Search results for "Qingyun Ma"

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A New Look

OMA updates Beijing's Ullens Center for Contemporary Art
Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) has upgraded its visual identity with a reorganized interior and a new facade by OMA’s Chris van Duijn. Since opening its doors 11 years ago, UCCA has become a center of the 798 Art District in Beijing, a cultural area that receives 5 million visitors per year but has long suffered from a lack of organization and an overall masterplan. Architects Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Qingyun Ma completed a full-scale renovation of the industrial spaces in 2007, but over the years, new architectural elements and patchwork renovations changed the original vision. OMA’s redesign is aimed at helping the museum recover its roots and create a distinctive sense of place.   To do this, the design team focused on first revealing the three mid-century factories in which the artwork was housed. They demolished later additions and then restructured the internal program.  Two major interventions were then made to enhance the museum’s transparency and engagement with the public. OMA created an informal auditorium that stretches from the inside to the exterior plaza and designed a thin glass veil facade. The wall lightly undulates and wraps around the auditorium, resembling a plastic sheath. According to OMA, the new “wrinkled geometries complement the formal appearance” of the original building, which is clad in red clay. “UCCA initially started as a pioneer in promoting Chinese contemporary art and has in the 11 years since become one of China’s leading institutes with a strong public relevance,” said Chris van Duijn, parter-in-charge of the project. “This current status is reflected in the new design through the public and dynamic character.” The project’s opening comes on the heels of OPEN Architecture’s recently-completed design for the UCCA Dune Art Museum, a satellite campus on China’s Gold Coast.
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Dean Wahlroos-Ritter

Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter named dean of Woodbury School of Architecture
The Woodbury University School of Architecture in Burbank, California has named Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter as its new dean, according to a university announcement. Wahlroos-Ritter was previously acting interim dean at the school of architecture, following the passing of the former dean, Norman Millar, in 2016. Her tenure as dean is set to begin on June 1st, 2017. In its statement, Randy Stauffer, senior vice president of academic affairs at the university praised the new dean by saying, “As an inspiring leader dedicated to connecting the profession to the academy, [Wahlroos-Ritter] weaves a rich tapestry of interconnected ‘crafts’ with a specific but broad theoretical lens.” Wahlroos-Ritter joined the Woodbury faculty in 2005 and has filled a variety of positions at the school—including the undergraduate and graduate architecture chairs and as an associate dean—prior to being named interim dean roughly one year ago. Wahlroos-Ritter has spearheaded several important efforts at the university, including creating a digital fabrication lab and helping to launch the university’s graduate programs in architecture and landscape architecture. Previously, Wahlroos-Ritter has taught at Yale University, Cornell University, University College of London Bartlett School of Architecture, and Southern California Institute of Architecture. She also serves currently as the director of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design’s advisory board. Wahlroos-Ritter is the third new architecture school dean appointed in the Los Angeles-area this year. Architect Milton Curry was recently selected as the new dean at the University of Southern California, replacing current dean Qingyun Ma while London-based architect Brett Steele was recently tapped as dean of the University of California, Los Angeles's School of the Arts and Architecture.
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New Dean

USC School of Architecture picks Milton Curry as new dean
The University of Southern California (USC) School of Architecture in Los Angeles has chosen Milton S. F. Curry as its new dean. Curry comes to USC from the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, where he is currently associate dean for academic affairs and strategic initiatives. Curry is an accomplished practitioner and academic who has worked with the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, built speculative real estate and architectural projects in Oakland, California, and worked for client Def Jam entertainment, among others. Curry is also the founder of CriticalProductive Journal—an academic journal focused on architecture, urbanism, and cultural theory—and was one of the co-founders behind Appendx Journal in the early 1990s. According to a statement released by USC, Curry is “at the forefront of disciplinary areas on race, architecture, and urbanism that engages cultural theory and humanities research.” Curry earned a bachelor of architecture from Cornell University and a master in architecture post-professional degree with distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Curry has spent several decades teaching across the country. He taught for several years at Arizona State University in the early 1990s and began teaching at Cornell University Department of Architecture in 1995. He became tenured faculty at Cornell in 2002 and left for the University of Michigan in 2010. At the University of Michigan, Curry is also a tenured professor. Curry will replace current dean Qingyun Ma, who announced he would be leaving the post in 2016, after two five-year terms; Ma will stay on as USC faculty. Curry’s tenure at USC will be effective July 1, 2017.
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Finding “urbanism with Chinese characteristics”

Michael Sorkin named as American Academy in China's inaugural Research Fellow
Michael Sorkin has been selected as the American Academy in China’s inaugural research fellow. The urbanist, designer, and critic will begin work this summer. Dubbed the “Made For China” project, Sorkin’s research aims to look inwardly at his own firm’s recent Chinese work in search of an “urbanism with Chinese characteristics.” His research will also analyze the work of other western architects working in China and delve into the firm’s interactions with local regulations and stakeholders so as to digest their effects on these Chinese particularities. Clifford Pearson, Director of the AAC, remarking upon Sokrin’s selection in a press release, said “As a writer and critic, Michael has often challenged established perspectives, offering a penetrating and often witty take on what is really happening in architecture and design. And as an architect, he is fully engaged with the realities of building in China.” When asked about the academy’s selection process for the fellowship, Pearson remarked to The Architect's Newspaper via email, “Because this was the inaugural fellowship, an internal group of advisors—including Dean Ma (and) myself—selected Michael Sorkin. In the future, we will have a call for submissions and make our selection from people applying for the fellowship.” The AAC was established in 2007 by USC School of Architecture dean Qingyun Ma as a base for researchers and students from around the globe to study China’s arts and architecture. Among its chief tasks are conducting research on contemporary Chinese urbanism with a focus on what China’s contribution to global urbanism might be. The USC School of Architecture has operated a six week summer studio out of the institute and aims for the program to eventually have a global draw. In line with this goal, Pearson, himself recently named AAC director, launched the annual research fellowship in order to establish AAC’s role as a year-round, China-focused research institution. Regarding the AAC’s reinvigorated expansion, Dean Ma told AN via email, “AAC has developed a long trajectory through creative cultures between the US and China. This trajectory can only be enhanced and extended by scholars and designers alike. Sorkin meets the expectation perfectly—he has always been able to bring cultural and social discussion into design and reexamine them by the future of human expectations.” AAC’s upcoming programs include a symposium examining the changing nature between China’s cities and countryside and a design competition focused on napping pavilions with full scale versions of these “napavillions” commissioned from Noreen Liu, Gary Paige, Larry Scarpa, and Tiantian Xu.
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AN’s 2016 Facades+ conference series kicks off in Los Angeles

“We don’t need walls anymore.  We need living, breathing systems that provide so much more to the urban realm than keeping in conditioned air and keeping out noise and pollutants.” - Will Wright, AIA|LA

Los Angeles’ 2016 Facades+ Conference, presented by The Architect’s Newspaper, is the 18th event in an ongoing series of conferences and forums that have unfolded in cities across the nation, including New York City, Miami, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, D.C., and Chicago. Held at the L.A. Hotel Downtown, the conference incorporated architects, engineers, fabricators, and innovative material manufacturers into a multidisciplinary two-day event covering the state of building envelope design thinking today. The daylong symposium kicked off with spirited remarks by Will Wright, Director of Government & Public Affairs at AIA L.A., where he set forth a plea for stronger emphasis on localism and craftsmanship. Co-chaired by Kevin Kavanagh and Alex Korter of CO Architects, the event included AIA LA, four local architecture schools – UCLA, USC, Woodbury, and Cal Poly Pomona – and a robust collection of Los Angeles-based architecture firms. Four panel discussions throughout the day covered the influence of building envelopes on business, education, structural design, and data analysis. The conversations engaged audience participation through an interactive, web-based tool called In a morning panel discussion titled “Money Well Spent? An Owner’s Perspective on the Value of Facades,” moderator Kevin Kavanagh spoke with representatives from Kaiser Permanente, Kitchell, and The Ratkovich Company on finding the right balance between aesthetics, energy performance, fiscal responsibility, and efficient project scheduling. During breaks, conference attendees attended a “Methods+Materials” gallery that highlighted innovative building envelope materials such as electrochromic glass, metal mesh fabric with integrated media display, and ultra-compact surfacing products. The symposium was highlighted by keynote addresses from Enrique Norten and Eric Owen Moss.
  • Presented by The Architect's Newspaper
  • 2016 Conference Chair YKK AP America
  • Gold Sponsors GKD Metal Fabrics View Dynamic Glass
  • Methods+Materials Gallery 3M, Agnora, Akzo Nobel, Boston Valley Terra Cotta, Cambridge Architectural, CE|Strong, Consolidated Glass Holdings, Cosentino, CRL-U.S. Aluminum, Elward, Giroux Glass, Glasswerks, Guardian, Kawneer, Nichiha, Ollin Stone, POHL Group, Porcelanosa, PPG IdeaScapes, Prodema, Rigidized Metals, Roxul, Sapa, Schüco, Sedak, Sika, STI, Terracore, Tremco, UL, UltraGlas, Vitrocsa, and Walter P Moore
Norten’s opening keynote set forth an argument for a socially responsible architecture integrated into the city via infrastructural, landscape, and public space projects. He cited works of his firm, TEN Arquitectos, which incorporate topographical manipulations of the landscape to establish social spaces of public engagement. His work intentionally camouflages the building envelope into a contextual landscape—be it an adjacent park or cityscape—to dissolve the separation between public and private. Eric Owen Moss spoke in the afternoon, questioning at what point the conceptual content of a project becomes lost amidst constructional realities. Through recent work of his firm, Eric Owen Moss Architects, he focused on building envelope details that strayed from original design intent, transforming in concept and tectonics as engineers, fabricators, and contractors participated in the process. In a panel discussion titled “Bytes, Dollars, EUI: Data Streams and Envelopes,” Moderator William Menking, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Architect’s Newspaper, spoke with Atelier 10, Gehry Technologies, and CPG regarding tools and processes facilitating facade analysis and optimization. Sameer Kashyap (Gehry Technologies) shared perhaps the most bewildering stat of the day—that GT was able to script processes which allowed two people to produce over 1200 shop drawings per day for 33 weeks in the coordination of a highly complex facade system. Paul Zajfen of CO Architects rounded out the day with a presentation titled “Facades: A Manifestation of Client, Culture, Climate,” where he argued for contextually specific design producing a facade that “would not be possible at any other time—and in no other place.” The symposium was followed on day two with a series of “dialog” and “lab” workshops covering net-zero facade systems, digital fabrication processes, curtain wall design, and advanced facade analysis. A full roster of organizers and sponsors can be found on the conference website. The Los Angeles event was the first in 2016 of a seven-city lineup, and will be followed by a Facades+AM morning forum in Washington, D.C., on March 10th. The next two-day conference will take place in New York City April 21st and 22nd.
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Clifford Pearson, deputy editor at Architectural Record, will direct USC's American Academy in China
Clifford Pearson, deputy editor at Architectural Record, is leaving his post to join the University of Southern California's (USC) School of Architecture as Director of the American Academy in China (AAC). The AAC was founded in 2007 by USC School of Architecture Dean Qingyun Ma. The program uses the humanities, art, and architecture to understand contemporary China. In addition to directing the AAC, Pearson will teach a class on architectural journalism at the academy. He will assume his new role in January 2016, though he will continue at Architectural Record as a contributing editor. Why China now? Pearson explains that, because China's building boom is slowing down, this is an ideal time to "catch our breath and examine what's happened over the past 25 years." Currently, the AAC is a six-week summer program open to U.S. and Chinese students. Its programs are geographically far-reaching and immersive: this past summer, students from 12 universities traveled to Shenzhen, Beijing, Xi’an, and Lushan to study how the mass migration from the countryside to the city has influenced the rural-urban dynamics across China. Pearson would like to enhance AAC's profile among university students in these two countries by expanding the academy into a year-round series of seminars, lectures, and events in Los Angeles and cities throughout China. Pearson envisions the AAC as China's answer to the American Academy in Rome. Similar to the AAR, there will be fellows living on site and working on China-focused research projects. Pearson was tapped for the role because of his expertise in the culture and development of China. From 2005 to 2013, he was editor-in-charge of Architectural Record China, and he is currently co-director of the Asia Design Forum, a think tank that fosters debate around the built environment. He intends to use his "journalist's eye" to create programming that contextualizes and critically examines China today.
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Hadrian Predock selected to lead USC undergraduate architecture program
USC School of Architecture has announced that Hadrian Predock will serve as its next director of undergraduate programs. Starting this fall he will take over the position from Alice Kimm, who served for four years. “I’m thrilled,” said Predock. “This is an exciting time as architecture continues to pull out of the recession, and I’m looking forward to helping position the school in larger conversations about where the profession is going.” Predock, son of famed architect Antoine Predock, co-founded Venice-based Predock Frane Architects with John Frane in 2000. Their work, which includes innovative designs for cultural institutions, housing, retail, and art installations and furniture, has been honored with numerous distinctions, including AIA Honor Awards and inclusion in the Venice Biennale and other international exhibitions. Notable projects includes the Getty Center’s New Family Room, Acqua Alta, a contemplation space that used thousands of nearly invisible filaments to evoke water patterns, 4th House in Venice (California, not Italy), and Habitat 15, a new twist on urban infill housing. In 2004 Predock was part of the Architectural League's Emerging Voices series. He received his B. Arch. from the University of New Mexico and his M.Arch. from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Prior to joining USC, Predock was on the faculty at UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design where he taught design studios for several years. He has also taught at Tulane University and the University of California, Berkeley. Qingyun Ma, dean of the USC School of Architecture, noted, “Hadrian... will not only enhance the school’s mission but also experiment with new paradigms in the undergraduate degree program and renewed integration with practice.” “I have a strong personal interest in crafting curricula and pedagogy," added Predock. "Undergraduate education in architecture should be teaching students to be strong thinkers as well as strong makers.”
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Eavesdrop Grab Bag> The latest gossip from the west coast
Word has it that Art Center, which seems to already own all of Downtown Pasadena, has just bought the area’s massive Jacobs Engineering Building. Also on the move, USC Dean Qingyun Ma has relocated his firm’s offices to none other than Downtown LA’s Bradbury Building. How’s that for pressure? And we’ve learned of the initiation beverage of our favorite architecture-related women’s drinking and discussion group: Denise Scotch Brown. What group would Venturi inspire? We shudder to think... Something about Vermouth?
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Eavesdrop> MOCA Drama...It's Still Not Over
Just when we thought the troubled MOCA New Sculpturalism exhibition was finally wrapping up relatively smoothly... There has been no official confirmation, but we've heard from several people involved with the show that Thom Mayne and his firm Morphosis are now leading the show, not curator Christopher Mount. Participants confirm that emails are now coming from Morphosis, not MOCA, while the show's assistant curator Johanna Vandemoortele last week sent out an email that she had already departed from MOCA. Mount was not available for comment, but Mayne's spokesperson Legier Stahl noted: "It is a collective, community effort. We are just helping to facilitate." Rumor has it that Mayne is considering adding more participants, including Wes Jones, John Enright, Hitoshi Abe, and Qingyun. Stay tuned as the saga continues.
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International Architects Call On Milan's Mayor To Reinstate Stefano Boeri
Stefano Boeri—the talented architect, politician, and former editor of Domus—was summarily dismissed this week from his position as Councillor for Culture, Fashion, and Design for the city of Milan. Boeri, who for several years has tried to bring architecture and design into official decision making process, has apparently butted heads with Milan's Mayor Giuliano Pisapia and has been pushed out the door. He has, according to one observer of Italian politics, clashed with the mayor "over how much he spent on an exhibition," who may be using the country's budget woes as an excuse to sack a potential political opponent. Boeri was coordinating the upcoming Milan Year of Culture and is not gong without a fight. A petition signed by host of major architects, artists, and cultural workers is being distributed to the press to put pressure on the mayor to bring Boeri back into government.
Dear Mayor Pisapia, It is with regret and disappointment that we learn that Stefano Boeri was dismissed from his position as Councillor for Culture, Fashion and Design for the city of Milan. Thanks to the energy and commitment of Boeri, and despite the deepening of the gravest crisis to have faced Italy since the postwar years, since 2011 Milan has succeded in projecting an image of renewed cultural vibrancy and dynamism onto the international stage. Thanks to Boeri's many initiatives—citywide events such as Book City and Piano City, or international exhibitions of internationally renowned artists such as the Marina Abramovic, Picasso, Bramantino, Alberto Garutti and Jeff Wall—Milan had finally succeeded in reaffirming itself forcefully on the international stage as an epicentre of art, design, fashion and culture. This unmotivated dismissal deprives Milan of one of its greatest assets—an individual who possesses the intelligence, energy, motivation and global network of relationships needed to make Milan an unrivaled protagonist of the European cultural scene of the 21st century. Stefano Boeri is one of Italy's foremost cultural exponents: he has taught in universities in Italy and abroad, curated exhibitions, designed buildings and written books that have been translated into many languages. As such, this unmotivated dismissal seems to us inexplicable. In this moment of grave crisis, we urge you to put personal differences aside and, for the good of the city, reconsider your decision. Yours sincerely, Marina Abramović - Artist, New York Iwan Baan - Photographer, Amsterdam Tatiana Bilbao - Architect, Tatiana Bilbao Architects, Ciudad de Mexico Daniel Birnbaum – Director, Moderna Museet, Stockholm Petra Blaisse - Landscape Architect, Inside Outside, Rotterdam Erica Bolton and Jane Quinn - Directors, Bolton Quinn, London Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec - Designers, Paris Maurizio Cattelan - Artist, Milan Yung Ho Chang, MIT, Head of the Department of Architecture, Cambridge Teddy Cruz - Architect, Teddy Cruz Architects, San Diego Chris Dercon – Director, Tate Modern, London Elizabeth Diller - Architect, New York Jimmie Durham - Artist, Berlin Okwui Enwezor - Curator, Munich Amos Gitai - Film Director, Tel Aviv - Paris Joseph Grima - Editor in chief, Domus, Milan Zaha Hadid - Architect, Zaha Hadid Architects, London Nikolaus Hirsch - Dean, Städelschule Frankfurt Li Hu - Architect, Beijing Bjarke Ingles - Architect, Bjarke Ingels Group Architects, Copenhagen Rem Koolhaas - Architect, Rotterdam Koyo Kouoh - Art Editor, Dakar Armin Linke - Photographer, Berlin Ross Lovegrove - Designer, London Qingyun Ma - Architect, Shanghai Michael Maltzan - Architect, Michael Maltzan Architecture, Los Angeles Giancarlo Mazzanti - Architect, Mazzanti Arquitectos, Bogotà Shelley McNamara & Yvonne Farrell - Architects, Grafton Architects, Dublin Mohsen Mostafavi – Dean, GSD Harvard, Cambridge Alexei Muratov - Journalist, Moscow Jean Nouvel - Architect, Paris Hans Ulrich Obrist - Co-director, Serpentine Gallery, London Julia Peyton Jones - Director Serpentine Gallery, London Bas Princen - Photographer, Amsterdam Edi Rama – Artist and politician, Tirana Anri Sala - Artist, Paris Tomas Saraceno - Artist, Berlin Milica Topalovic - Architect, Zurich
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LA Story
Photographs by Iwan Baan provide the backdrop for ten conversations about LA in No More Play.
Iwan Baan

No More Play: Conversations on Urban Speculation in Los Angeles and Beyond
Michael Maltzan
Edited by Jessica Varner
USC/Hatje Cantz, $50.00

Like the cosmos, Los Angeles seems so infinite and contradictory as to defy understanding. That hasn’t stopped such writers as Cary McWilliams, Reyner Banham, Mike Davis, and Charles Jencks from offering ambitious overviews. Everyone has an opinion about LA, sometimes memorable but usually negative. Orson Welles wrote it off as “a loose and sprawling confederation of shopping centers…with a downtown as metropolitan as Des Moines or Schenectady.” In Cities and People Mark Girouard termed it, “a failed Jerusalem, a low-density Babylon." Michael Maltzan has wisely framed his analysis as a symposium, conversing with ten individuals who share his concerns about the state of the metropolis and its future. All came from somewhere else, and this gives them a critical perspective and a stubborn optimism about the potential of this urban agglomeration. Photographer Iwan Baan complements their insights with a quirky collection of images that range from a trailer park in East LA to traffic stalled on the 405.

Maltzan has built SROs on Skid Row, mansions in Beverly Hills, and a park in Playa Vista, so he has first-hand experience of LA’s diversity. He grew up back east in the Long Island suburb of Levittown and remembers, “I was drawn to LA because it seemed real.” Twenty years on, he can still muster enthusiasm for his adopted home. “As inhabitants of a city that is constantly confronting endless change, we possess an inherent creativity and ability to surprise the world with our urban inventiveness,” he writes. “LA is now at a pivotal moment when its new identity is being determined.”


Those themes recur throughout these conversations. There’s consensus that LA is a great laboratory for urban investigation, especially of infrastructure, for in-between spaces, and communities that mutate with each new wave of immigration. There are also disagreements. James Flannigan, a business correspondent, calls LA the new Ellis Island, a portal to opportunity. Edward Soja, a UCLA professor of urban studies, deplores the extremes of wealth, but sees the heterogeneity as an opportunity for grass roots action. He cites the court victory of the Bus Riders’ Alliance over the MTA, which diverted billions of dollars into improving bus service for the city’s poorest inhabitants. Sarah Whiting, an architectural professor at Rice, compares LA to Houston in its lack of a comprehensive plan. “People think the best idea in urbanism is a neighborhood,” she remarks. “I think large-scale juxtapositions are far more interesting and applicable to contemporary cities.”

No More Play is full of provocative insights, and it tries to spur fresh thinking without offering easy answers. We all construct personal maps of the cities we live and work in, focusing on the places we know and often losing sight of the larger whole. Carey McWilliams subtitled his study of Southern California, “An Island on the Land”—it’s easy to relapse into insularity. This symposium offers a corrective. As Qingyun Ma, Dean of the USC School of Architecture observes, “Architects today realize that if they are not part of the urban voice, then…our practice will never sustain itself.”

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Santa Monica Cornered
Field Operations will soon develop new plans for the Palisades, seen here at sunset, and Town Square in Santa Monica.
Courtesy City of Santa Monica

James Corner and Field Operations have beaten out formidable competitors including Gehry Partners and Peter Walker to design Santa Monica’s new Palisades Garden Walk and Town Square. The high profile project will include 7 acres of park space between Santa Monica City Hall and the Santa Monica Pier that will connect the area’s Civic Center to the rest of the city. Land for the project was made available when the RAND Corporation relocated its headquarters to the southernmost location of its 15-acre site back in 2004.

Out of the 24 teams that submitted for the RFQ, the six shortlisted teams included Field Operations, Peter Walker and Partners, Gehry Partners, Studio Works, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, and SWA Group. The selection panel for the project included Qingyun Ma, Dean of the USC School of Architecture; landscape architect Ken Smith, and Marc Fisher, Campus Architect at UCSB. They panel coordinated with staff from the city’s Community and Cultural Services, Planning, and Public Works/Architecture Services departments.

In the end Field Operations, best know for their work on New York’s High Line, won out because of their creative thinking about the site, their landscape expertise, their strong work in the public process, and their “commitment to making places for people,” said Barbara Stinchfield, Santa Monica’s Director of Community and Cultural Services. Teams did not present concept designs in their interviews.

An aerial photograph shows the new areas to be developed by Field Operations in downtown Santa Monica as well as nearby landmarks.

Stinchfield stressed that the team was selected for more than just their impressive resume. “It wasn’t just this one really high profile project,” she said, referring to the High Line. “It’s their dedication to sustainability and public art and engaging the community.”

Lisa Switkin, an associate principal at Field Operations, believes it is her firm’s commitment to community involvement that helped it win the day. “We are good listeners,” she said. “We try to understand the site, not come in with a design and retrofit it to what people like.” Switkin added that while a design is far from being developed, the firm is interested in exploring the site’s historic significance, its local plant life, its bluffs and dunes, its significant grade changes, and even its nearby freeway interchange. “We like to amplify the site’s existing characteristics,” she said.

On the heels of the High Line, Field Operations is also working on major park spaces throughout the country. These include the Atlanta Beltline, a 22-mile loop of former rail tracks and embankments around the city; the huge Shelby Farms Park in Memphis; the Race Street Pier in Philadelphia; and the massive Fresh Kills Park on Staten Island, which is transforming the former landfill of the same name.

Passing over Gehry Partners was not easy, said Miriam Mulder, from Santa Monica’s Architectural Services Department. But the selection committee decided it was best to choose a team that focused on landscape architecture. “This particular piece doesn’t really have much architecture associated with it,” she said. “It’s nice to imagine there might be more architectural pieces that come up.”

Stinchfield said the project is being funded through $25 million in redevelopment agency funds, while the city hopes to tap into additional design department money. They hope to finalize the team’s contract and make a recommendation to the City Council at its last meeting in March. But Mulder thinks that the recommendation might not be made until the council’s April 13 meeting. From there, she said, the city hopes to have the design finalized by late 2011 or early 2012 and have construction begin in 2012.

The Town Square portion of the project, adjacent to Santa Monica’s City Hall, is set to be a space for cultural and civic events, while the Palisades Garden Walk, to its south, will focus on the city’s unique “cultural” and “horticultural” offerings, including a botanical element and water features. Adjacent streetscape improvements, as well as pedestrian and bicycle paths, will connect the parks to the city, while Moore Ruble Yudell’s Santa Monica Village will sit just adjacent.

We’re pretty built up at this point, so it’s definitely one of the last open spaces that we may have to develop for a long time,” said Mulder.