Search results for "San Francisco"

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West Coast sees big wins (and losses) in architecture and urbanism ballot initiatives

As Democratic voters moved to retake the House of Representatives and key gubernatorial seats, a series of local architecture-, urbanism-, and climate-related initiatives saw mixed results in western states. Aside from being a referendum on the divisive governance style of President Donald Trump, the midterm election brought with it fierce debates over contentious issues like expanding rent control and funding supportive housing in California, taxing carbon emissions in Washington State, and boosting renewable energy generation in Arizona and Nevada. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of some of the major initiatives and their outcomes.   Arizona: Proposition 127: An initiative to require electric utilities to use renewable energy for 50 percent of their power generation by 2035 failed in the state. The battle over Proposition 127 saw the highest amount of political spending in the state this year, with the state’s main electrical utility, Arizona Public Service, pouring over $30.3 million into a political action committee dedicated to fighting the measure.   California: Proposition C: San Francisco’s supportive housing ordinance was overwhelmingly supported by the city’s voters. The initiative will raise $300 million per year for supportive housing and services from a modest tax levied on companies in the city that gross over $50 million annually in revenue. The measure is similar to the so-called “head tax” in Seattle that was passed and quickly repealed earlier this year. Proposition 1: An initiative to approve $4 billion in “housing-related programs, loans, grants, and projects and housing loans for veterans” in the state gained wide approval. Proposition 2: An initiative to dedicate $2 billion from the state’s 2004 “millionaire’s tax” toward providing “homelessness prevention housing for persons in need of mental health services“ was approved. Proposition 4: An initiative authorizing $1.5 billion in bonds for the “construction, expansion, renovation, and equipping of children's hospitals in California” was approved. Proposition 6: Voters in the state defeated a Republican-led effort to repeal a recently-passed gas tax increase. The recent increase is helping to fund bridge and road repairs while also providing new—and much-needed—mass transit funding for the state’s growing public transportation systems. Proposition 10: A state-wide effort to repeal the controversial Costa-Hawkins law that limits how municipalities can institute rent control was soundly defeated. Rather than instituting rent control statewide, the measure would have allowed municipalities the flexibility to set their own policies. Tenants’ rights and anti-displacement advocates saw the effort as providing a lifeline for their constituencies; ultimately, the $76 million raised by real estate and Wall Street interests against the measure was too much for grassroots voters to overcome.   Colorado: Proposition 112: Voters in the Centennial State chose to reject a ballot initiative that would have increased oil and gas drilling setbacks from homes, businesses, and waterways. Resistance to the measure was no match for heavy spending by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the proposition’s main opponent. With controversial hydraulic fracturing rising to new highs in the state and an increasingly bleak outlook for climate change-related disasters around the world, Colorado’s pro-environment movement has been dealt a powerful rebuke.   Nevada: State Question No. 6: Voters in Nevada approved a measure that would require state utilities to generate 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. In order for the measure to become law, however, it will need to survive a second vote in 2020.   Washington State: Measure 1631: Washington state residents largely rejected a measure that would have imposed a first-in-the-nation tax on carbon emissions. The initiative performed well in liberal King County—home to Seattle—but lost pretty much everywhere else in the state. Measure 940: Washington state residents approved a measure that would require law enforcement officials to receive “de-escalation” and mental health training as well as provide first aid under certain circumstances. The initiative would also require authorities to conduct an investigation after a deadly use of force by a member of law enforcement in order to verify that such force meets a “good faith” test.
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Best of the West

AIA | LA design awards highlight Southern California’s best design
The American Institute of Architects Los Angeles chapter (AIA|LA) has announced its annual design awards winners for 2018, highlighting the work of many of the region's most creative and thoughtful architecture practices. Awarded across three categories—Design, Next LA, and Committee on the Environment (COTE) LA—the organization's award program is designed to recognize achievements in overall design, highlight the work by emerging designers, and bring attention to hallmark sustainability-focused projects. Within each category, awards are ranked into "honor," "merit," and "citation" rankings.

Design Awards

This year's design category awards acknowledge a wide array of project types, from an undulating transit station in Seattle by Brooks + Scarpa to a Modernist-inspired winery by Bestor Architecture. The highlighted projects feature simple geometries that come outfitted with performative architectural elements like screen walls and shading devices that not only lend formal interest to each project but also manipulate light in essential and evocative ways. A full list of the design winners is below:
HONOR AWARDS
Animo South Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
Parallax Gap
Washington, DC
Camelot Kids Child Development Center
Los Angeles, CA
KeltnerCo Architecture + Design
Mariposa1038
Los Angeles, CA
Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA)
Fenlon House
Los Angeles, CA
Martin Fenlon Architecture
Mayumi
Culver City, CA
ShubinDonaldson
MERIT AWARD
Ashes & Diamonds
Napa, CA
Stoneview Nature Center
Culver City, CA
Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects
UCSB San Joaquin Student Housing
Santa Barbara, CA
Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects
Studio Dental II
San Francisco, CA
Montalba Architects, Inc.
 
CITATION AWARDS
Angle Lake Station
Seattle/SeaTac, WA
Brooks + Scarpa
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab
Chicago, Illinois
HDR | Gensler with Clive Wilkinson Architects
Advanced Stem & Design Institutes
Los Angeles, CA
 
G-Cubed
Los Angeles, CA
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
2018 AIA|LA Design awards jury:
Steve Dumez, FAIA – Principal and Director of Design, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple
Elaine Molinar, AIA, LEED AP – Partner and Managing Director – The Americas, Snøhetta
Brett Steele, AA DIPL, HON FRIBA, FRSA – Dean, UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture
 

Next LA Awards

AIA|LA's Next LA Awards highlight unbuilt or in-the-works projects that push the envelope in terms of design or programmatic configuration. Synthesis Design + Architecture's Nansha Scholar's Tower in Guangzhou, China, for example, is formally inspired by smooth river rock cultural artifacts known as Gongshi and features a pair of pass-through elevated terraces that cycle air through the mid-rise tower's core. R&A Architecture and Design's Sunset Tower, on the other hand, proposes to use extended, undulating floor plates to create variable balcony and terrace spaces for a speculative development in West Hollywood. A full list of the Next LA winners:
HONOR
Boyle Tower
Los Angeles, CA
MUTUO
MERIT
Apertures
Mexico City, Mexico
Belzberg Architects
The New Center of Science & Technology in Suzhou
Shishan Park, Suzhou, China
Kevin Daly Architects
Pioneertown House
Pioneertown, CA
PARA-Project
Camp Lakota
Frazier Park, CA
Perkins+Will
Mercado El Alto
Puebla, Mexico
Rios Clementi Hale Studios
CITATION
MLK1101 Supportive Housing
Los Angeles, CA
Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects
Sunset Tower
West Hollywood, CA
R&A Architecture + Design
Nansha Scholar's Tower
Guangzhou, China
Synthesis Design + Architecture & SCUT Architectural Design & Research Institute
2018 AIA|LA Next LA awards jury: 
David Benjamin – Founding Principal, The Living, and Assistant Professor at Columbia GSAPP
Mario Cipresso, AIA – Associate Principal, Hawkins/Brown
Elizabeth Timme – Co-Founder, LA-Más

COTE LA Awards

The Committee on the Environment (COTE) LA awards focus on performance and sustainability. Gensler's CSUN Sustainability Center at the California State University, Northridge, campus in the San Fernando Valley utilizes recycled materials and furniture, makes efficient use of passive lighting, and features solar-powered electricity and hot water. The Arizona State University Biodesign Institute C complex by ZGF Architects, an Honor award winner, delivers energy savings of over 44 percent when compared to existing campus laboratories. The full list of COTE LA winners:
HONOR
Arizona State University Biodesign Institute C Tempe, AZ
ZGF Architects
CSUN Sustainability Center
Northridge, CA
Gensler
 
MERIT
Otis College of Art and Design Campus Expansion Los Angeles, CA Ehrlich | Fisher   UCSB BioEngineering Santa Barbara, CA Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners   West Hollywood Automated Parking Garage West Hollywood, CA LPA, Inc.   CITATION Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability, Pitzer College Claremont, CA Carrier Johnson + Culture  
2018 AIA|LA COTE LA awards jury: 
William Leddy, FAIA – Founding Principal, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
Douglas E. Noble, FAIA – Director, Master of Building Science USC School of Architecture
Anne Schopf, FAIA – Partner, Mahlum Architects
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Taking Stock

Yves Béhar debuts a prefab housing system for California
Yves Béhar, the storied tech entrepreneur and founder of San Francisco–based design firm Fuseproject, is set to release a new model for a fully-customizable prefabricated housing unit aimed at alleviating California’s housing crisis. According to designboom, his latest design venture, a collaboration with Los Angeles–based LivingHomes and their Plant Prefab studio, will revolutionize small living for low-density cities. Launching tomorrow, the LivingHomes YB1 model was designed as a response to the state’s recent decision to loosen restrictions on building accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Over the past year, homeowner applications for backyard homes have rapidly increased due to the new law. Béhar and his team have developed a ready-made house that can be bought at a reduced price and built on-site in under two months. Per the firm’s website, YB1 homes will range in size from 250 to 1,250 square feet and are easily customizable according to the client’s goals. Each home is built on a 4-foot grid allowing homeowners to reconfigure structural elements such as the roofline, the size and location of its windows, as well as the layout of the interior and the cladding material. The appliances, HVAC system, and all utilities will come pre-installed. Individual models can also be specified to fit the location and climate where they’re built; clients can select sustainable products and integrate smart home capabilities into their units to save energy. Right now, YB1 costs $280,000 total and takes 6-8 weeks to order, plan, and fully install. Béhar plans to launch a future line of “sub-$100,000 homes” through LivingHomes. Fuseproject describes the project as Behár’s attempt to “think systematically about buildings, rather than as a one-size fits all solution.” LivingHome YB1 is Béhar’s first project involving housing and arguably the largest-in-scale that he’s ever backed.  While he's served as a staple of Silicon Valley, has garnered major commissions, and helped pave the way for tech giants today, Béhar’s projects haven’t always been universally well-received recently and his latest products have been faulted for their lack of usefulness. The designer's recent ventures include highly-criticized and controversial products like Edyn, a digital garden sensor, Juicero, a $700 juicing machine, as well as Samsung’s Frame TV, which displays digital art for a hefty price tag. With YB1, Behar stands to make a difference in the housing market.
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The Future of Retail?

Amazon is bringing its seamless automated grocery store to New York
Imagine a world where artificial intelligence tracks your every movement. A world where buildings have minds of their own, learning your behaviors, and collecting data from you as you come and go. While existing technology has not yet reached sci-fi levels, a visit to an Amazon Go grocery store can offer you a peek into this possible future of retail design. This week Amazon announced its plans to open a new store in New York, the first of its kind on the East Coast, before opening nearly 3,000 more nationwide by 2021. The company has already built out six Amazon Go stores in Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco. The cutting-edge stores, as shown within its first locations, are characterized by visual simplicity, clarity, and hyper-functionality. Through the stores' structural elements, including minimalistic facades, geometric configurations, and exposed raw materials, such as wood veneer and polished concrete, the interiors assume an industrial feel. They feature muted colors and black merchandise racks that give the stores a clean appearance as well. Meanwhile, ceiling cameras monitor shoppers as they wander through the aisles. The stores are unique in that they are void of cashiers, cash registers, and self-service checkout stands. Customers only need to walk in, take what they need, and leave. As they swing through the turnstiles on their way out, Amazon automatically bills their credit cards. Within minutes, a receipt is sent to the Amazon app, giving customers a summary of what they bought, what they paid, and the exact amount of time they spent in the store. The stores, which depend on highly sophisticated image recognition software and artificial intelligence to function, are expected to drastically transform the retail experience in unexpected ways. Amazon began working on retail stores five years ago with the goal of eliminating consumer criticisms and complaints, such as struggling to find products and waiting in long lines. Since the first Amazon Go store opened last January in Seattle, it has received tremendous praise and success. According to CNN, highly automated retail stores like Amazon Go are expected to become the norm within as little as 10 to 15 years. Research has shown that up to 7.5 million retail jobs are at risk of automation in the next decade, which will save retailers money on labor, as well as boost profits, but obviously cost retail workers their livelihood. Automated stores can facilitate the ordering and restocking process as cameras and AI track inventory in real-time. The removal of cash registers provides more space for inventory. Customer data can also be uploaded to the servers of each building, where retailers can present them with personalized discounts, offers, and other incentives. While Amazon has confirmed plans to open an Amazon Go store in New York, its location has yet to be determined.
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Big Changes

Latest renderings unveiled for San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Plaza
New York–based architects Perkins Eastman and engineers Arup have unveiled the latest batch of renderings for San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Plaza. The updated designs were submitted to city agencies this week in an effort to begin the formal approval process for the renovations envisioned for the plaza and its associated Muni subway station. The extensive renovations come as the city works to perform required Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) upgrades for both facilities, including the addition of an elevator that will connect the street level to the subway platform. Backers for the project also seek to boost the plaza’s function as a memorial to Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official, and to create a new gateway into the city’s Castro neighborhood. Perkins Eastman was selected in 2016 as part of an international design competition held by Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza (FHMP), the volunteer group with business connections in the neighborhood. The latest renderings for Harvey Milk Plaza come after a previously-released iteration of the design was met with community opposition. Perkins Eastman revised the plans following four community workshops over the summer. The initial designs featured red paving and a uni-directional “stramp” (stair-ramp) that crossed the site going toward the west to create an elevated community amphitheater with the subway entrance located below. The new plans have flipped the arrangement by rotating the amphitheater and subway entrance 180 degrees so that they are located at the easternmost corner of the site, where it is expected that foot traffic would be greatest. The center of the plaza is now marked by a new elevator with the western edge of the plaza populated by low-slung benches and a grove of trees. The plaza bearing Milk’s name was planned before his death and was not named in his honor until 1985—Milk was assassinated in 1978— and according to FHMP, “the public has longed to see [the plaza] transformed into a place that captures [Milk’s] spirit; a place that embodies [Milk’s] passion to bring people together and see that all are treated with dignity and given voice at the tables of influence.” The plaza redesign is more-or-less the product of community input, Hoodline reports, a delicate dance the designers and organizers have played with local residents as they seek to win on-the-street approval for the project. The designs, however, are relatively unloved by San Francisco Chronicle urbanism critic John King, who has lamented that the plaza would weaken the vitality of the district’s street life by pulling pedestrians away from its key attractions. King added that the proposal’s function as a true memorial to Milk’s legacy could better be suited by other means, as well. King said:
If the desire is to celebrate Milk’s life and legacy, it might be easier to freshen up the current plaza and create an ongoing fund for its maintenance. Then, install plaques or informative artwork along the bridge-like walkway to Collingwood Street, a path that has serenity despite its surroundings.
The design for the proposal is by no means finalized, however. As the bid makes its way through the approval process, changes and new approaches are sure to be recommended. A timeline for final approval and completion of the plaza has not been announced.
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Ranch Planning

SFMOMA to present a deep-dive of planning behind Sea Ranch
This winter, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will exhibit The Sea Ranch: Architecture, Environment, and Idealism, a deep dive into the conceptual planning behind the iconic Sea Ranch development in Northern California. Designed by Charles Moore, Joseph Esherick, William Turnbull, Lawrence Halprin, and Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, Sea Ranch is considered a revolutionary effort that melded speculative suburban development with budding countercultural movements in an effort to “live lightly on the land.” The naturalistic development was planned in 1964 and driven by its conceptual opposition to the suburban American model of development that hardly considered site issues or natural beauty. Created by developer Al Boeke and a group of Bay Area architects, landscape architects and graphic designers, the project was listed along with other nearby works as a later example of the Bay Region Style, a localized variant of Modernism coined by Lewis Mumford in a controversial 1947 article he penned for The New Yorker The exhibition will showcase archival and contemporary photographs, original drawings and sketches of the initial designs as well as a full-scale architectural model created for the exhibition. “In mid-20th century California, Modern architecture represented social progress," said SFMOMA architecture and design curator Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher in a statement. "It signaled a shirking of tradition and bold new models for living. The Sea Ranch was envisioned as a place to embrace the land, a particularly moody and memorable land, that could expand California’s existing indoor-outdoor lifestyle." The exhibition runs December 22, 2018 through April 28, 2019.
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15 Years of The Architect's Newspaper

A brief history of architecture in the 21st century
To celebrate our 15th anniversary, we looked back through the archives for our favorite moments since we started. We found stories that aged well (and some that didn’t), as well as a wide range of interviews, editorials, and other articles that we feel contributed to the broader conversation. We also took a closer look at the most memorable tributes to those we lost, and heard from editors past and present about their time here. Check out this history of architecture in the 21st century through the headlines of The Architect's Newspaper:

2003

Protest: Michael Sorkin on Ground Zero

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Crit: AIA Convention (“No more weird architecture in Philadelphia”)
Crit: Spring Street Salt Shed (“In praise of the urban object”)
How institutionalized racism and housing policy segregated our cities
Chinatown residents protest de Blasio rezoning
Roche-Dinkeloo’s Ambassador Grille receives landmark designation
Q&A: Jorge Otero-Pailos: Why the Met Breuer matters
Comment: Ronald Rael on the realities of the U.S.-Mexico border
Detroit Zoo penguin habitat opens
Chicago battles to keep Lucas Museum of Narrative Art from moving
Martino Stierli on the redesign of MoMA’s A+D galleries
WTC Oculus opens
Letter: Phyllis Lambert pleads for Four Seasons preservation
Q&A: Mabel Wilson
#NotmyAIA: Protests erupt over AIA's support of Trump
Snøhetta’s addition to SFMoMA opens
DS+R’s Vagelos Education Center opens
Baltimore’s Brutalist McKeldin Fountain pulverized

2017

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(It's a bubble)

What’s the state of inflatable architecture?
There’s been something of a renaissance lately in inflatable architecture. In the past few years alone, this ephemeral typology has been at Collective Design Fair, Performa 17, and the Park Avenue Armory. Inflatables emerged in the 1960s as a means of expressing dissatisfaction with established cultural norms about life, work, and society. They were seen as potentially revolutionary structures that allowed for experimentation with space in order to influence social, psychological, and physical cognition through the built environment. Inflatables were originally invented by the U.S. military with Cornell aeronautical lab engineer Walter Bird to deploy radio antennae in 1948. Bird, often referred to as the father of the field, is credited for taking this military technology and popularizing it in 1959 by collaborating with Paul Weidlinger on an inflatable roof for the Boston Arts Center Theater. In the ’60s and ’70s, when techno-optimism about the future reached its peak, Buckminster Fuller proposed a massive dome over Manhattan, while Frei Otto envisioned one to shelter 40,000 people in the Arctic Circle. What came next in "inflatotecture" was symptomatic of the counterculture era, which viewed it as a way to construct space for dissent and experimentation while taking advantage of lighter, stronger construction methods and new audiovisual technologies. Ant Farm, a San Francisco–based architecture studio, designed inexpensive and disposable structures out of vinyl for counterculture “happenings,” and anyone attending them could buy the group’s Inflatocookbook, a comic detailing step-by-step how to make one’s own enclosure (a practice common among collectives to disseminate information and design about inflatables). Other contemporaries included the U.K.'s Archigram, Italy's Archizoom, and Germany-based Haus-Rucker-Co.—all of whom envisioned inflatable architecture as a way to explore theories about spatial production, social organization, and consumption. Experimental inflatable architecture continues to be a form that designers use to examine contemporary social problems and to radically play with form and space for its own sake. The following projects stretch the medium to its limits, showing how the next generation of inflatables can generate new experiences. Jesse Seegers Looking to practice new forms of architecture outside of the traditionally accepted profession, New York-based designer Jesse Seegers employs the term “spatial practice,” a framework to create structures that draw from architectural knowledge but are equally related to other disciplines. For example, the Potlatch Pavilion was an ethereal inflatable for a gift exchange party, referencing the Pacific Northwest indigenous American tradition where one’s status is derived from how much you can give away, rather than how much wealth you possess. Here, the inflatable was deployed to “construct alternative systems of political economy.” Seegers’s recent projects include a temporary yoga space called Yoga Dome, which premiered at the opening of Sky Ting Yoga; an installation at a Pioneer Works exhibition on Ant Farm; a concert backdrop for musician SOPHIE’s live tour; and an inflatable landscape for musician Oneohtrix Point Never’s M.Y.R.I.A.D. concert at New York’s Park Avenue Armory. In 2017, Seegers helped French, Los Angeles–based architect François Perrin bring Reyner Banham and François Dallegret’s 1965 conceptual drawing The Environment Bubble to life as a site-specific installation for dance workshops in Brooklyn Bridge Park and Central Park as part of Performa 17. Alex Schweder “An inflatable space in process speaks to the bodies we have. It’s a fleshier, time-based architecture,” said Alex Schweder. The self-proclaimed performance architect began working with inflatables in 2005 at the American Academy in Rome, where his first blow-up installation, Sick Building Sequence, encapsulated feathers floating inside of a translucent plastic “room.” Since then, his inflatables have traversed Collective Design Fair, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Venice Architecture Biennale, Tate Britain, and Performa 17. These include a “room” with photosensitive fur, an inflatable hotel inside of a cherry picker, a floor-to-ceiling mass that collapses and expands into and away from itself, and a spiderlike robot that inflates and deflates to reconfigure space on a dance floor. What’s next? Schweder is working with a team of international artists on a traveling show that responds to László Moholy-Nagy’s Mechanized Eccentric, which will debut at the Bauhaus 100th anniversary next year. Seattle Design Nerds Formed in 2014 as a volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to designing for the public realm, the group is officially the Seattle-based chapter of the international Design Nerds Society. Known for their inflatables, Seattle Design Nerds is a multidisciplinary collab started by Jeremy Reeding and Trevor Dykstra. The pair works with other local architects, designers, and artists on public interest projects to “make Seattle a little more awesome.” True to their mission, Reeding and Dykstra’s first inflatable was a large-scale installation for the 2014 Seattle Design Festival Block Party, a pop-up space shaped like a giant monster and filled with random objects for play. The team veered into the conceptual realm with The Gas Trap, a performance work where a car's tailpipe seemingly fills the inflatable to illustrate our dependence on gasoline. Last year they dreamed up an installation at the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park composed of eight cuddly, inflatable orbs that change color when bopped. For the 2017 Seattle Design Festival Block Party, the group envisioned an illuminated inflatable mural crafted by visitors at the event with Velcro pixels. Their latest work for Cooper Hewitt’s Design with the Other 90% features a giant egg-shaped inflatable that will debut at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center in Seattle in mid-September. Nicolas KK A young Nicolas KK grew up in Brazil in a family of hot air ballooners. From these beginnings, he developed an innate understanding and appreciation of the form. Putting his “family stuff” to good use, he started making his own blow-ups while studying industrial design at the Maryland Institute College of Art. That trajectory has continued through collaboration with digital, audio, and light artists in a shared studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, called Future Space. Inspired by the inflatables of the 1960s and ’70s, Nicolas KK produces experimental structures by applying his expertise in computational design. His digitally driven experimental performance pieces create “dynamic” qualities and always include a programmable element that directly responds to existing digital infrastructures or naturally occurring biomimetic systems. Nicolas KK plans to study Integrative technologies and architectural design research at the University of Stuttgart in Germany, where he will continue to work with inflatables and collaborate with other artists on projects that respond to the emerging computational environment. In December, New York's New Museum will debut his work in an online exhibition described as “the original live desktop theater internet television show.” Pneuhaus Matt Muller, Augie Lehrecke, and Levi Bedall spearhead the Rhode Island-based design collective Pneuhaus dedicated to the mastery of all things inflatable, specifically spatial designs, temporary structures, contemporary art, and large-scale installations. It all started at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2014 when Muller and Lehrecke designed a handful of different inflatables inspired by Art Farm’s Inflatocookbook. The university hired them to continue to explore those ideas and design a space for the school’s annual design conference. Soon after, Beddall joined Muller and Lehrecke when they got their first professional commission to design-build and perform a circus for the RISD Museum. Since then, the trio has imagined transient spaces for Spotify, Burning Man, and Brown University. Ranging from inflatable fabric prisms built around the fundamental properties of light to inflatables outfitted with pinhole cameras, their growing list of projects develop as iterations of previous works. Their most recent project, Compound Camera no. 2, is a new iteration of the pinhole camera inflatable dome as a giant tunnel at the LUMA Projection Arts Festival in Binghamton, New York.
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Dream Factory

Corrugated steel flows like fabric in Casper’s prototyping labs
A few years ago, it would have been impossible to predict that Casper, a startup with a single product, would launch an entire industry of mattresses ordered sight unseen online and become a global sleep powerhouse. It was inevitable that the company would outgrow the house where it was brainstorming the next breakthrough. That its new prototyping space, Casper Labs, is now based in a former industrial laundry service in San Francisco’s Mission District is an apt metaphor for the city’s tech-driven transformation. The company tapped hometown design firm Spiegel Aihara Workshop (SAW), led by principals Dan Spiegel and Megumi Aihara, to convert the warehouse space into its R&D headquarters. SAW’s design for the 11,500-square-foot, two-story office attests to the demands of an industrial workspace where mattresses and heavy prototypes are tested and hauled around. But it is also filled with nods to the company’s association with pillowy softness. The architects achieved this with an unlikely material—corrugated steel in a range of perforated profiles that are meticulously layered to read like fabric. “With a rough industrial material, it was about finding ways to give it a textile nature,” explained principal Dan Spiegel. “Once we had that in play, we could experiment with transparency.” On the ground floor, the white, powder-coated steel unravels at different heights, wrapping the metal shop, a testing lab, and a wood shop with rounded corners that reference the company’s iconic mattress. The opaque surface fades to a translucent screen as it rises above eye level. In other areas, the steel walls mask storage and service areas through a one-way transparency, admitting natural light without allowing views in. This play between opacity and transparency is further demonstrated in the entry area, where the Casper logo glows behind a corrugated surface. All it takes is the flick of a light switch for the letters, along with all the other signage in the space, to disappear. “We like the mystery that set up,” said Spiegel. “Even though there’s a lot of what ended up being opaque surfaces, you could begin to imagine that all of them had something going on just behind that skin.” With much of the program left open-ended for collaboration, the main work areas feature doorless openings lined in oiled steel plate that echo the steel columns that came with the space. The custom entryway desk continues the motif of rounded corners and transparency but incorporates a warm wood framing that takes its cue from the wood joists in the ceiling, with the whole piece sliding easily out of the way to access storage beyond it. Another design touch that highlights the tension between heavy and light, the industrial and the domestic, hovers above the common area for all-hands meetings. There, SAW’s custom lighting fixture floats like a geometric cloud composed of 117 Casper pillowcases folded and twisted onto a welded, tubed steel frame. It is details like these that elevate the lab beyond a typical industrial facility and gesture at the space’s raison d’être: a good night’s sleep.
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Not All Tall Buildings Are Safe

Report: San Francisco needs stricter seismic codes to avoid calamity
A report issued by the Applied Technology Council, a group of independent engineers organized at the behest of the city of San Francisco, has concluded that building codes in the city are woefully inadequate with regard to seismic safety. According to the report, while structural codes in the city are written in order to ensure that buildings will not collapse in an earthquake, they pay little attention to whether the impacted structures will continue to be suitable for occupancy following a disaster. Specifically, the panel has called for inspecting and retrofitting existing tall buildings while also suggesting that stronger structural regulations are needed for new towers, The New York Times reports. In addition, the panel has recommended that structures be designed with a greater degree of rigidity and that infrastructural elements like plumbing, elevators, and electrical and information technology systems be built to a higher quality. The expert panel was organized during the tenure of late San Francisco mayor Ed Lee in response to the slow-moving catastrophe occurring at the Millennium Tower site in the city's central business district. There, the Handel Architects–designed tower has been listing to one side. Overall, the tower 58-story tower has sunk over 18 inches with no sign of stopping. The uneven distribution of the tower's settling has created potential fire hazards as the cladding on one side has begun to pull apart. The city even threatened to "yellow tag" the structure after a window on the 36th floor cracked over Labor Day weekend. The report's urgency has been underscored by recent structural failures at the Salesforce Transit Center, where a pair of structural steel beams supporting the terminal's rooftop park have cracked. The transit center has remained closed for the two weeks since and no projected opening date has been announced. Authorities are currently inspecting the structure and beginning to repair the fractured beams. The officials behind the new report have created a database of tall buildings that lists which structural systems were used for every tower. The list is part of an effort to spread awareness of the structurally-deficient welded steel moment-frame structural technique deployed in high-rises between 1960 and 1994. Structures built using this system are thought to be at risk of failure during the strongest possible earthquakes. The database lists 39 towers, including William Pereira's TransAmerica Pyramid and John Portman's Embarcadero Center, among others. The full report, titled Tall Buildings Safety Strategy, can be found here.
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Second Skins

Morphosis founder Thom Mayne on the future of facades
From October 25 to October 26, The Architect's Newspaper is hosting its Facades+ conference in Los Angeles for the fourth year in a row. The conference features leading architects based in Los Angeles including Heather Roberge, principal and founder of Murmur Architects; Tammy Jow, associate director of AC Martin; Thom Mayne, founding principal of Morphosis Architects; and Stan Su, director of enclosure design at Morphosis Architects. To learn more about emerging facade technology, wider industry trends, and what's on the boards at Morphosis, AN sat down with Thom Mayne in the firm's New York office. The Architect's Newspaper: When did you start getting interested in facade innovation, and what do you find most interesting about it today? Thom Mayne: It started in the early 2000s; we were working on a project in Seoul, on the Sun Tower. We were investigating the possibility of a second skin, an artifact that was much more connected to an aesthetic formal exercise because it freed us of the norm of a window curtain wall and the whole notion of facade. We had a continuous surface and that allowed us a lot of freedom in a completely different direction. After that, we were working on the Caltrans project in Los Angeles and the General Services Administration (GSA) project in San Francisco. Both were very distinct projects that required real thinking on performance, using facade openings and scrim walls to take advantage of natural light and exterior temperature conditions. The whole thing became a huge exercise in environmental performance. We saw it as part of our responsibility to represent architecture within a state-of-the-art context in terms of its use of energy. It is not something we're focused on, but there's nothing that comes out of the office that doesn't require some level of environmental facade performance. When we opened the GSA building, Nancy Pelosi was there and she didn't like it. She likes Victorian architecture, and I said, “Nancy, actually this is how it works, and you have to understand its performance,” knowing that she’d agree that our values are parallel. In fact, that’s interesting too, that the average person relates to a building just in terms of its appearance. It's fairly straightforward. In reality, the skins had to do with weight and their ability to move and their technological performances. It wasn't about the metal; we didn't start it by wanting to do a metal building. It's a result. In terms of the metals, I think the Bloomberg Center at Cornell Tech was quite successful. We're experimenting with textures and imprints on metal, and in that case, it resulted in a set of random pieces and it looks like it's dynamic, in a perpetual state of movement based on the reflection of the sun. The facade’s 500,000 perforations are stationary, but if it looks like its moving, it’s moving. We used metal skins at Cornell Tech, but we are sort of done with the whole metal thing; we want to move on since people link us with metal buildings. What are you working on and what do you think we'll see in five years? TM: We are pursuing a couple other projects making the skin active and literally dynamic, which presents another set of possibilities. It just keeps changing the whole notion of facade. A large segment of the profession today is recognizing completely new opportunities. We really pushed environmental performance with our recent work, the Kolon One & Only Tower [in South Korea]. It's a state-of-the-art research and development center with a sophisticated west-facing fiber screen wall. We found much more aggressive subcontractors in Korea and China. Here [in the United States] they just think, “Haven't done it, can't do it.” Outside of the United States, contractors and clients are more willing to experiment with new materials and techniques? TM: It is really weird as we're still the wealthiest economy in the world; we're in a place that’s affecting architects for sure, but creating very timid architecture. You're staying competitive if you are creating intellectual capital. We couldn't have done it in the States or for an American client; it would’ve been too aggressive or too risky on their end. [The Kolon tower] was very much moving the ball forward just advancing kind of this notion. Again, it's this one single element, the exterior wrapper that you see in the work. Unlike other projects, we never set out to make a stainless steel building, even though it withstands weather and it'll be around in 100 years. The response [for Kolon] was to various performance demands. What it does is allow a completely different reading of the work because you get singularity of the surface. What facade and construction innovations do you think we’ll see in the forthcoming years? TM: Without question, there'll be a continuation of technologies that produce more efficient envelopes. New materials and increased performance characteristics will drive a lot of it. Design becomes less of a focus of your work. I would also question the question. I think today, there isn't a lot of attention to the future since it's hard enough to grasp the present. The whole idea of the future is also that it is kind of unknown. And the answer is, I don't know. At Cornell Tech’s Bloomberg Center, we were discussing where they are going with the program, and they responded, “We don’t know; we are going to put a biologist, a poet, and a mathematician together and invent projects.” And you go and talk to Google’s design group and ask what they are doing? Same thing, “I don’t know.” We are going to put certain people together and find something interesting. There's more of that process going on and it makes sense; continued thinking and progressions in material and integration. Construction techniques and the ways we build other large complex objects, such as automobiles, are open to significant investigation. Advances in prefabrication allow for the efficient mass production of “handmade” pieces and the continual reworking of materials. For certain contemporary projects, like Kolon One & Only Tower, to get the desired form, shaping, and performance of the facade components, metal is no longer as useful due to its heavy weight. That [investigation beyond metal cladding] is definitely going to continue as we expand our material language. As you work on certain projects within the studio, they take on their own life. So I already know we're interested in pursuing that again with a similar material and technology because it's going someplace that we couldn't in other work. It's giving us a very different look and a different direction at the same time. It's opening up coloration and a different palette, because we wore out metal. We have to say, “After number six or seven, let's move forward.” We're doing it differently because we have to do it differently. It's not that we couldn’t continue to do it in perpetuity, they're actually operational. It's more a desire for something new. You founded Morphosis in 1972 as an interdisciplinary practice. How have the firm’s artistic tangents informed your design projects? TM: As part of the visual culture, drawings, paintings, sculptures, objects of all types, including furniture, all share many types of connections in the design world and in their formal structures, and they're, to me, singular. The artistic tangents are dealing with organizational ideas, compositional ideas that feed directly into the work. If you can look at a lot of [our tangent projects], you're going to be able to see absolute connections between organizational strategy and material connections. It's all part of a visual world that interconnects—the drawings and the abstract work become precursors to the work itself, that is, the architecture. The different mediums allow you to explore different formal ideas free of contingency. It's free of the pragmatic forces whether it be functionalities or economics. It allows you to explore it as a pure idea, which is useful mentally. You need the freedom to explore ideas in a much purer kind of framework outside of contingency, because if there's anything difficult in architecture, it's the limits that restrain a certain amount of freedom necessary to explore an idea. But I would say on the other hand, those same limits are what architecture is about and are useful. It’s a balance between constraint that gives you clear focus on a problem and other constraints which are just annoying or which are just limiting. Going back to our earlier discussion of where certain things can take place, like we discussed with Kolon in Korea, I just need an environment that’s a little freer and open to just explore ideas. It's a constraint I need to remove. This other artistic work is just to think freely, but those ideas absolutely find their way into the work. They're absolutely interconnected. When I come back to my office this artwork is abstract urban design and the strategies of urban thinking. Further information regarding Facades+ LA can be found here.
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Sign ‘Em If You Got 'Em

Before leaving office, California governor Jerry Brown enacts pro-housing legislation
Long considered an environmental steward and an urban booster, outgoing California governor Jerry Brown has signed a series of pro-density and housing-friendly bills into law as the final legislative session of his last term as governor draws to a close. Among the issues supported by the spate of bills are: efforts to build more densely around transit stations in the San Francisco Bay Area; a desire to enshrine Obama-era federal fair housing guidelines into California law; and plans to force wealthy municipalities to build their fair share of affordable housing. A list of some of the significant legislative gains signed into law by Governor Brown follows: AB 2923 Assembly Bill 2923 settles a long-running battle to give the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) authority a greater degree of control over the land that it owns surrounding its transit stops across the Bay Area region. The land in question is currently subjected to many of the strict density limits imposed by surrounding housing-adverse communities. The enaction of the bill will allow for up to 20,000 new housing units—35 percent of which would be affordable housing—to be built on the roughly 250 acres the authority owns by 2040. In a statement, BART general manager Grace Crunican celebrated the victory by sounding a conciliatory tone. She said, “Although AB2923 directs BART to adopt new transit-oriented development (TOD) zoning standards for each BART station, I want to assure community leaders and residents that BART is committed to continuing our collaborative approach. We have found that working closely with neighborhoods and local elected officials to consider community needs is not only respectful, it's the most efficient way to get the job done.” The measure gives local municipalities two years to update their zoning plans to accommodate the new housing or risk losing all control over BART-associated projects currently under their jurisdiction. AB 686 Assembly Bill 686 would require any housing- and community development–focused public agency to administer its programs and activities in a manner that supports the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) efforts of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. The bill represents an effort to enshrine those protections—as well as Obama-era fair housing programs—into California law amid a federal restructuring of fair housing priorities under the current administration. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has referred to AFFH unironically as a “social-engineering scheme” despite the fact that AFFH efforts serve to counter the long-standing legacy of federally-enacted and enforced racial segregation and redlining in American neighborhoods. Secretary Carson is currently working to “reinterpret” AFFH goals, which many racial equity activists have interpreted as an effort to dismantle the guidelines entirely. AB 1771 Assembly Bill 1771 aims to reform California’s Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) law in order to make regional housing planning more data-driven and transparent by ensuring that high-income, job-rich cities plan and zone for affordable housing. The bill represents an effort to force wealthy cities like Beverly Hills and those surrounding San Fransico to plan for additional affordable housing so that existing low-income communities are not solely saddled with the burden of producing more housing. There is an emerging trend showing that these low-income communities have seen concentrated growth in both new market rate and affordable housing, a phenomenon that has fueled displacement and gentrification. AB 1771 aims for an initial and partial fix by beginning to hold wealthy areas responsible for producing their fair share of affordable housing.   SB828 Last but not least, State Bill 828 would reform the methodology California uses when setting local housing goals for the RHNA mentioned above. Moving forward, the state will use several data-based metrics, including the percentage of renter households that are overcrowded and current vacancy rates, to calculate each municipality’s new RHNA goals.  The newly-enacted laws follow several years’ worth of legislative gains for housing advocates in the state. However, the efforts have yet to meaningfully reduce the number of rent-burdened households in the state and have had an even smaller impact on racial segregation or access to homeownership for low-income households. These issues are expected to take center stage for California’s next governor when they take office in 2019 following the November election.