Search results for "Morphosis"

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Photo finish

National Building Museum reopens March 13 with Alan Karchmer: The Architects’ Photographer
After closing to the public for three months, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., has announced it will reopen its doors on March 13 with an exhibition showcasing the work of architectural photographer Alan Karchmer. The museum’s popular long-term exhibitions, including House & Home and PLAY WORK BUILD, will also reopen. The National Building Museum, housed in the grand Renaissance Revival-style former Pension Bureau building, was shuttered to complete an extensive renovation headed by the General Services Administration. As part of the renovation, the aging concrete flooring in the 1887 building’s soaring Grand Hall, backdrop to numerous special events and the museum’s immersive annual Summer Block Party installations, was replaced with a modern foundation. A new ticketing gallery and visitor’s center was also built out, and the museum’s second-floor classrooms were converted into an exhibition space as part of the overhaul. The Karchmer exhibition, Alan Karchmer: The Architects’ Photographer, will debut in this new space. Originally trained at Tulane University as an architect, the D.C.-based Karchmer is one of the world’s preeminent photographers of contemporary architecture and the built environment. Over his career, Karchmer has stunningly captured the oft-difficult-to-capture work of numerous renowned architects and firms including, Santiago Calatrava, Tadao Ando, TEN Arquitectos, and Perkins + Will, among others. He's photographed everything from the Morphosis-designed recreational center at the University of Cincinnati to Moshe Safdie’s airport expansion in Tel Aviv. Self-taught as a photographer, “Karchmer combines his direct knowledge of the design process with his own artistic vision to express the essence of a building,” according to a press statement from the National Building Museum. In 2019, the National Building Museum announced Karchmer’s gifting of his professional archive in its entirety to the museum while “still in the prime of his career.” Several pieces from this collection will be shown as part of the upcoming exhibition. Personal photographs and artifacts of Karchmer’s will also be on display alongside his professional commissioned photography, which has been widely published and featured in previous photography exhibitions at the National Building Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Julius Shulman Institute, and elsewhere. “While the exhibition will feature numerous large prints of photographs of remarkable beauty,” said the museum, “it will also include didactic displays examining the technical and creative processes underlying such images, as well as the role of luck in achieving a particular image. It will thus illuminate why certain images are so successful in expressing both the physical and emotional aspects of architecture.” Last month, the National Building Museum revealed that it had commissioned the Folger Shakespeare Library to conceive this summer’s “Elizabethan-inspired” Summer Block Party installation. As AN has noted, this is a dramatic departure for the crowd-drawing series given that the museum has traditionally enlisted architecture firms such as Snarkitecture, Bjarke Ingels Group, and most recently, LAB at Rockwell Group to transform the Grand Hall into an air-conditioned and Instagram-ready design destination. Titled Shakespeare's Playhouse, the installation opens July 4.
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By Decree

On beauty, value, and justice in federal architecture in America
This past week, a frenzied debate has erupted in response to “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” a draft executive order that, if adopted, would effectively mandate “the classical architectural style” for U.S. federal buildings. Assembled by the National Civic Art Society, a little-known organization dedicated to the promotion of classical architecture and design, the order proposes to rewrite the US General Services Administration’s (GSA) “Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture,” a three-point policy document written in 1962 by the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then Special Assistant to the Secretary of Labor, to focus the architectural ambitions of the GSA. Moynihan’s first and third directives aim squarely at design, insisting that federal buildings “reflect the dignity, enterprise, vigor, and stability of the American National Government” and that careful consideration be given to the building site and the layout of adjacent streets, public spaces, and landscape. His second speaks more generally to matters of architectural style:
The development of an official style must be avoided. Design must flow from the architectural profession to the Government. And not vice versa. […] The advice of distinguished architects ought to, as a rule, be sought prior to the award of important design contracts.
The crux of MFBBA’s argument is that Moynihan’s second principle precludes his first. By granting authority on matters of style to architects, it claims, the Guiding Principles supplant the preferences of the American people with “the architectural profession’s reigning orthodoxy.” This, it continues, “implicitly discouraged classical and other designs known for their beauty,” and sanctioned instead modernist, Brutalist, and Deconstructivist buildings which “have little aesthetic appeal,” citing work by Marcel Breuer, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Morphosis, and others as examples. In so doing, the order claims, “the Federal government has largely stopped building beautiful buildings that the American people want to look at or work in.” To encourage the design of buildings that inspire “admiration” instead of “public derision,” the order proposes that “in the National Capital [sic] Region and for all Federal courthouses, the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style absent special extenuating factors necessitating another style.” While this technically leaves open the possibility of non-traditional design, MFBBA sets an extremely high bar for its approval. Brutalism, Deconstructivism, and their derivatives (specified by extremely problematic, open-ended definitions) are excluded outright. Other non-traditional buildings would be permitted to move forward only with approval from the president, who must first be provided with a detailed explanation of “whether such design is as beautiful… as alternative designs of comparable cost in a traditional architectural style.” The term beauty, or one of its derivatives, appears twelve times in MFBBA’s seven pages. Though it is not included in the document’s list of definitions, it is used throughout to signify those qualities that give pleasure to the senses and the intellect. At its core, then, this debate is about more than just architectural style. It is about publicly funded pleasure. The art critic Dave Hickey similarly locates the essence of beauty in pleasure. In his 2009 essay, “American Beauty,” he finds it primarily in the “pleasant surprises” one encounters in everyday life. Such pleasure, whether derived from monumental architecture, a clear blue sky, or a perfectly executed jump shot, often leads people—Americans in particular—to dialog. “Beautiful!” someone exclaims, moved by an arresting object or experience. Others respond, sometimes in agreement, sometimes in dissent. Chatter ensues, occasionally moving toward the consensus from which societies are built. “American beauty is inextricable from its optimal social consequence,” Hickey writes, “our membership in a happy coalition of citizens who agree on what is beautiful, valuable, and just.” In American society, beauty, value, and justice are determined similarly—through the often-contentious debates we conduct in Congress, in court, in the press, in the marketplace, at school, at home, and out in the street. Given the complexity of these collective conversations (and the difficulty of surprising oneself), we often turn to trained experts—elected representatives, lawyers, cultural critics, brokers, artists, architects, and others—to generate possibilities and look after our interests. Though it often seeks guidance in expert opinion, American society is not based on timeless values, religious doctrine, or ancient edicts. It is based on mutual agreement. With the Declaration of Independence, Americans mutually agreed to their collective right to pursue “pleasant surprises” and other forms of happiness, and to tentatively ascribe power to the government to secure that right. This is where it gets complicated. As Hickey points out, every pleasant surprise is an occasion for change, an opportunity to renegotiate our collective agreement regarding what we hold to be beautiful, valuable, and just. Such activity always threatens the stability of the status quo, which is why authoritarian societies often attempt to neutralize such threats by outlawing idiosyncrasy and mandating familiarity. MFBBA adopts exactly this authoritarian posture, though its authors undoubtedly would point to their populist invocations of “the public” and to their proposal that all GSA architectural competitions convene public panels that exclude design and construction professionals as evidence of their efforts to foster exactly the sort of open debate I am advocating. Such arguments would ring false. With their thumb firmly on the scale from the outset, MFBBA’s authors decide in advance the outcome of public deliberation on federal buildings. Their message is clear: When it comes to the most hallowed spaces of our democracy, the American debate on beauty—and by extension, on value and justice – is settled. The authors of “Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” thus work entirely on the side of entrenched authority, and rightly recognize the federal buildings of Breuer, Morphosis, Scogin, Elam, and others as subtly subversive. These works signal that the brilliance of American democracy issues from its accommodation of periodic reinvention, from our collective agreement that what we held to be beautiful, valuable, and just yesterday may not align with what we will hold to be so tomorrow. This is not to say that progressive architecture best represents our union, or that classically derived designs can no longer embody American values. It is merely to recognize, as Daniel Moynihan did, that we would do well to continue to draw on “the finest contemporary American architectural thought” to help us determine the best way forward, and to remember that the “dignity, enterprise, vigor, and stability” of the American government obtains from the right of its citizens to perpetually renegotiate the terms by which we are governed, to reimagine the values we wish to uphold, and to freely pursue the subversive pleasures of beauty. Todd Gannon is the Robert S. Livesey Professor and head of the architecture section at The Ohio State University’s Knowlton School.
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Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again

[Updated] Potential executive order might force neoclassical style on federal buildings
Update 2/6/20: The Chicago Sun-Times published the full draft executive order yesterday. Read the 8-page document here Among the top news headlines in the country today, the Trump administration apparently hates contemporary architecture.  Architectural Record has reportedly obtained a draft executive order titled, “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” in which the White House will dictate that all future government structures be designed in the neoclassical style. It would force the General Service Administration (GSA) to rewrite the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture, which it has used as the basis of its Design Excellence Program since 1962, while requiring all new and upgraded federal buildings to be designed in the antiquated “preferred and default style.”  Originally written by former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the principals distinctly noted that when it comes to federal architecture, “an official style must be avoided” and that any new structures must reflect the time period in which they are designed. “Design must flow from the architectural profession to the Government, and not vice versa,” Moynihan wrote at the time. Throughout the last six decades, high-profile architects have relished the opportunity to make their stamp on the U.S. government. To Moynihan, the collaboration between architecture, the fine arts, and public officials was to be viewed as part of upholding democracy.  But it appears that Trump wants to say goodbye to designing for democracy and more specifically, to Brutalism and Deconstructivism, according to the draft. While it’s no secret that the President dislikes Brutalism—he’s previously decried that the FBI’s downtown Washington, D.C., headquarters should be remodeled or demolished. The FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover Building, designed by Charles F. Murphy and Associates, sits directly across Pennsylvania Avenue from the Trump International Hotel, a historic, romanesque revival building. Many hotels in the Trump chain feature glass and steel, similar to those found in New York and Chicago.  Several high-design federal buildings throughout various U.S. cities, according to the draft order, have “little aesthetic appeal,” Record noted, and don’t embody the country’s “self-governing ideals.” Among those citied were San Francisco’s U.S. Federal Building by Morphosis and Miami’s Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. U.S. Courthouse by Arquitectonica. Both were built in 2007 and stand boxy and tall, featuring modern materials such as metal rainscreens on the former and a glass curtain wall on the latter.  Trump’s turn to classicism, though semi-surprising, shouldn’t completely catch architects off guard, however. Back in 2018, AN reported that he had appointed a staunch classicist to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (and another one as late as last December) in favor of securing approval on future neoclassical projects. The draft order documents that President Trump aims to create a Committee for the Re-Beautification of Federal Architecture as well, which is reminiscent of the late Sir Roger Scruton’s push to build more beautiful homes and communities throughout the United Kingdom in a self-avowed anti-modernist fashion.  The news comes just one week after the GSA’s Chief Architect and Director of Design Excellence, David Insinga, reportedly resigned from his post. He had served largely under the Trump administration since December 2016 and made it clear from the start that he sought to improve sustainability and reduce energy usage across federal buildings. So far, Insinga has not commented on his departure.
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Processing power

Morphosis’s Kerenza Harris talks tech and integration
Kerenza Harris is the director of design technology at Morphosis, where she works across the firm to integrate advanced computational techniques and high-tech simulations throughout the design process. Ahead of her presentation on system-based design processes and extended reality at TECH+ in Los Angeles next week, AN caught up with Harris to get her takes on prototyping, parametricism, virtual reality, and more. On going from the screen, to prototype, to facade: Kerenza Harris: We work in a highly iterative process. We go over a form or design element again and again and again, almost on a loop, and we're trying to use the new forms in reference to other models and they're linked parametrically, meaning that there's a knowledge from the shape itself of what it is, where it is, and what its role is playing. For example, when we created those modules (those little white forms, or “pillows,” as we call them) for the facade of the Kolon One & Only Tower in Seoul, South Korea, we had to start with the results of the study of light, views. and solar exposure. So the pillows are instantiated in a digital model, as a T-shaped object informed by the performance requirements of these three factors, and then this three-dimensional thing must also have a thickness, so we have to take into account structural demands as well, which we were able to achieve with a monocoque system.  But the key thing is that, from the moment of inception, this piece will continue to exist and evolve throughout the project. We're trying to avoid erasing or redoing anything—instead, we're creating a smart element that has an identity and certain characteristics and which will continue to develop throughout the project. This intelligence will influence how the piece modulates itself, when we start inputting certain performance requirements or material characteristics. So it moves forward throughout the project; it's part of a process of loops that also includes hand sketching, 2D drawing, simulation, analysis, 3D printing, and digital model making.  In the case of the Kolon project, we created a physical, full-size prototype of the facade element. What we were trying to accomplish had never been done in our desired material before, in fiberglass. We had to find a fabricator, get into a relationship with that fabricator, find out how they fabricate the thing in the first place, learn the properties of the materials, composite mix, and so on. We got involved and we built a one-to-one version of this thing. On how a systems-focused approach can shape how architects work: Instead of thinking about design as the creation of separate components—such as rooms, doors, facade pieces, toilets and windows, and so forth, we're taking a step back, and trying to understand projects in terms of organizational systems and workflows. Each of these systems has a behavior and a certain way that they interact with each other. Understanding components in terms of broader systems, we can globalize a workflow—for example, creating rules for certain systems or object classes, instead of applying meaning to individuals elements, in a sense. Once you establish the system, the pieces are very powerful, and they work on a local scale or a global scale. They can work on urban master plan design or they can work in the design of a chair. It's really efficient, but also a little tricky because it introduces order but then at the same time may produce disorder you wouldn’t otherwise encounter dealing with objects individually. Things may emerge from these systems that were unanticipated. When you push the number of systems or components to the maximum, and their interaction becomes more and more complex, you may find yourself with new, emergent conditions that you were not planning or designing for. And that's actually what we're looking for, what we’re really interested in: something akin to the unexpected conditions of a city that’s developed over a long period of time.  On virtual reality: Four years ago we were commissioned to transform a suite of hotel rooms at the Therme Vals resort in Switzerland. The existing rooms were very small, but within each we wanted to fit a freestanding, curved glass shower as a kind of light sculpture in the center.  But we were struggling with the models for this project. It was quite difficult, from the digital model and scaled 3D-printed studies, to really assess the height of the table and certain things and how they would be used and navigated by guests, especially because it was all custom-made furniture, custom-made spaces in a very tight area. And so we built a movie set, almost. We used foam core, and someone went in and actually modeled one-to-one the hotel room using tape and glue so that we could actually stand in the space. It was alright, for a project of that scale—but I immediately thought, "Okay, we need to find another way because this doesn't quite work." We needed a way of inhabiting our spaces during design that would be easier, faster, more integrated with our workflow. So I got interested in VR. The headsets on the market were still clunky then. But we purchased one for the office to try it out, and it immediately made a difference. That development coincided with the beginning of the new Orange County Museum of Art design. In addition to having the typical concerns of an art museum regarding sight-lines and lighting, the building has complex geometry and a big atrium skylight above the entrance. The broader team and project stakeholders were struggling sometimes to understand how the spaces worked because it was hard to experience from the plan or computer screen. And the renderings were strong, but they still couldn’t really capture the feeling of it. We started putting people in there in VR. We put the designers in, too. VR just gives you a completely different perspective on the work that you do. And it's also the first time that you can see your project at a one-to-one scale without spending millions of dollars to actually build it. And we’re getting to the point where this immersion can be immediately accessed. Now, in the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE / CATIA parametric software that we use, you can just go in the model with your headset, in real-time. With this platform, you don’t need to render it or use any other software. I have a feeling this will be the next real game-changer for the industry. For more on the latest in AEC technology and for information about the upcoming TECH+ conference, visit https://techplusexpo.com/events/la/
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The biggest and baddest

Facades+ returns to New York April 2-3
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Innovations in facade technology and, subsequently, New York's architectural landscape occur at a quick clip. On April 2+3, Facades+ is returning to New York in a robust two-day dialogue focused on the materials and techniques driving the next generation of enclosure design and engineering. This year, CetraRuddy founding principal John Cetra collaborated with The Architect's Newspaper to develop a robust program featuring architects, contractors, engineers, and fabricators. The first day of the program features two hour-long keynotes, delivered by UNSense founder Ben van Berkel and WXY principal-in-charge Claire Weisz. Additionally, Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto of Reiser Umemoto will dive into recent case studies, including a spate of projects coming online in Taiwan. Both keynotes will be followed with a moderated discussion where audience members will be provided the opportunity to directly ask the keynote speakers questions. The remainder of the day will be split between four panels: "Materiality & Fabrication: Bespoke Facade Solutions," with REX founding principal Joshua Prince-Ramus and OMA director Shohei Shigematsu; "Scaling up Passive House | For the Greater Good," featuring Handel Architects managing partner Gary Handel, Steven Winter Associates director Lois Arena, and Dattner principal John Woelfling; "Optimizing the Form," with Studio Gang design principal Weston Walker, Arup principal Markus Schulte, and Hatfield Group technical director Manan Raval; and "Adaptive Reuse Challenges in NYC Historic Icons," with ODA founder & executive director Eran Chen, Surface Design Group partner Russ Newbold, BKSK partner Todd Poisson, and BuroHappold Engineering associate principal John Ivanoff. The bulk of the panels are case study-based and will be split between two presentations led by the architect and facade consultant of each individual project, including the ongoing expansion of Tammany Hall and the recently completed ARO. For attendees looking for a further dive into facade technology and design, the second day of the conference will feature 14 separate intensive workshops. Participants choose one morning and one afternoon session, during which attendees will have an opportunity to learn from and interact with industry leaders in tutorial- and discussion-based seminars. Firms leading workshops include BKSK, BuroHappold Engineering, Büro Ehring, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Green Facades, HKS LINE, International Masonry Institute, Local 1 Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, MG Mcgrath, Morphosis, Oza Sabbeth, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Roschmann, Sasaki, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, SOM, Surface Design Group, Studio NYL, and Walter P Moore. Further information regarding Facades+ NYC can be found here.
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Design and Debate

Here are 2019's most controversial moments in architecture
As 2019 draws to a close, we’re looking back on some of the events that made it memorable. We’ve rounded up this year’s funniest, most important, and most controversial stories, as well as homages to some of the people we lost. Here we’ve highlighted the top stories that illuminated some shadowy status-quo practices as well as fails by some worldwide favorites. Jeffrey Epstein’s black book lists big-name architects and interior designers The late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein kept a “black book” of contacts that were made public this summer by New York Magazine (a continuation of the logs originally revealed by the now-defunct Gawker). Among the business tycoons and powerful politicians, there was no shortage of big-name architects and designers inside. Perhaps the most prominent of these is Alberto Pinto, the interior designer who creates ultra-lavish spaces for the superrich. Luxury hotel genius Jean-Michel Gathy, Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, New York architect and fashion icon Peter Marino, as well as David Rockwell, made the list as well.  LACMA up to Zumthing with this highly-contested redesign Whatever your opinion is on the current LACMA building, the Los Angeles institution is headed for big changes with its new sprawling design by Peter Zumthor. Critics have argued the scheme—with its smaller size and exorbitant price tag—will take too much gallery space away, eliminate necessary libraries, as well as conservation facilities. Not to mention it was conceived largely behind closed doors and surprised locals and art professionals alike. The controversial plan to span a portion of the building across Wilshire Boulevard was approved earlier this month.  Ishigami’s unpaid interns lead to international argument on free labor This year’s Serpentine Pavilion inadvertently highlighted one of the most morally slippery practices in the industry: the use of unpaid interns. While free labor in architecture has long-been considered ubiquitous in Japanese firms, critics called out Junya Ishigami, the designer of this year’s pavilion, after it came out that Junya Ishigami + Associates had been recruiting unpaid interns to work 13 hour days, 6 days a week, with their own equipment. The uproar ignited a broader conversation across the profession this spring, and in response, Alejandro Aravena’s firm Elemental announced it would cancel its internship program and Patrick Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects claimed that “unpaid or low paid internships have nothing to do with exploitation,” but were instead the result of a well-functioning market. The Serpentine Gallery later ordered Ishigami’s office to pay all interns working on the pavilion project.  Calatrava continues to have constant kerfuffles with infrastructure work In both Venice and New York City, Calatrava-designed public works face-planted this year. The Oculus, a $3.9 billion transit hub that was conceived in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and opened in 2016, has a perennially leaking skylight that, according to this year’s estimates, will cost another $200,000 to fix. Meanwhile, water is also an issue in Venice, Italy, where Calatrava designed the Constitution Bridge over ten years ago. It's reportedly nearly impossible to navigate the bridge in the rain: Tourists regularly slip, and those with physical disabilities are obliged to take a water taxi to avoid the crossing. The city fined the architect €78,000 ($87,000 USD) in August. Residents bite back at Morphosis’s jaw-shaped Viper Room replacement  With residents calling the West Hollywood, California, nightclub redesign “grotesque” and more fit for a city like Dubai or Las Vegas, Thom Mayne’s proposal, whose timeline was announced this year, is not harmonizing with many. The 15-story hotel and condominium is set to replace the existing, infamous Viper Room and reconstitute it on the ground floor of the new building. At a public meeting in October, some locals questioned how the character of the 26-year-old club would remain in-tact while others flat-out said the proposed 369,000-square-foot structure doesn’t belong on Sunset Boulevard.
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Just Don’t

Los Angeles is at a crossroads—don’t let it become New York
Makin’ my way downtown, I zip along on my Lime® scooter through the ersatz Japanese village of Little Tokyo, past taxis, buses, and Prii, to a bustling, small-scale warehouse district on the fringe of Los Angeles’s central core. The whirlwind of scales, land uses, languages, and people is dizzying, but I finally land at my destination: Sonoratown, a lively taco spot famous for its soft tortillas, which are made with flour driven up from Sonora, Mexico, in small batches by the owner’s mom. This delirious, quasi-urban experience is one that could only happen in the messy, diverse urban fabric of Los Angeles. You are free to grab whatever pieces of the kaleidoscopic surroundings you can, and the faster you are moving, the more there is to take. Somehow, this frantic energy and free movement seem unaffected or held back by the past. The cultural critic Sean Monahan called LA the capital of the 2010s, describing it as:
...a city whose attributes anticipate collapse: flat and amorphous, rather than vertical and defined; kitsch and pop, rather than avant-garde and tech; individualistic and mass, rather than institutional and elite. You can suggest San Francisco, HQ of disruption, or New York, backdrop for protest movements (#OWS, #BLM). But both places fail to capture the spirit of the age, because they are fighting so hard to change it. They are relics of empire, unsure of themselves after a decade in which success was indistinguishable from failure… Built on celebrity, media, and lifestyle, L.A. doesn’t presume to be building the future, merely inhabiting it. It’s a pick your poison kind of place. [Go wild] at Chateau Marmont. Spend half your paycheck on inscrutable health food at Erewhon. Commute four hours so you can live in a Riverside McMansion. Drive Uber every day, write screenplays every night. Sell out, drop out, suck up, fuck up. There is no right or wrong way to do L.A.
Monahan accurately describes why Los Angeles encapsulates the present, and why it’s the most exciting place in the US right now. However, it is also important to note where the city is moving in the 2020s. With the 2028 Olympics as a finish line, Los Angeles is at a crossroads, on a path to become a different place in the next decade. But with the city already at the forefront of global media culture (The Kardashians, Moon Juice, Goop, etc.), it doesn’t need global architecture to maintain its position as a worldwide force. How it defines itself as a physical place is still up for grabs, and it should learn lessons from other hyper-globalized cities, namely New York. Tomorrow’s Los Angeles is one of layers. Moving on from its days as a bastion of mythological American modernism centered around mobility (cars), individuality (single-family homes), and triumph over nature (lawns), it will add new collectivities on to itself. These layers will arise from the constant flux of the new: Technologies and emerging social patterns meld nicely into the loose, still-codifying culture and its corresponding urban forms. It is the flickering of new, communal, car-free, publicly subsidized lifestyles against the old, car-centric, low-density, low-regulation, “libertarian” bones of the urban landscape that make it such an interesting place for urbanism today. The oft-bandied-about claim that the city is libertarian is also not entirely accurate, as California is a sea of regulation and red tape, continually votes to raise its already high taxes, and both California and Los Angeles are leading on climate action. The city is quietly building public infrastructure at a pace that vastly outpaces New York. New York’s Second Avenue Subway took somewhere between 10 and 100 years to complete three stations, and the next phase will be three stops and will be completed by 2029 at the earliest. Meanwhile Los Angeles is (optimistically) on course to build 28 new lines by 2028. This includes an airport-connection line that will allow a direct link from LAX to the city. Meanwhile, New York’s MTA is in a worsening crisis with crumbling stations and delays only getting worse, and New Jersey’s NJ Transit recently gave up on accounting for the traffic expected to reach the American Dream Mall, instead calling on private industry to complete the line, citing none other than Los Angeles’s electric rail airport connector as an example. That’s right—L.A. is leading the way in public transit. Meanwhile, Uber, a municipal car share and micro-mobility options such as scooters have already altered how people get around (many young people don’t have cars at all) and where they live, partly due to an explosion in transit-oriented development around the new metro lines. It is unclear exactly how successful, affordable, and sustainable this will be, but change is certainly underway. New transit networks both public and private, along with lower parking requirements for new construction will profoundly impact development and housing typologies in the future. But it is no secret that Los Angeles is careening toward a New York–like affordability crisis (if it isn’t there already) that goes hand-in-hand with the urban whitewash of global capital. Homelessness is at record levels and only getting worse. In response, architects are working to develop new housing typologies, from affordable prototypes and accessory dwelling units, to larger, multi-family schemes that continue to evolve with new regulations and design challenges. The L.A. River and the L.A River Greenway in the San Fernando Valley are also emerging sites of urban experimentation and reclamation/rehabilitation of greenspace. Los Angeles has a unique architectural culture and urban fabric, but red flags are emerging. First, Bjarke Ingels Group and Herzog & de Meuron, international firms that are both very popular with the New York development community, have projects downtown. Related Group (of Hudson Yards fame) has moved in and is developing a large Frank Gehry project across from Gehry’s own Disney Concert Hall. It perfectly illustrates the lower design quality of developer-led construction and echoes Related Companies’ other project, Hudson Yards: “The project is anchored by a central plaza wrapped with shopping areas and public art.” The biggest red flag might be the shortlist for the La Brea Tar Pits project. In Miracle Mile’s Museum Row, a neighborhood that already has been marred by architectural globalists—once by KPF and twice by Renzo Piano—the shortlist for the La Brea master plan is New York establishment firms WEISS/MANFREDI and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, along with Danish firm Dorte Mandrup. It is a truly odd and troubling list. All three are talented firms, but their selection signals the wind turning toward a placeless architecture where, in California terms, “there is no there there,” reflecting classic donor-class aesthetics. Don’t even get me started on what director Michael Govan and the LACMA board are doing to push through their new building. Joseph Giovannini said it best:
In a sleight of hand that still has serious consequences for LACMA and Los Angeles, Govan introduced [Peter] Zumthor, the architect who presumably could achieve this world-class building, to his Board of Trustees. There was no competition, no public review or discussion, no transparency, just a shoo-in of the architect who had arrived in Los Angeles in Govan’s back pocket. “It won’t be the seventh Renzo Piano building in the country,” Govan explained to me in an interview. “We’ll have the only Zumthor.” …Had he even made it into a normal architect selection process, the jury might have concluded that he was mismatched and dangerously underequipped for the commission.
Some Angelenos say that local architects should get their due. L.A. has been defined in many ways by outsiders such as Neutra and Schindler, but also by local legends like Thom Mayne and Frank Gehry, as well as a younger generation like Barbara Bestor, Michael Maltzan, and a host of others who can deliver top-notch design. Los Angeles doesn't need the continental, polite, same-as-everywhere architecture that plagues institutions around the world. The architecture scene has always valued experimentation and allowed younger, more avant-garde approaches and diverse practices to gain ground, outside of the institutional weight that plagues places like the East Coast. It is not “provincial”—as some claim—to want to preserve this well-established local flavor while moving forward. In fact, what would be provincial is thinking that it is necessary to look outward for world-class architecture, or that a mythical global culture needs to be imported for the city to become a world-class place. Nothing defines the periphery like the center, and nothing makes one more provincial than defining oneself against New York. Of course, outside architects can come in and add to the culture; it just takes a bit of judgment. For instance, Spanish firm SelgasCano’s bright, breezy, kit-of-parts style seems to fit with L.A.’s pop modernist aesthetic, and Arata Isozaki’s MOCA has also become an iconic part of L.A. architecture. So let L.A. be regional and different. Don’t let it succumb to the pressures of global capital and “global architecture.” Don’t let Boyle Heights—a strong Latino neighborhood under development pressure, with several buildings already being renovated—become Hudson Yards. New York City has been ruined by capital, which was weaponized to take away the grittiness of places like Times Square, a project of Ed Koch and eventually of Rudy Guiliani. Later, technocrat billionaire Michael Bloomberg finished the sanitization of the city with sloppy rezonings of Williamsburg, West Chelsea, and Long Island City most notably, which ushered in the era of bland office towers and mega mall-like sterility. Developers like President Donald Trump and Related Companies, along with their elected enablers like Bloomberg and Guiliani have shared class interests that threaten the small-scale, local and regional urban landscapes where artists, immigrants, and the working class foment culture. How can Los Angeles be a laboratory for resisting the entropic, hegemonic cancer that is global capital, the global donor class, and the donor-class aesthetic? One tactic, and to be fair, something that the Bloomberg administration got right in places like Brooklyn and Staten Island, is downzoning to preserve the character of neighborhoods. This is also tricky and can lead to NIMBYism, which L.A. has certainly had its share of recently. In a similar vein, Thom Mayne provocatively suggested clustering development on the Wilshire corridor in order to protect other areas. The Wilshire area has seen some development, but not at the scale Mayne has suggested. Additionally, serious and innovative criticism is needed. Critics must not fall into 20th-century modes of operating; they have to get out in front of these debacles rather than react to them. There are a host of critics operating in Los Angeles, and no one is better positioned to have an impact than former L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, who is now in a unique role as the Chief Design Officer for the City of Los Angeles, a position where he is literally helping craft RFPs (request for proposals). As long as Hawthorne is able to be heard in the government and in the public and can surround himself with good people who will help guide L.A. through this crucial time, there is a real opportunity to have more and more expert opinions in the process that will avoid the disasters that haunt New York. This, along with more equitable and compensated juried design competitions, can help the people who make financial decisions make "better" aesthetic and cultural decisions. Regionalism, when connected to local ecology, provokes more interesting and nuanced design than a totalizing, global aesthetic. In terms of what resistance might look like outside of design review, Los Angeles is already taking on challenges in a unique way. In Boyle Heights, gentrifying art galleries have been pushed out by strong neighborhood coalitions demanding affordable housing and neighborhood services. Los Angeles could also adopt anti-gentrification policies such as rent control or downzoning to prevent the displacement of both residential and retail spaces. Many cities have adopted such plans, while Berlin and other cities have enacted rent freezes and other regulations on the housing market to ensure affordability. Los Angeles in many ways is the logical conclusion of the myth of the American West. Several time zones and thousands of miles in distance from New York and other global cities, it has historically been connected to global culture through mass media, not physical space. This isolation has left it to its own devices as an urban place. This doesn’t need to change as it grows into more of a global force. New forms and ways of living can be cultivated without abandoning what makes it a special place: its resistance to the forces of the outside. In the 2020s, defining a new localism would be quite an amazing achievement.
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Tinsel Town Facades

Gensler's Michael Volk and Olivier Sommerhalder discuss Facades+ LA and the trends reshaping their city
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From November 14 to 15, Facades+ LA will bring regional, national, and international leaders of the AEC industry to Southern California for the fifth year in a row. Hosted by The Architect's Newspaper and co-chaired by Gensler's local office, the conference is split between a full-day symposium and a second day of hands-on workshops. Conference keynotes include MVRDV principal Fokke Moerel and Rojkind Arquitectos principal Michel Rojkind. Other participants at the conference symposium and workshops will include Access Industries, Belzberg Architects, Christopher Hawthorne, CO Architects, FreelandBuck, Front, Gensler, Griffin Enright Architects, Grupo Anima Mexico, HGA, John Fidler Preservation Technologies, Morphosis, Neme Design Studio USA, Omgivning, PATTERNS, RDH, Rios Clementi Hale Studios, Walter P Moore, Trammell Crow, Sasaki, Shubin Donaldson Architects, Spectra Company, Studio NYL, WJE, and Zahner. In this interview with The Architect's Newspaper, Gensler principals and conference co-chairs Michael Volk and Olivier Sommerhalder discussed their firm's recent work and the architectural trends reshaping Los Angeles. AN: Gensler is the largest architectural and design practice in the world. How does this breadth of scale impact design at the regional level? Michael Volk & Olivier Sommerhalder: As an integral part of our firm’s philosophy, our 50 global offices practice as though we are one firm, and we have set up our infrastructure to fluidly support this behavior. We bring our global knowledge and a very deep bench to bear on every endeavor, from large scale international work to regional and local projects. Our dimension is such that it allows us to have in-house expertise in many relevant disciplines, including facade experts, and we bring this capability to the table wherever needed, at any time, making us nimble and innovative designers who add value to our client’s projects. What exciting projects is the Los Angeles office up to, and are you demonstrating any concepts tested at your research institute? In our Los Angeles office, as in all our offices, we are extending our thinking on building design to the scale of shaping the future of cities. At the forefront of this is a design that addresses energy, climate, and housing concerns. Like many things in design, we are finding, however, that low tech and simple solutions are most impactful and meaningful in addressing these issues. Projects such as our office building C3 in Culver City and upcoming projects now on the table for mixed-use and residential high rises downtown and in the Hollywood area are returning to simple passive solar and ventilation techniques, as well as significant integration of public and private green space, to reconsider the “First Principles” of their typologies. Living with nature and consuming less energy and water, while at the same time being in closer proximity to intellectual, economic and recreational capital, are among the positive aspects of urban life research shows to be most valuable and sustaining. Los Angeles is in a certain sense maturing as a city. What do you perceive to be the most interesting trends within the region today? Los Angeles is indeed maturing, and at the same time it’s dimension and urban condition make it an ideal city to be a testing ground for new urban innovations. Housing, density, and mobility are the leading topics, alongside climate change and energy considerations. These topics are often seen hand in hand leading to development in the city. For example, with the expansion of Metro-rail corridors, mixed-use and higher density projects are naturally emerging, bringing with them an integrated, urban lifestyle of live/work/play within a short radius that is somewhat new to Southern California. As another example, long-standing neighborhoods now connected by mixed-use corridors and transportation, are evolving into multi-faceted hubs, rather than the single-use bedroom communities they traditionally have been. This has had the consequence of shrinking the typical radius of commuting and the positive synergistic effect of an organic mix of programs supporting a vibrant daily life, increasing economic and cultural offerings within a denser fabric. Another surprising observation that may seem counter-intuitive considering Southern California’s envied climate: Over the past few years Los Angeles’ built environment seems to have rediscovered the connection to the outdoors. The mainstream has adopted outdoor patios for restaurants, the workplace has begun an extension of the workspace to the outdoors, and new apartment buildings and condominiums have generous balconies and roof terraces. This once-forgotten, but obvious, benefit is having a big impact on the design of buildings, envelopes, and landscapes. Which materials do you believe are changing facade practices in terms of design and performance? The most exciting material, surprisingly, is landscape. Projects like Second Home in Hollywood by Selgascano, and our projects for One Westside, Epic in Hollywood and several mixed-use and residential high-rises we are currently working on in the city are (re) introducing landscape as a major building and space-defining element. The notion of biophilia as a driving conceptual element has emerged internationally in the last years in places like Europe, South East Asia and significantly in Singapore. Now, in Los Angeles, we are beginning to see this design thinking taking place. Landscape as a design element is now becoming foreground - as it can and should in our climate, not just background as it often has been. More conventionally, timber and wood are also emerging on the horizon, not only as a primary structure but also as an envelope. Our project for the Headquarters of the company Alexandria in Pasadena includes a unitized curtainwall made of white oak with a second skin of wooden sunscreens. Further information regarding Facades+ Los Angeles can be found here.
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Stick that in your Claw

Morphosis-designed Sunset Strip hotel lambasted by West Hollywood residents
Though the city of West Hollywood gave its approval to a construction timeline for 8850 Sunset Boulevard, an audaciously designed 15-story hotel and condominium by Morphosis that will replace the infamous Viper Room, the city’s residents are loudly singing a different tune. On October 10, several residents of West Hollywood attended a public meeting hosted by the city where they were given an opportunity to voice their opinions. Most participants were concerned that the aesthetic profile of 8850 Sunset Boulevard and its presence on the Sunset Strip would not be considered in an environmental analysis, which is typically state-mandated for all buildings of this type. “It doesn’t belong on Sunset Boulevard,” said Jessica Hancock, a resident of West Hollywood for 47 years, before commenting that the proposal might be more fitting in cities like Dubai or Las Vegas. Another resident commented that the proposal is “too tall, too massive, and the design is grotesque.” According to Curbed, Doug Vu, the city’s senior planner responded to these and other aesthetic complaints by stating that the site’s proximity to a significant transit corridor can legally excuse its design from being subjected to state regulations, and that it “may not be considered an environmental issue per se under the California Environmental Quality Act.” Others were concerned about its treatment of the Viper Room, the bar and nightclub cofounded in 1993 by Johnny Depp which currently sits on the site. Plus Development, the current development manager, plans to demolish the Viper Room, along with every structure on the block, and reconstitute the club into the ground floor of the new building, where its character will undoubtedly be altered. Subsequent public meetings concerning 8850 Sunset Boulevard and other proposed developments along the Sunset Strip are planned to take place in the near future, as the environmental review continues—and as the makeup of the street shifts away from low-rise entertainment venues and towards luxury hotels and housing.
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Sketch Away

Architects and engineers will hone their skills during Facades+ L.A.'s Transitions Detailing Workshop
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Facades+ Los Angeles, taking place on November 14 & 15, is a two-day conference hosted annually by The Architect's Newspaper that highlights the region's most prestigious projects and advancements in facade technology. The second day of the conference is devoted to eight workshops that will provide a unique opportunity to dive into in-depth dialogues and tutorials with architects, contractors, engineers, facade consultants, and manufacturers. Since 2017, Facades+ has consistently featured the "Transitions Detailing Workshop: Where Systems Meet" workshop, this year led by Bradford J. Prestbo, associate principal of Sasaki; Chris O'Hara, founding principal of Studio NYL; Will Babbington, facade design director of Studio NYL, and Stan Su, director of enclosure design at Morphosis. The multi-year collaboration is a response to certain negative characteristics of the architectural community. "Historically, architects don't do a very good job of sharing knowledge or lessons learned," said Prestbo. "We saw this workshop as an opportunity to both share knowledge and teach others." The workshop is divided into three portions: Presentations, group work, and review. For the presentations, the instructors will largely draw from their own respective bodies of work and particular expertise. Prestbo begins with a discussion of opaque facade assemblies and their transitions to other systems. Su follows this demonstration with a dive into strategies for complex enclosure geometries—recent projects within this category include the Kolon One & Only Tower and the ongoing Orange County Museum of Art. Babbington and O'Hara wrap up the presentations with case studies stemming from Studio NYL's facade consultancy work, as well as their own takes on the projects already discussed. Over the next two hours, the attendees are broken up into a series of small teams, sketching systems solutions to mid-century modern projects and are supported with continuous feedback from the instructors. "These projects represent a variety of program and construction types, ranging from small residences to large commercial structures, using a mix of steel, concrete, masonry and wood construction," said O'Hara. "We chose Mid-Century Modern projects because of our love of the buildings, but it represents an era of great architecture that really did not consider building performance or energy usage. We are essentially protecting the guilty that era." Case studies include the Farnsworth House, by Mies Van der Rohe; Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, by Oscar Niemeyer; Saint-Pierre & Villa Savoye, by Le Corbusier; Healy Guest House, by Paul Rudolph; Alcuin Library & Hooper House II, by Marcel Breuer; Case Study House Number Number 9, by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen; Fisher House, by Louis Kahn; and the Denver Art Museum, by Gio Ponti.  The final half-hour of the workshop will be dedicated to the review of 'solutions' for the case studies by both the instructors and fellow attendees. This year, the instructors will also guide attendees to case studies more relevant to the climate zone of Southern California and in keeping with the state's increasingly stringent performance standards. Further information regarding Facades+ LA workshops can be found here.
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Keep Austin Robotic

ACADIA is coming to Austin for 2019, and here's what to expect
Stephen Mueller interviewed Kory Bieg, one of the conference chairs for the upcoming ACADIA conference in Austin, Texas, from October 24-26, to discuss the themes and events you can expect at this year’s gathering. SM: Why is ACADIA an important forum? KB: ACADIA is for a range of audiences. ACADIA started as a conference focused on education but has become increasingly engaged with practice. The research being carried out by both academics and practitioners has narrowed and the work from both has become entangled. You will see attendees from software, fashion, and product design companies at the workshops and the conference proper, working alongside Ph.D. students and full-time faculty. ACADIA’s mission is also to support student participation, so they have increased their effort to encourage students to submit their work and attend. Faculty who are part of large research groups—like those from Michigan, Cornell, and MIT in the U.S., or groups from abroad, like ICD in Stuttgart or ETH in Zurich—often send students to present on behalf of their team. It’s a good platform for them to find their way into a more permanent academic setting or a more specialized field in architecture. You and your co-authors mention in the introductory text for the conference proceedings that the “last decade was about unified and specialized areas of research,” and that now we are in a period defined by “ubiquity” and “autonomy.” Can you elaborate on some of the major trajectories and trends you are seeing? What’s changing? We think we are at a crossroads in computation. For the last ten years, we have seen big advancements in fabrication and the use of robotics. Recently, however, we are seeing a renewed interest in design theory, whether it be “the post-digital” or “the second digital turn.” We took a step back to think of why that might be, and what it might mean moving forward. In part, we believe the return to theory is a result of digital technologies becoming “ubiquitous.” Not only do you see fabrication technologies in big universities, but you can now find laser cutters and 3d printers in libraries, high schools, commercial box stores, and in everyday use at firms. On the other hand, you have more cutting-edge practices, like Zaha Hadid Architects or UNStudio, building in-house skunkworks innovating with and developing new technologies internally. Some employees are hired specifically for this purpose. We saw these new computation-oriented roles as becoming so specialized that they had almost become new disciplines—a kind of “autonomy” within the discipline of architecture. For this year’s theme, we see “ubiquity” and “autonomy” as two parts of a cycle, where innovation in computational design and technology begins in these autonomous groups of specialists, followed by more widespread adoption, universal access, and finally ubiquity of use. This happens at a large scale within the discipline, but also with individual researchers who silo themselves away for a while, only to emerge with some novel idea that they are ready to integrate with other people’s research. That is how the field evolves. The cycles of “ubiquity” and “autonomy” oscillate between the differentiation of individual positions and the forging of new research communities. In this framework, do you see new autonomous collectives emerging? It’s our goal to find autonomous projects and introduce them to the world. Our workshops this year are being taught by somewhat autonomous computational teams housed within successful architecture firms—groups from UNStudio, Zaha Hadid Architects, Grimshaw, HKS-Line, Morphosis, SHoP, and Autodesk. They are all interested in the overlap of technologies. UNStudio will run a workshop on the overlap of architecture and fashion. Grimshaw is working with Fologram and using the Microsoft Hololens, an AR technology, to help fabricate an installation without the use of conventional construction documents. We also have SHoP Architects using AR and robotics, and Zaha Hadid Architects using machine learning to help generate form. There is such a strange array of approaches to computational design offered in the workshops, that if their ideas start to spread, our field is in store for some interesting times ahead. Academic settings can incentivize autonomous modes of research, and in professional settings we often see niche developments serving as marketable advantages through proprietary or branded offerings. Among the diverse authors with niche approaches, is there an ethos toward the maintenance of autonomy, or do you see a proliferation of shared techniques? We are seeing an increase in the culture of sharing at ACADIA among its constituents. Morphosis, for example, is leading a workshop that is literally sharing their design method. I think most offices would consider this proprietary intellectual property, but Morphosis sees value in sharing it. Patrik Schumacher, of Zaha Hadid Architects, shares his ideas freely, and would be happy with more parametricism in the world. These offices mark a post-autonomous moment. This will also be an interesting question for the closing panel on our final conference day, where we will have a group of academics discuss the conference theme. We have invited people who represent very different approaches to architecture and design, including Ian Bogost, a game designer and author, Michelle Addington and Marcelyn Gow, who are both material experts but with different agendas, and Neil Leach, one of our discipline’s leading theorists. Kathy Velikov, the president of ACADIA, will moderate. Collaboration with machines and virtual selves promotes a certain type of autonomy while forging human/non-human partnerships. If computational collaborations are the new air that we breathe, how do you and the contributors see authorship changing?? Machine learning and AI are happening whether we like it or not. Because they operate somewhat autonomously from their creators—they are designed to run loose—there is no functional need for a sole author anymore. We are really at the beginning of AI/machine learning applications for architecture. There is a group of artists in Paris (Hugo Caselles-Dupré, Pierre Fautrel, and Gauthier Vernier) who sold a piece of AI-generated art at Christie's for $432,000, which proves there is public interest in what AI can produce, but there has also been some blowback. Critics have argued that because they are selling a piece that wasn’t generated solely by them, the value is inflated. But they were the authors of the software that created the piece, so who is right? It’s a controversial time. You’ve lined up some impressive keynote speakersThom Mayne, Dominique Jakob, and Harlen Miller—how would you characterize the mix? Why are these voices important now? We thought it was time, especially given the theme, to pick three practices that represent “architecture with capital A,” and to see how they have been using computational design tools, overlapping technologies, and cross-disciplinary collaborations within their office for built work. UNStudio, Morphosis, and Jakob + MacFarlane produce very unique projects and they each use technology explicitly, but also, differently. What parts of the conference are open to the public? Thom Mayne’s keynote lecture is open to the public and will be at the LBJ Auditorium on Thursday, October 24th at 6:15 pm. There will also be an exhibition of Morphosis Architects’ work opening on Friday night at 7:45 pm. This event will also include an exhibition of work produced during this year’s workshops and the peer-reviewed project posters. What else does the conference hope to change, or enable? I hope the conference encourages people to start looking at other disciplines for knowledge and expertise that we do not have within our own field and to further the progress that has already been made by overlapping ubiquitous technologies. I hope we continue to share knowledge between academia and the profession in a way that improves access to new tools, techniques, technologies, and ideas.
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White Claw Summer

Morphosis's claw-like Sunset Strip complex now has a timeline
After months of speculation, a timeline has finally been determined for the construction of 8850 Sunset Boulevard, a 369,000-square-foot development which would rise over 15 stories and occupy an entire block of the Sunset Strip between San Vicente Street and Larrabee Street. Following a recently completed study by the city of West Hollywood, it has been determined that construction can begin on the Morphosis-designed, Viper Room-replacing project in the Spring of 2021 and could be completed in as few as 32 months. The site was originally purchased in 2017 by Silver Creek Development Co. for $80 million, and the project is supported by multidisciplinary real estate company Plus Development. The renderings for the development were first unveiled last December, and it appears that little, if anything, of the design has been subdued since then. The proposal still comprises two aesthetically distinct towers between a 120-foot-wide grassy hill and above a transparent ground floor. The amorphous tower facing San Vicente will be a 115-room hotel, while the rectilinear tower facing Larrabee will contain 31 condominiums and 10 or 11 units of affordable housing. The complex's ground floor will be primarily mixed-use, including a new home for the Viper Room, the infamous bar cofounded by Johnny Depp which is currently on the site. Amenities accessible to both towers will include a movie screening room, a gym, and a rooftop pool and restaurant. In addition, a three-story LED screen will be fitted into a void cut out of the tower facing San Vicente. When completed, 8850 Sunset Boulevard will be one of the most audacious buildings designed by Morphosis in its 47-year run, and will rival some of the firm’s other projects built around Los Angeles, including Emerson College Los Angeles and CalTrans District 7 Headquarters.