Search results for "los angeles"

Going Down in Tinseltown

Facades+ Los Angeles will scale the heights of Southern California design

From October 25 to 26, Facades+ will bring local and national leaders of the architecture, engineering, and construction industry to Los Angeles for the fourth year in a row. The first day of the conference features keynotes by Thom Mayne, founding principal of Morphosis Architects; and Heather Roberge, principal of Murmur.

Founded in 1972, Morphosis has spread its distinctive presence internationally. In recent years, the firm has completed the Bill & Melinda Gates Hall at Cornell University, 41 Cooper  Square in New York City, and Kolon One & Only Tower in Korea. Opening in late August, the 123,000-square-foot Kolon One & Only Tower features a sweeping primary facade built of high-tech fiber manufactured by the client. Each fiber appendage is latched to the curtain wall with traditional stainless steel brackets that knife through exterior joints to steel mullions that ring the structure.

Heather Roberge founded Murmur in 2008. The firm’s work is characterized by its experimentation with a broad range of materials to create projects unique in layout and form. In 2015, Murmur unveiled En Pointe, a group of conjoined, aluminum-paneled columns standing atop razor-like fulcrums. According to the architect, “to achieve a balanced state, the mass and silhouette of each column are eccentrically distributed to stabilize its adjacent columns.” Other realized projects, such as the pentagonal Vortex House and a multi-sided addition to a Beverly Hills Residence, highlight Murmur’s unique approach to facade fabrication and design.

Over the last decade, Downtown Los Angeles has experienced an upswell of high-rise development. At Facades+, Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM) and century-old Los Angeles–based firm AC Martin Partners will discuss the immense change underway. SOM’s Olympia complex is one of the boldest being undertaken in the area, composed of three towers of stacked terraces clad in translucent and clear glass wrapping visible concrete piers. AC Martin, with its long Angeleno history, has continually left its imprint in the downtown area with projects such as the twin-towered City National Plaza built in 1972 and the contemporary 73-story Wilshire Grand Center.

Representatives from Walter P. Moore, CO Architects, HKS Architects, and Renzo Piano Building Workshop, will also be on hand to discuss the assembly of complex facades at ever-rising heights as well as significant projects shaping the cultural scene of Los Angeles, such as The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

Further information Facades+ Los Angeles can be found here.

Adding ADUs

FreelandBuck’s Stack House reinvents spec housing for Los Angeles
Los Angeles– and New York City–based FreelandBuck have completed construction on Stack House, a distinctive, ground-up, single-family home made up of shifting, room-sized boxes that tumble up a steep mountainside site. The 2,207-square-foot home is located in L.A.’s bustling Mt. Washington neighborhood and comes with ground-floor parking and a one-bedroom Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) on the second level. The ADU has its own distinctive entry and can either be rented out to help pay the mortgage or used as a home office, according to the architects. The secondary unit's entry is marked by patterned cladding modeled after board-and-batten siding and comes with a modest terrace and storage shed, as well. The arrangement—attached and embedded with the bulk of the building—differs from typical ADU configurations in the city, which tend to separate the unit from the main home or locate it within converted garages. Instead, here the ADU is a stop on the way toward the main home, which is accessed from a front stair that flanks the unit’s large glass entry.  The third floor is divided into five discrete areas, starting with a deep dining terrace that extends a modest entry room outside the house. Inside, the home features formal dining, living, and kitchen spaces tucked into each corner. The discrete rooms are an attempt, according to David Freeland, founding principal at FreelandBuck, to fight against the ubiquitous nature of great-rooms and open plans in contemporary speculative housing. A bonus of the rounded internal divisions that carve up the main floor rooms is that they provide spaces in which to conceal ventilation chases and a powder room while also bringing soft, diffuse light deep into the home.  The central stair runs up to a backyard dining patio that opens onto a scrubby hillside. The home’s stairs continue to the fourth level, where three bedrooms and two bathrooms find themselves oriented toward adjacent downslope vistas. On this floor, the master bedroom and master bathroom occupy the front of the house and pucker toward each other to create another window wall-backed terrace that points toward the San Gabriel Mountains to the north. Stack House was developed jointly by the architects and local developer Urbanite Homes in an effort to flex the limits of speculative housing design in Los Angeles away from bloated HGTV-style offerings and back toward unique living configurations and economical formal exuberance. The arrangement gives the designers the flexibility of taking creative freedom with the design of the home while helping to feed a growing market for architect-driven designs in the area.  The home is currently for sale and will be joined by a second design by FreelandBuck next-door in a few years.

Face/Off

Los Angeles’s first roundabout is a psychedelic sustainable landscape
Roundabouts are all the rage in Europe, but Americans have been slow to adopt this particular form of street design. Despite Los Angeles’s car-centric culture, the glitzy city is no exception, but that might start to change following the success of Riverside Roundabout, a stormwater-retaining traffic island at the intersection of Riverside Bridge, San Fernando Road, and Figueroa Street. The city’s first roundabout definitely brings the spectacle. Greenmeme, a studio working at the intersection of art and architecture, brought nine eye-catching granite sculptures to the site and created a resilient, varied landscape. The egg-shaped pods, ranging from 8 to 12 feet tall, each feature a face from a randomly-chosen local resident. Designers used 3-D scanners to capture the faces of the selected volunteers, and the sculptures bear the likenesses on either side, displaying 18 individuals in total. The sculptures were carved in slices by fabricator Coldspring using a CNC mill, with three sculptures carved from one block of granite. The end result, Faces of Elysian Valley, joins a proud tradition of face-based decorative art. The remaining granite offcuts were used to form a sculptural barricade around the center of the island and protect the “eggs” from traffic. Elongated faces have been stretched into the granite ring as well, creating a perspective trick that reveals undistorted visages as drivers circle the roundabout. Greenmeme worked with Ourston Roundabout Engineering to determine the sculptures’ size constraints, as the team needed to preserve sightlines across the island for drivers without distracting them. In designing the traffic island’s topography, Greenmeme sought to channel stormwater away from the street and adjacent bridge. The landscaped areas have been planted with native plants, and a 25,000-gallon cistern is buried underneath the roundabout, which uses captured rainwater to irrigate the green spaces and feed a water feature. Everything is powered by sun-tracking solar voltaics, including the lights used to illuminate the sculptures at night. The entire roundabout is ringed with permeable green pavers for drivers who need to pull off, and overall the landscape can handle and treat up to 500,000 gallons at a time (a once-every-ten-years rainfall event). Riverside Roundabout and Faces of Elysian Valley opened to the public in February of 2017.

Gehry a Tune

Gehry Partners unveils staid design for Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles
  Gehry Partners has unveiled designs for the new Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA) complex in Inglewood, California.  The 25,000-square-foot, $14.5 million adaptive reuse project will retrofit an existing former Security Pacific Bank branch office located at 101 South La Brea Avenue in the city’s civic center, transforming the complex from within by adding a new multi-functional auditorium, among other components. Plans call for creating a “light-filled, flexible facility” at the heart of the community in an effort to further expand YOLA’s footprint to this underserved area.  The facilities will include the aforementioned auditorium, which is designed to be subdivided into two multi-purpose rehearsal spaces and features retractable seating that will accommodate 190 guests. The space will also include a balcony area with capacity for an additional 70 seats.  The complex is set to include a variety of spaces for orchestra, sectional, chamber, and individual practices as well as a choir room, an ensemble room, and a small practice studio that will come outfitted with recording equipment. The building will also house offices and an open lounge space for parents and family members to use. The acoustic envelope for the project is designed by Gehry and Yasuhisa Toyota, founder and president of Nagata Acoustics America.  The building is designed with a glass-walled light cannon that will that bring natural light into the performance spaces. A grand loggia space will front the building along its principal facade. YOLA is an initiative of the Los Angeles Philharmonic that was started in 2007 by its director, Gustavo Dudamel. As a child, Dudamel, a native of Venezuela, participated in that country’s El Sistema youth orchestra, an activity the acclaimed conductor credits with exposing him to the world of music. The YOLA program similarly serves at-risk youth across the region’s working-class neighborhoods, providing a critical means of professional arts education. Describing the proposal in a press release, Frank Gehry said: “It’s a privilege for me to work with Gustavo to create a place where students can feel comfortable, secure, and welcome as they learn to express themselves through music. We hope that the building will become a center for the community to gather to hear performances of all types. I designed the Center to be a world-class instrument for the community, and I can’t wait to see how they use it.” YOLA expects to begin construction on the project in 2019 in the hopes of completing the project by 2020. 

No Pat Down

Los Angeles to deploy body scanners on its subways
Los Angeles County’s transit system is poised to become the first in the country to deploy airport-style security measures to screen its passengers.  The Los Angeles Times reports that the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is rolling out new portable body scanners that can be deployed in response to terrorist threats and during large crowd events like protests and sporting matches in an effort to thwart potential “mass casualty” attacks.  The scanners can be used to screen passengers using radio waves from up to 30 feet away and are designed with an integrated split-screen display that produces a black square over the part of a person’s body where a gun or non-metallic explosive device might be located.  Metro currently operates 93 subway and light-rail stations—with many more on the way—and has plans to utilize the mobile devices as necessary across its system. Officials at Metro explained that areas where passengers might be subject to body scanning will be clearly labeled in each station with signs that read: “Passengers proceeding past this point are subject to Metro security screening and inspection.” Plans call for making “randomized” scans of passengers traveling within these zones. Officials at a press conference announcing the plan explained, however, that passengers seeking to opt out of the possibility of being scanned will not be allowed to ride transit from that station.  The scanners can process roughly 2,000 passengers per hour, according to Dave Sotero, spokesperson for Metro. The figure is an improvement over previous technologies, The Times reports, but likely to fall short of what would be required to process crowds efficiently during rush hour or large scale events. Recent protests in Downtown Los Angeles, for example, have drawn hundreds of thousands of people at a time and have snarled Metro service even without the scanners in place. 

The Fuller Experience

Buckminster Fuller’s rarely-seen works are coming to Los Angeles
This September, Edward Cella Art & Architecture will present R. Buckminster Fuller: Inventions and Models, an exhibition highlighting original prints, models, and other objects created by 20th century architect, engineer, inventor, and artist R. Buckminster Fuller  According to the gallery, the exhibition—the first of its kind in Los Angeles—will unveil models and drawings typically kept in private collections and will “represent an opportunity to reflect upon [Fuller’s] comprehensive perspective on the world and humanity.” Specifically, the showcase will focus on Fuller’s so-called “Inventions Portfolio,” a limited-edition print collection of pioneering design innovations that include the 4D House, the Dymaxion Car, and the Geodesic Dome, among many others. Fuller holds more than 30 patents on a wide range of inventions and products and is widely recognized as the inventor of the geodesic dome.   Other works on display will include: a series of wire and steel “tensegrity models” that express structural design principles via repeatable geometric elements, sculptural models depicting Fuller’s Closest Packing of Spheres and Duo-Tet Star Polyhedras concepts, and the Dymaxion Rowing Needle, a 21-foot dual hull rowing shell intended for use on choppy waters.  The exhibition, which opens September 8th, is being produced in collaboration with Carl Solway Gallery and will be supplemented by a series of public programs highlighting scholarship into Fuller's work. Programs include a presentation by Fuller’s design partner, architect Thomas T K Zung, and a discussion between Allegra Fuller Snyder, Fuller’s daughter and founder of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, and David McConville, the Institute’s chairperson.  See the Edward Cella Art & Architecture site for more details. 

On To The Next

Landmarking efforts take a step forward for Los Angeles Times complex
Efforts to landmark the historic Los Angeles Times headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles took a step forward last week when the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) agreed to take up a Historic Cultural Monument (HCM) nomination for the complex put forth by a group of Los Angeles preservationists. The agreement moves the historic nomination process forward for the five-building complex just as the Los Angeles Times staff vacates the property amid a move to El Segundo, California.  Concurrently, a fight over several of the buildings’ historic lobby artifacts has entered a new stage as the new LA Times owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, has moved to illicitly remove a collection of historic elements from the complex in a bid to create an LA Times-focused museum at the paper’s new headquarters.  Just days before the CHC hearing took place work crews removed several historic busts from the so-called Globe Lobby, a grand, marble-wrapped entry space punctuated by a 66-inch wide aluminum globe sculpture. The orb, created by Gutzon Borglum in 1891, survived a 1910 bombing of the newspaper’s offices and is joined in the lobby by a series of 10-foot-tall murals painted by Hugo Ballin in 1934 that depict the origins and major industries of Los Angeles. In a blog post describing the removal, Kim Cooper of historic tour group Esotouric described the emptied lobby as “a defaced space that looks like a plucked chicken.” The nomination for the complex was compiled by preservationist Richard Shave, also of Esotouric, with the help of other experts, including Cooper and the historian Alan Hess. The nomination considers the entire complex for designation, including a pair of late modern-era buildings designed by William Pereira. The buildings included in the nomination follow:
  • The eight-story Los Angeles Times Building designed in the Art Deco/Moderne style by Los Angeles architect Gordon B. Kaufmann in 1935.
  • The four-story Plant Building completed in 1935 that includes an original two-story Art Deco/Moderne-style building by Kaufmann and two one-story additions designed by Los Angeles architect Rowland H. Crawford in 1946 and 1955.
  • The 12-story Mirror Building designed in the Late Moderne architectural style by Crawford in 1948
  • The six-story Times-Mirror Headquarters Building and an attendant six-story parking structure designed by Pereira in the Corporate International architectural style in 1973. 
The nearly 400-page historic nomination can be found here.  The effort to landmark the complex—years in the making—is somewhat coincidental in terms of its timing with the newspaper vacating its historic offices and comes after a particularly turbulent half-decade at the Times. Soon-Shiong announced his purchase of the newspaper in February of this year and unveiled plans to move the LA Times offices in April. Canadian developer Onni purchased the Times complex in 2016 from the previous Times owner, Tronc, and had proposed raising the rent for the facilities to over $1 million per month, prompting the relocation. The Times’s lease ran out June 30, 2018.  Onni is currently pursuing a pair of redevelopment proposals that aim to demolish the Pereria-designed sections of the complex. The developer plans to replace those buildings with two mixed-use condominium towers designed by AC Martin. The towers, rising 37- and 53-stories, would bring 1,127 residential units and 34,572 square feet of commercial areas to the site. Gensler is also working on a blocky 32-story tower containing 107 condominium units, 534,000 square feet of commercial space, and 7,200 square feet of ground-floor commercial area that is slated to rise in what is now a parking lot across from the Times complex. The CHC will next conduct an on-site inspection of the LA Times complex in order to consider whether to advance the application for historic cultural status any further. The designation could impact the developer’s plans for the AC Martin-designed towers, but as the recent case with Gehry Partners’s designs for 8150 Sunset complex shows, landmarking a historic structure does not prevent its demolition. If the HCM nomination is successful, however, the developer’s plans could actually be bolstered by the availability of historic tax credits for renovating the complex if that is done in line with historic standards. A key question for the CHC committee will be how to qualify the historic nature of the Pereira-designed additions to the complex. The historic nomination explains that the Pereira additions are key to the significance of the entire complex and represent the apex of the newspaper’s development and relevance following L.A.’s post-World War II expansion. Pereira’s additions were designed to intentionally fade into the background so as to not detract from the iconic Kaufman-designed portions of the building, according to William L. Pereira, a monograph of the architect’s work compiled by James Steele. The resulting black granite panel-clad complex remains almost entirely intact and represents a key moment not only in Pereira’s career but in the development of L.A.’s architectural history, according to the report. The report says, “The building demonstrates not only Pereira’s role as a master architect who helped to shape the city we know today, but a building which is symbolically, urbanistically, and creatively part of the life of the city.” The entire complex is eligible for National Register of Historic Places and the California State Historic Monument list, though it is unlisted in both. The complex was included in the SurveyLA Los Angeles Historic Resources Survey and is listed in California Register of Historical Resources. The CHC will meet to tour the building at a yet-to-be-announced date and time. Until then, check out the nifty, illustrated explainer created by the Times that highlights the historic complex’s history and internal organization. 

Newest, Tallest

It’s official: A new 1,020-foot tower is coming to Downtown Los Angeles
The developers behind a recently-proposed project that would bring a 1,020-foot-tall, Handel Architects-designed skyscraper complex to Downtown Los Angeles have officially submitted their project plans with the City of L.A. Urbanize.la reports that developers MacFarlane Partners, Peebles Corporation, and Claridge Partners submitted updated plans for a 1.26 million-square-foot proposal last week that would bring 120 condominiums, 450 apartments, 480 hotel rooms, and 50,000-square-feet of commercial uses to the hillside site formerly known as Angels Knoll park.  The $1.2 billion project will also include a 45,000-square-foot charter school and is being designed to hug the rugged terrain via a complex of porous edges that connect to the adjacent Angels Flight funicular and an associated staircase. Site and landscape design for the project is being performed by OLIN and will feature a complex set of outdoor terraces, amphitheaters, and gardens. At least 50 percent of the project site will be left open under the current scheme, with a pair of towers and a stepped podium occupying improved areas.  Glenn Rescalvo, partner at Handel Architects, told The Los Angeles Times, “We want to make the site as permeable as possible. You could enter from different points and reach all the other locations." Renderings for the project depict a tapered 88-story tower filled with condominiums, apartments, and 192 hotel rooms. A second, 27-story tower will house the remaining hotel rooms and the charter school.  Don Peebles of Peebles Corporation told The Los Angeles Times, "It's basically a neighborhood within a building," adding, “It's the wave of the future for urban living." The Handel Architects proposal was selected by the city’s Chief Legislative Analyst earlier this year from among three other bids that included proposals by Natoma Architects and Gensler. The development site was originally envisioned as the location for a third tower planned for the California Plaza complex in the 1980s and 1990s, but the plan never materialized. Instead, disused site eventually became Angels Knoll park in early 2000s and was immortalized in the 2009 film 500 Days of Summer. The park closed in 2013 and its grounds have sat fenced-off and vacant ever since.  The project will soon be joining the long-stalled, Frank Gehry-designed Grand Avenue Project, which is slated to contain 436 housing units, a 314-room hotel and 209,000 square feet of commercial space in a pair of 20- and 39-story towers. The Handel Architects project is estimated to take at least 41 months to build; the development team behind the project has announced a projected completion date of December 31, 2024.

Highlighting L.A.

Los Angeles Design Festival to highlight city’s design chops this weekend
The Los Angeles Design Festival (LADF) returns to L.A. this weekend, offering up a wide-ranging slate of art- and design-focused events that aim to highlight the city’s growing design scene.  We’ve put together a few highlights for the weekend below. Though the festivities actually kicked off last night at the official opening party, things get serious today, with a bevy of installations and receptions opening to the public Friday and on through the weekend. Highlighting the day’s events will be a keynote address by Los Angeles Chief Design Officer and former Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne.  The keynote presentation will feature a discussion focused on housing in Los Angeles between Hawthorne, Barbara Bestor of Bestor Architecture, Julie Eizenberg of Koning Eizenberg Architects, and Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular.  This evening, Antonio Pacheco, AN’s west editor, will be moderating a panel discussion at SPF:a Gallery titled “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the L.A. River” that will focus on whether L.A. can avoid the dreaded “High Line Effect” as it revitalizes and restores the Los Angeles River. The discussion will feature panelists Deborah Weintraub, Chief Deputy City Engineer, and Chief Architect for the City of Los Angeles; Mia Lehrer, president and founder of Studio-MLA; Helen Leung, co-executive director, LA-Más; Mark Motonaga, partner at Rios Clementi Hale Studios; and Yuval Bar-Zemer, co-founder, managing partner at Linear City Development LLC. Saturday, the INTRO/LA modern furniture exhibition opens in the Row DTLA complex in Downtown Los Angeles. The annual exhibition will highlight the work of Another Human, Block Shop, Estudio Persona, Massproductions, and Waka Waka, among many others.  Saturday will also feature a special pop-up show featuring the work of L.A.-based offices Feral Office and Spatial Affairs. The exhibition will highlight the collaborative work of Berenika Boberska (Feral Office) and Peter Culley (Spatial Affairs) who have come together for a joint project titled “New Walled Cities and Hinterlands,” an exploration of Los Angeles’s particular urban forms as they relate to clustered densities and single-family neighborhoods.   Sunday will see another panel discussion—also at SPF:a Gallery—this one led by Steven Sharp, founder and editor-in-chief of Urbanize.LA, who will preside over a conversation titled “The Tech Frontier: The Rise of 'Silicon Beach'” that will address the socio-economic implications Silicon Beach could have over the long term as moneyed tech workers settle in Los Angeles. The panel will include Marc Huffman, vice president of planning & entitlements, Brookfield Residential; Michael Manville, assistant professor of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs; Li Wen, design director and Principal at Gensler; and Russell Fortmeyer, associate principal for sustainability, ARUP. The last day of the festival will showcase a “a critical round-table discussion” called “The Morning After” covering the DOPIUM.LA [ D / M E N S / O N S ] exhibition and event at the A+D Museum taking place the night before. The discussion will feature contributions from curators, designers, and artists involved with DOPIUM.LA, as well as a conversation centered on the notion of temporality and impermanence in the production and exhibition of works of design and art, including how those efforts contribute to material reality. The afternoon will also feature a conversation between Andrew Holder and Benjamin Freyinger of the Los Angeles Design Group hosted by THIS X THAT, Hem, and Poketo. See the LADF website for more information and a full slate of calendar events.

Coastal Connections

Restorative projects aim to stitch Port of Los Angeles communities back together
The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach might be some of the world’s busiest shipping facilities, but just beyond the stacks of shipping containers and bustling cranes sit densely populated neighborhoods that have struggled for decades to maintain a vital hold on the nearby waterfront. That dynamic is about to change, as a slew of transformative waterfront-adjacent projects aim to reclaim and transform the shore for nearby communities. Following a new master plan issued in 2014, the waterfront areas along the Port of L.A.–adjacent neighborhood of Wilmington have been in a continual state of restoration and redevelopment. There, Boston-based Sasaki built out the first phase of the Wilmington Waterfront Park in 2012, a 10-acre installation packed with natural berms, playing fields, and trees. The plans—developed with Studio-MLA—would create a “buffer against port operations” and a “window to waterfront,” according to Zach Chrisco, partner in charge of the project at Sasaki. The latest phase of the waterfront redevelopment project aims to recast the existing waterfront areas with more widely accessible leisure and shopping spaces connected by public amenities like a giant lawn, stepped landings that meet the water, a small floating harbor, and a fishing pier. “Our goal with the project is to diversify the way the community can engage with the water,” Kate Tooke, landscape architect at Sasaki, explained, describing the metallic shade structures and an open-floor leisure pier with hammocks that dangle directly over the water. The waterfront will connect to the Wilmington community via the Avalon Promenade and Gateway, a new promenade and pedestrian bridge sequence designed by T.Y. Lin International that will feature underground restrooms on one end and a public plaza on the other. Both projects are slated to break ground this year with an anticipated 2019 opening. In the nearby neighborhood of San Pedro, developers Ratkovich Company and Jericho are leading the Ports O’ Call Village redevelopment project aimed at bringing a new 180,000-square-foot San Pedro Public Market project to life. The development is led by Rapt Studio, a local design firm. Describing the lead-up to the project, Sam Farhang, Rapt  Studio president and project lead said, “We went in immediately and said, ‘This is not a project that could be designed and delivered by single team.’” The designers got to work on assembling a “dream team” for the project that includes James Corner Field Operations and Adamson Associates as executive architects. Rapt is designing a series of new warehouse-like prefabricated steel moment frame structures flexible enough to hold new retail programs while remaining malleable over the developer’s 55-year ground lease over the site. Plans call for adding a new “town square” containing the aforementioned retail and plaza spaces, a new marketplace to hold the relocated San Pedro Fish Market, and an event lawn that connects to the waterfront directly so that “every type of person—whether it’s longshoremen on their lunch break or a Millennial mom and dad with a single child in a stroller—can find an aspect of this site that resonates with them.” The project will be delivered in phases through 2020 or 2021 as to not displace some of the larger tenants that will remain. Across one of the shipping channels, Gensler is working toward a long-term vision that would rework the area’s employment and economic demographics, as it builds out the multi-phase AltaSea development; a new 35-acre complex that will combine marine research, public education programs, and sustainable energy development. The $150 million complex will aim to redevelop a series of existing waterfront warehouses, replacing industrial shipping uses with high-tech research equipment and hordes of visiting tourists, school children, and researchers. Describing the goals of the project, Li Wen, design director at Gensler said, “We see the Port of L.A. becoming a place of education through experience,” adding that the project seeks to “re-introduce the ocean as a place to be preserved, revered, and studied.” Work on that project is currently underway and the first phase is expected to be completed in 2023.

Supporting Cast

LOHA advances eye-catching affordable housing schemes in Los Angeles
As Los Angeles gears up to tackle its homelessness crisis, L.A.-based Lorcan O’ Herlihy Architects (LOHA) is busy at work on a collection of novel, forthcoming affordable housing projects that aim to build upon the firm’s many previous experiments in dense urban housing.  A recently-unveiled plan for the Isla de Los Angeles project with non-profit housing developer Clifford Beers Housing is perhaps the most daring of the new projects. The development will bring 54 studio apartments to a paved triangular site in the city’s Harbor Gateway community in a stepped and articulated structure made up of stacked and repurposed shipping containers.  The rapid-rehousing development is being designed to house a series of shared spaces as well as parking along the ground level. The five-story project will be located beside the intersection of the 110  and 105 freeways and its site organization reflects this troublesome locale—the edges of the site will be populated by planted areas to block out freeway pollution while the building itself is laid out to face away from the highways in order to take advantage of the natural sunlight and breezes. Much of the complex is topped by shade panels as well.  Amenity spaces for the project will include: edible gardens, space for a farmer’s market, a small lab, and areas dedicated to cottage-scaled food production, health and fitness activities, and job training services.  Units in the 18,000-square-foot structure will be earmarked for residents who make less than or equal to 40 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). The project is to be built on excess city-owned land using funding from Proposition HHH, a recent initiative aimed at building 10,000 supportive housing units in Los Angeles over the next decade. The firm is also pushing forward on a proposal announced late last year that would add 78 units of affordable housing, various community spaces, as well as arts and educational programming to a city-owned site located in the Westlake neighborhood west of Downtown Los Angeles. The project will sit adjacent to the historic Westlake Theatre and is expected to reinvigorate the institution while ensuring its revival is suited to benefit existing neighborhood residents. Renderings for the seven-story project depict three linear and interconnected apartment blocks spanning over a central courtyard. The canted apartment slabs sit on a perimeter base that is open on one side to face the street and heroically span the courtyard above these otherwise porous ground floor areas in a way similiar to an approach pursued by Michael Maltzan Architecture’s One Santa Fe complex. Cesar Chavez Foundation is the lead developer for the project, with Meta Housing Corporation as a co-developer. The Youth Policy Institute will act as a service provider for the project in partnership with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.  A timeline has not been released for either of these developments.  LOHA is further along, however, on the MLK1101 supportive housing complex, a 26-unit development geared toward military veterans who have formerly experienced homelessness that is currently under construction. The four-story L-shaped apartment complex wraps a single-story storefront space that is topped with a rooftop terrace and community room. The storefront is being developed as a retail opportunity for the project and is flanked by a broad stair that leads to the terrace level, where picnic tables, plants, and benches will populate the 4,000-square-foot gathering space. Renderings for the 34,000-square-foot project depict a white perforated metal panel-clad structure with a pedimented retail space wrapped with storefront windows. Work on the project is well underway and is expected to be complete later this year.

These developments join LOHA’s growing slate of innovative residential projects in Los Angeles, including several market-rate developments along Pico Boulevard, a 30-unit apartment complex in West Hollywood, and a quintuplet of small-lot houses at the foot of the Hollywood Hills. 

Chinatown Takeover

Studio Gang unveils renderings for sinuous tower in Los Angeles’ Chinatown
Chicago-based Studio Gang, French real estate investment company Compagnie de Phalsbourg, developer Creative Space, and European lifestyle brand MOB Hotel have unveiled plans for a towering hotel and apartment tower complex slated for Los Angeles’s Chinatown neighborhood.  The sinuous, glass-wrapped tower will rise diagonally from a site currently occupied by a pair of commercial buildings and a parking lot, among other uses. A rendering released by the development team depicts a tower that grows wider as it rises from the site, revealing larger, cantilevered floor plates containing balcony spaces along its uppermost floors. The project is among the first high-profile developments in the neighborhood following recent new construction and the completion of the Los Angeles State Historic Park. The project will likely transform the neighborhood, replacing a modestly-scaled commercial area with plazas, a 149-key hotel, and 300 new residences. It does not contain an affordable housing component.  “This project transforms a parking lot and commercial strip into an architecture that opens up the potential of the site to connect neighborhoods,” Studio Gang Founding Principal Jeanne Gang explained via press release. Gang added, “Responding to the growing needs of the city, we designed the footprint to enable new generous outdoor public space at ground level while simultaneously creating a curved upper volume to capture views, light, and air for the building’s inhabitants.” The project comes as development around the new state park heats up, with several other multi-phase, mixed-use developments currently in the pipeline. The project will be Studio Gang’s first project in L.A. and represents the changing tenor of development in the city’s urban core, which is becoming more star-studded and international in nature than has prefiously been the case. Nearby, Johnson Fain and SWA Group are working on the 355-unit La Plaza de Cultura development, while efforts are made to create a new master plan for the surrounding neighborhood and adjacent Civic Center areas. Studio Gang’s project will now head into the community review phase; a timeline for construction has not been announced.