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Demolition Approaching

AN speaks with the architect behind L.A.'s beleaguered Parker Center
The Parker Center complex in the Downtown Los Angeles Civic Center is quickly moving toward demolition in recent months as the City of Los Angeles begins to make headway on a new master plan for the district. The complex originally opened in 1955 and was designed by legendary L.A. architecture firm Welton Becket & Associates as a headquarters for the Los Angeles Police Department. The building has been featured prominently in films depicting the city and is largely intact, architecturally speaking. The complex, however, was controversial from its inception. The police headquarters takes up a full city block in an area that was once part of the commercial heart of the Little Tokyo neighborhood, a factor that weighed heavily on and ultimately derailed recent efforts to grant historic status to Parker Center. On top of that, the complex carries a great deal of psychological baggage due to its use as a base of operations by the LAPD during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, an event associated with widespread police abuse and dysfunction. Perhaps understandably, instead of saving the structure, city agencies are instead working full-speed toward organizing its demolition. Urbanize.la reports that the city recently sent out RFPs to interested parties to solicit demolition bids; estimates put the cost of demolition at $12 million. The complex will be replaced in coming years by a yet-to-be-designed office tower containing 712,500 square feet of office space and 37,500 square feet of ground floor retail, according to a draft master plan for the area. The existing eight-story International Style structure is defined by a primary, tile-clad facade that bears the name of the building in midcentury-era script. The abstract, rectilinear office mass sits on a series of one-story piloti and was considered state-of-the-art for its time. On a Los Angeles Conservancy page dedicated to the complex, a quote from a July 1956 issue of Popular Mechanics describes the building as follows: “Ultramodern in all respects, the new eight-floor Los Angeles Police Building makes available to the city's police department the most scientific building ever used by a law-enforcement group." Behind the main facade, the building’s expenses are clad in alternating bands of ribbon windows and blue tile mosaics. Along ground floor areas, the complex features a large lobby space defined by glass enclosures that provide visual indoor-outdoor connections. Like many of contemporary works of architecture built in Los Angeles during the time, the complex featured integrated public art that complemented the architecture. The lobby space contains a series of public artworks, including a bronze sculpture along the exterior titled “The Family Group” by artist Bernard J. Rosenthal. The lobby’s interior spaces are highlighted by a large mural by Joseph Young titled “Theme Mural of Los Angeles” depicting various city landmarks amid abstract color fields. The Architect’s Newspaper spoke with Louis Naidorf, one of the designers of the complex, to learn more about the project. Naidorf worked for Becket for over a decade starting in 1950, a stint that included design work on the iconic Capitol Records tower in Hollywood when the architect was just 24 years old. Naidorf explained that the conceptual idea of placing an office tower over thin piloti was Becket’s idea, and that Naidorf himself had designed “the entire first floor, [including] the auditorium and the lobby, the concession stand, and the parking structure.” Naidorf explained that fellow legendary midcentury designer Richard Dorman was the author of the police and jail wings of the complex, with Naidorf designing exterior treatments for those areas as well as an accompanying security gate. He said, “My job was to design a welcoming setting—something light airy, friendly, and courteous.” In describing the design of the interior lobby, Naidorf had proposed a “battery of telephones to call bail bondsmen from, with a floated panel spanning across the structural columns. The mounted telephones—with a mural at the front that had some liveliness—gave people a degree of privacy and tucked that less-than-happy aspect of the lobby out of view.” Naidorf described the era surrounding the early post-war boom during which Parker Center was built as a “strange period that, in effect, wiped out the lives of a generation of architects” who had been educated before the Great Depression, but who, because of the economic collapse, the deprivation caused by the ensuing global conflict, and their age, were never drafted for the war and had been left bereft of professional opportunity as a result. In this period, Naidorf explained, any architects of the time found work on Hollywood film sets as set designers, working in light timber framing and plaster.  He told AN, “People old enough to be our parents were just getting licensed” during the tumultuous era, adding, that “architecture had been in the tank” for the preceding decade. Younger architects like Naidorf —who was “three days out from UC Berkeley” when he was hired by Becket’s office—found themselves enjoying a great deal of responsibility and creative agency consequently. Naidorf lamented the loaded and problematic history of the building. He said, “[I] always assumed architects were supposed to positively affect the lives of the people who used their buildings and that the ‘real client’ for projects like Parker Center were the people who work in the building, the people who walk by the building, the people who were affected somehow by the presence of the building.” Naidorf added, “Your work was a setting for their lives. At a more basic level, [you] can create spaces that are depressing or spaces that are happy.” Regarding the proposed demolition of the Parker Center, Naidorf said:
Buildings need to be seen as mute elements in this society. The police from that time are probably mostly dead. The most productive thing is not to destroy it; it’s to find some good and productive use for [the building] that serves a good civic purpose. Perhaps that purpose should be related to the needs of people who have not been listened to very much. I don’t know if spending the money to tear it down and then rebuilding it is in our best interest. There are areas of the site that are less significant; the parking structure could go away, for example. It won’t be seriously missed. If you wanted to—remove the jail wing. But the building [overall] is really a pleasant, adaptable office building with a useful auditorium and a welcoming lobby that can go to many new uses. To throw away a piece of the city’s history—as well as throw into the recycling bin the narrative of that building—seems to me very foolish.
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Open Space is the Place

Lawrence Halprin's L.A. projects star in landscape architecture symposium this weekend
The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) will be holding a day-long symposium on November 4 at the Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles in conjunction with the opening of The Landscape Architecture of Lawrence Halprin, a photographic exhibition based on Halprin’s body of work. As its name implies, the symposium—titled Landscape as Catalyst: Lawrence Halprin’s Legacy and Los Angeleswill focus on the seminal landscape architect’s lesser-known Los Angeles–based projects. The symposium will “examine the influences and accomplishments” of Halprin’s Los Angeles work and will be held as part of a series of national public events organized by TCLF honoring Halprin’s local and national legacy. The Architect’s Newspaper's West Editor Antonio Pacheco will be moderating a panel discussion at the event titled Focus on SoCal: Maguire Gardens, the Open Space Sequence, and Plaza Las Fuentes. The panel discussion will delve into key works from Halprin’s Los Angeles–area legacy. Speakers on the panel include Robert Maguire III, the Los Angeles developer who commissioned several of Halprin’s L.A.–based projects; Merry Norris of Merry Norris Contemporary Art who led the art and sculpture programs for these projects; Douglas A. Campbell of Campbell & Campbell landscape architects; and Patrick Reynolds, Parks Manager and City Landscape Architect for the City of Culver City. Campbell served as the associate landscape architect for the Grand-Hope Park and Maguire Gardens. Los Angeles Open Space Sequence Halprin’s work in Downtown Los Angeles is typified by the so-called Los Angeles Open Space Network, which was an outgrowth of a 1980 proposal by developer Maguire Partners for “A Grand Avenue,” a linear spine of parks and civic spaces that would be both “people-oriented and activity-generating,” according to the TCLF website. The 11-acre plan was never fully realized but helped to lay the foundation for a collection of four public open spaces along Hope Street that work in tandem to further the urban and social life of the downtown area. Included in this sequence are Crocker Court (now Wells Fargo Court) at the base of SOM-designed, 54-story Crocker Tower complex from 1983; the Bunker Hill Steps at the base of the Pei, Cobb, Freed, & Partners' 73-story Library Tower from 1989; Library Square (now Maguire Gardens) surrounding the Bertram Goodhue–designed Los Angeles Central Library from 1926; and Grand Hope Park surrounding the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) from 1993. The sequence of spaces was designed to stitch Bunker Hill's postmodern towers together with a forthcoming apartment and condominium district to the south known as South Park. The public open spaces—designed alongside other skyscraper and plaza complexes in the area—were meant to create a series of leisure and recreational nodes throughout the district and came to fruition hand-in-hand with postmodern-style architectural projects designed by nationally-recognized firms. The open space projects represent landmark works of Halprin’s late career that utilize water features, dynamic and carefully-staged processions, and symbolic planting and architectural configurations to shape the perception of open space in L.A.’s downtown area. Much like Freeway Park in Seattle, the entire sequence was designed as an interconnected trail of plazas, forecourts, and parks that offer a variety of leisure spaces while also navigating the 100-foot difference in elevation between the top of Bunker Hill and the FIDM campus. The difference here is that by the early 1990s, Halprin was engaged full-tilt with multiple facets of the postmodern style—softening austere, mirrored corporate abstraction at the Crocker Court end of the sequence while repurposing historical symbols and elements in the Bunker Hill Steps and Grand-Hope Park projects. Plaza Las Fuentes Plaza Las Fuentes in nearby Pasadena, on the other hand, was built in 1984 as part of a new mixed-use development for the satellite city’s downtown core. The plaza accompanied an eight-story office tower and 12-story hotel and shopping complex—also developed by Maguire Partners—designed by architects Moore Ruble Yudell. The plaza features Moorish Revival arcades, decorative tile walls designed by the artist Joyce Kozloff, and is populated with sculptures created by Michael Lucero. The park’s geometric fountains guide occupants through the plaza’s stepped site, incorporating sculptures, fountains, and plantings throughout. For more information on and tickets to the Landscape as Catalyst: Lawrence Halprin’s Legacy and Los Angeles symposium, see TCLF’s website.
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BID CITIES

A revealing look at how cities bid for Amazon's new headquarters
On October 19, Amazon received 238 proposals from cities and regions in 54 states, provinces, districts and territories across North America, all vying to be the home of HQ2, the $5 billion, 50,000-employee co-headquarters the company wants to build over the next two decades. A decision is expected sometime in 2018. Bidders were asked not to divulge details of their proposals, but information has leaked out about many of them. Baltimore officials held a news conference at the waterfront site they’re touting, saying, “This must be the place.” The District of Columbia identified four possible locations and created a hashtag: #ObviouslyDC. Birmingham, Alabama placed giant Amazon packages all over town. New York City lit up the Empire State Building and other landmarks “Amazon orange.” While much of the news coverage has focused on some of the more publicity-seeking stunts by cities and locales, it is worth sifting through the news to consider how the urban landscape is being imagined and parceled off for a single corporate giant. Some bidders don’t meet Amazon’s criteria for consideration, such as having a metropolitan area of at least one million people or zoning to build up to 8 million square feet of office space. Others are making strong cases for why they should be chosen by combining their forces with other locales. Overall the bids reveal a glimpse of how seriously some cities are taking the chance to host Amazon, and what they believe the strengths of their metropolitan areas are. Some cities put all their eggs in a single basket, offering up a single site within their city boundaries. Boston offered Suffolk Downs, a soon-to-close horse racing track in East Boston, and touted its concentration of leading colleges and universities. “Boston sells itself,” Mayor Martin Walsh was quoted as saying in The Boston Globe. “We have world class colleges and universities. We’re the youngest city per capita in America.” Baltimore offered the 235-acre Port Covington redevelopment area south of downtown. An independent citizens’ group offered a second site in midtown Baltimore, including land currently occupied by the state penitentiary, a proposed Innovation Hub, and State Center, a government office complex. Dallas extended a transit-oriented development surrounding a proposed $15 million Hyperloop terminal that will run between Dallas and Houston. New Jersey offered an 11.5–acre riverfront site in Newark as well as tax breaks worth up to $7 billion. Practice for Architecture and Urbanism would be the master planner for the project, working with Michael Green Architect, TEN Arquitectos and Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners. Surprise, Arizona, the Grand Canyon State’s “newest emerging city,” made an unlikely bid for the Amazon project by offering 100 acres of prime downtown real estate, Bizjournals reported. Offering big city amenities but also a “blank canvas waiting to be painted,” the municipality west of the Phoenix metro area boasts sports training facilities for national teams, a college stadium that hosts professional football games, and a foreign trade zone already being developed by international corporations. The bid sets aside the 100-acre site beside its civic center with the intention of having Amazon “help to create the culture of downtown.” In case Amazon isn’t content with creating a new downtown from thin air, the municipality also offered up the suburban town of Prasada nearby that also has 100 acres of vacant, highway-adjacent land that can be used. Surprise joins Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and Tucson, Arizona as cities making bids for the HQ2 project in the state. Other cities proposed a range of sites, suggesting that their cities were more than equipped to handle the space and tech needs of a headquarters like Amazon. Washington, D. C. proposed four locations for Amazon HQ2: the Anacostia Riverfront, Capitol Hill East; Shaw-Howard University, and NoMa-Union Station. Another promising site would have been the RFK stadium property, but as a federally owned property, leasing terms require that the land be used for sports and recreation, so it wasn’t offered. New York City identified four potential sites: Midtown West, Long Island City, the Financial District and the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, which includes DUMBO, the Brooklyn Navy Yards and downtown Brooklyn. Philadelphia proposed three locations: Schuylkill Yard, uSquare and the Navy Yard. Chicago offered 10 potential sites and an incentive package that could be worth $2 billion.  The sites are the “Downtown Gateway District,” which includes space in the Willis Tower and the Old Post Office; the endangered Helmut Jahn-designed James R. Thomson Center; two separate sites along the Chicago River’s North Branch; the now booming Fulton Market in the city’s West Loop neighborhood; the Illinois Medical District; a 62-acre site along the Chicago River’s South Branch; the now vacant site of the former Michael Reese Hospital in Bronzeville, and two sites outside of the city at the former Motorola global headquarters in Schaumberg and the soon-to-be former McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook. Huntington Beach and Long Beach in California offered three sites: the Boeing campus in North Huntington Beach,  the World Trade Center in Long Beach, and a site next to the Long Beach Airport. Another set of cities, perhaps due to their size, offered a regional package, either by applying to be part of a regional headquarters or teaming up with nearby cities and even across international borders to put together an offer. Omaha, Nebraska does not meet many of the company’s stated requirements, but it submitted a bid in the hopes that Amazon may choose to break up the project over multiple cities. If not, city leaders expressed the hope that their bid will be a chance to put the city in front of Amazon executives, and those of other tech companies, for the possibility of future investments. Missouri offered three sites: Columbia, St. Louis and Kansas City, with a Hyperloop transit system connecting all three. In Kansas City, Mayor Sly James purchased 1,000 items on Amazon, leaving reviews and product videos for many of them. Each review included not-so-coded language about the advantages of living and working in Kansas City. Buffalo and Rochester, New York, submitted a joint proposal offering the metro corridor between the two cities. The Buffalo-Rochester team highlighted the region’s contributions to technological research in many fields relevant to Amazon–among others, RFID technologies, drones, and software development. They also highlighted the corridor’s ties to businesses and universities just across the border in Canada. Detroit-Windsor, Michigan and Ontario, Canada teamed up to submit an international bid that presents unique opportunities for Amazon in terms of hiring and wages. Amazon would have more flexibility in building a staff with the option of hiring either Canadian or U.S. employees. There is also the possibility that Amazon could save on wages thanks to the exchange rate. Currently, one U.S. dollar is worth $1.26 in Canadian currency. Finally, another set of city bids crafted multi-nodal offers across multiple cities or scattered sites within city borders rather than proposing a single-site headquarters. In the San Francisco Bay area, the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, Concord, and Fremont joined forces to make one bid. The San Francisco portion of the bid offers up the Candlestick Point and San Francisco Shipyard, a stretch of land called “Southern Bayfront” running down Mission Creek to Candlestick Park, and another area in the South of Market district for the development. In Oakland, the Uptown Station, 601 City Center, and Eastline Development sites are offered. Concord is providing the decommissioned Concord Naval Weapons facility, a 2,300-acre site includes 500 acres slated for a potential first phase of the project. Richmond is offering a new research and development facility on the University of California, Berkeley campus that could potentially serve as a brain hub for the tech giant. Fremont is offering a 28-acre parcel at a transit stop that is zoned for 1.8 million square feet of commercial development. The combined regional bid includes adding 45,000 housing units to the area. In Los Angeles, leaders with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation are offering a dispersed, nine-site proposal. The specific sites have not been disclosed, but according to the Daily News, areas of the San Fernando Valley’s Warner Center complex, Cal Poly Pomona’s campus, and sections of Santa Clarita are up for grabs. Sites in Long Beach are also potentially included as part of the proposal. Colorado pitched what Governor John Hickenlooper described to 9 News as a “collaborative community that works to solve our own problems,” adding that with Colorado, Amazon would be “not just getting a site. They’re getting a community.” The proposal was generated by the Denver Economic Development Corporation, a private entity that works across the nine-county metropolitan area surrounding Denver. The bid involves eight sites across the state and an unspecified number of tax incentives, which Hickenlooper described as being “1/20th” the amount of incentives offered by other states and municipalities. Outside the melee of bidding, at least two cities made a point of announcing they weren’t submitting a proposal. In Texas, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff wrote an open letter to Bezos stating, "The public process is, intentionally or not, creating a bidding war,” and “blindly giving away the farm isn’t our style.” Rather than jump through hoops to try and attract Amazon’s attention, Little Rock, Arkansas, took the opportunity both to graciously decline and promote itself. In a full-page ad taken out in The Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos, the Arkansas capital of 200,000 penned a “Dear John” letter to announce its intention not to place a bid. “Amazon, you’ve got so much going for you, and you’ll find what you’re looking for,” read the letter. While Little Rock was a long shot, unable to meet some of the company’s requirements, it’s also the home of one of Amazon’s largest rivals, Walmart. Arkansas was one of only seven states that did not have a jurisdiction bidding for the new headquarters. The others are Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. Additional reporting for this article was provided by AN editors Matthew Messner, Antonio Pacheco, and Jackson Rollings. 
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Big Tent

Highlights from L.A.'s socially-driven Facades+ conference
The Facades+ Los Angeles conference took place last week in Downtown Los Angeles, bringing together technical innovators, socially-driven practitioners, and visionary academics to discuss some of the most resonant topics facing architecture today. Here are some highlights from the event’s first day. The conference opened with remarks from City of Los Angeles Chief Deputy City Engineer Deborah Weintraub, who elaborated on the city's ongoing public improvement projects. Weintraub’s office is involved with many key regional projects, including the First and Broadway Park and the restoration of the Los Angeles River. Many of the day’s discussions straddled architects’ multi-faceted approach to addressing the region’s ongoing housing crisis. Opening keynote speaker Stanley Saitowitz of Natoma Architects motioned toward the crisis in his opening keynote, which touched on the frustrating state of affairs relative to building high-density infill housing in apartment-starved cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. Nevertheless, Saitowitz vowed to push forward with his desire to provide “freedom of occupation” for city inhabitants through new apartment dwellings. The architect explained that he pursues this vision via an emphasis on the open plan and integrated service cores in his projects. The resulting unit arrangements allow for occupants to enjoy “better flooring, nicer kitchens, and more glass” in each apartment, Saitowitz explained. The architect chronicled several of his office’s most controversial high-rises, including the Palladium Towers in Los Angeles and several San Francisco– and Chicago-based projects. It is no coincidence that as rents and property values have skyrocketed across the region, more and more people are finding themselves homeless. Luckily, architects are leading housing justice discussions, especially those working with organizations like nonprofit housing developer Skid Row Housing Trust (SRHT) to develop affordable, well-designed social housing. The Architect’s Newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief William Menking led a panel discussion with Mike Alvidrez of the SRHT, Angela Brooks of Brooks+Scarpa, and Nathan Bishop of Koning Eizenberg Architecture (KEA) that discussed architects’ efforts at crafting thoughtful and impactful supportive housing projects. During the discussion, Alvidrez explained that SRHT’s projects were widely used to promote a recent ballot initiative aimed at raising taxes to fund more housing development and assistance. By pursuing a “housing-first” model that focuses social services on re-housing individuals first and foremost, SRHT has been able to spread design quality to over 1,800 inhabitants in projects as varied as Brooks+Scarpa's The Six and Michael Maltzan Architecture’s Crest Apartments. During the talk, Brooks described the social mission of the project as being focused on shared spaces, economy of structure, and sustainability. The discussion was a precursor for the afternoon keynote, which featured KEA principals Julie Eizenberg and Nathan Bishop discussing L.A.’s vernacular apartment types. Their discussion covered the quirks of apartment design in Los Angeles, which is guided predominantly by density restrictions and car parking requirements. The talk sought to situate the firm’s work amid a backdrop of increasing urbanization and density, especially the firm’s 500 Broadway project, which features 249 market-rate residences and is organized as a group of four buildings structured by prefabricated steel moment frames that allow for greater flexibility in placing interior partitions. These socially-driven discussions were bookended by a technically-driven examination of SOM’s new Los Angeles United States District Courthouse by Jose Luis Palacios, Keith Boswell, and Garth Ramsey of SOM. The project utilizes a dynamic, accordion-fold facade to maximize daylighting and minimize heat gain while also formally projecting democratic ideals regarding the nature of public space, justice, and building craft. The presenters focused on the beneficial aspects of the design-build nature of the project, a process with fostered conceptual and material innovation with regards to the building envelope and the architects’ overall seismic strategies. Later in the day, the Scholars and Skins discussion with Doris Sung of DO-SU Studio, Satoru Sugihara of ATLV, and Alvin Huang of Synthesis Design and Architecture covered myriad new developments in dynamic, technologically-focused material and formal innovation. Sung described her firm’s work with layered metal sheets that self-assemble and move into various shapes with the use of heat and sunlight. Sugihara focused his discussion on his firm’s facade work with high-technology and sustainability-focused firms like Morphosis. Huang detailed designs for a pavilion his firm designed for car manufacturer Volvo that utilizes a curving skin to create space and shelter. Huang described his treatment of the project's skin as “a canvas—everything has joints and patterning. There is no such thing as a monolithic surface.” The day’s events closed out with a talk by Alice Kimm of John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects (JFAK) that focused on the potential for so-called “selfie-architecture” to impact urban spaces. Kimm explained that as cities like Los Angeles grow, their reach will be buoyed by the proliferation of the images created by inhabitants and visitors of its streets and iconic structures. Missed the Los Angeles Facades+ conference? Meet The Architect's Newspaper in Seattle December 8th for the next conference installment. See the Facades+ website for more information.
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Modernism Remix

SOM and James Corner to rework Pereira's Metropolitan Water District in Los Angeles
In a surprise move, SOM and James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) are coming together to transform the long-dormant William Pereira–designed Metropolitan Water District headquarters in Los Angeles’s Chinatown neighborhood. Los Angeles–based developer Palisades announced the design team on Tuesday via press release, explaining that the firms would work together to convert the historic late modernist structure into a “a mixed-use project focused on innovative design, open space and community.” The release explained that SOM design directors Paul Danna and José Luis Palacios would spearhead designs for the adaptive reuse portion of the project. JCFO will be responsible for the landscape design, including the site’s public open spaces. In the press release, Palacios said, “At the heart of this project is a desire to reflect the spirit and the history of this property through a modern, forward-thinking lens that embraces the Downtown site’s adjacency to Chinatown, Bunker Hill, Echo Park, and the Civic Center.” Palacios added, “It’s a challenge we are confident and energized to embrace.” The firm has its work cut out with the tower-and-matt project, as the expressive cast concrete structure—originally built between 1961 and 1973—has sat vacant for years. A tower portion of the sprawling complex was redeveloped starting in 2014 as a mixed-use development called The Elysian by Linear City Development and David Lawrence Gray Architects. The development includes 120,000 square feet of retail and 96 live/work units. The matt remaining portions of the complex have languished in tandem and were almost demolished entirely last year under previous development efforts. A brief but unsuccessful effort was made to landmark the structure, but the building’s nomination was left unapproved by city agencies. Potential reuse of the structure, however, represents a bright spot in Pereira’s fading legacy, as many of the notable architect’s other works have—or soon will—fall to the wrecking ball. Historian and Pereira scholar Alan Hess told The Architect's Newspaper, "MWD was a key turning point in Pereira’s long and influential career as he sought to maintain the vitality of Modern architecture while adapting to the realities of the 1960s. No place was better suited to understand these realities than Los Angeles. As one of the city’s innovative architects, Pereira designed the striking MWD to be true to Modernism's principles while creating a livelier, more human environment." Hess added, "Nothing would be more appropriate than for Palisades [than] to continue Pereira's spirit of innovation by showing how adaptive reuse addresses the prime need of our times: sustainability." Kim Cooper, preservation advocate with Esotouric told AN, "We're encouraged to see such a good team assigned to this important structure, and that the site's long and influential past is on their mind. Preservation and restoration of the Pereira structure's great bones can definitely be a part of any redevelopment project, and we look forward to being part of that conversation." Designs for the project are currently under development and a timeline for project completion has not been released. See the project website for more information. SOM’s Danna and Palacios will both be presenting at the upcoming Facades+ conference in Los Angeles taking place October 19th and 20th. See the Facades+ website for more information.
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Towering Performance

Los Angeles approves first high-rise development in Westlake neighborhood
The Los Angeles City Planning Commission has approved the Lake on Wilshire project, a 41-story mixed-use housing tower complex proposed by Archeon Group and developer Walter Jayasinghe for L.A.’s Westlake neighborhood. The proposal currently plans to bring 478 market-rate apartments—including 39 affordable units—to the area. The project site at 1930 Wilshire is currently occupied by a surface parking lot and is being developed to include an 850-seat performing arts center dedicated to Sri Lankan culture. The 70,000-square-foot performing arts center will sit at the corner of the site and is depicted in renderings for the project as a five-story structure wrapped in angular, multi-colored mosaic panels. The cultural center is planned to include ground floor public open spaces and feature a large statue located at the corner as well. An existing and historic medical office building located next door to the proposed tower and cultural center will be converted into a 220-key hotel room as part of the project. The project is located around the corner from the Westlake/MacArthur Park Purple Line Station and represents one of the first major market-rate developments for the predominantly working class and immigrant neighborhood. Westlake is sandwiched between Koreatown—which has seen many proposals for new, dense housing towers in recent years—and Downtown Los Angeles, another growing area. There are many concerns about the project, especially with regard to its less-than-stellar community benefits package and the high potential for neighborhood displacement the project could bring. Plans to provide $20,000 for the installation of Los Angeles Police Department surveillance cameras within a two-block radius of the project have also raised concerns in the neighborhood. Recent development in the area includes a 52-unit supportive housing complex for formerly-homeless veterans by L.A.-based Brooks + Scarpa and the Skid Row Housing Trust as well as a proposal by KTGY Architecture + Planning for an 85-unit transitional housing project built using repurposed shipping containers. A timeline for the Lake on Wilshire project has not been released. The project next heads to the Los Angeles City Council for final approval. For more information, see the Lake on Wilshire project website.
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River Come Home

AECOM wants to add 36,000 housing units around the L.A. River
AECOM has a bold, transformational vision for the areas immediately surrounding the Los Angeles River in Downtown Los Angeles. The firm’s recently-published Los Angeles River Gateway proposal envisions a dense web of newly interconnected neighborhoods and recreational areas surrounding a four-mile stretch of the river between Elysian Park and the Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights, Arts District, and Civic Center neighborhoods. The plan calls for nearly 300 acres of publicly-accessible riparian areas surrounding the river. Those recreational and flood-control areas would be joined, according to the plan, by 36,620 residential units, including at least 7,874 affordable homes. The plan calls for making 100 percent of the riverfront areas accessible to the public by absorbing the surrounding industrially-zoned lands and converting those parcels to park areas. The unsolicited study seeks to join “the city with [the] river and nature” by physically connecting the neighborhoods surrounded by the L.A. River with the river itself. It also works within the confines of existing neighborhood plans and leans on already-approved proposals to paint – not a radical vision for the future – but something more akin to a visualization of what the built-out area might eventually look like under current plans. AECOM proposes a series of approaches for bridging over privately- and publicly-owned rail yards surrounding the river’s banks on either side, including plans for underground tunnels that would serve high-speed rail, public transit, and private freight trains. Other potential options include the erection of an elevated trestle system for trains that would allow pedestrians to walk below the tracks and a fill-and-mound system of terraforming to span over the tracks. The River Gateway proposal also calls for adding nearly 150,000 jobs to the area, a 200% increase over the existing number of jobs currently contained within the study areas, according to the authors. Under the plan, 97% of the area’s jobs would be located within a 10-minute walk from the handful of existing and forthcoming light rail stops that serve the area. Renderings for the scheme depict sweeping, tree-filled vistas of the areas surrounding the river, with the areas around Union Station particularly transformed by new structures. The renderings show the City’s brutalist Piper Tech records and police facility being replaced by mixed-use housing towers, for example. Low- to mid-rise apartment blocks would flank the riverbanks on both sides and ultimately bleed into realized visions projected under the new Civic Center Master Plan. The Los Angeles River Gateway plan calls for a 40-year implementation schedule, with many of the improvements either begun or partially completed in time for the 2028 Olympic Games. Under the plan, the downtown section of the L.A. River would act as a “gateway” for Olympics visitors. A full version of AECOM’s proposal can be found here.
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A Panel Apart

Facades+ L.A. will bring together designers from west coast’s most innovative projects
On October 19th and 20th,  the Facades+ conference held by The Architect’s Newspaper will head to the L.A. Hotel Downtown in Los Angeles, bringing with it a series of insightful panel discussions centered around the west coast’s most innovative buildings and projects.   The conference panels will convene design leaders representing several of the region’s boundary-pushing practices and projects. Project types under consideration will include civic buildings, social housing complexes, architectural skins, and sports stadiums. The conference’s first panel will focus on the recently-completed Los Angeles Federal Courthouse building by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The energy-efficient project is designed with a ruffled perimeter glass curtain wall assembly outfitted with special baffles that dramatically cut heating and cooling loads for the structure. José Luis Palacios, Design Director of SOM’s L.A. office, and Keith Boswell, technical partner at SOM, will come together in a panel to discuss how the courthouse project came together. See AN’s review of the courthouse here. Many of the region’s most successful practices are socially- and culturally-driven, a dynamic that has resulted in a growing number of design-forward social housing projects across the region. Local efforts to address California’s homelessness crisis are spearheaded by the Los Angeles-based Skid Row Housing Trust, a non-profit supportive housing developer that focuses on design quality as an integral component of the re-housing process. The organization is helmed by executive director Mike Alvidrez, who will come together for a panel with architects Angela Brooks of Los Angeles-based Brooks + Scarpa and Nathan Bishop of Santa Monica-based Koning Eizenberg Architects to discuss attractive residential and community spaces that challenge the perception of supportive housing in L.A. AN recently reviewed Brooks + Scarpa’s The Six, a 56-unit supportive housing project developed by SRHT. The region is also home to a critical mass of young, digitally-driven design and architecture practices that are utilizing computer generated forms to push the limits of fabrication and construction. A third panel will bring together Doris Sung, principal of DOSU Studio Architecture, Alvin Huang, founder of Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA), and Satoru Sugihara, principal of ATLV, to discuss the relationship between architectural research and highly-specific skin assemblies. SDA recently completed work on the IBM Watson Experience Center in San Francisco, a project that utilized a CNC-milled aluminum panel system manufactured by Arktura to depict an abstracted "data narrative." The conference’s final panel will showcase California’s growing collection of contemporary sporting facilities, many of which are wrapped with provocative enclosures made from building components that highlight some of the advances in building envelope design and construction. The conversation will bring together Ron Turner, sports practice area leader and principal at Gensler, Sanjeev Tankha, principal at engineering firm Walter P Moore, and Lance Evans, senior designer at HKS, to discuss HKS’s City of Champions development for the Los Angeles Rams and Gensler’s Banc of California Stadium for the Los Angeles Football Club, among other projects. For more information on Facades+, see the conference website.
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Camacho Man

Actor Terry Crews is now a promising young designer
Actor, artist, and NFL player-turned-furniture designer Terry Crews was approached by Bernhardt Design President Jerry Helling to design a line of furniture, which became available to consumers this month. AN Interior arranged for Crews to visit the Downtown Los Angeles studio of Bureau Spectacular and join designer, curator, and theorist Jimenez Lai for an afternoon of discussion about life, pop culture, and what it means to be a young, emerging talent in design. AN Interior: So, Terry Crews, welcome. It’s such a pleasure and honor meeting you. We’re here to talk about Bernhardt Design. The first question we have is about youth. Bernhardt Design is a company that values and promotes young designers. I want to quote one of the final interviews by Allen Iverson where he said, “It’s not how old you are, but how long you’ve been playing in the NBA.” How does it feel to be young again, and what are some of your feelings right now about entering design once again fresh? Terry Crews: This is a great question because for me, you know, youth truly isn’t a number. It’s an attitude. You brought up Allen Iverson, but for me, Quincy Jones has always been that example of eternal youth, and he never, ever counts on the thing he did before. This man worked with Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, then went to Michael Jackson and Al B. Sure, then he went to hip-hop and he's still doing it now. And he’s well into his 70s, early 80s and he’s always viewed as the youngest guy in the room. I take that approach. For me, with Bernhardt, they have that attitude. Bernhardt Design has always grabbed guys and really put a lot of investment into the youth, especially from Pasadena’s Art Center and it motivates me and inspires me. It’s one of the most exciting, most adventurous things ever. You feel like you’re discovering a new land and you just landed on the beach and it’s uncharted and you can just go and there are no obstacles and it’s fascinating and again, I’m really, really looking forward to what comes next. I want to be 70 years young. Yeah, listen, there are many, many examples of that. A lot of times in our culture, youth is praised. I mean, youth above everything, at the sacrifice of everything, and the phrase child prodigy is the term that’s normally used, but you can actually be an adult prodigy. There’s no stopping an adult prodigy. You can even be what you call an elder prodigy, where all your things happen, all of a sudden, you change the world and you’re post-50, which happens a lot, but they don’t use the term prodigy anymore, they kind of get that out of there.
The second question I wanted to ask you is about style. President Camacho from Idiocracy [who Terry Crews plays in the film] is by far the greatest president in cinematic history. You have a certain presence. That dancing is iconic in film history at this point. There’s a certain sensibility or personality with you. There’s this kind of charisma around you, which translates a lot of times into style. You’ve already designed your own house. You’ve also done these paintings. The question is, what can we expect to see in terms of your work? What can we expect to see in terms of your design as far as style goes? You know, it’s weird. That’s a great question because I, for one, feel like some people get things mixed up with flash and shock and then they call it style. I’ve seen it in entertainment where jokes become insulting as opposed to informative and insightful. I’ve seen even design itself get very cynical, which is something you really have to watch because as an artist I don’t want to offend, but I always want to be bold. Bold is the most important trait that I have and the good thing is that bold has nothing to do with personality. I’ve seen people who were very meek, very withdrawn or even sanguine or melancholy, but they were extremely bold. My wife is my best confidant because I put stuff out there. I always run everything by her first. I want to make sure that I differentiate the loudness and craziness and shock jock kind of thing from actual boldness. To me, when you say bold, I’m thinking full throttle and focused. Oh, that sounds good. I’m stealing that. You know what? You just summed it all up right there. Full throttle, focused, that’s me. Yeah, but you’re right. When you see somebody that’s literally obsessed and they’re so focused and it gets better and better and better and better, over the whole incarnation, you go, holy cow … I’ve watched other people do that, and like I said, it’s not about being crazy and dancing around and putting lights on it and sparklers. It’s like, holy cow, look at that. I’m with you, man. Next, I want to ask about process. As a film actor, probably there’s a preparation process that’s unfamiliar to designers and I wonder how you might translate that into design. You know what? Because I made all the mistakes and art is art, be it acting, drawing, designing, architecture, it’s all art and fear is your enemy. It’s your enemy. For an actor, there’s a point where you spend years overcoming fear. I’ll tell you about my first job. I was working on a movie called The Sixth Day with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the first movie I ever did. My job was to come up on the steps of his home and tell Arnold, "Hey, Adam Gibson, you’re coming with us." And he looks at me and he says all this stuff. That’s how the scene’s supposed to go. Well, the scene started. I go in, I walk up to him and nothing comes out of my mouth. I was scared to death. Instantly, I was like, I don’t belong here. I’m a football player, I have no skills. I don’t know what this is, and I doubted everything about myself and in a split second, I mean it was like, brrrr! Magically, something went wrong with the camera, which was crazy, and they had to shut everything down and all that and they said, Terry, we’re going to take a break, something is wrong with the camera, we’re going to just take five minutes. Now, they didn’t notice that I suck, but that’s what happened and I went to the side and I said, Terry, what are you doing? And I remember feeling like, if you don’t do this, you’re never going to get this opportunity again. And I used that energy and I went back at them and I looked at Arnold and I’m like, "I’m here, sir and you’re coming with us." And he was like [imitating Arnold saying his lines] and I was like, “Oh my God.” And let me tell you something, I learned something that day – you have to trust yourself. I was even so stuck on this furniture, and then I came up with a story for it and all of a sudden it started making itself. I think you’re absolutely right. I get nervous, I worry about stuff. This is super therapeutic, actually. It is. I’ve been there with you, man. It’s a hard thing, but practice makes it easier. Let’s go to the next question, which is about transformation or metamorphosis. You’re a person who’s gone through this once. You went from being an NFL player to a film actor, and now you’re about to go through it again. And during our Terry Crews week, we stumbled on your Sesame Street episode … violinist, sculpture, mime. So, here, you’re about to undergo this metamorphosis once again. Are there things that you can take away from the first time that will teach you again? First of all, being a football player is a very limiting world. It’s very, very limiting. People already have so many preconceived notions of who you are because it’s almost like a cookie cutter. But you have to understand the football thing and the art thing has never been separate with me, ever. When I went to college, I would go to the little art classes with the people in black who were so sad and I was like, Hey you all, how are you all doing? I got my letterman jacket on, I was like, alright! And then I go right to practice after that and people … there were others that had issues. Now, I know I’m an artist. I know what I do. And then when Jerry Helling, the President of Bernhardt Design came to me and said, "I want to do something with you," and I’m like, "Cool, we can find a designer, we can… " He’s like, "No, no, no, no, no. I want you to design it—pivot time." It just went back to – we need you, we know you’re a linebacker, but we need you to play defensive end on this point. We know you do drama, but here’s comedy right here. I’m the riskiest guy ever. I try everything. They were like, we want you to host the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." I was like, okay, and I didn’t know what I was doing. I mean, look at Regis and look at me. I got a 200-pound difference, me and Regis or any other host they have, Meredith Vieira. But I said, you know what? This is where all the action is and it’s funny because I’m thankful. By this practice of doing this, I’ve built a career where no one is shocked at what I’m doing. So, that’s a long answer to that question. These are deep questions. They’re so good. Beautiful answer. I really admire your courage. This takes so much courage. Words can’t really describe how thankful I am that you’re here and so glad to be sitting here with you and having this conversation. We’re really looking forward to your design. My pleasure, man. This is awesome. I love this world. I love this. Thank you, guys.
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contain this

L.A.'s first shipping container complex for the homeless is on the way
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.
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Step It Up

L.A. Chinatown park transforms barren hillside into terraced gardens
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.
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Room with a view

Los Angeles approves massive two-tower City Center development
Steinberg Architects, Gensler, and developer Shenzhen Hazens Real Estate Group have released a new batch of renderings depicting a slew of design changes for their $700 million L.A. City Center project, a two-tower luxury development planned for Downtown Los Angeles that was recently approved by L.A.’s City Planning Commission. The new renderings depict the latest iteration of a continually-changing project that has morphed from a three-tower complex into one containing only two spires. Previous schemes showed a collection of 32-, 34-, and 38-story towers clustered over an eight-story parking podium. The new images depict a pair of towers, one 29 stories tall, the other rising 49 floors. The 29-story tower, which sits on the southern corner of the site, will contain a 300-key hotel operated by W Hotels and will be designed by Gensler. The 49-story edifice, designed by Steinberg, will contain 435 condominium units. The scheme has also jettisoned the parking podium connecting the towers. Parking will now be located underground and a shorter podium structure filled with hotel public amenities, commercial spaces, and a hotel spa will ground the towers instead. Like several other developments in the quickly-changing area, the L.A. City Center’s base will be wrapped with massive LED displays. Both towers have grown significantly more conservative in their massing and articulation throughout the design review process. Gone are the towers’ soaring pitched roofs, angled articulated massing, and vertically-oriented patterning. Instead, the towers now feature minimally-broken curtain wall facades, vertically-oriented setbacks, and expressed floorplates. AHBE Landscape Architects is designing the project’s open spaces along the parking podium and at street level, as well as each of the tower’s rooftop amenity deck areas. The complex will contain 5,000 square feet of retail functions along the ground level organized along a public shopping plaza fronting Figueroa Street. When compared with previous iterations of the project, the plaza space appears to have been enlarged and deepened, with less LED screen coverage than previously designed. The plaza’s central area will be dotted with trees that extend along the sidewalk in paired sets. According to Urbanize.LA, the first phase of the multi-phase project will construct the hotel tower, with the residential component following after an existing hotel structure on the site is cleared. The complex will add to the ever-growing set of construction cranes in the area. Construction crews are currently wrapping up work on the Harley Ellis Devereaux-designed Circa Towers located nearby and partway through construction on the Oceanwide Center complex by Gensler. A final timeline for the L.A. City Center project has not been announced.