Search results for "hollywood"

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City Listening Hears LA’s Great Voices in Architecture
Architecture was heard and not seen at City Listening, the latest installation of de LaB (design east of La Brea), LA's semi-regular design gathering hosted by AN contributors Haily Zaki and Alissa Walker (the writer of this post, but better known to you as "we"). Monday night's event was held at the new Barbara Bestor-designed GOOD Space in Hollywood, where design writers and bloggers crawled out from under their keyboards to show us their faces, and in some cases, their feelings. The evening was packed with AN contributors and readers, including two pieces out of seven read that were originally published in AN! Frances Anderton opened the night with a piece published in AN over two years ago that reflected on her first impressions of LA as a newly-arrived Brit. After making a Chapter 11 joke that made a few LA Times freelancers twitter nervously, Christopher Hawthorne read a piece from the LAT about last year's wildfires (isn't that great, we now have an annual wildfire tradition). We loved Curbed LA editors Josh Williams and Marissa Gluck riffing on the disturbing proliferation of floral wallpaper and velour furnishings as part of their regular feature "That's Rather Hideous" (their excellent Flickr stream with photos by their readers provided background imagery the rest of the evening).
Jade Chang's tribute to minimalls published in Metropolis made us blush with nostalgia and was the perfect bookend to Sam Lubell's wistful critique of Americana at Brand, also published in AN (speaking of, Sam will be signing his new book London 2000+ at the LA Forum tonight!). We tried to lift spirits dampened by the economy with our poem The Night Before Layoffs, predicting what local designers from Frank Gehry to Shepard Fairey will need to do to weather the downturn. Although the crowd roared regularly throughout the evening—who knew design writers were so drop dead hilarious?—nothing quite matched West Hollywood Urban Designer John Chase's account of love, guilt, soul-searching, urban planning,, um, how do we say this...hard-ons with a local homeless man. Unfortunately, this was an unpublished (and probably unpublishable) piece. Believe us when we say you had to be there for that one. More photos, thanks to Keith Wiley.
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The Esquire House Bait-and-Switch: A Case Study
We've heard plenty about the annual tradition that is the Esquire House. The mag transforms a chic address into the ultimate bachelor pad or "How a Man Lives"...along with hundreds of his heaviest-drinking C-list celeb friends. Last year the spot was Charles Gwathmey's Astor Place Tower, so this year they returned to the west coast, with a location to-be-revealed somewhere in the Hollywood Hills. But when we got the above invite to the Jaguar-sponsored event last Saturday, we took one look at the iconic Julius Shulman shot and gasped in horror. Was Esquire really going to turn the Pierre Koenig-designed Stahl House, aka Case Study House No. 22, into a den for men? A quick spin on the internet revealed, no, not at all. The Esquire House is actually a 17,000 square-foot Italian villa, located on Doheny Drive above the Sunset Strip and is the "perfect setting for the Esquire bachelor to entertain friends, attend to his business, and live his sophisticated vision of the good life." Designed and built by Dugally Oberfeld, and decorated by a dozen or more different designers, the house is for sale for $12.95 million, but we're guessing you can't move in until they steamclean the Champagne out of the rugs. So what's the deal with bastardizing the legacy of the hallowed Case Study program to advertise a place that's the diametric opposite to the Stahl House, both in spirit and execution? True, Shulman's shot is way sexier than, say, the twin Formula One racing consoles in the "Gaming Room." But we're guessing Esquire didn't want to expose this bachelor pad for what it really is: A McMANsion. Update: Damn, we hate it when our well-placed barbs are not so well-placed. The commenter below is right, we accidentally linked to the 2006 website for information. This year's house is actually less than half the size of the previous MANstrosity, and was designed by Xorin Balbes, Paul Ashley, Norm Wogan and Temple/Home. But it is for sale for $12.95 million. We would never lie to you about that. However! Our original point remains: If the house is so great, why show the Stahl House instead right there on the website? Why not show an awesome shot of the actual house? Heck, they could have even hired Julius to shoot it!

Eavesdrop: Alissa Walker


We always say that during political campaigns, architecture gets short shrift. But lately some major issues of the presidential race have hit close to home, and we’re not just talking about the infrastructural implications of a “Bridge to Nowhere.” Like the question about how many houses John and Cindy McCain own! We were most intrigued with #162, the McCains’ Phoenix residence that was profiled in the July 2005 issue of Architectural Digest (and savvily sold in 2006). Once Cindy’s brick-and-shake childhood home, the ranch-style house was frosted over in stucco by local architect Neal Sheiner in the 1980s. Details from the decade-appropriate “Southwestern style” included a Kachina doll collection, a mantelpiece from Guadalajara carved with their initials, and frightening evidence of McCain’s obsession with “exotic carpets.” Of course Democrats had their share of architectural criticism when detractors knocked Barack Obama’s Greek temple-themed stage—calling it Barackopolis, Egobama, take your pick. Those trying to pin the senator as a style-over-substance celebrity were rewarded with a whopper of a connection: The Doric-columned set was designed by the same team that puts together Britney Spears’ python-slithering playgrounds.



A dashing Clive Wilkinson was named the New York Times’ Most Eligible Bachelor in a three-page spread that included shots of Wilkinson poolside and shirtless (just kidding about that last part) at his modern three-bedroom home in West Hollywood, which friends apparently call Club Clive: “When I finished this place,” Mr. Wilkinson said, “there was a lovely Dilbert quotation I wanted to put up: I wanted to make the house so beautiful ‘that girls would forget my innumerable failings.’” Yowzers! The one question on writer Barbara Graustark’s mind was how to um, fill those three bedrooms: “‘I’m one person right now,’ Mr. Wilkinson agreed…’I hope it doesn’t stay that way.’” Interested women should send headshots and resumes to us for review…Over on the other side of town, Silver Lake’s perpetual hostess, architect Barbara Bestor and photographer Jon Huck (his swinging pad is among those featured in her book Bohemian Modern) transformed Mexican restaurant Casita del Campo into the equivalent of a middle school mixer for the local designerati. Bobbing among the sea of marg-slamming architects was the fluffy head of actor John C. Reilly, while celeb DJ Mousa Kraish (Superbad) spun grind-worthy beats like Bel Biv Devoe’s “Do Me.” Oh. Yeah.

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Revival of the Swingingest
Lautner's Beyer Residence, Los Angeles (1969).
Joshua White

Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner
Hammer Museum
10999 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
Through October 12

The great limitation of architecture exhibitions is that they generally display only representations of buildings through two-dimensional images and models—pale shadows of the original work. This diminishes the impact of any building, especially work that is dynamic and multifaceted. Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner, a landmark exhibition at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, boldly challenges that constraint by recreating the experience of walking through the architect’s studio and the visionary spaces he created, juxtaposing video projections, large cutaway models, and drawings of six houses, all selected to illustrate themes the architect explored. These are the highlights of an engrossing exhibition that chronicles Lautner’s six decades of practice, from an apprenticeship at Taliesin in the 1930s to his death as a proudly independent though embittered master in 1994.

Historian Nicholas Olsberg curated the exhibition jointly with Frank Escher, a principal in the LA firm of Escher GuneWardena Architecture and a former Lautner associate. Escher also designed the installation, placing the drawings under sheets of Plexiglas, taped onto tilted MDF boxes at the height and angle at which they were originally created in Lautner’s studio. “Lautner considered himself a terrible draftsman,” said Olsberg. “He would hold a thick pencil in his fist, but what results is magical because it’s three dimensional. The line is bold and decisive, the plans and perspectives match exactly. The drawing is effectively a model.” The six cutaway models were fabricated by a company known for creating sophisticated maquettes for the aerospace industry. These are displayed at eye-level to draw you into their volumes, and the videos are projected high on the walls so that they can be viewed from across the room.


Murray Grigor, who won acclaim for films on Mackintosh, Wright, and other masters, made the six video loops in parallel to his documentary feature on Lautner, Infinite Space, premiering at the Hammer’s Billy Wilder Theater on September 18. Using a 27-foot crane, Grigor takes the viewer up and over these houses with the lazy grace of the hawks that sail over the Marbrisa house in Acapulco. He is equally adept at capturing the view of a first-time visitor walking through the interior. Unlike many documentarians, he uses no zooms or jump cuts, and his compositions have the same spatial balance in two dimensions that one’s eyes can appreciate in three. He’s an invisible presence, analyzing the shifting perspectives and the play of light and reflections without drawing attention to his camera. In the glass-walled mountain cabin of Idyllwild, the Rubik’s Cube of the Schaffer house in the Hollywood Hills, and the soaring aerie of the Chemosphere, he is able to compress an hour of experience into two or three minutes of imagery. The grand sweep of Marbrisa, the Elrod House in Palm Springs, and the Turner House in Aspen are caught with the same fidelity as the intimate spaces of earlier work.

The Hammer exhibition shows how drawings, models, and images can be woven together as seamlessly as Lautner combined wooden slats, expanses of glass, and soaring concrete vaults. It will delight aficionados and broaden understanding of an architect who was, in his lifetime, ignored and even denigrated by many of his peers. If Lautner, an expressionist and apostle of organic architecture who swam against the mainstream of cool rectilinear modernism, had been as widely published and sympathetically reviewed as Richard Neutra, he would probably have realized some of the 50 daring projects that remained on his boards. As with Rudolph Schindler, his genius was appreciated by a discerning few, gaining wider currency after his death. Neither was invited to build a Case Study house, for John Entenza was unable to see beyond the flat roof and the right angle, and his program embraced only the mainstream of postwar modernism.

“What if?” is a question that hovers over this exhibition as one encounters Lautner’s proposal for the Midtown School, a cluster of tent-like structures, or the stacked hillside apartments of the Alto Capistrano project. Suppose Bob Hope had approved the first version of his house, which Lautner designed with Felix Candela as an undulating concrete shell. But for all the regrets, we should be thankful that 50 extraordinary houses were realized, mostly in LA. Nearly all are cherished by their owners.

Editorial: It’s Time to Overhaul CEQA

It seemed like such a good idea.

In 1970, Governor Ronald Reagan signed the California Environmental Quality Act, otherwise known as CEQA. Praised on arrival, CEQA ensured that future developments would respect both the environment and the surrounding community by requiring a careful review process prior to a project’s approval. Yet over the years, CEQA has become inefficient and corrupted. The process can be so burdensome that it drives up the price of building, thereby hampering needed growth and making the state less competitive. It has also been used by NIMBYs and unscrupulous businesses as a tactic to shut down reasonable projects; at the same time, schemes that shouldn’t be going forward get exemptions.

Still, despite shouts from many, we shouldn’t jettison CEQA altogether. Without it, there’s no telling what damage would be done to our already scarred landscape. We must reform it.

How to reform CEQA? An intimidating question. Here are a few ideas, culled from my conversations with architects, officials, and lawyers, as well as experience and research. First, streamline the process by making standards more objective, eliminating inconsistencies from project to project and removing vague wording from CEQA guidelines like “significant effort” and “substantial evidence” that need to be legally parsed and debated for far too long. For example, updated state law rules that projects must display a “feasible” way to minimize global warming impacts within their Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs). It does not specify further, leaving most new applicants scratching their head about how to respond.

Another major time and energy saver would be to improve communication and adaptability between the many agencies that oversee CEQA reviews (environmental agencies, planning departments, the attorney general’s office, redevelopment agencies, etc.). The lack of flexibility in the CEQA process has caused San Francisco’s recent push to improve its bike system—overwhelmingly supported within the city—to get stuck in the bureaucratic thicket of regulations. Next, make CEQA more responsive to communities by allowing areas to adapt environmental thresholds to their specific needs, making sure that public review notices are better circulated, and making EIRs less cumbersome and more easily accessible. Rules for development in the wilderness shouldn’t be the same as those for central LA. Along similar lines, expand CEQA’s categorical exemption for infill projects, since these are by nature built on land that has already been developed, and are hence not as environmentally sensitive as untouched land.

Finally, make the environment, not legal loopholes, the focus of those filling out an EIR. Make it harder to delay a project in the name of CEQA, particularly if the delays are not related to the environment. Lorcan O’Herlihy and Pacific Development Partners’ SMB28 project in West Hollywood has been held up countless times, thanks to local anti-development groups discovering problems with its EIR, while opposition to the EIR for developer Rick Caruso’s new mall at Santa Anita Racetrack has been funded largely by nearby Santa Anita Mall. If parties have a problem with a project they should protest, but state their reasons clearly, not use the environment as an excuse.

To really get CEQA reform rolling, we need government action, and there have been glimpses of promise. Several proposed bills, like SB 375 (focusing on regional planning and infill development) have focused on CEQA reform. In 2005, the governor established the CEQA Improvement Advisory Committee, made up of government and private sector members, to propose reforms. Still, no bill has done the trick yet, and the improvement group’s many suggestions have produced little actual reform. We all need to put real pressure on Sacramento to follow through with changes, as intimidating as they are.

Everyone wants to protect the environment. But protection doesn’t have to come at the expense of all development. We need to support legislation and internal changes that will improve this process and make it again a worthy protector of our landscape.

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Las Vegas Is Learning
Courtesy MGM Grand Mirage

Las Vegas has become a barometer for architecture, though it’s usually a little bit behind the times. It was all glamorous modernism in the 1970s, but by the 1990s, local developers here were obsessed with postmodern fancies that brought the world close, and down to size: The Venetian had its own Grand Canal, and the Paris arrived with a scaled-down Eiffel Tower, while New York, New York went so far as to put maintenance staff in uniforms like those worn by Sanitation workers in the five boroughs. At the turn of the century, developers moved toward upscale, lifestyle-oriented resorts and boutique hotels like the Wynn and the Hotel at Mandalay Bay.

Now another shift is underway: The MGM CityCenter, still under construction, is creating iconic buildings in a dense, mixed-use environment. Believe it or not, Vegas is selling urbanism—or at least a local version of it—and taking a page from cities around the world by using big-name contemporary architects to generate interest.

The $7.8 billion, 18-million-square-foot CityCenter will be in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip (on the site of the former Boardwalk Hotel and Casino), and is set to open next year. Touted as the largest privately funded development in U.S. history, it will include hotel, casino, residential, cultural, retail, and entertainment uses connected via indoor and outdoor pedestrian passageways. The major buildings were designed by Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Viñoly, Helmut Jahn, Foster + Partners, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Pelli Clarke Pelli, and the Rockwell Group, with Gensler as the executive architect, and Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn as master planner. The marquee names continue to the art program, which will include work by Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer, Nancy Rubins, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Frank Stella, and Henry Moore.


CITYCENTER UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN late MAY (TOP) AND AS RENDERED (ABOVE), with the adjacent monte carlo casino at far left.

While CityCenter’s 76-acre site measures about the same as most of MGM Mirage’s properties, it will be about three times as dense, said Sven Van Assche, vice president of design for MGM Mirage Design Group. The push for density was first necessitated by economic conditions: The sharp rise in land prices in the city forced planners at MGM Mirage (which owns a number of Vegas casinos including the Bellagio, the MGM, and the Excalibur) to consider other revenue sources when they first conceived the project in 2004.

“We quickly realized we were getting ourselves into a very urban condition,” said Van Assche. Mixing uses, he pointed out, is not new in Vegas, and most developments now contain hotels, casinos, retail, and even condos. But nowhere is that mix so tightly packed, so large, and so full of programmatic variety.

Van Assche explained that in order to promote CityCenter’s variety, MGM looked for several architects, and asked each to design something contemporary. New projects in the city are typically designed by the same group of local firms, but Van Assche said they decided to go beyond the standard modus operandi and “look at the project with fresh eyes.” This jump, he added, meant putting architects not accustomed to the Vegas scene through “an intense learning process.”

The interaction of the architects, said J.F. Finn, managing director at Gensler Nevada, started out with very few guidelines, but once a vision began to emerge, planners started to rein things in. Working with so many designers helped spur what Finn termed “happy accidents,” like the plaza between the casino and the Crystal. That came about when designers decided that Pelli and Libeskind’s buildings should have some breathing room. Likewise, a charrette between Libeskind and Jahn helped change their respective projects from one unified, mixed-use building to two very distinct entities.

All seven buildings will be connected by a meandering network of walkways that meet at larger nodes, usually marked with public art or a water feature. “We wanted to create places where people could gather that weren’t near slot machines,” said Finn, in explaining the nature of these nodes. Because of Vegas’ temperature, he added, the majority of these passages will be indoors, although a few outdoor walkways and bridges, landscaped with varied greenery, will act as connectors.

Is this urbanism? Finn argues that it is, and points to the functionally indoor nature of projects in other extreme climates like Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Libeskind’s project was originally planned to be outdoors until the team realized it was not feasible. Still, having a retail project at the very front of a development in Vegas is rare. Inside it will resemble a small city with large public spaces, curving walkways, and changes in scale from small nooks to a 200-foot-high grand stair.

Van Assche and Finn both noted that other Vegas developers are looking at mixed-use and iconic buildings. Boyd Gaming’s Echelon will contain five separate hotels, 9,000 square feet of retail, and two large theaters. The newly-opened Planet Hollywood has a massive retail complex at its front door, and Harrah’s is reportedly considering a mixed-use, multi-building mega-development as well. “I think it’s the evolution of where the city is going to go,” said Van Assche.

Like anything in Vegas, CityCenter’s goal is to attract attention and stand out from the pack. And so it appears that like the flashing neon signs before them, the pyramids and Grand Canals will give way to Libeskind’s jagged steel forms and Jahn’s diagonal towers, the newest icons in a city full of them. 

Sam Lubell is the California editor of AN. 


Mandarin Oriental
Kohn Pedersen Fox

Unlike the majority of CityCenter, which attempts to introduce a new form of urbanism to Las Vegas through a pedestrian-friendly, open-access environment, Kohn Pedersen Fox’s Mandarin Oriental goes out of its way to create an isolated and exclusive world of luxury and tranquility, well-insulated from the crush of the city. Sited along the Strip, the 46-story, 1.2-million-square-foot hotel is separated from the development by its main access road, and is further delineated by a high-walled courtyard planted with bamboo trees. “The entry sequence was very important,” said KPF principal Paul Katz, “because this is a five-star hotel, guests will arrive from the airport in a limo and step right out into the world of the Mandarin.” From the courtyard, visitors take a shuttle elevator to the sky lobby, which is on the 26th floor; and from the sky lobby there is the option to ride down to the 400 hotel rooms, or up to the 215 full service condos. The building’s high-performance curtain wall combines insulated aluminum panels with ceramic-fritted, low-e coated glass in a 60/40 mix to create high levels of transparency while mitigating heat loading from the sun. AS



ARIA Hotel & Casino
Pelli Clarke Pelli

As the centerpiece of MGM’s development, Pelli Clarke Pelli’s 6.1-million-square-foot ARIA hotel and casino epitomizes the project’s spirit of interconnectivity, featuring easy or direct links to the buildings by Libeskind, Foster, Viñoly, and Jahn. It’s also permeable in other ways: In a revolutionary gesture for Vegas, the architects opened up the casino and convention center to daylight and views to the exterior. The facility also features a black box theater for the Cirque du Soleil, 4,000 hotel rooms, and a pool area arranged within a podium and tower. The podium’s plan of two interlocking circles helps to limit views down the long corridors to the tangent of the circles, creating more intimate environments within the massive enclosure. The tower also plays with views. The high-tech curtain wall combines fritted, low-e coated vision glass panels with shadow box panels of glass to achieve a shading coefficient appropriate for the desert sun while maintaining a consistent materiality. Also, the cladding over each room features an angle, or prow, which invites guests to look out at oblique angles, to take in more of the cityscape and mountains. AS

Veer Towers
(above, left)

Rising above CityCenter’s retail and entertainment district, Helmut Jahn’s Veer Towers distinguish themselves with a seeming feat of engineering. Inclined in opposite directions at 85 and 95 degrees respectively, the towers appear attracted toward each other, conveying the distinct relationship between them. The off-kilter forms, however, reflect the pragmatic logic of unit layouts. “Structurally, it looks challenging, but it’s not so mysterious,” said Francisco González Pulido, principal architect with Murphy/Jahn. The structure is created from a three-floor module composed of repeating unit plans. The 37-story towers will include approximately 337 units made up of studios, one- and two-bedroom residences, and penthouses ranging from a modest 500 to over 3,000 square feet. The transparent reflective glass facade with perforated aluminum framing includes fins to promote energy-efficient climate control. Yellow ceramic frit encased in the glass modulates sunlight and provides residents with privacy, while creating a checkerboard pattern on the facade, boldly expressing the building’s program on its skin. DR

The Crystal
Studio Daniel Libeskind 
(above, center)

Daniel Libeskind’s shopping and entertainment hub called the Crystal holds the center of the complex, not so much like the anchor of a mall, but organically, like a heart with main arteries and secondary conduits to enhance free-flowing circulation. “I am aiming for a new sense of orientation where people are not locked in a box with one way in and out,” said Libeskind. “It’s a shaped space with its own topography. There are many ways to come and go or move from level to level. It’s a work in the round.” The 650,000-square-foot structure is lapped in metal petals that break down into discrete volumes with large interstitial openings that Libeskind described (in terms of scale) as “beyond any skylights ever known.” Restaurant, entertainment, and retail interiors are being designed concurrently by the Rockwell Group and billed as a “natural and electronic landscape” for shopping and dining. Nesting between Foster’s Harmon and Jahn’s Veer, the Crystal aims to create the cosmopolitan urbanism of a European piazza within a highly climate-controlled environment. “This is no longer the signs-and-signals Vegas of Venturi,” said Libeskind. “It’s no longer just about surface. This is true urban growth.” JVI

The Harmon Hotel, Spa and Residences
Foster + Partners
(above, right)

If the strategy of CityCenter is to break out of the prejudices surrounding Las Vegas as a city of low-brow kitsch, then the Harmon Hotel, Spa and Residences, designed by Foster + Partners, is meant to be a defining structure that brings gravitas to glitter. Towering above Planet Hollywood across the Strip and diagonally across from the Paris’ faux Eiffel Tower, its walls are glass. Bear in mind that transparency has always been a taboo in this city of windowless casinos, where gamblers don’t know whether it’s day or night. Eschewing decadence, Foster has fashioned a column that borrows more from the Gherkin, his insurance headquarters in London, than from anything in Vegas. No surprise. In his film Casino, Martin Scorcese was telling us that the accountants were pushing aside the mobsters and cowboys, and the Harmon reads as a monument to the corporate domination of Sin City. There are no winks and no gambling in Foster’s austere column, but there’s something very Vegas all the same. Building higher and more expensively is another way of raising the ante, and Vegas gamblers love nothing more than a high-stakes game. DD


Vdara Condo Hotel
Rafael Viñoly Architects

In the Vdara Condo Hotel, a 57-story glass ascent of three overlapping curves, Rafael Viñoly echoes the message of the Foster tower at the nearby Harmon Hotel: There is no kitsch-theming here, beyond a cool corporate assurance that says, “Vegas, not ‘Vegas.’” Gambling won’t be among the offerings at this non-gaming facility, and owners of the more than 1,500 condominium units won’t share a lobby with retirees stampeding to the slots. Wedged into the dream-team ensemble, the Viñoly crescents stand in a corner—alone as any 57-story building can be, a block from the Vegas strip, at a distance from the Crystal, Daniel Libeskind’s retail and entertainment hub. And unlike the Crystal, the Vdara does not repeat forms that are signature elements in its architect’s style. The Viñoly design offers the promise of modernist, even minimalist elegance, once again echoing the larger ensemble’s ambition to refine—and perhaps redefine—Las Vegas. Yet the glass curves send a mixed message: It is part Miami hotel that opens to the sun and sand (the desert, rather than the beach), and part garden corporate headquarters (although the packed garden of highrises in CityCenter barely gives Vdara room to breathe). Its nostalgic simplicity gives off the welcoming feel of Brasília, rather than a hastily-built Dubai. But not too welcoming. The graceful curves form an enclosure as they turn their back to the street, which is marketed as exclusivity. And exclusive it is: 900 square feet in the Vdara starts at $1.3 million. DD

LEEDing Las Vegas

With all the blinking lights, splashing fountains, and blasting air-conditioners, Las Vegas is probably at the bottom of any list of places one would associate with sustainable design. But with rising energy costs and environmental awareness becoming increasingly mainstream, CityCenter hopes to be a model for green thinking in Sin City. Though all the buildings at CityCenter will seek LEED certification, most of their sustainable features are conventional and relatively modest: low-VOC paints, extensive use of daylighting, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and drip-irrigation for the landscaping.

Like the city’s privatized monorail, however, sometimes large-scale private development can yield green results through the creation of efficient infrastructure. Much of the development’s energy will be generated at an on-site cogeneration plant. The plant will recycle the heat generated by producing electricity for the hot water used throughout the complex.

Also, by striving to create a truly urban place with density and a diversity of uses, residents and visitors to CityCenter will be less reliant on cars and taxis, which, with gas prices continuing to climb, seems a very wise wager for the future. AGB

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Getting Dense

In last year’s developers issue, we focused on California’s highrises: the most obvious indication that the state is finally embracing infill density over sprawl. Yet in fact, most of California’s density is forming at a much lower altitude, in mixed-use projects within commercial corridors.

Mixed-use projects may not be universally embraced (fears of congestion and disruption of the local character are common), but their diversity and size often significantly bolster neighborhood vibrancy and efficiency while keeping development from spreading further away. Scales and solutions vary widely, of course, but you’ll notice in our roundup of projects across the state that many involve top-tier architecture firms and sensitive urban solutions like public plazas, street-level retail, sustainable design, live/work units, underground parking, and terraced and divided massing—an indicator that development doesn’t have to mean destruction of a neighborhood. Many people point out that locating new buildings on commercial boulevards rather than in the midst of residential areas is the best way to absorb the state’s staggering growth without intensely affecting people’s living environments. Locating them near mass transit is another tool, although that option is still slow to come in many parts of California.

And of all the mixed-use projects we’ve seen, many of the best come from the same place: West Hollywood. Thanks to a design-savvy and discerning planning commission and planning department, recent infrastructure improvements, a clear master plan, a population knowledgeable about aesthetics, and a proactive urban designer, John Chase, the area has attracted top design talent and is home to an enviable roster of mixed-use projects. Most are going up in its commercial districts along Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards. This is not to say that things have been easy: Just uttering the word “development” in many WEHO circles invites violent protest, and last summer, the city passed interim ordinances limiting the scale of development until further analysis is completed. But this just makes the scope of work here all the more impressive. Let’s face it, growth is inevitable, so we might as well grow the right way.

Produced by Sam Lubell with contributions from Danielle Rago and Helen Te.



West Hollywood

Location: 8120 Santa Monica Blvd.
Architect: Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects
Developer: Pacific Development Partners, LLC/Walgreen Co. Joint Venture
Size: 120,000 sq. ft.
Completion Date: Spring 2009

Not your usual Walgreens, this project includes ground-level retail and 28 units with private gardens above. The project will be covered with a skin composed of stabilized aluminum foam.  

Location: 9040 Sunset Blvd.
Architect: Eric Owen Moss Architects
Developer: Weintraub Financial Services
Size: 187,710 sq. ft.
Completion: 2011

Featuring Moss’ off-kilter floorplates and hard-edged forms, this retail, hotel, and residential project is built around an 11-story hotel with a glazed curtain wall. The smaller residential block will enclose small public and private courtyards. 

Location: 8430 Sunset Blvd.
Architect: Kanner Architects
Developer: Combined Properties
Size: 225,000 sq. ft.
Completion: In design

The project includes a hotel, condominiums, a cafe, retail spaces, and an entertainment venue. The five-, six-, and seven-story hotel features maze-like, projecting floorplates. The residential portions of the project are much lower-scale and inconspicuous, terracing downhill from the site.

Location: 9040-9098 Santa Monica Blvd., 603-633 Almont Dr., and 9001-9021 Melrose Ave.
Architect: Studio One Eleven and Perkowitz+Ruth Architects
Developer: The Charles Company
Size: 250,000 sq. ft.
Completion: In design

This mini-city is marked by large roof overhangs, inset windows, and large bays. The project includes several floors of shopping—much of it outdoors—a parking garage, and apartments.

Location: 1342 Hayworth Ave.
Architect: Pugh + Scarpa
Developer: Grovewood Properties
Size: 28,000 sq. ft.
Completion: Spring 2009

With 16 units of luxury condominiums over a 36-car garage, these stacked townhouses are oriented to create two landscaped courtyards: One faces the street, while the other creates a communal front entry space for residents. A perforated copper skin wraps the facades.

Location: 8801 Sunset Blvd.
Architect: Gensler
Developer: Centrum Sunset
Size: 53,000 sq. ft.
Completion: 2011/2012

Built on the site of the legendary Tower Records building, this development includes office and retail space, as well as a David Barton spa and gym. The project wraps around the corner of Sunset Boulevard with a repetitive pattern of large concrete facade columns, due to be lined with large billboards.

Location: 627 North La Peer
Architect: Moule & Polyzoides Architects
Developer: A.J. Khair
Size: 63,000 sq. ft., 8 condominium units, 69 hotel rooms
Completion: 2010

The project shows how traditional design can be done in a stylish way, with both Spanish and Art Deco motifs and a variety of scales and massing, all aligned with the street grid in a very urban manner. 

Location: 7350 Santa Monica Blvd.
Architect: Tighe Architecture
Developer: West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation
Size: 5 floors, 42 units
Completion: 2008

The project includes 42 affordable, one-bedroom units and retail on the ground floor. An outdoor courtyard provides a garden for residents, and each apartment will have its own private outdoor space.

Location: 8350-8364 Santa Monica Blvd.
Architect: Koning Eizenberg Architecture
Developer: Combined Properties
Size: 20 units with commercial space at grade
Completion: Entitlements completed spring 2008

The project reflects adjacent residential zoning by stepping down and breaking up the rear facade with private courtyards. The ground level combines retail and on-grade parking. 

Location: 901 Hancock Ave./8759 Santa Monica Blvd.
Architect: Koning Eizenberg Architecture
Developer: CIM Group
Size: 133,476 sq. ft.
Completion: Late 2008

The 77,500 sq. ft. project features 11,000 sq. ft. of ground floor commercial retail and restaurant, with 40 housing units (33 condos and 7 affordable). Live-work housing units are proposed at ground level.

Location: Santa Monica Blvd. and West Knoll Drive
Architect: Aleks Istanbullu Architects
Developer: Seven Sandmore
Size: 8,700 sq. ft. of ground floor retail, 52,000 sq. ft. of residential space
Completion: 2010

This four-story building contains residential blocks sitting above a continous story of sidewalk retail. Nineteen condominiums are located above, separated by 15-foot-wide courtyards.

Location: 7302 Santa Monica Blvd.
Architect: Van Tilburg, Banvard + Soderbergh
Developer: Casden Movietown
Size: 526,800 sq. ft.
Completion: 2012

This sustainable project contains 20,000 sq. ft. of retail (including a new Trader Joe’s), 304 condominiums, and 76 senior rental units. A public plaza and streetside retail are planned to create a walking-friendly environment.




Best of the Rest

Location: San Jose
Architect: Brand + Allen Architects
Developer: Wilson Meany Sullivan
Size: 561,472 sq. ft.
Completion: 2013

Part of the master plan to revitalize downtown San Jose, the project, which includes residential and retail elements, encloses and activates a public plaza fronted by the San Jose Repertory Theater.

Location: 1 Kearny, San Francisco
Architect: Charles F. Bloszies
Developer/Owner: 1 Kearny
Size: 10-floor addition to 12-floor building, 120,000 sq. ft.
Completion: 2009

Including office and ground floor retail, this renovation of a 1902 building uses the surrounding structures as seismic “bookends” for the original building. The new addition is clad in a glass-and-aluminum curtain wall.

Location: 55 Laguna St., San Francisco
Architect: Van Meter Williams Pollack
Developer: AF Evans Development
Size: 450 residential units, 10,000 sq. ft. of community facility space, 5,000 sq. ft. retail
Completion: 2012

This redevelopment of the former UC Berkeley Extension Campus will include new construction and the preservation of historically significant buildings.

Location: 55 Harrison St., Oakland
Architect: RMW in Association with Steve Worthington
Developer: Ellis Partners
Size: 1 million sq. ft.
Completion Phase I: 2009

The square is undergoing a $300 million redevelopment that includes restaurants, entertainment, new parking facilities, and Class A office space.

Location: Broadway and North Harbor Dr., San Diego
Architect: Tucker Sadler
Developer: Manchester Financial
Size: 3.95 million sq. ft.
Completion: Proposed

Located on the North Embarcadero of the San Diego Bay, the project—if approved—will include almost 4 million sq. ft. of hospitality, office, and retail space.

Location: Roscoe Blvd. and Tobias Ave., Panorama City
Architects: Nadel Architects
Developer: Maefield
Size: 1 million sq. ft.
Completion: Fall 2009

This development will feature a three-level vertical lifestyle center with over 415,000 sq. ft. of retail and five levels of parking. It will also include big-box retail and smaller street-front shops.

Location: Anaheim
Architect: RTKL, Kanner Architects, 30th St. Architects, RTK, and MBH
Developer: CIM Group
Size: 129 condominium units, 276 apartment units, 56,803 sq. ft. of street-level retail, and 32,056 sq. ft. of office space
Completion: In design

This project includes 500 housing units, plus retail and restaurant space surrounding downtown Anaheim’s main street.

Location: 9900 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills
Architect: Richard Meier & Partners Architects
Developer: Project Lotus
Size: 203 units, 895,000 sq. ft. (residential), 16,000 sq. ft. (retail)
Completion: 2011

Designed to be sensitive to the neighboring hotel and golf course, the project is located on an 8-acre site between Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards, and constitutes the western entrance to Beverly Hills.

Location: 2901 E. Olympic Blvd., Boyle Heights, Los Angeles
Architect: Torti Gallas
Developer: Fifteen Group
Size: 6.1 million sq. ft.
Completion: 2020

The $2 billion plan calls for redeveloping the 1930s apartment complex to include 4,400 residential units, 300,000 sq. ft. of retail and commercial space, as well as 9 acres of publicly accessible open space.

Location: 6121 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
Architect: Johnson Fain
Developer: Apollo Real Estate Advisors
Size: 380,000 sq. ft. of offices, 20,000 sq. ft. of retail, 330 units, 125-room hotel
Completion: In design

Located at the historic CBS/Columbia Square Studio site, a 35-story residential tower and 16-story office tower rise from a ground floor mix of hotel, retail, and open space.

Location: 6200 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
Architect: VTBS
Developer: Clarett Group
Size: 1.12 million sq. ft.
Completion: 2011

Spanning both sides of Hollywood Boulevard on a 7-acre parcel are nine buildings of rental housing, with affordable units, public open space, live/work lofts, and retail. The project, which is seeking LEED certification, is next to the legendary Art Deco Pantages Theater.

Location: 5661 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood
Architect: Gruen Associates
Developer: Continental Development
Size: 375 units, 377,000 sq. ft. (retail), 1680 parking spaces
Completion: 2010

Located on a 5.5-acre city block, this project incorporates a historic department store. Much of the retail is street-facing, and the buildings include high-rise, stoop housing, and town houses to create an urban ambience.

Location: Chandler Blvd. and Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood
Architect: AC Martin
Developer: Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group
Size: 1.75 million sq. ft.
Completion: Proposed

Planned around a multi-modal transit station, the proposal includes a central plaza and an arcade linking the proposed grid of the project blocks, which respond in scale and configuration to the existing urban fabric.

6230 YUCCA
Location: Hollywood
Architect: Ehrlich Architects
Developer: Second Street Ventures
Size: 115,000 sq. ft.
Completion: 2010/2011

One block from the historic Hollywood and Vine intersection, this 16-story tower won entitlement after a battle with nearby Capitol Records. It includes eight live-work townhomes, 85 residential units in the tower, and 13,500 sq. ft. of creative commercial space.

Location: 6250 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
Architect: HKS Hill Glazier Studio
Developer: Gatehouse Capital Corp. and Legacy Partners
Size: 330,000 sq. ft. condo, 300,000 sq. ft. hotel, 50,000 sq. ft. retail
Completion: 2009

This project includes a 305-room W hotel, 143 luxury W for sale residences, 375 luxury apartments, and street-level retail.


Back to School

With his Cooper Union Academic Building nearing completion in New York City, Thom Mayne has been selected to design yet another educational facility: the permanent home for Emerson College's Los Angeles Center. The Boston-based institution has maintained an LA-based entertainment-focused program for 20 years. Its approximately 95 students currently take classes in a rented Burbank space and live in the nearby Oakwood Apartments.

“This is an ideal project for us and for Los Angeles," said Mayne in a statement. "We are looking forward to realizing, in our own city, a building that meets the programmatic needs of the institution, expresses Emerson’s unique identity and spirit, and makes a significant contribution to one of L.A.'s most dynamic urban contexts." The planned complex will be located, appropriately, in Hollywood and will house both academic and residential buildings. The 37,244-square-foot lot at the corner of Sunset and Gordon streets was purchased by the school last year.

Eavesdrop: Alissa Walker


Seven strangers were picked to live in a house, yes, but a few episodes into MTV’s The Real World: Hollywood, fans have realized this is not your typical season. One housemate has already been to rehab and back, and two people have—spoiler alert!—moved out. But hey, at least the counters are made from recycled glass! Yes, folks, you can indulge in this altered reality with a clear conscience because this Real World house is sustainable. The house—which is located in the old CBS studios at Columbia Square—was designed by veteran MTV production designer Chuck Aubrey, who opted for such details as bamboo flooring, Bosch Energy Star appliances, energy-efficient lighting, and a solarheated pool. It’s the perfect environmentally-responsible backdrop for rampant nudity, anti-gay screaming matches, racial slurs, and more multiple-partner sex than we’ve seen this side of Boogie Nights. Of course, while the Hollywood cast threw its sustainable orgies on a mostly-isolated property, a recent announcement came to us via Eavesdrop NY that next season’s The Real World: Brooklyn will be shot in the borough’s BellTel Lofts. The first Real World in a real highrise. Find out what happens when real neighbors stop being polite and start getting real.



As gossip blogs breathlessly await photographic proof of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s twins, the architecture world ponders another mystery: Which architect(s) will they name their kids after this time? Since two-year-old Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt is obviously named after Jean Nouvel (and a Neil Diamond song) we’re sure they’ll only be considering Pritzker-winning names this time around. Might we suggest our two favorites: Sweet Caroline Koolhaas Jolie-Pitt and Holly Holy Herzog & de Meuron Jolie-Pitt. But while Jolie’s fulfilling her role as the world’s sexiest balloon, Pitt’s busy conceiving other projects on the opposite side of the world: He’ll be designing an 800-room sustainable hotel in Dubai for developers Zabeel Properties. No, he’s not AIA accredited, but his longtime collaborators at LA-based GRAFT, who steered his Make it Right program in New Orleans, will make sure it doesn’t fall down. While we’ve known of Pitt’s dalliances with design for quite some time now, a recent statement from Pitt makes it sound like he might step away from in front of the camera for life. Said Pitt: “Whilst acting is my career, architecture is my passion.” Whilst? Whilst? Spoken like a true architect.


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Frame Sweet Frame
Courtesy Oyler Wu Collaborative

In late June the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Design announced that LA firm Oyler Wu Collaborative had won its LINER competition, to outfit the Forum’s newly acquired headquarters at 6520 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Forum’s roughly 1,000-square-foot storefront space and gallery, which they will occupy by early fall, will be located on the ground floor of Woodbury University’s Hollywood Center for Community Research and Design. Woodbury is loaning the Forum the area indefinitely.

Oyler Wu’s intervention, designed to accommodate the Forum’s public events, exhibitions, and day-to-day operations, was chosen from a list of 29 original entries and a three-firm short list that also included LA-based F-Lab and San Francisco-based Kuth Ranieri Architects. Oyler Wu will receive a $2500 prize.

Their $7,500 project, Pendulum Plane, which the firm describes as an “intricate ceiling system,” will consist of a series of sixteen 40 x 90-inch hinged and counterbalanced aluminum frames that can swivel into varied positions to accommodate different types of exhibitions, lectures, and other activities. Attached to the topmost walls of the new space along a central spine, the angular frames, said Oyler Wu principal Jenny Wu, can be lowered, raised, rotated, and moved from side to side. Hence they can be the center of attention, or they can easily be moved out of the way, added Wu. Design is already underway, and fabrication and installation will take place through the summer.

The Forum, which has been without its own space since its founding in 1987, will host an opening for their new headquarters in late summer or early fall, said its president, designer and writer Mohamed Sharif. Oyler Wu’s project is receiving engineering support from Buro Happold Consulting Engineers and patronage from facade systems manufacturer Swisspearl.

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Green House of Representatives

Edward Norton testifying before Congress' committee on energy independence and global warming.
Courtesy U.S. House of Representatives

When the Democratic Party gained control of Congress two years ago, House Democrats created the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. The committee’s mission is clear from its URL alone——and over the course of its tenure, the committee has heard testimony from scientists, environmentalists, politicians, professors, and business leaders. Yesterday it added green building experts to that list.

At a hearing entitled “Building Green, Saving Green: Constructing Sustainable and Energy-Efficient Buildings,” five stars in the field, including one from Hollywood, spoke about how Congress should push for laws that would require more sustainable building practices nationwide.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom spoke about, among other things, his proposal to require large-scale private developments to adhere to LEED standards. (As we reported last year, mayor Newsom is in a race with Los Angeles to see which city can push their plan through first.) Michelle Moore, a senior vice president at the U.S. Green Building Council, testified about the considerable impact of buildings on the environment and how they can be mitigated through smart building and, equally if not more importantly, retrofitting practices.

Kent Peterson, president of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, spoke about the importance of implementing tough energy standards within local building codes. Tony Stall, vice president for marketing at Dryvit, testified to the importance of cladding systems, like those his company produces, in reducing the energy requirements of a building.

But the darling of the day was no doubt Edward Norton, environmentalist, friend of the High Line, and grandson of a famed developer. Norton was speaking in his capacity as a trustee of Enterprise Community Partners, the community development non-profit his grandfather, James Rouse, founded. He urged Congress to ensure that sustainability reaches all Americans, not just those who can afford it. 

Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Courtesy U.S. House of Representatives

The committee is due to post a video of the proceedings on its website soon, and the testimony of the five speakers is already there. In the meantime, check out The San Francisco Chronicle for a story focusing on Newsom’s testimony and his initiative, which AN’s California bureau says is due out in the near future. 

Private Greens

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.