Search results for "downtown los angeles"

Placeholder Alt Text

Long Way Home

The Aluminaire House finds a permanent home in Palm Springs
After a long and winding journey, the Aluminaire House has finally found a permanent home in Palm Springs, California. The 1,200-square-foot, all-metal house arrived in the high desert early last year on the back of a freight truck, just in time for the annual Modernism Week celebration. The home was greeted by a hero’s welcome after having just completed the final leg of a perilous journey from New York, where it had been installed, inhabited, and exhibited variously over the decades. The disassembled structure has sat in storage in the months since, as preparations continue for its final installation as a house museum and interpretive center in conjunction with the development of a new two-acre downtown plaza designed by Los Angeles–based Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH Studios). The iconic all-steel structure was designed in 1931 by Albert Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher as a prototype for a new kind of efficient and modern domestic life. The experimental home was initially exhibited in 1931 at the Grand Central Palace in New York City by the Allied Arts and Industries and the Architectural League of New York and was shown to the public again the following year by the Museum of Modern Art. The Aluminaire House was then purchased and moved by architect Wallace Harrison to his estate in Long Island, where it served as a guest house until 1986, when it was moved to the Central Islip campus of the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) by architects Frances Campani and Michael Schwarting in order to prevent its demolition. Although the NYIT Central Islip campus closed down in 2005, the Aluminaire House remained installed there until 2012, when it was disassembled by Campani and Schwarting and stored for posterity. The home was nearly installed in Sunnyside, Queens as part of a new townhouse development the following year, but the plan was scuttled after neighborhood opposition arose against the project. The Aluminaire Foundation sprung up in 2013 and began preparations for moving the home out west to Palm Springs, one of the region’s many cradles of mid century modern architecture and design. When construction completed in 2020 on the new Palm Springs Downtown Park, the home willoccupy a prominent perch on Museum Drive, surrounded by a grove of trees, an outdoor gallery, and the rest of the park—just across the street from the Palm Springs Art Museum. Nate Cormier, principal at RCH Studio, said, “The Aluminaire House was a key element of the park from the start of the most recent round of conceptual design work. As fans of modern architecture, we were excited about its incorporation, but we were also challenged to find a way to give it its own space.” According to the architect, the city’s new town square will stitch together a series of disparate elements—including the Aluminaire House, a central pond and lawn, and a 28-foot-tall statue dedicated to Marilyn Monroe—in a new urban setting studded with plant species taken from local canyons and hiking trails. With California fan palms, Honey Mesquite trees, white sage, chuparosa, and Indian Tea shrubs, the park will aim to provide urban amenities using a locally-derived plant palate.Cormier added, “The park is an urban oasis, a rustic retreat [meant to] offer comforts and delights that are rooted in the intrinsic qualities of the regional landscape.” The Aluminaire House will sit on its own site adjacent to the main square to establish “a more residential relationship with the adjacent streets,” as Cormier explains. There, the restored home will be maintained by the Aluminaire Foundation as a public resource. Cormier and RCH Studios founding partner Mark Rios will be presenting the final schematic designs for the park at a special community update for the park Friday, February 23 at Palm Springs Art Museum in conjunction with Modernism Week. See the event website for more information
Placeholder Alt Text

Big City Coming

In fits and starts, Seattle plans for regional-scale urbanism
In recent years, the West Coast’s booming cities have seen significant population growth, resulting in an ongoing and worsening housing-affordability crisis. Though there are many overlapping causes for this crisis, the phenomenon is partially a product of too much success and not enough planning—cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have added tens of thousands of new jobs over the years, but have built comparatively few homes to serve those workers. The result is a dizzying increase in the number of people experiencing burdensome rents and homelessness coupled with an expanded reliance on automobile transit as people are forced to live farther away from their jobs in order to afford housing. This regime is straining urban and civic life as more and more people—including college students, school teachers, and even police officers and firefighters— face increasing difficulties in terms of housing affordability. But just as the overlapping crises of climate change, housing unaffordability, and gridlock threaten to overwhelm these cities, potential solutions may be afoot. Across the region, major cities are beginning to cooperate at the regional level with peripheral municipalities in an effort to rein in carbon emissions, increase affordability and equity, and decrease automobile reliance. By relying on envisioned networks of transit-connected villages to grow up rather than out, entire metropolitan regions have the potential to be remade in the image of multi-nodal urbanism. In the Los Angeles area, the Southern California Association of Governments represents 18 million residents across a six-county region with the aim of helping to reduce sprawl. To the north, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association aims to unite the region’s 101 municipalities toward measured growth. Of the three major West Coast cities, however, Seattle—nearly 30 years into its own regional planning experiment following the passage of the Washington State Growth Management Act in 1990—is the furthest along in its efforts to articulate a new form of dense regional urbanism centered on regional transit and dispersed density. As it should, the path toward this brave new world begins with high-capacity transit. Though only established in 1993, the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) is in the midst of a massive, multibillion-dollar expansion plan that will see the transit agency extend a slew of new light rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) lines across the Puget Sound region. Sound Transit has been undergoing vigorous growth since 1996, when the agency published its initial “Sound Move” plan, which has been amended, expanded, and reapproved by regional voters first in 2008 and again in 2016. The most recent version— Sound Transit 3 (ST3)—consists of a 25-year vision aimed at adding an additional 62 new miles of light rail throughout the region with the goal of ultimately creating 116 miles of light rail augmented by expanded commuter rail and new BRT services. Crucially, the expanded system includes increased street bus service, shorter headways between buses and trains, and increased transit capacity via longer train cars and articulated buses. When fully built out, the system will span north to Everett, south to Tacoma, east to Redmond and west to Ballard and serve a projected population of five million. Aside from being a transit plan, ST3 is also part of a dogged, municipally led vision aimed at supplementing Seattle’s downtown core by investing in and redeveloping existing cities and towns across the Puget Sound. The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), a cooperative agency tasked with envisioning equitable growth strategies for the region, leads the effort on the planning side. The organization helps to study and deploy land-use reforms like up-zoning, works to preserve the location and size of existing industrial lands, and pursues transportation and urbanization planning initiatives with the aim of keeping the rural areas, farmland, and forests around metropolitan regions “healthy and thriving,” according to the organization’s website. The council’s Vision 2040 plan—a growth management– focused environmental, economic, and transportation vision for Puget Sound crafted in 2007—aims to provide a blueprint for this transformation. PSRC’s vision seeks to direct urban growth so that it coincides with Sound Transit’s projected transit map for the future, overlaying progressive planning principles atop new transit corridors before the new lines are ever built. The effect is that land can be bought sooner and at cheaper prices, allowing, for example, nonprofit housing providers to maximize their investments long before surrounding real estate appreciates. Vision 2040 aims to create a set of interconnected “regional centers” that concentrate a density of housing, jobs, and civic and entertainment uses along these new transit corridors. According to PSRC, Washington state’s job growth will be three times higher than the national average over the next five years, a phenomenon the group hopes will reshape the Puget Sound region as a whole. The council is currently working to update its regional-centers plan, and it seeks to cluster groups of complementary industries across the region synergistically with housing and other services. Producing this “housing-jobs balance,” Josh Brown, executive director of PSRC said, is a central mission of the organization. Brown explained, “Our plan calls for larger existing cities to accommodate growth so we can achieve a better housing-jobs balance across the region.” Using this so-called Centers Framework, the organization has been able to create a plan for concentrating urban growth in existing urban centers and projects that, by 2040, the region will be served by over one hundred high-capacity transit stations surrounded by a density of mixed uses. PSRC administers and supports various programs to fulfill these goals, including helping to launch the so-called Regional Equitable Development Initiative (REDI) Fund, which helps to capture low land prices in future-growth areas with the intention of developing mixed-use projects that contain full-throated affordable housing components. The REDI Fund was launched by Enterprise Community Partners and regional partners like PSRC in December 2016 and recently closed on its first deal, a project developed with the Tacoma Housing Authority to create 300 to 500 new homes in the city’s West End neighborhood. For the project, at least 150 of the units will be priced for low- and moderate-income households in a bid to provide affordable housing for community college students in danger of falling into homelessness. The project is planned for a site across the street from Tacoma Community College and will eventually sit at the southern terminus of a forthcoming light rail line. The development will help PSRC achieve its interlocking goals of promoting density in existing corridors while also supporting the region’s burgeoning cohort of future workers. James Madden, senior program director with Enterprise Community Partners, said, “Our goal is to get private land into the hands of mission-oriented nonprofits in order to create mixed-income, multifamily housing.” The initiative comes as the region begins to embrace the coming changes. In the city of Lynwood, north of Seattle, for example, a 250-acre site surrounding a forthcoming light rail station is being redeveloped into a district called City Center that will contain mixed-use development and include a convention center and pedestrian- oriented street design. The plan will help Lynnwood grow in population by over 50 percent in coming decades. The eastern city of Redmond—where Microsoft’s headquarters are located—is also pushing forward on new transit-oriented projects, including the city’s Overlake Village, a 170-acre district that will contain 40,000 residents in the future. The first phase of the redevelopment is a 1,400-unit complex called Esterra Park that will also contain 1.2 million square feet of offices, 25,000 square feet of retail uses, a hotel, and a conference center. Taken together, the multifaceted growth plans in place across the Puget Sound region can serve as an example of a potential future for West Coast cities, a vision that is particularly focused on equity, pedestrianism, and dense urban redevelopment.
Placeholder Alt Text

Prime Locations

Amazon announces the 20 cities that made its HQ2 shortlist
Ending months of speculation and handwringing, Amazon has announced that the company has cut its list of prospective locations for its second headquarters from 238 down to 20. Competition over HQ2, a $5 billion co-headquarters expected to bring 50,000 jobs to the area it touches down in, has been fierce, as cities submitted bids that aggressively gave away land and tax breaks to the tech giant. While Amazon had received offers from all over North America, including Canada and Mexico, their shortlist skews heavily toward the East Coast of the United States. All of the following metropolitan areas met Amazon’s requirements of having at least one million people, and zoning capable of building up to eight million square feet of office space. The full list includes: Atlanta Austin, Texas Boston Chicago Columbus, Ohio Dallas Denver Indianapolis Los Angeles Miami Montgomery County, Maryland. Nashville Newark New York Northern Virginia Philadelphia Pittsburgh Raleigh, North Carolina Toronto, Canada Washington, D.C. The selection is notable not only for the cities it includes but the locales that didn’t make the cut. Los Angeles is the only west coast city on the list despite competing bids from Seattle, which holds Amazon’s current headquarters, and cities throughout California. Detroit is absent, as is Baltimore, even as both cities had promised to give Amazon hundreds of developable acres. Tax considerations seem to have played a major role in the final decision, as the inclusion of two cities in Texas, as well as Nashville and other southern cities and regions might attest to. While none of the Mexico-based bids made it through to the final round, Toronto may have been chosen for the money Amazon could save owing to the weakened Canadian dollar; $1 USD at the time of writing is worth $1.25 CAD. Details on what these 20 metropolitan areas have offered Amazon in exchange for HQ2 have been hard to come by. Muckrock has been tracking down bid packages for all 238 of the areas that submitted initial proposals, and while many of them have refused to release detailed packages, giving away unrestricted development rights or heavy tax breaks have been common. Chicago, for instance, has offered to return 50 to 100 percent of the income tax collected from Amazon employees straight back to the company itself. Newark, New Jersey, has explicitly offered to give Amazon a $7 billion tax break, which is the highest among any of the other finalists. New York, for its part, had offered potential space in four neighborhoods across three boroughs: Midtown West, Lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn "Tech Triangle" between Downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Navy Yard and DUMBO, and Long Island City. The RFP for HQ2 can be read here, and should give some idea of what the headquarters will mean for the winning city when Amazon chooses its final location later this year.
Placeholder Alt Text

What an Honor

Here are the winners of the 2018 AIA Honor Awards in architecture
This is the first article in a three part series documenting the 2018 AIA Institute Honor Awards. This lists the winners of the architecture category, while additional segments contain the winners in the interior architecture and regional & urban design categories. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced the 2018 winners of the AIA Institute Honor Awards. The list contains projects from all around the world, and of varying programs and uses, and honors firms both large and small. From a girls’ school in Afghanistan to a municipal salt shed, this year’s widely diverse group of winning projects will be recognized at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018 in New York City, in late June. This year's eight member jury panel included:
  • Lee Becker, FAIA (Chair), Hartman-Cox Architects
  • Anne Marie Decker, FAIA, Duvall Decker Architects
  • Susan Johnson, AIA, Strata; Anna Jones, Assoc. AIA, MOD Design
  • Caitlin Kessler, AIAS Student Representative, University of Arizona
  • Merilee Meacock, AIA, KSS Architects
  • Robert Miller, FAIA, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
  • Sharon Prince, Grace Farms Foundation
  • Rob Rogers, FAIA, Rogers Partners.
  Project: Audain Art Museum Architect: Patkau Architects Inc. Location: Whistler, British Columbia, Canada From the AIA Jury: A beautiful, dynamic project that literally wraps users around nature, blurring the boundaries between man-made and natural. It creates a cultural magnet to help educate not only art, but eco-friendly design. The elegant structure hovers over a floodplain topography in an area that receives a large amount of snowfall, battling the elements through an architectural form that embraces the setting. Opportunity for people to live with art. The typology of the building is a stepping stone for Canada, a new icon, and a monument for British Columbia. It has helped elevate all of us. Project: The Broad Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Associate Firm: Gensler Location: Los Angeles From the AIA Jury: Simultaneously sedate and spectacular. It fits the context of the visually exuberant arts buildings in this neighborhood. More than holding its own as a figure, it also engages and takes the user in. The dark body-like, shapely vault is a beautiful counterpoint to the bright, thick, patterned light veil. The design intention is clear and carried through at every scale. The types of space created are unusual but engaging and composed. Project: Chicago Riverwalk Architect: Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki Associates Location: Chicago From the AIA Jury: A gift to city, it embraces Chicago's layered, diverse history by providing a range of amenities that provide forward looking opportunities. Transforms the once neglected downtown riverfront into a vast public space. Design that touches everyone. Subtle moments of education and insight into the ecology of the river, educating visitors and residents. It is the reinvention of urban life that brings attention back to the waterfront. Project: Gohar Khatoon Girls' School Architect: Robert Hull, FAIA, and the University of Washington, Department of Architecture Location: Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan From the AIA Jury: A beautiful and restrained aesthetic with limited means. Architecture is a modern take on Afghan history and masonry construction. This elevates respect for women and girls overall when state resources are used to this extent and design, adding an intent to create an urban oasis and promote community engagement. This space and the process communicates a new era for girls and women very powerfully. It is remarkably resourceful by integrating natural sustainability measures while operating within a weak infrastructure in the country. Project: Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 & Spring Street Salt Shed Architect: Dattner Architects in association with WXY architecture + urban design Location: New York City From the AIA Jury: The Salt storage building took what is usually an industrial construction built as economically as possible into urban art. It raises the bar significantly for civic infrastructure. Unapologetic platonic shape with beautiful skin with commitment to civic expression, environmental responsibility, and sensitivity to the urban context design solution that successfully integrates critical services into the neighborhood. The pursuit of a visual oxymoron to sanitation, and investment therein, is laudable and uplifting to an entire neighborhood and heavily used city corridor. Highly innovative. Project: Mercer Island Fire Station 92 Architect: Miller Hull Partnership Location: Mercer Island, Washington From the AIA Jury: Operations drives design and the execution is flawless. A necessary renovation turned modern reinterpretation of a traditional civic building into a simple box with layers of transparency that visually and physically connect the functions to the street. Great balance of functionality and warmth of materials make this a beautiful facility. Balanced work and relaxation are desired combo for firefighting facilities and certainly that balance is achieved here. As a public project, it is clearly a labor of love. Super judicious use of materials; great scale, sense of public awareness. Best of all this honors the incredibly hard working firefighters deserving of such a light space. Project: New United States Courthouse Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP Location: Los Angeles From the AIA Jury: The design's fascination with natural light and white spaces is nicely contrasted by the golden wood interior figures and floors. The building's form is a representation of site and topography, functionality, environmental performance, civic presence, and public spaces. Traditional materials and architectural elements enliven its civic presence, while modern elements introduced through the glass assembly façade create an iconic image for a 21st Century courthouse building while also providing positive environmental performance. This powerful composition and the generosity of its public spaces gives the project a clear civic presence, separating it from its commercial neighbors. Project: Vol Walker Hall & the Steven L. Anderson Design Center Architect: Marlon Blackwell Architects Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas From the AIA Jury: A complimentary and progressive pairing of modern and traditional forms. Consistent orchestration of natural light and a sparse but powerful use of red to make landmark moments in the building is invigorating. Sets the opportunity for an interesting contrast between the old and new wings. The expanded facility unites all three departments – architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design – under one roof for the first time, reinforcing the School’s identity and creating a cross-disciplinary, collaborative learning environment. The overall design is a didactic model, establishing a tangible discourse between the past and present while providing state-of-the-art-facilities for 21st century architectural and design education. Every space seems equally well resolved, simple, elegant Project: Washington Fruit & Produce Company Headquarters Architect: Graham Baba Architects Location: Yakima, Washington From the AIA Jury: This sits on the landscape beautifully and creates space for meaningful community. The oasis among the warehouses is functional, sustainable, spatial and formal. The design idea is integral and cohesive. An idea with depth. Occupied spaces are oriented towards the heart of the place - the courtyard, avoiding views towards the surrounding freeway and industrial warehouses; earth berms surrounding the building focalize views out to the landscape and blurring the boundary of architecture and site. The owners’ commitment to creating a respite from the industrial environment for their employees led to an exploration of curating views and outdoor spaces. The result is a workspace that encourages quiet contemplation, community and productivity.
Placeholder Alt Text

Tower Up

Kengo Kuma, Natoma Architects join SOM and JCFO to revitalize Pereira complex in L.A.
Kengo Kuma and Associates and Natoma Architects have been added to the project team for the recently-revealed 1111 Sunset Boulevard development slated for the former Metropolitan Water District (MWD) headquarters on the edge of Downtown Los Angeles. The announcement of the expanded team—which also includes SOM and James Corner Field Operations (JCFO)—came this week along with a fresh set of renderings for the 5.5-acre project. With the project, Los Angeles–based developer Palisades is looking to transform a derelict section of William Pereira’s MWD headquarters into a 778-unit mixed-use enclave containing retail, public open spaces, and a boutique hotel designed by Kuma. The development consists of three high-rise towers that sit atop a continuous and permeable podium spanning the sloped site. According to the renderings, the complex will contain a cluster of low-rise apartments at one corner surrounding underground parking for a pair of housing towers. As those apartments terrace up the hill, they will give way to a shared plaza at the base of the high-rise towers. Project renderings depict a pair of 30- to 40-story tall towers along this section of the site. Each of the towers rises from the podium on a gigantic pod containing a solid, monolithic core. Roughly five stories up, the tower’s typical floor plates begin to cantilever over the plaza, leaving an open viewshed several stories high from the plaza. The move is an attempt by the designers to minimize the heft of the project along its lower levels and an effort, as well, to preserve certain views for existing hillside residences located directly behind the development. The renderings also depict certain portions of the Pereira structure reused as ground floor amenity spaces. JCFO is developing the project’s more than two acres of landscaped areas. In terms of plantings, renderings depict clusters of palm trees, jacaranda trees along the street, and succulent-bordered lawn areas overlooking Downtown Los Angeles. The project will share the site with Linear City’s Elysian tower development, a portion of the existing Pereira-designed complex that David Lawrence Gray Architects repurposed in 2014. 111 Sunset is among several high-rise, high-density projects slated for the area. An official timeline for the project has not been released. See the project website for more information.
Placeholder Alt Text

Parks over Parking

Santa Monica looks to cap Interstate 10 in new downtown plan
Local planning politics on Los Angeles's Westside is in a sad state of affairs. There, a municipally-led push to complete city streets by adding bicycle infrastructure and other pedestrian improvements has been met with fierce opposition from local drivers. Recent efforts in L.A’s Mar Vista neighborhood, for example, grew so toxic that community members launched a now-stalled recall bid to remove Mike Bonin—the local council person who champions the so-called “road diets” as well as the city’s Vision Zero plan those diets support—from office. The embarrassing spectacle has thrown into question the commitment L.A. residents have not only toward prioritizing the City’s plan for eliminating all traffic deaths by 2025, but also their reluctance to take personal responsibility for reducing transportation-related carbon emissions across the region. Nevertheless, there might be hope yet. That hope comes in the form of a new downtown plan taking root just a few blocks from Mar Vista, in the City of Santa Monica. The beachside municipality recently approved its new Downtown Community Plan (DCP), a document that looks to convert downtown Santa Monica into a “complete community” offering dense urban housing, multi-modal transportation options, and a healthy sprinkling of public open and green spaces. The city’s planning agency has taken a variety of steps to promote this vision by increasing maximum Floor-Area-Ratios for sites that include housing development in certain zones, eliminating parking minimums for some types of new construction, and pushing to reconfigure downtown streets in the image of universal transport. Through this new plan, the municipality is working to expand the functionality of its sidewalks and streets by increasing their capacity to support bicycle infrastructure, demarcating specific loading zones for buses and ride sharing services, and recognizing key “signature sidewalk” areas that will strategically enhance street life. The plan indicates that Santa Monica city officials are keenly aware that the future of the L.A. region will depend just as much on what happens in the spaces between buildings as it will on the buildings themselves. Critically, the plan also calls for capping the western terminus of Interstate 10 with a new park, a move that would fully transform the southern edge of the city into a civic and commercial node while also providing the city with an opportunity to rework surface streets to better accommodate the new focus on multi-modal transport. The section of I-10 in question sits in a 20-feet-below-grade channel spanning roughly 7,000 feet across what was once the city’s civic core; the stretch of highway is bounded on one side by Santa Monica City Hall and Ken Genser Square and on the other by the James Corner Field Operations–designed Tongva Park. Santa Monica Lookout reports that the DCP’s Gateway Master Plan element—the document spelling out just how the highway-adjacent areas are to be redesigned—will go up for consideration by the city’s Department of Planning and Community Development sometime this spring. The department recently issued a report that includes support for the freeway cap as part of several long-term changes for the city. The report describes the freeway park’s ability to offer a “unique opportunity for strengthening connections” within the city as a principal reason for its construction. Aside from proposing a specific, multi-modal plan for reconnecting the city’s street grid, the Gateway Master Plan will envision a method for reworking and connecting several key sites surrounding the future park, including an adjacent Sears department store complex, the Santa Monica Civic Center, and nearby Expo Line and Big Blue Bus stations. Although calls for the freeway cap park in Santa Monica date back to the 1980s, recent years have seen a bevy of proposals for similar installations across the Los Angeles region, including over Interstate 110 in Downtown Los Angeles and over U.S. Route 101 in Hollywood. Another proposal is still in the works to cap another portion of U.S. Route 101 with an overpass that would allow local mountain lions and other fauna to traverse the highway safely. Though Santa Monica’s freeway cap is still in the early stages of approval, the municipality expects to implement the initial phases of the Gateway Master Plan by 2021. An official timeline for the freeway cap park has not been released.
Placeholder Alt Text

The big atrium in the sky

Atlanta architect and developer John Portman dead at 93
John C. Portman Jr., the Atlanta architect and developer has died at 93. The Georgia Tech–trained architect is credited with developing large downtown projects that revolved around the concept of the the atrium, which he turned into large and dramatic enclosed open spaces surrounded by multiple balconies, hundreds of rooms and capsule elevators rushing vertically from base to upper floors.  Portman—who often developed and partially owned his projects—thought of these megastructures as new downtowns and they were often built in old downtowns that had been decimated by urban renewal and middle class fight. These buildings were often criticized by theorists like William H. Whyte, Mike Davis, Frederic Jameson and others for their lack of context with the historic city, especially the street. However, later in life Portman received praise from multiple sources including Herbert Muschamp, Paul Goldberger and Rem Koolhaas, who praised his work as “a hybrid” of styles and urban relationships. In 2010 Portman’s career was featured at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale and more recently, Harvard Dean Moshen Mostafavi used his designs in a GSD studio, sponsored by Portman, to think of “a new architecture, but one with a lineage.” Portman’s first large important project was for the Merchandise Mart (now AmericasMart) in his hometown of Atlanta in 1961 and this led to his design for the nearby multi-block Peachtree Center in 1965 where he maintained his office. His development firm created the multi-block complex at San Francisco's Embarcadero Center,  the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles 1976, the New York Marriott Marquis in 1985, and the Renaissance Center in Detroit in 1977, whose central tower remained the tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere until 2013. The Shanghai Centre (1990) was the first of many major projects in China and elsewhere in Asia. Look for a longer appreciation of Portman’s life and career in the next Architect's Newspaper print edition.
Placeholder Alt Text

Block Party

Renderings revealed for Armenian American Museum in L.A.
Renderings have been revealed for the forthcoming Armenian American Museum (AAM) in Glendale, California. The proposed 30,000-square-foot complex is designed by Glendale-based Alajajian Marcoosi Architects (AMA), a local architecture firm known for designing classically-inspired apartment and retail complexes. With their distinctive proposal for the AAM, however, AMA has traded in swept cornices for heroic expressionism. The firm’s chiseled design for the square-shaped museum complex hearkens toward the faceted and craggy faces of Mount Aragat in Armenia as well as toward the Verdugo Mountains that frame the city of Glendale, according to a project website. AMA beat out three other architecture firms for the commission, including Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design, Belzberg Architects, and Frederick Fisher and Partners. The museum is designed to host a variety of cultural exhibitions and educational events while also functioning as a research center aimed at cultivating “Armenian American culture, social justice, and pluralism,” the site explains. The City of Glendale is known locally as the heart of Los Angeles’s thriving Armenian community and is home to the largest number of ethnic Armenians outside of Yerevan, Armenia, that country’s capital city. Renderings for the project depict a bouldered cube punctured by entry portals and slivered windows along its principal facades. The complex contains a generous public entrance on Colorado Street—a main thoroughfare—and is set back from the street along this expanse. The building’s raised first floor caps above- and below- grade parking and is accessed via a broad staircase connecting the building’s entry level with the street below. The eastern end of the building contains a rooftop terrace while the center of the structure is capped by a large skylight. Renderings also depict stone and concrete-clad interior surfaces as well as a mix of interior multi-height spaces punctuated by balconies. The backside of the museum is designed to open onto a new central plaza that connects to arterial pedestrian paths. This central plaza—known as Glendale Central Park—is currently being redeveloped by SWA Group with the aim of creating a symbolic gathering space for the city that will connect the city’s Downtown Central Library with the new AAM, an adult recreation center, and a series of parks, play areas, and pedestrianized streets. The new master plan for the district was approved by the City of Glendale last week, paving the way for community outreach to begin for the project. The city-led project is expected to receive final approval in April 2018. A final construction timeline has not been announced.
Placeholder Alt Text

No-Fly-Over

The year's best buildings outside NYC-LA-CHI
Not every piece of spectacular architecture built this year has been located in the major urban centers. From Utah to Ohio, ambitious institutions have constructed some of the country’s best new architecture. The following projects are a few of our editor’s favorites from this year. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2017 articles here.) Southern Utah Museum of Art by Brooks + Scarpa Cedar City, Utah The 28,000-square-foot Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) by Los Angeles-based Brooks + Scarpa looks to the sandstone canyons of nearby Mount Zion National Park for its soft, yet expressive, form. The dipping and arching exterior includes a 120-foot cantilever, covering a 6,000-square-foot public event space. That form also works to reduce solar gain and protect the museum's artworks, reducing the building's environmental footprint. Home to contemporary and performing art from southern Utah and the surrounding region, the museum is also an educational resource, providing a site for conservation training for MFA students at Southern Utah University. Kent State Center for Architecture and Environmental Design by WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism Kent, Ohio Of great interest to most architects, new academic architecture buildings are a rare treat. Designed by New York-based WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, the Kent State Center for Architecture and Environmental Design was the winner of Building of the Year – Midwest in AN’s 2017 Best of Design Awards. Along with the expected studio spaces, lecture halls, library and classrooms, the building includes a café, gallery, and grand stairways, which activate the north and south facades. Large custom brick fins, made of locally produced iron-spot bricks, ties the building into the surrounding campus, while a larger tiered form makes reference to the scale of neighboring buildings. The Contemporary by Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis Architects Austin, Texas The Contemporary brings together two of Austin, Texas’s, most important art institutions, Arthouse and the Art Museum of Art. The project is an adaptive reuse of a building that in the past has served as a theater, a department store, and, most recently, a local art center. The redesign specifically allows for large-scale art pieces to be installed in the building, while the large roof terrace provides additional exhibition space. The roof also includes a perforated aluminum canopy, which includes a retractable weather curtain. At 23,800 square feet, the Contemporary is a new center for art in the heart of Downtown Austin. Innovation Lab and Lamplighter Barn by Marlon Blackwell Architects North Dallas, Texas Arkansas-based Marlon Blackwell Architects has been delivering exceptional buildings throughout the middle south for years. This continues with its first North Texas project, an Innovation Lab and Lamplighter Barn. Built on the campus of the North Dallas Lamplighter School, the project is part of the "Igniting Young Minds for a Lifetime of Learning” campaign. The Innovation Lab includes a teaching kitchen, environmental science spaces, a robotics lab, and a woodworking shop. The Lamplighter Barn is replacing the campus’s chicken coop and will define an outdoor pasture for its animals. Most strikingly, the Innovation Lab takes the form of a long sleek building clad in a concealed-fastener, flat-panel copper facade. Over time the project is expected to gain a varied coloration as the copper patinas, based on local weather and sun movements. Cummins Headquarters by Deborah Berke Partners Indianapolis, Indiana Cummins, makers of diesel engines, is no stranger to quality architecture. The company’s founder is credited with bringing many of the Modernist masterpieces to the small town of Columbus, Indiana, just south of Indianapolis. When it came to building its own headquarters, Cummins turned to New York-based Deborah Berke. The nine-story tower is Berke's first office design, which is located on the empty site of a former arena. The building includes flexible work spaces, including double height “social hubs,” retail space, with a new urban park at the its base. The highly tuned form and facade of the building integrates vertical fins and horizontal shades to provide environmental control, as well as a carefully considered aesthetic.
Placeholder Alt Text

Park Package

L.A. chooses Handel Architects and Olin for Angels Landing development
Fans of the film 500 Days of Summer will fondly remember Angels Knoll, a peaceful sloped park overlooking the western edge of Downtown Los Angeles, just south of the Angels Flight funicular. That green sadly closed back in 2013, and yesterday, L.A. City Council voted to sell the 2.24 acre property, known in marketing speak as Angels Landing, and in legislative speak as Bunker Hill Parcel  Y-1, to developer Angels Landing Partners (ALP) for about $50 million. ALP, a partnership between MacFarlane Partners, the Peebles Corporation, and Claridge Properties, along with Handel Architects and Olin, beat out the other two finalists, including a more expressive scheme by Onni Group and Stanley Saitowitz, and another design by Angels Landing Development Partners (ALDP), led by developer Lowe Enterprises in collaboration with Cisneros Miramontes, Gensler, and Relm Studio. ALP and Handel Architects now plan to build a 1.27-million-square-foot mixed-use development at 361 South Hill Street that includes two towers connected via a shared podium. The 88- and 24-story towers would include residential, hotel, restaurant, and retail spaces, as well as a home for the Los Angeles Academy of Arts and Enterprise. The project would also include open spaces by Olin, including a 13,700-square-foot plaza and a 25,400-square-foot public terrace. Renderings of the taller tower reveal a tapered structure skinned in horizontal bands of glazing, with a second layer of varied vertical glazing. The shorter mass would be similarly clad, connected via a raised bridge. Their central plaza would step down to the corner of Hill and 4th Streets, covered in vegetation. ALS plans to spend about $1.2 billion on the complex. Of course, approvals still need to be obtained, but if all goes according to plan, construction is expected to be complete by 2024.
Placeholder Alt Text

Premium Prefab

2017 Best of Design Awards for Residential – Multi-Unit
2017 Best of Design Award for Residential – Multi-Unit: True North Designer: EC3 Location: Detroit, Michigan True North is a development comprised of nine rental units and shared community gardens located two-and-a-half miles from Downtown Detroit in a quiet, spacious neighborhood. It has received widespread recognition for pioneering creative, affordable design attuned to its community. For aesthetic and economic reasons, the client challenged the architect to utilize Quonset Huts, a prefabricated lightweight structure consisting of corrugated galvanized steel and having a semicircular cross section. The placement of the huts balances openness and security, views and privacy, socializing and solitude. Each structure is assembled on top of a four-inch concrete slab with in-floor radiant heat, which is also the unit’s finished floor. The end walls feature custom steel framing around polycarbonate panels that provide a higher level of security, natural light and high thermal value. Each interior is unique and designed to inspire different creative lifestyles in Detroit. “It’s always nice to see architects do so much with so little. Despite the restraints of working with prefabricated structures and limited materials palette, they’ve made a surprisingly beautiful development—one that could easily be repeated—for a city that needs creative solutions.” —Morris Adjmi, Principal, Morris Adjmi Architects (juror) Client: Prince Concepts Executive Architect: Studio Detroit Site and Landscape Design: EC3 Landscape Contractor: Heroes Landscape Manufacturer: SteelMaster   Honorable Mention Project: American Copper Building Architect: SHoP Architects Location: New York The American Copper Buildings present two bold and dynamic copper towers ‘dancing’ on NYC's East River. The 761-unit luxury rental community, designed to patinate over time, reaches 41 and 48 stories in height with an iconic, amenity-filled skybridge connecting the two towers.   Honorable Mention  Project: 2510 Temple Architect: Tighe Architecture  Location: Los Angeles

Perched within Los Angeles’s Historic Filipinotown, this combination of market-rate and affordable apartment units responds to the city’s housing crisis. Clad in metal panels, the sculptural form of the entry serves as a connection between the private areas of the project and commercial storefronts at street level.

Placeholder Alt Text

Riverfront Renewal

Lower L.A. River revitalization plan finally revealed
Los Angeles is a vast, complicated place, and so is its 51-mile river. While the city’s Draft L.A. River Revitalization Master Plan, outlining a transformation of the river and the areas around it,  was launched back in 2007 (laid out by a team including Studio M-LA and Tetra Tech)  the many cities and towns south of the city have, ten years later, finally unveiled their own, set for the largely industrial 19-mile stretch between Vernon and Downtown Long Beach. The Lower Los Angeles River Working Group, a collection of officials, non-profits, and community members launched in 2015, has laid out improvements to the river that include vegetated terraces, access ramps, dams, public art, underground water retention systems and wetlands. They've also called for upgrades to almost 150 nearby properties, as well as parks, streetscapes, bridges, boardwalks, viewing platforms and pathways. To paint a picture of what could be, the working group, along with Tetra Tech and Perkins + Will, have laid out close to a dozen case studies. These include a plan for the Cudahy River Park, in the city of Cudahy, calling for new bridges, access ramps, levee terracing, and riverbank green space, as well as public art installed along the river bed itself and affordable housing rising alongside the new park. About eight miles south, the Compton Creek Confluence Area would include a new green terracing along the riverbanks, a new community center, picnic stations, and even water recreation thanks to a new rubber dam and stormwater treatment plant. Things are moving quickly on the 11-mile stretch of River between Downtown L.A. and Elysian Park: dozens of parks and trails have sprung up, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers preparing a $1 billion dollar revitalization, and AECOM wants to add 36,000 housing units.  But the south L.A. working group is still identifying funding for its endeavor, from local, state and federal sources. The group is also working to curb gentrification in these vulnerable neighborhoods, which accounts for, among several plans, the increase in affordable housing, rather than market rate proposals. The scheme, when finalized, will be incorporated into the overall Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan. Both will likely incorporate the wide-reaching approach being developed by Frank Gehry, Olin and Geosyntec on behalf of the non-profit L.A. River Revitalization Corp, or River LA.  It could be decades before the changes are completed, but if you look at the many small projects already completed further north, it's clear substantial progress could take place in the next couple of years.