Curbed National: Behold, 10 of the World’s Wildest New Interior Spaces

All photos via INSIDE

When it comes to the built environment, the architecture is never the full picture. As such, running alongside this year's World Architecture Festival in Singapore in November will be the World Festival of Interiors, an international gathering of interior design pros that, like its architecture counterpart, will also hand out category awards, plus the big "World Interior of the Year" title. A shortlist of 50 new projects from 16 countries was recently unveiled. Here's your look at some of the most striking entries, spanning the categories of hotels, offices, residential, and more.

Come on an eye-popping world tour >>

Water Wars: Los Angeles’s Plan to Start Harvesting Its Rainwater

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[Image via Sterling Davis / Curbed LA flickr pool]

When water falls from the sky in Los Angeles, the city captures a little; in a year, they manage to get ahold of 27,000 acre-feet of water on average. (One acre-foot is equal to about 326,000 gallons—enough for two households for a year.) But after four years of severe statewide drought, the LA Department of Water and Power is considering an enormous rainwater capture plan that could possibly yield between 100,000 and 200,000 more acre-feet of water a year by 2035, says the LA Times.

Set to be presented today, the Stormwater Capture Master Plan includes big projects in the Valley that would "recharge" the underground water storage by collecting water and gradually reintroducing it back into the ground, plus smaller plans that could be implemented around the city: streets could become green streets, parks could install bioswales, and private homes could add rain barrels or a cistern.

The LADWP says that the projects within the plan would have to be given the green light on a "case-by-case basis" from the department's board of directors and from the LA County Department of Public Works, who the LADWP is already asking for funding help. The plan would cost anywhere from $60 to $220 million, depending on how aggressive they want to be about getting every last drop.

Some researchers predict that, because of climate change, SoCal will be getting fewer rainy days as the century wears on, but those that do come will be more intense and produce more water than usual. With these rainwater collection systems in place, more of that captured water could be available for year-round use. Which could certainly come in handy as the drought drags on.

· DWP to unveil plan to capture storm runoff [LAT]
· Stormwater Capture Master Plan [Official site]
· Seven Ways California Could Change in a 72-Year Drought [Curbed LA]

Rumormongering: David Geffen Selling His Infamous Malibu Spread For $100M

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Music/film mogul and Cher ex David Geffen fought jealously for years to keep people away from his massive spread along Carbon Beach in Malibu and now he's just going to give the thing away to any loser with $100 million. Variety reports that "one of L.A.'s most prominent property brokers has quietly told a number of Platinum Triangle real estate power players that he's able to discreetly show" the gray-shingled compound "to pre-screened clients." Geffen has always hated the idea of the unwashed masses tramping around his property—a part of all beaches in California are legally required to be open to the public, but Geffen has worked very hard over the decades to prevent public access by his house and the fight has ended up making this a pretty infamous spread.

In 1983, Geffen agreed to allow a pathway from Pacific Coast Highway down to the public part of the beach in front of his compound, in exchange for putting in a swimming pool and making other additions. But in 2002, he filed a lawsuit to keep people away from that access point and at some point he also built four fake garage doors along Pacific Coast Highway, removing the curb in the process, to keep people from parking on the public road in front of his house. After years of these kind of tricks both practical and legal, he finally agreed to open up a bit of the public beach in 2007, getting a "privacy buffer" in return.

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But now Geffen is apparently spending more time on the East Coast, in enormous spreads in the Hamptons and Manhattan, and on his gigantic yachts (plural!), so he's finally ready to part with the Carbon Beach complex he's owned in part since the mid-1970s and in full since 1999. The property is composed of five parcels combined into two, which are "fearsomely fortified and always guarded," according to Variety. There are a number of buildings, one of which reportedly holds a screening room, plus that swimming pool and spa, lawns, and nine garage doors (so probably five real ones).

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Geffen supposedly wants $100 million for the whole thing. He also owns a house just down the beach, which he bought for the second in time in 2008, for $9.8 million. His main LA house is the fabulous Jack Warner estate in Beverly Hills, which he's owned since 1990.
· Your Mama Hears: David Geffen Quietly Shops Malibu Compound [Variety]
· The Real Estate Hijinks and Highlights of LA's 5 Richest People [Curbed LA]

Bootlegging: Los Angeles Wants to Legalize Hundreds of Illegal Apartments

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[Image via The Hollywood Hills / Curbed LA flickr pool]

The Los Angeles City Council is going ahead with creating an ordinance that would legalize scads of illegal apartments throughout the city (the city turns up about 600 to 700 illegal units a year). They've asked the City Attorney to draft something up that would grant "amnesty" to the landlords of illegally converted living spaces that are in multi-family apartments buildings, giving owners a more feasible way to legalize those dwellings, says City News Service. In order to get the reprieve, landlords of the unapproved units would have to keep them affordable and livable, plus meet a handful of other terms.

Councilmember Felipe Fuentes, who first introduced the motion last year, says that the current rules for getting bootlegged units into compliance don't give owners enough time to bring the units up to code, and because of that, about 80 percent of tenants in units discovered by the city ended up being evicted.

LA's housing crunch is already extremely grim, and while there aren't enough illegal units to fix anything (about 2,560 were found between 2010 and 2015), they do provide a source of affordable housing for people who might otherwise struggle to find a place to live. (And it's not like LA can really afford to lose any housing units at all.) If adopted, the ordinance would apply to 594 illegal units in multi-family apartments complexes that have been converted from non-residential spaces, like rec rooms, and that have already received citations from the city. It would also apply to similar illegal units that haven't been found yet.
· L.A. City Council might give amnesty to owners of illegal residential units [CNS]
· LA Thinking About Legalizing a Lot of Its Illegal Apartments [Curbed LA]

Curbed National: National Historic Trust’s List of 11 Most Endangered Places Focuses on American Diversity

The vacant and deteriorating A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham, Alabama, was once a center for the Civil Rights struggle. Photo by City of Birmingham.

It's a bit of a bitter pill to swallow when the Grand Canyon makes a list of the most endangered places in America. But the landmark finds itself standing uncomfortably next to an array of natural sites, historic buildings, and cultural centers that made the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 2015 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The twenty-eighth annual list is quite diverse, highlighting numerous aspects of American history from preservation battles to civil rights struggles. Inclusion on the list has traditionally been a good thing; of the more than 250 sites listed, only a few have been lost.

From New York to San Francisco, here's a gallery of all 11 sites >>

Curbed Comparisons: What $1,700 Can Rent You in Los Angeles Right Now

Welcome to Curbed Comparisons, where we explore what you can rent or buy for a certain dollar amount in various LA 'hoods. Is one man's studio another man's townhouse? Let's find out! Our friends at Zumper have helped us out with five listings within $100 of today's price: $1,700.

↑ This two-bedroom apartment along eastern Echo Park in Victor Heights offers the benefit of no upstairs neighbors, hardwood floors, and parking. The kitchen's been updated, though it doesn't say when, and the listing says the unit has lots of "Old World Charm," whatever that means. A fridge is included! Rent is $1,695.

↑ This two-bedroom apartment in Montecito Heights also has two full bathrooms, which is a definitely a bonus for anyone with roommates or kids. The luxury does not stop: the 985-square-foot unit comes with a fridge, a dishwasher, and a washer and dryer. There's also central air (see ya, swamp cooler!) and two tandem parking spaces. The complex has a gym and a pool. Rent is $1,795.

↑ This pet-friendly West Hollywood apartment is just west of Santa Monica and Crescent Heights and comes with parking. The apartment building has a small pool and on-site laundry. The one-bedroom unit measures 820 square feet and has a fair amount of storage space in the form of cabinets throughout the house and a standard closet. All the appliances are included and there are nice wood floors in the space. Rent is $1,795.

↑ Not a lot of details on this cool Fairfax one bedroom, but there are plenty of photos showing off its kitchen with colorful tile counters, built-in nooks in the hallway, and wood floors. There's at least one ceiling fan, and that plus the wall-mounted air conditioning unit ought to keep at least that one room in your house chilled. Rent is $1,795.

↑ Oooh, North Hollywood: 1,000 square feet and an intense, rock-encrusted fireplace? This place is downright princely! The two-bedroom apartment has wood floors, two balconies, central air conditioning, and gated parking for two cars. The kitchen includes a dishwasher, and there are on-site laundry facilities. Rent is $1,795.

· Curbed Comparisons [Curbed LA]

The Commute: Downtown LA Just Got a Super Fancy New Bus Shelter

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The fancy bus shelter on the west side of Spring Street by City Hall

The fanciest bus stop in Los Angeles by a long shot just rolled out on Spring Street, sandwiched between Grand Park and City Hall. First of all, this is a legit bus shelter, with a roof and everything. For some, that's cause for celebration right there, but it gets better. The Source says that this shaded shelter is outfitted with a USB port where riders can charge up their devices and a WiFi hotspot (go ahead and download that podcast!). And of course it's got electronic signage churning out real-time arrival info for Metro and DASH buses, and a button to push to receive audio announcements of that information.

The luxurious City Hall bus shelter, just announced today, is a Metro and LADOT project. It'll be observed to see how reliable all the tech features are, how jacked up everything gets from vandalism, and how useful the bells and whistles end up being.

There are also nine other bus shelters around with the electronic, real-time-arrival signage, but the Spring Street beauty is the first to have all the amenities of a Starbucks (minus coffee). More decked-out shelters are planned to roll out in "the next couple of years" across LA County.

The bus stop talks to me!

A video posted by Carter Rubin (@carterrubin) on

· Gimme shelters! [The Source]

DevelopmentWatch: Beverly Hills Richard Meier Project Making Major Changes

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The 9900 Wilshire project at the prime intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards in Beverly Hills has been on and off and back and forth for years now, switching owners several times, but the latest proprietors—Chinese-based Wanda Group—seem to be making some real moves. Now they've announced some pretty big changes to the plans, still and always designed by starchitect Richard Meier. The old May Company department store on the site was demolished last year, just before Wanda bought it all for an outrageous sum. Now they're ditching the original approvals for a condo/retail development and going back for entitlements on a plan for a hotel and fewer condos, plus more parking, and they're ditching the small retail component, reports the LA Times. They've also renamed the project One Beverly Hills.

To make space for the 134-room hotel, the developers are planning to take out 42 of the condos; previously planned retail space would also be cut out completely. The hotel would have two restaurants (at ground level and on the roof), plus a rooftop pool for guests and residents. Wanda would operate the hotel, as it does for its 71 others, most of which are in China. (The company is also China's largest commercial developer and the owners of the AMC Theater chain. Overachievers!) With the alterations, One Beverly Hills would have 193 condos, those 134 hotel rooms, and underground parking for 1,083 cars (up from 802), though the height of the project's 14- and 16-story structures would remain the same.

Why take a perfectly good, ready-to-go development and make it harder to build? Maybe Wanda Group just needed to personalize the development a little—give it that Wanda touch. Wanda Group's popping hotels into several commercial developments in progress internationally, including one in Chicago. A hotel also makes sense for the site because, from the time it bought the parcel, the company has said that the project is intended to be Wanda's first big step into the Hollywood film scene, and the headquarters for all their film-related business in town. It's easier to imagine a hotel in that role than a retail/residential complex. It would be weird (not to mention rough for the neighbors) to hold press junkets or fancy after-parties at a bunch of condos.

Wanda's future hotel will have lots of luxe company; it will be joining the Beverly Hilton Hotel next door and the under-construction Waldorf Astoria next to that. But experts say that BH could easily handle another fancy place to stay, citing 80 percent occupancy rates last year, despite the fact that rooms were going for $453 a night on average.

Wanda Group's hoping that the new approvals will only take 18 months, with construction beginning in 2017 and lasting about two years.
· Developers want to add a hotel to a planned condo complex in Beverly Hills [LAT]
· Bev Hills' 9900 Wilshire Sells to Chinese Mega-Developer [Curbed LA]
· 9900 Wilshire [Curbed LA]

Museums: The Academy Movie Museum On the Miracle Mile is Happening as Long as It’s Not Killed By a Lawsuit

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Los Angeles will finally get its big movie museum, assuming the thing doesn't get sued to kingdom come in the next few months. Today, the LA City Council gave its blessing to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the people who put on the Oscars)—the project will renovate the 1939 May Company department store building on the edge of the LACMA campus in the Miracle Mile and add an enormous glass sphere to its back end, all designed (rather controversially) by starchitect Renzo Piano. It'll include a 1,000-seat theater and 10,000-square-foot viewing deck (both in the sphere), plus a cafe, piazza, galleries, smaller theaters, and an education center. And yes, the May Company's golden pillar will be adorned with an Oscar statue. (See all the before and after images here.) The Academy has been working on a movie museum for about a decade now, first in Hollywood and eventually here at Fairfax and Wilshire.

The Academy has raised a heap of money (with help from its celebrity fundraisers, naturally) and says it's ready to start work this *fall so it can open the museum by late 2017. But all that's basically blood in the water for the anti-development crowd, who are now threatening to sue to stop the project. Fix the City, the group that helped put a stop to much-needed new planning guidelines for Hollywood that would've promoted transit-oriented development, "sent a scathing email to the planning and land use committee Tuesday, accusing city officials of ramrodding the film museum through without enough analysis and discussion of its effect on traffic and parking in the Miracle Mile," the LA Times reported this morning. They say they intend to sue and stop the museum.

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The museum will share parking with LACMA and has also arranged for 800 other spaces nearby, which should be able to accommodate a capacity crowd. Still, three neighborhood associations in the area oppose the museum because of its large theater, "which they fear will clog streets for movie premieres and other events." The LADOT found that the museum would only contribute "a slight increase" to rush hour traffic.

Of negotiations between the museum and Fix the City, the museum's managing director told the LAT "I'm hopeful," while Fix the City's lawyer said "I'm not optimistic."
· L.A. panel OKs Academy Museum, but objections are heard [LAT]
· See How the Movie Museum Will Transform the Miracle Mile [Curbed LA]
· A Complete Tour Through The Future Academy Movie Museum [Curbed LA]

DemolitionWatch: Sunset Strip House of Blues Closing Early to Make Way for Big Hotel/Housing/Retail Project

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The countdown to a House-of-Blues-less Sunset Strip began last summer, when news came out that construction would begin late this year on a new mixed-use hotel and residential project on the site. (The project has been kicking around for years, but before last August, there hadn't been any dates attached.) Last summer, reps for concert promoter Live Nation, which runs the HoB, said that the tin-covered venue would be able to stick around for at least two more years of gospel brunches, but the LA Business Journal now reports that operations actually will be shutting down on August 7 this year, with employee layoffs starting at the end of this month.

Taking the place of the HoB will be the Sunset Time project from developer Combined Properties. Designed by Kanner Architects, it will bring 149 hotel rooms, 40 condos, rental apartments "for low- and moderate-income people," and 35,000 square feet of retail space, plus a nightclub, says WeHoville. There will also be 6,000 square feet of digital billboards on the building, a notable feature of the project since its first appearance back in 2009 (though the square footage of the ad space seems to have shrunk since then).

The House of Blues has said it's looking for a new space somewhere in Los Angeles after a fruitless search for a suitable space in West Hollywood. There's still no clear timetable for demolition of the HoB building, but reports from last summer said that Combined hoped to begin construction in late 2015.

· Layoff Notices Sent as Final Bars Play at WeHo House of Blues [LABJ]
· WeHo's House of Blues to Close on August 7 [WeHoville]
· Mapping the Sunset Strip's Hotel Madness [Curbed LA]
· WeHo's House of Blues Project: Shake, Rattle and Roll, and Shine [Curbed LA]

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