Search results for "hollywood"

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Announcing Winners: A New Infrastructure
An image from the winning entry, Mas Transit, by Joshua G. Stein/RadicalCraft, Aaron Whelton/AAW Studio, and Jaclyn Thomforde with Jacob M. Brostoff

On March 21, SCI-Arc's SCI-FI program and The Architect’s Newspaper announced the winners of their open ideas competition, A New Infrastructure: Innovative Transit Solutions for Los Angeles.

The competition, inspired by LA County Measure R—a half-cent sales tax hike that promises up to $40 billion in transit funding for the city— attracted 75 proposals from around the world. It offered architects, engineers, urban planners, and students a chance to propose new ideas for the city's transit infrastructure. Their entries focused on specific rail extension projects in the city and also take a look at larger-scale, interrelated planning challenges.

The competition jury included architects Thom Mayne, Eric Owen Moss, and Neil Denari;  Aspet Davidian, director, Project Engineering Facilities, LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Cecilia V. Estolano, chief executive officer, CRA/LA; Gail Goldberg, director of planning, City of Los Angeles; Roland Genik, urban planner and transit designer; and Geoff Wardle, director, Advanced Mobility Research at Art Center College of Design.


First Prize
Más Transit: Joshua G. Stein/RadicalCraft, Aaron Whelton/AAW Studio, and Jaclyn Thomforde with Jacob M. Brostoff

Más is regional high-speed rail for Los Angeles with a landscape to match. Promoting dense, organic development, it diversifies the communities in the built environment, making travel less necessary, easier and more predictable, and bypassing roadway congestion through a new raised infrastructure. Looping around the city, with connections to subways and buses, Más links local and inter-regional commuting; providing frequent service that will also sync up with the California High Speed Rail network. San Diego via más is less than an hour away, including transfer times; San Francisco is less than three hours away.


Second Prize
Infrastructural Armature: Fletcher Studio: David Fletcher, Dylan Barlow, Ryan Chandler, Daniel Phillips, Tobi Adamolekun

Recognizing the vital role that mobility, water, and sewage will play in Los Angeles' future, the city must begin to invest in a core armature of new bundled infrastructures which will allow the city to survive the impending reality of peak water and peak oil.  The city must reorganize along the matrices of transportation, water and sewer networks, and grow infrastructural tentacles out into the world to ship and receive.



Third Prize
Mag Luv: Osborn: Holly Chisholm, Kate Harvey, Armen Isagholi, Takeshi Kobayashi, Michael Pinto, Jared Sopko, Esmeralda Ward, Yuju Yeo

The scheme proposes eroding a portion of the freeway and supplanting it with a new object, mode, and form for adoration—Mag Luv. The high speed magnetic levitation peripheral train appropriates freeway, right of way, and “dream space” to become the mega structure of the Los Angeles transit system. The loop circumnavigates the city providing 12 hubs of activity, transportation, and power production.



Mobility on Demand: RSA: Dwight Bond, Diane Tadena, James Wong

A combination of rail, light-rail, smart cars, bike share, and different bus systems will provide easy connections in and between cities. Multiple vehicle types provide users with choices among combinations of cost, comfort, and functionality. A commuter might choose to ride the train to work, pick up a smart car to attend a meeting, go to the gym, or pick up groceries before going back home. In creating a dense commercial and residential environment to support and foster the inevitable expansion of the transit system, the scheme also investigates alternative development strategies that are adaptable to the ever-changing conditions of our urban culture.


Green Tech City: NBBJ: Harry Bairamian, Hrant Bairamian, So Eun Cho, Tony Choi, Scott Hunter, Byoung Kweon, Anthony Manzo, Nnamdi Ugenyi, Jonathan Ward, Tim Zamora

This scheme created green-tech districts along the Westside expansion corridor stretching from downtown to Santa Monica. The plan likened itself to a living organism, including a Skeletal System composed of new green districts between stations; a respiratory system that included a 2.5-mile green park along the length of the transit system; and tendons, which were linkages to the community, like freeway bridges, human-scaled densities, walkability plans, urban parks, and agricultural zones.


Go Mixed-Modal: Tom Beresford

In 2000, LA Metro gambled that it could increase both ridership and transit efficiency by making a bus a little more like a subway: The Metro Rapid. Mixed-modal goes even further to suggest that any bus has the potential to go “local,” “rapid,” or “express” at coordinated points along its route to flexibly serve transit demand. A bus may go “express” by entering grade-separated express lanes shared with planned or existing rail modes, with the help of new frictionless electric power-transfer technologies and hybrid rail/road drive surfaces. The mixed-modal project offers a vision of what the Expo line might look like if it operated as the “trunk” of a regional transit tree with “branches” extending up and down existing Metro Rapid lines.



First Prize
Glocalizing Los Angeles: Ryan Lovett

The physical separations between places of work and play have become outdated and burdensome. Meanwhile the divide between commercial, residential, agricultural, and manufacturing zones have become so exaggerated that the infrastructures needed to connect and sustain them crumble in lack of upkeep and congestion. In conjunction with newer, faster transit systems, this plan proposes a simple development strategy that collapses the distances between all the elements needed to support our lifestyles by suggesting that workplaces, as well as production of food and goods, be within walking distance.


Second Prize
Modular Diffusion: Alan Lu, Yan-ping Wang

In a car, the passenger can go from any given point to another in one continuous trip.  To achieve this level of mobility in tandem with an increase in roadway capacity, we introduce a mass transit system based upon a Modular Transit Vehicle (MTV for short).  This modular system would allow passengers to (1) board from a wide range of street stops, (2) travel along the freeway, and (3) take the freeway exit closest to the destination and drop passengers off there, all in one ride.


Third Prize
Freeways Are For Trains: Ben Abelman, Vivian Ngo, Julia Siedle

This team believes that Los Angeles need not invest in a “new” public transportation system but transform its existing transportation system of freeways into “trainways.”  By taking over “freeways” with rail tracks, a comprehensive expansion of the LA Metro will respond to the projects that are indicated in Measure R and will commence at a much lower cost due to taking advantage of the rights of ways established by the freeway.



Feeding Community and the Gold Line
Roe Goodman
University of British Columbia

If we are to develop along a freeway we need to keep in mind that the surrounding residential neighborhoods need to access the train in a way that encourages a shift away from car dependency. This entry proposes a string of micro-scale infill developments along a bus line that feeds into the Eastside Transit Corridor. Positioned along newly developed commercial corridors, stops have waiting rooms that store bikes, serve as markets, and create a center of community.


Interstate 10
Tim Do, George LaBeth, Randy Stogsdill

This scheme proposes a reconsideration of the existing freeway corridor as a multi-function transit corridor. The existing freeway would be retrofitted with a new structure that over a series of stages adds layers of public and environmentally friendly transit options. As this second tier becomes more populated, greenscaping is added, converting the freeway corridor into a vibrant public space.


Minjeong Gweon
Cal Poly Pomona

Los Angeles’ current subway network relies too much on a centralized spoke-network approach. A more effective subway system should also include cross-linkages. This subway design project looks to develop a new cross-link between the existing red line (which connects Hollywood and Downtown) and the future purple Westside Extension line. The proposed connecting line would add three new stops: the first at Santa Monica Blvd. and Highland Ave, the second at Santa Monica and Fairfax, and the third at La Cienega. The connecting point to the red line would be at Hollywood and Highland, and the connecting point to the future purple line would be located at the Beverly Center.



Fast, Fluid & Free: ODBC/ Odile Decq

This project takes advantage of LA’s polycentric character, developing a grid of multimodal transit systems, articulated on different levels within the existing city. On the scale of the city, the plan proposes a Free Car Transport System, on the model of free bike systems largely developed in Europe today. Electric cars will be available for hire throughout the city. Other proposals include Smooth Jumps over Motorways: stations that combine the urban proposal of green park links between the two sides of the freeways by building a station over them, and containing contain carparks, commerce, Free Car and Free Bike  stations.


The Answer Is Not Mass(ive) Transit: Wes Jones

Instead of the massive, resource-intensive, and inflexible infrastructure that results from top-down approaches to planning, this proposal argues, why not consider a flexible, pragmatic, small-scale, bottom-up approach? Introducing the Elov, a small, pod-like vehicle that fits into less space than a smart car and reduces the volume of traffic by serving the same number of occupants in only one quarter of the space. Because of its light weight and micromotor efficiency, the Elov can be charged overnight using home outlets, further reducing the required infrastructure.



Friday, March 27, 2-4 pm
A New Infrastructure Discussion:
Competition Winners and METRO Transit Officials
Metro Headquarters
Windsor Room, 15th Floor
One Gateway Plaza
Los Angeles
Thursday, April 2, 7-9 pm
A New Infrastructure Discussion:
Transit And The City Panel Discussion
MAK Center at the Schindler House
835 North Kings Road
West Hollywood

Tuesday, April 14, 7-9 pm
A New Infrastructure Discussion:
Transit and The Community Panel Discussion
GOOD Space
6824 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles

Friday, June 26, 1:45-3:15 pm
A New Infrastructure Discussion:
Architects And Transit Panel Discussions
AIA Mobius/ Dwell Conference
Los Angeles Convention Center
1201 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles

Sponsors for A New Infrastructure include AECOM, Arup, and Sussman/Prezja. The project is also funded in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles' Department of Cultural Affairs.

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jamba juice headquarters by pollack architecture with torrance steel windows
eric laignel


Astec Architectural Bronze
Via dell’Artigianto, 3031030 Dosson di Casier,
Treviso, Italy;

Centria Architectural Systems
Los Angeles;

Ideal Mechanical
8524 Abelette Rd.,
Santee, CA;

5, Rue de la Roche Grolleau,
Lusignan, France;


3676 Alameda Ave.,
Oakland, CA;

Cami de Can Ferran s/n,
Pol. Industrial Coll. De la Manya,
Barcelona, Spain;

Grosvenor Solutions in Glass
1238 Richards St.,
Vancouver, BC, Canada;

Metal Window Corporation
501 South Isis Ave., Inglewood, CA;

Oldcastle Glass
2425 Olympic Blvd.,
Santa Monica, CA;

Olde Good Glass
1800 South Grand Ave.,
Los Angeles;

Pilkington North America
811 Madison Ave.,
Toledo, OH;

United Glass and Door
55672 Yucca Trail,
Yucca Valley, CA;

Torrance Steel Windows
1819 Abalone Ave.,
Torrance, CA;

800 Park Dr.,
Owatonna, MN;


Backroads Lumber
P.O. Box 81,
Placerville, CO;

661 Brea Canyon Rd.,
Walnut, CA;

Spectrum Oak
1038 North Lemon St.,
Orange, CA;

205 North Mt. Shasta Blvd.,
Mt. Shasta, CA;

Tremont Stairways & Railings
18 Keefer Rd.,
St. Catharines, ON, Canada;


Advanced Concrete Enhancement
11070 Fleetwood St.,
Sun Valley, CA;

Bisazza Mosaico
8371 Melrose Ave.,
Los Angeles;

1137 57th Ave.,
Oakland, CA;

Gladding, McBean
601 7th St.,
Lincoln, CA;

Sadler Stone
3551 Camino Mira Costa,
San Clemente, CA;

430 Arthur Sauvé St., Eustache, 
Quebec, Canada;

851 Enterprise Way,
Fullerton, CA;

Stone Source
9500A Jefferson Bvld.,
Culver City, CA;

Vermont Structural Slate
3 Prospect St.,
Fair Haven, VT;

Walker Zanger Showroom
8750 Melrose Ave.,
West Hollywood, CA;

Willis Construction Co., Inc.
2261 San Juan Hwy.,
San Juan Bautista, CA;


2300 South 2300 West,
Salt Lake City, UT;

5835 Adams Blvd.,
Culver City, CA;

P.O. Box 410592,
Charlotte, NC;

Sandhill Plastics
119 West 19th St.,
Kearney, NE;

Sika Corporation
201 Polito Ave.,
Lyndhurst, NJ;




pine street condominiums by owen kennerly architects with oldcastle glass


Metal Window Corporation worked closely with us to modify their standard extrusions and co-fabricated additional parts that could interface with our other prefabricated building components for the Off-grid itHouse. They were able to trim down the extrusions to a very small profile and enhance the look of the window and doors to maximize the views and simplicity of the system.”
Linda Taalman
Taalman Koch

“We’ve been continually using the 3form product out of Utah. In the Neptune home we’re doing a floor out of it soon, and on three other projects, we’re using it. I get a lot of clients who are very happy with it, even though it’s a little pricey. It’s a very stable material, so it’s got some structural value to it. It comes in a nice array of colors and values. I hear from the subcontractors that it’s easy to cut and form. It has great appeal, and good aesthetic value.”
Steven Lombardi
Steven Lombardi Architect

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Fittings and Furniture

the children's place by clive wilkinson architects with western office interiors and vitra


Cascade Coil
9505 SW 90th Ct.,
Tualatin, OR;

Constantine Commercial
220 Montgomery St.,
San Francisco;

Edelman Leather
101 Henry Adams St.,
San Francisco;

564 Pacific Ave.,
San Francisco;

Shaw Floors
616 East Walnut Ave.,
Dalton, GA;


Geiger International
6095 Fulton Industrial Bvld., SW, Atlanta, GA;

900 12th St. Dr. NW,
Hickory, NC;

600 Townsend St.,
San Francisco;

214 Wilshire Blvd.,
Santa Monica, CA;

Moroso dba Unifor
146 Greene St.,
New York, NY;

Poltrona Frau
141 Wooster St.,
New York, NY;

Quinze & Milan
Walle 113, 8500 Kortrijk, Belgium;

28-30 Greene St.,
New York, NY;

Valley City Architectural Furniture
64 Hatt St., Dundas,
Ontario, Canada;

Vitra Los Angeles
8753 Washington Blvd.,
Culver City, CA;

Western Office Interiors
500 Citadel Dr.,
Los Angeles;


Lost and Found Etcetera
6314 Yucca St.,
Los Angeles;

Stefan Lawrence
8057 Beverly Blvd.,
Los Angeles;


55 Ferris St.,
Brooklyn, NY;

151 Vermont St.,
San Francisco;


Von Duprin
2720 Tobey Dr.,
Indianapolis, IN;


Boffi Los Angeles
1344 4th St.,
Santa Monica, CA;


5 Tudor City Pl.,
New York, NY;

Duravit Bathroom Furniture

John Boos + Co.
315 South 1st St.,
Effingham, IL;

6015 Power Inn Rd., 
Sacramento, CA;


9006 Beverly Blvd.,
West Hollywood, CA;


Boyd Lighting
944 Folsom St.,
San Francisco;

950 Bolger Ct.,
St. Louis, MO;


7200 Suter Rd.,
Coopersburg, PA;

5 Lumen Ln.,
Highland, NY;

Zumtobel Lighting
44 West 18th St.,
New York, NY;




Western Office Interiors and Vitra provided all of the workstations and most of the ancillary furniture for the Disney Store Headquarters in Pasadena. There was a huge amount of custom work and this team provided virtually every piece on time and with impeccable quality. We worked exclusively with Melanie Becker from Vitra and Dawn Nadeau of Western Office, who worked tirelessly to provide the highest level of product and support, and produced an excellent result.”
John Meachem
Clive Wilkinson Architects

Lost and Found Etcetera is a big decorators’ secret for enlivening modern interiors.”
Barbara Bestor
Bestor Architects


We know these are tough times for newspapers, but something wasn’t right with the list from The Los Angeles Times at year’s end entitled, “The best houses of all time in L.A.” The panel assembled was stellar, if odd: Ray Kappe, Hitoshi Abe, Ron Radziner, Steven Ehrlich (none of whom were allowed to nominate their own work, even though Kappe’s own house made the top 10), David Travers, Crosby Doe (uh, real estate agent who represents plenty of the top picks), Linda Dishman (LA Conservancy=agenda), and non-LA-based Karrie Jacobs (why not choose a voice from our own city—we don’t know, maybe the newspaper’s own architecture critic?). Jurors were given no guidance other than to pick the “best houses,” and thanks to a bizarre point-assigning metric, the result was rather narrow. Although the paper defined Southern California as “Santa Barbara to San Diego, including Palm Springs and the desert,” the top 10 consisted of mostly midcentury homes built from 1920 to 1960 (“of all time”?), almost all of which can be seen on a short drive around the Hollywood Hills. No Spanish Colonials, no Victorians, no Frank Gehry residence, none of the bazillion houses built since 1968. Concerned, UCLA professor Dana Cuff asked a group of advanced architecture students to determine what the heck went wrong with this experiment. The verdict? Even seasoned critics fell victim to the fame game, said student Esra Kahveci: “The absence of a guide led the jury to the most banal version of exploration, and the question of what constitutes ‘the best’ becomes the question of iconic image,” noting that 80 percent of the selected houses had been photographed by Julius Shulman. Even more icky was the accompanying story, an opportunity squandered with descriptions that mostly focused on all the movies shot within them.

Is West Hollywood urban designer John Chase the most flamboyant practitioner of California architecture? At a December event co-organized by your faithful Eavesdropette, Chase lived up to his reputation and then some: Dressed in a Prince-worthy fluorescent orange-and-purple ensemble, he described the too-hot-for-Eavesdrop details of inviting a homeless man into his house to discuss “public vs. private space.” (The story was obviously no shock to Chase’s husband Jonathan Cowan, who shook his head good-naturedly in the front row.) A few weeks later at a panel discussion for the re-release of Chase’s book Everyday Urbanism, guests entering the Hollywood gallery LACE had to walk past a projected film of naked young men playing an innocent game we’d venture to call Slap the Weenie. We asked Chase if he had anything to do with the choice of that particular film. “That was me,” he quipped, “before the change.” As the panel started, fellow editor John Kaliski thanked his daughter, while Chase thanked Monica Lewinsky, “for being such a wonderful subject.” Or perhaps you’ve been on the receiving ends of one of Chase’s famous emails that include some very NSFW websites (to be fair, they do prominently feature design as well as, um, other prominent things). Anyway, it’s all very, very naughty, John! And we love you for it.

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House of the Issue: Lorcan O'Herlihy

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Retail Al Fresco
Space 15 Twenty's alleys and courtyard create a sense of urban fabric.
Michael Wills

Sadly, the mall was invented in California, and most of the state’s stores are still carefully cloistered, with frigid air conditioning and bright lighting that make us forget where we are. But some of the newest retail ventures are taking advantage of California’s beautiful and diverse surroundings, bringing the outdoors in through courtyards, alleys, skylights, natural materials, and other inventive solutions, and reaching out to the neighborhood to foster a sense of community instead of self-containment.

One of the most novel examples is Hollywood’s Space 15 Twenty, a series of lighting warehouses-turned-stores in Hollywood that spans a full block just north of Sunset Boulevard. The unique conglomeration, which combines the best of the mall and the boutique by creating intimate outdoor connections, forms a neighborhood of its own.

A courtyard leads from each of 13 establishments—which include Urban Outfitters (anchoring the complex with an 11,000-square-foot store), Hennessy and Ingalls, and clothing and art stores for the young, hip, and creative—to an outdoor open space, with a stage used for performances, flea markets, and other public events (concerts are programmed by neighboring Amoeba Records). It also has its own eatery named Snackbar, and an art gallery featuring local artists’ work. Each retailer was invited to customize its own space within the stripped-down, exposed-brick and bow-truss interiors that evoke the structure’s former use as a warehouse.

Corey Walter

courtesy comme des garcons
heath ceramics' store (top) features warm, artisanal materials like timbers and bricks, along with an outdoor courtyard. comme des garcons' guerrilla store (ABOVE) brought urban elements inside, like a tower of shopping carts.

On Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood, Heath Ceramics’ new showroom, designed by LA firm Commune, also has an outdoor gathering space notched into the back of the building, used for parties, private dinners, barbecues, and pottery classes. Inside, in contrast with many of its slick neighbors, the store has a lived-in, bohemian feel that belies the firm’s goal to create a “Scandinavian-artisan-meets-Conran’s-Habitat” aesthetic. They achieved this through the use of brick industrial walls, knotty pine floors, unfinished pine cabinets (mimicking the drying racks for a potter’s finished work), powder-coated metal surfaces, hand-painted signs, and faded blue tiles.

In other instances—particularly evident in West Hollywood—nature is wrapped into the building itself. It started back in the 60s when Fred Segal adorned his West Hollywood store on Melrose Avenue in Ficus plants that crawl up the outside, planted in flowerpots or holes in the ground. “It really softens the building and makes for a beautiful presentation,” said Segal’s son, Michael.

Now West Hollywood’s Melrose Avenue shopping area is saturated with natural facades. Marc Jacobs has covered both of its West Hollywood stores in ivy, as did the new boutique for Spanish fashion house Balenciaga, whose planted facade contrasts dramatically with the store’s cool, futuristic interior. Max Azria took the idea a step further, covering its Melrose Avenue store in a swirling facade of interwoven stick bundles (placed on a grid-like wire-steel frame) created by artist Patrick Dougherty. His work, explained art curator Linda Johnson, “alludes to nests, cocoons, hives, and lairs built by animals, as well as the man-made forms of huts, haystacks, and baskets.” This is no Bed Bath & Beyond experience.

Sometimes bringing the outside in can get a little grittier, as with the Comme Des Garçons Guerrilla Store, a temporary space in downtown LA that just reached the end of its stay. The space, set up in one of the area’s oldest buildings, incorporated off-white tiles, a metal skeleton of fixtures, fluorescent lighting, and a towering installation of empty shopping carts—the kind usually left outside and strewn across parking lots because who ever said the outside was all roses?

Max Azria's woven wood facade was created by artist Patrick Dougherty.
David C. Calicchio
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AN Celebrity Party #1
Since we're in LA, it was only a matter of time until The Architect's Newspaper got to visit a celebrity party. This Saturday we were invited to the launch of author Jerry Stahl's new thriller Pain Killers, thrown by none other than Ben Stiller and his wife Christine Taylor. How did we get in? Thanks to voiceover artist-cum-architect-extraordinaire Janna Levenstein, who designed the 5,000 square foot Hollywood Hills pad (pictured above) that housed the festivities: 1615 Rising Glen. Once a cramped, impractical midcentury Modern, the indoor/outdoor home is now tricked out with terrazzo floors; wraparound Koi ponds; a lava-lined pool; tropical wood-clad walls, cabinets, and furniture; stainless steel fixtures, and a countless supply of custom details ranging from teak sinks to electronically controlled everything. So what did AN's fearless California Editor say to Stiller? "Um.You guys were great," he said, in response to the couples' creative posing for the party favor of the night: a custom-made flip book. Ok, we're still training for the Hollywood thing. Don't worry, we're not in the papparazi. No pictures were taken at the party. At least not by us.

Eavesdrop: Alissa Walker


Make it stop! Los Angeles’ ongoing battle to put the lights out on those searing electronic billboards got another surge of power this month as statewide legislation was introduced to help fight the blight. After LA enacted a three-month citywide moratorium on new digital billboards in December, this month Assemblyman Mike Feuer introduced Assembly Bill 109, which proposes a two-year statewide moratorium on the construction and conversion of digital billboards. Yes, billboards were preparing to build and digitize themselves! It’s like Transformers! AIA board member and LA Planning Commission member Michael Woo, who first proposed the LA moratorium in December, wrote a fantastic piece in the LA Times where he explained these shiny suckers are not only dangerous, they’re actually plotting to take over the city: A new type of LED-embedded glass will turn entire sides of high-rises into king-size animated ads for Full Throttle energy drinks. Watch for local residents gouging their eyes out with spoons.


The very public reverberations continue after the December resignation of LA’s Planning Commission president Jane Usher, who bade farewell to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa with a spirited letter of wishes for the city to carry out in her absence. (Our favorite: “We must begin by ending our current artifice: we have not enforced our billboard permit program ban.” Ahem.) After her dramatic exit, Kevin Roderick said in his weekly commentary on KCRW that Usher’s outgoing statement was actually much more vicious than it appeared at the outset, saying that it “essentially called BS on the mayor’s approach to letting developers build wherever a bus might someday pass, in the name of transit-friendly growth.” Ouch! Although critics were initially incensed that the overly developer-friendly Sean O. Burton was appointed to fill her seat, everyone was quite pleased to hear that architect Bill Roschen was named as president early this year. The principal of Hollywood-based Roschen Van Cleve Architects describes his work as “place-based design.” It’s about time.


On a sad note, a beloved fixture in the architecture community and a pioneer of Santa Monica’s revitalization, Herb Katz, died on January 7 after a long battle with cancer. As president of RTK Architects since 1966, Katz was the designer of a diverse list of projects, including many civic, institutional, and educational works in Santa Monica, where he also served as mayor. Hundreds of people attended his memorial service on January 12, which was covered in the next day’s Santa Monica Daily Press, slugged the “We’ll miss you, Herb” issue. Katz was first elected to Santa Monica’s city council in 1984 and served the city in some governmental capacity every year until his death. Now that’s what we like to call community service.

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Open: Boutique
Courtesy Para Project

3.1 Phillip Lim
631 North Robertson, West Hollywood
Tel: 310-358-1988
Architect: PARA Project with OFFICE Giancarlo Valle

Brooklyn-based Para Project, along with Manhattan-based OFFICE/Giancarlo Valle, recently transformed a 5,000-square-foot former auto body plant in West Hollywood into Phillip Lim’s third fashion boutique. The building’s windowless facade lets the fashion be experienced intimately, said Para architect Jonathan Lott, who added that his firm worked on “changing the typography of the typical storefront.” The closeness of the entry is drawn out as amoeba-shaped walls unwind into distinct niche rooms with varied styles. The rooms display clothing on thick recessed curving partitions juxtaposed to mirrors, creating the illusion that the rooms are actually circular, and “making the store’s layout less aware of the geometry of the box,” said Lott. The space’s unwinding character brings about what Lott describes as a “prolonged experience,” spreading exposure to the merchandise over a winding path. The intricate design—as opposed to the minimal clothing display—also contrasts to artificially lit back rooms with soft, spiky walls and adjacent sky-lit spaces where the surfaces are made of bamboo, cork, and leather. 

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House of the Issue: Clive Wilkinson Architects
Benny Chan

Clive Wilkinson Architects have specialized in transforming industrial lofts into exuberant workspaces, but to house himself, Wilkinson sought what he called “a neutral studio feel.”

Initially, he planned to convert a trio of West Hollywood rental units into condos that would generate income. After that project stalled, he was offered a triangular-shaped double lot at a bargain price across Melrose Avenue from the Pacific Design Center, and decided to do something ambitious. Yet though the house came out at 3,500 square feet, it’s almost hidden from the leafy side street, and has a rural sense of seclusion from within.

Wilkinson tore down two decrepit bungalows to clear the site and designed a pale-toned stucco house that is outwardly plain and set back behind a forecourt planted with olive trees. A high blank wall extends along the north side, shutting out the commercial properties on Melrose and a tall building to the north, and reducing heat from the sun. On the other side of the wall, thanks to large sliding glass doors, you can look all the way through the house from forecourt to rear garden, and the feeling of openness and transparency strengthens the fusion of interior and landscape. The house is naturally ventilated, from the sliders to the five electrically operated skylights. The projecting roof and good insulation reduce the need for heating, cooling, and artificial lighting.

The unaffected simplicity of the structure recalls the Case Study era, but Wilkinson has infused it with a spirit of invention. He has rotated the house a few degrees to accommodate the angularity of the site. There’s an emphasis on diagonal axes in the linear sequence of rooms that open onto a pool to the south and a Japanese garden to the west. One enters through a corner of the low-ceilinged living room and continues on through the sliders to the pool, or from the opposite corner to the lofty dining area and open kitchen. Unenclosed stairs lead up to a studio and guest bedroom. At the far end of the house is the master bedroom, a free-standing tub, and a stepped dry garden reminiscent of the desert around Palm Springs where he likes to spend weekends.

Exposed wood ceiling studs and concrete floors give the interior the character of an industrial loft, but the raw surfaces are softened by plantings and eclectic furnishings. A free-form wood dining table was crafted by Wilkinson’s 88-year-old father. The palette is monochromatic, except for two elements from recent jobs: vibrant green plastic curtains, laser-cut in a leaf pattern, from the JWT offices in Manhattan, and honeycomb storage units in golden yellow acrylic, left over from the Children’s Place in Pasadena.

Sliding glass doors in the living room and dining room open almost completely, connecting the diverging spaces.
Benny chan
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Checking In
Frames encircling fine art and fantastic views of the Hollywood Hills are trademark Philippe Starck moves for the rooftop pool of the SLS.
James Merrell

A slew of new hotels have debuted in California over the last year, riding what will likely be the last big wave of development for some time due to a slowing economy and dismal travel forecasts. They’re the lucky ones: The results from the November 2008 STR/TWR/Dodge Construction Pipeline show that 93,219 hotel rooms nationally have been abandoned in various stages of development, from preplanning to in-construction. That’s a 75 percent increase in such abandonments since 2007. Other data from the Pipeline also point to a slowdown: Through November 2008, 1,565 hotels nationally were in construction, down from November 2007, when there were 1,609 hotels in construction.

In California, most new properties were a long-time-coming response to hotel room deficits in many tourist-heavy areas. In Beverly Hills, for example, a luxury hotel had not been built from the ground up since the early 1990s, while in San Francisco, the 32-story InterContinental is the largest hotel to open in the city in two decades. Two major California cities saw massive and much-needed room additions adjacent to their convention centers: the 420-room Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, and the aforementioned 550-room InterContinental San Francisco, located near the Moscone Center in SOMA. (Los Angeles will have to wait until 2010 for its 54-story Ritz Carlton, part of the downtown development LA Live.) Across the U.S., this seems to be the case as well: The country has seen an exceptionally slow growth of only five percent in new rooms since 2001, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

This cautious expansion led to an age of conservative design for California hotels. Even the most anxiously anticipated debut in the state, the SLS Hotel—the first venture into the hotel niche from nightlife wunderkinds SBE Entertainment (famous for their Philippe Starck-designed LA bars and restaurants like Katsuya, S Bar, and XIV)—went for wit and whimsy rather than over-the-top, cutting-edge design. It’s a huge departure from the sleek, cold modernism of the recent past—think the Standard or Mondrian of the late 1990s.

A baroque moderne white-on-white palette at the SLS private lobby (top) and the hotel's rooftop pool (above), designed by philippe starck.
James Merrell

“Instead of a very sparse, modern design, the approach we took is multi-layered in color and texture and decor and accessories,” said Theresa Fatino, chief creative officer for SBE. “Guests can come back over and over and feel that same sense of discovery, these feelings of rejuvenation and delight and wonderment and surprise.” This sensation—that they’ll discover another Starck design pun, or find a new favorite dish on José Andrés’ menu—aims at bestowing upon guests a feeling of belonging to some perpetual in-crowd.

Hotel palomar by gensler with cheryl rowley
David Phelps

Starwood's aloft by rockwell group
courtesy starwood

London west hollywood by collins design
courtesy lxr

montage beverly hills by HKS Hill Glazier Design Studio
courtesy montage

While the boutique concept is alive and well—Thompson Beverly Hills and London West Hollywood both nod aesthetically to their New York predecessors—these properties have seen the same style evolution, towards warm, sumptuous luxury and a sprinkling of nostalgia.“In the LA area, there’s a trend of capturing the glamour of old Hollywood and incorporating it into a design relevant to today’s lifestyle,” said Bryan Oakes of Gensler, project architect for the Hotel Palomar in the Westwood neighborhood of LA. The Montage Beverly Hills is modeled after the Mediterranean-influenced estates that sprang up in the city during the Golden Age of Hollywood, while Hotel Palomar and the London West Hollywood reference the same period with dramatic, sparkly interiors and Hollywood-referencing art. The Thompson Beverly Hills indulges a noire-ish theme, with deep, dark interiors that are signature of the designer Dodd Mitchell. Here, black leather upholstery, black lacquered wall panels, and glossy black wood floors convey Chinatown chic.

California continues to capitalize on the renovation of its older hotels by elevating former discount motel-like properties to luxury status, said Oakes. “One of the successes of Palomar is that we took a dated 1970s building, originally built as a Holiday Inn, and elevated it to a chic four-star hotel.” This seemed to work best for new boutique operations like the Thompson Beverly Hills, which inhabits a crisp white modernist box that was once a 1960s Best Western, and the London West Hollywood, a revitalization of a tired, nondescript Wyndham Bel-Age. For the green-aspirational, a renovation could also be spun as a huge sustainable selling point: The Good Hotel in San Francisco combined two aging hotels into one eco-friendly property, complete with room appointments made from reclaimed materials and the option to contribute to a carbon offset program upon check-in.

While the hotel pool has traditionally been the place for designers to show off, a growing emphasis is focused on creative public spaces that are twists on the hotel bar. Whether these are seamlessly melded indoor/outdoor lounges or multi-functional lobbies, designers are giving guests more reasons to come out of their rooms and hang out. “Trends ebb and flow, but I think that one area that should always be emphasized is that of the social gathering space,” said David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group, who calls for public spaces that are “open, transformable, and comfortable.” He outfitted the first W’s for the Starwood chain and designed the Aloft (scheduled to roll out 500 locations worldwide over the next five years) with three major areas that encourage congregation and socialization: a communal lobby area with gaming and pool tables, the wxyz bar, and a 24-hour snack bar. The Bazaar at the SLS Hotel is broaching yet another approach: a warren of spaces blending bar, lounge, restaurant, and boutique for design retailer Moss, allowing guests to nibble and sip (and shop) in a variety of environments throughout an evening.

The Carrier Johnson-designed Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter provides a transition to the city's fun-loving entertainment district.
Courtesy Hard Rock 

One trend perfectly timed with the sagging economy is that of the discount design chain, which has swept into Southern California with the opening of two new ventures: Andaz is Hyatt’s first design hotel, and Starwood’s Aloft designed to deliver W-level accommodations at Holiday Inn prices. “One major trend in the last few years has been the recognition that the everyday traveler also appreciates a high level of design,” said Rockwell. (Aloft’s first California location is in Rancho Cucamonga). “We transformed this type of otherwise nondescript hotel into a chic oasis by using materials and amenities that are state-of-the-art, but simple and affordable.” The 257-room Andaz was designed by New York–based Janson Goldstein to give personality to the former “Riot House” Hyatt on the Sunset Strip in LA, with a variety of colorful appointments from local retailers that add high-end flavor to simple, modern rooms. (Of note to music fans: The hotel’s famous balconies, once launching pads for televisions and other after-party detritus during the hard rocking years, have been replaced with glassed-in sunrooms.)

According to trend-tracking site, 2009 national occupancy is only predicted to dip slightly, down 3.9 percent, but that’s where the discount design trend might win over guests: In a December 2008 survey of business travelers by Orbitz for Business and Business Traveler, only half of the respondents expected to travel less in 2009, but 79 percent of travelers said they have been pressured to cut costs. For those hitting the road, there still might be a few new places to write home about.

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Green '70s Flashback with Smiles and Shades of Blue

A recent New York Times article piqued not only a literary memory of the cult classic Ecotopia, but also a visual memory from an early work by the exemplary West Coast practitioner Craig Hodgetts.

Writing from what used to be called “Berserkley,” California, Scott Timberg begins his article with these observations:

"Sometimes a book, or an idea, can be obscure and widely influential at the same time. That’s the case with Ecotopia, a 1970s cult novel, originally self-published by its author, Ernest Callenbach, that has seeped into the American groundwater without becoming well known. The novel, now being rediscovered, speaks to our ecological present: in the flush of a financial crisis, the Pacific Northwest secedes from the United States, and its citizens establish a sustainable economy….

"White bicycles sit in public places, to be borrowed at will. A creek runs down Market Street in San Francisco. Strange receptacles called ‘recycle bins’ sit on trains, along with ‘hanging ferns and small plants.’ A female president, more Hillary Clinton than Sarah Palin, rules this nation, from Northern California up through Oregon and Washington.”

What the article doesn’t say is that in 1978 the architect Hodgetts produced a wondrous set of drawings for a Hollywood movie adaptation of the pulp classic. With plenty of savvy and pop-culture sensibility, the script was translated into awe-inspiring architectonic visuals. The drawings were exhibited and published, but alas, the project never made it to the silver screen.

We got in touch with Hodgetts to get his take on the reopening of this late-’70s time capsule. He responded via email (and supplied captions to these marvelous renderings) with wry amusement:

“Ernest Callenbach and I had distinctly different approaches. I was interested in making a popular movie with an appeal to 12-year-olds, complete with aftermarket consumables! And Ernest, with a pure, almost religious zeal, was preaching ecology. In fact, if the movie had been made—the producers had optioned the novel some years earlier—we were going to retitle it and make up our own story."

“Seems the right time for this rediscovery," Hodgetts added. "It was just 30 years too early, and yours truly could never get the film off the ground. Architects and publishers at the time were seriously not interested in the subject.”

Indeed a cultural re-examination of eco-science fiction would be a welcome development in architectural circles and beyond, since it seems we’ve been living within the dark cold-war schizoid-paranoia of sci-fi madman Philip K. Dick for far too long. And while we’re at it, why not—with a smile—revive the ecology flag from 1969, whose graphic design by Ron Cobb was proudly placed within the public domain and embraced by the environmental movement?

Maybe now is the time for a holiday blockbuster movie adaptation of Ecotopia, with lots of spin-off eco-toys for the kids (under a renewable tree, of course). And also for an alternative approach to our everyday life. Callenbach is quoted at the end of the Times article with a fitting call to action for the architect-visionaries among us: “It is so hard to imagine anything fundamentally different from what we have now,” he said. “But without these alternate visions, we get stuck on dead center.”

“And we’d better get ready,” he added. “We need to know where we’d like to go.”