As the year draws to a close, we’ve made up a bunch of awards for buildings, people, and places in the real estate, architecture, and transit universes in Los Angeles that made a splash for better or worse in 2016.
Without further ado, the winners.
Best Transit-Oriented Development: Culver City planning officials loved the Expo Line-adjacent Ivy Station mixed user so much, their only complaint was that it wasn't bigger.
Best Use of a Ballot Measure to Skirt the Planning Process: Rams owner Stan Kroenke avoided a long, legally-mandated environmental review process for his massive stadium project in Inglewood by gathering signatures from residents to place the stadium on the ballot. Once that was done, the Inglewood City Council was able to approve the project directly. That happened in 2015, but Kroenke’s efforts paid off this year, when the NFL owners voted to allow the Rams to return to Los Angeles.
Worst Use of a Ballot Measure to Skirt the Planning Process: This year, Beverly Hilton owner Benny Alagem tried to entice Beverly Hills voters to approve his plan to combine two already-approved condo towers into one much-taller structure. The hotelier spent millions of dollars campaigning for the ballot measure, but voters rejected it by a fairly wide margin.
Best New Civic Building: The city’s new federal courthouse already looks right at home among the stately government structures that surround it. Judges began moving into the glassy, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill-designed structure in September.
The Tom Hanks and Shelley Long Fixer Upper Award: To this Echo Park home described in the listing as “a tear down” built upon a small and “not all usable” lot. Best of all, there’s “[p]ossible toxic material stored in the yard.” Asking price: $770,000.
Best Free Advertising for Measure M: We still can’t stop staring at this gif by amateur cartographer Adam Linder. Look at LA’s transit network go!
Most Ill-advised Experiment in Sustainable Living: In July, LA prosecutors hit Robert Rhinehart, founder and CEO of food-replacement company Soylent, with criminal charges over a repurposed shipping container he had placed atop a hill in Lincoln Heights. Neighbors said the un-permitted “eco home” was attracting vagrants and could roll down the hill in an earthquake.
The "There it is, Take it" Award: To Lynda and Stewart Resnick, the owners of brands like Wonderful Pistachios and Fiji Water. The couple has a majority share in a water bank that was once state-owned. Now, in the current drought, they use more water than the city of Los Angeles—and sell some of their supply back to the state.
The Strapped to the Wrecking Ball Preservation Award: To new councilmember David Ryu, who snapped into action to prevent the demolition of Bob Hope’s longtime residence in Toluca Lake—only to find it might never have been in danger. The councilmember has also advocated for preservation of Kurt Meyer’s Lytton Savings building and the first LA home of Walt Disney.
The Time Marches On Award: To Frank Gehry, who remains stubbornly committed to razing the above-mentioned Lytton Savings building to make way for his major new Sunset Boulevard project. “Some buildings you can’t save,” the architect told the City Council.
Most Inevitable Project Delay: To the Sixth Street Viaduct replacement, which is already running overbudget and behind schedule.
Best Use of Drones for Good: This short little video of some of LA’s greatest neon signs is nearly perfect. We just wish it were longer! There are so many other great neon signs we want to see dramatically circled at sunset.
Most Farfetched Claim: Wilshire Grand architect Christopher Martin told an interviewer that he never intended for the building to become the city’s tallest. Apparently, he only found out the tower would have that distinction when “an LA Times staffer wrote about it.”
The Hollis Mulwray Memorial Conspiracy Award: To the
LA River Corporation River LA, which is leading the way on revitalization efforts along the LA River, while board members quietly snatch up properties along the banks.
Best Acting in a Listing Video: Ori Ayonmike delivered what can only be described as a tour-de-force performance in this 10-minute short film (that he also wrote and directed) promoting his own $4.5 million home in the Hollywood Hills. In it, Ayonmike and wife Nafisa play a divorcing couple who spend their time alternatively brooding and taking advantage of the home’s most luxurious amenities.
The “I’m Trying to Get to the Rose Bowl” Award: To the Gold Line, which now extends all the way out to Azusa—much to the confusion of Pasadena-bound out-of-towners.
The Not Settling for Anything but the Best Award: To Beyoncé and Jay Z, who still have not committed to a permanent LA residence. Rumors abounded that the couple was interested in a Beverly Hills mansion once owned by James Bond producer Albert Broccoli, but alas, fashion designer Tom Ford swooped in and purchased the home for a whopping $50 million. Will 2017 be the year that the power couple finally seals the deal on an LA home?