KCRW's DnA: Design & Architecture

KCRW's DnA: Design & Architecture

United States

From your iPod to the Freedom Chair to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, design and architecture shape our world. On DnA: Design and Architecture host Frances Anderton talks to design world leaders about the latest in products fashion graphics architecture and more in Los Angeles and beyond.


'La La Land,' Mann house, underwater pavilions  

Los Angeles is a character in the romantic musical La La Land, from famed landmarks to infamous freeway traffic jams. The Germans come to the rescue of a Modernist house in the Pacific Palisades built by "father of German democracy" Thomas Mann. And artist Doug Aitken's latest installation involves diving gear and a trip to Catalina.

A streetcar is desired in downtown LA  

The effort to bring a streetcar back to downtown Los Angeles passed another hurdle this week. The LA City Council voted 13-0 to approve a 3.8-mile route that includes Grand Park, the Convention Center, the Fashion District, and theaters and shops along Broadway.

Cuban architecture, Lewis MacAdams  

Fidel Castro is dead. What might his passing mean for the historic city of Havana, where development was stalled for almost 60 years? Lewis MacAdams, poet-activist, passes on the torch at Friends of the LA River. We discuss the future of the LA river with MacAdams and FOLAR's new Executive Director, Marissa Christiansen.

LA River's leading advocate Lewis MacAdams steps down  

The Los Angeles River is losing one of its fiercest advocates. Lewis MacAdams founded Friends of the Los Angeles River three decades ago, and will soon step down as president.

SUVs are back, the family behind Wilshire Grand  

The return of SUVs was the big trend at this year's LA Auto Show. And what is the future of electric mobility under a Trump administration? And the longtime LA architecture firm A.C. Martin Partners is putting the finishing touches on Wilshire Grand Center. Cousins Chris and David Martin discuss the challenges of building LA's tallest skyscraper and the firm's future.

Wilshire Grand nears completion  

There's a new supertall building in town. If you've been anywhere near downtown LA, even miles away, you've seen it go up.

Architects and Trump, a slow tech movement  

Architects erupt over a memo supportive of President-Elect Donald Trump, issued by the American Institute of Architects. And some Silicon Valley insiders are comparing tech to big tobacco or even gambling -- eager to sell people on a pleasure that is dangerously addictive. Is it time for a "slow technology" movement?

Angelenos vote for density and transit  

Voters in Los Angeles on Tuesday agreed to tax themselves to pay for mass transit, homeless housing, and parks. They also want developers to pay for affordable housing. And Santa Monica voters rejected a controversial anti-density measure.

A New Hope for Lucas Museum in LA, The Wangs vs. The World  

Los Angeles and San Francisco are competing to play host to George Lucas’ Museum of Narrative Art, which comes with a site-specific design by Ma Yansong. Jade Chang draws from her experience covering LA’s art and design scene in her first novel,"The Wangs Vs. The World."

Big pot embraces high design  

Voters in California will decide next week whether to legalize recreational marijuana. Meanwhile, the fast-growing cannabis industry is turning to high-end product design and sleek new dispensaries to attract new customers and clean up its image.

Designing dispensaries, the southland's growing pains  

How does the booming marijuana industry shed its illicit image and attract new customers? By turning to high-end product design and sleek new dispensaries. And Santa Monica residents will vote next week on Measure LV. Will it slow growth or create new problems? The initiative is being closely watched as a bellwether for development in the Southland.

Frank Gehry strips down on Sunset  

A Frank Gehry-designed project on Sunset Boulevard is moving forward, despite neighborhood opposition.

Designing your life, ghostland  

Can you "ideate" and "prototype" your way to a better, more fulfilling life? That’s the premise of the book Designing Your Life, though some designers question the use of "design thinking" as a means of career counselling and self-investigation. And in time for Halloween, the book Ghostland explores what kinds of architectural details make a place feel haunted, as well as what stories of hauntings tell us about our own prejudices and biases.

The problem with A/C, Neon City, Jewish LA  

The world needs to cut back on HFCs but Americans love staying cold; does that mean you need to get a smaller fridge or turn off the air-conditioning? Los Angeles was once a city of neon; now the colorful gas lighting is making a comeback. Why? Avishay Artsy tours Jewish Los Angeles, and finds some of LA’s most noted designers and builders.

Police academy, smart gun, eat the river  

The LAPD Academy in Elysian Park has undergone a makeover, as the department adapts to an era of community policing. An MIT freshman has created what's believed to be the first fingerprint-enabled smart gun. And a French artist finds inspiration in the cracked concrete of the Los Angeles River.

The suburban home of tomorrow  

Back when most people had barely heard of a Prius or LEED certification, 300 builders and product designers committed to sustainable design gathered at a small convention called Greenbuild. Now it is one of the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to “green building” and holds its fifteenth annual conference and trade show this week at the LA Convention Center.

Patrick Shearn, Greenbuild, cargo shorts  

Artist Patrick Shearn, known for his eye-popping music festival installations, goes public, with musical clouds inside Walt Disney Concert Hall, and Liquid Shard. LA welcomes the Greenbuild Conference; but what is next in sustainability now greenbuilding has gone mainstream? Plus, we investigate the gender wars that have erupted over a men's fashion choice: cargo shorts.

YIMBYs rise up to support development  

We've all heard of NIMBYs: people who oppose growth because they don't want their neighborhoods to change. Now, there's a counter-movement forming of people who say the only way to solve the housing crisis in expensive cities is to keep building.

The Europeans are coming! Koolhaas, Herzog & de Meuron in LA  

Some high-profile European architects have projects in the works for the Southland and have waded into the argument about density. DnA looks at projects both spiritual and commercial from famed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and his firm OMA, and we check out a mammoth mixed-use project in the Arts District by Herzog & de Meuron.

Smithsonian's new African-American museum, YIMBY movement  

Smithsonian's newest museum is a striking homage to African-American history and culture. We get the inside scoop from the architects and reviews from critics on the building and its artifacts. And move over NIMBYs: the pro-development, YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) movement is heating up across the country, and here in Los Angeles.

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