Search results for "morphosis"

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Semi-finalists Announced for Pershing Square Competition
A shortlist was announced for the Pershing Square Renew competition. Ten teams were selected to have a chance at a crack at redoing Ricardo Legorreta's scheme. The five-acre park is seen as the centerpiece of a revitalized Downtown Los Angeles and the competition, a public-private partnership backed by councilmember José Huizar, is a critical step toward that effort. The ten semi-finalists are global, national, and local—and often in combination. They include: Paris-based Agence Ter with SALT Landscape ArchitectsSnohetta, James Corner Field Operations and Frederick Fisher and Partners, New York-based W Architecture, San Francisco-based PWP Landscape Architecture with Allied Works Architecture, Mia Lehrer Associates with NYC’s !Melk, Peterson Studio + BNIM, Rios Clementi Hale with OMA, SWA with Morphosis, and wHY Architecture These teams will continue to develop designs, which will be reviewed later this fall and a group of four finalists will be announced in December. Pershing Square Renew will select a winner in February 2016. On bets as to who might emerge from the pack, it seems that the organization is looking for details over gesture. “Their challenge isn’t to win awards; it’s to win over hearts,” said executive director Eduardo Santana. “More than anything else, these groups need to focus on the experiences their design will inspire and the memories the Square will create.”
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The Metamorphosis: Marc Fornes breaks ground on a parametric amphitheater in Maryland
On September 12, New York–based practice Marc Fornes/Theverymany broke ground on its largest project to date, the Chrysalis Amphitheater project. The parametric structure's fluid form is intended to define a public space and live performance venue for outdoor gigs and shows. https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=3&v=cAphf_W4kYE With its classic Marc Fornes aesthetic of scale-like parts forming a larger mass, the transitional space has a form resembling a Taxodium distichum (the Swamp Cypress tree commonly grows in eastern U.S. marshland). The enormous roots create a multifunctional space with the back of the stage being available for children's performances and other openings facilitating the loading and unloading of goods for the performances. Located in Meriwether Park, Columbia, MD, the project currently has a budget of $3.1 million and is set for completion in 2016. The scheme's versatility is aided by the use of various arched openings and a grand proscenium framing the stage. Inside its scaly skin, a system of lightweight aluminum supports, itself with an organic organizational system, holds up the amphitheater shell. The undulating curves and pleated forms contribute to the structural integrity of the design, allowing it to support a substantial light rig above the stage which will serve the performance spaces. While the scheme almost feels like a temporary installation, like many of the designer's projects before, the Chrysalis is embedded firmly into a concrete foundation. Outside of events and concerts, the structure can be used as a shelter from rain and provide shading during the summer. When the stage is not in use, the space's wooden decking is easily adaptable as a destination for social gatherings and public interaction. Seating arrangements and the layout of the arches frame views across the city, creating a calm environment that dramatically contrasts to its alter-ego as a gig venue. Marc Fornes/Theveryman said that Chrysalis' distinct shape is achieved via mesh inflation, a form-finding process. As can be seen in the video below, the structure is almost stretched from its anchoring base points on the ground which are also the nodes of the arches, thus allowing it to look as if some parts are billowing in the wind. These anchor points are also carefully spaced around the trees in the immediate vicinity, which appears to give its woody surroundings a mark of respect. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSRAKL9laH8 Finally, the complex structure has been colored in hues of bright green as a reaction to its setting in the park. The luminosity and brightness of these tones however, separate it from its natural environment, allowing it to stand out notifying passers by of its presence.
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Cooper Union Board, Committee to Save Cooper Union, and NY Attorney General reach agreement on how to manage school
The Committee to Save Cooper Union (CSCU), the Board of Trustees of the Cooper Union, and New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman signed a consent decree on September 2nd to manage the school's governance and finances. The consent decree lets the Board avoid admitting wrongdoing, while outlining changes the school's leadership must make to return Cooper Union to a sustainable, no-tuition model. This move is a critical step towards the resolution of a 2014 lawsuit brought by the New York Attorney General's office and CSCU against the board alleged that, among other transgressions, the mismanagement of the school's $375 million endowment violated  Cooper Union's charter. The consent decree establishes a framework in which all stakeholders can enact plans for better governance, responsible fiscal management, and chart a plan for the school to return to its merit-based, tuition-free model. The plan is still awaiting approval by the court, but the full list of stipulations is here. In the school's charter, founder Peter Cooper mandated that the Cooper Union be free and open to all. The entering class of 2014 was required to pay tuition, the first class to do so since the early 1900s. The school's financial troubles are exemplified in the construction and financing of 41 Cooper Square. Designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis, the building was completed in 2009 at a cost of $166 million. The Cooper Union went into debt to capitalize the project, borrowing $175 million against the land it owns underneath the Chrysler Building. The school lost an additional $35 million after the collapse of Lehman Bros. in 2008, leaving the school in near financial ruin. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff hope that the agreement reached last week will put Cooper Union on a path back to financial solvency.
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OMA does weddings and bar mitzvahs on Wilshire Boulevard
Word of an OMA-designed building for the Wilshire Boulevard Temple has been in the grapevine for months. The firm was on the short list this past spring along with Kengo Kuma & Associates, Morphosis Architects, and Steven Holl Architects for the 55,000-square-foot event space across the street from the institution’s recently restored 1929 Byzantine-Revival sanctuary. Now, a new building is moving forward with a name, an architect, and a fundraising campaign. Koolhaas is officially the architect for the Audrey Irmas Pavilion, even if renderings are still under wraps. Shohei Shigematsu and Jason Long will lead the project out of OMA’s New York office. Irmas, a philanthropist, art collector, and temple congregant pledged $30 million to lead the fundraising campaign for the new building. She is raising those funds by putting a Cy Twombly in her personal collection up for sale. The entire proceeds of the sale of the painting will benefit The Audrey Irmas Foundation for Social Justice, with a portion earmarked for the OMA pavilion. The new building, proposed to open in 2019, will accommodate all sorts of community events: weddings, bar mitzvahs, and galas. The project would be the firm’s first cultural building in California and first commission from a religious institution. OMA’s commercial project, The Plaza at Santa Monica, seems to be sluggishly moving through that city’s political channels. It passed the City Council in June, but still faces community opposition due to its height.
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Dancing About Architecture
Courtesy Michael Maltzan

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts announced three new initiatives poised to transform cultural life in Orange County: two programs—the Center for a Dance and Innovation and the Center Without Boundaries—and a new plaza designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA).

While the two centers plan to focus on creativity through movement and civic engagement, MMA’s design for the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza sets the stage for these activities by reinventing the existing Arts Plaza as a public gathering place with a public stage ready to host free events for up to 2,000 people.

More ambitious than a simple plaza, as the initiative’s title may suggest, MMA’s scheme is a comprehensive reworking of the outdoor spaces around Segerstrom Hall. The campus was originally master planned by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, who also designed the adjacent Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, with landscape by Peter Walker’s PWP Landscape Architecture. A street once passed through the campus, and while it has long been closed, it left behind a public space out of scale with the surrounding buildings.

 

“The street made the plaza difficult to occupy in a full range of different programmatic possibilities,” said Michael Maltzan. “Our work was to imagine and expand the range of activities to take place there, which included large public performances such as a 1,000 person movie night, but also still be comfortable for couples, families, and individuals.”

According to Maltzan, the design responds to the need for outdoor areas at a number of scales and includes intimate seating, as well as a large public space and multi-purpose community stage. Renderings of three shaded green spaces—the Plaza Entry Grove, the Amphitheater Grove, the Community Picnic Grove—show casual public seating areas and pedestrian paths tucked under the tree canopy.

 

The main architectural component of the scheme is a circulation sequence that connects the main parking lot (via a sweeping ramp) to a walkway that passes through Segerstrom Hall and connects patrons via a grand staircase to the plaza.

“It’s a gateway and entry into the plaza,” said Maltzan. “The walkway cuts through the whole facade and creates a loose threshold. Choreography is an important thing in my work. Here, because there are many ways you can enter and leave the hall, we tried not so much to create a geometrically formal plaza but to think about how different itineraries and movements could be choreographed.”

 

These circular set pieces are signature Maltzan—a combination of gestural form and circulation seen in microprojects like the John V. Tunney Bridge at the Hammer Museum or at the infrastructural scale, like the Sixth Street Bridge. Programs such as an outdoor cafe and an observation deck are also integrated into the stair form to compliment the strong geometries of the existing building.

This is not the first time a top firm has been asked to enhance the arts campus. It’s a tough suburban setting to perk up: the site is indecorously located across the street from South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. In 2008, Morphosis was selected to design the new Orange County Museum of Art to be located on a parcel across from the concert hall. That plan for a 72,000-square-foot building stalled out due to the economic downturn, but there are still hopes it will move forward.

Support for plaza project and programming comes from The Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ $68 million Next Act Campaign. This fundraising includes a $13.5 million gift from Julianne and George Argyros. Construction starts on the plaza early 2016, with completion slated for fall 2016.

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Architects and Housewives
Vitra AG Photo / Monique Jacot

An Eames Anthology Edited by Daniel Ostroff Yale University Press, $50

The way I read, every book is a self-help book. I am a mercenary, hunting ruthlessly for the stuff I can use. I recently found An Eames Anthology, a collection of Charles and Ray Eames’ texts—articles, film scripts, interviews, letters, notes, and speeches—edited by Daniel Ostroff. The first thing I did with was turn to the index to look for writings credited to Ray alone. I wanted to read those first. There are about ten in a book with more than 120 entries. It’s not a contest, of course, but Ray-ray (her childhood nickname—and mine) remains a bit of a mystery. She and Charles were business and domestic partners and this relationship is complicated beyond measure. But while their friend, director Billy Wilder, may have said “They are one,” my gut says not exactly. I persist in the search for more information about her as an individual, and a more nuanced understanding of their collaboration. Charles described their working process in an AIA seminar transcript found in the anthology. In 1952 he writes, “Things began to get shuffled, and pretty soon you didn’t know where one started and the other ended, and anything that we’ve looked at or talked about here, I say that I’m doing it, but actually, she’s doing it just as much as I am, only she sort of goes under the same corporate type name.” Charles exhibits both self and brand awareness in identifying his own as the “corporate type name.” Preternaturally savvy about images of themselves, perhaps they both knew that his name was their shared clown makeup. But even after claiming his name was an umbrella, in speech after speech, and in nearly every interview, Charles shares credit with Ray unbidden, beginning in the early 1940s. The anthology is arranged strictly chronologically and as one pushes through the years, there are scattered clues about their creative partnership; it’s like following breadcrumbs.
Charles and Ray exemplified and defied the gender norms of their time.
Courtesy Eames Foundation
The first drafts of two letters—a 1949 letter to Richard Neutra and a 1954 letter to Henry Ford, II—are presented in facsimile in Ray’s handwriting, with the final, delivered versions signed by Charles alone. Who knows if she initiated these or if he dictated to her? We have to be very careful not to make assumptions about husband-and-wife relations: him hogging the mic and her long-suffering. Charles was already aware of how they might be perceived, as he reveals in a PBS television interview from 1969: “The result of being asked questions... is a kind of metamorphosis which turns me from a sort of simple, unassuming guy into a monster full of great bits of wisdom, Mr. Know-it-all of the century,” said Charles. “With Ray it’s no less violent, but it’s simpler. It’s pure paralysis.” With so few of Ray’s words available, we must turn to biographical details for clues. An Eames Anthology is dedicated to Lucia (1930-2014), who was born in St. Louis to Charles Eames and his first wife, Catherine Woermann. Fellow LA-based practitioner Linda Taalman and I were once talking about being women architects with children and I remember reminding her that Ray was Lucia’s step, not biological mom. This detail seemed crucial to me; I had a collection of Case Study Mothers. The material in An Eames Anthology ranges from their most ambitious intellectual efforts to such prosaic details as these, and every page is compelling. The collection was supported by the Eames Foundation, established by Lucia in 2004, which in the intervening years has come to function in Los Angeles as an ever-present force of modernist art historical legitimization, imaginatively underpinning the Los Angeles design community’s ongoing efforts.
“A Visit with Charles Eames,” Think 27. No 4 (April 1961).
James B O’Connell
Lucia was eleven when Charles and Ray left Saint Louis for Los Angeles, and she was a sophomore at Vassar by the time the Eames House was completed. Also known as Case Study House 8, the residence was never intended to accommodate daily life with a baby or young child. Charles stressed that point in Arts and Architecture 66, no. 12 from December 1949, noting “the actual plan within the system is personal, and whether or not it solves the particular requirements of many families is not important as a case study.” A March 1948 description from the same magazine is even more specific: “Two people with close working interests.” Later, Lucia expanded on the point in 2005 shortly after the establishment of the Eames Foundation, “It was designed for a professional couple with a kid at school,” she clarified in an interview with Metropolis magazine. With the work of child-rearing deferred, delegated, declined, or displaced, the couple was free to work a 7-day week together— until after 10 p.m. most days. At the office they were known for having employed local people, war veterans, and housewives. Charles and Ray seemed to have a thing about housewives. The last line of the first entry in the anthology, Charles’ 1941 essay “Design Today,” reads, “Certainly the future cannot be considered hopeless as long as designers continue to honor the accomplishment of producing a very inexpensive article that can serve well and bring pleasure to a million housewives.” And Ray’s list of “all creators” from “Line and Color” (1943), concludes with the unpunctuated line: “the man on the job the woman in the home and painters.” Maybe they were fascinated by housewives because, between the two of them, neither of them had it in them to take on the job. In 1973, Charles revealed as much in an interview. “My wife and I work together all the time and so we have a housekeeper, Maria,” he said. “And she darns my socks, turns my collars, turns my shirtsleeves.” An Eames Anthology is a snapshot of the couple that simultaneously exemplifies and defies the gender normativity of the Mad Men era. Readers must resist attempts to reduce these creative ancestors into stereotypes, villains, or heroines. If we extend the valiant naïveté of the Eames into the future we may feel like their imaginary children with unresolved Oedipal issues—as if we have to kill them. Visiting Los Angeles art galleries in the late 1990s, it was easy to lose count of the exhibitions of sliced-and-diced Eames chairs reconfigured into sculptural installations, but perhaps in retrospect they make sense. One of Ray’s other nicknames was Buddha and you’ve probably heard: When you meet the Buddha in the road, kill her.
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Google recruits Carnegie Mellon University to create a “living lab” of smart city technologies
Google has awarded an endowment worth half a million dollars to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to build a “living lab” for the search engine giant’s Open Web of Things (OWT) expedition. OWT envisions a world in which access to networked technology is mediated through internet-connected buildings and everyday objects—beyond the screen of a smartphone or computer device.
“A future where we work seamlessly with connected systems, services, devices, and ‘things’ to support work practices, education and daily interactions.” -in a statement by Google’s Open Web of Things.
Carnegie Mellon’s enviable task is to become a testing ground for the cheap, ubiquitous sensors, integrated apps, and user-developed tools which Google sees as the key to an integrated machine future. If that sounds like mystical marketing copy, a recent project by CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute sheds light on what a sensor-saturated “smart” city is capable of. The team headed by Anind K. Dey has created apps like Snap2It, which lets users connect to printers and other shared resources by taking photos of the device. Another application, Impromptu, offers relevant, temporary shared apps. For instance, if a sensor detects that you are waiting at a bus stop, you’ll likely be referred to a scheduling app. “The goal of our project will be nothing less than to radically enhance human-to-human and human-to-computer interaction through a large-scale deployment of the Internet of Things (IoT) that ensures privacy, accommodates new features over time, and enables people to readily design applications for their own use,” said Dey, lead investigator of the expedition and director of HCII. To create the living lab, the expedition will saturate the CMU campus with sensors and infrastructure, and recruit students and other campus members to create and use novel IoT apps. Dey plans on building tools that allow users to easily create their own IoT scripts. “An early milestone will include the development of our IoT app store, where any campus member and the larger research community will be able to develop and share an IoT script, action, multiple-sensor feed, or application easily and widely,” Dey said. “Because many novel IoT applications require a critical mass of sensors, CMU will use inexpensive sensors to add IoT capability to ‘dumb’ appliances and environments across the campus.” Researchers at CMU will work with Cornell, Stanford, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to develop the project, code-named GIoTTo. The premise is that embedded sensors in buildings and everyday objects can be interwoven to create “smart” environments controlled and experienced through interoperable technologies.  
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Wilshire Boulevard Temple announces shortlist for its “Gathering Place” building
Earlier this year AN's Eavesdrop column predicted the shortlist for Wilshire Boulevard Temple's "Gathering Place," a 55,000-square-foot event space across the street from the institution's sanctuary. The final list has been revealed and includes big hitters such as OMA, Kengo Kuma & Associates, Morphosis Architects, and Steven Holl Architects. The only firm we didn't predict was Holl (we had Renzo Piano taking the fourth spot). According to the temple, the New York Times prematurely crowned OMA as the winner. "These things often leak but don’t always get reported accurately," said Temple spokesperson Susan Gordon. The announcement of the winning team is still "weeks away," said Gordon. Members of the selection committee include Erika Glazer, Eli Broad, Tony Pritzker, Dana Hutt, and Richard Koshalek. Meanwhile the temple—which is following an ambitious master plan— has already begun construction on the renovation of two school buildings, its Karsh Social Service Center, a rooftop athletic facilities, and a new landscaped walking path. Stay tuned for more.
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Deafening Silence: Morphosis designs a skyscraper in the Alps next to Peter Zumthor’s famous Therme Vals spa
Can a 1,250-foot-tall skyscraper qualify as "a minimalist object” under any circumstances? It depends on who you ask—particularly if the building in question, the 7132 Tower hotel designed by Los Angeles–based architecture firm Morphosis for a site in Vals, Switzerland, would go up next to Peter Zumthor’s understated Therme Vals spa. Morphosis’ Thom Mayne said yes, calling the slender, reflective high-rise “a minimalist act that reiterates the site and offers to the viewer a mirrored, refracted perspective of the landscape.” The project’s critics, meanwhile, accuse Morphosis and client 7132 Limited of disrespecting the hotel’s surroundings, both natural and built. Zumthor, who completed the quartzite-walled Therme Vals spa in 1996, appears to be taking the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” approach. BD Online quoted a firm spokesperson as saying, “He doesn’t want to comment on this hotel.” The tower—which would top Renzo Piano’s Shard by over 200 feet to become the tallest in the European Union—is still a long way from being built, requiring planning permission and a public vote prior to construction. Among the marks against it are the manner by which Morphosis received the commission. What began as a competition ended in February with a unilateral decision by 7132 Limited to narrow the three-firm shortlist down to one, over the jury’s objection. On the plus side, Mayne’s concept has garnered a vote of confidence from Tadao Ando, whose nearby Valser Path park is expected to be finished by 2017. “I believe it will harmonize in the beautiful landscape and will attract and impress various guests and visitors from all over the world,” said Ando.
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ARO, KieranTimberlake, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam make shortlist for Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis on Monday announced the three finalists competing to design a new building for its Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. The three teams vying to design Annabeth & John Weil Hall are: Architecture Research Office (ARO), KieranTimberlake, and Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects. The building is part of the university's arts and architecture campus, a collection of limestone-clad structures ranging from Beaux Arts style structures dating to the St. Louis world's fair of 1904 to more modern additions by Fumihiko Maki. The Sam Fox School campus is visually set apart from the university's predominantly Collegiate Gothic Danforth Campus.   No renderings or specific timelines are available yet, but a previous announcement of the project said the university aimed to complete construction within the next five years. The new building is part of the university's 10–15 strategic “Design for Excellence” campus plan. New York City–based ARO has designed academic buildings for universities including Tulane, Brown, and Princeton, as well as renovations to Donald Judd's home and studio in Soho. KieranTimberlake has worked with Yale, Rice, and Tulane universities. In the firm's home base of Philadelphia, it has helped revamp Dilworth Park with architectural greenhouses serving as entrances to the city's subway system. Atlanta's Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects count among its higher education clients Yale, Carnegie Mellon, and Clemson universities, and the firm was shortlisted to design a new U.S. embassy in Beirut (that job ultimately went to Morphosis). As part of the selection process, each firm will deliver a public presentation in Washington University's Steinberg Auditorium, an early building by Maki dating to 1960 when he was a professor at the university. The event dates are: Monday, March 23, 1:15p.m: Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects Monday, March 23, 4p.m: KieranTimberlake Tuesday, March 24, 1:15p.m: Architecture Research Office (ARO)
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Stephanie Reich
SOM and LOHA's Sunset-La Cienega.
Courtesy Respective Firms

It’s been more than four years since popular West Hollywood Urban Designer John Chase passed away. His successor, Stephanie Reich, has been actively promoting an agenda stressing design and practicality, working with her staff and city leaders to cope with the demands of a rapidly densifying city. She’s also known as a tough cookie, sending anything less than the best back to the drawing board. AN West editor Sam Lubell sat down with Reich to discuss her agenda, the city’s tradition of collaborative design, and what’s coming next.

Sam Lubell: Tell us about how your role in West Hollywood, and about taking the torch from John.

Stephanie Reich: I am very proud and very honored to have my dear friend John Chase’s job. We were very close friends, and we had a really strong connection. The city waited two years before advertising his position. We were all pretty traumatized by his sudden death. I’ve been here for over two years. Our styles are very different, and this is a very different time in West Hollywood.

We actually seem to be in the middle of quite a boom. As the city gets denser there’s even more demand for excellence in design. I feel very fortunate to have talent like Craig Hodgetts, Lorcan O’Herlihy, Patrick Tighe, Rios Clementi Hale, Johnson Favaro, and Christian Robert all designing projects here.

Because John created a great tradition and expectation of design, I think that may be why developers understand that they need to play their best game here. We also have a great deal of support of design from the city council. That public support is essential to the partnerships we make with architects. The structure sets the expectation for good design.

R&A’s Beverly & Clark Hotel.
 

What makes West Hollywood different?

We’re called the creative city, and that’s reflected everywhere. The process for design review is actually quite different. It seems more fully integrated into the process because the planning commissioners review design as part of their design review subcommittee. There’s not a separate architectural review board. The decision makers for the overall entitlements are actually reviewing the design and influencing the design.

We try to give city commissioners coaching and feedback. I do memos for the commissioners with full design analysis of projects. But design review is based not on my opinion of a project, but on sound architectural principles. We try to find out what the applicant teams are striving for and help them strengthen whatever they’re trying to do. Sometimes there’s not a clear architectural idea. We help guide them to a clearer architectural idea that can be informed with other materials, concepts, and so forth.

How do you attract architectural talent?

Developers come to us. I’m an architect, my husband is an architect, and all my friends are architects. I can’t recommend this or that architect. If someone asks for a “recommendation, I send them to the AIA/LA. I have a good relationship with the AIA/LA, having chaired their urban design committee from 2001 to 2010. They will develop a list of award-winning architects for any of our clients who go to them. I’ve asked them to do that and they will do a special list based on the project and client. I think they should do that for everyone.

So you’re an architect?

Yes, I’m a registered architect. I worked for about 20 years as an architect with Morphosis, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Daniel Libeskind, and larger, more corporate firms like DMJM and NBBJ.

I was the Urban Designer for Santa Monica from 2003-2005, Long Beach until 2007, then Glendale until 2012, and I’ve been here since. I studied architecture at Cornell then got my masters at SCI-Arc.

R&A’s Doheny development.
 

How do you support development teams?

The system is designed to support really good, really progressive work in a lot of ways. We’re a very progressive city, and design, affordable housing, etc. are embedded in our general plan and codes. It’s also in the ethos of the city. I have a great title, but I’m just a small part of a system that fosters this kind of innovation.

West Hollywood is known for having an outspoken community. Is that challenging?

Members of the community are not always so comfortable with change. In a community as dense as ours we have serious issues, for instance, with traffic congestion. As we continue to grow I think we have to make sure that the environment and quality of life also continues to grow. Design is a part of that and I think the community recognizes that. We have a very smart, sophisticated, involved community. Also being a small city we have the ability to be very responsive to them.

What are some of your other challenges?

As we continue to get denser, the balance to continue to provide affordable housing is something that is an ongoing challenge for all cities. There’s also a challenge for open space in a city that is so dense, and we’re taking that on at WeHo park. We take our streetscapes very seriously, and you can see that on Santa Monica Boulevard, and in our new streetscape master plan for the design district on Beverly and Melrose and Robertson. I think we’re, in a very progressive way, trying to meet the demand of a very dense city.

LPA and Rios Clementi Hale’s WeHo Park.
 

Tell me more about the city’s solutions for affordable housing?

We’re very focused on making sure affordable units included are equal and spread throughout each project, not siloed within a project or substandard. We also have a very active community housing corps, the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation. For instance we’ve just completed a beautiful new affordable project by Patrick Tighe and John Mutlow.

Do you have design guidelines for the city?

We’ve developed new zoning code standards in the West Hollywood West Overlay District, with thorough design guidelines. They’re focused on that neighborhood (I don’t know if we’ll continue to develop those for other neighborhoods), but they deal with quintessential issues. As we make projects larger than the neighborhoods around them, how do we make sure they fit in? Even if they’re the largest thing on the block. The design piece is not about style. It’s about scale and proportion, and managing those fundamentals of architecture to make sure it’s responding properly to its neighborhood.

Having that as a tool, especially for that neighborhood, will enable folks to understand the demands so there’s a greater level of predictability. It doesn’t tell you what the answer is. Sketches can be misinterpreted, as this is what we want you to design. We have pictures. It’s very important to give broad guidance to an architect development team to allow them to bring their best designs to the city. If it looks like I designed it, the whole city would become very boring. We’re in an exciting place to be because you see there’s an exciting and diverse population here and that’s what the architecture reflects.

Are you more rigorous in your expectations than other cities?

I hope people feel that way. I think that you can see by the results. We have some excellent projects moving through the process. I think that’s a credit to the development teams that come here, and to the city process and to our commission and elected officials that all support high quality development.

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It’s a Wrap: Highlights from AN’s first Los Angeles Facades+ Conference
  The first-ever Los Angeles Facades + conference, organized by The Architect’s Newspaper and Enclos, held in the shadow of Bunker Hill’s glassy towers, showcased the city’s technical and creative talent while introducing participants to the building envelope field’s latest technologies and trends. Keynote speaker James Carpenter set a sophisticated tone, showing off richly complex work that explores both the “cinematic” and “volumetric qualities of light.” His World Trade Center 7 base, he pointed out, uses a subtle shift in plane to create an ethereal glow, while another project for Gucci in Tokyo uses prismatic light to recreate the qualities of a Japanese lantern. Other highlights included his louvered Israel Museum and his new exploration of optical aluminum, thin glasses, and computer etched glass.   This look toward the future continued in the next panel, discussing “Net Zero and the Future Facade.” Panelist Russell Fortmeyer, from Arup, pointed out that by 2030 every building in California will have to be Net Zero, putting pressure on upcoming research. One way to achieve this, said fellow panelist Stephane Hoffman, of Morrison Hershfield, is through better use of computer performance models. Facades will also need to have the ability to change over time, noted Alex Korter of CO Architects. This ability to change was discussed in detail by the next presenter, Ilaria Mazzoleni, whose talk on “Biomimetic Principles for Innovative Design” stressed natural systems’ ability to be both beautiful and extremely functional. Learning from natural skins, and their regulation of heat, humidity, and communication will help facade manufacturers reap dividends. One example: natural phase change materials, which are already using natural elements to store heat and cold inside building envelopes.   The Preservation and Performance Panel, while focused on historical structures, did not look backwards. Instead panelists discussed updating Modernist facades for present day conditions (including sustainability), while maintaining historic integrity. Historic properties like Minoru Yamasaki’s Century Plaza and William Pereira’s Metropolitan Water District building are being updated using sustainable materials and systems that bring the buildings into the 21st century. Afternoon keynote speaker Larry Scarpa, of Brooks + Scarpa, acknowledged the need for high tech consultants, but stressed his role in combining simplicity and beauty. His firm has employed unusual, basic materials like crushed soda cans, wood shipping crates, and metal mesh to create fascinating patterns of surface subtlety and diffuse light.   On the other end of the spectrum, an excellent example of the future façade—Cornell’s Architecture hall by Morphosis— was discussed in the symposium’s technical panel. And an architect at Morphosis, Kerenza Harris, noted how on that project, and on their Emerson College in Los Angeles, computer technology allows them to keep every panel, every module, in exactly the right place. That means thousands of components; a feat of fabrication and organization that would never be possible without current technologies. Fellow panelist Bill Kreysler espoused the benefits of composite facades, which he said will one day revolutionize construction, without the burdens of studs, metal frames, or other commonplace fabrication components. The look toward revolutionary technology reached its pinnacle with fabricator Andreas Froech’s panel on “Site Deployed Collaborative Bots.” Some day, he argued, programmable machinery and automated tooling, along with composite materials, will replace laborers and traditional materials. He pointed to the building of automobiles, which is already largely automated.   In order to move into this automated future, pointed out Walter P. Moore’s Sanjeev Tankha, in his discussion of engineering risk, data flow needs to become more seamless between programs like Rhino, Revit, and ultimately into live models. With all these systems of software, hardware, and knowledge in perfect position, and with standards like Net Zero enforced by local officials, the future of the façade looks to be exciting, and remarkably different. Some day, as Gerding Edlen’s Jill Sherman pointed out, Net Zero sustainably and effective performance modeling will be standard, not out of the ordinary. And futuristic facades will not be what participant Alvin Huang of Synthesis called “techno-fetish,” but smart and obligatory.