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It’s All In The Roof

Facebook unveils views of latest Gehry-designed office expansion
Frank Gehry’s exuberant-landscape-meets-open-office phase is in full swing.  The 89-year-old architect and social media giant Facebook have unveiled select views of their recently completed MPK 21 project in Sunnyvale, California, a 523,000-square-foot addition to the company’s sprawling Northern California headquarters complex.  Built in only 18 months by Level 10 Construction, the green roof-topped slab office building is billed as an expansion of Gehry’s MPK 20 project that opened next door in 2016.  In a video announcing the completion of the offices, Gehry explains that with MPK 21, his office and the client sought to put into place lessons learned from the MPK 20 building. As a result, the new 3.6-acre green roof for MPK 21 spans multiple levels—instead of just one, as is the case for MPK 20—and becomes a central, planted courtyard at the heart of the complex studded with social and work-related spaces. The garden links rooftop, offices, and the neighboring buildings and also features over 200 trees, including over a dozen 40-foot-tall redwood trees, as well as a half-mile-long meandering pathway and an amphitheater.  Within, the complex is organized around a central spine that links open office areas, quiet workstations, dining facilities, and a 2,000-person digital meeting space. The complex contains 15 art installations that were developed in conjunction with an artist-in-residence program. The building also comes studded with environmentally-friendly bells and whistles, including a reclaimed water system designed to save about 17 million gallons annually, 175,000 square feet of fritted windows to protect migrating birds, and a 1.4-megawatt solar panel system that will generate almost 2 million kilowatt hours of electricity yearly. Plans call for completing a two-acre public park and plaza adjacent to the offices within the year with a forthcoming elevated bicycle bridge slated to span across the Bayfront Expressway heading to the site, as well. In conjunction with the project, Facebook says it has contributed $20 million in funding for affordable housing and rental assistance programs to local authorities while it works with regional partners to reopen the Dumbarton Transportation Corridor as a multi-nodal transitway to help alleviate some of the traffic congestion that is likely to occur due to the new offices.

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. 

Fine D(es)i(g)ning

Frank Gehry’s new restaurant, Stir, is set open at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Frank Gehry’s $196 million masterplan for the Philadelphia Museum of Art will reveal its first signs of life this fall with the opening of Stir, the famed cultural institution’s new restaurant and cafeteria that will open to the public in October. Operated by Starr Catering Group and led by Executive Chef Mark Tropea, Stir will offer museum-goers and guests a seasonal and locally-sourced menu inside a very Gehry, contemporary atmosphere. The design centers around a grid-like sculpture shaped out of Douglas fir slats and beams that extends from an undulating ceiling. The walls are also wrapped in Douglas fir panels while red oak covers the restaurant’s floors. Hints of frosted glass, felt, steel, leather, bronze, and onyx are also featured throughout the space, all coming together to create a warm and inviting setting. Gehry Partners will design the tables and chairs that will hold up to 76 people. In addition to Stir, the firm will reimagine a new, full-service cafeteria for the museum that will seat 160 people. The space will extend the entire width of the building and include windows offering views of the East Terrace and its garden as well as the Schuylkill River on the west side. It will have stations for salads, sandwiches, and brick oven pizza. The museum’s North Entrance, which will open at street level in early 2019, will house a new espresso bar in the Vaulted Walkway that will also be accessible to the public. There, visitors can enjoy views of the building’s facades through the skylights above in a space that’s been closed off since the mid-1970s. Gehry’s masterplan is part of the museum’s Core Project, a massive interior renovation of the neoclassical landmark built in 1928 which has long suffered from poor circulation and a lack of clear wayfinding. The redesign will add 67,000 square feet of new public space to the facility and an additional 23,000 square feet of gallery space, while also opening up the heart of the museum. Gehry will introduce a new central space, called the 'Forum', by removing the upper-level auditorium, thus heightening the ceiling and adding glass walls to create sightlines between The Great Stairs Hall and Lenfest Hall, the building’s grand lobbies that were previously completely disconnected.     Construction on the Core Project began early last year and is expected to wrap up in 2020.  Stir will be open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., and will offer brunch on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

Wrecking Ball

Gehry’s Sunset Strip complex all clear to demolish Kurt Meyer-designed bank in L.A.
In Los Angeles—when it comes to preservation battles and development, at least—history tends to repeat itself.  Such was the case last week, as the Gehry Partners-designed 8150 Sunset complex cleared another legal hurdle in the quest to demolish an existing historic building so that the project might move one step closer to construction. The California Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal brought forth by the Los Angeles Conservancy against a recent ruling that would have allowed developers Townscape Partners to demolish the 1960s-era Lytton Savings bank designed by Los Angeles architect Kurt Meyer located on the project site. The bank itself was built following the destruction in 1959 of the storied Gardens of Allah hotel complex, an elaborate collection of villas surrounding the historic Hayvenhurst estate. In its time, the hotel hosted a who’s-who of Hollywood entertainers and literary personalities, including the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the actress Alla Nazimova—after whom the complex was originally named—Greta Garbo, the Marx brothers, Ronald Reagan, and many others. Urban legend has it that the demolition of the Gardens complex inspired the line "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot" in the Joni Mitchell song "Big Yellow Taxi,” though sources—and Mitchell herself—do not quite agree on the matter. At the time of its destruction, the Gardens complex was seen as representative of an outdated style in need of renewal. Nearly 60 years later, Frank Gehry says the existing concrete folded plate structure that replaced the gardens has “outlived its time” as well, and is incompatible with his proposed design, a rumpled collection of twisted, fluted forms set to rise on what is now the city’s Sunset Strip. Gehry has pledged to “recognize” the Lytton structure as part of the redevelopment, though he has not specified what that means. The latest mixed-use project would bring a clump of segmented towers surrounded by broad public spaces and a stepped plaza to the site. Contained within the three squat towers that make up the project would be 229 housing units, including 38 low-income designated homes. The housing element will be joined by 60,000 square feet of commercial spaces, as well.  It is unclear what’s next for the project. A statement from the L.A. Conservancy website states that the latest ruling “effectively ends legal efforts to stop the needless demolition of the historic Lytton Savings building,” however. A statement put out by Friends of Lytton Savings referred to the ruling as “bad news.” Steven Luftman and Keith Nakata of Friends of Lytton Savings said via email, “Demolishing the Lytton building will be a tremendous loss for Los Angeles. The building represents what was good about the ‘Mad Men’ era of architecture in Los Angeles:  Kurt Meyer and Bart Lytton created a soaring space that brought art, sophistication and the vision of a bright future to the people of this city.’’ A development timeline for 8150 Sunset has not been released.

The Devil Wears Gehry

Take a look at revamped Gehry cafeteria at the former Condé Nast headquarters
The first photos have been released of the renovated cafeteria at 4 Times Square, originally designed by Frank Gehry for Condé Nast, and the redesign appears to have thoroughly modernized the space. The 260-seat cafeteria, the Los Angeles-based architect's first project in New York City, was intended to be an exclusive gathering place for Condé Nast employees. Completed in 2000, Gehry’s curves are prominently displayed throughout the room, from the 12-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide billowing glass partitions hung from the ceiling to the twisting grey titanium columns at the edge of the cafeteria. Even the seating reflected the overall design ethos, as rows of orange leather seating undulated alongside the partitions and handrails. With Condé Nast’s exit from the Durst Organization-owned 4 Times Square in 2015, questions swirled over the ultimate fate of the cafeteria. Now, the Durst Organization has announced that the cafeteria will be the centerpiece of a 45,600-square-foot amenity floor accessible to all of the building’s tenants. The entire floor’s renovation was handled by local firm STUDIOS Architecture, and the end result is a total transformation of Gehry’s cafeteria that still keeps the fundamental curves in place. The titanium paneling on the walls and ceiling have been painted white, the floors and accents have been replaced with American white oak planks, and the chrome pendant lights have been stripped out. The bright seating has been reupholstered in hues of beige, and the yellow-topped tables have been replaced with white alternatives. The end result is more IAC Building than Disney Concert Hall, and STUDIOS has definitely succeeded in bringing more light into the space. The redesign marks the launch of the Durst Organization’s Well& amenity brand across all of their properties, with this floor at 4 Times Square as their first location. Accessible from the cafeteria is the new “Garden Room,” a circular bar area that features a 106-foot-long, floor-to-ceiling wraparound green wall designed by Blondie’s Treehouse. The southern side of the floor has been leased to Convene, a flexible meeting and workspace management company. The meeting and event spaces on the Convene side can hold up to 480 people, and the look, handled by their in-house design team, skews towards darker wood paneling and tile flooring. The $35 million renovation of the amenity floor is just one part of Durst’s recent $135 million modernization effort at 4 Times Square, which includes new entrances, elevator cabs, and a full lobby and reception renewal.

Curve-Tech

Gehry Technologies’ accelerator takes architecture start-ups from zero to sixty
Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue.  Trimble-owned Gehry Technologies (GT) launched a three-month design-and-technology-focused accelerator program called ZeroSixty that is geared toward helping a new generation of innovators revolutionize project delivery across the AEC industry. The accelerator program will help start-ups based out of its Marina del Rey, California, offices to “build and scale” their services by connecting new entrepreneurs with “people, networks, and technologies,” according to the company. The effort is aimed at turning back the increasingly common trend among mega-projects of being over budget and behind schedule. ZeroSixty comes three years after software developer Trimble purchased GT in an effort to integrate and disseminate innovations in technology-driven project delivery across its various platforms. GT was originally founded in 2002 by Frank Gehry and his team at Gehry Partners to adapt techniques from the aerospace and automotive industries and apply them to the firm’s most complex building projects. In the years since, the group has worked on a variety of challenging projects across the world for various high-profile architects, including the Beijing National Stadium with Herzog & de Meuron and the Louvre Abu Dhabi with the Ateliers Jean Nouvel. ZeroSixty was founded by German Aparicio and Lucas Reames, both GT veterans, earlier this year and is currently accepting applications for its first cohort of companies. “The idea is to help entrepreneurs scale their products and services by leveraging our past experiences, field expertise, and client base while continuously seeking to innovate,” Aparicio said. The GT team has always been at the forefront of this niche within the AEC industry, including back in the early 2000s when, working on the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, they were among the first to utilize virtual reality visualizations for on-site construction. Now, Trimble and ZeroSixty seek to build upon this legacy by focusing on new AEC-related applications for emerging technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and data analytics. “These technologies offer the opportunity to provide greater insights using a data-driven approach to project delivery and increase the quality and efficiencies of our industry,” Aparicio explained. With ZeroSixty and its no-equity support for emerging practices, Trimble has its eyes firmly set on building the future. Aparicio added, “These technologies promise to create services on the web that can be used on demand to automate everyday tasks so designers, project managers, contractors, and facility operators can focus on the more interesting or important part of their everyday lives.”

Frank's Tots

Frank Gehry donates $1 million to Los Angeles River schools for arts education
Turnaround Arts: California recently announced a $1 million donation from architect Frank Gehry. A leading figure behind the proposed redesign of the Los Angeles River into a mixed-use district with substantial parkland, Gehry will direct his donation towards underserved communities abutting the river just south of Los Angeles. As he said in a statement, "I have been working on the Los Angeles River, and through this work, I have discovered the great need for this program in the districts closest to the river, especially south of the city of Los Angeles." Founded in 2014 by Malissa Shriver and Frank Gehry, Turnaround Arts: California is the state chapter of a larger initiative championed by First Lady Michelle Obama. Coordinated by The Kennedy Center, Turnaround Arts strives to improve academic performance and improve schools through the arts by providing arts education to nearly one hundred underperforming schools in seventeen states and Washington D.C. With Gehry's donation being matched by an anonymous donor, Turnaround Arts: California’s program will be extended to ten more schools in the next five years, with the first of these three participating as of April 16. In total, 17,000 K-8 students in California will now be served by educational programs led by Turnaround Arts. In a statement, Gehry added, "Over the last forty years, I’ve spent time with kids in the classroom using architecture and art to get them engaged, focus their attention, and even introduce mathematics, civics, and other subjects that they might not have otherwise been receptive to."

Bye-Bye-Googie

Historic Kurt Meyer-designed bank to be demolished in favor of Gehry’s 8150 Sunset
A California judge has ruled in favor of Gehry Partners’s proposed 8150 Sunset development in Los Angeles, agreeing with the architects and developers Townscape Partners that preserving the historic Lytton Savings bank would make the project “infeasible." The decision comes nearly a year after a separate judge ruled against the project, arguing that the Googie-style, Kurt Meyer-designed bank was worth preserving. Gehry’s controversial project has faced a litany of complaints from the community since it was first announced in 2015, both from NIMBY-driven and preservation-focused groups. Initially, the project was tarred for being too tall, too dense, and for blocking views of the city from the adjacent Hollywood Hills. Next, preservation groups such as the Los Angeles Conservancy and Friends of Lytton Savings came out against the project for its proposed demolition of the historic bank. Following this initial dust-up, the 1960s-era Googie-style structure was swiftly landmarked, cited for its clean modernist aesthetic and its folded plate concrete roof. After last year’s ruling—precipitated by a suit from the L.A. Conservancy—it was hoped the bank could be saved and incorporated into the 229-unit mixed-use development. That opportunity has now disappeared. The Gehry project, as currently designed, consists of a cluster of five wobbly towers of various heights organized around a series of public outdoor spaces and ground floor retail. The development’s tallest tower is expected to rise up to 15 stories high. Hopes that 8150 Sunset would move toward final approval were dashed with the most recent ruling, however, which all but cleared the project’s forward movement. The ruling issued last week, according to the Los Angeles Times, stipulates that although the Kurt Meyer structure was not reason enough to stop the project, the project’s approval was incorrectly administered nonetheless. At issue is a proposed street vacation that would eliminate a right-turn lane bounding the project in favor of adding pedestrian sidewalk space to the project. Because the development is a private project, the judge ruled, closing off the right turn late equates with vacating a street, a measure that requires strict and separate approval. The court is sending the project back to the city so the lane closure can be properly approved.

Gehry Cluster

With new concert hall, Gehry’s Downtown Los Angeles cultural district takes shape
Frank Gehry has been selected to design a new expansion to the Colburn School performing arts center in Downtown Los Angeles, marking the architect’s third high-profile project in the area following the Disney Concert Hall and the long-forthcoming Grand Avenue mixed-use project. For this latest project, Gehry Partners will add a 200,000-square-foot structure containing three new performance venues, including an 1,100-seat, full-scale, orchestra-caliber concert hall, a 700-seat flexible studio theater for dance and vocal performances, and a 100-seat “cabaret-style” space, according to a press release. Gehry will be joined on the project by Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics—the same acoustician who worked on the Disney Concert Hall—and Michael Ferguson, principal of TheatreDNA, whose former office—Theater Projects—consulted on Gehry’s New World Center in Miami, Florida. The project comes as the second expansion to the Colburn School, following the addition of a 326,000-square-foot facility designed by Pfeiffer Partners Architects in 2007. The school’s original 102,000-square-foot home was designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates in 1998. The Colburn expansion will further boost Grand Avenue’s status as a premiere cultural district in the city, with the project joining the Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Music Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Broad among other cultural venues and institutions In the area. Now that the project team has been announced, the designers will move into the conceptual design phase of the project. A detailed timeline or estimated completion date for the project has not been unveiled.

First Stop

Peek inside a model of Gehry’s extreme model railroad museum
Visitors will start in the Berkshires (North Adams's home) and head towards New York City, London, Tokyo, the Southwest, and the Rocky Mountains. Firms the world over are contributing models to the project. Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum Inc. is leading the design and fabrication of the interior exhibitions, with Jarzyniecki as a consultant, while Gehry is in charge of the exterior. The project will anchor the redevelopment of Western Gateway Heritage State Park, one of nine parks Massachusetts established in the 1980s in its former industrial cities and towns to spur tourism. That park is expected to host two other museums and a distillery. The museum, a for-profit enterprise, is expected to be complete in 2021 at a cost of $65 million. Thomas Krens, the man behind MASS MoCA, brought Gehry Partners onto the project, though Krens and Gehry have a longstanding relationship: the pair worked on the Guggenheim Bilbao when Krens directed the museum's New York location.

Hub on Hudson

Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry may be tapped for second phase of Hudson Yards
Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and Los-Angeles-based Frank Gehry have been chosen to design an undetermined number of residential towers for phase II of Manhattan’s Hudson Yards megaproject, reports the Wall Street Journal. According to “a person familiar with the matter,” the two sometimes-controversial architects were among a crop of designers chosen by the project’s co-developers, Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group. As the first phase of Hudson Yards, development on the eastern half of the 28-acre site, has been racing towards the 2019 finish line, Related and Oxford have begun looking ahead to the project’s residential western portion. Phase one saw the rise of Thomas Heatherwick’s pinecone-shaped Vessel, the eventual completion of four surrounding office buildings, a subway extension on the 7 line, and the High Line-straddling cultural Shed. The second phase will see the rise of 4 million square feet of residential space spread out across seven towers, and another 2 million square feet of office space. The western portion of the site is bounded by the High Line to the west, and is where the elevated park dips to street level. Phase II will likely wrap up by 2024, the projected deadline for the entire project. Handing the reins over to Calatrava and Gehry is an interesting choice by Related and Oxford, as neither architect has realized many residential projects in New York City. While the billowing metal façade of 8 Spruce Street (aka New York by Gehry) is a familiar site on the skyline, Calatrava is most well known in New York for the soaring curves of the Oculus transportation hub. Gehry hasn't shied away from his tepid opinion of the High Line, saying "The High Line is a rusty rail bridge and they put some plants on it." Whatever flair either architect brings to the project will also need to fit within the context of the Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed master plan for the site. AN has reached out to the relevant parties for confirmation and will update this post when more information becomes available.

Tech Invasion

Frank Gehry might design Facebook’s new London headquarters
Since 2017, Facebook has stated its intention to establish a new British headquarters within the ongoing redevelopment of King’s Cross Central in London. The London Times speculates that architect Frank Gehry is currently in talks with the social media giant to fit out two adjoining buildings, currently designated T2 and T3, as well as a stand-alone building on a separate plot. The buildings T2 and T3 are designed by the British firm Bennetts Associates and are slated for completion in early 2019. In total, Facebook looks to add three buildings totaling more than 700,000 square feet to its London footprint. According to the Architects’ Journal, Gehry has designed numerous buildings for Facebook in the past, including its campus in Menlo Park and a ‘fit-out’ of Rathbone Square. The larger development surrounding Facebook's potential new headquarters, King’s Cross Central, is a 67-acre mixed-use redevelopment site encompassing fifty new buildings, 1,900 homes, twenty new streets, and twenty-six acres of public space. British developer Argent is leading the project and the master planners are Allies & Morrison and Porphyrios Associates. The transformation of King’s Cross from decrepit industrial district to emerging tech hub is influenced by its proximity to King’s Cross Station and St. Pancras International. These stations provide unrivaled rail transport access to international, regional and local transport networks. According to the Urban Land Institute, over 63 million passengers will pass through King’s Cross–St. Pancras by 2022, and approximately 45,000 Londoners will directly live or work in the district. Facebook is not the only tech giant shifting personnel to King’s Cross Central. In 2017, Google submitted plans for a nearly one million square foot headquarters in the sprawling redevelopment site. Designed by BIG and Heatherwick Studios, the 11-story building will extend horizontally approximately one thousand feet, a distance roughly on par with the height of London’s tallest building, the Shard.