Cement company Lehigh Hanson is converting a defunct gravel mine into an 1,800-unit, millennial-focused mixed-use and residential community. The development, called 3roots San Diego, will be located in northern San Diego County. If built, the project would be constructed over what remains of the Carroll Canyon mine, a concrete aggregate and gravel mine that ceased operations in 2016. The development, according to Brian Meyers, a consultant for Lehigh Hanson, represents an “alternative” to prototypical urban environments for millennial individuals looking to start a family. Meyers told the San Diego Union Tribune that the development aims to provide some of the “urban lifestyle amenities” like walkability and density of use that make traditional urban areas desirable, but will do so in a more family-oriented environment. The barren 412-acre site is sandwiched between a series of suburban-style residential communities, other mining operations, and an industrial district. 3roots San Diego aims to convert the site into an interlocking network of mixed-use and residential areas bisected by parkland and hiking trails. The project was originally envisioned in 1994 to include a 50-acre industrial district, but a recently-updated plan has scrapped that component in favor of more park space. The development is to be laid out with a mixed-use "innovation district" at its core that will maintain transit connections to a forthcoming extension of San Diego’s light rail system. The so-called Village Core area will feature 749 apartments, 120,000 square feet of retail spaces, and 20,000 square feet of creative office. Renderings for the project depict two parallel rows of warehouse-style structures surrounding a generous pedestrian courtyard. Other scattered mixed-use buildings will fill out the remainder of development’s main node with apartments, and the developer will gradually add attached and detached single family homes up and down the hilly site. A series of parks will wrap the site's edges to allow for connections to existing and new public streets and trails. Overall, 3roots San Diego will have 201 acres of open space overall, including 40 acres of publicly-accessible parks and hiking trails. Residential areas for the project will be laid out according to density, with the project’s 310 attached single-family homes sandwiched between the more dense Village Core and a zone containing 746 detached single-family homes. Renderings depict manicured rows of apartments, townhouses, and detached homes amid lush, hilly landscapes. Public meetings and and environmental reviews for the project are scheduled to completed in 2018. The developers aim to complete the first homes for the project in 2021 with final buildout by 2025. See the 3roots San Diego site for more information.
All posts in City Terrain
Officials with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) have begun to explore the potential opportunities public-private partnerships (P3) might afford the entity as it seeks to fast-track the construction of several key transit expansions across the Los Angeles region. Specifically, The Source reported that Metro is currently working to develop a timeframe for expediting the delivery of three projects: The construction of a new north-south transit tunnel running through the Santa Monica Mountains underneath the Sepulveda Pass; the addition of the new southeasterly West Santa Ana transit line to the city of Artesia; and the county-wide expansion of the existing Express Lanes toll lane system. The projects represent lynchpin expansions for the 26-year-old transit system that will result from the passage of 2016’s Measure M, a regional half-cent tax increase that is expected to raise $860 million in new transit-oriented revenue each year in perpetuity. Measure M is expected to rework the region’s approach to mobility by expanding Metro’s rail network by more than a factor of two, while also funding street, bicycle, and highway improvements, as well. Metro received several unsolicited proposals for the projects in question earlier this year. The proposals, aimed at improving delivery times and reducing construction costs for the projects, are the result a new effort on the part of the transit agency to draw industry knowledge and experience to its project planning operations under the tenure of Chief Innovation Officer Joshua Schank. In a statement, Schank said, “We are seeing innovation at its best and we look forward to delivering projects and programs—supported by P3s—to improve the quality of life in our region sooner rather than later.” Metro has utilized the unsolicited proposals to begin crafting RFPs for each of the projects. The logic behind the move is that P3s can speed construction and improve coordination between the agency, designers, and contractors, allowing for faster delivery of the projects in question and also—due to cost savings—potentially lead to expedited delivery for other projects, as well. Parsons Transportation Group and Cintra US Services submitted unsolicited bids for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project, the transit portion of which will now be developed via the RFP process as a P3 project. Once completed, the 20-mile-long, $9.4 billion corridor is expected to serve over 100,000 daily transit riders. Parsons completed work on the final leg of Metro's Expo Line extension late last year. Metro received two proposals for the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor from Skanska and Kiewit, which will also result in an RFP for a P3 project that will utilize elements from each firm’s unsolicited bid. The 20-mile long route would be built in two phases for between $3 billion and $4.5 billion and carry 75,000 riders daily. Lastly, Goldman Sachs submitted a proposal for the regional expansion Metro’s ExpressLanes network. Metro will pursue a procurement bond in order to underwrite the implementation of the new regional toll road network. Details, as well a timeline for the RFP process, are set to be released in the coming months.
KTGY Architecture + Planning has unveiled renderings for a new 85-unit transitional housing project built with repurposed shipping containers slated for Los Angeles’s Westlake neighborhood. The project, dubbed Hope on Alvarado, is being billed by developer Aedis Real Estate Group as the first shipping container–built transitional housing project in Los Angeles. According to a press release, the use of shipping containers will result in a truncated six-month construction timeline for the project. Plans call for craftspeople to assemble the shipping container components off-site while the building’s foundations are being laid. Off-site production will include the installation of final finishes and fixtures as well, so that once the foundations are prepared, the nearly-complete units can be crane-lifted into place. The project will represent a sort of test run for the building technique, as Aedis has announced it is pursuing a slate of shipping container–built projects across the Downtown Los Angeles-adjacent neighborhood. In the release, Keith Labus, principal of KTGY, said, “We’re not trying to hide the fact that these are shipping containers. There would be great costs associated with creating the level of character they already have.” Speaking in reference to the firm’s various projects planned for the area, Labus said, “Our approach is to work with what we have and develop something unique at each location.” The complex is wrapped in corrugated metal siding and is organized around a central courtyard surrounded by circulation corridors. Each unit will be made up of several containers that have been spliced together and punctured to allow for floor-to-ceiling window assemblies and doorways. Ground floor areas will be clad in storefront glass. Units in the complex will range from studios to one-bedroom configurations, averaging between 400- and 480 square feet in size. The complex will also contain ground floor supportive services. The project is among the first to be approved according to the Los Angeles Planning Department’s new Transit Oriented Community Guidelines. Hope on Alvarado comes as the population of Angelenos experiencing homelessness grew 23 percent last year, with the estimated number of unsheltered people rising to 57,794 individuals, according to a Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority report issued earlier this year.
While completing work on the Willis Avenue Bridge in East Harlem in the early 2000s, an unexpected discovery was made. A building adjacent to the bridge – a bus depot operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) – seemed to have been built on top of a colonial-era African burial ground. In 2011, the MTA hired a consultant to complete a formal archaeological study (Phase 1A), which found that the depot grounds had indeed been an active burial site from the late 1660s to at least 1856. In 2015, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) completed a Phase 1B archaeological assessment and the depot was shut down, its operations relocated offsite. The nearby Elmendorf Reformed Church – a descendant church of the burial ground – were involved in the extraction of more than 140 bone fragments from the site, which will be preserved and reinterred within a memorial. As the MTA and NYCEDC discovered, the site had been the cemetery for descendants of Africans in the colonial era when the neighborhood was a Dutch settlement called Nieuw Haarlem. An adjacent cemetery for white parishioners was relocated to the Bronx when its attendant church moved, but the ground holding the Africans' remains was repeatedly resold and developed over, its history obscured and desecrated. Yesterday New York City Council approved a zoning application giving developers the go-ahead to construct a memorial at the historic burial ground, as well as a mixed-use housing and commercial complex including about 730 residential units, 80 percent of which will be made affordable. Before development begins, additional archaeological work will be conducted by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPS), supervised by the Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force (HABGTF), which has advocated for the site's formal recognition since 2009. The development, intended to be about two-thirds residential and one-third commercial, will center itself around the outdoor burial ground memorial and include up to 15,000 square feet of indoor memorial or cultural center space. The memorial itself will be allocated about 18,000 square feet, a wedge-shaped area near First Avenue. The overall site will span the entire city block. In the HABGTF's original design proposals for the memorial, the names of the deceased are carved into walls of black granite surrounding a reflecting pool with its ripples illuminated onto the ceiling by internal light fixtures. Reverend Doctor Patricia A. Singletary of the Elmendorf Reformed Church managed to find the names in the church's records. The promenade, also etched with quotes from black luminaries like Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr., can double as a presentation space for guest lectures "pertinent to the site's history and larger issues concerning the legacy of slavery and colonization." The memorial corridor, lined with bronze sculptural reliefs depicting scenes of slavery and Native Americans, extends out onto an open, public lawn dotted with fiber optic lights that illuminate the grasses at night. The NYCEDC plans to issue an RFP for development proposals for the site in 2018, with the final team selected in late 2018 or early 2019. The site is scheduled for construction on a tentative timeline from 2020 to 2023.
Denver, Colorado–based affordable housing developers Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) and Medici Consulting Group (MCG) recently revealed plans to move forward on a project that aims to establish a transit-oriented development at the heart of the city’s booming River North Art District (RiNo) neighborhood. The so-called Walnut Street Lofts—an architect for the project has not been announced—would bring 65 affordable housing units pegged for residents making between 30- and 60-percent of the area’s median income. When the development comes online in 2019, it is expected to provide affordable rents, with one-bedroom units going for roughly $400 per month and three-bedroom apartments running up to $1,200 per month. The 1.5-acre site for the project was purchased by ULC in 2011 as part of the developer’s long-term land-banking strategy, which entails purchasing cheap land in gentrifying Denver neighborhoods as a means of embedding affordable housing in growing areas. When the non-profit acquired the Walnut Street Lofts parcel in 2011, for example, the lot came out to a sale price of about $30 per square foot, a bargain considering a site nearby recently sold for roughly $200 per square foot, the Denver Post reports. For the project, ULC sold the development rights to the land to MCG but will retain ownership of the land via an automatically-renewing 99-year ground lease. The complex, according to a rendering released by the developers, features simple, rectilinear massing with punched openings with operable window assemblies. The complex will also feature ground floor retail spaces and is laid out with a central courtyard. The project will benefit from funding provided by the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, which awarded Medici $1,198,115 in low-income housing tax credits to help finance the estimated $17 million project. The project also received funding from Colorado-based development firm McWinney, which chipped in $1.5 million in funding as part of a deal to win a density bonus for a development located on a nearby parcel. The Walnut Street Lofts are expected to break ground in late 2018 and will be completed in 2019.
Last Friday, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), along with the Departments of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and Parks and Recreation (DPR), announced a massive new project in the South Bronx spearheaded by L+M Development Partners. Dubbed Bronx Point, the project is located on city-owned land on the waterfront of the Harlem River, and will include about 600 units of affordable housing in phase one (1,045 units total) as well as the nation's first brick-and-mortar hip-hop museum, officially called the Universal Hip Hop Museum. Among the founding members of the museum are recording legends Kurtis Blow and Rocky Bucano; its cultural ambassadors include Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, LL Cool J, and many other recognizable names. Law and Order: SVU's Ice T is on the board of directors. Executive Director Rocky Bucano said the museum's goal was to bring "hip-hop back to the Bronx where it originated from [...] it's gonna be a complete history of hip-hop." The site of Bronx Point is located adjacent to the 149th Street corridor, making it very transit-accessible. Additional plans for the property include a public multiplex theater, a waterfront esplanade extending to Mill Pond Park, an outdoor performance space, an incubator for small food vendors, and educational spaces in partnership with established organizations like Billion Oyster Project, City Science, and BronxWorks. The project is projected to produce over 100 new jobs (and 915 temporary jobs during its construction) during phase one alone. It also aims to incorporate sustainable building practices for LEED Gold certification. Once approved, phase one is slated for completion in 2022. The proposal for Bronx Point has entered the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) with the support of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Community Board 4 District Manager Paul A. Philps, and the City Planning Commission ... not to mention Detective Tutuola.
The list of potential pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly bridges coming to a stretch of the Los Angeles River in northeast Los Angeles continues to grow with the recent announcement of a new $20 million span. The latest bridge would cross between the City of Glendale and L.A.’s Griffith Park, connecting over the L.A. River bed and Interstate-5. Designs for the proposed pedestrian link by T.Y. Lin International Group and the City of Glendale call for a winding, board-formed concrete span topped by distinctive white metal trellises. The trellises would be surrounded by integrated seating areas and planting beds. Plans for the exact location of the bridge are currently under discussion, and the city has released three potential sites. The bridge would only be built if a statewide voter referendum is approved for the ballot this year and is majority-supported in 2018. Laura Friedman, a local California Assemblyperson backing the project, said in a press release: “The bridge isn’t just a link between neighborhoods, it’s connecting people with open space, miles of bike paths, and economic opportunity, all while creating jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and congestion on our streets and freeways.” The bridge joins a pair of other proposals, including a $16.1-million scheme for the North Atwater Multimodal Bridge roughly a mile south that is also being developed by the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering (BoE) on behalf of the City of Los Angeles. Funds for the bridge include a donation from developer Morton La Kretz, a grant from the Caltrans Active Transportation Program, and City of L.A. funding, among others. The bridge, designed by Buro Happold, is 325-foot-long and utilizes cable-stayed technology to span over the L.A. River. The bridge was initially donated by La Kretz, but project costs have spiraled out of control and now far exceed the initial donation amount. It is expected that the cost of the bridge will now be borne by taxpayers. The bridge is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in 2019. The Taylor Yard Bridge—designed by Studio Pali Fekete Architects— and is also planned for a nearby stretch of the river. The 400-foot-long $19 million bridge would span between the Elysian Valley neighborhood and Taylor Yard, which is currently being vetted for redevelopment. The bridge features a metal truss frame and contains an outlook at the center of the crossing. The bridge is expected to enter construction in 2018. Once these projects are completed, traveling between northeast Los Angeles and all points west of the L.A. River will be much easier than it is today. This post has been updated.
Los Angeles–based AHBE Landscape Architects and the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering have revealed renderings for a new $8.5 million public park slated for L.A.’s Chinatown neighborhood. The so-called Alpine Park will take over a bare hillside currently marked with rudimentary paths that are heavily used by the local community to cut across the hilly neighborhood. The hillside currently connects a densely-populated cluster of homes and apartment complexes at the top of a hill with a local public library branch down below. Evan Mather, principal at AHBE, told The Architect’s Newspaper that the community had been calling for the park for years, explaining that the challenge of the site has “always been about accessibility and the fact that the neighborhood [generally] lacks outdoor open space.” In place of the informal paths, AHBE is proposing a series of formal recreational terraces and paths anchored by three outdoor rooms. The composition follows the steeply-sloped site, which climbs over 30 feet in height across its narrowest exposure and over 100 feet between the library and the residential section of the neighborhood. The landscape architects have added a series of staircases, ramps, and an elevator to help with the change in elevation. The stairs anchor the L-shaped pocket park along one end, with a lotus plaza, bamboo garden, and so-called “heavenly garden” located at the bottom, middle, and top of the site, respectively. The three secondary gardens are connected by sloped ramps lined with native Palo Verde trees, roses, bamboo, Chinese Flame Trees and other native and drought-tolerant specimens. The project is expected to begin construction in early 2018 and open to the public in early 2019.
Underground No More
One of these designs could revamp Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco
The Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza and the American Institute of Architects San Francisco Chapter (AIASF) recently announced their selection of three competing proposals led by Groundworks Office, Kuth | Ranieri Architects, and Perkins Eastman to re-design Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco. The proposals were selected from responses to a public competition aimed at re-working the aging public space. According to a statement by the Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza, designs for the current plaza—a sunken brick- and concrete-lined stepped promenade with integrated seating sitting above the Castro Station subway stop—“fall short of being an inspiration for hope, change, and equality” in the neighborhood. Organizers of the competition seek to remake the plaza into an uplifting and accessible public gathering space by covering the below-ground portions with a new street-level plaza that can be used as a site of protest, celebration, and commemoration. The three finalist schemes posit various approaches for programming new ground-level areas as well as for how to integrate the plaza into the surrounding neighborhood. The existing plaza is punctuated by a large flag pole topped by a rainbow flag, which will remain after renovations. Kuth | Ranieri–led proposal Kuth | Ranieri’s proposal seeks to create a “living memorial and [neighborhood] destination” that functions as an “active and iconic space” symbolizing the national LGBT civil rights movement Milk ignited, according to a statement. The scheme utilizes brightly-colored glass-clad archways to highlight important nodes in the plaza, including the new subway entrance, a bus stop, and a new elevator. The glass panel structures are printed with scenes depicting scenes from Milk’s life in order to create an “integrated experiential memorial.” Down below the street level in the subway ticketing area, the glass panels frame a triangular skylight made from pink glass that will light the space from above. Kuth | Ranieri is joined on the team by RHAA Landscape Architecture and Planning and Catherine Wagner Studio. Perkins Eastman–led proposal The plaza was once used by Milk to give soapbox speeches—a fact the Perkins Eastman team interpreted in their scheme, which calls for topping the subway stop with a stepped-ramp amphitheater that can act as a“soapbox for many.” The structure would be punctuated by an elevator connecting the subway stop and the sidewalk. It would also be sandwiched between two bands of sidewalk that lead to a flat plaza at the corner. The southwestern end of the plaza would contain a grand entrance to the subway station capped by the highest end of the amphitheater. The scheme would also be populated by a multitude of street lights designed to symbolize the candlesticks used in the protest march commemorating Milk’s legacy that emanates from the plaza every year. The project team includes Arup as structural engineer, Propp + Guerin as graphic designer, Lightswitch SF, Inc. as lighting designer, and artist Cybele Lyle. Groundworks Office–led proposal Lastly, the Groundworks Office–led proposal calls for populating the new open plaza with a series of low, faceted masses containing integrated seating, a memorial wall, and a glass canopy for the subway entrance and bus stop along Market Street. The scheme is geared toward creating a “unified plaza that simplifies circulation to public transit” while also streamlining pedestrian routes between transit lines and along surrounding streets. The three proposals are undergoing a period of public comment until September 21st. To share input on the proposals, visit the competition website.
Venezuelan-born artist Carlos Cruz-Diez has completed work on a new art installation at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles that utilizes blocks of pastel-colored paint to activate the crosswalks connected to the museum. The installation was developed by the Broad with the Cruz-Diez Art Foundation and the artist himself as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA (PST), an ambitious multi-venue exploration of Latin American and Latino art currently taking place across the Los Angeles region. The installation, titled Couleur Additive, was installed along the four crosswalks located at the intersection of Grand Avenue and 2nd Street in Downtown Los Angeles. One of the crosswalks connects the Broad to the Disney Concert Hall located on a block north of the museum. Cruz-Diez is a highly-regarded figure in the Kinetic-Optical art genre, an experimental color theory-based form of artistic exploration initially developed in the 1950s. Cruz-Diez, who recently turned 94 years old, developed his approach based on the assumption that the perception of color in the human eye constitutes an autonomous reality that changes based on position, time, and perspective. His works, according to Ed Schad, assistant curator at The Broad, create art “through and around” the side-by-side collision of the installation’s green, orange, yellow, and blue hues. Schad’s team undertook great pains to comply with the City of Los Angeles’s permitting process for the installation, which required that the paint be applied in such a way as to retain the original sidewalk striping in its entirety. As a result, the paint swatches exist independently from the typical white crosswalk striping. The paint itself was applied by student-artists from the nearby Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, a complex designed by architects Coop Himmelb(l)au. Joanne Heyler, founding director of The Broad said in a press release, “Carlos Cruz-Diez’s practice challenges the traditional relationship between art and the viewer, and between the viewer and the urban environment,”adding, “His new work Couleur Additive activates the public space around The Broad, embracing Grand Avenue and bringing the museum out into the daily life of pedestrians and our visitors, highlighting the ideas of an important Latin American artist whose career has spanned seven decades.” The public art installation will be featured alongside explanatory materials displayed inside the museum and in conjunction with educational workshops put on by Learning Lab, an arm of the Cruz-Diez Art Foundation. The installation is on view through the year and into 2018.
California moves to relieve housing crisis with key legislative wins
Several bills aimed at alleviating California’s persistent and worsening housing affordability crisis advanced through the state legislature late last night, re-igniting the state’s housing activists and raising hopes that housing relief is on the way. The six initiatives address different facets of the crisis, but have been seen as a collective success and an initial step toward more full-fledged efforts by the state to rein in skyrocketing rents and reverse the housing shortage. The California State Assembly passed Senate Bill 2 (SB 2)—the most controversial of the batch—a proposal that adds $75 to a $225 fee to mortgage refinances and other real estate transactions, excluding home and commercial property sales. The fee is projected to raise $250 million per year for low-income affordable housing, and provide a permanent and consistent funding source to rehabilitate and expand that market, the Los Angeles Times reported. When matched with federal, local, and private funds, it is estimated that the fee could raise over $5 billion for such housing over the next five years, according to The Mercury News. Senate Bill 3 (SB 3), also passed Thursday night, paves the way for a $4 billion bond designed to finance low-income housing development and provide mortgages to military veterans to go onto the 2018 statewide ballot. Providing housing for formerly-homeless veterans has been a particular focus of ongoing housing efforts across the state. Senate Bill 35 (SB 35) would streamline the approval of housing development, requiring cities and counties to develop land use plans that include a housing element and hold municipalities accountable to those figures. Senate Bill 166 would also pressure municipalities to meet their housing goals while also forbidding them from lowering residential density in their respective zoning codes to reduce the overall number of required units. Senate Bill 167 would strengthen the state's Housing Accountability Act—which compels municipalities to approve low-income housing projects, among other types of housing—by fining municipalities automatic fines of $10,000 per unit of unbuilt housing resulting from their violation of the act. Various municipalities around the Bay Area have caused controversy in recent years for violating the act, which in turn, has resulted in lawsuits from housing activists. Senate Bill 540 incentivizes “workforce housing opportunity zones” by allowing municipalities to adopt specific plans for local areas that are particularly in need of housing. The bill would streamline redevelopment efforts, especially in relation to California Environmental Quality Act approvals. Both SB 2 and SB 3 cleared the California State Senate earlier this year; those bills and the four additional measures will head back to that chamber for final approval today before being sent to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. Brown has until October 15th to veto or sign the bills.
Resilient by Design | Bay Area has chosen 10 multi-disciplinary teams to partake in the next phase of a design challenge focused on future-proofing California’s San Francisco Bay Area against the destructive effects of climate change and sea level rise. The 10 teams will partner with community members and organizations over the next nine months to develop innovative approaches for the region. The teams include several notable architecture and landscape architecture firms, including BIG, MVRDV, and James Corner Field Operations. Each of the selected teams contains at least one community member and several of the teams are entirely Bay Area–based. Resilient by Design is modeled on Rebuild by Design, a federally-funded New York City re-visioning competition held after 2012's Hurricane Sandy. The 10 selected design teams include:
BIG + ONE + SHERWOOD Bionic Team Common Ground HASSELL+ Permaculture + Social Equity Public Sediment The All Bay Collective The Field Operations Team The Home Team Team UPLIFTThe teams were each awarded $250,000 to engage in research over the next three months and to work with community members to analyze chosen sites with the eventual goal of crafting an adaptation strategy for a specific project location by May. “Resilient by Design is creating a blueprint for the world, bring together community members and experts to show how we can collectively tackle climate change,” Amanda Brown-Stevens, managing director of Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge, told The Architect’s Newspaper. “We know that it is time for something different, a new approach that matches our new reality but draws on who we are and what we have always been able to do: think differently, innovate, come together, and adapt.” Formal announcements for team and site pairings will be timed to coincide with California Governor Jerry Brown’s scheduled Global Climate Action Summit in December. The most recent announcement comes after the Bay Area Challenge was awarded a $4.6 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation earlier this year.