Paint this project the color of SHAME

Aired 6.6.2015

Today, some head shaking, stomach churning, nausea really, brought on by an immodest building project.

In the continuing supercilious competition among the bigger-is-better boys, a residential compound is rising in the high class hills of Bel Air that takes “Mac mansion” up a few immoderate notches to what can be labeled “macro-mansionization.”

Priced at 500 million dollars, it is being developed by real estate speculator Nile Niami, a fringe film producer. The project on a 4 acre site is not to be mistaken for gentrification, an up scaling of sorts of a community, but more like an act of a neighborhood-based “lebensraum.”

Foundations already have begun on the 74,000 square foot main residence, including a 5,000 sq. ft. master bedroom. Also indicated in the L.A. city approved plans are three adjacent structures, presumably for guests and household help, which would bring the architectural conceit to an excess of 100,000 sq. ft.

This would make it equivalent in size to, say, a 100-unit apartment house. For further comparison, in nearby Beverly Hills, the Spelling mansion, which drew much derision when built nearly 30 years ago, is 56,000 sq. ft.

The historic Hearst Castle on the central California coast is 68,500 square feet, and in Washington, the White House accommodating the president plus a large staff in its west wing, is a mere 55,000 square feet.

Architectural renderings indicate a boxy machine-like, two story modern design of light horizontal volumes accented by cantilevers, displaying extensive glass walls, and squatting in a moat, above what appears to be the garage, for an estimated 30 cars.

With four swimming pools, a lawn the size of a football field, are indicated in the plans, and landscaping one can only imagine for a Jurassic Park. The number of employee needed to maintain this extravaganza no doubt will be in the dozens and generate many daily trips. It is not known whether an E.I.R. was required .

The developer is quoted saying the project will feature “almost every amenity available in the world,” including a “Monaco-style casino.”

For this conceit, I’m painting it the color of shame.

I’m Sam Hall Kaplan, on KBU.FM

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Parallel careers as an urban planner and a journalist, principally at present airing commentaries on pubic radio 99.1 KBU.FM The many arrows in my quiver have included Emmy award winning reporter/ producer for local Fox Television News, design critic for the Los Angeles Times, urban affairs reporter for The New York Times, an editor of The New York Post, contributor to various popular and professional publications, news services and broadcast outlets, including Reuters, NET, NBC, CBS, NPR and the BBC. Founding editor of the East Harlem (NY) Independent. A diversity of professional positions and consultancies in the private and public sectors, (Metro, Disney Imagineering, Howard Hughes, M. Milken, NYC Educational Construction Fund, US Comptroller of the Currency etc,) assorted academic appointments (UCLA, USC, CCNY, Art Center etc.), and always open to new challenge. And let us not forget fashioning sand castles and acting on 90210, crafting TV docs, design reviews, master plans. Books: "The Dream Deferred: People, Politics and Planning in Suburbia," "L.A. Lost and Found," an architectural history of Los Angeles, "L.A. Follies," a collection of essays, and co-author of "The New York City Handbook." Writings have appeared in academic texts, commentaries on the web, scripts for TV, and wherever, latest the Architects Newspaper, The Planning Report and Planetizen.

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