Search results for "santa monica"

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Parks over Parking

Santa Monica looks to cap Interstate 10 in new downtown plan
Local planning politics on Los Angeles's Westside is in a sad state of affairs. There, a municipally-led push to complete city streets by adding bicycle infrastructure and other pedestrian improvements has been met with fierce opposition from local drivers. Recent efforts in L.A’s Mar Vista neighborhood, for example, grew so toxic that community members launched a now-stalled recall bid to remove Mike Bonin—the local council person who champions the so-called “road diets” as well as the city’s Vision Zero plan those diets support—from office. The embarrassing spectacle has thrown into question the commitment L.A. residents have not only toward prioritizing the City’s plan for eliminating all traffic deaths by 2025, but also their reluctance to take personal responsibility for reducing transportation-related carbon emissions across the region. Nevertheless, there might be hope yet. That hope comes in the form of a new downtown plan taking root just a few blocks from Mar Vista, in the City of Santa Monica. The beachside municipality recently approved its new Downtown Community Plan (DCP), a document that looks to convert downtown Santa Monica into a “complete community” offering dense urban housing, multi-modal transportation options, and a healthy sprinkling of public open and green spaces. The city’s planning agency has taken a variety of steps to promote this vision by increasing maximum Floor-Area-Ratios for sites that include housing development in certain zones, eliminating parking minimums for some types of new construction, and pushing to reconfigure downtown streets in the image of universal transport. Through this new plan, the municipality is working to expand the functionality of its sidewalks and streets by increasing their capacity to support bicycle infrastructure, demarcating specific loading zones for buses and ride sharing services, and recognizing key “signature sidewalk” areas that will strategically enhance street life. The plan indicates that Santa Monica city officials are keenly aware that the future of the L.A. region will depend just as much on what happens in the spaces between buildings as it will on the buildings themselves. Critically, the plan also calls for capping the western terminus of Interstate 10 with a new park, a move that would fully transform the southern edge of the city into a civic and commercial node while also providing the city with an opportunity to rework surface streets to better accommodate the new focus on multi-modal transport. The section of I-10 in question sits in a 20-feet-below-grade channel spanning roughly 7,000 feet across what was once the city’s civic core; the stretch of highway is bounded on one side by Santa Monica City Hall and Ken Genser Square and on the other by the James Corner Field Operations–designed Tongva Park. Santa Monica Lookout reports that the DCP’s Gateway Master Plan element—the document spelling out just how the highway-adjacent areas are to be redesigned—will go up for consideration by the city’s Department of Planning and Community Development sometime this spring. The department recently issued a report that includes support for the freeway cap as part of several long-term changes for the city. The report describes the freeway park’s ability to offer a “unique opportunity for strengthening connections” within the city as a principal reason for its construction. Aside from proposing a specific, multi-modal plan for reconnecting the city’s street grid, the Gateway Master Plan will envision a method for reworking and connecting several key sites surrounding the future park, including an adjacent Sears department store complex, the Santa Monica Civic Center, and nearby Expo Line and Big Blue Bus stations. Although calls for the freeway cap park in Santa Monica date back to the 1980s, recent years have seen a bevy of proposals for similar installations across the Los Angeles region, including over Interstate 110 in Downtown Los Angeles and over U.S. Route 101 in Hollywood. Another proposal is still in the works to cap another portion of U.S. Route 101 with an overpass that would allow local mountain lions and other fauna to traverse the highway safely. Though Santa Monica’s freeway cap is still in the early stages of approval, the municipality expects to implement the initial phases of the Gateway Master Plan by 2021. An official timeline for the freeway cap park has not been released.
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Cut to Size

Frank Gehry halves Santa Monica hotel to meet height restrictions
Gehry Partners has released a new batch of renderings of their mixed-use tower on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, California, nearly five years after initially announcing the project. What was once a 22-story tower has now been cut down to 12, after the Santa Monica City Council imposed wide-ranging height restrictions on new construction in the city’s downtown in April of 2017. When AN last wrote about the Ocean Avenue project in 2013, Gehry’s tower-on-a-base was still 22 stories and 244 feet tall, and destined to sit in a major 1.9-acre redevelopment at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. The $72 million mixed-use tower would have housed 22 condos, 125 hotel rooms, two stories of restaurants and retail, and a 36,000-square foot art museum with a glassy facade nearby. After years of legal battles stalled out development at the site over the tower’s height, Gehry’s rippling building could finally be on the rise following a City Council meeting on January 11th. While the overall massing and white-paneled, rippling façade of the revised tower still resembles the original plan, Gehry’s team has implemented sweeping changes. The project will now top out at 130 feet at its peak, with an average height of 44 feet across the tiered building. According to the Ocean Avenue Project website, the floor area ratio (FAR) has been reduced from 3.2 to 2.6, all condo units have been removed, the number of residential and affordable units has been increased, and Gehry has tried to improve integration with the street. A more concrete timeline for the project’s construction will likely become available following the upcoming City Council meeting.
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Taking a Bit Off the Top

Controversial OMA development in Santa Monica scaled down
Plans for a long-delayed and controversial mixed-use project by OMA in Santa Monica, California have changed once again. OMA’s Plaza at Santa Monica development—a project that, if built, would be the firm’s largest work in Los Angeles to date—is to be located on city-owned land and will contain a flurry of programming, including a hotel, affordable housing, creative office, and retail spaces. The mixed-use project, originally pitched in 2014, has been dogged by outcry from anti-growth community activists who take issue with the project’s size and density and would rather see the 2.57-acre site used to house a neighborhood park. According to information presented on the project website, the development—as newly proposed—will contain 280 hotel rooms, 48 units of affordable housing, 106,000-square-feet of creative offices, and 12,000-square-feet of cultural space. Santa Monica Lookout reports that the project is also designed to contain a grand plaza facing the ocean, two street-level pocket parks along its perimeter, and an elevated terrace park. One of those pocket parks is being designed to contain an ice skating rink. In total, the newly re-proposed project will bring roughly 2.86-acres of open space to the area, including the elevated terrace. The new changes represent a modest downsizing for the project: While previous iterations had risen up to 148-feet in height, the new proposals bring the tallest point of the project to 129 feet. The project also includes 200,000 fewer square feet of retail space and more hotel rooms than it did prior to the changes, up from 225 rooms initially. Renderings for the project depict a staggered stack of rectilinear building blocks that rise in height from a single story alongside the grand plaza to roughly 12-stories high toward the back of the site. The shifting building masses create roof terraces and covered outdoor loggia as they rise and are wrapped in glass curtain walls on all sides. Community members have until March 2 to review new renderings of the project. See the City of Santa Monica’s website for more information on the project.
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Airport2Park

Santa Monica Airport to become public park in 2029
Marking an end to a years-long legal and political struggle, the Santa Monica City Council announced an agreement with the United States Federal Government last weekend that calls for the closing of Santa Monica Airport on December 31, 2028. Upon closing, the site will be converted into a public park. The announcement, first reported by Santa Monica Next, calls for immediately shortening the airport’s runway to 3,500 feet in an effort to reduce airplane traffic at the 227-acre complex. The airport would continue to operate commercially for the next 11 years after which it will be “returned to the residents of Santa Monica.” City residents voted in 2014—via the ballot initiative Measure LC—to use the site only for park purposes after it closes. Any other proposed change in use—including converting the site for much-needed housing—would require a public vote. Architecture and landscape architecture firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH Studios) developed a series of proposals for a 14-acre expansion to the existing Airport Park located beside the currently active airport.  RCH Studios' is currently working on final designs for the expansion; Construction is slated to begin within the next two years. A community group known as Airport2Park coalesced around the conversion idea several years ago and advocates for a mixed-use park that contains, among other programmatic components, hiking, jogging, and cycling trails; playgrounds for children; senior citizen recreational areas; natural habitats; and artworks and cultural facilities. The Santa Monica City Council’s announcement establishes that the city does not need to perform an environmental assessment to close the airport. The overall agreement to convert the airport to a park comes after many years of community outcry and the filing of dozens of legal initiatives by local residents to close the airport. The agreement also follows a back and forth debate between the Santa Monica City Council, which passed a motion last year seeking to close the airport in 2018, and a federal judge, who sought to keep the airport open until 2023. Planning and community input gathering is also currently underway to add a 12-acre plot of land adjacent to the park site to the overall airport park scheme. Neither a final plan for the park nor a timeline for construction have been released by city officials. For more information, see the Airport2Park website.
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Green Coast

Santa Monica to make all new single-family residential construction net-zero energy starting in 2017
The city of Santa Monica, California has become the first municipality in the world to require net-zero energy construction for all new single-family residences. The city recently passed an ordinance mandating that all future single-family homes built in the coastal enclave achieve ZNE status, based on the standards contained within the 2016 California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen). Though the term has many nuanced definitions deployed across the construction industry and energy development fields, the CALGreen standard referenced by the Santa Monica ordinance defines ZNE construction as resulting in a building where the value of the energy produced on-site by renewable energy technologies and the value of the energy consumed annually by the building are equal. The new sustainability ordinance was approved by the Santa Monica City Council last week and will go effect in 2017 pending further approval. The new rule also contains a provision requiring new multifamily and commercial buildings reduce their energy consumption to ten percent below the rates set forth in the currently-in-effect 2016 California Energy Code. In a press release announcing the new guidelines, Santa Monica Mayor Tony Vazquez celebrated the city’s environmental bonafides, saying “Santa Monica is proud to take a global lead in zero net energy building standards that put the State’s environmental policy to action. Council's adoption of this new ordinance reflects our city's continued commitment to the environment,” adding, “ZNE construction, considered the gold standard for green buildings, is a major component that will help us reach our ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.” The measure comes after a steady increase in environmentally-focused regulation across the state and follows the adoption of the state’s Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan by the California Public Utilities Commission in 2008. That plan established a roadmap for all buildings in the state to be zero net energy users over time. The plan also established a goal for all residential construction to be ZNE by 2020 with all new commercial construction achieving the same status by 2030. Most municipalities, however, have lagged in reaching efficiency targets and Santa Monica’s aggressive timetable for realizing these changes marks the first ordinance passed by a California municipality to strive for ZNE construction. The measure also brings into relief a gaping disconnect in terms of what is and is not considered “sustainable” in the public mind, with the glossy, technological approaches to sustainability being pursued at the municipal level being seemingly at odds with draconian, anti-development measures being pursued via the ballot box aimed at reducing the city’s ability to generate dense, urban development. Before final implementation, the measure must gain final approval from the California Energy Commission.
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Life's a Beach

Michael Folonis Architects crafts a new approach to Santa Monica’s setback guidelines

Housing in Santa Monica is understandably highly prized: The air is clear and cool, the ocean is nearby, and there is ample public transportation, including the new Expo Line connecting Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles. The arrival of high-tech employers like Google and Twitter has given the area a new name: Silicon Beach. And so, young professionals seeking employment, enjoyment, and well-designed, efficient apartments are searching L.A.’s coastal areas for affordable, convenient housing.

One of the more forward-thinking design responses to this need involves what is typically viewed as a restriction: height setbacks. Michael W. Folonis Architects, who is designing several housing projects that include both market-rate and affordable apartments in the area, has taken an innovative approach to setback requirements in its six-story complex at 1415 Fifth Street. This mid-block development, with 100 feet of street frontage on a 150-foot-deep site, contains 64 units, 13 of which are affordable, and includes a mix of studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units. Santa Monica has adopted the Affordable Housing Production Program (AHPP) requiring that 20 percent of new units serve moderate-income residents.

One of the unique challenges for architects working in the City of Santa Monica is responding to the “step-back” requirements of the planning and zoning department: Typically the building volume is set back just 10 feet on the ground floor and then steps back further on each of the upper floors, like a giant staircase. At 1415 Fifth Street, this required a setback of 84,600 cubic feet to be removed from the development envelope.

In an inventive alternative solution, Folonis proposed a deeper setback on the ground plane, creating a large open space for outdoor dining and interaction with the community. In addition, Folonis created a major three-story open portal that allows natural light and ventilation to flow into a central courtyard that is open to the sky. This achieved 88,563 cubic feet of open space, more than required by the planning and zoning department. The design maintains the cornice line, while the portal provides residents with an outdoor amenity that Folonis describes as “a cultural, social gathering place” that connects residents to city street life.

Travis Page, City of Santa Monica senior planner, said, “It’s unusual for an amazing idea like this to come forward” from the planning and zoning requirements. The city is looking at modifying the requirements to encourage future creative solutions.

The exterior facade facing southwest employs dramatic perforated aluminum sunshades that were generated directly from solar studies to allow sunlight to enter in the winter and also provide shade in the summer. This “passive solar design” is an integral part of Folonis’s design approach that he has been practicing since 1983. 1415 Fifth Street also provides bike storage for 150 bicycles, and the complex is just two blocks from the new Metro Light Rail station, which encourages the use of public transportation. All units benefit from natural ventilation, reducing the use of mechanical ventilation. 

The project is expected to break ground later this year and to be complete in 2017.

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SMMoA is now ICA LA

L.A.’s Westside loses its Santa Monica Museum of Art
In the nine months that saw the opening of a relocated Architecture and Design Museum as well as the new Broad Museum and Hauser Wirth’s West Coast outpost, Downtown Los Angeles residents can once again boast about the addition of yet another high-caliber contemporary art institution in their neighborhood: Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA). Exciting news for Downtown, but it is not without controversy. That’s because ICA LA is not a new art museum at all, it is the relocated, renamed, and rebranded remnants of the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA). After a year-long struggle with its landlords at Bergamot Station, the museum’s home since 1998, SMMoA’s board of directors decided to pack up and head east. Such a drastic move would be difficult for most major art institutions, except that SMMoA operated as a European-style kunsthalle, with no permanent collection tying it down. Now, ICA LA is in the early stages of a capital campaign to fund its relocation to a 12,700 square foot space at 1717 East 7th Street to be designed by Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY. Scheduled to open spring 2017, ICA LA’s new location will continue to operate as a non-collecting museum with 7,000 square feet of dedicated gallery space. The new location is expected to boast “ample public programming facilities” as well as an experimental kitchen-cafe, and other retail space. In a press release announcing the relocation, ICA LA Board of Directors’ President, Laura Donnelley said, “Throughout our history we have served our communities in greater Los Angeles through exhibitions, programs, and outreach, but have now chosen to move to Downtown LA to reinvent and redefine our organization the way that only a non-collecting museum focused on innovation, diversity, and discovery can. We are delighted to welcome these timely changes of venue, additions of leadership, and to move forward in further defining ICA LA’s role within our city and our collective place in the ever-expanding international dialogue of art and culture.”
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Eavesdrop> Go Art, Go: Who will design Santa Monica Museum of Art’s Downtown Los Angeles move?
After a bitter fight at Bergamot Art Station, the Santa Monica Museum of Art is decamping to Downtown Los Angeles. Reports of an eastward move come with hints of a necessary name change as well a shortlist for its new space in the Arts District. Players are tightlipped, but AN’s sources say Gensler, Zellner Naecker Architects, and wHY (a longtime museum collaborator) have been invited to submit design proposals.
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Clive Wilkinson Architects’ new digs for KCRW underway in Santa Monica
In the lead up to the holidays, public radio listeners in Southern California couldn’t help but tune in for some architecture news as KCRW DJs plugged the capital campaign for their new building designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects. The firm was awarded the Santa Monica commission in 2008, beating out Gensler, HLW, Morphosis, and CO Architects in the competition. The three-story, 35,000-square-foot KCRW Media Center has a price tag of $48 million with extra funding needed to fit out the studios and offices of public radio station and NPR affiliate. https://youtu.be/60SjsjwZn78 As part of Santa Monica College’s expanded Media and Technology campus, the new building replaces KCRW’s cramped basement office with state-of-the-art studios and performance spaces, including the 18,000-square foot Wallis Annenberg Plaza Courtyard and Outdoor Stage and a 180-capacity auditorium for community events. Santa Monica College’s new entertainment and technology campus will also include new teaching facilities, TV and production studios, and a new parking garage. KCRW staff is scheduled to move into the new building later in 2016. In the meantime, check out the construction time lapse.
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Hennessey +Ingalls to move from Santa Monica to Michael Maltzan’s One Santa Fe in 2016
Hennessey + Ingalls is a rarity in an age when bookstores that survived the rise of Amazon are often indistinctive superstores or exercises in hipster curation. Los Angeles’ long-established mecca for art and architecture is neither. Fans were nervous when the store shuttered its Hollywood annex in Space Fifteen Twenty last spring. While the Santa Monica store on Wilshire and 2nd will close at the end of the year, it will reopen in a new space at One Santa Fe, the mixed-use development complex designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture. When Reginald Hennessey first set up the store in 1963, it catered to an up and coming community of artists, architects, and art enthusiasts. The tradition of stocking its wooden shelves with rare, sometimes out-of-print books has continued to enthrall readers from around Los Angeles and has even managed to attract the attention of design institutions from all over America. The family owned store was passed down from Reginald to his son and finally grandson, Brett, who now runs the business. He was responsible for computerizing the operations and increasing the store’s online presence. Initially based out of Santa Monica with a branch in Hollywood, the business had to close down the latter due to an increase in rent and a smaller customer base. The store, currently 8,000 square feet, is downsizing to a smaller, but better-located 5,000-square-foot location in the Arts District. “We were focusing on Downtown L.A. and crossed paths with Michael Maltzan. It just turned into a really good partnership because One Santa Fe is right up our alley. The curation of businesses there are kind of what we like most about it,” said Brett Hennessey. The bookstore anticipates a bigger customer base at its new location, located right across the street from SCI-Arc, a few minutes away from FIDM, and even close by to the University of Southern California. “People can drive in from 360 degrees around us. The problem with Santa Monica is that only half the side can drive to the store” quipped Hennessey. Hennessey + Ingalls will celebrate the last holiday season out of Santa Monica and will open its doors again in February 2016. This time in DTLA.
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Pictorial> Crews taking down Santa Monica’s California Incline for replacement project
On April 20, construction workers began demolishing Santa Monica's California Incline, a longtime connector between the Pacific Coast Highway and the city's overlooking bluffs. The 1,400-foot-long roadway, built in 1930, is getting a $20-million renovation (including a seismic retrofit and a new pedestrian bridge) by Caltrans and the city of Santa Monica that is expected to take year to complete. Below take a last look at the wonderfully weathered incline as we know it. (Click on thumbnail to start slideshow.)  
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Amid changing development landscape and high rents, Santa Monica Museum of Art begins search for a new home
Edward Cella Art and Architecture is not the only Los Angeles art institution leaving its longtime location soon. AN has learned from the Los Angeles Times that the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMOA) is closing its doors at Santa Monica's Bergamot Station early next month. According to the newspaper, the move was largely precipitated by the city's selection last fall of developer Bergamot Station Ltd/Worthe Real Estate and architect Fred Fisher for a major redevelopment of Bergamot. That scheme has been noted for its effort to maintain the 33-gallery complex's industrial shed vernacular. The museum had hoped for a proposal by 26th Street TOD and Rios Clementi Hale that would have added $17 million to its endowment. Furthermore the owner of Bergamot, Wayne Blank, doubled SMMOA's rent last spring. "It was a huge blow," SMMOA Executive Director Elsa Longhauser told AN. "It made it clear that the landlord was not eager to continue his support of the museum." "They picked the development team that offered them the most, which wasn’t the best of the three teams," Blank responded to AN. "They had the worst plan. It would have destroyed Bergamot." He added: "It was no longer comfortable to have them on board." Bergamot, once a train station and site for light manufacturing, has been a home to art since the early 1990s. SMMOA is now taking time to look for a new home. "We will use this time very intensely and judiciously to examine all the possibilities and determine what makes the most sense,” Longhauser told the Times. "There are a number of leads, but nothing’s signed and sealed," Longhauser told AN. She said there was a chance that the museum may have to leave Santa Monica altogether, largely because of the city's high rents. Blank, who hopes SMMOA can "reinvent itself" elsewhere, said that he is now looking for another non-profit to take the museum's space, if possible. The city's redevelopment of Bergamot won't start for another two to three years at the earliest.