Search results for "mia lehrer"

Placeholder Alt Text

when the jackhammers fall silent

New York puts freeze on all nonessential construction
Following in the cautious footsteps of cities like Boston and San Francisco, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has put the kibosh on all “nonessential” construction projects—and not just in booming New York City but also across the entire state during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “We’re closing down nonessential construction sites,” said Cuomo during one of his oddly therapeutic daily press briefings held last Friday. “Some construction is essential to keep the place running, but nonessential construction is going to stop.” Similar to citywide construction pauses, New York’s temporary statewide ban includes several exemptions that allow for work to continue or commence on affordable housing projects, hospitals and healthcare facilities, homeless shelters, emergency repairs, transit, and public infrastructure including roads and bridges. Additionally, underway projects of any kind that could be considered unsafe if abandoned will also be allowed to proceed for now. Reads updated guidance issued by the state agency Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC):
At every site, if essential or emergency non-essential construction, this includes maintaining social distance, including for purposes of elevators/meals/entry and exit. Sites that cannot maintain distance and safety best practices must close and enforcement will be provided by the state in coordination with the city/local governments. This will include fines of up to $10,000 per violation.
Under his initial PAUSE shutdown directive, Cuomo had classified all types of construction sites as being “essential” along with banks, grocery stores, pharmacies, and the like. This, in turn, meant it was largely business as usual at building sites across the state although workers were instructed to follow difficult-to-enforce social distancing practices while on the job. Cuomo, however, faced considerable pushback from construction workers and their families along with city leaders, notably City Council members Carlos Menchaca and Brad Lander along with New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. “Anything that is not directly part of the essential work of fighting coronavirus and the essential work of keeping the city running and the state running, and any construction that is not about the public good, is going to en,” New York City Mayor de Blasio clarified on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show following Cuomo’s announcement. “So, luxury condos will not be built until this is over, you know, office buildings are not going to be built so that work's going to end immediately. We need to protect people.” The day before Cuomo ordered work to be halted on all nonessential construction projects, the New York Times published an article detailing how laborers in the city were being exposed to conditions that, although likely to raise very few eyebrows during ordinary circumstances, seemed downright perilous as a deadly, highly contagious rages through New York and beyond:
“Construction sites, even during normal times, are notoriously dirty. Workers often share a single portable toilet, which rarely has soap or hand sanitizer. Running water is not common. None of the recent safety protocols recommended by public health officials are practical at a job site, workers said. They share tools, and procedures require that they closely watch over one another. There is no social distancing. Some workers wear protective masks, which are in short supply.”
Cuomo’s directive also came after work on two infrastructure projects considered essential by the ESDC, the overhauls of LaGuardia Airport and at Moynihan Station, came grinding to a temporary halt when workers at both sites tested positive for COVID-19. Although initially not wholly supportive of a Boston-style moratorium on construction due to the so-called “devastating” economic impact, Carlo Scissura, president of trade group New York Building Congress and former president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, has since thrown his support behind Cuomo’s updated directive. “The health and safety of building industry workers and every New Yorker remain the highest priority as we continue to respond to this pandemic,” said Scissura in a statement obtained by the New York Post. “Just as the governor has outlined, we must carry on with New York’s most critical projects, from infrastructure and public works to healthcare and affordable housing. These projects are essential to our region’s future and will benefit our most vulnerable populations.” Some have pointed out a not-so-tiny loophole, however, in the ESCD’s new guidelines, specifically with regard to the construction of affordable housing. The exemption that allows for work on affordable housing projects to continue doesn't just apply to project that are strictly affordable; rather, work on residential developments with at least 20 percent affordable housing can proceed. This, in turn, means that a lion’s share of residential constructions projects in New York are essentially off the hook.
Placeholder Alt Text

No Keating

Keating designs luxury apartment tower for L.A.'s low-rise Miracle Mile
Los Angeles-based architecture firm Keating unveiled a $400 million luxury apartment tower for the east end of Miracle Mile on Wilshire Boulevard, the famous street that boasts cultural institutions like LACMA, La Brea Tar Pits, and the Peterson Automotive Museum. Set next door to the historic Sontag Drug Store building, 5411 Wilshire features a curvilinear design perched on a multi-story parking podium. The project is being developed by the Marks family which has owned the 84-year-old building since 1968. According to Keating, they decided to revamp the site and renovate the Sontag Drug Store ahead of the Purple line subway extension that's slated to open blocks away in 2023. “There are going to be a lot more people [in the neighborhood]," Walter N. Marks III told the Los Angeles Times. “Industry follows people, my grandfather used to say.” Standing 42 stories tall, the glassy 5411 Wilshire will include 371 units of luxury apartments, 56 of which will be set aside for affordable housing. Keating envisions the design of tower as a nod to the Art Deco-style luxury residential towers that can still be found a few miles east on Wilshire Boulevard. While most buildings in the neighborhood do not exceed 50 feet, the proposed tower would rise nearly 521 feet tall with a sky deck located at the very top. The residential complex will also feature 15,000-square-feet of ground-floor retail, along with a slew of other amenities. It will house a bowling alley, a VR gaming room, a golf simulator, a yoga studio, as well as a dog-grooming space, a demonstration kitchen, a wine-tasting counter, and a billiard room. Studio-MLA, led by landscape architect Mia Lehrer, will design a private garden set above the retail and parking space. Tenants will be able to drop their cars off at an automated valet system, located behind the building's main entrance in a nod to the spatial organization typical of buildings on Wilshire Boulevard. Keating will also revitalize the adjacent Sontag Drug Store—also an Art Deco structure—complete with its original signage, materials, windows, and awnings. A restaurant and café, as well as retail space, will outfit the interior. The Marks family aims to complete the renovation and construction by 2023.
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

As the Days Go By

Three distinct schemes speculate on the future of the long-forsaken L.A. River
The L.A. River is not to Los Angeles as the Seine is to Paris, nor the Thames to London. Its 51 miles of concrete were not designed to become a uniting landmark when they were first poured in 1938, but rather as a functional safeguard against an infamous flood that devastated the city in March of that year. Though it currently provides a handful of narrow parks, bike trails and opportunities for brief kayaking excursions along its winding path between its mouth in Long Beach and the flats of Canoga Park, the LA River has widely been dismissed as little more than a blight in the neighborhoods it divides in half. Only within the last few years, however, has the city funded drastic improvements to the appearance and functionality of the Mighty L.A. Revisiting the loosely organized LA River Master Plan of 1996, the city has most recently focused its attention on Taylor Yard (also known as the G2 parcel), a 42-acre parcel sitting on the river’s midway marker near Mount Washington that was once a hub for the Southern Pacific Railroad freight trains that enabled the city’s growth in the first half of the 20th century. After purchasing the land for $60 million, the city invited firms WSP and Studio MLA (Mia Lehrer + Associates) to collaborate on three separate visions (viewable here and released in June) for the abandoned site’s future as a public park, each of which is distinguished by varying levels of interaction with the river: “Island” would blend the park and the river with the addition of an artificial island (in a formal gesture reminiscent of the Ile de la Cité in Paris); “Soft Edge” would provide a large, flat park set against the river without obstructing its path; and “The Yards” would feature a radial plan with a raised circular platform at its center from which visitors can observe the river and the city from a vantage point. The unifying consideration for each of the three plans, however, is to replace the prohibitive fencing along the L.A. River with amenities which will draw visitors close to its edge. “With Taylor Yard,” Mia Lehrer expressed, “our hope is to create experiences at different scales that are very close to nature and also celebratory of the community.” Whichever plan is selected will have to incorporate a viewing platform to be completed next year by SelgasCano, the Spanish firm behind Second Home and the Serpentine Pavilion currently parked at the La Brea Tar Pits. The Taylor Yards project will be opened to the public in shifts, the last of which is expected to be completed at least ten years from now. “The objective of a phased approach is to address required remediation as funding is available,” said Michael Drennan, project manager for WSP, “while allowing more immediate public use of portions of the site, along with interim site uses for natural flora and fauna.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Shohei in L.A.

OMA unveils fresh renderings for its first cultural project in Los Angeles
The Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Gruen Associates, and Studio-MLA are working toward a November 11 groundbreaking for the new Audrey Irmas Pavilion, an addition to the historic Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles. Ahead of this weekend’s groundbreaking ceremony, OMA has unveiled a batch of new renderings of the 55,000-square-foot cultural center. The two-story, trapezoidal pavilion will contain two large event spaces within its sloped walls, including a rooftop terrace designed by Studio-MLA. The main gathering space along the ground floor will be elliptical in nature and will provide arched openings along two of the principal facades. The second space will run perpendicular to the ground floor space and will be outlined as a trapezoid along the opposing set of exterior walls. The terrace will stream daylight through the pavilion via a circular opening. The addition will allow the temple to offer supportive services for its congregants, including hot meal programs and medical clinics, Urbanize.LA reported. Renderings for the project depict a singular volume skinned with hexagonal stone cladding, with each of the stone tiles containing a rectangular glass block at its center. Gruen Associates is working as the executive architect for the project, which was designed by OMA partners Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas. In a press release announcing the groundbreaking, Shigematsu said, “Focusing on communicating the energy of gathering and exchange, the pavilion is an active gesture, shaped by respectful moves away from the surrounding historic buildings, reaching out onto Wilshire Boulevard to create a new presence.” Shigematsu added, “We are thrilled to break ground on this significant project that will provide a new anchor for the Wilshire Boulevard Temple and the broader Los Angeles community.” The project represents OMA’s first cultural commission in the region and will join the firm’s forthcoming First and Broadway Park—also designed in collaboration with Studio-MLA—in Downtown Los Angeles and The Plaza, a mixed-use shopping complex slated for Santa Monica, as other works under development nearby. Plans call for the Audrey Irmas Pavilion to be completed by 2020.
Placeholder Alt Text

Reshaping Grand Avenue

Gehry's long-awaited Grand Avenue Towers are headed to construction
At long last, The Grand, a Gehry Partners–designed mega-project slated for a site across the street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, is finally moving toward construction. Having been in the works since 2004, the proposed $1 billion complex has faced various delays and funding hurdles over the last 14 years despite the project's high-profile status. When initially envisioned by architect Frank Gehry and developer Related Companies, the mixed-use high-rise complex was considered a marquee development that would anchor a forthcoming, multi-block arts and entertainment district. But as delays piled up, smaller ancillary projects like the Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed Broad Museum and The Emerson, a 19-story apartment tower, came online first. Now, instead of starting up the district's transformation, the complex might end up capping it off. After laying dormant for years, the project stirred back to life in 2017 after Chinese real estate firm CORE infused the development with $290 million in much-needed financing. In a surprise move, the developers filed for construction permits in August 2017. This week, the Related Companies announced it has amassed the $630 million needed in financing for the project, The Los Angeles Times reports, indicating that construction could begin as soon as the end of this month. If the timeline sticks, the complex is due to finish construction in 2021 and will eventually feature a 430-seat cinema, a 309-room hotel, and a 39-story residential component with 113 condominiums and 323 apartments, 20 percent of which will be subsidized. Renderings unveiled earlier this year depict a block-long terraced complex that steps back from the street as it rises. A pair of deconstructed, multi-faceted towers rise on either side of a central retail corridor. The project's three above-ground podium levels front the Disney Hall and are shown brimming with retail and restaurant establishments in renderings. These spaces feature broad, open-air shopping terraces and a central courtyard designed with seating areas and a sculptural awning. The two-tower complex will join a growing number of mixed-use developments that are on the way to sites scattered around the Grand Avenue district and the adjacent Civic Center area. City and private entities are working across these areas in an effort to break down the mono-functional post-war zoning plans that reshaped Downtown Los Angeles during the 20th Century and severed much of its residential uses. Other residential projects on the way nearby include a mixed-use tower from Gensler, a pair of condominium towers from AC Martin, as well as a new park designed by Office of Metropolitan Architecture and Studio-MLA.
Placeholder Alt Text

Hollywood Park Rises

Renderings unveiled for mixed-use neighborhood around L.A.’s new NFL stadium
A project team led by developers Wilson Meany and Stockbridge has unveiled the latest batch of renderings for a 2,500-unit mixed-use neighborhood set to rise around the forthcoming Los Angeles Rams stadium in Inglewood, California. Gensler, BCV Architecture + Interiors, Architects Orange, and Hart Howerton are providing architectural design services for the project while Studio-MLA is the landscape architect for the 298-acre site, Curbed reports. The new HKS Architects–designed, $2.66-billion stadium is in the midst of heavy construction and topped out earlier this year. The teardrop-shaped structure will come wrapped in over 36,000 perforated metal panels and will be punctuated by a large-format elliptical screen located at its uppermost levels that will play advertisements and other graphic projections. A large artificial lake will be located beside the stadium, as well, and will feature a series of waterfalls. The stadium is due to be completed in 2020. According to a project website, the new surrounding neighborhood will open in phases starting in 2020 with an initial batch of 314 apartments of various configurations, including three-bedroom units, spread out over two structures. Eventually, the development will contain 2,500 dwelling units, 620,000-square feet of retail spaces, a 300-key hotel, and a new casino. The new renderings portray a series of porous outdoor shopping areas connected by covered outdoor spaces, programmed landscape areas, and indoor-outdoor venues like a foodie-friendly dining hall and several covered lounge areas. The plans also call for a long and narrow amphitheater and a performance stage. Residential areas for the development will see structures two- to four-stories in height while the hotel complex is slated for a five-story structure anchored by groundfloor retail. An unspecified amount of office space will also be included in the project. The size and market-driven nature of the new development—there are no new affordable housing units slated in conjunction with the project—has already jump-started gentrification in the renter-heavy, predominantly working-class area. Estimates indicate that property values have increased by as much as 80 percent in recent years, Curbed reports. New housing and shopping are not the only things coming to the area, however. A recently-unveiled plan seeks to link the new neighborhood with the regional transit system by building a new 1.8-mile automated people mover. The new infrastructure aims to provide easy access to the site when it will be used as a venue during the 2028 Olympic games, which Los Angeles is hosting across a series of scattered regional sites and facilities that will include the new stadium complex. *Correction: This story incorrectly reported that 3,000 housing units were being built in conjunction with the development; The correct figure is 2,500 units. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Game Changer

Gensler-designed soccer stadium in California brings fans close to the game
The new Gensler-designed Banc of California Stadium opened for its inaugural Major League Soccer season in late April, ushering in Los Angeles’s first new open-air sports and entertainment venue since the debut of Dodgers Stadium in 1962. The 22,000-seat arena is designed with intimacy in mind: No seat in the stadium is farther than 135 feet from the field, with those closest sitting just 12 feet from the action. The arrangement of steeply raked seating and close proximity to the game is meant to create a closer connection between players and fans in the manner of European-style gameplay, according to Gensler.
The buoyant-looking complex is built on a concrete base and is topped by slender, 45-foot-tall steel section canopies. Draped between these structural elements are 190,000 square feet of translucent ETFE fabric to provide cover from L.A.’s sometimes brutal sun while still allowing enough sunlight through so that grass can grow on the pitch. The complex—chock-full of pedestrian-oriented plazas, viewing and celebration terraces, and restaurants—connects directly to newly landscaped areas designed by Studio-MLA.
Banc of California Stadium 3939 S Figueroa Street Los Angeles Tel: 323-648-6060 Architect: Gensler
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

Post-Industrial Oasis

Sasaki and Studio-MLA to redevelop Port of L.A. waterfront
Designs for a transformative make-over of the Wilmington waterfront at the Port of Los Angeles are steadily moving forward as new renderings for the project offer a glimpse of what will soon be two of L.A.’s newest public spaces. Renderings unveiled by the Port of Los Angeles showcase views of the Avalon Promenade and Gateway and the Wilmington Waterfront Promenade projects, two new open spaces designed by T.Y. Lin International and Boston-based Sasaki, respectively, on adjacent sites in conjunction with the Wilmington Waterfront Masterplan project. L.A.-based landscape architects Studio MLA is assisting with the design of the Wilmington Waterfront Promenade project. The two public spaces will cap off an L-shaped spine of new open space and future commercial development envisioned by the master plan for the formerly-industrial areas that ring the port. The nine-block plan area includes the 30-acre Wilmington Waterfront Park, also designed by Sasaki, which opened in 2011. For T.Y. Lin International’s Avalon Promenade and Gateway component, plans call for vacating sections of three streets and removing a pair of storage tanks to create a large landscaped open space that will connect the city’s urban fabric with the Wilmington Waterfront to the south. The 13-acre site will contain a public plaza at its northernmost point and will be traversed by a sculptural promenade that runs to the waterfront. The project would involve constructing a new bridge over an existing depressed rail yard, with renderings showing a new cable-stayed pedestrian bridge crossing the gap. The nine-acre Wilmington Waterfront project will be located at the end of this path abutting the harbor. Here, Sasaki and Studio MLA are working to craft an interconnected series of plazas, piers, and restaurants, including a four-acre event space and playground, according to Curbed. A below-grade section of the park will contain a cluster of accessible bathroom facilities. Renderings for these areas showcase a central lawn and plaza fronting the ocean, with active uses located at the site’s corners. The central plaza area gives way to rough-hewn boulders that step into the water, according to the renderings. The developments join a cluster of recently-announced waterfront redevelopment efforts, including the Altasea development by Gensler. Both projects are well into design and are expected to break ground later this year, in anticipation of a 2019 opening.
Placeholder Alt Text

Passover-chic

OMA unveils dramatically sloped cultural center for historic L.A. temple
OMA’s first cultural building for California has been revealed, as the firm provided a first look at the forthcoming Audrey Irmas Pavilion in Los Angeles, a cultural center for the neighboring Wilshire Boulevard Temple. OMA New York was commissioned for the project after winning a design contest in 2015, and the completed cultural center will sit next to, and dialogue with, L.A.'s oldest synagogue. The historic Wilshire Boulevard Temple was built in 1929 in the Byzantine-Revival style, and deference to the institution informed the Audrey Irmas Pavilion’s design. The serious slope on the building’s west façade will push it away from the existing temple, while it also leans south and away from a historic school. Located on an intersection, the dramatic forces that influenced the building’s orientation have also resulted in the pavilion “reaching out” to Wilshire Boulevard. “We wanted to focus on communicating the energy of gathering and exchange,” said lead designer Shohei Shigematsu in a statement. “The pavilion is an active gesture, shaped by respectful moves away from the surrounding historic buildings, reaching out onto Wilshire Boulevard to create a new presence. Within the building, a series of interconnected meeting spaces at multiple scales provide ultimate flexibility for assembly while maintaining visual connections that establish outdoor indoor porosity and moments of surprise encounters.” The pavilion will hold three distinct gathering spaces throughout, including a main event space, smaller multi-purpose room, and a sunken garden. Each of the interior spaces will be stacked vertically and arranged to give visitors specifically framed views, while remaining interlinked. The scattered openings across the pavilion’s hexagonal façade are meant to filter light to each gathering space while also reorienting guests to the rest of the campus. “Audrey Irmas Pavilion, designed by OMA—the firm’s first cultural building in California—will offer an irresistible invitation to gather, celebrate, learn and reach out to others,” said Rabbi Steve Leder in a statement. “In a city so large and diverse, we need community, and we need inspiring, welcoming places. Los Angeles deserves a modern masterpiece devoted to bringing people together, located in the heart of the city’s most diverse neighborhood. We are very proud that Wilshire Boulevard Temple will be a vital part of a cultural, religious and socially conscious conversation that is defining 21st Century Los Angeles.” The Audrey Irmas Pavilion is named after philanthropist Audrey Irmas, who spearheaded the capital campaign for the project in 2015 with a $30 million donation. The L.A.-based Studio-MLA will be serving as the project's landscape architect, while Gruen Associates are cited as the executive architect. OMA expects to break ground on the center this year, with plans to open in 2020.