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Back Off

Frank Gehry wins restraining order against death threat-sending job seeker
According to court documents obtained by The Blast, a judge has granted Frank Gehry a restraining order after he was reportedly menaced by a potential job seeker. Throughout 2018, a Midwestern man in his 20s (The Blast declined to name the accused) repeatedly visited the Los Angeles office of Gehry Partners to ask about a job. Although Gehry himself never met the man, testimony lodged by his employees noted that he “consistently appeared ‘disheveled’ and displayed erratic behavior.” Unsatisfied with the response he was getting at the office, the man then began sending the 89-year-old Gehry increasingly violent death threats over email, many of which were collected and presented as evidence by Gehry’s lawyer. Even worse, Gehry believed that the man had stopped taking his medication and was going to attempt to force a face-to-face confrontation in L.A. On January 11, a judge granted Gehry’s request for protection and ordered that the man stay at least 100 yards away from Gehry and his wife Berta for the next five years.
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A New Chapter

West Coast firms Hodgetts + Fung and Mithun announce merger
It takes two to tango. At least, that’s the case for Seattle-based Mithun and Culver City–based Hodgetts + Fung (HplusF), two west coast architecture firms that have announced a new, mutually-beneficial merger aimed at boosting one another’s clout in key project sectors. Mithun, a national architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and interior design practice with satellite offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles will bring a bevy of large-scale housing, institutional, commercial, and urban mixed-use projects to the merger. Mithun, originally founded in 1949, has been awarded six AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten awards and the 2017 AIA Pacific Northwest Region Firm award, among other accolades. The firm has its hand in many projects, including a pair of student housing projects at the University of California, Los Angeles, totaling 3,200 beds and a new mixed-use complex at University of California, Irvine, among others. Hodgetts + Fung, a small design firm helmed by architects Craig Hodgetts and Hsinming Fung, is well-known for its signature and artful cultural commissions, including a recently-completed renovation and expansion to the historic Frost Auditorium in Culver City, the Menlo-Atherton Center for Performing Arts in Silicon Valley, the Nashville West Riverfront Park Amphitheater, Towell Library at UCLA, and the Chapel of the North American Martyrs on the Jesuit High School Campus campus in Carmichael, California. Over the years, HplusF has been awarded over 40 design awards, including the AIA California Council Firm Award in 2008.

Explaining the reasoning behind the merger, Mithun president Dave Goldberg said, “Finding such strong design talent and fit with Craig and Ming is remarkable, and we are very excited about the positive impact we will be able to make together in Southern California and beyond.”

But don’t think this is a path toward early retirement for Hodgetts and Fung, who have been practicing together for over 35 years. Hodgetts explained that the merger is, in fact, the opposite of that, saying, “Some well-established firms look for a merger as an exit strategy, but this is a re-entry strategy for me, Ming, and our firm to expand to a much larger stage which, quite frankly, is not readily available to a smaller practice.” Fung added to the sentiment, saying, “We have been approached to join other firms before, but from the very first conversation, it was clear we had a lot in common with Mithun in design approach and studio culture.”

With the merger, the firms will share a name in Los Angeles—Mithun | Hodgetts + Fung—for now, but that could change in a few years as the new entity becomes more established.

The union will give HplusF the “right muscle” to go after more employee-heavy housing-focused projects, Hodgetts explained, an interest the firm has always wanted to explore but has so far been unable to fully undertake until now. With local and state governments, especially in California, stepping up their efforts to rein in housing costs through new construction, housing of all types is set undergo drastic expansion on the West Coast in coming years. In exchange, Mithun will gain access to diverse culturally-driven clients, a realm the growing, design-focused firm has been hungry to enter itself.

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What can architects do?

SCI-Arc undertakes all-school public charrette addressing homelessness
The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and the Goethe-Institut will be holding a four-day charrette this weekend focused on generating ideas and approaches that could help address the prevalence of homelessness among Los Angeles residents. According to a press release issued by the school, all of SCI-Arc’s 506 students will be involved with the initiative, which starts Friday and runs through Monday evening. The event will feature contributions from a bevy of local and international experts, including Lorcan O’Herlihy, Frances Anderton, Deborah Weintraub, Mimi Zeiger, and other local politicians, designers, and non-profit directors. In a statement, SCI-Arc director Hernan Diaz Alonso said, “SCI-Arc is committed to playing an integral role in solving the homeless crisis. We are committed not only because of our proximity to Skid Row but because there is a moral imperative and an architectural challenge. Design must be implemented as a means for social change.” Following a day-long symposium on Friday, students and interested parties will engage in a weekend-long research and design session that will culminate in a public exhibition on Monday evening. Several of the events will be available via livestream for those who cannot attend. See below for a full schedule of the charrette. Friday, January 11, 2019 W.M. Keck Hall Lecture Hall Welcome and Introduction 1:00 p.m. – 1:20 p.m. Hernan Diaz Alonso, SCI-Arc Director Lien Heidenreich-Seleme, Goethe-Institut Director Mark Ridley-Thomas, LA County Supervisor Livestream link Presentation: Framing the Problem 1:20 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. Jerry Neuman, SCI-Arc trustee Chris Ko, United Way of Greater Los Angeles Livestream link Panel Discussion 1 1:40 p.m. – 2:40 p.m. Marqueece Harris-Dawson, LA City Councilmember (Moderator) Jerry Neuman, SCI-Arc trustee Jerry Ramirez, County Homelessness Initiative Christopher Hawthorne, LA City Chief Design Officer Thomas Newman, United Way of Greater Los Angeles Livestream link Panel Discussion 2 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Frances Anderton, KCRW (Moderator) Deborah Weintraub, Chief Deputy City Engineer of Los Angeles Carlos Zedillo, Head of Pienza Sostenible Kevin Hirai, President of Flyaway Homes Lorcan O'Herlihy, Architect Livestream link Closing Remarks 4:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. Hernan Diaz Alonso, SCI-Arc Director Livestream link Saturday, January 12, 2019 Conversations Livestreamed 10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Mimi Zeiger, Journalist and Curator Tanner Blackman, City Planner Volunteer faculty, alumni and guests Pin-up 2:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Keck Hall SCI-Arc Students + Volunteer Faculty Livestream link Monday, January 14 Exhibition 4:00pm–7:00pm Student work exhibited throughout the school
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Factory-Built

California is embracing prefab architecture with innovation, talent, and investment
With a long history of mass-produced housing experiments going back to the 1920s Sears, Roebuck & Co. mail-order homes, and the post–World War II suburban mass- housing experiments, California has a rich legacy of prefab hits—and misses. In recent years, a new generation of builders has arrived on the scene seeking to surpass this legacy by exploiting emerging mass-customization techniques and new technologies to streamline production. But these aren’t your grandparents’ prefab units. The days of rigid space-age designs are long gone, replaced by new designs that instead focus on diverse aesthetics and material flexibility. These new designs tend toward a pervasive adaptability that not only bolsters their widespread appeal but also helps builders meet the onerous local design restrictions that define many California communities. LivingHomes, based in Santa Monica, California, offers a variety of factory-made designs for single- and multifamily units, including models designed by prominent architects and firms such as Yves Béhar, Ray Kappe, and KieranTimberlake. LivingHomes’ designs are built by its spinout firm, Plant Prefab, which focuses on construction and assembly. Founder and CEO Steve Glenn is hoping Plant Prefab will lead the way in creating a national network of home-building factories where “homes are built like airplanes” rather than as one-off works, as is currently the case. Plant Prefab bills itself as the nation’s first sustainably minded home factory, and recently garnered a $6.7 million investment from Amazon, which is looking to expand the market for the company’s Alexa smart home technologies. Seattle-based Blokable, on the other hand, pursues vertically-integrated projects with the help of their in-house development team’s business model, which seeks to treat “housing development as a service.” By controlling planning, design, and production, Blokable is able to offer turnkey development services for local nonprofits and other housing providers at a lower cost. The firm offers standardized building systems along with customizable windows, doors, and finishes in order to meet a variety of price points. Blokable has begun the development process for a 64-unit housing complex in Edmonds, Washington. The project is a partnership between Blokable, the City of Edmonds, and the nonprofit Compass Housing Alliance. At the smaller end of the building scale, Gardena, California–based Cover is working to boost the availability of backyard Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in Los Angeles. Owing to a 2016 state law that legalized these backyard structures, Cover has developed unique zoning analysis software that can give potential clients a view of what type of ADU they can build. Cover offers sleek custom designs and uses its own modular building systems, fabricating units in a new factory in southern L.A. County. While many of these outfits are relatively new, legacy prefab designers are also making strides. Office of Mobile Design (OMD) principal Jennifer Siegal has been working at the intersection of portable architecture and housing for over two decades, pioneering a distinct approach to modular design that is flexible enough to include additions to existing buildings, as well as develop modular commercial structures. Siegal recently partnered with builder Bevyhouse and premium kitchen designer Tortoise to develop her own line of prefab ADU models and is also currently working on a modular design for the Sanderling Waldorf School in Carlsbad, California. If OMD’s continued experiments in non-housing prefab building types are any indication, factory-made structures of all types could soon make their way off the assembly line and to a community near you.
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Cooler Transit

Hyperloops and wheelchair bikes: Cooper Hewitt explores the future of mobility
In The Road Ahead: Reimagining Mobility the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, presents a variety of concepts from around the world that ask the question: how will we move in the future? With concepts from firms like Höweler + Yoon, design studios like IDEO, and companies like Waymo, the exhibition suggests a range of possible futures instead of painting a holistic vision. Making the case that transportation options are multiplying as data and technology take to the roads (and tunnels, and skies), the show's organizers present a world on the cusp of transit change, change that could make cities not only more efficient but also a happier place for all their inhabitants. Hopefully. It's certainly a buzzy topic, given Elon Musk's constant parade of revelations and updates on his many ventures and self-driving cars taking to the street (at their own peril). Visitors to the show, up now through March 31, have just one obstacle in their way: the government shutdown. As part of the Smithson Institution, the museum is at the mercy of the federal government, which does not show any sign of ending its shutdown soon.
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Some New, Some Old

Francis Kéré, Office Kovacs, and others tapped for 2019 Coachella installations
Francis Kéré, Office Kovacs, NEWSUBSTANCE, and other artists, architects, and designers have been chosen to bring creative and immersive installations to the Coachella Arts and Music Festival later this year. In years past, the festival has hosted an eclectic cohort of rising and established designers and artists, including Los Angeles–based Bureau Spectacular, Italian artist Edoardo Tresoldi, Nigerian-born, Brooklyn-based artist Olalekan Jeyifous, along with many others. This year’s slate of creatives boasts several new and returning acts, including artist Robert Bose, whose kinetic balloon sculpture was present at the 2017 festival. United Kingdom–based installation artists NEWSUBSTANCE are also making a return this year. Their 2018 installation, Spectra, consisted of a seven-story sloping ramp tower wrapped in polychromic panels. Los Angeles–based Do Lab will also be participating again this year. The professional music festival venue creators have previously created installations for The Great Convergence at the Great Pyramids at Giza in Egypt, the Virgin Music Festival, and other large-scale events and music festivals around the globe. In 2018, Do Lab created a tent-like performance venue for Coachella that was fashioned out of yellow and blue triangulated panels. https://www.instagram.com/p/BsKcG6KHeJD/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet Absurdist art duo Dedo Vabo will also be returning to Coachella this year. In 2018, the team brought Corporate Office, a multi-story, LED-wrapped diorama to the festival. This year’s first-time acts are due to bring a breath of fresh air to the festival. Los Angeles–based Office Kovacs, helmed by Andrew Kovacs and Erin K. Wright, will be a part of the festival for the first time this year. Office Kovacs recently completed an installation at Woodbury University’s Wedge Gallery and also received an honorable mention designation for the Lima Art Museum New Contemporary Art Wing competition in 2016. Architect Francis Kéré will also be exhibiting his work at the festival for the first time in 2019. Kéré is currently working on a musical reflection pavilion for the Tippet Rise Art Center in Montana, among several other international projects. DKLA Design, a group of designers known for their life-like animal and abstract public art sculptures around the country, will bring their stand-alone pieces to this year’s festival, as well. Experiential designers Poetic Kinetics will bring one of their iconic works to Coachella. In 2016, the team partnered with the Architectural Association Visiting School Los Angeles (AAVSLA) summer program, the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, and the arts organization NOW Art L.A. to create Liquid Shard, a mesmerizing, iridescent wind-driven sculpture for L.A.’s Pershing Square park. Local artists Sofia Enriquez and Raices Cultura will also create installations for the festival, which takes place April 12-14 and again April 19-21. For more information, see the festival's website.
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Government Sh*tdown

Waste is piling up in national parks thanks to government shutdown
As the nationwide federal government shutdown enters its second week, the country’s national parks and historical monuments are straining under increasing quantities of trash and human waste. Because many sites have remained at least partially open during the shutdown despite a lack of National Park Service staff, trash is not being picked up, bathrooms are filling to capacity with human waste, and visitors are running wild. Small groups of volunteers and local businesses have stepped in to fill some of the staffing gaps by donating toiletries and by helping to clean and sanitize bathrooms, but it has not proven to be enough to prevent widespread disorder. The Los Angeles Times reported that illegal camping activities have increased in Joshua Tree National Park outside Los Angeles, where hundreds of thousands of visitors frequent the park during the busy holiday season. According to the report, visitors have lit illegal fires in the park and in some instances, have strung Christmas lights from the park’s namesake Joshua trees, a spiky species of yucca that can reach 40 feet in height and only grows in the Mojave Desert. Joshua Tree National Park closed to visitors on Wednesday due to the sordid conditions. In nearby Death Valley National Park, local concessionaires have picked up where the Park Service left off and are currently maintaining the park’s trash and bathroom facilities. https://twitter.com/schwellenbach/status/1080462580114747392?s=21 Unlike previous shutdowns, local and state authorities across the country have enacted contingency plans to keep parks and historical sites open during the current impasse, a practice that has helped keep local businesses dependent on park traffic afloat but has left the parks open to unmitigated destruction. Joe De Luca, a sales associate at Nomad Ventures in the town of Joshua Tree told The Washington Post, “The parks are supposed to be heritage sites for generation after generation. I would rather they close than be damaged.” The Daily News reported that Yosemite National Park in Northern California was forced to close this week after visitors were found defecating beside roads in the park. In Utah, the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks were also forced to close because no one was around to plow snowed-in roads, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The shutdown comes as scandal-plagued Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke officially steps down. There is hope yet, however. A new Democratic majority is taking office in the House of Representatives on Thursday and is widely expected to pass a new funding bill to reopen the government.
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Are You Featured?

You said it! Presenting the best reader comments of 2018
Where would we be without you, dear readers? Without you, there’d be no Architect’s Newspaper AN’s most read stories of 2018 had some of the best comments. Even Patrik Schumacher came to defend himself in our comments section. Take a look at some of our favorite comments from the year. Last month, we posted an open letter from friends and colleagues of the late Zaha Hadid against Schumacher. They addressed their concerns about the settlement of her estate, the Zaha Hadid Foundation, and the governance and future of her firm (ZHA). Schumacher swooped in to defend himself, claiming we didn't hear his side of the story. Patrik, dear friend, we're open to talking. Meanwhile, we cackled at Norman McDougall's punny joke about the cancelation of Elon Musk's planned tunnel for L.A. Steve McLaughlin was disappointed with the tracklist on the architect's mixtape.  What he doesn't know is that our executive editor, Matt Shaw, breathes and walks the spirit of the famous quote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “music is liquid architecture; architecture is frozen music.” After The Man in the Glass House was released, author Mark Lamster left us wondering just how much of a Nazi was Philip Johnson. But Rhys Philips said that he was surprised people ever believed in all the Johnson propaganda. These readers weren't so impressed with Fentress Architects' design for the U.S. pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. On Twitter, Bjarke Ingels Wilder (the love child of Bjarke Ingels and Billy Wilder?) poked fun at Daniel Libeskind's affinity for sharp angles when the architect's design for the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree star was revealed. And according to Brian Mark Camille, getting an Uber might be faster than the Virgin Hyperloop One. Who knows what people will say next year?
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Can't-ilevering

Morphosis unveils a claw-like hotel to replace a legendary L.A. nightclub
The Viper Room, the legendary Los Angeles nightclub cofounded by Johnny Depp (and where River Phoenix overdosed) is set to get an architecturally ambitious replacement courtesy of Morphosis Architects. After developer Silver Creek Development Co. picked up the parcel in West Hollywood for $80 million in July of this year, it was announced that a 15-story hotel would go up on the site. Last week the public was given its first look at the replacement, which features a vise-like volume “clamping” down on a more traditional, loggia-adorned tower. The proposal also sports glassy ground-level retail bordered by V-shaped concrete columns. The 200-foot-tall hotel will feature 115 hotel rooms, 31 condo units, 10 affordable units, a gym, a spa, restaurants, a pool, and a new home for the Viper Room. It’s somewhat hard to see in the rendering, but the developer wants to include an 820-square-foot digital billboard on the Sunset Boulevard–facing facade. The project’s initial reveal came at a community meeting on December 11, where Silver Creek sought to solicit community feedback and refine the design. The hotel will move next to the West Hollywood Planning Commission’s Design Review Subcommittee, and then the Planning Commission proper. No construction timeline has been given as of yet.
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Virtual Victory

2018 Best of Design Awards winners for Digital Fabrication
2018 Best of Design Award for Digital Fabrication: 260 Kent Designer: COOKFOX Architects Location: Brooklyn, New York

Slated to be the tallest tower in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 260 Kent by COOKFOX Architects was designed using an innovative precast exterior concept inspired by the molecular structure of sugar crystals. In a unique collaboration between the architect, developer, and Gate Precast, the same BIM model that was used to design the facade and create early scaled 3D-printed models was utilized to print molds for the precast panels. When complete, the facade is intended to act as a shading element. Opening in fall 2019, the 42-story tower will join the already open 325 Kent and Domino Park as the latest edition to the Domino Sugar waterfront redevelopment project.

Honorable Mentions Project Name: A.V. Bath House Designer: Facilities Design Group Location: Custer, Michigan Project Name: MARS Pavilion Designer: Form Found Design Location: Los Angeles  
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A Subway, But For Cars

Elon Musk unveils prototype Boring Company tunnel under Los Angeles
After over two years of internet-fueled hype and fast-paced construction, erratic billionaire Elon Musk has unveiled a prototype tunnel outside Los Angeles that aims to test his far-fetched vision for a new urban transportation network below the region’s notoriously traffic-choked streets. The so-called Loop project is envisioned as a series of tunnels that could ferry private automobiles, and pods carrying pedestrians and bicyclists at speeds approaching 150 miles per hour. The tunnels, accessible from a network of parking spot-sized lifts, could eventually connect the city’s major landmarks and neighborhoods, according to a preliminary map unveiled last year. https://twitter.com/boringcompany/status/1075318894871470081?s=21 The Boring Company–backed test tunnel took shape beneath a neighborhood sandwiched between a municipal airport and Interstate 110 in Hawthrone, California, where several of Musk’s companies are headquartered. Although the test tunnel debuted with several key design changes—including the elimination of so-called “skate” platforms that private automobiles would ride on and actual travel speeds that barely approached 50 miles per hour—the bumpy debut was met with cautious optimism by observers, according to The Los Angeles Times. With a reported cost of about $40 million, the roughly mile-long test tunnel was built for a fraction of the cost of conventional subway technologies, though that is not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, given the tube’s diminutive size relative to conventional transit routes, the fact that it was not built with unionized labor, and its overall reduced passenger capacity. According to The New York Times, Musk referred to the tunnel as “a real solution to the traffic problem we have on earth,” adding, “It’s much more like an underground highway.” The opening of the test tunnel follows the high-profile setback for Musk’s plan to build a second tube underneath the streets of the City of Los Angeles that came last month. The Boring Company is also working on a tunnel that would connect downtown Chicago with O’Hare Airport as well as a more modest loop that could potentially link L.A.’s existing subway system with Dodger Stadium.
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A Year in Sports (Architecture)

Let’s kick it: Here are the top sports architecture stories of 2018
Is the United States becoming more serious about soccer? We think we have evidence to say that it is. AN’s most popular sports stories of 2018 center around the world’s greatest sport, telling us that this year’s uptick of soccer-related architecture news signals a newfound appreciation for the game in our country. Read on for several developments you should pay attention to, and other stories about why sustainable stadium design is also on the rise. David Beckham’s Miami soccer village reveals Arquitectonica’s designs Miami is set to receive its first Major League Soccer (MLS) team, backed by soccer superstar David Beckham who plans to build a 73-acre campus for the city called “Miami Freedom Park.” Arquitectonica revealed new renderings of the sports village, complete with a sweeping, 25,000-seat soccer stadium. In November, local residents voted to approve the project and its projected location on the city-owned Melreese Country Club golf course, meaning Beckham’s vision is one step closer to breaking ground. Nashville’s new $2 million soccer stadium takes shape In December 2016, MLS announced a major club expansion to four U.S. cities including Nashville, Tennessee. Though the southern city wasn’t sure it’d be awarded a new team, plans for a multimillion-dollar stadium project had been in the works for over a year. This February, HOK released its first renderings of the new stadium, which will be constructed inside the Fairgrounds, home of the Tennessee State Fair. Selecting the central site was a contentious process throughout 2017 when a lawsuit was filed citing the city had violated its charter by proposing the project on public grounds. 2026 World Cup preview: Which U.S. cities will host? As Qatar preps for the 2022 World Cup, the United States is on deck to host the 2026 games alongside Canada and Mexico. That’s exciting news for a country whose national team rarely makes it into the World Cup lineup—the joint bid automatically ensures us a spot. But what’s not yet official are the 10 cities that will host events. We know that 60 of the 80 planned matches will be played in the U.S., including those from the quarterfinals onwards, but currently, 17 cities are still in the running. Which top towns, along with their state-of-the-art stadiums (which are an integral part of the individual bid), will make the cut? We’ve listed all the contenders here from Atlanta’s new Mercedes Benz Stadium by HOK (host of the 2019 Super Bowl) to the classic Rose Bowl in Los Angeles. Naturally-ventilated Louis Armstrong Stadium debuts at US Open Ahead of this September’s US Open, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center finished a five-year, $600 million renovation project of its campus in Flushing, Queens, New York. The massive update included the buildout of the new Louis Armstrong Stadium, the world’s first naturally ventilated tennis arena with a retractable roof. Designed by Detroit-based firm Rossetti, the 14,000-seat stadium replaces the former Louis Armstrong Stadium, which was demolished after the 2016 championship. The new structure features the same stacked seating style as its predecessor but serves up extra sustainability with the exterior overlapping terracotta louvers that act as horizontal window blinds. New home of the Texas Rangers has a climate-controlling, retractable roof HKS has designed a new 41,000-seat baseball stadium for the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, set to replace the old Globe Life Park in 2020. The aptly named Globe Life Field will be a glass- and brick-clad structure featuring new climate-controlling infrastructure and a retractable roof. HKS’s design for the 1.7 million-square-foot ballpark was inspired by the vernacular style of Texas farmhouse porches. BIG unveils designs for new Oakland A’s stadium featuring a rooftop park Late this November, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and the Oakland Athletics unveiled plans for a new baseball park and mixed-use campus in Oakland, California. Complete with a literally diamond-shaped stadium, the project is being pitched as a double-play for the city. It will feature an open and accessible landscape situated within Oakland’s underutilized Howard Terminal and will also include housing, recreational spots, and a business hub. Gensler and James Corner Field Operations will work alongside BIG to build out the mega-green space by 2021.