Reception and book signing with architect Alan Wanzenberg at Remains Los Angeles

Remains Lighting Los Angeles will host a book signing and reception on February 11 from 4:30-6:30 pm to celebrate Journey: the Life and Times of an American Architect, the new book by architect Alan Wanzenberg.

Alan Wanzenberg is an internationally recognized architect at the head of a multidisciplinary architectural and interior design firm and he designs a line of fixtures and lamps for Remains. His firm handles a select volume of meticulously detailed and carefully constructed projects for a range of clients including individuals, families, and developers.

The award-winning firm has been recognized nationally for design excellence in The New York Times, in shelter publications that include Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, World of Interiors; and in style publications such as Vogue and Modernism Magazine. Numerous times, Mr. Wanzenberg has been named in the annual Architectural Digest’s Top 100 Designers and Architects.

 

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The LA Conservancy’s Interactive Historic Places Map

The LA Conservancy does amazing work to preserve the architectural history of this youth-obsessed metropolis. They recently launched a fantastic interactive map on their website that guides the curious to over 500 historically significant buildings in the greater Los Angeles area.

You can search by geographical area or decade, or filter the map by the style of architecture you fancy: Mid Century Modern, Moorish or Mayan Revival to name a few. What a great way to explore history and to refresh your perspective on the city of Angels.

Many of my favorite buildings are Spanish Colonial revival, a classic California vernacular rooted in the state’s missionary past. Built in the early 20th century, these warm red-roofed structures dot the landscape I see daily, their shadowy porches inviting you for a break from the California sun. While a 100 year old building may be laughably junior in another city, LA will never have street cred if we don’t appreciate and preserve what we have that’s unique.

A few of my favorites are below. With so many buildings on the map, why not choose your own adventure?

Plummer Park

Plummer Park in West Hollywood was home to the 1874 ranch of Colonel Eugenio Plummer, whose home was situated on 160 acres of open land. West Hollywood recently decided this would make a good spot for a parking structure. Dios mio!

Beverly Hills Civic Center

A few months ago I attended a meeting of the Institute of Classical Architecture at the Beverly Hills Civic Center. It was my first time inside William Gage’s 1930s buildings: the dark wood ceiling’s original painted decoration is stunning and the lofty proportions of the room like a breath of fresh air.

Beverly Hills Waterworks

I drive by the Beverly Hills Waterworks / Center for Motion Picture Study on La Cienega at least once a week. The lighting design picks out the details of the grand façade beautifully on an evening. As it happens, the Moorish styled bell tower actually housed part of the water purification system. What a great example of function and purpose in harmony.

Astrophysics Lab at Caltech

Reading over the Conservancy map I was reminded of the 1932 Astrophysics Lab at Caltech in Pasadena. It’s been recommended to me by a number of friends not only as a fantastic example of Spanish revival, but because the star themed lighting fixtures originally designed for the lab are still there. A visit to the lab is on the top of my list. Consider it a new year’s resolution.

-Valerie Thomas, Remains Lighting Los Angeles

PS – the oldest buildings on the map are from the 1840s, when California was still Mexican ranch land.

https://www.laconservancy.org/explore-la/historic-places

 

 

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Hiking by Design at Echo Mountain

It was a clear, warm day in Los Angeles, as usual. Our group met at the foot of the trail in Altadena, in front of the 1918 Cobb Estate.

For its third installation, Hiking by Design trekked to the remnants of Echo Mountain in the hills just north of Pasadena. One of Southern California’s original resort destinations, the White City was built in 1893 by Thaddeus Lowe (namesake of Mt Lowe, also a popular hiking destination). Holiday makers were lured by the dry, temperate climate of Los Angeles, purported to cure everything from tuberculosis to existential ennui. Perhaps LA’s current reputation for top-notch plastic surgeons is a continuation of the med-spa legacy started over 100 years ago.

At its peak – or should I say heyday? – the resort consisted of four hotels, tennis courts, an observatory, a dance hall and its own water and power. Echo Mountain was reached by a scenic incline railway, similar to the Angel’s Flight funicular in Downtown LA, from the basin 1,800 feet below. Another stretch of mountain railway careened around the cliffs and delivered guests to the Alpine Tavern another 3-1/2 miles back into the canyon.

Echo Mountain House, Courtesy LA Public Library

After a steady hour and a half hike our design-inclined group arrived at the terminus of the old incline railway. The funicular journey took about 30 minutes, but we think we had the more enjoyable journey. Bits of disused track line the trail, and the remnants of massive old gears and wheels we saw must have rusted slowly in the dry temperate climate. One of our Hiking by Design regulars pored over the plans of the original power plant that perched on the hill. The plant that lit the resort was also the cause of its early demise just a few decades later: power lines caught in wind ignited a fire that razed the White City.

A few meters further on you pass the site of old tennis courts and picnic area. The courts are gone, but the picnicking continues with tables installed by the state park. The foundations of the hotel have a prime spot on the southeast verge of the cliff and overlook the entire Los Angeles basin. Characteristically hazy the day we visited, after a rain the views are stunning: the skyline of Downtown Los Angeles, Griffith Observatory, and the Pacific Ocean glittering beyond.

We were fortunate to have building expert and excellent hiker Ron Ortiz from I. Grace along to help us decode the ruins. He explained that the gaps in the foundation were for crawl space, affording access for services as well as facilitating natural ventilation. Bearing in mind that we had temperatures in the mid 70s on an early January day, that ventilation would be a boon in the summer months.

No visit to Echo Mountain would be complete without a trip back behind the property where the Echo Phone aims your voice across the next ravine and bounces the sound back to you. We tried to get a four-legged hiker to try it, but couldn’t coax his muzzle to just the right spot.

-Valerie Thomas

For more about Mount Lowe:
http://www.mountlowe.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Lowe_Railway

Amazing footage of the railway in action:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yc_lqdHyNNs

More about Hiking by Design:
Hiking by Design is a regular series of hikes to sites of architectural significance. Led by Valerie Thomas and sponsored by Remains Los Angeles our hikes cover varied terrain and are a great way to exercise a penchant for nature and the built environment. If you have suggestions of hike locations or questions about our events, please contact Valerie at Valerie@remains.com. We invite you to join our next outing for the design-inclined. We promise it will be fun.

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Bulb Phase-out (EISA Act of 2007)

We have been paying close attention to the 2nd phase of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 which comes in effect this January 1, 2014.

The first phase of the act brought the demise of the standard 100w incandescent lamp (“bulbs” for those of you clinging to the 19th Century’s terms) in 2012. This is why you have been trouble finding them in your local hardware store. “What?!?! No more 100 watt bulbs?” you say… well maybe you’d better take a seat, preferably a soft one… come January 1, 2014, both the 60 watt and 40 watt regular old incandescent lamps that you know and love, will be phased out of production. They will be illegal to produce or import into the USA.

While I think this is somewhat of a misguided law, fear not, there are plenty of lamps on the market from which to choose that do as good, if not better of a job, creating light as those old lamps.

Before I start enumerating the potential replacements to the incandescent 40 & 60 W lamps, please take a deep breath and let me tell you that there are a TON of lamps that are exempt from this legislation. To begin with, all candelabra lamps are not affected. Additionally, tubular lamps are not affected. Reflector lamps (silver-tip) are not affected. Three-way lamps are not affected, as are marine lamps, vibration resistant lamps, rough service lamps… whew!

For all instances where you can’t use a candelabra lamp, a tubular lamp, or a silver tip lamp and you must use an incandescent lamp, there are great halogen incandescent lamps that look as well as the old lamps and are more efficient in energy use per lumen than the old standard incandescent lamps.

I can think of only a small handful of instances where I would be really disappointed if I couldn’t find an incandescent medium-base lamp. You could skirt the issue by using an old 25 W lamp or you could use one of the many more efficient halogen lamps that look and feel like the old incandescent lamps. The halogen lamps are incandescent lamps, by the way, they just perform with greater efficiency as a result of the halogen gas in the lamp enclosure. Halogen lamps have the same full range dimming characteristics as do old incandescent lamps. Halogen lamps are nearly as simple a piece of technology as are plain old incandescent lamps (a significant environmental advantage when you start looking into the manufacturing burden side of the sustainability equation, by the by). Halogen lamps have fabulous color rendition (full 100 CRI, same as the old incandescent lamps).

If you are still unsatisfied with existing regular incandescent and new halogen options, you could use one of the many, many compact fluorescent lamps on the market or any of the many emerging LED lamps as well.

I intentionally skirted a big discussion of the environmental merits of these various lighting technologies. That’s a story for another day.

-David Calligeros

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Leonard Da Vinci drawings at the Morgan Library

New York’s Morgan Library has a show of Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings and a full notebook on view until February 2 2014. I was there for a tour of the museum buildings given by the architect Peter Pennoyer and lingered after to walk through a Charles Dickens exhibit and then on to the Leonardo room upstairs. The show has several outstanding portraits, rippling anatomical sketches of horses and, delightfully, one of insects. There’s an amazing original notebook of Leonardo’s as well. Unfortunately, even for someone with as delicate fingers as I have, they would not remove it from its glass case and let me leaf through the pages… the contents of which are made available only on a large touch screen.

The breadth of Leonardo’s interest and his understanding truly knock you out of your shoes. OK, I admit I can’t read his upside down and right to left Latin but I saw drawings of dams, power transfer, lever and weights, aeronautics and the flight of birds, architectural compositions, gearing diagrams, elaborate linkages with counterweights, some looking like pure mechanics, the next showing themselves to be investigations of bird wings, and in the middle of one page: a sweet as pie sketch of a leaf in red chalk. All of this stuff, even his unique handwriting was crisp and delightful, whether describing a bird whooshing and whirling through a breeze or the action of a weight held at different positions on an inclined plane.

Lastly, I share with you this leaf of a slightly different profile. The oak leaf of the Morgan family, on one of the lanterns in the back stair, recalling their motto: “from a little acorn, a mighty oak grows.”

-David Calligeros

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Highlights from the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show

Here’s a small slice of the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show that ran the last week in October. I saw a few things through the scrum of well-attired people thronging the plentiful and tasty offerings; some art, a few antiques that is.

My favorite piece of the show was a large John Grillo painting that reminds me of a scroll written in a secret language where ideas are conveyed in vectors and colors as well as standard text.

Another smaller Grillo and a shimmering resin sculpture by Mary Bauermeister caught my eye as well in Foster Gwin’s booth www.fostergwin.com (just to the right of the central bar/ food crossing.

 

Just at the entry, Carleton Hobbs http://carltonhobbs.com showed a large circular bronze mirror in a late 19th Century style at the crossroads of the Italian Renaissance and the Aesthetics movement. I missed the tag so can’t tell you what they thought of it, or how large its price tag was, though that, assuredly, was not small.

Lebreton www.lebretongallery.com had a few extraordinary pieces, most notably, the massive, anthropomorphic, orange textile wall hanging by Magdelena Abakanowicz  and a brass table lamp by Andre Arbus with a stylized set of bull horns as the finial. Also, to tickle my metal shop ribs, they showed a low table (14) by Pierre Giraudon with a thick resin top full of curly brass inclusions that look exactly like what come off our lathes.

Lastly, I drooled over a solid silver chandelier made by Georg Jensen www.georgjensenantiques.com for his first gallery in Copenhagen. It was beautiful, though not large in size. In price, it was enormous. They asked $1,400,000. While trying to get a closer look at the bottom I dropped my small plate of lamb chops. Luckily they had a pristine and shiny Georg Jensen silver bowl to catch them. I scooped them back up before they noticed, I think, and wiped up most of the drippings.

The lamb chops at the SFFAS are indeed delicious.

David Calligeros

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Made in New York City: The Remains Lighting Factory on National Manufacturing Day

Made in NYC asked us to post a few photos of our factory in Brooklyn, NY in honor of National Manufacturing Day. We are very happy to oblige. Manufacturing generates a huge, complex web of economic activity, from providing jobs with a low bar to entry and a clear path to career advancement, to demanding goods and services from other  makers as well as legal and financial sector.  It is also one of the few primary wealth creation engines in our economy, and the only one that can function in a city (the other two are agriculture/forestry and mining/ resource extraction). Every other smidge of economic activity (banking, landscaping, healthcare, hairstylists, etc.) is acting on the primary value spun off of one of those three fields. – David Calligeros

#HowitsMade, Remains Lighting Factory, New York

#HowitsMade, Remains Lighting Factory, New York

#HowitsMade, Remains Lighting Factory, New York

#HowitsMade, Remains Lighting Factory, New York

 

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Hiking by Design – Adamson House and Malibu Canyon

Join Valerie Thomas for a special tour of the historic Adamson House designed by Stiles O. Clements and John Holtzclaw in 1929, followed by a walk around the Malibu Lagoon and its natural and architectural delights on October 12th. There is a $7 fee for Adamson House tour. Parking, information and details will follow upon RSVP.

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