Top sales: L.A.’s housing market sees a spate of high-dollar deals in January – Los Angeles Times

An action-film star, a home-furnishings chief executive and a fashion designer were among the top movers and shakers in L.A.’s red-hot luxury market, which last month saw five sales north of $20 million. Here’s a closer look at the most expensive homes sold in January.

$42.5 million — Hollywood Hills West

A 16,000-square-foot contemporary home on Robin Drive in the Bird Streets neighborhood sold to a limited liability company for about $9.5 million less than the asking price.

Set on a hillside lot of more than half an acre, the six-bedroom, 10-bathroom mansion features an elaborate swimming pool that snakes around the rear of the property. Inside, novelties include a golf simulator, a cigar room and a media room. A separate wellness studio features a spa and massage room. A rooftop deck with a living roof creates additional living space outdoors.

Branden and Rayni Williams of Hilton & Hyland were the listing agents. Kurt Rappaport of Westside Estate Agency and Rannie Huang-Greer of Ten X Realty represented the buyer.

Restoration Hardware CEO Gary Friedman, through a corporate entity, paid $37 million, or $9.25 million less than the original asking price, for a home on Gilcrest Drive in Beverly Crest.

(Jim Bartsch)

$37 million — Beverly Crest

On Gilcrest Drive, a corporate entity tied to Restoration Hardware Chief Executive Gary Friedman paid $9.25 million less than the original asking price for a modern mansion.

Designed by Tim Morrison, the 11,000-square-foot home features a wide, symmetrical front with two accent walls that surround the two-story entry. Inside, open-concept living spaces include grand living and dining rooms, a wet bar, a screening room and a gym. There are five bedrooms and nine bathrooms including a master suite with dual baths.

Outside, city-to-ocean views create a backdrop for formal gardens, statuaries and a zero-edge swimming pool. A large motor court sits off the front.

Jade Mills of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and Drew Fenton of Hilton & Hyland were the co-listing agents. Kurt Rappaport of Westside Estate Agency represented the buyer.

A newly built showplace on Robin Drive sold to a limited liability company for $33 million in Hollywood Hills West.

(Hilton & Hyland)

$33 million — Hollywood Hills West

A newly built showplace on Robin Drive sold to a limited liability company for $9.5 million less than the asking price.

Designed by Xten Architecture, the massive contemporary home is outfitted with a range of designer-done details, two kitchens, a wet bar and a wine cellar. Pocketing walls of glass open the main living spaces to an expansive terrace and a zero-edge swimming pool. Six bedrooms and eight bathrooms lie within about 17,000 square feet of space.

Kurt Rappaport and Daniel Dill of Westside Estate Agency and Branden and Rayni Williams of Hilton & Hyland were the listing agents. Rappaport and Rannie Huang-Greer of Ten X Realty represented the buyer.

$24 million — Bel-Air

On Siena Way, fashion mogul Serge Azria sold an estate for $11 million less than the original asking price.

Once owned by famed talent agent Sandy Gallin, the gated estate centers on a 1930s traditional-style home designed by Paul R. Williams. Updated by architect Scott Mitchell, the graceful two-story features beamed ceilings, bay windows and hardwood floors. French doors open onto outdoor living and dining areas.

The 11,650 square feet of space includes seven bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, a chef’s kitchen and a loft-style office. A media room, gym and wine room lie on a lower level. Additional living space tops the three-car garage.

The house originally came up for sale in 2017 for $35 million and was more recently listed for $25 million, records show.

Kurt Rappaport of Westside Estate Agency and Christopher Cortazzo of Coldwell Banker were the listing agents. Barry Dane of Keller Williams Realty represented the buyer.

$20.8 million — Brentwood

A limited liability company paid about $6.2 million less than the original asking price for a home on South Rockingham Avenue.

The Spanish-style house, built in 2019, has seven bedrooms and 11 bathrooms. Features include a family room with an indoor-outdoor bar, an ocean-view master suite and a kitchen with three islands. A lower-level wing holds a theater, bar, wine room and sauna.

Santiago Arana and Mauricio Umansky of the Agency were the listing agents. Branden and Rayni Williams of Hilton & Hyland represented the buyer.

$18.5 million — Malibu

Action-film star Jason Statham and model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley sold their beach house in the Malibu Colony enclave for $1.45 million shy of the asking price.

The two-story residence, built in 1965, was updated and painted black during Statham and Huntington-Whiteley’s ownership. Inside, designer-done interiors include a living room with a brick fireplace, a minimalist-vibe kitchen, four bedrooms and four bathrooms.

Decking and an in-ground spa fill the space between the main house and guesthouse. At the rear, a gated patio descends to the sandy beach.

Branden and Rayni Williams of Hilton & Hyland were the listing agents. The Williamses also represented the buyer.

Finance accolade and innovative teaching: News from the College | Imperial News – Imperial College London

Here’s a batch of fresh news and announcements from across Imperial.

From leading the way in finance master’s, to experimental learning and teaching spaces, here is some quick-read news from across the College.

Finance first

Imperial’s MSc Mathematics and Finance Programme has been ranked first in Europe and sixth internationally in’s annual ranking of the world’s leading quantitative finance master’s programmes.

Directors of the programme, Dr Jack Jacquier and Dr Mikko Pakkanen, spoke about the programme. Dr Jacquier said: “In our MSc programme in Mathematics and Finance, students learn all the tools required to become tomorrow’s leaders in quantitative finance. This is achieved through a unique combination of solid mathematical foundations together with technological skills and knowledge of the finance industry.

Dr Pakkanen added: “Our alumni network of more than 650 practitioners, our tight connections with the industry and the quality of the research in the group make it a truly ideal environment.”


New appointment

Professor Simone Buitendijk has been appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds.

Professor Buitendijk has been Imperial’s Vice Provost (Education) since August 2016. She spearheaded the College’s first Learning & Teaching Strategy, driving the adoption of new evidenced-based teaching methods, innovative digital learning tools, and a range of new programmes increasing students’ input in their education.

Imperial’s Provost, Professor Ian Walmsley says: “Simone has made a profound contribution to Imperial’s education, community, and student experience. She has led a transformation of our learning and teaching, developing a strategy with students at its heart. This is a fitting and well deserved appointment and we wish her all the best at Leeds.”

Professor Buitendijk will take up the post on 1 September 2020, when the current Vice-Chancellor, Sir Alan Langlands, steps down. We will begin the search for Simone’s successor in due course.

Read more on the University of Leeds website.

Teaching space endorsement

The Higher Education Design Quality Forum met at Imperial on 9 January to revisit a landmark debate – ‘Is the Lecture Theatre Dead?’ – held in October 2017 at King’s College London.

Teaching and design specialists from across the higher education sector were given a tour of Imperial’s new Digital Learning Hub, an experimental space aimed to encourage new ways of teaching and learning at the university, while keeping technology simple, minimalist, and almost invisible.

Attendees were also given a tour of Blackett 112, an impressive new lecture theatre which has been converted as part of a wider effort to provide staff and students with spaces to experience more effective and enjoyable learning and teaching.

Want to be kept up to date on news at Imperial?

Sign up for our free quick-read daily e-newsletter, Imperial Today

In Slovenia’s Secret Valley, A New Four-Season Alpine Hideaway – Forbes

The secret on Slovenia is out. This tiny European nation is gorgeously green, environmentally enlightened and heavenly for foodies. But beyond its buzzy little capital city, Ljubljana, and the iconic lake of Bled, Slovenia guards a hidden valley in its far north—Jezersko, home to the country’s newest alpine retreat, the rustic-chic Vila Planinka

Unveiled in late winter 2019, this wood-clad hideaway is a rare find and the perfect pick for an unplugged retreat. Guests are encouraged to leave their phones in a specially designed box at the reception—a leap outside most people’s comfort zone but with unexpectedly amazing outcomes. Vila Planinka is conceived for exploring the great outdoors and connecting with nature. Based on principles of sustainability, it draws the inspiration for its design and philosophy directly from its surroundings and blends in subtly and respectfully. 

Vila Planinka’s surroundings are so exquisitely pristine that, even as a visitor just passing through, you’ll want to keep them as they are. Encircled by snowcapped peaks of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and the Karawanks range, the valley of Jezersko is delightfully remote and secluded. This tucked-away position, right on the border with Austria, has protected the area from development; you’ll find no commercial ski resorts here and no mass tourism. A health resort in the 19th century due to its crisp air, mineral-rich water springs and impressive biodiversity (the area is home to 1200 medicinal plants), Jezersko is coming alive again with the opening of Vila Planinka as a hotspot for outdoor and wellness pursuits.

Outdoor activities in Jezersko span all four seasons of the year. In wintertime, you can head out on cross-country skis to explore snow-blanketed mountain scenery, go snowshoeing in the snowy depths of the Alps or have a multifaceted family adventure that includes snow-tubing, sledging and ice-skating. For more high-octane thrills, take a guided ice climbing trip, go ski touring or tackle a strenuous trek to the nearby Ank waterfalls.

Come spring, sign up for a relaxing walk with a professional herbalist to learn about the area’s healing plants and how to prepare herbal infusions. You can visit a local cheese dairy and take in intricate handicrafts that feature wool of the area’s indigenous Jezersko-Solčava sheep. Vila Planinka also arranges starlit nature walks at night, year-round, an enchanting experience that includes gazing at star-strewn night skies, spectacular due to little light pollution. To immerse yourself in nature, book a half-day forest bathing adventure—walk on spruce needles, soak your feet in fresh spring water and do guided meditation under treetops.

While the lure of nature and the great outdoors in Jezersko is powerful, Vila Planinka is really good at tempting you to simply stay in and unwind. With their toned-down color scheme, featuring beiges, lime greens, whites and browns, the 23 cozy rooms inspire rest and recharge. The décor pays tribute to the valley’s natural and cultural heritage; you’ll find blonde wood, sheep skin throws, woolen rugs and ceiling lamps that hang on ropes. The cabin chic vibe, soothing and slow, makes you want to nap, daydream and tune out. 

To make leisurely stays in even more enticing, Vila Planinka has a spa. Small but mighty, with an infrared sauna and a Finnish bio sauna, it overlooks a small patch of forest clearing often frequented by deer. You can book a variety of massages, from a sports massage to soothe the muscles after a long hike to an anti-stress massage before you tuck in for the night. Unwinding becomes the state of mind after a little time spent at Vila Planinka, which has four energy points nearby. These natural sources of healing power were discovered by locals centuries ago; the closest one is right outside the hotel’s mountain larch deck. It is said that if you sit on one of these for about 20 minutes, you will feel soothing positive vibrations. 

Great energy comes from many sources at Vila Planinka, including the food. At its light-flooded restaurant with travertine stone floors recycled from a nearby quarry, the hyper-local cuisine is reason enough to trek out to this far north corner of Slovenia. The head chef Jakob Jerala brings a touch of global flair to the creative fare; he worked in Gambia for many years, trained with Heston Blumenthal in London and helmed restaurants in Sweden (hence the Scandinavian influences—think lots of raw, smoked, preserved and minimalist). All the ingredients are Slovenian and sourced from the area’s organic farms; the flavors reflect the super-short journey from farm to table.

The à la carte menu changes with the seasons; the daily menu showcasing the freshest handpicked bounty is where it shines. One day it may feature a starter of bear prosciutto with a quail egg and local cranberries; the next day, your entrée will be wild deer with juniper sprigs, pomegranate, Karst Teran wine and carrot soufflé. Every meal comes with the fluffiest creamiest butter, with salt from the Piran Bay, and artisanal breads made with local crops, like spelt, buckwheat and flax, that have grown in the area for centuries. The hotel bottles its own mineral water from a nearby spring, rich in healing manganese and ammonium. For a lovely boost to the system and a great start to the day, take a shot at breakfast. At the end of a long day alfresco, have a cup of Jezersko tea made from 42 handpicked herbs or the sommelier’s pick of premium Slovenian wines (Vila Planinka’s wine list is expertly curated). 

It’s a challenge to feel a sense of discovery in this hyper-connected world, yet Jezersko and Vila Planinka offer a glimpse of that. Here, in this secret valley of Slovenia that appears to be locked in time, off becomes the new on.

Less is a Bore book celebrates “postmodern architecture in all its forms” – Dezeen

Less is a Bore by Dezeen columnist Owen Hopkins reveals the diversity of postmodern architecture from around the world. Here, he spotlights 10 significant structures from the book that come in all shapes, sizes and colours.

Named after the anti-minimalist maxim coined by American architect Robert Venturi, Less is a Bore is a global survey of over 200 buildings that exhibit “postmodern architecture in all its forms”.

It was curated by Hopkins for publisher Phaidon as a celebration of the movement that, despite being one of the 20th century’s most controversial styles, is experiencing newfound popularity.

“[Less is a Bore] is about widening the canon and revealing the variety and richness of the movement, and looking beyond architecture to the world in which it operates,” Hopkins told Dezeen.

“Its goal is to establish postmodernism not as a style but as a sensibility that can be found in all places and all periods,” he continued.

“A sensibility that values complexity over simplicity, decoration over minimalism, colour over the monochrome, fragmentation over singularity, contingency over universality, context over introspection, doubt over certainty, and in which more is always more.”

Postmodernist architecture emerged in the 1960s, and thrived from the 1980s through to the 1990s. Alongside Venturi, it was led by architects Denise Scott Brown, Philip Johnson and Michael Graves.

Less is a Bore features photos of buildings ranging from the movement’s most famous, through to lesser known 21st century structures and manifestations in Asia and South America.

Weaved in between are a number quotes that reference postmodern culture, made by architects, designers and artists including musician David Bowie and Andy Warhol.

According to Hopkins, the publication coincides with the recent rise of postmodernism’s popularity, which has seen the return of ornate designs and expressive forms throughout architecture and design.

However, unlike the recent revival of brutalism, Hopkins argues that this resurgence goes beyond aesthetics and fashion and demonstrates ambition and changing times.

“It’s about new generations of architects and designers looking beyond the normative modes of architectural expression embracing a set of previously marginalised design tactics and aesthetic devices in order to create something new, bold and potentially oppositional,” he explained.

“Its present revival is something of a vindication of postmodernism and an important reminder that architecture should always be eclectic and should allow a range of styles to co-exist,” Hopkins added. “That was the vital lesson of postmodernism in the 1970s and 1980s, and it is one we need reminding of now.”

Read on for Hopkins’ pick of his top 10 buildings from the movement:

State of Illinois Center, USA, 1985, by Helmut Jahn

“As a style or movement, postmodernism is often seen as being mostly concerned with exteriors and the role a building plays in an urban composition – and this is usually the focus of most of its canonical texts, most notably Learning from Las Vegas.

“However, postmodernism’s principles could be applied in incredibly powerful ways to interiors: domestic, commercial and civic. One of the greatest is the sadly under threat State of Illinois Centre by Helmut Jahn, which to my mind exceeds the similarly cavernous and better known hotel lobbies of John C Portman in its bravura blurring of surface and structure, form and void.”

M2 Building, Japan, 1991, by Kengo Kuma

“Anyone familiar with Kengo Kuma’s more recent work would struggle to believe that this amazing confection of different styles, forms and scales was by the same architect.

“The architect himself no doubt had this project, one of his first major commissions, in mind when he admitted in an interview for Dezeen that ‘to be honest, sometimes I feel a bit embarrassed by some of my buildings’. But I think he should be proud of it.

“It’s an extraordinarily powerful statement, pointing to a very different, and rather more meaningful, direction that the ‘iconic’ building might have taken during the 1990s.”

Charles Moore House, USA, 1962, Charles Moore

“Charles Moore is an enigmatic figure in the history of postmodernism. His Piazza d’Italia in New Orleans is now rightly celebrated as one of the defining projects of the movement. But his broader work is more difficult place, working with a variety of partners and under a range of practice names.

“At its core, however, are the houses he built or remodelled for himself as his teaching career saw him move from Yale to UCLA and finally to the University of Texas in Austin. Sadly only the latter survives as a a highly personal manifestation of his wonderfully exuberant yet carefully considered approach to architecture and interior decoration.”

Ordnance Pavilion, UK, 2018, by Studio Mutt

“This was one of the first built projects by the British practice Studio MUTT. Commissioned by Lakes Ignite in 2018 as part of a celebration of the Lake District as a cultural landscape, it explores the visual language of the iconic Ordnance Survey maps to create a hybrid structure which makes a direct connection to the long history of eye-catchers in the British landscape.

“It also emblematises a ‘do it yourself’ attitude that characterises many of the buildings in this book, being designed, built and installed by the architects themselves.”

Duncan Hall, USA, 1996, by John Outtam

“John Outram is one of the great, largely unsung heroes of postmodernism. Trained at a time when modernism still carried all before it, Outram actually played an intriguing role in the very early history of what we would later know as high-tech.

“However, for Outram modernism had shorn architecture of its decorative, ornamental and mythic force, which he aimed at re-establishing in his work both as a designer and an incredibly powerful and original thinker. Rarely did Outram find clients who were prepared to go all the way on this extraordinary architectural journey. Duncan Hall is the exception.”

Oudhof, Netherlands, 1990, by Mart van Schijndel

“Postmodernism wasn’t always about brash forms and stylistic exaggeration. It could also be sensitive and contextual, while still allowing for the possibilities of interpretation and re-working necessary to make an original architectural statement.

“It’s a fine line, but one treaded with corresponding care and bravado by Mart van Schijndel in the Oudhof, which reinterprets the Amsterdam vernacular through the prism of archetypal postmodern tropes and design tactics, to create a building that’s very much of its moment yet not disrupting the rhythms of the historic street.”

Best Products Showroom, USA, 1979 by SITE

“One of the iconic buildings – or series of buildings – of the postmodern era – and one of my personal favourites. Best was a consumer goods catalogue retailer which wanted to create a series of showrooms and in a move that would be unthinkable for an equivalent client today, commissioned the architect/artist James Wines and his experimental practice SITE to design them.

“Wines literally thought ‘outside the box’ in creating a series of stores where the box-like retail sheds were variously constructed as partially ruined, with facades lifting up or peeling off, or being taken back by nature. Sadly they no longer survive.”

Kindergarten Wolfartsweier, Germany, 2002, by Jurgen Mayer H, WORKac, Clavel Arquitectos, Nicolas Buffe and K/R 

“There is a fascinating genre in postmodern architecture of buildings that look like animals, whether its an elephant, a fish, dog or in this case, a cat. It’s the kind of thing that gets written off by those dreaded words applied to so much postmodern architecture: ‘fun’, ‘quirky’ or ‘playful’.

“Yet this is to do much of it a massive disservice. To my mind, a building like the Wolfartsweier Kindergarten is a serious piece of architecture.”

When the primary users of a building are aged one to three what could be more compelling, appropriate and meaningful than a building designed to look like a cat?”

PPG Place, USA, 1983, by Philip Johnson and John Burgee

“While Philip Johnson’s AT&T building in New York is the iconic postmodern office tower, his and John Burgee’s One PPG Place in Pittsburgh is actually a far more successful example of a typology.

“Rather than look to the classical tradition, as mediated through eighteenth-century furniture as they had done at AT&T, for PPG Place the source was instead the gothic, in particular its late ‘perpendicular’ manifestation, which allowed an thrilling expression of the building’s innovative structure and exaggeration of its verticality.”

Team Disney Building, USA, 1986, by Michael Graves

“For many critics, this was when postmodernism went too far, when supposedly serious architects like Michael Graves and Arata Isozaki began doing work for that apparently crass purveyor of mass culture, Disney.

“They might have had a point when it came to Graves’ Disney hotels, or his own Team Disney Building in Burbank where the seven dwarfs from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are repurposed as caryatids (although I love them). But certainly not with Isozaki’s Team Disney Building in Orlando with its incredibly elegant composition of forms, colour and materials looking out across a lake.”

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