessible as some kind of virtual, immersive interface, the kind we often see in sci-fi and superhero movies.

Well, Los Angeles-based Turkish artist Refik Anadol did more than imagine. As part of a commission with SALT Istanbul and an artist residency at Google’s Artists and Machine Intelligence (AMI) program, Anadol used AI and machine learning algorithms to search and discover interrelations between these documents. The result has transformed the 1.7 million digitized items into an immersive room in the SALT Istanbul’s first floor gallery.

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Southpark The Place To Be: Roses & Lemon

Annual Roses & Lemon Awards:
The Downtown Breakfast Club Disses ‘Smartphone Zombies’ as Urban Dangers… And Delivers ‘Rose Awards’ to DTLA’s Best Bars, Breweries, Restaurants, Innovative Places and Concepts

Los Angeles, CA – The Downtown Breakfast Club (DBC) on Thursday, April 6 derided the increasingly unsafe actions of “Smartphone Zombies” engrossed in their devices while walking or driving. The DBC bestowed on them a bitter “Lemon” as part of its annual Roses and Lemon Awards Breakfast, which celebrates Downtown’s best new restaurants, bars, housing and innovative urban concepts, while calling-out as a “Lemon” something that needs improving.

“Far-too-many Downtowners are addicted to staring at their smart phones,” said DBC Member Hal Bastian announcing the Lemon. “Whether walking or driving, these Downtowners are a danger to themselves and their fellow citizens. Many are also hooked into earphones so they can neither hear nor see what’s around them. Most of us have been guilty of this at some point.”

Bastian and the DBC noted this treacherous trend comes as the city is investing in its pedestrian infrastructure, with parklets, improved sidewalks and safer intersections: “A strong walkable environment is a sign of economic and social health. Downtown is all about pedestrians. We want them to be alive and healthy too.”

The DBC mission is to encourage the orderly growth of Downtown Los Angeles. This year’s event, co-chaired by Shelby Jordan and Charlie Mutillo, recognized new successes with Rose awards. In particular, the group saluted the restaurants, bars, breweries and housing developments that are multiplying the energy and excitement of Downtown.

Let’s Eat!

The DBC keeps pace with DTLA’s culinary explosion. Its Let’s Eat! survey nominated three fine-dining venues and three casual restaurants. The Rose winner for upscale dining – presented by Club members Laurie Stone and Michelle Isenberg

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The Downtown Breakfast Club Disses ‘Smartphone Zombies’ as Urban Dangers… And Delivers ‘Rose Awards’ to DTLA’s Best Bars, Breweries, Restaurants, Innovative Places and Concepts

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DT NEWS: Smartphone Addicts Get “Lemonized” at Downtown Awards

By Nicholas Slayton 

The annual Roses and Lemon Awards were handed out this morning, and while plenty of people applaud the projects lauded with Rose prizes, in reality Downtowners most anticipate who gets the Lemon.

This year it went not to a single person or project, but rather to a collective group: “Smartphone Zombies” were Lemonized for being a blight on public safety and the community.

“We wanted to call them out because we think these devices are the best and worst things ever invented,” said Hal Bastian, a member of the Downtown Breakfast Club, which presented the 37th annual awards at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel.

Bastian noted that the cell-phone connected masses are increasing as the city invests in pedestrian infrastructure, including sidewalk repairs and safer improvements.

“The serious thing we want to articulate to all of you, and I’ve done this, is walking across an intersection like this,” Bastian said while miming looking down at a phone. “The guy in the car is doing the same thing and is going to win. We know it’s not going to change, so it’s a manner of how we manage it and respond to it.”

The Lemon came at the end of the ceremony. Before that, the DBC recognized a quartet of Downtown projects in a category dubbed the “Rose Garden of Innovative Concepts.” They included Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles, which opened in March 2016 and turned a former Arts District grain mill into a public arts complex; the cleantech-focused La Kretz Innovation Campus; the Civic Center’s United States Courthouse, which meshes sustainability with a modern design; and the Metro Bike Share program

Other prizes were handed out in individual sectors. The Home Sweet Home Rose went to the Blossom Plaza apartment building in Chinatown. Developer Forest City’s 237-unit project opened last September after more than a decade of delays.

Two restaurants were honored. An upscale dining Rose was handed to the Northern Italian-focused, Arts District establishment Officine Brera. A casual eating prize went to chef Neal Fraser’s hot dog and chicken spot Fritzi Coop, adjacent to the Arts District Brewing Co.

This year, libation-focused awards were split between bars and breweries. One Santa Fe’s Westbound took home the Rose in the former, while the Arts District’s Angel City Brewery received the latter. Runners-up included the El Dorado Bar and the Pacific Seas tiki bar inside the restored Clifton’s Cafeteria.

The club also gave a special recognition Rose to the transformation of the Financial District mixed-use complex The Bloc. Developer Wayne Ratkovich Company reimagined the former Macy’s Plaza, removing a roof to create an open-air courtyard off Seventh Street.


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LAMag: This Huge New LED Wall Creates a Constantly Changing Portrait of Los Angeles

The 100-foot piece is being unveiled downtown today

March 2, 2017  ArchitectureArtBusiness 1 Comment

If you’ve been downtown recently, you’ve likely noticed Greenland USA’s massive Metropolis towers going up on Francisco Street. But you may not have seen the 100-foot-wide LED wall that’s been built along the exterior of one of the buildings.

The piece—titled ConvergenceLA—was created by Susan Narduli and Refik Anadol and uses historical and live data from various sources (including RSS feeds, weather activity, and transportation information) to create a living portrait of the city. It contains 435,200 LED lights and took more than 20,000 hours of work over the past three years.

“We developed custom software which takes in this data—what’s happening in the city—and, depending on the data, gives it back to the city in this new form,” says Narduli. “It’s layered with three years of documentation of the city as well.”

Photo courtesy Susan Narduli.

ConvergenceLA will be formally unveiled tonight, but you can check it out at any time at Francisco St. and 8th Place.

An interactive website launches today as well. “It focuses on the same data, but in a different way,” says Anadol. Visitors can use the website to explore the data and access two accompanying soundtracks—one directly related the on-site experience, and one meant to be heard while actually viewing the work.

The artists drew inspiration for the project from LACMA’s original Art + Technology program, which curator Maurice Tuchman ran from 1967-1971. “He envisioned a kind of a collaboration between artists and technology companies,” says Anadol. “So I think we are kind of in the same domain, the same inspiration.”

Over the course of the project, Narduli and Anadol worked with public art consultants Isenberg & Associates and more than 30 people, including animators, programmers, software developers, photographers, engineers, architects, and research assistants. “This was a real team effort,” said Narduli. “Not only between our studios, but also with the art consultants, and Greenland, the architects, the city people, and many studios globally. Refik and I are so grateful. You don’t always get to work with such extraordinary people.”

Artists Susan Narduli and Refik Anadol with the “brain” of ConvergenceLA. Photo by Julia Herbst.

In a press release, Greenland USA CEO Gang Hu called the piece a “stunning reflection of the city and its interconnections.” The first residents of the Metropolis towers began the moving-in process in January, and the adjacent hotel, Hotel Indigo, will soon open.

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LA TIMES: Warhol/Anadol Rain Machine
Deborah Vankin

Everyone agreed: Andy Warhol would have approved.

Maurice Tuchman, 79, wound his way through a maze of darkened rooms inside Young Projects Gallery in West Hollywood as torrents of digital rain wooshed down around him. Embracing the virtual storm, Tuchman planted himself in the center of one room, arms outstretched as if to catch the falling “water” in his open palms. Classical piano music and the cacophony of rushing rain echoed throughout the gallery, as the sparkly droplets of light danced around him. They bounced off his silvery hair, his squared shoulders, the tips of his leather shoes, glinting as they cascaded from the ceiling.

Tuchman was founding curator of modern art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where, in the 1960s, he was a pioneer of experimentation in art and technology. On this walk-through of the immersive rain installation, he was speechless. The only thoughts that came to mind as he surveyed the room, eyes wide like an amazed child, were of his former collaborator, Warhol.    

“Wow, Andy would have loved this,” Tuchman said in a New York accent reminiscent of Billy Crystal in its cadence. “He woulda gone nuts.”

In 1967 Tuchman created LACMA’s groundbreaking Art + Technology program, which during its four-year run paired contemporary artists with corporations innovating in technology to create boundary-pushing installations. As part of that initiative, Tuchman worked with Warhol and Cowles Communications on the artist’s then-cutting edge installation, “Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall),” a wall of 3D lenticular panels with a daisy print in front of real water coursing from suspended spray nozzles.

The piece debuted in the United States Pavilion at Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan. An updated version — one giant daisy per panel instead of four, accentuating the 3D effect  — had its U.S. premiere at LACMA in 1971. It’s been exhibited extensively over the decades, most recently at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo in 2014, but “Rain Machine” hasn’t been shown in L.A. in 45 years.   

Tuchman and his wife, Adlin De Domingo, own “Rain Machine” and decided it was time to exhibit it in L.A. again — but with a twist. They collaborated with L.A.-based Turkish artist Refik Anadol, who re-imagined the piece with digital rain.

After working with Anadol remotely for months on the installation, which will be on view at Young Projects in the Pacific Design Center through February, Tuchman and De Domingo recently saw the finished piece for the first time during a late-night test run.  

“It’s beautiful. I’ve always had a fascination with immersiveness in art, with the feeling of being in it,” De Domingo said. “Refik’s work is amazing. The way he does the rain — he really achieves it.”  

Tuchman is more succinct: “Fan-tastic,” he said, surveying the room. “Andy woulda been blown away. Blown. Away.”

Warhol created four versions of “Rain Machine.” The first, from Expo ’70, and the updated incarnation, which showed at LACMA, were destroyed by the artwork’s falling water, which splashed on the 3D panels for the roughly six-month period each piece was exhibited. “No one, including me, was intelligent enough to put Plexiglas up,” Tuchman said. “There was no water protection at all. At the end of six months, it was scissored and trashed.”

In 1983, Tuchman purchased the remaining two “Rain Machines” — identical to what showed at LACMA — from Warhol. He donated one to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh for its 1994 opening, but the piece was damaged in storage in the mid-’90s and no longer exists. The version now showing at Young Projects is the only “Rain Machine” left.

Except for the digital augmentation, the piece has been reinstalled almost to a T, complete with a front-facing trough to catch falling “water.” Anadol’s immersive rainstorm, however, covers more than just the immediate space in front of the 3D panels, per the original. It fills the entire 3,000-square-foot exhibition space.  

The viewer must walk through multiple rooms of roaring rain, and down a long, mirrored hallway flanked by raging storms, to get to the Warhol piece, which sits at the far end of the last room, bathed in ethereal light behind a transparent wall of simulated cascading water.

“Warhol was looking for a ghostly effect, he was thinking a lot about light,” Anadol said. “We’re projecting onto pitch darkness, this nonspace. We’ve achieved ghostly.”

There’s also a small, self-contained Rain Room inside the installation. It’s 12 feet by 12 feet and mirrored on three sides. Much as it begs the nickname “the other Rain Room,” it’s not a nod to the British art collective Random International’s “Rain Room” at LACMA, which uses real, recycled water. If anything, it’s the counter version to it, Anadol said.

“I saw it in New York at MOMA, it was beautiful,” Anadol said. “They used real water. It’s more interesting, personally to me, using light as a material. It’s more magical and probably more the sense of what they were trying to do in the ’70s.”

Collaborating, posthumously, with Warhol, “is like a dream,” Anadol said. “It’s super meaningful. He’s one of those artists who [shapes] people’s minds and changes perceptions of contemporary art.”

De Domingo, a fan of virtual reality and digital augmentation in art, discovered Anadol’s work through a friend. She felt he was a natural fit for the project. With “Rain Machine,” Warhol was pairing photographic technology with organic matter. Anadol’s work, which has appeared in Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hammer Museum in L.A., among other places, often merges digital art and the natural or architectural environment in which it’s staged.

After De Domingo watched Anadol’s 2014 Disney Hall multimedia presentation “Visions of America: Amériques” online, she and Tuchman visited his L.A. studio. Anadol, whose work debuted in the U.S. at Young Projects in 2013, brought the gallery in, which specializes in staging elaborate digital installations.

Paul Young totally reconfigured his gallery for the exhibition, removing walls and building new ones so that Anadol could use the physical space as his canvas, painting with light and computer code. His rainstorms aren’t on a loop; instead, Anadol created algorithms, with turbulence embedded into them, resulting in an infinite variety of computer-generated weather patterns. The five synchronized projections in the piece play on multipaneled scrims, walls and mirrors around the gallery, creating visual depth and an infinity effect. A multi-channel soundscape of rain, wind and music plays on 14 speakers throughout the gallery.

“None of the drops fall in exactly the same way,” Anadol said.  

The installation’s especially precise laser projectors, donated by Epson America for the project, were key to realizing his vision, which is a history-meets-the-future gesture, Anadol said. Not only is the piece a digital update of Warhol’s 20th century work, it’s an ode to LACMA’s Art + Technology program itself, which the museum revived three years ago and which is considered a touchstone for new media artists today, Anadol said.

“So many artists who use technology in the media arts scene were inspired by that movement,” Anadol said.  

Replacing real water with light is meant to be a statement about water conservation and to further the environmental dialogue Warhol broached with the piece.    

“We really need the rain, the water is so precious,” Anadol said. “The beauty of this is it’s totally artificial, augmented reality. But it feels real.”

As the test run of “Rain Machine” wrapped up, Tuchman paused at the gallery’s exit, taking one last long look at the storm of light and shadows.

“Oh my goodness gracious. He woulda been happy,” Tuchman said of Warhol, shaking his head.  

“Really? That’s so meaningful to hear,” Anadol said.

“No question,’ Tuchman said. “Andy woulda looked at this and just said: ‘Wow.’”


“Rain Machine”

Where: Young Projects Gallery, Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave. #B230, West Hollywood

When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Friday, by appointment​ Saturdays and Mondays, through February

Information: (323) 377-1102,

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Metropolis Magazine

Refik Anadol
Los Angeles



When media artist Refik Anadol arrived at Los Angeles International Airport in 2012, the first thing he did was rent a car and drive to Walt Disney Concert Hall. Jet-lagged after his long flight from Istanbul, where he was born and was immersed from an early age in computing, cinema, and photography, he stood outside in awe. “I was dreaming of what would happen if this building was embedded with memories, intelligence, and culture,” says Anadol.

Like Hollywood’s TCL (formerly Grauman’s) Chinese Theatre, which once drew would-be starlets who imagined their handprints in the concrete, Frank Gehry’s icon enticed him with the hope of realizing a dream. Fame wasn’t part of the equation, exactly, just a desire to create a large-scale video artwork across the swooping facade.

After studying in Istanbul and creating digital and interactive artworks throughout Europe, Anadol moved to Los Angeles to pursue an MFA at UCLA’s Design Media Arts program. The Disney Hall project was part of his studies and led ultimately to a presentation at Microsoft Research’s 2013 Design Expo. As he spoke about the idea of architecture as a canvas and light as material in his eight-minute elevator pitch, Anadol caught the attention of Dennis Sheldon, chief technology officer of Gehry Technologies. Before Anadol knew it, Gehry Technologies offered the use of the original 3D model so he could create a full-fledged case study called “Ethereal.”

“They said, ‘Frank loved your idea, we’re giving you all the files,’” he recalls with the enthusiasm of someone who still can’t believe his good luck. The Los Angeles Philharmonic (LA Phil) later commissioned Anadol to create an immersive experience inside the concert hall that would be responsive to the architecture, music, and movement. With data from the Gehry model and a team of UCLA researchers, he created the 2014 Visions of America: Amériques. Inspired by Poème électronique, a 1958 collaboration between Le Corbusier, architect/composer Iannis Xenakis, and composer Edgard Varèse, he used real-time custom software to project images across the architecture, which changed and morphed according to the music and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen’s movements (tracked by a Microsoft Kinect motion-sensing camera).

The collaboration with LA Phil continues in 2017 with Phenomena, a research project and performance by Anadol, the orchestra, and academics and scientists at UCLA and UCSF, underwritten in part by Microsoft Research. The concept will use Enobio neuroelectric sensors to collect brain-wave information from participants as they listen to music. Emotions like joy or wonder will change the visual environment of the concert hall—and the experience of the audience.

“We have complete control of poetry— the image, the sound,” explains Anadol. “You’re inside a complete idea that is way beyond the screen.”

Architecture, of course, lives in the brick-and-mortar or steel-and-glass world of gravity and materiality, and is resistant to transcending itself. One has only to look to Times Square or Shenzhen’s skyline to find the limitations of LED screens and digital facades. Yet Anadol is confident that the post-digital is possible. In 2015, he installed his first public-art commission for 350 Mission in San Francisco. In collaboration with high-rise architects SOM and Kilroy Realty Corporation, he placed the artwork Virtual Depictions: San Francisco in the building lobby. A 20- by 40-foot LED display wraps around two walls. On-screen, a 90-minute generative animation, including a 3D model of San Francisco, responds algorithmically to location data collected from Twitter. “The city itself is so intelligent already,” he muses. “What would happen when public art meets public data?”

Virtual Depictions: San Francisco / Public Art Project from Refik Anadol on Vimeo.

He’ll find out when another permanent public-art piece opens next year. It will give him another chance to experiment with how to loosen architecture’s grip on reality. Developed in collaboration with Susan Narduli Studio for the mega-development Metropolis in downtown Los Angeles, the untitled artwork will be his largest to date.

Custom software will animate a 100-foot-long low-resolution screen that will be visible from the 110 Freeway. Anadol considers it site-specific sculpture, a foray into what he calls a “post-digital architectural future.” “Post-digital is what comes after the full digital immersion in everyday life caused by our devices, social media, and sensors,” he says. “Media architecture is bigger than cinematography or VR—people are so interested in virtual reality or augmented reality, but we haven’t fully explored the nature of reality.” —Mimi Zeiger

“Refik has an incredible lens through which he views and interprets data in the world. He has an uncanny ability to sift through complex data, create the digital tools and software to process it, and the creative vision to transform it into a beautifully immersive experience. His process allows for a high level of collaboration and communication with others that utilize digital tool sets. As a digitally driven manufacturer, we love this type of exchange as it strengthens the project throughout the entire process, yielding amazing results.” —Sebastian Munoz, director of project design and development, Arktura


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With spire in place, Wilshire Grand stretches skyward to become tallest building in western U.S.
Thomas Curwen, LA Times

At 7:22 a.m. Saturday, crane operator Josh Wiggins received his instructions on the radio.

“All free and clear. Coming up.”

From his cab 1,000 feet above downtown Los Angeles, Wiggins pulled back the hoist level and began raising the last piece of steel at the Wilshire Grand job site.

The 58-foot, hollow cylinder, weighing 20,000 pounds, glided vertically into the space above the street, almost in levitation.

Eight minutes later, Wiggins lowered his 4-foot diameter load into position, bringing it to rest atop its partner, a 236-foot cylinder that had been raised earlier, one straw on top of another. The spire for the Wilshire Grand, 1,100 feet above Figueroa Street, was complete, and Los Angeles could claim title to home of the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi River.

Nearly 50 construction workers in yellow-and-orange fluorescent vests congregated on the high-rise’s unfinished floors, gazing skyward. A pair of helicopters circled beneath gray skies, photographers leaning through open doors to document the occasion, and on the roof of the nearby Aon Center, 62 stories high, architects, engineers, construction managers and media crowded the parapet, cameras poised.

Positioned inside the spire and out of sight, two iron workers, Eric Madrigal and Dan Cobbs, began torque-wrenching the nearly 70 bolts that would hold the two sections together. Wiggins held the crane’s load steady.

In addition to its height, the Wilshire Grand has the added distinction of changing the skyline of Los Angeles with a rooftop that is neither truncated nor flat. The spire, designed in tandem with a 10-story steel-and-glass crown, rises above an outdoor terrace on the 73rd floor. The architectural features of the spire, which is illuminated at night, are mostly ornamental and were developed in negotiation with city officials and the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Los Angeles’ flat-topped skyline had been required since the 1970s as a safety feature to accommodate landing sites for helicopters in the event of emergencies. Architects for the Wilshire Grand, however, proposed an alternative that reflected a more modern approach to high-rise design. It included a tactical landing platform, an elevator designed exclusively for firefighting and a video surveillance system to monitor each floor in the event of a fire.

With half the bolts in place, Wiggins began to let the weight of his load settle into place. Madrigal climbed the ladder inside the spire to the top, where he stepped through a small hatch. Standing on a narrow lip just beneath the tip — 18 feet of burnished and perforated stainless steel that soon will be lit red, blue, green or gold — he unfastened the spreader to the crane. The spire was in place.

At 8:06 a.m., Wiggins delivered two blasts from the crane’s air horn, and Madrigal lifted his arms over his head.

With a red navigation beacon glowing at its peak, the Wilshire Grand had entered the history books.

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Urbanize LA: A Quick Trip Inside Metropolis

Earlier this week, we were afforded the opportunity to tour the Metropolis site in Downtown Los Angeles.  For a progress updated on the mixed-use complex, look below to the images from architectural photographer Hunter Kerhart.

The $1-billion development from Greenland USA consists of four high-rise towers designed by architecture firms Gensler and Harley Ellis Devereaux.  The buildings, ranging from 19 to 56 stories in height, will feature a combined 1,558 condominiums, 75,000 square feet of commercial space and a 350-key Hotel Indigo.

A full buildout is expected by 2018.



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The LA River is a Temporary Art Museum

Ask someone in Los Angeles where the city’s water comes from, and they might mention the Colorado River or the massive aqueduct that brings water hundreds of miles from the north. But some of the city’s water is also local. A new work of art called UnderLA, projected on the concrete sides of the L.A. River, shows the water hidden underground.

“We used the L.A. River as a canvas, and light as a material, and we project several visual stories,” says artist Refik Anadol, who collaborated with Peggy Weil on the project. It’s 1 of 16 installations up now around the city—on and around the river—as part of Current:LA Water, a new public art biennial.


Panic Studio LA, courtesy of City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs from its Current:LA Water Public Art Biennial 2016

Some of the projections in UnderLA show layers of sediment in local wells. “As you go down in depth, you’re also going back in time,” says Weil. “I think by 1,000 feet you’ve gone back a million years. There’s an emotional component to this, because it’s our history, and it’s also our future.” Another part of the visualization shows how water levels have risen and fallen with drought and overuse.

Over the next few decades, the city plans to dramatically increase the amount of local water it uses—partly by redesigning infrastructure so the little rainfall L.A. gets goes back into the ground, instead of draining down streets to the ocean. The artists wanted to make data about that groundwater accessible and interesting. “We tried to visualize this data by poetic connection,” says Anadol.

In another piece, artist Mel Chin presents a new drought-friendly landscape for the land near the river surrounded by the 5, 2, and 110 freeways. The design is available, free, for L.A. residents to take home and use in place of grass.

Next to another part of the river, Edgar Arceneaux’s gold-plated water fountains are designed to draw parallels with religious fountains. At another park, artist Kerry Tribe will be showing a 51-minute film that travels the 51 miles of the river. In Baldwin Hills, a performing arts group called the Los Angeles Department of Weather Modification will host events about how the arid city deals with water.

Unlike some major art shows, in galleries or museums, the new biennial—funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge—is deliberately set outside, and free to everyone.


“It’s not like a gallery experience where you expect a specific audience,” says Anadol. “Anybody in the city can experience this. It’s amazing.”

Scroll through the images above to see some of the other works of art in the biennial.

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KCET: Big (Beautiful) Data; The Media Architecture of Refik Anadol

By Holly Willis

Data is everywhere: we have big data, open data, data sets, data mining, data management, data visualization, data smog, the data deluge, and — if you can believe it — being a data scientist was dubbed the sexiest job of the 21st century by Harvard Business Review. We’re scolded to manage our data properly, we fret about our data trails and yet, in all this data, it’s sometimes hard to find good data. Data shows that data will be increasingly significant in the future. Data equals knowledge equals power. Data dominates.

If all of this sounds dreadful, take heart: the data artist (not celebrated by HBR) rejects the all-too instrumental uses of data, perversely employing it instead in the service of beauty and delight.

Enter Refik Anadol. The bespectacled, black-haired 30-year-old artist has established a bustling studio in Silver Lake dedicated to exploring the creative uses of data in a series of innovative art experiences that are grand. Not only that, the artworks strive to open up a conversation about the city and its complex and dynamic relationship to the people who inhabit it. What can visualizations of our city — its public transport, weather patterns, water usage and so on — tell us about who we are and what we’re doing?

“We have all this data,” Anadol says cheerfully, “but what does it mean?” He answers his own question by musing, “I think a new kind of storytelling can occur.”

keep reading:

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Los Angeles Business Journal: L.A. Developers Take Part in Giving to Public Art


Monday, May 30, 2016

Developers in Los Angeles get hit with city charges for just about everything, and as the fees have multiplied, so have developers’ frustrations. But there’s one levy that some developers have embraced: a 1 percent fee on commercial projects exceeding $500,000 in value that is applied to fund public art projects.

Kilroy Realty Corp. of West Long Angeles is one of those developers. Last fall at its Columbia Square project in Hollywood, Kilroy unveiled a public art installation: a row of translucent panels featuring human figures by celebrity artist Dustin Yellin.

Kilroy was only obligated under the city’s 1 percent for public art mandate to pay about $600,000 for the work, but the developer ended up spending nearly double that to make sure it could be displayed to maximum effect – and spent the extra money willingly.

“We wanted to do more than just fulfill the funding requirement,” said Lauren Phillips, Kilroy’s director of construction services. “We wanted to bring something new and exciting to the project and have the art make as much impact as possible.”

The Columbia Square panels are among the more recent of several hundred public art displays around Los Angeles made possible by the city’s 1 percent mandate. Established in 1989, it’s one of the oldest in the country – and regarded as one of the better run programs with dozens of local artists as frequent participants.

According to the Cultural Affairs Department, the mandate has generated roughly $35 million for public art over the past decade. No cumulative figures were available for the total number of public art installations and programs funded, though department staff said the agency had completed 66 art projects that it managed over the past four years.

Los Angeles is not alone – 32 other cities in Los Angeles County have a levy for public art mandates, according to a 2011 report from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Of those, Culver City’s is the oldest, established in 1988. Other cities that have since set up programs include Alhambra, Long Beach, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Glendale, and Westlake Village.

Most of the other cities have a 1 percent set-aside requirement, though a few have slightly higher or lower percentages.

Malibu fine art consultant DeeDee Postil said that while the programs in these cities generally don’t have major problems, few match up to the quality and breadth of art and level of experience in Los Angeles.

“The city of Los Angeles has really emerged as the gold standard among these programs,” she said.

Increased involvement

In Los Angeles, the mandate is limited to commercial developments (in mixed-use projects, only the commercial component, not the residential). Developers have three choices: They can turn the funds over to the city’s Cultural Affairs Department and leave all the work to the city; they can hire their own team to select the artist and plan the installation; or they can work in tandem with the city.

In the mandate’s early days, many developers simply paid their fees to the city and wanted little more to do with it, according to Edward Goldman, a local art critic. Department of Cultural Affairs staff would then choose the artists and find nearby sites to place the art.

That practice has changed over time as more developers have taken it upon themselves – and hired consultants – to select artists and prepare their project sites.

Initially, some developers had to be dragged into the process, fearful that they might run into bureaucratic delays that could postpone the opening of their project, according to Michelle Isenberg, a local fine art consultant who has worked on percent for public art projects in downtown Los Angeles and Culver City, at Los Angeles International Airport, and elsewhere. Isenberg is advising Chinese developer Greenland USA on its public art installation at downtown’s Metropolis project and Korean Air Lines on its Wilshire Grand development.

More recently, though, as word has spread that delays are infrequent and city staff are relatively accommodating, an increasing number of developers have taken on the tasks themselves.

“The developer experience has opened up; early on it was really difficult,” Isenberg said. “There were lots of location and medium restrictions; those have loosened up over the years. Now, L.A. is considered a national leader in percent for public art programs.”

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Bisnow: Eying Wilshire Grand’s Crown

Jun 23, 2016 Karen Jordan, Bisnow, LA

The Wilshire Grand’s crown is shaping up. Work has recently started on the latticework that will attach to the steel spire. The 1,100-foot-tall tower is designed by A.C. Martin, according to Urbanize LA. Once built, it will be the tallest tower west of the Mississippi. The $1.2B project will include a 900-key InterContinental Hotel, more than 45k SF of retail and restaurants, and around 360k SF of office space. The tower is expected to open in March of next year.


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Global Design Award for 350 Mission / Virtual Depictions:San Francisco
Honor Award 2016

Virtual Depictions:San Francisco is a public art project by media artist Refik Anadol, commissioned for 350 Mission Building in San Francisco. The installation consists of a series of parametric data sculptures that tell the story of the city and people around it within a unique artistic approach to the building’s architecturally integrated media wall.

Virtual Depictions:San Francisco was conceived to bring a 21st century approach to public art and define the new poetics of space through media arts and architecture. Through architectural transformations of the media wall located in the lobby of 350 Mission (home of Salesforce), Anadol’s installation sought to frame an abstract, cinematic site-specific, data-driven narration. The media wall turns into a spectacular public event, engaging and activating the building’s interior and exterior spaces.

“The project also contributes to the contemporary discourse of public art by proposing a hybrid blend of media arts and architecture in the 21st century,” notes Anadol.

Anadol’s goal was to make the invisible visible by embedding media arts into architecture to create a new way to experience a living urban space.

“Traditionally, architecture cannot produce buildings that transform themselves in response to a environmental data feed. The architecture of the future, however, is enticingly malleable and increasingly collaborative, gathering architects with media artists, designers, programmers and engineers. And for these collaborators, the media architecture offers a decidedly public canvas on which they can observe how their creations come alive.”

Anadol combined frozen data sets with contemporary architectural algorithms to create parametric sculptures that show how site-specific data sculpture can transform, create, expand and interpret existing urban spaces. He used publicly available frozen datasets at and Twitter’s real-time API service.

SF Data, a platform launched in 2009, contains hundreds of city datasets for use by developers, analysts, residents and more. The City of San Francisco believes open data has the potential to support a range of outcomes, from increased quality of life to more efficient government services, better decisions and new businesses and services.

Anadol also created a social network sculpture that transforms the virtual life of the city into a poetic digital sculpture. His team created a real-time data sculpture pipeline by combining geolocation-tagged Twitter activities and 3D point cloud data of the city. The result is an immersive and unique experience every single day fed by API. For this part of the project, Anadol collaborated with Schnellebuntebilder and Quadrature.

Jury Comments: 

“Great to finally see digital that truly enhances a public space through interpretive art.”

“Our society is becoming more data-driven each and every day and Virtual Depictions brings that massive amount of data into an art form that people can relate to. The massive scale and movement of the experience activates not only the inside of the building, but outside at the street level as well.”

Design Firm: 

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP Architects, Refik Anadol Studios


Kilroy Realty Corporation / John B. Kilroy Jr.

Project Area: 

38’7” high by 68’6” wide

Open Date: 

November 2015

Project Budget: 

$3.5 million

Photo Credits: 

Refik Anadol

Design Team: 

Refik Anadol, Efsun Erkilic, Raman K. Mustafa, Kian Khiaban, Toby Heinemann, Daghan Cam, Sebastian Neitsch, Johannes Timpernagel, Sebastian Huber, Kerim Karaoglu


Arup, Sensory InteractiveSansi North America (SNA)Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill LLPDPA Fine Art ConsultingIsenberg & Associates, Inc., DG Hunt & Associates, LLC

Nicole Stromsness, Sarah MacIntyre, Douglas Giesey, Craig Hartman, Michael Fukutome, Eric Cole, Josh Cushner, Eric Covrig, Jason Cox, Pat Green, Julie Goodwin, Amanda Brownlee, Shannon Knuth


Webcor BuildersWSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, Sansi North America (SNA)

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