With the passage of a new sustainability ordinance on Earth Day (April 22) Los Angeles joined the small list of cities in the United States that require green building in private development.
The ordinance would require all buildings at or over 50,000 square feet or 50 units, or residential buildings over 6 stories tall, to attain the equivalent of LEED-Certified standards under the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
The City chose the 50,000 square foot threshold, said Claire Bowin, project manager for the LA City Planning Department, to help encourage more applications. She said the city should receive about 200 projects per year under the ordinance, and that every seventh project in the program would be audited to insure compliance. “We feel like we built a lot of flexibility into the ordinance and we really didn’t strive for more stringent standards because we wanted to get out of the gate,” she said.
The measure, whose first major milestone was its passage through the City Council’s Energy and Environment and Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committees last February, was initiated last year, when City Planning director Gail Goldberg, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made the development of a private green building program for the City a priority in a July 2007 decree.
While the ordinance does not require buildings to go through LEED certification, a sometimes costly enterprise, the USGBC’s LEED program was used for several reasons. “LEED is an outstanding program that consistently evolves, it is run by a non-profit organization, it is a national standard, and the City already adopted it to regulate its own building activity,” Bowin explained.
Dr. Lance Williams, executive director of the LA Chapter of the USGBC, said, “For a city this size, this is certainly a very progressive step.” He also noted that LA has emerged as a leader in green building, citing that his organization voted the LA Chapter number one in the nation for advocacy and training of LEED-Accredited Professionals (LEED-APs).
Local jurisdictions with existing green building ordinances for private development throughout the country include Santa Monica and West Hollywood, and San Mateo County, California; Boulder, Colorado; Chicago, and Boston. Los Angeles County is also in the process of adopting its own green building ordinances. These ordinances, including one for green building, one for drought tolerant landscaping, and one for Low Impact Development, are expected to begin the public review and approval process this summer. Currently in Los Angeles County all new County buildings or projects that receive County funding over 10,000 square feet must attain LEED Silver or comparable standards. And in the City of Los Angeles, government buildings over 7,500 square feet must attain LEED-certified standards.
With this new ordinance, projects that voluntarily achieve a LEED Silver or higher rating will be expedited through the City’s often-onerous permitting process. The law also establishes criteria for the City to certify staff members as LEED-AP. In order to track the progress of the program, the ordinance will create the Green Building Team, a group of elected officials and city staff that are experts in the development process including planners, architects, engineers, and safety personnel, which will be charged with encouraging innovation, removing the obstacles to green building, and to facilitate the city’s green building objectives. The team will offer annual reports to the City Council on the progress of the program as well as recommendations for its amendment in the future.
Search results for "hollywood"
With the passage of a new sustainability ordinance on Earth Day (April 22) Los Angeles joined the small list of cities in the United States that require green building in private development.
SWEETGREEN, WASHINGTON, D.C., CORE
Reuse was the motto in designing Sweetgreen, a grab-and-go yogurt and salad bar near Georgetown University. The owners procured a 500-square-foot burger franchise whose exteriors were inspired by Tudor cottages. CORE changed little on the outside except to turn the red roof green. On the interior, reclaimed hickory planks run from the door to the floor, walls, and ceiling; a custom stainless steel serving counter focuses attention on the nutritious offerings; and brightly-lit menu boards reinforce the fast-food motif.
Dutch artist Menno Schmitz designed Merkato 55, the latest Meatpacking District food palace, with the same panache he brought to his silk screens of famous American jazz musicians and not-so-famous Dutch rock bands. Here, Schmitz recasts African art and design in a contemporary American restaurant. From the massive silk-screened portraits of Africa’s many nations to the beaded chandeliers, the space has an unmistakable African character that artfully avoids pastiche.
Company is AvroKO’s second foray in Las Vegas. Located in the Luxor Hotel, the space is the result of creative thinking after the client asked for a lodge-look. Literal not being AvroKO’s style, they deconstructed various big-country motifs—think toboggan blades and wooden skis—and stacked them to create screens between the main dining area and a floor-to-ceiling wine wall. Over-scaled light wheels made of iron brackets and translucent fabric update the notion of saloon chandeliers, and a grid of aspen trunks greets guests at the entrance.
Located in the Palmer House Hilton, Lockwood is hard by Millennium Park, making it a good watering hole for architecturally inclined visitors. An island bar unites the historic lobby and contemporary restaurant, while square amber shades enclose original Tiffany chandeliers. “We wanted to create a hybrid, to be complementary without trying to replicate,” said Jennifer Johanson, principal of EDG. “We think Bertha Palmer [who first helped plan the interior] would have wanted to be on the leading edge.”
NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY
RISCALA AGNESE DESIGN GROUP
A CNC-milled honeycomb forms the backdrop for this wine bar at New Brunswick’s Heldrich Hotel, its palette crafted to show off the beverage of honor. “For any material we chose, we tried to superimpose a glass of wine next to it to see if it would look good,” said principal Fadi Riscala. The bar itself, made of white quartz slabs from Kentucky-based supplier Rover, harmonizes with white-glass-tiled columns. Custom-designed chairs offer privacy without blocking views—of the wine rack, of course.
Bolts of crimson and cobalt lure patrons to this locale in a suburban mall: A red ceiling band and floors to match pull visitors toward a lacquer-red-tiled fireplace. Taking a detail from Skylab’s Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, sixty thousand linear feet of horizontal fir line the walls. In the restaurant, a backlit ceiling features pyramidal forms borrowed from Japanese screens, a motif with a witty twist in the stunning “blue room” and its wall of tiled sushi plates.
DALE DERRY PHOTOGRAPHY
COLAB ARCHITECTURE + URBAN DESIGN
Evoking the fall harvest season, this wine bar makes use of American white oak, stained concrete, leather, and copper in a tonal and textural homage to vintners, growers, and distillers. The sculptural, double-sided bar creates a social nexus with flexible seating options, defined by varied ceiling heights and color-coded nooks. The compact design also neatly meets the client’s request that the restaurant be operated by as few as two people—one in the kitchen and one tending bar.
MARTIN HEID DESIGN/BUILD
It is fitting that a slow food–as–fast food restaurant in the Mission District would find a former KFC for its home. Not only did KFC popularize the spoon-fork hybrid for which the restaurant is named, but Spork’s owners aim to reclaim hamburgers and fried chicken as wholesome food. Designer Eric Heid recycled many original KFC features for this “utilitarian diner.” The fryers’ stainless steel hood has been bolted to the ceiling as lighting, and the re-upholstered plywood booths are crisper versions of their predecessors.
JOHN FRIEDMAN ALICE KIMM ARCHITECTS
Located in a storefront space in Hollywood, Lucky Devils presents a quintessential LA vibe, right down to the wallpaper showing a time-lapse night-shot image of Highway 101. The 2,000-square-foot space presents a clean, well-lit room with banquettes and plastic chairs from the Italian manufacturer Kartell. The ceiling is more animated, with dropped white panels for subliminal way-finding. Regulation track lighting bounces off crumpled, red paper to toss “flames” that reinforce the restaurant’s inferno-based name.
OFFICE FOR DESIGN O4D
Housed in an old Pontiac dealer-ship, this 8,000-square-foot Gulf Coast seafood restaurant combined an existing building’s industrial vocabulary with polished accents. The architects then structured their palette around oysters: rough on the outside, shimmering on the inside. The exposed kitchen opens onto an expansive dining room of patched concrete floors and pearlescent tabletops lit by capiz shell chandeliers. Shades of sea green and a wavy plaster wall above the banquette complete the aquatic ambience.
OUR LADY OF THE TERRAZZO
Since our co-workers no longer find it amusing when, on answering the phone, we yell out, “Hey M____, someone from Emperor’s Club V.I.P on line 3 for you!” we’ve had to look elsewhere for entertainment. We were flipping through the Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair the other day and came across Ingrid Sischy’s piece on the Palazzo Chupi, Julian Schnabel’s ulcer-pink stuccoed Venetianoid building in the West Village. Seeing as the remaining units range from $27 to $32 million, the spread is as close as we will ever get to checking out the details inside, so we took a look. It is charming, in its way, though it looks about as Venetian as Alec Guiness looked Saudi in Lawrence of Arabia. But great eyeliner! Anyway, tastes more refined than ours also took a look: Johnny Depp, Martha Stewart, and Madonna have all wandered through. The latter, however, liked the building more than the view: According to Sischy, Madonna looked out at Richard Meier’s Perry Street tower across the way and declared that compared to Chupi, it looked like a housing project. Meow!
PLEASE TRANSFER FUNDS IMMEDIATELY…
As luck would have it, the very next day we found a possible solution to our Chupi-less living situation, right there in our inbox! “HELLO DEAR,” the note began warmly, “I HAVE A CONTRACT FOR YOU.” It continued on: “I WAS GIVEN CONTRACT TO DESIGN AND BUILD A STATE UNIVERSITY, FOR THE STATE, I GOT YOUR EMAIL FROM ARCHITECTURAL WEBSITE.” We calculated that our cut of cut of this $40,000,000 project in Nigeria is 40 percent, which gets us halfway to a duplex! Problem is, we are a gossip columnist, not an architect, and so just as Mr. Chris Chinedu of Current Technologies needs our help with a little bank transfer (and design skills, natch), we need yours, dear readers! We’ll cut you in at half—just send along your contact and banking information, and your social security number, and we’re in business!
SEND GOSSIP AND BANK ACCOUNT INFORMATION TO EAVESDROP@ARCHPAPER.COM
Michaels Residence, Tolkin Architecture, Winters-Schram Associates
One Window House, Touraine Richmond Architects, Brown Osvaldsson Builders
BENNY CHAN / FOTOWORKS
“Brown Osvaldsson Builders really listen to what we are trying to do. They understand it, and come in with solutions and original ways to deal with problems.They are really respectful of the design and try to match the architectural expectations.”
Touraine Richmond ARchitects
“Robert Vairo of Vairo Construction is like a saint. On Skid Row, he’s seen like an angel.”
JFR House, Fougeron Architecture, Thomas George Construction
1155 Third St., Oakland, CA;
1402 W. Fern Dr.,
Brown Osvaldsson Builders
1333 Pine St.,
Santa Monica, CA;
1523 Linda Ct.,
Simi Valley, CA;
468 North Rosemead Blvd.,
4177 Yale Ave.,
La Mesa, CA ;
1060 Capp St.,
9814 Norwalk Blvd.,
Santa Fe Springs, CA;
20401 S. W. Birch St.,
Newport Beach, CA;
Roman Janczak Construction
942 South Harlan Ave.,
Shaw & Sons Construction
829 W. 17th St.,
Costa Mesa, CA;
Thomas George Construction
8716 Carmel Valley Rd.,
1913 Balboa Blvd.,
Newport Beach, CA;
11777 Miss Ave.,
Young & Burton
345 Hartz Ave.,
Cancer Center at UMC North, CO ARchitects, John A. Martin
Lou Ruvo Alzheimer’s Institute, Gehry Partners, WSP Cantor Seinuk
“Gilsanz Murray Steficek are really flexible, and react quickly. We called them the day before yesterday about a project detail and they were able to turn it around in a day. It’s a small detail, but with other firms it could take much longer.”
“IBE are mechanical engineers who have the same sort of sensibilities as architects. They’re very concerned about sustainability and look at engineering from a global perspective; problem-solving at a large-scale level. And they’re very interested in exploring new ideas.”
“With principal Mike Ishler, you can really have a collaborative design experience. If you want to push your design technologically and structurally, he’s your guy.”
Barbara Bestor Architecture
12777 West Jefferson Blvd.,
9601 Jefferson Blvd.,
Culver City, CA;
WSP Cantor Seinuk
5301 Beethoven St.,
Davidovich & Associates
6059 Bristol Pkwy.,
Culver City, CA;
DeSimone Consulting Engineers
160 Sansome St.,
2404 Wilshire Blvd.,
405 Howard St.,
(Gilsanz Murray Steficek)
29 West 27th St.,
New York, NY;
14130 Riverside Dr.,
Sherman Oaks, CA;
John Labib & Associates
900 Wilshire Blvd.,
John A. Martin
950 South Grand Ave.,
Gordon L. Polon
6151 W. Century Blvd.,
Christian T. Williamson Engineers
3400 Airport Ave.,
Santa Monica, CA;
Yu Strandberg Engineering
155 Filbert St.,
19 Perseverance Works,
38 Kingsland Rd.,
+44 (0) 20 7749 5950
Two Penn Plaza, New York;
222 E. Huntington Dr.,
145 Hudson St., New York;
528 21st Pl.,
Santa Monica, CA;
BENNY CHAN / FOTOWORKS
"Plug Lighting has a great selection, a high level of professionalism, and they have lights that work with our work. That’s important to me because it’s very difficult to find good lighting.”
2027 Oakdale Ave.,
Fox and Fox
134 Main St.,
Seal Beach, CA;
Horton Lees Brogden
8580 Washington Blvd.,
Culver City, CA;
10351 Santa Monica Blvd.,
1213 South Ogden Dr.,
84 Sherman St.,
Lighting Design Alliance
1234 East Burnett St.,
Signal Hill, CA;
1510 N. Las Palmas Ave.,
City Lights Showroom
1585 Folsom St.,
8017 Melrose Ave.,
1177 San Pablo Ave.,
Felkner Residence, Jennifer Luce, Bendheim Glass
“JU Construction did fantastically good work. They’ll try anything.” “The intimate success of our projects is this idea that there’s a balance between material and texture. The fact that we can have that conversation with Basil Studio and play with that balance together makes the collaboration really strong.”
Luce et Studio
“Deglas’s Heatstop is amazing. It’s twice the R value of insulated glass at half the cost. And it comes in 24-foot-long sheets that you can cut on site.”
Whitney Sander Sander Architects
“Benchmark Scenery have a lot of expertise in making very complicated things very quickly.”
Zellner + Architects
Hyde Park Library Hodgetts + Fung JU Construction
“JU Construction did fantastically good work. They’ll try anything.”
Hodgetts & Fung
3675 Alameda Ave.,
850 West Washington Blvd.,
12211 Garvey Ave.,
El Monte, CA;
500 East Louise Ave.,
1661 20th St.,
800 Park Dr.,
1805 Newton Ave.,
San Diego, CA;
3420 Helen St.,
2300 South West,
Salt Lake City, Utah;
11733 Sherman Way,
200 Bridge St.,
5835 Adams Blvd.,
Culver City, CA;
265 Meridian Ave.,
San Jose, CA;
Daltile Ceramic Tile
Flor Carpet and Tile
1343 4th St.,
Santa Monica, CA;
1021 E. Lacy Ave.,
9500 A Jefferson Blvd.,
Culver City, CA;
23894 3rd Ave.,
1757 Standard Ave.,
3403 Hancock St.,
San Diego, CA;
1442 Chico Ave.,
South El Monte, CA;
Kitchen and Bath
K2, Norbert Wangen for Boffi
1344 4th St.,
Santa Monica, CA;
153 South Robertson Blvd.
California Kitchens Showroom
2305 W. Alameda Ave.,
Jack London Kitchen
and Bath Gallery
2500 Embarcadero St.,
16760 Stagg St.,
Van Nuys, CA;
Duravit bathroom furniture and accessories
Gaggeneau kitchen appliances
Grohe bathroom and kitchen fittings
Kohler bathroom furniture
16760 Stagg St.,
Van Nuys, CA;
Lengau Lodge, Dry Design UNDINE PROHL
Bestor House, Barbar Bestor Architects, SB Garden Design
“Stephanie Bartron’s background is sculpture, and I think she brings a more artistic perspective and architectural edge to landscapes.”
Barbara Bestor Architecture
307 South Cedros Ave.,
Solana Beach, CA;
700 Harris St.,
5727 Venice Blvd.,
2340 W. Third St.,
844 East Green St.,
Mia Lehrer + Associates
3780 Wilshire Blvd.,
Power & Associates
1660 Stanford St.,
Santa Monica, CA;
Pamela Burton & Company
1430 Olympic Blvd.,
Santa Monica, CA;
2122 Hancock St.,
San Diego, CA;
SB Garden Design
2801 Clearwater St.,
Consultants, Services & Suppliers
Mills Center for the Arts, Competition Entry, Pugh + Scarpa, Mike Amaya
“Mike Amaya listens to you. He’s not fixated on a certain way of doing things. Hisrenderings have life, but they don’t try to duplicate what reality would be. We’re more interested in capturing the spirit of the place.”
Pugh + Scarpa Architects
11 North Main St.,
South Norwalk, CT;
301 Arizona Ave.,
Santa Monica, CA;
725 S. Figueroa St.,
1549 Columbia Dr.,
44 Montgomery St.,
633 West Fifth St.,
Los Angeles, CA;
SC Consulting Group
6 Morgan St., Irvine, CA;
Window & Door
Fleetwood Windows & Doors
395 Smitty Way,
1434 Sixth St.,
Santa Monica, CA;
Metal Window Corporation
501 South Isis Ave.,
4020 Sepulveda Blvd.,
Culver City, CA;
2525 Marin St.,
Cut and Dried Hardwood
241 S. Cedros Ave.,
Solana Beach, CA;
2934 Riverside Dr.,
On November 8 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its selection of Paris-based Christian de Portzamparc to design its new movie museum in Hollywood.
The museum, described by the academy as “a place for watching and learning about film and filmmaking, for exploring film’s relationship with the greater world, and for listening to stories told by filmmakers,” will be located just north of its existing Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, south of Sunset Boulevard. Designs have not yet been developed, but Bruce Davis, the academy’s executive director, said that the museum will sit on an 8-acre campus that will likely be divided among different buildings.
Davis said the academy, which hosts the Academy Awards and has a membership of about 6,500 filmmakers, began thinking about the museum five years ago, and that it began the search for a new architect two years ago. The academy’s original list of candidates included 154 architects, a number they whittled down to 32, and then to five finalists.
While some Los Angeles architects have grumbled that a local architect should have won the commission, Davis said the choice came down to a combination of aesthetics, practicality, and Portzamparc’s alluring intangibles. “We certainly had no prejudice against local people,” he said. “He seduced those of us who went to Paris and then he came here and re-seduced the committee. You can tell you’re dealing with a visionary, a sort of poet of architecture. He has a very unusual and artistic approach to his craft.”
Portzamparc, 1994 winner of the Pritzker Prize, is best known for his design of the French Embassy in Berlin (2003), his LVMH Tower in New York (1999), and his Cité de la Musique in Paris (1995).
The academy, which plans to raise $300 million to build the museum, is in final negotiations to secure the last parcel of land it needs for the site.
Davis said that he hopes to have renderings of the new museum by this summer. For now, he says, the museum will not focus on artifacts, but on how movies are made and the impact of cinema. It has named Maryland-based Gallagher & Associates to design the museum’s exhibition spaces.
No matter where you were in Los Angeles on the night of October 18, it was difficult to miss the opening of the Nokia Theatre. Not only did the building glow brighter than every other building in downtown, but dozens of lights spun deliriously into the sky, putting any klieg-lit premiere in Hollywood to shame. The sleek building is the first completed building at L.A. Live, the massive residential and entertainment corridor taking shape in the blocks adjacent to the Staples Center, in the South Park neighborhood.
When completed in 2010, the 4-million-square-foot L.A. Live will also include the 2,400-seat Club Nokia venue, corporate office space for Herbalife, studios for ESPN, a Grammy museum, and a flurry of dining and entertainment tenants. A 54-story tower designed by Gensler will serve as the anchor hotel for the convention center, including residential units, a 123-room Ritz-Carlton and an 878-room J. W. Marriott. AEG, the sports and entertainment corporation that also owns Staples Center, is serving as developer for the project, which is estimated at $2.5 billion. Berkeley-based ELS Architecture designed the 260,000-square-foot, 7,100-seat Nokia Theatre. The 40,000-square-foot plaza surrounding the theater was designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studio of Los Angeles.
Designed to complement the Staples Center, the Nokia’s exterior uses a similar palette of materials, including metal panels, concrete, and glass, which will in turn be referenced in other elements at L.A. Live. Beyond the drama of a three-story glass-fronted lobby buzzing with LED panels, the interior of the theater itself is understated, almost unfinished, meant to be a neutral backdrop for the performers (it’s described by the designers as the “biggest black box in the country”). The theater blends the raw energy and high-end production capabilities of larger venues—the stage measures 14,000 square feet, one of the largest in the United States—with the intimacy of a concert hall. “No seat is further than 220 feet from the stage,” says ELS principal Kurt Schindler. “Seating is designed with a comfort level that exceeds an arena and approaches a performance theater.”
More important to the exterior are the throbbing LED panels that plaster the building, giving it that healthy glow. These had to be distinctive from the air, as the Nokia-Staples complex will serve as the centerpiece of the “blimp shot” for broadcasting events. A similar consideration had to be made for the plaza, where an elegant graphic paving pattern lends richness for television cameras and familiarity on a human scale, said Bob Hale, partner at Rios Clementi Hale, alluding to more than 15 residential towers completed or under construction within walking distance of the plaza.
“For certain events it will be the center of LA, but on a day-to-day basis it’s the town square for that part of South Park,” remarked Hale, who also said that developers would like to bring a greenmarket to the plaza as just one of its many uses, from red carpet arrivals to cultural festivals. For special events, the plaza itself can convert into an entertainment venue, aided by an electronic infrastructure that allows “plug and play” audio visual capabilities, and the six towers, which can further support filming, projection, or performance space. The plaza is flanked by landscaping, including planters that provide places to sit and gather while shaded by canopies of plane trees. Rios Clementi Hale’s design will continue to be implemented to visually unite the entire L.A. Live complex.
RE-FORM-ULATING YET AGAIN
Just two months after LA Architect relaunched as FORM, it’s losing its editor, Jennifer Caterino. “At this point it seems like the right time to take the plunge and find a new challenge,” she told us. Reformatting an AIA publication as a national magazine seems like quite a challenge, actually. We can’t imagine it came with a raise.
GREAT FREEWAY ACCESS
For over a week in September, Los Angeles drivers were treated to the ultimate symbol of the crumbling housing market when a house—yes, a house—was abandoned on the Hollywood Freeway. Patrick Richardson ignored CalTrans instructions when told to take his Santa Clarita-bound mobile home up the 405, and instead smashed the roof into an overpass on the 101, temporarily installing the prefab in heavy traffic. The house endured torrential rains, excessive tagging, and was even graced with a “For Rent” sign near the end.
GATHERING NO MOSS
Eight wine glasses shattered on the cement floor during the much-anticipated Moss Los Angeles opening in August. Each time we cringed and looked to Murray Moss, who was cringing along with us. Or perhaps it was at the handful of children who had not only infiltrated his no-kids policy, but were seated at the Maarten Baas set of table and chairs (to be fair, it does look like it’s made for kids). Moss partner Franklin Getchell scurried around with extra “Please do not touch” signs, which he placed on the pieces which were fondled, sat upon, or otherwise violated, most notably a Tord Boontje sofa. At the end of the evening Baas sat down to play the 1938 Steinway Baby Grand he had fire-sculpted and, almost as if in response, droplets of condensation dripped from the air conditioning duct above, sprinkling guests in line for white wine. But architect Clive Wilkinson said: “Hey, at least you can keep cool at Moss this summer.”
DWELLING ON IT
The Dwell on Design conference transformed San Francisco’s Concourse and Exhibition Center into a neat pastiche of prefabs and post-consumer recycled furniture in mid-September. Alice Waters reigned as the crowd-pleasing organic queen after detailing her inspiring work for the Edible Schoolyard Project in Berkeley. Craig Hartman used his stage time to stump for SOM’s Transbay proposal, and Gwynne Pugh managed to make pejorative comments about Irvine twice (what, no love for The OC?). San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom made a surprise end-of-day appearance on Friday, touting his city’s green building agenda and commitment to architectural excellence. In fact, San Fran’s architecture scene is so hot, said Newsom, that even Frank Gehry, who swore he’d never design a building there, is considering it.
In the realm of architectural photography two figures stand alone in terms of their impact on how we view, consider, and consume images of modern design and architecture. Ezra Stoller on the East Coast and Julius Shulman on the West Coast are the acknowledged masters of their discipline, influencing a generation of younger photographers, including myself. Shulman, who will turn 97 in October, continues to produce and occasionally still accepts the odd commission.
Architectural photography, often brilliant in technique, can be staid in concept. Most architects who commission photographs are not looking for individual expression, but rather a well-crafted document of the subject building. Julius Shulman’s images defy this formula and although he will forever be identified with West Coast pioneers in architecture such as Richard Neutra, John Lautner, and the architects of the Case Study Houses in Los Angeles, his iconic photographs have burned themselves into the popular imagination, transcending their subject to become objects in themselves, independent of the buildings they depict. -Richard Barnes
Richard Barnes: How did you get started on a career in architectural photography, at a time when there was really no established field of work in photographing architecture?
Julius Shulman: My architectural work began when I met Richard Neutra by chance in March 1936. I had been going to UCLA for five years and spent two more years up in Berkeley when I realized this wasn’t what I wanted to do. Here, I had spent several years walking through the campus and going to lectures without any direction in my life. I was living with a friend in a two-bedroom apartment—$25 a month, by the way—when one morning I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and the thought entered my mind, ‘Julius, you better go home.’ It was a signal.
But I did have a little Vest Pocket Kodak from my parents. Then by chance this young man, an apprentice in Neutra’s office, said he wanted to show me a house that had just been completed by Neutra. I said, ‘Who’s Neutra?’ I had never met an architect before but I went to the house—it was the Kun House—and took six snapshots with my little Kodak, made some 8x10 prints, and gave them to him. Immediately after that, this fellow called me up and said, ‘Mr. Neutra loved the photographs and he’d like to meet you this coming Saturday.’
I went down to the studio in Silver Lake. I met Neutra who said he’d never seen such photographs and he wanted extra copies. He asked who I was and was I studying architecture or photography? When I told him I was at the university doing nothing, he said, ‘Would you like to take more photographs for me?’ Boom! So on March 5, 1936, I became a photographer.
Were there other architects you met and worked with at the time?
Well, that same day Neutra told me about another apprentice, named [Raphael] Soriano, who’d just done his first house up in the hills above Silver Lake. So I drove up there and met him the same day. We hit it off beautifully; he was sitting on the floor eating a sandwich. He gave me a sandwich; I sat down on the rug and we talked for about two hours. ‘Now that you’ve met Neutra,’ he said, ‘would you like to photograph this house, too?’ And that was Soriano’s Lipetz House with the curved wall looking out over the lake and a grand piano in the middle of the floor because the lady was a pianist. Soriano became famous from the very beginning, and so
my photographs were immediately published.
I went on to meet all the young architects [Gregory] Ain, [Rudolf] Schindler, Pierre Koenig. We were all in the same boat, young people beginning our work. And in 1947 when I bought some property, two acres up in the Hollywood Hills, I hired Soriano who was a good friend by then.
Why would you hire Soriano, and not Neutra?
Soriano was so wonderfully friendly and warm. Neutra was fine, but he wasn’t my kind of person. I did work with him from 1936 until he died and it was through Neutra that I was destined to become a ‘world famous’ photographer. No question about that.
Do you think your images also helped to make him a ‘world famous’ architect?
(Laugh) It takes two, I guess. But I think it was just destiny that I became an architectural photographer. Before I met Neutra, I had no idea, no indication, no inkling of what I was going to do with my life.
But at the time there was no such thing as an architectural photographer. Maybe there were photographers who did commercial work, but you really carved out a whole new field.
Maybe. But in the course of my work I started seeing work published in magazines. Ezra Stoller came a little later, true, in the late 1930s to early 1940s, but up in San Francisco there was Roger Sturtevant—we became good friends— and Ulrich Meisel in Dallas. Then, of course, there was Hedrich Blessing in Chicago; and then, Maynard Parker who was a commercial photographer in Los Angeles. In those days, magazines called commercial photographers. Elizabeth Gordon of House Beautiful called Parker to do her house and he was really good. But, really, there was just a handful of us.
Did you have a sense as you took them that some of your images transcended the documents you were producing for the architects—the view of the two women at Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House #22 comes instantly to mind? Or was it something about LA the city itself that shaped your approach?
No, I’ll tell you what happened. From that very first photograph that I took of the Kun House, I found I could just catch things on film that we—the architect and myself—didn’t see ourselves or didn’t even realize existed. Benedikt Taschen [publisher of the new book] says I extract the essence of a place.
What about Los Angeles? What was it like when you arrived?
It was a really particular moment. LA had become a mecca for people from all over the world. Everyone wanted to come. Even my father who had a small clothing business and a 75-acre orange grove wrote to his friend, ‘Max! You’ve got to come. The streets are paved in gold’—he meant the orange grove. But back then in 1920 when we came to California from New York, the population in Los Angeles was about 576,000. It was a small town.
If you had stayed out East and, instead of working for Neutra, Ain, Koenig, and the rest, you worked for Saarinen, Gropius, and Mies (although they were later, after the war). But let’s say you’d lived on the East Coast, how would your work have been different?
I wouldn’t have become a photographer! I wouldn’t have been taking those snapshots while I was wandering around Berkeley. I did have a friend who was a writer and he had a nice little office in Rockefeller Center in the 1940s. He said I should open an office in New York. Without any hesitation, I said, ‘I love New York!’ You see, I was born in Brooklyn. But I was already established in Los Angeles and all the architects jumped at me because there was no other photographer who did architecture.
At that level.
At any level.
How did you get along with the individual architects? Did you consider them friends. Did you learn anything from them?
I established close friendships with them all. I seemed to speak their language, not only with my camera. With Gregory Ain, there was something about his architecture that I liked, and my liking the work made me respect it, and as a result I was able to create these great compositions. I could transcend or transfigure or translate what the architect saw in his own work. Something just came through. They didn’t know how I did it; they’d just shake their heads. Even Frank Lloyd Wright wrote me a letter about my photographs of Taliesin West: ‘How did you ever achieve such beautiful photographs?’ Doesn’t matter: the point is, it’s a gift. I was raised close to nature, maybe that’s part of it. My spirit is close to nature.
Regarding your technique, you have a great facility with lighting and also for using people in your photographs. You used color film early on and your images have this naturalness to them which is also, and I realize this is contradictory, strangely theatrical, without seeming forced or over the top.
Can you talk about that?
As a matter of fact, it came home to me just recently when Paul Goldberger wrote in the New Yorker that if I hadn’t become a photographer, I might have been a good lighting expert. And it’s true that one of my innate qualities is knowing how to use lighting. I don’t use it to dramatize but to express what the architect wants. When I line up something, you never see the source of the light, but you do know it’s there.
Most photographers today rely on Polaroids, or computers, to test for composition and lighting before committing the scene to film. You couldn’t do all that and yet you still achieved these amazing results.
Most photographers I knew did not use flash bulbs before the days of strobe lighting. I would use flood lights then put flash lights in to balance the indoor and outdoor lighting intensity. As a result my lighting appeared very natural and balanced. And then I used people—not abundantly but more than most—to occupy the space, not posing, but doing something the space was designed for. Neutra didn’t like it when I started putting in people. He did not want them. He didn’t want anything to attract attention away from his architecture.
I read somewhere that in one of your most iconic and famous images of all—the Kaufman House in Palm Springs—you used people and Neutra wasn’t happy about it. But what makes that photograph really work for me is the figure in the foreground. Were you using her as a “gobo” [go between] to block the light?
Yes! That’s Mrs. Kaufman. And what happened is this: It was a very complex composition and that one photograph took me 45 minutes. I was supposed to be doing the interiors. But when I went out there I saw how beautiful the twilight was, and I knew it wouldn’t last long. Mr. Neutra grabbed my elbow and said we had a lot more interiors to do, but I tore away from his grasp and ran outside to set up the camera. I knew exactly where I wanted to stand.
Inside, the floor lamps and the table lamps were all burning. Outside the sky was beautiful and I asked Mr. Kaufman, who was standing there with Mrs. Kaufman and Neutra, to turn on the pool light. But the light was too intense and it was facing in the direction of the camera so I laid down a mat and asked Mrs. Kaufman to please lie down a moment so her head blocked the pool light. She asked me not to take too long because it was hard propping herself up on her elbow.
I counted the three seconds.
One. Two. Three.
Did Neutra know what you were trying to do?
Not ‘til later.
Santiago Calatrava dropped out of San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal and Tower competition in mid-May because his firm had questions about the project’s economic feasibility. However, we also heard that the folks at developer Boston Properties weren’t able to get Calatrava’s design to pencil .... If you ever forget what Daniel Libeskind looks like, just head to Sacramento, where his 15-foot headshot is plastered on Danny-designed luxury condo Epic Tower… WhenFrank Gehry’s not pumping iron at Gold’s Gym, he’s being sued over silver. Circa Publishing Enterprises of Culver City said Gehry reneged on his deal to produce Gehry-trademarked jewelry. Last spring, the Frank Gehry Collection showed up at Tiffany & Co.
LET’S GET NAKED!
UC-Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium is ground zero for a battle of epic proportions, but this ain’t no football game. Protesters have been living in a grove of oak trees next to the stadium since December to prevent developers from cutting down trees to build a student athletic center, designed by HNTB Architecture. A 78-person nude photo shoot/protest was held in March in support of the cause. Meanwhile UC-Berkeley maintains that new trees will replace all the removed ones, and that the building’s design will create new public spaces near the stadium.
A DOUBLE DESIGN “I DO”
After 20 years of kicking around the LA design world more-or-less solo, radio host Frances Anderton (of KCRW’s DnA, Design and Architecture) and West Hollywood urban designer John Chase were both recently married, and wanted to celebrate their coinciding unions. Their mutual friends gathered on a recent breezy afternoon for a double wedding reception at the home of landscape designer Katherine Spitz. Chase and partner Jonathan Cowan were croquetready in seersucker suits and matching Chuck Taylors, and Anderton was stunning in a red, laser-cut masterpiece by architect and designer Elena Manferdini, who was also in attendance.
RAISING THE ROOF
Inflatable kangaroos bounced among the waterbed pods of the Standard Downtown’s rooftop as the LA Forum honored Hank Koning and Julie Eizenberg at the 20th annual ForumFest. A sharp-looking Aaron Betskyrevealed in a speech that the real motivation for starting the Forum was because founders believed LA was “dumb.” But the remark that garnered the biggest gasp was when Betsky admitted he had included the Forum as a beneficiary in his will.
Emerging Voices 2006
The Architectural League's Emerging Voices program, now in its 25th year, showcases the nation's most promising architectural talent.The eight firms picked by the Architectural League as this year's Emerging Voices are an eclectic group, representing the breadth of the profession. Their portfolios run from techno-savvy commercial work to modernist residences and sculptural installation art. We wanted to convey a broad cross-section of what young architects are doing in this country,, said juror Ali Tayar, principal of New Yorkkbased Parallel Design. I think [this year's winners] strike a balance between those doing architecture in a traditional wayywith a client, a site, a real buildinggand those doing conceptually driven work..
Wendy Evans Joseph, president of the board of directors at the Architectural League, observed, In some years, the winners are concentrated on one coast or specialize in one thing, but this year there was a tremendous range of talent with an emphasis on regional concerns.. Interestingly, most of this year's winners are foreign-born; perhaps it is their expatriate status that heightens their sensitivity toward their adopted contexts.
The 2006 Emerging Voices share another crucial characteristic: The common bond between the winners is the intensity of their explorations and the rigor of their work,, said juror Adam Yarinsky of New Yorkkbased Architectural Research Office (ARO). Also, given the nature of the series, we were looking for firms with a cohesive story to tell.. During the month-long lecture series that accompanies the honor, the eight firms will have a chance to present their distinct takes on contemporary practice.
Lecture Series:March 2
Eric Bunge and Mimi Hoang
Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo
457 Madison Avenue
457 Madison Avenue
Thomas Bercy and Calvin Chen
Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena
457 Madison Avenue
Lecture series sponsored by USM.
Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena/
Escher GuneWardena Architecture
Los Angeles, California
Jean Ogami / Courtesy Escher Gunewardena
Left: Escher GuneWardena's Jamie House is sited on a very steep hill in Pasadena, California. To maintain a modernist box, the architects lifted the house on a concrete platform to avoid having to mold it to the landscape.
Right: In 2001, The firm used Electric Sun 1, a tanning salon in Los Angeles, as a chance to create kinetic light sculpturess that echo the nature of the business.
Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena founded their firm in Los Angeles in 1995 and immediately began working on the Jamie House in Pasadena, an involved project that took five years to complete. The young firm was eager to take on smaller and less complicated commissions, and quickly built a portfolio that includes a series of tanning salons, a restaurant, and a gallery, all in their adopted home of Los Angeles. (Swiss-born Escher studied architecture at the Eidgennssische Technische Hochschule in Zurich and Sri Lankan GuneWardena received his degree at California State Polytechnic at Pomona, where they both currently teach.) They've only recently returned to residential work, with several projects now on the drawing board, including the construction of Dwell Home 2, the winner of an invited competition sponsored by Dwell magazine in 2004 to design a sustainable house for the Los Angeles area. The firm has also completed work on a number of high-profile existing buildings such as an addition to a Hollywood Hills house designed in 1959 by Richard Neutra and the restoration of John Lautner's Chemosphere in Los Angeles; Escher is the administrator of the John Lautner Archive in Los Angeles. We are primarily interested in coming up with what we believe is the simplest solution to a complex problem rather than making a formally complex solution,, said Escher.
I like the idea of people reinterpreting history and not trying to reinvent the wheel. Their Jamie Residence in Los Angeles is reminiscent of the work of John Lautnerrit's a concrete and glass box that sits on big, straightforward concrete pylons. It reminds you of Lautner's materiality, and its strict geometry is very contemporary..
There is a conceptual dimension to EscherGunewardena that is compelling and seems to transcend the seemingly conventional nature of the projects. At first glance, the Jamie House might seem to be a contemporary take on a Case Study house, but I think there was another agenda here. There is a stereotype that everyone in California is dealing with everyday materials and casualness, but this house is more than that..
They were working within a very typically California condition, and so they embraced cantilevered outdoor spaces, clean, modern forms that both respond to and engage with the landscape..
Teddy Cruz/Estudio Teddy Cruz
San Diego, California
Bottom: Paal Rivera / Courtesy Estudio Teddy Cruz
Above: Cruz is designing new mixed-use developments based on the adaptive reuse of existing structures and recycled materials. The model above shows a proposal for a community in Tijuana.
Below: He also designed a temporary pavilion and information center in San Diego for inSite_05, an initiative involving notprofits and cultural organizations that activates public space through guerilla installations in the Tijuana and San Diego area. this structure is in the process of being moved to Tijuana and converted into a residence.
Teddy Cruz has built a practice around research and advocacy in the border territory between Tijuana and San Diego, where he has lived off and on since 1984. As the Guatemala-born architect noted, While my work is based on trans-border urbanisms, most of our projects have to do with housing typologies.. Through his research Cruz targets specific issues that inform the relationship between the two regions, with their sharply contrasting economies and cultures. Tijuana has built itself from the waste of San Diego, rising from debris like old tires and garage doors,, Cruz explained. He has worked closely with local nonprofits such as San Ysidroobased Casa Familiar to advocate the exploration of residential typologies that are suitable for new immigrants, as well as programs that would provide civic empowerment through micro-loans and other economic incentives. His work has earned him numerous awards, including a Rome Prize in 1991, two P/A Awards (2001 and 2004), and several AIA awards. He was recently given a tenured position in the U.C. San Diego's studio arts program.
He's the only one addressing social concerns that remind me more of architecture in the first half of the 20th century, when architecture was trying to make a better world, not just interesting shapes. His community-based work requires some incredibly tedious analysis, but at the same time he uses it as a basis for creating visually interesting work..
In a way, there's a relationship in spirit between Cruz and Samuel Mockbee's Rural Studio, in that neither tries to apply a conventional notion of architecture to an unconventional situation. Rather, they see what the potential of the situation is. [Cruz's work] uses architecture as a frame for development..
I love that Teddy Cruz's work isn't just about developing its conceptual basissit's not one of those flippant, of-the-moment fads..
Calvin Chen and Thomas Bercy/Bercy Chen Studio
Mike Osborne / Courtesy Bercy Chen Studio
The Annie Street Residence, located in Austin, Texas, was finished in 2003 and soon after certified by the City of Austin's Green Building Program. The self-described design-build firm remained involved in all aspects of construction on the project, because, as principal Calvin Chen observed, There is no long tradition of craftsmanship in Texas; there are no cheap and good-quality contractors..
Calvin Chen and Thomas Bercy established Bercy Chen Studio in 1998, just after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin. They began by designing small residences, though the scale of their projects has been growing in step with their experience. Their methods, however, remain unchanged, according to principal Calvin Chen. We started as a design-build firm, a very hands-on operation,, he said. We always wanted to be involved with construction because we love the immediacy of the building site. We will always remain a design-build firm.. While the firm's work is mostly located in and around Austin, they have so far resisted what Chen describes as the quantity-over-quality Texas mindset. We want to produce work that's driven by ideas,, he said. They are currently working on a 100-unit condominium building in Austin and a resort near Mexico City.
I feel as though Bercy Chen connects to the recent history of modernist architecture while bringing something fresh to it. Their Annie Residence is like the Eames House, but with something more..
Their buildings are comprised of volumetrically simple spaces, but light and color play into them. They play up reflections, colors, and textures, with surfaces ranging in quality and form. They're using a base type and manipulating it skillfully, into their own interpretation..
We wanted to acknowledge the rigor, intensity, and quality of the work from the standpoint of material, detail, form; it is highly resolved and very mature..
Jeanne Gang/Studio GANG
Left; Tak Katayama Right: Greg Murphey / Courtesy Studio Gang
Left: In 2003, Studio GANG designed an installation for the National Building Museum's Masonry Variations exhibit. The firm devised a structural system that would support a curtain-like wall of thin stone tile, which was rear-lit to emphasize its delicacy.
Right: Studio gang designed and built the outdoor Starlight Theater for Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois, over the course of three summers (2002204). It features a pitched roof with mechanically operable panels that open and close depending on the weather.
After working as a senior designer at Booth Hansen Architects in Chicago and the Office of Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam, Jeanne Gang founded Studio GANG in 1997. According to Gang, who holds degrees from the University of Illinois and Harvard, Our firm is very research-driven and analytical. We begin with the constraints and criteria of each project, and try and find something of architectural interest.. Her projects demonstrate the desire to rework conventional approaches to materials and space. For the exhibition Masonry Variations at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., in 2003, Gang was asked to imagine the future of stone as an architectural building material. Her response (pictured) was to create a seemingly cloth-like curtain of 622 interlocked stone tiles, each cut down to 3/8-inch thickness and hung from the ceiling. I knew stone had to be made lighter in order to work in the future,, explained Gang. The project was only realized after extensive testing and experimentation. Studio GANG was featured in Architectural Record's Design Vanguard 2001 and the firm's work was featured in the exhibition at the U.S. pavilion, Transcending Type, at the 2004 Venice Architecture Biennale.
It seems to me that Studio GANG is trying to respond in an ingenious and constructive way to varying contexts and trying to make things that do more than one thing. Their spaces have multiple purposes that work well over the seasons and over time, and become more animated as they age..
The installation she did for the National Building Museum was beautiful and inventive. When you look at the installation, you don't connect the material, which is basically flat and hard, to a double-curved structure. The project was suggestive of skin and of architectureeit connected skin to structure..
Jeanne Gang has a very strong range of work and a unique ability to execute varying scales for varying niches in terms of program. Her craft extends from installations to large-scale projects, like her Starlight Theater. I love her emphasis on craft and skill..
Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo/ Lead Pencil Studio
Courtesy Lead Pencil Studio
Left: While at an artists' residency in Wendover, Utah, Han and Mihalyo made Cleft Footing (2000), an 8-footttall sculpture of tumbleweed collected from the region's arid landscape.
Right: Minus Space (2005), an installation at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, was comprised of two parts: The ceiling is made of a fibrous fabric from which a visqueen and plexiglas form hangs, via thin wires.
Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo met as students at the University of Oregon, where they both received their BArch degrees and where they also studied sculpture. After graduating from architecture school we kept a separate art/studio space. We both went through the whole trajectory of internships, entry-level office work, et cetera, but we always kept the art studio,, said Han, who was born in South Korea. In 1997, the two opened an independent office and began to design commercial spaces and residences, all the while continuing to work on installation projects. In 2000, Han and Mihalyo (a Washington native) won an artist's residency at the Center for Land Use Interpretation's Wendover, Utah, complex, where they were able to pursue sculptural landscape work. After that, the firm was invited to participate in other installations, including a group show at the Center of Contemporary Art in Seattle. Now, we do about half site-works and half architecture,, said Han.
Their installations are environments that are fully architectural in their own right. While some of the site-specific projects are clearly meant for temporary occupation, you can easily imagine them becoming more permanent for specific clients. It's a very inventive body of work, elaborating on how we perceive things through space, light, color, and texture..
If we were going to honor people who did installations, for me it was important to recognize work that was connected to architecture, as opposed to work that veered only toward art. Lead Pencil Studio's installations clearly test architectural ideas..
They don't necessarily do conventional architecture, but are engaging architectural issues and issues of space and perception. Emerging Voices doesn't have to be defined singularly within the tradition of conventional architectural practice. These kinds of practices can really bring the sensibility that we bring to our work to the perception and habitation of space..
George Yu/George Yu Architects
Los Angeles, California
Left: Josh White / Courtesy George Yu Architects
Left: In 2004, George Yu designed Blow-Up for the SCI-Arc Gallery. The installation used 17 inflatable vinyl bladders,, each 20 feet tall and 20 feet in diameter as sensors that would generate sound when activated by touch.
Right: A workspace for Sony's Design Center, built in 2005, uses a white epoxy floor and pale plaster wall panels to create a bright and open environment.
Hong Konggborn George Yu came to Los Angeles by way of Canada, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Urban Geography at the University of British Columbia before going to UCLA for a graduate degree in architecture in 1985. Established in 1992, his office specializes in commercial architecture, which he uses as a point of departure to study the urban environment. Our goal is to use our projects as a form of research to ask questions about the nature of the building type they represent, and not just in a strictly formal and aesthetic sense,, Yu explained. For example, in Vancouver, malls are really interesting because they have gone from the conventional landlord/tenant model to a condo-type model where spaces are sold to retailers as property. I'm as interested in looking at leasing models as at architectural models.. While Yu's work shows a strong design sensitivity, his primary interests lie in the relationship between businesses and their environment, which he explores through integrating new technologies into his designs.
For me, it seems that he's interested in thinking about projects from the bottom up. He uses work like the IBM business center as a way to rethink traditional formats. It's great to see architects wanting to question typologies, to give a project a form and organization and logic, and in his case, a very strong materiality. All of his projects are in one way or another about research: Some are on a programmatic level, some are on a tectonic level..
George Yu's work was shockingly new to me. His work is extensive, the quality is overwhelming, and what I found amazing is his range of scales. He represents a condition where someone can balance technology and invention with materiality and execution. Technology, more than anything, really becomes part of his projects..
Cambridge, London, and Paris
Left: One of dECOi's few built projects, the Glaphyros apartment in Paris, completed in 2003, features an 8-by-6-foot aluminum screen whose form is based on a mathematically generated algorithm of three intersecting waves.
Right: In 1996, dECOi designed a prototype residence for a Malaysian developer who wanted a project that was technologically advanced but not gadget-heavy. Each panel's dimensions, as well as their etched decorative ornamental patterns, were mathematically generated; no two are the same.
London-born Mark Goulthorpe established his studio, dECOi, in 1991 in order to pursue a number of design competitions. His practice is now is dedicated to exploring new technologies through collaborations with professionals in other fields, such as mathematics and computer programming. dECOi's built work is largely composed of smaller residential projects and showrooms located primarily in France, Malaysia, and the UK. Of this year's Emerging Voices, Goulthorpe, who maintains offices in Paris and London, has the strongest international presence: In 2002 he designed the French Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and in 2001 he won Taiwan's FEIDAD international digital design competition. In addition to his practice, Goulthorpe is an associate professor at MIT, and divides his time between the School of Architecture and the Media Lab.
I think he's one of the leaders of the digital design movement; he brings an incredible amount of expertise and craft to his work. His projects are facilitated by computation as a tool, which is crucial to both their fabrication and realization, and the result is masterful. One of the benefits of the digital revolution will be to re-empower architects as master builders. In a way, he represents a master digital builder. He's very craft-based but he uses the digital medium for fabrication all the while understanding what the local trades are doing. He is thinking through this whole array of tools that we have..
I appreciated the human condition Goulthorpe incorporates into his tech-based projects. He uses interactive and reactive devices like breathable materials and rainskins, i.e., surfaces that react to water..
Mimi Hoang and Eric Bunge/ nArchitects
New York, New York
Left: Jorge Pereira / Courtesy Narchitects
Left: nArchitect's winning design for the Museum of Modern Art/P.S.1's 2004 Young Architects program formed bamboo into an undulating canopy; the material started out green and tanned over the course of the summer.
Right: The 2006 Switch building, located in New York's Lower East Side, is the firm's first ground-up project; it is a seven-story condo-development with an art gallery on the first floor.
Mimi Hoang, who was born in Saigon, and Eric Bunge, who was born in Montreal, met as graduate students at Harvard and formed nArchitects in 1999. They soon began winning design competitions, including the Museum of Modern Art/P.S. 1's Young Architects Program in 2004, for which they created a massive arched bamboo canopy. It's the firm's largest installation to date, though they also did a sizable floor-piece at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York (2000) and an interactive wall at Artists Space (2005). Both Bunge and Hoang teach (at Parsons and Yale respectively), and while their exhibition work is highly conceptual, their portfolio contains realized projects as well, including several interior renovations and a penthouse addition in lower Manhattan. Their largest project to date, the Switch building, a seven-story, ground-up residential lowrise in the Lower East Side, will be completed in September of this year.
For a young firm, it's interesting that they are building. And they are doing so in ways that are driven by the specifics of each project. Their work is programmatic and conceptual at the same time. In their P.S. 1 project, for example, they were thinking about a traditional material, bamboo, that has so much energy to it, but also it has sensory properties such as smell..
nArchitects represented, for me, a way of practicing architecture in New York. Here, you don't get to do a house till you're 45; architects tend to experiment longer and then when they do build, their ideas are fairly well worked out. Their bamboo structure for P. S. 1 reminded me of Frei Otto's timber lattice for the Mannheim Garden Exposition, which was also this orthogonal grid that distorted into warped planes. To me, it's interesting when people pick up ideas that others have left off, and take them further..
Their projects display inventiveness and an ability to define the terms of the project in an unexpected way. In the Switch building, the transformation of the outer surface creates a special element in each apartmenttthe bay windowwbut also changes the perception of the facade..
It's that time of year again. Here are our suggestions of what to give your favorite hard-to-satisfy, design-obsessed, on-the-go, clutter-phobic, inspiration-seeking architect. If these don't please, then we don't know what will!
|Solio and Solar Backpack |
Yes, we are always on the go, and we can't bear being disconnected. Harness the power of the sun for all your portable devices. The Solar Backpack from Voltaic Systems generates enough power to juice up cell phones, digital cameras, and the like, but not laptops, alas. The bag comes with a set of standard adapters and a battery pack to store unused power. $325. (MoMA, 81 Spring Street.) The solar-powered Solio will also recharge cell phones, palm pilots, and your other gadgets. For iPods, one hour of sun light will power one hour of music. $99. (www.solio.com)
|Halley Lamp |
Richard Sapper's Halley Collection for Lucesco does for LEDs (light-emitting diodes) what his 1972 Tizio Lamp did for halogenssit brings the latest in lighting technology to the masses in an elegant design. Available as a compact task light, a desk lamp, and a floor lamp, Halley is energy-efficient and has a great range of movement, based entirely on counterbalanced components (no springs or knobs). $510 to $640. (Moss, 146 Greene Street.)
|The Modern Procession |
Now you can own a miniature of a design classic, with a simple DIY kit from New York designer Mark McKenna. Just punch out the parts, assemble, plug into a 9-volt battery, and small miniatures of Richard Sapper's Tizio Lamp, Achille Castiglioni's Arco Floor Lamp (pictured), Ingo Maurer's Lucellino come to light. $26. (MoMA, 81 Spring Street.)
|Supple Mocha Cups |
Ribbed and curvy, the Supple Mocha Cups designed by Greg Lynn for Alessi imbue bone china with a fresh tactility. $70. (www.unicahome.com.)
|Mod Cabinet |
Mod Cabinet's thumbprint-activated locking system marries contemporary pragmatism to a retro aesthetic. PDAs with Bluetooth can control access to the cool, stackable units, which were designed and fabricated by Brooklyn-based design and technology consultancy Glide. $2,395. (www.glide-inc.com or Matter, 227 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn.)
|Cloud Lamp |
Continuing with his experiments with paper and lightweight materials, Frank Gehry has created the Cloud Lamp, made by Belux for Vitra. The fiberlike polyester membrane comes as flat sheets that are snapped together and shaped around plastic rings; the lamp morphs according to its owner's whim. $498 to $698. (Design Within Reach, various locations.)
|Lexon Stick Sound |
The Stick Sound by French company Lexon looks like a minimalist video-game joystick but is actually a radio. Toggle left and right to search for frequencies; up and down to control volume. $48.50. (Industries Stationery, 91 Crosby Street.)
|Crevasse Vase |
Zaha Hadid has brought her famous fondness for twists and torques to the Crevasse Vase, which she created for Alessi. The polished stainless steel vase is appealing individually or as a pair. $220. (Special order, Conran, 407 E. 59th Street.)
|Scale Pen |
For the over-accessorized architect, the Scale Pen designed by Shigeru Ban for acme studios is the perfect accompaniment to outrr eyewear and intellectual scarves. Inspired by architects' classic triangular scale, this retractable ball-point pen is engraved on each of its three sides with different measurement scales. $98. (MoMA Store, 81 Spring Street.)
This season, why not give the biggest gift of allla new home. The LLvetann, developed by Oslo-based firm Snnhetta, is the latest iteration of the prefab craze, based on modules that buyers can arrange at will. Flatpacked and shippable, LLvetann is buildable in 10 days. From $276 to $345 per square foot. (www.lovetann.com)
|The Contemporary Guesthouse: Building in the Garden |
Edizioni Press, $45 (hardcover)
Though guesthouses are typically reserved in scale and program, the projects in this monograph are hardly restrained from a design standpoint. Featured are projects by Shigeru Ban, Shim-Sutcliffe, Toshiko Mori, and others.
|Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design |
Edited by Florian Bohm
Phaidon Press, $69.95 (hardcover)
This comprehensive monograph of young German industrial designer Konstantin Grcic shows a mechanistic aestheticcseen in his famous ONE Chair and Mayday Lamppthat's as comfortable in an auto shop as in a living room.
|Katsura: Imperial Villa |
Edited by Virginia Ponciroli
Electa, $79.95 (hardcover)
This new book on Katsura, the Japanese imperial villa, begins with an informative introductory essay by Arata Isozaki. An impressive number of images and drawings, as well as a collection of writings from architect-authors ranging from Bruno Taut to Kenzo Tange, offer a diverse analysis of the complex site.
|The Silver Spoon |
Phaidon Press, $39.95 (hardcover)
Originally published in Italy by Domus in 1950, Silver Spoon, a collection of regional and seasonal recipes from all over Italy, has finally been translated into English. The classic best-seller has been beautifully redesigned, with recipes organized by course and ingredient.
|Neubau Welt |
Die Gestalten Verlag, $59 (hardcover)
A meticulous catalogue of things categorized by neu (objects), bau (humans), and welt (plants and animal forms) may seem like an odd gift. Inside, however, the silhouetted itemssfrom hatchets to titmiceeoffer an endlessly amusing diversity of forms. The book comes with a CD of images, which may be reproduced and edited at will.
|Architecture Now 3 |
Taschen, $39.99 (paper)
Architecture Now 3 may be the perfect book to give to friends who are less than savvy about established and rising architecture stars. The book presents thorough profiles of 27 contemporary practitioners from around the worlddincluding the likes of David Adjaye, Carlos Zapata, Vito Acconci, Ken Yeang, and Asymptoteecomplete with head shots of principals, full-length biographies, and notable works.
|Case Study Houses: The Complete CSH Program 194551966 |
Elizabeth A. T. Smith
Taschen, $200 (hardcover with case)
The Arts & Architecture>sponsored brainchild of John Entenza has been revitalized in this grand tome. Thirty of the projects from the magazine's Case Study program are portrayed in stunning photographs, detailed drawings, and clear essays.
|Ed Rusha: Then & Now |
Steidl, $175 (boxed set, casebound)
Ed Ruscha: Catalogue Raisonnn of the Paintings Volume 2
Edited by Robert Dean and Erin Wright
Steidl/Gagosian Gallery, $200 (clothbound)
Two recent books confirm Ed Ruscha's place as one of the most important artists of our time. The second of a planned six-part volume, Catalogue Raisonnn contains paintings from 1971 to 1982 as well as essays by Peter Wollen and Reyner Banham. Then & Now includes two sets of panoramas taken of Hollywood Boulevard, one in 1973 and the other in 2004.
|1000 Lights: 1960 to Present |
Edited by Charlotte & Peter Fiell
Regan Books-HarperCollins, $22 (paper with case)
1000 Lights is an authoritative history of contemporary lighting design. A follow-up to 1,000 Lights: 1878 to 1959, this volume traces more recent lighting trends, with over 1,200 lights representing movements from pop to postmodernism to high tech.
|Humble Masterpieces: Everyday Marvels of Design |
Princeton Architectural Press, $45.00 (paper)
From the Dixie cup to the fortune cookie, nearly 100 commonplace objects are celebrated in MoMA curator Paola Antonelli's latest book, inspired by an exhibition she presented at MoMA Queens in 2004. The cleverly designed book features a small image of each object, accompanied by a large color photograph of a detail, and a brief blurb on the object's design history.
|Tape: An Excursion Through the World of Adhesive Tapes |
Die Gestalten Verlag, $36 (hardcover)
Clothes, graffiti, teapots, toys, plants, and other artifacts fill the pages of this book, dedicated to showcasing endless usessartistic, jovial, and practicallof tape. The book features artists' as well as essays about the sticky subject.
|Le Corbusier plans |
Birkhhuser, $2,100 per set, $7,600 for all four
Extravagant, yes, but impressive. This digitized collection of over 35,000 plans, sketches, and documents from the archives of the Fondation Le Corbusier is being released in four sets. The first two have already been released; the remaining two will be published over the
|Material ConneXion |
George Beylerian and Andrew Dent
John Wiley & Sons, $80 (hardcover)
It seems only fitting that Material ConneXion, the industry's megasource for materials, would produce an expansive catalogue presenting the latest in plastics, resins, metals, and other cool design building blocks. Where else will you learn the difference between light-degradable and biodegradable polymers?
Compiled by andrew yang and jaffer kolb
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