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One People

Jamaica unveils winning design for its new Houses of Parliament in Kingston
Jamaica’s new Houses of Parliament will be designed by a team led by local architect Evan Williams of Design Collaborative. The group beat out 23 other teams, including ones with Adjaye Associates and Adrian Smith, in an international competition. "Out of Many One People," the name of the winning proposal, will be constructed in Kingston’s National Heroes Park. The team submitted a circular, monumental design reminiscent of a stadium. It features diagonal bracing on the exterior and includes surrounding landscaped areas for sports and cultural activities. Set within an 11.4-acre piece of parkland, the project is part of a master plan to redevelop downtown Kingston. Jamaica launched the competition last May to find an architect to design the 160,000-square-foot building that will house both the legislative and executive branches of government. Gordon Gill, a partner in Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and a native of Jamaica, served as the competition patron. To enter the race, there was one strict but unique rule: Eligible teams had to be led by a citizen of Jamaica, residing locally or abroad, who is also a registered and licensed Jamaican architect and capable of being the project’s architect of record. The teams also had to contain “at least 50 percent Jamaican citizens or persons of Jamaican heritage.” Twenty-four teams entered, including groups from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Argentina, Turkey, Serbia, Iran, Trinidad, and Guyana. Five finalists were selected last fall, but “Out of Many, One People” won out. The jury called it a “grand and heroic gesture.” The entry was a collaboration between architect of record Evan Williams of Design Collaborative Architects and Town Planners, lead designer Damian Hines of Houston-based firm Hines Architecture + Design, as well as Christopher Bent and Gregory Lake. Their submission was also selected as the People's Choice winner.  The competition organizers, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) hope the government will line up funding in time to begin construction in 2021. Other finalists are listed below. View their submissions here.  Second place: "The Grand Verandah"  Team leader: Ravi Sittol of Atelier-Vidal Ltd. of Jamaica. Team: Atelier-Vidal Ltd./Adjaye Associates, including Vidal Dowding and David Adjaye. Third place: "Ubuntu" (“I am because we are”) Team leader: Damian Edmond of Form Architects in Kingston and Trinidad, West Indies. The team included Edmond and Franz-Joseph Repole. Fourth place: "National Flower" Team leader: Stephen Facey, chairman and CEO of PanJam Investment Ltd. and Jamaica Property Company Ltd. Team: Facey, Hugh Dutton, Laura Facey Cooper, Jenna Blackwood, and Patricia Green. Fifth place: "A National Veranda" Team leader: Guenet Anderson of GSA Architects and Planners in Jamaica. Team: Anderson, Emerson Hamilton, Adam Bridge, Lee Edgecombe, Dwhyte Batson, Cheryl Hamilton, The Edgecombe Group of Hyattsville, Maryland., CTA Consulting Engineers and DCI Architects of Rockville, Maryland, SK&A Group, Moya Design Partner, Hamilton Associates, AMAR Grou, and Alter Urban Architecture of Washington, D. C.
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Designer News

New Armani building by COOKFOX could rise in New York City

Fashion magnate Giorgio Armani’s flagship boutique in Manhattan, designed by Peter Marino Architect and opened in 1996, could be torn down to make way for a 12-story tower containing a new Armani store and 19 luxury condominiums above, including one for Armani himself, if the city approves the demolition.

New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has scheduled a hearing for next week to consider an application to raze the four-story Armani store at 760 Madison Avenue and portions of two apartment buildings next to it at 19 and 21 East 65th Street.

The Armani Group disclosed plans earlier this year to “reimagine” its Madison Avenue property, and now more details about the project are coming out, and getting scrutiny, as a result of recent filings with the preservation commission. They show that the project is far more extensive than a store renovation and would represent a significant change for a tony stretch of Madison Avenue.

The replacement project is a joint venture of The Armani Group and SL Green Realty Corp., the city’s largest commercial property owner. They say it will be “a milestone in Giorgio Armani’s journey into interior design.”

COOKFOX is the architect for the 83,000-square-foot replacement building and Higgins Quasebarth & Partners is the historic preservation consultant. Armani would design the residential interiors.

Armani is the sole occupant of the 23-year-old Armani building, which has a landscaped roof terrace. The first two levels are for women’s clothing and accessories, the third floor is the men’s department and the fourth floor is currently off-limits to shoppers. The symmetrical exterior, with an indentation on the Madison Avenue side, is clad in white stone and features street-level display windows.

Now 84, Armani commands a global empire that includes hotels and upscale housing as well as clothing, accessories, watches, jewelry, eyewear, cosmetics, perfume and furnishings. The one-time window dresser ranks No. 173 on the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires, with a “real time net worth” of $8.8 billion as of March 21, according to the publication.

Through his Armani/Casa Interior Design Studio, launched in 2004, the designer opened the Armani Hotel inside the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai and the Armani Hotel Milano in Italy and created luxury housing in Miami, London, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, and Beijing, among other cities. The Madison Avenue project would be his first residential project in New York City, and he has said he will live there.

 Armani indicated in a statement released by the development team that he doesn’t regret tearing down his own building if it means he can construct an even more ambitious project at the corner of Madison and 65th.

“Madison Avenue is by definition an iconic luxury location,” he said. “In the 1980s, when I opened my first Giorgio Armani boutique in Manhattan, I chose this exclusive and refined area because it was perfect for the timeless elegance and attention to detail I wanted to communicate. Today, thirty years later, I still believe this place reflects my philosophy and my aesthetic vision.”

 As proposed, the replacement tower will have an exterior of limestone and brick, with a series of setbacks and terraces that break up the massing and take advantage of views to nearby Central Park. In all, about 19,000 square feet will be devoted to retail space and about 66,000 square feet will be devoted to residences, and the average size of a residence is 3,516 square feet, according to permits filed with the city.

COOKFOX designed the replacement building to reflect the Armani aesthetic while fitting into the context of Madison Avenue, said principal Rick Cook.

“This special project is an opportunity to design a modern home for the next generation of Armani’s presence on Madison Avenue,” Cook said in a statement. “Our approach is to reinterpret the design sensibility of classic Madison Avenue building, like The Carlton House at 21 East 61st Street and 45 East 66th Street, to create a contemporary and iconic residence and retail building for both the Upper East Side historic district and the Armani brand.”

Marino, 69, founded Peter Marino Architect in 1978 and is well known for his work for arts- and fashion-oriented patrons. One of his early clients was artist Andy Warhol, who hired him to design a renovation of his townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and a home at 860 Broadway for his studio, The Factory.

Marino’s first retail commission was for the owners of Barneys New York, for whom he eventually designed 17 stores in the U. S. and Japan. He has designed stores for Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Chanel, Dior, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and Ermenegildo Zegna, among others.

The structures facing partial demolition were designed by Scott and Prescott and are described in LPC materials as vernacular buildings in the neo-Federal style. One dates from 1928-29 and the other was built in 1881 and altered in 1929. The applicants are seeking to “modify masonry openings, replace infill, and install a canopy at existing buildings.”

If their plan is approved, the developers say, they expect to begin construction in 2020 and open in 2023. The team has not disclosed a construction budget or name for the building.

An Upper East Side citizens group, Community Board 8, voted on February 20 to support the project. The city’s preservation commission has oversight because the three buildings are part of the Upper East Side Historic District, and any changes to building exteriors there must be approved by the panel. Its hearing is scheduled for March 26 in the LPC offices at 1 Centre Street.

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Zumth(ingm)or(e)

Peter Zumthor lightens and shortens LACMA design
Peter Zumthor's office has released new renderings of its new building for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In this latest update, the building's amorphous "canopy" level still sprawls across Wilshire Boulevard, and several pavilions still connect the upper level to the plaza, but now those pavilions are shorter and do not rise above the upper level. The building's material also appears to have been toned down; previous renderings showed striations on the pavilions' exterior, but now all facades seem to be blank concrete. The building's color has come a long way since the building was conceived as a kind of oil slick, referencing the local tar pits. Originally, the building was a sort of black blob, but over the past couple of years, that color seems to have been phased out. The sprawling elevated floor has remained throughout the project's development. The new building will replace an existing William Pereira–designed structure and is scheduled to be finished in 2023.
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Winner Winner

Socrates Sculpture Park announces the winner of annual Folly/Function competition
New York's Socrates Sculpture Park and The Architectural League of New York have announced the winner of their annual Folly/Function competition. This year's winning proposal comes from Brooklyn-based firm School Studio, which has designed a small steel kiosk. Judging from the released rendering, the pavilion will be more functional than those of past years; apparently, it will operate as a sort of information kiosk with branded Socrates Sculpture Park goods. The design imagines a small steel-framed box with enough room inside for a couple of people to sit. The exterior walls are able to slide out from the surface of the kiosk, cantilevering off the structure as signs or banners of sorts. When the walls are retracted and tightly wrapped around the structure, the "mirrored doors of the kiosk" make it so the pavilion "melts into the scenery," according to a press release from the competition organizers. Last year's winner was Ithaca-based firm HANNAH with its suite of 3D-printed concrete furniture. The pavilion will be open for visitors at the Socrates Sculpture Park starting June 17.
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A Modern Move for a Modernist Site

Weiss/Manfredi unveils redesign for the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi
Weiss/Manfredi is bringing an update to the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India. Yesterday, the New York–based firm released initial renderings of its redesign for the 28-acre site along with potential plans to restore the modernist Chancery Building, designed by Edward Durell Stone in 1958. The 61-year-old campus sits in New Delhi’s diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri, a verdant city built in the mid-19th century for wealthy locals and other embassies. Using a long-term masterplan that hinges on security and an extensive, connective landscape, the design team will add new construction to the embassy’s property, including an office building for the ambassador and staff, as well as a support annex featuring space for more offices and a health unit. Five small entry pavilions will also be integrated at the edges of the campus as welcoming points for visitors. Weiss/Manfredi, the award-winning firm led by Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, has worked on the masterplan for the embassy since 2014. In collaboration with the State Department, the practice has come up with a design that both fits the functional needs of the U.S. government and honors India’s architectural heritage. According to the architects, the new construction will complement Indian vernacular architecture with materials that are used both locally and nationally, as well as with design motifs that evoke the ancient traditions of the country. For example, the new office building and support annex will be clad in interwoven pre-cast concrete fins featuring white Makrana marble. This design move serves as a nod to the jali (or perforated) screens used in Indian homes. Other common Indian stones such as Golden Teak sandstone, Kota limestone, and Ambaji white marble will also be used throughout the campus. Due to New Delhi’s hot and variable climate, each piece of architecture will feature some type of shading component or cover. The main office structure, which appears to have a slightly curved stone facade facing the chancery, will be topped with a deep, flat canopy roof. On the edge of the campus will be a giant reflecting pool, providing evaporative cooling for the surrounding structures. Garden walls, open green spaces, and shaded seating will be scattered throughout the public areas, while all functional zones will be connected via a tree-lined promenade that will extend to both sides of the campus. Initial construction on the support annex is expected to begin this spring. In total, the project is set to take seven to eight years to complete and will be built in two phases.
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Fly Local

Luis Vidal and Gensler design new terminal for Pittsburgh International Airport
Spanish firm luis vidal + architects (LVA) has partnered with Gensler and OJB Landscape Architecture to design an addition to the Pittsburgh International Airport in western Pennsylvania. Initial renderings released Wednesday of the $1.1 billion project showcase the new terminal set to open in 2023. According to the architects, the design combines nature, technology, and community (a philosophy branded by the airport as NaTeCo) as a nod to Pittsburgh’s location, its local residents, and their commitment to innovation. The design team studied the city’s landscape to come up with a vision that evokes its iconic rolling hills and the rivers that run through it. The new terminal, built between Concourses C and D, will feature an undulating roof, designed to bring pockets of light into the public spaces below. Warm timber and ample plantings will be used throughout the interior as a nod to the region’s natural surroundings. “The combination of nature, technology, and community form the DNA of the region,” said Luis Vidal, “and that should be reflected in the structure of the building to enhance the experience for all users and leave a memorable impression.” In an interview with the airport’s news service, Blue Sky PIT, Vidal noted his initial trips to the city helped him understand how these physical elements could be integrated to create an adaptable design for the 21st-century that was truly Pittsburgh-centric. “When you look at Pittsburgh, you can see it has a very strong heritage and that it has undergone a huge transformation to embrace a diversification of industries, including medicine, education, technology, and robotics,” he said. “Those elements of nature, technology, and community grabbed me during a number of visits and very quickly, I understood that it was the DNA of the region.” Vidal and Gensler’s concept centers around a new, 51-gate terminal that will include a modern check-in concourse, an expanded TSA checkpoint, as well as indoor and outdoor green plazas and gathering spaces. The design will help improve wayfinding and circulation from the departing and arrival zones, while also decreasing walking distances between those areas. HDR, an engineering consultancy based out of Omaha, Nebraska, will help plan for future technological advancements within the airport and seek room for new automated systems. Gensler’s Principal and Aviation Leader Ty Osbaugh said the first set of renderings are the result of a huge community engagement process, which will continue through the schematic design phase. “We have worked very hard, and will continue working to further refine this concept that draws on the best features of the region,” Osbaugh said. “This concept allows for a more modern, adaptable facility that will truly reflect and belong to Pittsburgh.” This isn’t the first major upgrade the Pittsburgh International Aiport has received. In 1992, a billion-dollar expansion by architect Tasso Katselas Associates received widespread praise, particularly for the addition of the airport’s then-new Airside Terminal. The large space featured an arched ceiling and ample room dedicated to a shopping district known as the Airmall. That design helped simplify aircraft movement and eased pedestrian traffic, later becoming a global model for efficient aviation architecture. The architects hope to build on the Airside Terminal’s legacy by building a modern structure that consolidates the airport’s landside and airside operations into one place. The project, with its sweeping design and light-filled interior, evokes Vidal’s award-winning 2014 design of Terminal 2 at London’s Heathrow Airport.
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School of Cities

DS+R reveals design of “eroded” building at the University of Toronto
Diller Scofidio + Renfro has unveiled the design for a 170,000-square-foot stacked building at the University of Toronto (U of T) to be known as 90 Queen’s Park. Set on the site of a former planetarium, the interdisciplinary structure will serve nine previously-dispersed departments at U of T, but will specifically house the university's newly-established School of Cities, a global hub for urban-focused research, education, and outreach. DS+R was awarded the project after winning a 2016 design competition in which the New York–based firm collaborated with two practices from Toronto, architectsAlliance and ERA Architects. The result of their efforts is a looming, boxy building that appears to shine with a coppery metallic finish. The most important part of the design, according to the architects, is the surrounding context. It’s bordered by Queen’s Park to the east, the Royal Ontario Museum to the north, the 1960s-era Edward Johnson Building to the west (home of U of T’s Faculty of Music), as well as Flavelle House to the south, a Victorian-style structure housing the Faculty of Law.  DS+R’s intervention to the nearly-200-year-old university will be among its most stand-out modern structures when complete. With a rectangular design configured to fit like a puzzle piece around the adjacent Falconer Hall, the school’s original, 118-year-old law building, it's meant to seamlessly connect U of T’s arts, architecture, and legal institutions with one another.  Stilted on one end, 90 Queen’s Park features nine distinct layers. Renderings show each level includes varying facades of ribbed glass with some floors set back and others slightly cantilevered for flare. A large, concaved window overwhelms several middle floors on the south facade of the structure and serves as the backdrop to a 200-seat music recital hall. The architects designed the performance space around the large opening to show off views of southern Toronto’s skyline. At the top of the building is a 400-seat event space featuring floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap the southern and eastern edges of the building, also providing sights of the city. DS+R describes this part of the exterior as eroding from the other sides of the building. To the right of Falconer Hall facing Queen’s Park, the structure boasts 10 strips of opaque glass that are cut off at different lengths. The transparent sections reveal interior corridors, public spaces, as well as the central atrium and spiraling stairs, while the more solid ends conceal classrooms and offices. Charles Renfro, cofounder and principal of DS+R, said in a statement that the building’s dynamic design is aimed to inspire collaborative discourse and public engagement. “This ‘campus within a campus’ is revealed in the building’s dual identity—a smooth cohesive block of faculty offices and workspaces gives way to a variegated expression of individual departments as the building is sculpted around Falconer Hall,” he said. In addition to housing the School of Cities, 90 Queen’s Park will include room for classes within the Faculty of Arts + Science, including history, Near and Middle Eastern civilizations, and the Institute of Islamic Studies, as well as the Anne Tanenbaum Centre of Jewish Studies. Some space will also be dedicated to the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Music, while other gathering areas will be used by the adjacent Royal Ontario Museum. U of T’s School of Cities was created last year to combine the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design with community-based research initiatives dedicated to solving the world’s biggest urban issues. In a press release, Richard Sommer, dean of the department, noted that the building’s outward face is of particular importance. “The edges of the campus and its borders with the city are the places where you engage the community and the vibrancy of the city of Toronto,” he said. “When you have buildings that are at these edges, it’s particularly important that they have programming that produces a platform for public exchange.”  Set to break ground in 2020, the project will also include a large entry plaza to the north that will feature a terraced landscape, as well as a cafe and restaurant.
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Turn Around

Foster + Partners renovates the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach
At the reopening of the renovated Norton Museum of Art earlier this month, Norman Foster revealed his two points of inspiration for the project: an existing banyan fig tree and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's Typewriter Eraser, Scale X sculpture from 1999. Both elements were crucial to the architect’s intuitive redesign and reorientation of the museum’s entrance. The new west-facing forecourt features a 43-foot-high metal canopy with a scalloped cutout that cuts around the towering tree. Within the shaded hollow the overhang creates, an embedded reflecting pool surrounds the massive sculpture. This careful approach carries through the entire project. Rather than create another statement-piece museum where the architecture steals the show, Foster + Partners opted for a contextual approach that spotlights the Norton's vast collection. Adding over 12,000 square feet to the original 1941 Art Deco building, the firm introduced a 210-seat auditorium, the museum’s first restaurant, and additional gallery spaces. Major extensions include the new 3,600-square-foot, double-height Ruth and Carl Shapiro Great Hall, featuring a unique concave skylight. The 150-foot-long, glass-walled Ira and Nicki Harris Family Gallery extends from the former south-facing entrance. This addition flanks a covered promenade and a new sculpture garden. Occupying what was originally the Norton Museum of Art’s main 20,000-square-foot parking lot, the green space is Foster’s first ever public landscape project. The sculpture garden divides into two curated "rooms." Native plant species were spread throughout to highlight the museum’s subtropical surroundings. Foster + Partners' renovation blends new and old components with a minimalistic, all white, stone facade. The firm also restored the museum’s existing galleries and six historic artist residence homes, located nearby. The redesign champions historic architectural detailing while also introducing large light-filled voids. The overall reprogramming of the space mirrors the Norton Museum of Art’s curatorial vision; some of the museum's key historical collections are dispersed between temporary shows. The museum places emphasis on exhibiting female, African-American, and living artists. The Norton Museum of Art officially reopened on February 9. This unveiling is only the first milestone in a 20-year masterplan that Foster + Partners has conceived for the museum.
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A Radical Move

REX reveals Brown University’s new adaptable Performing Arts Center
REX has released renderings of Brown University’s new Performing Arts Center (PAC), a 94,500-square-foot boxy building designed with a “radical vision” for the school that features a transformative interior production space. The massive institutional project, located in Providence, Rhode Island, is slated to open in spring of 2022. Joshua Prince-Ramus, principal and founder of REX, said the structure’s design is “extremely precise” in how it fits the needs of Brown students and faculty. His team created the main hall to physically adapt to several different types of performances that the students may put on. “It is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ auditorium, mediocre to all and excellent for none,” Prince-Ramus said in a statement. “It is literally five very specific, high-performance configurations in one.” What he’s referring to is the venue’s ability to be rearranged into a number of stage and audience setups, from a 625-seat symphony orchestra hall to a 250-seat proscenium theater to a surround-sound cube for experimental media performances. Using both automated and manually assisted performance equipment, the shoebox-shaped hall can change its flexible interior layout and acoustical design to complement the goals of a specific show. The concept echoes the flexible interior of the Wyly Theatre, one of REX's earliest projects. From the outside, the PAC loosely resembles REX’s design for the World Trade Center’s upcoming cultural space, the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center. Also a looming, solid structure, it commands attention and conceals its insides. Unlike the New York project's translucent marble facade, the Brown building features a seemingly-shrink-wrapped, extruded aluminum rain screen with a fluted shape. The metallic exterior is sure to stand out among the slew of historic buildings on Brown’s urban campus. Apart from the cladding, one thing, in particular, is majorly distinctive about the design: The PAC features a 13-foot horizontal “clearstory” window that slices through the building and cantilevers out over the exterior public space. This transparent cutout allows passersby to see directly into the main performance hall as well as the building’s lobby. REX integrated the glazed portion, which opens the structure up to Angell Street, the main thoroughfare in Providence, to spark curiosity and encourage both the public and Brown students to engage with the university’s arts scene. From the inside, visitors can enjoy expansive views of The Walk, a series of green spaces running north to south on campus. The new PAC's suite of modern studios dedicated to dance, music, and theater rehearsals, and intimate performance spaces for smaller gatherings will all be easily accessible from this pedestrian route. The PAC project was birthed out of the Brown Arts Initiative, introduced in 2017 as a way to elevate the university as an incubator for both traditional and experimental art and media. The PAC itself is the physical manifestation of that goal and a new arts typology in architecture, according to REX. With “radical spatial, acoustic, and technical flexibility,” it showcases within the design just how forward-thinking the arts at Brown can be.
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Fly Me to the Moon

New York’s TWA Hotel features Amish millwork and midcentury touches
Anticipation is high for the TWA Hotel. Opening on May 15, the new hotel has transformed Eero Saarinen’s 1962 TWA Flight Center into a new lodging option for travelers passing through New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport. While there are a few unconventional airport hotels already out there, such as Stockholm’s 747-housed Jumbo Stay hostel, few are as all-encompassing as the TWA Hotel. Fully connected to the transportation hub's facilities, the project will feature a slew of quirky details and period-sensitive design elements. The former terminal’s neo-futuristic architecture will be accentuated by key space-age and midcentury modern furnishings. Ahead of its opening this May, the multifaceted project has been in the news a lot. While it was revealed late last year that one of the historic airline’s decommissioned Lockheed Constellation jetliners would become a cocktail lounge, it was recently announced that early reservations for the hotel’s 512 rooms would open tomorrow, February 14. Another overlooked but equally-important news item is the project’s use of custom-built millwork. Despite lower bids from international vendors, MCR/MORSE Development—the hotel's major owner and operator—opted for locally sourced and milled walnut for the guest room martini-bars, tambour wallcoverings, and other finishings. The developer turned to Highland Wood Products and Hilltop Woodworking, two Ohio-based Amish companies, for their expertise. Using twenty 18-wheelers’ worth of locally sourced walnut, 200 craftspeople produced over 40,000 square-feet of tambour wood. The skilled workforce employed age-old, analog techniques like steaming, suspending, sanding, staining, and sealing to ensure the material’s longevity. Channeling the same attention they often give to highly-intricate furniture, the craftspeople fitted out compartmentalized martini bars. Combined with brushed brass trim, mirrored glass, and backlighting, these pieces achieve a glamorous yet restrained look in perfect keeping with the project's overall interior scheme.
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Ground Has Finally Broken

Gehry celebrates ground breaking for The Grand in L.A. with new renderings
After over a decade in development, Gehry Partners’ twin-towered The Grand development in Downtown Los Angeles has finally broken ground. The sizable mixed-use complex is to be located directly across the street from Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed Broad contemporary art museum complex. The project is widely seen as the capstone for the Grand Avenue Redevelopment initiative that has sought to revitalize and complete the city’s main downtown cultural corridor. The project, the result of a public-private partnership created by the Los Angeles Grand Avenue Authority and a joint powers authority made up of the County of Los Angeles, the City of Los Angeles, and the now-defunct Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles, is being developed by Related Companies and CORE USA; AECOM is acting as the architect of record for the project. The signature development is made up of two staggered buildings linked by a central courtyard filled with public art. Commercial areas wrap the courtyard while also connecting to the sidewalk. The complex is designed with most of the retail facing Disney Concert Hall, which Gehry hopes can continue to be used for artistic projections, as occurred in 2018 when artist Refik Anadol turned the concert hall into a canvas for digital, machine learning–derived projections. In a video unveiled as part of the groundbreaking, Gehry said, “it’s been exciting to build something so close to something I built before and to be able to have them talk to each other.” The Grand complex is designed with broken facades that change material and cant this way and that as the various building masses rise to the sky. The upper levels of the towers will contain upwards of 400 residential units, 20 percent of which are going to be set aside for low-income residents. According to the architect, the design is meant to relate to the surrounding structures while also dematerializing the buildings to blend in with the surrounding high-rises. Metallic cladding wraps certain portions of the towers in an attempt to match the concert hall’s stainless steel cladding while expanses of glass fill out other volumes. In a press release, Gehry said, “With The Grand, we’re not just building buildings, we’re building places,” adding, “We are trying to make a place for people not only to live, but also to gather after concerts or performances, and my hope is that it will spawn other growth in the neighborhood.”
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Redwood Rising

70-story tower inspired by California redwoods slated for Downtown Los Angeles
A new mixed-use tower slated for a growing section of Downtown Los Angeles designed by Australian firm Koichi Takada Architects could rise as high as 70 stories, new renderings reveal. Urbanize.LA reported that Australian developer Crown Group had previously submitted plans for a 52-story tower with 528 residential units and ground-floor commercial spaces for the site. The taller iteration of the project was first reported by ComercialRealEstate.com, but it is unclear how many housing units will be included in the revised scheme. New renderings for the so-called Sky Trees LA project showcase a grouping of thin, rounded towers of various heights capped by arched profiles and tree-lined rooftop terraces. Inspired by California’s redwood trees, the clustered towers will come wrapped in natural materials, including timber mullions. Along the street, a wavy wooden awning that is reportedly inspired by the billowing forms of Marilyn Monroe’s wind-swept dress in Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch will provide shade for pedestrians. (Nevermind that the iconic scene took place above a subway vent on Lexington Avenue in New York City.) Architect Koichi Takada told ComercialRealEstate.com that the design of the canopy aims “to challenge L.A. to become a more walkable city” while also creating yet another “Instagram moment” for Downtown Los Angeles. The project is one of many planned and under construction in L.A.’s South Park neighborhood, an area where until recently, only the 32-story William L. Pereira–designed Occidental Life building from 1968 towered above surrounding warehouses and commercial buildings. That has changed rapidly over the last three years as nearly two dozen towers have been proposed or completed along the north-south Figueroa Corridor nearby. That includes the troubled Oceanwide Plaza project by CallisonRTKL that recently halted construction due to murky finances and potential links to an ongoing political corruption scandal. The Sky Trees LA project will join a growing east-west spine of towers set to rise perpendicularly to the Figueroa Corridor around 11th Street. A timeline for the project has not been announced.