AIP in Hollywood

The Annual Architecture in Perspective (AIP) Conference this year took place in Hollywood.  Hosted by the American Society of Architectural Illustrators (ASAI), the three day event that was held on October 3 to October 5 featured VR, cinematography, gaming and more.

It was a wonderful opportunity for anyone – professional, students, lay people – to engage in discussions, workshops, networking and more in architectural, artistic and related industries. 

The speaker lineup – which included Luxigon founder Eric de Broche des Combes, TLCD Architecture architect Melissa Weese, ASAI President Emeritus Barbara Ratner, Concept Artist and Matte Painter from ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ Nick Hiatt, among others.

“This was truly an amazing event,” tourist Moshe Victor Keinig relates.  “I spend a lot of time in America now that I am retired and now that I have started sketching and taking pictures, it was so good to be rubbing shoulders with some of the most notable people in the industry.”

Centrally located in the glitzy Hollywood at the Kimpton Everly Hotel, the event was put together by ASAI President Keely Colcleugh.  Now in its 34th year, subjects covered included an urban sketch & photography tour, which was of particular interest to individuals such as Keinig. Having the opportunity to explore and sketch historic landmarks around the region was a very enjoyable way to spend the day and get in the sites.

Bringing Nutrition to Local Schools

Culinary Institute of America graduate chef Scott Lopez has prepared a menu for over 1,000 at West Hills, Chaminade High School students.  Lopez – who has cooked for some of LA’s finest establishments – began his career at 13 in his family’s restaurant. Since then he has worked with the likes of Eric Greenspan, Craig Petrella and others until setting up his own business, The Caterer Inc.

The price is right at the schools too.  For just $7, kids can get the day’s special, one example being chicken piccata and linguine and a drink. But probably the best part of this is just how healthy and nutritious the meals are while being appetizing to kids.

With 6 different salad mains to choose from (including Chinese chicken salad, low fat pasta salad), protein rich sandwiches (such as hummus wrap and oven roasted turkey sandwich), soft serve yogurt and so much more, this really is a dream come true for students.

Lopez explained some of the thinking behind his menu:

 “They’re kids, which means they’re always going to want the most unhealthy food. They want the pizzas and chicken fingers. The trick is to make that not so healthy food healthier so they really don’t know. It is kind of different going from 5-star restaurants to a school cooking for kids, but, at the end of the day food is food.”

In addition, this venture is good for the environment.  Currently using only biodegradable plates and utensils, the team is hoping to add a dishwasher to take it to the next level.  No sodas are sold and only yogurt (not ice cream and no added sugar). Most of the greens are taken from their own garden!

Developments in Van Nuys

There have been some recent developments in LA’s Van Nuys neighborhood and there are plans for more. Here we look at two: the fire station and a new development on Van Nuys Boulevard/Kittridge Street.

Earlier this month there was a celebratory grand opening at the Van Nuys fire station.  Station 39 will replace the existing fire station (currently located at 14415 Sylvan Street) which is the oldest active station in the region.   At the event guests were treated to a bouncy house, face painting and a delicious pancake breakfast.  The new address is 14615 Oxnard Street, spanning over 18,533 square feet.  It features a ladder truck, a battalion chief command vehicle, two fire engines and two rescue ambulances.

Meanwhile, a report from Urbanize.LA has just approved a mixed-use project to go ahead on Kittridge Street and Van Nuys Boulevard. The aim of this is to erect a five-floor building with over 50 units with one or two bedrooms as well as a community room and outdoor decks.  There will be 3,160 square feet of retail space and a garage on the ground floor.  The project developers are Kitvan LLC and Plus Architects.

LA Business: A Boom or Bust?

VICA’s 2019 Business Forecast Conference, 2020 Vision Required (Time for Corrective Lenses) was held at the Hilton Universal Hotel on October 25.   At this year’s all-day event, much was gleaned from the breakout panels, exhibit booths, economic forecast breakfast and more that was attended by business leaders, economists, academics, etc.

Although Wells Fargo Securities senior economist and director Sarah House began on somewhat of a low note by saying that “the economy is slowing,” cautioning against “shocks on the horizon” (such as $122 billion on Chinese goods’ tariffs), she did also say that right now “fundamentals are in really good shape.”

U.S. Bank’s Private Wealth Management Regional Investment Director A. Kravetz seemed altogether more positive, beginning by saying that:

“I love the California economy. It’s one of the most diverse economies in the world…ranking it at No. 5 in the world, right behind Germany.” She pointed out that California companies stock valuation is double the Standard & Poor 500 and in 2016 its GDP peaked at 4.5 percent growth while downshifting to 3 percent in 2017.  This, against the 2 percent increase from the national economy.  She also noted the region’s “hot” industrial market and commercial real estate with the ports faring well too.

In addition, Director of the Institute for Applied Economics at Los Angeles County Economic Development County Somjita Mitra made reference to LA’s position as the world’s 19th largest economy. She said: “Our GDP will continue to grow,” (referring to the 2.7 percent increase in the last year and the 4.3 percent unemployment drop).  She added that “Anybody who wants a job has a job,” referring to the 2.1 percent increase of personal income.

LA’s Media Industry

At the end of last month, the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar) completed his trade mission to LA, California.  The two-day affair targeted the next stage of the TV and movie industries in Ireland, in an attempt to learn something from the LA scene.    Varadkar met with a variety of leaders in all sorts of related industries such as Hulu, Disney and Netflix.

In Ireland, the audio-visual industry’s estimated worth is €1bn.  TV and animation accounts for approximately €700m of this. The Irish government hopes that this sector will double within the next five years through an increase in production activity and doubling the number of employees in the industry.

LA is definitely the place to learn about the media industry, especially TV and audio-visual.  The 2017 Otis Report on the Creative Economy of California found in 2015 that a whopping 1.6 million jobs were added to the economy in the creative sector, generating 759,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs for workers who collectively earned $56.9 billion. So it’s potentially a good industry to work in.

Cannabis Cafe

America is getting its first legal cannabis restaurant – Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe – right here in Los Angeles.   This means it is the first business in America that has received a license to serve meals containing food ingredients and marijuana.

Rather than bartenders the budtenders greet customers and sit with them to help guide them through the menu which features: joints, dab rings, bong service and more, together with locally-produced food items.

Those engaged in the cannabis industry in California believe this is a huge step for America’s marijuana legalization for social, recreational and more widespread medical use. According to chef Andrea Drummer:

“Cannabis consumers have had to kind of be closeted.  To be able to engage in and consume in a space with like-minded people and not have it be secret and not feel judged, I think it’s an exceptional concept.”

Some menu items at the La Brea Avenue, West Hollywood location include: mascarpone-filled crepe with peaches, white bean hummus and buttermilk fried chicken sandwich.  It is important to note that the food itself is not cannabis infused but vaping and smoking is allowed.

According to co-founder Sean Black:

“Being the first, we want to make sure we set the benchmark very high. We want it to have the same respect as fine wine … Cannabis can be a fun recreational part of society, like alcohol, without being dangerous.”

LA-Armenian Relations

Last week, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his wife Anna Hakobyan arrived in Los Angeles and went to City Hall for an historic first time visit. The event was hosted by Councilman Paul Krekorian, LA City Council’s first elected Armenian American. They were greeted by thousands of people, excited by the visit.  Los Angeles is home to the largest Armenian community outside of Armenia.

At the visit, Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed the Armenian visitors and said:

“You make Los Angeles what it is, truly a city of angels. A place where in times of division, in times of hatred,  in times of splitting us in two – everybody belongs here. And every Armenian feels as if LA is their second home; you belong to the city.”

California Housing

Homelessness has been an issue in California for many years with potential solutions constantly being drummed up.  Now though Airbnb has gotten involved in this issue with its recent pledge to invest $25 million which would be put toward the goal of creating affordable housing in California.  In the past, money has been put toward the problem from large corporations including Facebook, Google and Microsoft as well.

This money would be put in the two states most severely impacted by rising housing costs and increased homelessness: San Francisco and Los Angeles. 

The Trump administration recently arrived in LA to form a deeper comprehension of the homeless camps there.  Over the summer, the city’s Mayor asked the President to tour the streets of LA that he believes are home to over 35,000 people each night.

Another solution is rent caps which was approved by state legislators and will impact millions of tenants.  This has been one of the most significant initiatives taken to address affordable housing as it limits annual rent increase to 5 percent after inflation as well as implementing new impediments to eviction.  This would lead to greater rental security as well.  This legislation was reinforced by Governor Gavin Newsom who has prioritized tenant protection in his first year in office.

“By Women, For Women”

A gender inclusive workplace according to lawyer, entrepreneur and mother of four Amy Nelson is a “workplace that especially caters to women with children.”  Having seen the tremendous pay gap and discrimination levied toward pregnant women, two years ago she launched The Riveter.  This establishment attempts to transform the current status of the workplace which is “built by and for men.”

Indeed their mission statement is:

“We see a world in which equity of opportunity is a reality, not merely a promise, and we strive to work with others who share our ideas. While devout in our mission to serve women in their work, we are inclusive of all. We are built by women, for everyone.”

Given that Nelson only established The Riveter back in 2017, it’s pretty impressive that it has already raised $21.6 million in venture capital. one of its co-working spaces is in LA.

Then there is the local success story of Yola Jimenez’s all-woman mezcal business that she took over from her grandfather.  some of today’s workers are the granddaughters of the original workers!  with the increase in popularity of mezcal in recent years, the model she has developed, she believes, will be able to “provide jobs and incomes, which, some studies show, can have larger impacts on communities.”

She built the business with two partners – Lykee Li and Gina Correll Aglietti in Mexico City.  But today – the newly branded Yola Mezcal – is headquartered in Silver Lake and does so much more than produce mezcal.  Between all female music festivals and philanthropic endeavors, the company does not seek to exclude men, but certainly aims to “create a future [in an attempt to] understand what it means to be women and men and learning to live together.”

Sounds like way more than just an all-women brand.