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Petal Power

Sculptural concrete canopies cool a San Antonio public park
As implied by its name, Confluence Park overlooks the meeting of San Pedro Creek and the San Antonio River in San Antonio, Texas. Located about three miles south of downtown, the park acts as a gateway for the historic Mission Reach section of the San Antonio River. The $13.7 million project includes an education center and extensive landscaping that illustrates the diverse biomes of Texas. But what most visitors will remember about the 3.5-acre park are the nearly 30-foot-tall concrete petals that emerge from the ground to form a sprawling overhead canopy. Twenty-two of these sculptural panels are clustered together to form a single, large, open-air pavilion. Another six are paired together to form three smaller gathering areas. In addition to providing relief from the South Texas sun, these panels are shaped so that when it rains, they channel water into an integrated system of rainwater collection, filtration, and dispersal. All of this reinforces the stated mission of the park, which is to act as a destination for recreation while teaching important lessons about environmental science and sustainability. To that end, the design team sought to create a composition of architectural and landscape elements that used the same kind of logic found in nature. Ball-Nogues Studio, a Los Angeles–based design practice, established the park’s conceptual master plan. From there, the design was developed in close collaboration with the landscape architect Rialto Studio, Lake|Flato Architects, and Matsys, a San Francisco–based design practice that specializes in the development of new approaches to architectural design and fabrication. That particular skill set was critical in the development of the park’s concrete. Given the structural gymnastics involved, the project’s structural engineer, Architectural Engineers Collaborative (AEC), became an integral part of the design team as well. Although petals of steel, fabric, and wood were all considered during the design process, concrete was ultimately selected for its durability and permanence. Even though the majority of funding for the project came from private donations, Confluence Park functions as a public park, and so vandalism and long-term resiliency were key considerations. Despite the apparent complexity of the assembled petals, the design only required three unique petal shapes. These three forms were refined digitally using Grasshopper and Rhino. The resulting computer files were then provided to Kreysler & Associates and fed to their large 5-axis CNC router at their factory in California. The resulting Styrofoam “positives” were then used to manufacture the fiberglass “negatives” that were shipped to San Antonio to be used as formwork for the petals. Each of the park’s 28 petals was cast on-site but not in place. Given their complex geometry, a portion of the petal had to be exposed during the pour. This resulted in two contrasting concrete textures: a smooth finish where the concrete was poured into the fiberglass form, and a broom finish where the concrete was left exposed. As with many other aspects of the project, a custom solution was required here, too. A special eight-inch broom was used to apply the finish consistently to the petal’s curved form and to emulate the flow of water down the petals. After the concrete had cured for several days, the petals were lifted into their final positions. As with any tilt-up concrete structure, this was the moment when the highest stresses would be placed upon the petals. Adding to the complexity of the erection process was the fact that the petals had to be assembled in pairs: neighboring petals were joined to one another with two steel pin connections to form a determinant structure. The result of all this effort is a unique landmark on the south side of San Antonio. Despite the weight of the concrete petals—individual petals weigh between 15 and 20 tons each—the resulting structure feels remarkably light. The space between individual petals contributes to this feeling of weightlessness, while acrylic lenses embedded in the concrete add a bit of playfulness to the overall composition. In addition to illustrating the possibilities of contemporary concrete construction, Confluence Park demonstrates what is possible when a highly collaborative interdisciplinary design team works with an educated client to create something truly unique. It is only fitting that a park built to celebrate the confluence of diverse bodies of water be created by a confluence of diverse design professionals. Pavilion Design Matsys Landscape Architect Rialto Studio Structural Engineer Architectural Eng. Collaborative MEP CNG Engineering, PLLC Lighting Designer Mazzetti Energy Consultants Positive Energy Waterproofing Consultant Acton Partners This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of Texas Architect magazine.
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On To The Next

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

An automated people mover could come to L.A.’s new football stadium
The City of Inglewood in Southern California has announced a plan to add a 1.8-mile automated people mover (APM) connecting the forthcoming Los Angeles Rams stadium and the region’s growing transit network in the near future. A recently-unveiled scoping study called Envision Inglewood calls for establishing a “direct connection to rail” between downtown Inglewood and the city’s impressive slate of professional sports and performance venues.  Facilities that could be connected by the new transit route include: The Forum, the forthcoming Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, and the recently-unveiled Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center, a potential new basketball stadium for the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team. The new $2.66 billion Rams stadium is designed by HKS Architects and will be joined by a 3,000-unit mixed-use residential development next door known as “City of Champions.” The Forum was designed by Charles Luckman Associates in 1966 in the late modern style; The complex is slated to host the gymnastic events for the 2028 Olympic Games. The Envision Inglewood plan was crafted in conjunction with a series of other transportation and pedestrian fixes. The plan considers four different alignments and a handful of transport modes in its aim to provide a “world-class transit connection to-and-from the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line” transit route, an 8.5 mile light rail line connecting the cities of Los Angeles, Inglewood, and El Segundo through southern Los Angeles County slated to open in 2019. According to a presentation made at the Inglewood City Council, the report’s chosen route—dubbed the “Market-Manchester” alignment—would add the APM link starting from the forthcoming Downtown Inglewood stop on the Crenshaw Line. The elevated train would snake down Market Street and Manchester Boulevard, ultimately ending up on South Prairie street where it can conveniently stop at the three stadium and performance venue locations.  Renderings for the proposed plan depict lively street scenes overlooked by elevated train tracks on concrete piers. Projections for the line envision up to 2,578,120 potential boardings across the APM route per year, with slightly less than 40% of all boardings related to “event ridership.” According to the report, the link could cost $614.4 million to build and between $18.2 million and $19.5 million to operate each year.  A timeline for the project’s completion has not been announced. The new football stadium is scheduled to open for the 2019-2020 NFL season. 
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Best of the Best Coast

Design, Bitches and more win 2018 AIA|LA Residential Architecture Awards
The American Institute of Architects Los Angeles chapter (AIA|LA) has announced its 2o18 Residential Architecture Award honorees. The 23 collected projects run the gamut from new, high-end mansions to affordable housing complexes and restored historic homes. With honors for Bestor ArchitectureGriffin Enright Architects, Rios Clementi Hale Studios, Design, Bitches, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, and others, AIA|LA has honored a who’s who of the region’s top design firms. See below for the full list of honorees and check out the AIA|LA website for more information and other awards programs. SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENTIAL (up to 2,500 square feet) Merit Callow Residence, Altadena, CA, Corsini Stark Architects   Citation Saddle Peak Residence, Topanga, CA, Sant Architects Tilt-Shift House, Los Angeles, CA, ANX/Aaron Neubert Architects   SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENTIAL (up to 5,000 square feet) Merit Callow Residence, Altadena, CA, Corsini Stark Architects Birch Residence, Los Angeles, CA, Griffin Enright Architects   Citation Venice House, Venice, CA, Rios Clementi Hale Studios Croft Residence, Los Angeles, CA, AUX Architecture, Brian Wickersham Y Chalet, Faraya, Lebanon, PARALX   Honor Waverley, Palo Alto, CA, Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects Bridge Residence, Los Angeles, CA, Belzberg Architects Brise Soleil, Beverly Hills, CA, Studio William Hefner Barrington Residence, Los Angeles, CA, Eric Rosen Architects   Multifamily Residential (up to 20 units) Citation Bluplex, Culver City, CA, Yu2e   Multifamily Residential (50 units and up) Citation Otis College of Art and Design Campus Expansion, Los Angeles, CA, Ehrlich | Fisher UCSB San Joaquin Housing, Santa Barbara, CA, Kevin Daly Architects UCSB San Joaquin Housing, Santa Barbara, CA, Lorcan O’ Herlihy Architects   Adaptive Reuse | Renovation | Historic Preservation Honor Mayumi, Culver City, CA, ShubinDonaldson Merit Harvey House, Palm Springs, CA, Marmol Radziner (original design: Buff & Hensman) Three Schindlers Redux, Inglewood, CA, Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects Silvertop, Los Angeles, CA, Bestor Architecture (original design: John Lautner)   Citation Garden House, Atwater Village, CA, Design, Bitches The Salkin House, Los Angeles, CA, Bestor Architecture Writer's Block, Arts District, Downtown Los Angeles, CA, CHACOL, Inc.   Affordable Housing  Merit Anchor Place, Long Beach, CA, The Architects Collective
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Such Great Heights

A proposed 1,100-foot tower in L.A. could become the tallest in the west
The Los Angeles skyline continues its upward climb as developers Shenzhen New World Group and Dimarzio | Kato Architecture (DKA) forge ahead with plans for a new 77-story tower that could cement L.A.’s claim as the home of the tallest building west of the Mississippi.  A recently submitted project proposal aims to bring a 1,108-foot-tall mixed-use tower complex to 333 South Figueroa Street, the site of the existing L.A. Grand Hotel Downtown in Downtown Los Angeles. The site is just a few blocks north of the current tallest-in-the-west title holder, the AC Martin-designed Wilshire Grand Hotel. The proposal would convert the existing 13-story, 1980s-era hotel tower into 224 apartments while adding the new 77-floor tower at the northeastern corner of the site. As proposed, the segmented, glass-wrapped tower would contain 599 hotel rooms, 242 condominiums, and 28,705 square feet of commercial space, among other features. The hotel section will be complimented by 36,674 square feet of amenities that include a rooftop swimming pool and a two-level bar that would occupy the uppermost stories of the complex.  Renderings included in a submittal to the Los Angeles Department of City Planning depict a sheer tower that steps back slightly at the top to provide space for a swimming terrace. The tower touches down on the site where a three-story podium containing seven subterranean parking levels and 552 parking stalls is also planned.  If completed as currently designed, the glass and steel tower would become the fourth tower in the city that rises above 1,000 feet in height. It is the second 1,000-foot-plus tower announced in recent months, with the forthcoming Angels Landing development by Handel Architects slated to rise 1,020 feet in height just around the corner. The U.S. Bank tower—designed by Pei, Cobb, Freed & Partners in 1989–rises 1,018 feet. While the Wilshire Grand’s spire rises to a heady 1,100 feet, the building’s roof only hits 993 feet, a fact that has caused some to doubt the tower’s claim to the tallest building title. The 333 Figueroa tower would quell that conversation, however, as the spire-less tower would top-out roughly eight feet above the top of the Wilshire Grand’s spire.  A timeline for 333 Figueroa has not been announced. 
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Office Cultured

A new wave of social and relaxation spaces bridges the gap between work and home
As anyone used to late-night emails knows, the nine-to-five workday is a thing of the past. But while innovative companies have traded cubicles for open, flexible office plans, people are seeking even more elastic social spaces that foster wellness and connection—both in the office and out. Consider them an updated version of the "third space," common areas where people go to unplug, reenergize, and decompress. "When we first got involved in workplace in the '90s, our interest was, ‘How can design contribute to creative communities?’" said architect Clive Wilkinson, whose Los Angeles firm has designed the interiors of the Googleplex campus and offices for other leaders in tech and media. "We were in a prehistoric era when cubicle farms still ruled. We’ve come so far since then," he continued, citing the shift from the afterthought coffee rooms of the 1980s to the "Starbucks workplace" of today’s laptops-and-lattes company cafes. "A large part of the social space in the workplace today is somewhere between a boutique hotel and your home," Wilkinson explained. "Depending on the type of client, it can go more one direction or the other." The aesthetic shift is due in part to the influence of designers like Philippe Starck, whose hospitality designs brought a glamorized domestic environment into public spaces, but it’s also a result of the premium put on today’s knowledge workers, noted Wilkinson, who is writing a history of offices tentatively titled The Theater of Work (Frame Publishers). In one of his firm’s current projects, a new headquarters for Utah bedding-manufacturing company Malouf, an entire building will be designated for nonwork areas, including an Olympic-size swimming pool, barbershop, and spa. It’s not just in the office where people are feeling the change in work culture. "There’s a real flattening now between what is considered work with a capital ‘W’ and all the other side projects that people are interested in," said Richard McConkey, an associate director at Universal Design Studio (UDS). "There's not such a clear division between work, home, life, cultural projects, and hobbies anymore; that's why all these multifunctional spaces are occurring." UDS has developed on a number of projects that blur the lines of live-work-play, including MINI Living, the car brand’s Shanghai entry into the coliving concept of small private spaces surrounding shared semipublic spaces. But the UDS project that perhaps best represents the growing thirst for gathering is London’s Ace Hotel, the lobby of which has been called one of the city’s most popular coworking spots, although it isn’t officially one at all. Ian Schrager’s Public hotel in New York is similar in attracting nonguests to spend their days there, usually with laptop or phone in hand, even during off-business hours. "The classic 'third space' is between work and home,” said architect Melissa Hanley, cofounder, CEO, and principal of San Francisco architecture and interior design firm Blitz. "I think of it as, ‘Where’s the place I naturally gravitate to, because I feel best there?’ That can be a pub or a coffee shop; it could be the decompression or ramping-up zone." To bring that energy back to the workplace, Hanley’s firm has created game rooms and social hubs—it even has a speakeasy in the works for a client. But while the ping-pong tables of the past may have been a distraction, today’s game rooms, cafes, and bars are reflections of a company mission. “Work is happening even in these ancillary spaces. These third spaces we're creating are in support of the company’s bottom line," Hanley said. So what advice would she give to a prospective client? "There's just such an incredible amount of data in support of creating more human-centered spaces in the workplace—the benefits are innumerable." That’s why, from Silicon Valley to Shanghai, there’s a new crop of businesses catering to the need for a retreat somewhere between work and home. Beyond the traditional barbershop, clubhouse, or nail salon, these next-gen spaces tap into the growing wellness trend: Chillhouse, a monthly membership spa in New York, offers massages and manicures in an Instagram-friendly space focused on self-care; Nap York allows visitors to catch a snooze on an Airweave mattress for $10 a half hour. Then there’s Calm City, the roving meditation studio in a renovated RV, founded by Kristin Westbrook. An avid meditator who had trouble finding a private place at her hectic Rockefeller Center office, Westbrook was inspired by the food truck trend to create an oasis of calm for stressed-out New Yorkers located just outside their offices. "I've always wanted a Superman’s phone booth on every corner, a pod that you could go jump in and be transformed," Westbrook said. That break can be a crucial antidote to the stresses of the day. "Human beings are social creatures, and with many of us working longer hours and living alone in large cities, the feelings of loneliness are certainly very real and powerful," wrote Anita Cheung, cofounder of Moment Meditation, a modern mindfulness club in Downtown Vancouver, B.C., in an email to AN. "Membership in a club and a consistent (and manageable) schedule of activities outside of the ‘nine to five’ allow people to develop other facets of their lives beyond who they are at work, as well as instill a greater sense of community." That’s part of the mission of the Battery, a private member’s club in San Francisco that has taken a cue from the social clubs of the past to create a place for connection and conversation—no business or tech talk allowed. "We try to provide a little bit of an escape from your day-to-day operations," said founder Michael Birch, whether it's a moment for a cocktail, a pause between meetings, or just a place for serendipitous conversation. To facilitate that human connection, designer Ken Fulk imagined the interiors as sumptuous settings for the club’s wide range of programming and events—a mix of large, high-energy spaces to be around people, and smaller, more intimate groupings. "I think people are seeking real connection again," Birch said. "People have disappeared a little bit onto the online world. We very much discourage technology use in the club: We don’t allow people to have laptops out after 6 p.m., we don’t allow photos, and we don’t allow people to talk on their telephone other than inside a telephone booth." The relationship between work and life can be even more blurred in spaces that blend the two like never before. Take New York coliving and coworking space The Assemblage, which has two addresses in Manhattan (and a third on the way), as well as The Sanctuary, a retreat center outside Bethel, New York, near the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival. Though workspace is at the core of The Assemblage's offerings, the company encourages members to get out of their offices and connect over communal breakfasts and lunches. It also features "intention altars" and offers wellness programming like meditation, breathwork, and yoga, "all under one roof, so that individuals can experience this fluid living/working and balanced lifestyle," wrote Magdalena Sartori, the company’s chief creative officer. "Erasing that distinction between work and life empowers individuals to create their own schedule and lifestyle," she added. But as we trade the typical greige workplace environment for a more holistic, humanistic approach, are we simply going farther down a work-obsessed rabbit hole from which you can never clock out? When even the workplace pretends to be a third space, one filled with simulacra of the outside world, are we worse off than we were before? Maybe not. If the offices from the Industrial Revolution to the year 2000 were "rehistoric," as Clive Wilkinson put it, how will people look back at the way we work today—with increasing flexibility to break away from our desks—100 years from now? "They’ll think that we woke up, that suddenly this was the beginning of a work age," Wilkinson said of the turn away from military- or factory-inspired workspaces. "We’re almost at the place now where we’ll remain stable for the next 100 or 200 years, because I think humans have finally understood how communities work in a workplace, how they need to support each other and communicate.”
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Newest, Tallest

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

L.A. Metro unveils plans to link San Fernando Valley with Westwood and eventually LAX
The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has unveiled six potential alignments for a forthcoming transit project that could link L.A.’s San Fernando Valley with the city’s Westside neighborhoods and—eventually—with Los Angeles International airport (LAX).  The concepts were unveiled last week and represent the latest efforts to span over the Sepulveda Pass with public transit, an effort that is complicated by the route’s steep terrain, the presence of the Santa Monica Mountains, and the presence of Interstate-405, the busiest and most congested freeway in the United States.  Plans call for building the link in two phases, with an initial segment connecting the Westwood with the southernmost edge of the valley due to be completed by 2026. A southern extension to LAX could be completed by 2057 under the current timetable. For that initial segment, the six proposed alignments are as follows: Concept 1: Planners envision a 10-mile underground subway alignment that would link the future terminus of the regional Purple Line subway with the Orange Line busway in the valley neighborhood of Sherman Oaks, where the line could link with a forthcoming north-south transit route planned for Van Nuys Boulevard. To the south, the new heavy rail transit line (HRT) would also link with the east-west Expo Line that connects Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Concept 2: A second potential HRT line would follow a similar tunneling route but would connect with the Orange Line station on Sepulveda Boulevard instead of Van Nuys. The potential alignment could contain as many as five miles’ worth of aerial alignments constructed to link separately with the forthcoming Van Nuys Line, as well. This route would run a total of 13 miles in length and could connect to the Expo similarly to Concept 1.  Concept 3: This alignment would follow the same path as Concept 1 but would be built using light rail transit (LRT) technology, a cheaper option that would ultimately carry fewer passengers per train at slower speeds than the HRT proposal. The underground route would ultimately run about 10 miles in length. Concept 4: This route would run along the same alignment as Concept 3, but would feature a mile-long aerial spur that would link to the Orange Line. Plans are currently underway to convert the Orange Line from a bus rapid transit route (BRT) to a light rail line, meaning that, with this option, the two routes could potentially share trains in the future, creating the possibility of several different one-seat routes.  Concept 5: Metro is also considering monorail and rubber tire trams for the Sepulveda Pass route, options that would blend below-ground, at-grade, and aerial alignments to cross through the mountain range. Concept 5 would follow the same route as Concept 1 but would result in a transit line that simply linked the two regions without offering the interlining capabilities of Concept 4 or the capacity and speed of Concepts 1 and 2. Concept 6: Concept 6 is proposed as an extension of the Purple Line route, an idea that would thread the primarily east-west line northward into the valley, where it could link with other forthcoming lines or even extend further in their stead. The potential alignment would be the death knell for the “Subway to the Sea” concept originally proposed for the Purple Line that would have extended the line to Santa Monica. That idea has been on the back burner for years as Metro has moved ahead with planned extensions that take the route only as far west as Westwood, where the line simple dead-ends.  Metro will be gauging public opinion on the routes over coming weeks and will announce a consolidated list of route options at a later date. The route is listed as one of the 28 transit projects Metro would like to complete before L.A. hosts the 2028 Olympics, so the timeline for the project will likely be sped up over the coming years. 
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Cabin of Perception

This urban cabin by FreelandBuck for MINI LIVING plays with perception
Los Angeles- and New York City-based FreelandBuck has come together with MINI LIVING to create a visually complex temporary installation for the Los Angeles Design Festival. The eye-catching pavilion was on display over the weekend at the showcase’s headquarters at The Row arts complex in Downtown Los Angeles.  For the installation, FreelandBuck hijacked a pair of compact living modules previously designed by the MINI LIVING team in order to create an inhabitable public space for use during the festivities. The new “experience” space is sandwiched between the spare “urban cabin” accommodations and was designed by FreelandBuck in order to “extend the perceptual boundaries and the contemplative life of a living space through spatial effects and experimental material assemblies,” according to a press release for the project.  In plan, FreelandBuck’s designs are contained within a pair of redundant aluminum stud-framed spaces where one of the two boxes has been rotated in space in order to project beyond the extents of the otherwise rectangular cabin. The second cube is rotated in the opposite direction and created an angled exit within the main volume. The doubled walls mark the entries to the cabin on the outside and frame a doorway within, leaving odd, oblique wedges of space at the meeting points of the two rotated volumes.  The two nested boxes are skinned in translucent polycarbonate panels that have been printed with images depicting a third framed volume that is drawn to appear as if it has been projected through the structure. The graphic produces a disorienting, layered effect through the spaces, with different views of the red and blue cube projected across the interlocking areas. The space is flanked on either side by the MINI LIVING-designed components, which include a living space framed by pivoting pegboard-and mesh-wrapped wall panels and a bedroom area that features a skylight above the sleeping area.  The installation represents the eighth iteration of the pavilion by MINI LIVING and the first scheme that is designed to hold overnight guests.  For more information, see the MINI LIVING website.
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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.
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Size up

Howeler + Yoon and substance are among winners of AIA Small Project Awards
Big ideas start with small changes. This is definitely the case for the 11 outstanding projects that were just honored for their design excellence in small project design as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) just announced its 2018 Small Project Awards winners. The awards are given in three categories: architectural objects or environmental art that cost up to 150,000 in construction (Category 1), small project constructions that cost up to 1,500,000 in construction (Category 2), and projects under 5,000 square feet (Category 3). The theme this year is “Renewal.” Here are a few of the Small Projects award winners: Howeler + Yoon Architecture designed Shadow Play, a hovering canopy formed from triangulated modules. Located in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, Shadow Play is a cluster of shade structures that casts geometric shadows that transform the streetscape and how pedestrians congregate in the public space. The canopy’s design maximizes the shaded area but also allows for apertures that bring breezes underneath, making it an ideal space to sit and relax. substance architecture designed the Principal Riverwalk Pump Station in Iowa, which also received the award. The design includes two objects–a Pump House that responds to the neighboring Café Pavilion with similar materials of black zinc and steel, and a Gate Valve Platform that combines translucent glass atop and a solid concrete base. According to the AIA, “The creation of this facility has literally led to the renewal of Des Moines' Historic District and, in concert with the Café Pavilion, it frames a popular public space along the river.“ Kevin Daly Architects was recognized for a low-cost, low-impact prototype backyard home. The 500 square foot parcel dubbed BI(h)OME has an innovative facade made of a paper honeycomb inside layers of ETFE, making a lightweight but sturdy structure that creates a pleasing aesthetic. The prototype is recyclable and customizable, and aims to serve as a housing option for 500,000 single families in Los Angeles, a city that struggles with a “shelter crisis.” Sawmill, designed by Olson Kundig, is a family retreat standing in the high desert of California. In response to the harsh climate and the remote location, the net-zero home utilizes recycled but durable materials and employs strategies to reduce environmental impact and minimize operating costs. Cutler Anderson Architects’ design of Studio / Bunkhouse blends in with the wooded site in Washington. The 80 square feet compact, multi-purpose toolbox is set at the top of a waterfront bluff and complemented by the jury for the ability to work with limited power-tools within the challenging site. Other winners include Allford Hall Monaghan Morris for The Grand Lake Poolhouse, FXCollaborative for their Chapel at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, and Edward Ogosta Architecture’s design of Rear Window House. For the past 15 years, the AIA Small Project Awards program sets out to promote value and design quality in buildings, no matter their size. The complete list of the awarded projects can be seen in the link.
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Growing Up

With a newfound interest in housing, Bureau Spectacular’s aesthetic-driven practice matures
“We’re kind of new around here,” Joanna Grant, partner at Los Angeles–based Bureau Spectacular explained while taking a coffee break on a desolate sidewalk outside the shabby three-story commercial building that houses the firm’s recently relocated offices. “We got priced out of Downtown,” she said, before motioning toward the structure, which is currently occupied on the ground floor by a security door company that has strung up its various prototypes—drop-down metal doors, accordion style–security grilles—along the brick building’s thickly painted facade. The ecstatic setting is well-suited for the firm, where on the uppermost level, Grant and Bureau Spectacular founder Jimenez Lai helm an already storied practice that is hard at work tinkering away on a collection of new and evocative works that span the full spectrum of practice– “from spoons to cities,” Lai later explained, echoing a famous line by Italian architect Ernesto Rogers. Though the firm has been in existence for nearly 10 years—first as a solo project by Lai and starting in 2016 with Grant as a partner (Grant originally joined the office in 2013)—and has achieved worldwide renown for its eye-catching formalism and genre-shattering typological amalgamations, current projects under development—accessory dwelling units, social housing schemes, private residences—have the potential to reshape the image of the firm wholesale. As the designers pivot from fuzzy worlds, architecturally inspired comic books, and super-scaled installations toward built work, furniture and product lines, and gallery exhibitions, a chief question is on the table: Is Bureau Spectacular growing up? Palm Desert House Joshua Tree, California The office is also working toward several housing experiments, including still-under-wraps social housing schemes and a custom home for a client located in Joshua Tree, California. The radical private home is a love child of Le Corbusier’s “five points of architecture,” Philip Johnson’s Glass house, and the suburban tract home. The project features specifically calibrated window hoods that point the home’s eyes away from an unfriendly neighbor and hints at some of the formal and symbolic forays Bureau Spectacular might soon take in its work. Pool Party Long Island City, New York Building off of Tower of 12 Stories, Bureau Spectacular’s proposal for the 2017 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program envisions a collection of ready-made swimming pools raised above the museum courtyard and filled with circulating water to create a “lightweight framework safe for five thousand drunk people” to enjoy. Designed in collaboration with Matthew Melnyk of Nous Engineering, the pools are orchestrated to shade partygoers via evaporative cooling and are designed to utilize minimal materials for maximum aesthetic result. A metal scaffolding supports the oddly-shaped pools, creating an installation inspired in equal parts by Cedric Price, Kisho Kurokawa, John Hejduk, and Yona Friedman. Tower of 12 Stories Coachella, California Lai, who is “approaching 40” and finds himself caught between the freewheeling days of his cartoon-addled youth and new potential endeavors in social housing, is perhaps most popularly known in the non-architecture world for the firm’s 52-foot-tall, piloti-supported Coachella installation from 2016, A Tower of Twelve Stories. According to Lai, the all-white stack of funny shapes is meant to represent a sectional model through a fictitious apartment building and is inspired in part by the no-space theories of Rem Koolhaas. The steel-supported and plywood-wrapped installation is designed as “a tower without typical plans, but rather specific rooms with specific geometries” and was lit up in a sea of ever-changing colors when installed in the High Desert two years ago. Snuggle Los Angeles “We’re still young architects; we’re just less immature now,” Grant clarifies when the question of Bureau Spectacular’s age comes up. As the practice has matured, however, many of the defining characteristics of its earliest works have remained, including the approach of considering design at the intimate scale of the human body. Grant and Lai have various product lines in the works, including a roughly seven-foot-long body pillow designed by Grant that can be twisted into knots around the body or looped around one’s neck like a scarf. The scarf is currently under production and was recently for sale at the THIS X THAT Pop-Up at MOCA Geffen Contemporary in L.A. Backyard Urbanism Los Angeles A common thread throughout Bureau Spectacular’s work involves imbuing orgiastic fun into everyday typologies, a notion the team applied to a recent Los Angeles County–sponsored ideas competition for accessory dwelling units (ADU) called YES to ADU. Bureau Spectacular received an honorable mention award for the contest with the firm’s Backyard Urbanism project that proposes more or less to collectivize neighborhood backyards with multifunctional ADUs that each perform beneficial neighborhood services like providing shared swimming pools or acting as large-scale receivers for satellite television signals.