Just Back From Los Angeles: Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
OCCUPATION Artists HOME BASE New York City SHOWSTOPPER Oldenburg and van Bruggen, who have lived, worked, and traveled together for the last 29 years, have been shuttling back and forth to L.A. in order to create their 65-foot-high, unfurling aluminum and stainless-steel Collar and Bow for the Frank Gehry–designed Walt Disney Concert Hall (151 S. Grand Ave.; 323/850-2000), which will be revealed early next year. "[The sculpture] represents the point in a performance when things are ready to become wayward, yet remain contained," van Bruggen says. WORKING VACATION For artists, the boundary between work and pleasure can be blurry. "We use travel as a new experience, one that we can build into new work," says Oldenburg. Going to L.A. has an added appeal: "There's more space, and artists can develop in a healthier way," van Bruggen observes. ONE SMALL STEP "It may be the wrong thing to do, but we love to walk here," Oldenburg says with a laugh. Among their favorite destinations to explore on foot are the paths of Roxbury Park (471 S. Roxbury Dr.) in Beverly Hills. UP NEXT In 2006, the duo will visit Denver and Seoul, in order to erect two site-specific installations.— Jaime Gross
An understated counterpoint to its ravishing neighbor, Hotel Icon, the Alden is an exciting player in Houston's downtown revival. Opened in 2006 and run by the Morgans Hotel Group, the Alden began life as the Sam Houston Hotel in 1917, near what was then the bustling Union-Pacific Station. Now low-slung furniture and warm browns and whites predominate, with James Turell-inspired light installations adding subtle glows of color. It's modern, yes, but it's also easily the most elegant, comfortable hotel lobby in town, where downtown office workers and new loft-dwelling residents gather at the end of the day. The low-key comfort extends to guest rooms, which, with their taupe leather headboards and black granite-walled baths, are splendid without being showy.
Room to Book: Any on the seventh floor or higher with a room number ending in 08 for a spectacular view of the roaring crowds at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros.
Tip: Near the theater district, the hotel offers complimentary transportation to shows via Lincoln Navigator.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Rising dramatically over downtown Los Angeles, the colossal stainless steel curves that comprise the exterior of this world-renowned concert hall create an immediate and powerful impression. Endowed by Lillian Disney and designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, the Walt Disney Concert Hall opened in 2003 as the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Center, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Built to look and feel like the hull of a ship, the concert hall features a radically advanced acoustical design and a hardwood-paneled auditorium that houses an enormous Gehry-designed concert organ.