Search results for "Lorcan O'Herlihy"

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Bead Creed

Lorcan O’Herlihy reveals plans for Olayami Dabls’s MBAD African Bead Museum in Detroit
Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) has released renderings for their proposed renovations and expansions to the studio and museum created by celebrated Detroit-based artist Olayami Dabls. The proposal aims to revamp and modernize the mostly ad-hoc MBAD African Bead Museum where Dabls’s signature African bead art is installed. Dabls’s evocative work is installed throughout a mostly vacant block and on the surfaces of several of that block’s remaining homes and shops. The artist uses a palette of what he considers to be universally-understood materials—iron, rocks, wood, and mirrors—to create visually complex sculptures that pay homage to African material culture by exploring the themes of family, ancestry, and community. The installations are the by-product of Dabls’s nearly 50-year-long career during which he has appropriated the vacant and derelict land on this site to host his monumental works. Dabls’s studio is located in what once was a row of townhouses and is now one of the few remaining structures on the block. LOHA’s proposal takes the currently-collapsing roof off of the corner storefront building adjacent to Dabls’s studio and converts that currently-unoccupied structure into a sculpture courtyard and enclosed gallery with new blank surfaces for the artist to work upon. The museum’s entrance will be located between the two structures, adjacent to a new entry garden. The current studio’s collections will be removed and catalogued. The structure will be converted in phases into a bead store, museum administration, and a studio and residence for visiting artists. The remainder of the site is to be re-organized to include walking trails and open space highlighting Dabls’s 18 siteworks. Dabls’s major installations, Iron Teaching Rocks How To Rust and N’Kisi Iron House, will be surrounded by new tree plantings as well as other sculptures. The artist’s African Language Wall, a 50-foot by 20-foot installation located along the wall of a neighboring building, features richly ornamented calligraphy, with words from Africa’s many written languages written across the brick expanse, and is to be the centerpiece of the campus. Dabls’s work, including a selection from his collection of African beads, is currently being exhibited at Henry Taylor’s in Los Angeles, by appointment. Renovations to the museum are being paid for in part by a $100,000 grant from the Knight Foundation and from the proceeds generated by Dabls’s exhibition in Los Angeles.
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Design For Dignity

AIA|LA asks "How will design professions respond to the nearly 47,000 homeless people living in L.A. County?"
A recent count by Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) put the growing visibility and proliferation of homelessness in L.A. County into stark terms. Reporting a 5.7 percent increase in overall homelessness, the report counted 46,874 homeless individuals this year compared with the 44,359 counted in 2015. Within that statistic, LAHSA detailed 34,527 people living on the streets full-time, up from 31,025 doing so one year prior. The count comes on the heels of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s as-yet-unfunded $138 million homelessness prevention and amelioration plan for fiscal year 2016, $86 million of which is earmarked for the development of permanent affordable housing like Michael Maltzan's Star Apartments. Hoarse-voiced homeless advocates across the region hope LAHSA’s report might provide the political pressure needed to finally compel city, county, and state officials to act in a coordinated fashion on a phenomenon savaging a region already struggling with ever-increasing rents, neighborhood displacement, and across-the-board housing shortages. Attempting to articulate the architectural community’s response to what it views as an increasingly important issue, the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles (AIA|LA) chapter convened a special congress bringing together design professionals, thought leaders, and local officials with the aim of  developing “workable solutions” for addressing some of these housing affordability issues. The sold out, day-long congress, called Design for Dignity, also featured panel discussions and lectures from advocates working across the region to share best practices and new research. The congress was notable for attempting to place the contributions of architects and designers front-and-center, both in addressing these crises and within professional discourse itself. AIA|LA’s Director of Government and Public Affairs Will Wright explained the conference’s primary goals to AN as wanting to “connect policy makers and housing providers to design thinkers; to underscore the role of the architect as an innovator that needs to be at the decision-making table as early as possible; and to set a compassionate tone of the fundamental importance of designing for all a dignified human experience.” Long-time housing practitioners like Michael Lehrer, Michael Maltzan, and Lorcan O'Herlihy represented the design profession during various panel discussions held throughout the day, pressing for innovative and humane solutions. Regarding the architectural community’s role in addressing the homelessness crisis, Lehrer told AN, “Beauty is really a rudiment of human dignity, people who have nothing understand that and [they benefit from living in] places made with an open heart and with respect. [Architects] have to realize that the things that matter in architecture matter for everybody because they are human pleasures.” Recently, the L.A. County’s population surpassed 10 million inhabitants and a corresponding and the Census Bureau reported a three percent vacancy rate in the Greater L.A. area (a Census-designated region including Long Beach and Anaheim) rental market. Therefore AIA|LA is right to spotlight architects’ potential role as innovators and leaders on this subject. Congress moderator Peter Zellner told AN, “Architects and designers have to become more involved politically if we are to raise awareness [on addressing the homelessness crisis in L.A.]. It would be incumbent upon architects to propose forms of urbanism that integrate approaches for housing the homeless and poor alike. We have to lead through design and articulate a viable, alternate vision for L.A. that is dense, vertical and integrated.” With the abundance of homeless residents in the region expected only to grow over the coming years, it's likely this phenomenon that will continue to grow, exacerbating and even deteriorating living conditions for all Angelenos if solutions advocated by the likes of Zellner are not more actively pursued across the city. In fact, based on overall tenor of the day’s congress, it would be easy to argue that the future of architectural profession in the Southland is rooted in how design professions address the region’s combined homelessness and affordability crises. In a growing, densifying region, it’s likely that—along with sustainability and climate change—the issues of affordability and homelessness will play a major role in defining the careers of the young practitioners and students of today. Congress attendee Kelly Majewski, principal at the recently-founded landscape architecture firm Superjacent, told AN, “Homelessness is an extremely complex problem that requires collaborative forward-thinking solutions between policy makers, space makers, and communities. The answer does not just lie in the building of new structures, but also in our approach to shared public space, be it our parks or our streets. As landscape architects and urbanists this is one of the biggest issues we are facing in the coming decades.”
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The awards aim to promote the importance of "good housing as a necessity of life."

The American Institute of Architects has chosen ten firms for the 2016 Housing Awards
Eligible projects needed to have been completed after January 1, 2011. They could be renovations or new buildings of any size, budget, or style, including mixed-use projects. Awards are be divided into four categories: One/Two Family Custom Housing; One/Two Family Production Housing (none selected this year); Multifamily Housing and Special Housing. This years jury included Jamie Blosser, AIA (Chair), Atkin Olshin Schade Architects; Ariella Cohen, Editor-in-Chief of Next City; Kevin Harris, FAIA of Kevin Harris Architect, LLC; David Lee, FAIA of Stull and Lee, Inc. and Suman Sorg, FAIA of Sorg & Associates, P.C.

One/Two Family Custom Housing

This award recognizes work for custom and remodelled homes. Hog Pen Creek Retreat; Austin, Texas - Lake|Flato Architects "Towering heritage oak trees, a steeply sloping site and aggressive setbacks from the water created challenging site constraints thoughtfully answered by the home's L-shaped footprint and orientation. A long exterior boardwalk connects a series of structures that stair step down the hillside, crossing a 75-foot lap pool and terminating at a screened pavilion by the water’s edge." Jury Comments: "Nicely detailed, fully cohesive design strategy with water and nature being primary influences. This feels very place based and perfect for its setting in Texas. Artful composition of masses. Delicate placement amidst mature landscape and Creek waterfront views." Independence Pass Residence; Aspen, CO - Bohlin Cywinski Jackson "The house stretches between two knolls, forming a threshold to the views. A series of textured Vals quartzite walls extend into the landscape on either side, giving weight to the lower level. The upper volume is a glass and wood pavilion with a roof that floats on slender stainless steel columns. Its position on the site, linear shape and the use of glass, steel and quartzite gives great strength to this mountain home." Jury Comments: "Beautiful use of stone and lines to frame views of conservation land. A stunning house. A simply spectacular house totally attuned to its Aspen setting. The views are spectacular at every angle." Island Residence; Honolulu - Bohlin Cywinski Jackson "Situated on the Ocean’s coastline at a corner of an ancient fishpond, this private residence reflects the culture of the Hawaiian Islands by embracing its lush surroundings. The house has diverse outdoor spaces and a highly transparent envelope with intimate views of the landscape, the coastal reef and the surf. Jury Comments: "Excellent place based design marrying modernism with hand crafted details. An exciting take on a vernacular, providing a real warmth and openness. Lovely cultural references to both Hawaii and Japan." Newberg Residence; Newberg, OR - Cutler Anderson Architects "This single-family 1,440 square foot residence and 550 sf guest house was designed so the owners can connect with the wild creatures that come to water regularly. The design attempts to make the pond and residence a single entity via entry through the forest, over a bridge from the north end of the pond." Jury Comments: "Elegant design demonstrates joy of living with nature - not requiring a grand vista or dramatic landscape. Thoughtful siting as bridge over pond, elegantly detailed. Simple, clean proportions, warm wood interiors." Oak Ridge House; Jackson, MS - Duvall Decker Architects, P.A. "This house, located in Jackson, Mississippi, is designed as a scaffold for the experience of moving between these conditions, to inhabit and interpret each of them over time. It is shaped to draw the outdoors in, lure the family out, and provide an environmentally rich palette of spaces to accommodate the process of habitation." Jury Comments: "Understated, well designed home. Multiple functions of builtins nice feature, as is choice of materials - slate and pecan. A really, really nice L shaped residence."

Multifamily Living

This award looks at the integration of the building(s) into their site, using both open and recreational space, transportation options and features that contribute to liveable communities. Both high- and low-density projects were considered. 1180 Fourth Street; San Francisco - Mithun | Solomon (initiated as WRT/Solomon E.T.C.)* "The project occupies a full city block with a multi-level courtyard accessing tenant services, daycare, community gardens and common spaces. A generous community room serves the larger neighborhood as well as the project. Amenities emphasize fitness, nutrition, education and community life. It houses 150 low income and formerly homeless households, plus 10,000 square feet of restaurants and retail." *Associate Design Architect: Kennerly Architecture & Planning Jury Comments: "This is a really cool project! It does some really neat things architecturally and is rich in many ways. San Francisco sorely needs affordable housing and this is a perfect location re: transit and accessibility. To live here you have to won the housing lottery!" Cloverdale749; Los Angeles - Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects "Cloverdale749’s integration with its surroundings is upheld by carefully considered deck, window, and walkway placements wherein LOHA established a veil of transformable layers to promote a hybridized relationship between private and public spheres. Incorporating passively sustainable elements in the exterior cladding helps reduce the solar heat load on the building and its energy expenditures for cooling." Jury Comments: "Nice understated design. Rigorously developed and is an upgrade in its context. Very well thought out, detailed, and elegant resolution from a simple, rather banal ships container reference."

Specialized Housing

The Special Housing award acknowledges design that meets the unique needs of other specialized housing types, including housign for the disabled, residential rehabilitation programs, domestic violence shelters, and among others. Commonwealth Honors College, University of Massachusetts; Amherst, MA - William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. "The Commonwealth Honors College Community brings together all classes of students in a mix of unit types that provides 1,500 beds in seven new buildings. The buildings are organized around intimately scaled courtyards that step down the hillside, creating the sense of an academic village for the University of Massachusetts Honors Community." Jury Comments: "Rich mixture of campus buildings resembling an Italian hill town. So impressed that at every scale it was well thought out and integrated. They spent so much time on careful spaces for social engagement." Homeless Veterans Transitional Housing, VA Campus; Los Angeles - LEO A DALY "As part of the Nation’s vanguard effort to house its homeless veterans, the design team of Leo A Daly took a historic structure on the VA’s West Los Angeles medical campus, a building that had been vacant for decades, and repurposed it, turning Building 209—a 1940’s-era clinic building—into an inviting new home for veterans. In the process, the building’s exterior, designated a historic landmark by the Secretary of the Interior, was fully restored, and the former mental hospital transformed into modern therapeutic housing for 65 formerly homeless veterans." Jury Comments: "Spaces, landscaping, and rooms afford a believable sense of importance of and gratitude towards the residents. Respectful of the original building, and respectful of the occupants on the inside. This carefully considered the specific building users and their particular therapeutic needs." Whitetail Woods Regional Park Camper Cabins; Farmington, MN - HGA "Nestled into the hillside of a new regional park, three camper cabins riff on the idea of a tree house entered from a bridge at the crest of a hill. Built on concrete piers to minimize environmental impact, the 227-square-foot cabins with an 80-square-foot deck feature red cedar glulam chassis, cedar and pine framing, and red cedar cladding. Two full-size bunks, dining and sitting areas accommodate four individuals, with a sleeper sofa and folding seating accommodating up to two more. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors frame views of the forest." Jury Comments: "Beautiful simplicity. Colors, materials, and textures reinforce the undisturbed natural habitat. The light footprint is lovely and the low impact on the environment is wonderful."
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Architectural Criticism
Courtesy Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects

In nearly every issue, we invite architects, scholars, industry experts, and editors to candidly discuss high-profile projects, urban issues, and events in our architecture criticism column. This year, Los Angeles dominated the spotlight with its collective boom of new museums and buildings, while over on the east coast, Renzo Piano’s Whitney continued to spark conversation.


Princeton Train Station

Rick Joy's design for a commuter rail station in Princeton is endowed with civic importance and grace.

[Continue reading.]


Whitney Museum of American Art

Renzo Piano has not made a building to love, but one in which the art viewing experience is given priority.



UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music

Kevin Daly Architects brings the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music into the digital age.


Bill & Melinda Gates Hall

Michael Webb considers Morphosis' latest "scaly silver beast," this time at Cornell University.


Petersen Automotive Museum

Inspired by automotive design, the Petersen Automotive Museum stops traffic on Wilshire Boulevard.


Creating Community

Lorcan O'Herlihy designs housing in a precarious context.


Star Apartments

Is prefab the future for affordable housing in Los Angeles? A case from Michael Maltzan Architecture.


Jesuit High School Chapel

Hodgetts + Fung's first religious building creates sanctuary on Jesuit High School's modernist campus.


Edward M. Kennedy Institute

Rafael Viñoly's  Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston complements adjacent JFK Library.



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Art gallery and sculpture garden
Lawrence Anderson

7000 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles
Tel: 323-871-4140
Architect: LOHA

When LA><ART, the well-known contemporary gallery founded by curator Lauri Firstenberg, left Culver City last year, it joined the ranks of art spaces remaking Hollywood. The new venue, designed by architect Lorcan O’Herlihy, is located in a former recording studio first built for RCA Victor in 1928. While the architects wanted to preserve the atmosphere of the site, which is loaded with music history (Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, and Jimi Hendrix all recorded hits in the building), they also aspired to create a venue that could accommodate LA><ART’s innovative exhibitions and events.

“LA><ART hosts a number of public outreach programs and events, including artist talks, performances, and Slanguage, their on-site educational program,” noted O’Herlihy, adding that they resisted the conventions of the white cube gallery. “Our main goal was to create an incubator that amplifies all this activity and recognizes the urbanism inherent in LA><ART’s experimental programming.” By stripping back the 4,000-square-foot space to the original wood beams and brick walls, the architects established a baseline for new work. Sure, de rigueur white walls are on hand for hanging artworks, and skylights fill the galley with natural light, but the space is also ready to adapt to multimedia works or performance. “We embraced this space as a flexible, working gallery that fosters curatorial and artistic freedom and highlights contemporary art in all forms,” said O’Herlihy.

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Residential Multi-family
Courtesy Alloy Design

For AN’s third annual design awards, seven jurors gathered in New York to review nearly 500 projects submitted by architects and designers.

The jury included Amale Andraos, dean of Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation; Nicholas Koster, project manager at Snøhetta; Chee Perlman, editor and curator of Chee Company; Ana Garcia Puyol, computational designer at Thornton Tomasetti; Ali Tayar; founder of Parallel Design Partnership, Terence Riley, founding partner at Keenan/Riley, and Mimi Zeiger, AN’s west coast editor.

In each category, a winner and an honorable mention were selected, although there were a couple of ties. Over the coming days, we will be posting their selections in the 21 categories. 

Residential Multi-family Winner

Dumbo Townhouses
Architect: Alloy Design
Location: Brooklyn, NY

“A continuous facade combines the individual townhouses into a block which is particularly fitting for the industrial past of this NYC neighborhood.”
—Ali Tayar, Parallel Design Partnership

Located on a small lot in Brooklyn, the DUMBO Townhouses are five townhouses of approximately 3,500 square feet. A unique sectional strategy offers a generous program of four bedrooms, three baths, covered parking and outdoor space with parlor floor ceiling heights and multiple skylit rooms. Across from a park and located within a landmarked district, the industrial warehouse context inspired a cladding of tensile Ductal concrete panels composed of a series of tapered fins. Interspersed with full height windows, the cladding offers a combination of generous light and air with solar shading and privacy. The locally based team acted as architect, contractor, developer and broker for the project.

Honorable Mention

Courtesy Morris Adjmi Architects

The Schumacher
Architect: Morris Adjmi Architects
Location: New York

Honorable Mention

Courtesy Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects

Architect: Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects
Location: Los Angeles


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Creating Community
Iwan Baan

Residential neighborhoods all over Southern California are losing their character as owners and developers exploit escalating land values. North Westwood Village, master-planned in the 1920s as a small-scale community of rental properties, has been particularly hard-hit. The North Westwood Village Specific Plan mandates harmonious development, but that requirement was ignored from the 1960s on, as hills were carved away and big-box student rooming houses overwhelmed neighboring properties and narrow, winding streets. Development was driven by the growth of UCLA and its behemoth medical center. The university (a state institution unhindered by local regulations) was the worst offender, constructing oversized faux-historic blocks and trashing modern classics by Richard Neutra and John Lautner.



After a half century of abuse, the North Village has finally acquired an architectural gem, located across the street from Neutra’s landmark Strathmore Apartments. It required legal action by a neighborhood association to compel the developer to abandon the eyesore he had proposed and commission a new design from Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA). The challenge was to fit 31 units (totaling 37,000 square feet) onto a narrow, tilted wedge of land, stepping down from six to two stories in deference to Neutra’s design, a garden court of eight units terraced up a steep slope. The strategy reprised LOHA’s Habitat 825 on Kings Road in West Hollywood, where the site was excavated a story so that the new block would not overshadow the garden of Schindler’s classic studio-house.

The “luxury” condo towers along nearby Wilshire Boulevard and the dingbats on every side street are essentially alike: warrens of rooms and internal corridors, sealed off from nature and the street. LOHA’s works stand in contrast; two of the firm’s condo blocks in West Hollywood are set back from pocket parks, blurring the divide between public and private, and creating shared spaces that benefit the community as well as the residents.

“On Strathmore we asked ourselves, ‘What if we cut into the box and landscaped the different roof levels, allowing residents to engage the outdoors?’” said O’Herlihy.

That’s a concept as old as the Native American pueblos of the Southwest and the roof gardens of North Africa and the Middle East, but one that has been largely forgotten in the most developers’ rush to exploit every foot of rentable space.

With Studio 11024 on Strathmore, the architects go further. The city mandates a 50-foot wide view corridor through a block that is more than 150 feet long. LOHA reinterpreted this rule to create a linear divide, which accommodates outdoor walkways and stairs linking three roof gardens, and reduces the need for double-loaded corridors. Half the apartments have opening windows on two sides for abundant natural light and cross ventilation.


Most L.A. houses and apartment buildings are faced in stucco, all too often in beige tones. LOHA had used metal facing panels on previous jobs—Formosa 1140 in West Hollywood was clad in fire engine red. Though the budget was tight, they discovered the structure could be clad in ribbed, white enameled aluminum panels for only a few dollars a square foot more than a standard stucco finish ($16 versus $13). The panels are deployed on the two street facades in tiers of differently sized ribs. Those variations break up the mass of the conjoined blocks and the sheer planes serve as screens to capture crisp patterns of sun and shade. Lateral cuts serve as backdrops to the roof terraces and are clad with Hardie board, layered in six tones of yellowish green that become lighter as they ascend. The white echoes the Neutra and several neighboring blocks and responds to changes of light. Handrails and metal staircases pick up on the green walls, which introduce a vibrant new element into the townscape. They even inspired another property owner to repaint a faded pink block in forest green. Perforated white metal panels screen the staircases, teak benches divide up the terraces, and the sharp edges are softened by landscape architect Mia Lehrer’s generous plantings.

Nearly all L.A. apartment blocks are as repetitive as a motel, but LOHA insist on diversified interiors, ranging from studios to lofts. O’Herlihy—like architects Michael Maltzan, Kevin Daly, and other contemporaries—understands that a younger generation wants to break free of the conventional layouts imposed on earlier generations. On Strathmore, the two- and three-bedroom apartments were configured by the developer’s interior consultant, but the plans are varied, and there are three duplex apartments on the fifth floor.

Studio 11024 is a deceptively complex building with well-varied fenestration that responds organically to the shifts of elevation and orientation. It raises the bar for Westwood Village and shows how architecture adds value for the owner, tenants, and neighbors. Ideally, it will not become another student rooming house, but will attract a lively mix of residents, and encourage other developers to aim higher, hiring talented architects rather than docile hacks. It should also stiffen the resolve of the Westwood Community Design Review Board, which rejected the previous scheme and enthusiastically supported this, but has sometimes been too tolerant of mediocrity.

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An Architectural Exploration
Model of Lorcan O'Herlihy's Formosa 1140 Apartment Building in West Hollywood, California.
Heinz Architectural Center/Lorcan OOHerlihy

Sketch to Structure
Heinz Architectural Center
Carnegie Museum of Art
4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
Through August 17

In Pittsburgh, where multi-unit residential projects figure prominently in the current development scene, Lorcan O’Herlihy’s Formosa 1140 Apartment Building in West Hollywood, CA, is a particularly suitable project to showcase in an exhibition of architecture.

The rhythmically interlocking black and red screens of the layered modernist facade, though well suited to the West Coast, are just the sort of affordable sophistication that the rustbelt metropolis needs. So, when images of it appear in promotional materials, from flyers to billboards, promoting Sketch to Structure, currently at the Heinz Architectural Center (HAC), they seem to encourage similarly nuanced facade designs throughout the city.

In the show itself, which is assembled by curatorial assistant Alyssum Skjeie, the portrayal of O’Herlihy’s building is expanded with didactic effect. Several early compact but evocative color sketches hint at the chromatic intensity and compositional rhythms of the building yet to come. Also, a plexiglass concept model in transparent and colored layers expresses the precise play of aperture and plane, freed from burdens of program and site. A final presentation model and accompanying building photography represent the completed project, in which those initial lively ideas are affirmed and elaborated.

Lorcan O’Herlihy’s color sketches of his Formosa 1140 Apartment Building.

Sketch to Structure aims to give similar insights into the architectural process across eras and project types, using a four-part organization that is more poetic than regimented. The section entitled, Concept, displays projects in their early stages of design and documentation, whether it be Richard Neutra’s freehand graphite perspectives of the Los Angeles County Hall of Records of 1961 or Herzog & de Meuron’s conceptual sketches for the House for an Art Collector in Therwil, Switzerland, of 1985. The Collaboration section, with mid-process drawings, emphasizes the development of designs and the associated teamwork, according to accompanying text. So blueprints of Pittsburgh’s R. F. Moreland House of 1935, a colonial revival design by Brandon Smith, are included with mention of the numerous draftsmen who initialed their work on the same sheet. Here, the drawings are instructive, but the thematic connection seems tenuous.

Communication gives priority to the manner in which architects present their designs to clients, so models figure prominently. Highlights include Theodore Conrad’s model of SOM’s Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company building in Toledo from 1957 and Jakob + MacFarlane’s 3-D alumide print, the museum’s first, of the Restaurant Georges in the Pompidou in Paris. In the Case Study section, examples allow a few projects to evocatively show a few steps that would not fit in one of the other categories singularly. This is where O’Herlihy’s project is central. Other works, such as a sprawling model and an interior perspective of Tasso Katselas’s X-shaped Pittsburgh International Airport of 1991, a nod to the local audience, are on display.

These accumulated works, even with a few videos for good measure, end up being very object-oriented, so it may seem that issues such as construction process and client interaction seem to get short shrift. But this is a problem more of title than content. The original items on display (though not necessarily enlarged photos or videos) are drawn entirely from HAC’s own collections, which began with works collected and donated by Drue Heinz to establish the institution as a subsidiary of the Carnegie Museum of Art beginning in 1990. Now there are more than 5800 objects in the collections, of which several dozen are on display. About 70 percent of the current exhibition is made up of objects that have never been displayed before, and several new acquisitions are labeled as such.

The institution has engaged local neighborhoods and constituencies with locally focused exhibits over the years. The education programs, which have always been substantial, have expanded from tours and handouts to ventures into the galleries themselves. Now visitors can draw on trace paper or build with legos in the exhibitions rooms and leave their results on display in selected areas.

The goal seems to be two-fold. The collections as they are, when thoughtfully selected, can engage a general audience by teaching some fundamental issues about the processes and products of architecture. At the same time, they can delight specialists with highly refined artifacts of recent and historic architectural practice that have been their hallmark from the outset. Lorcan O’Herlihy’s documents, which are recent acquisitions, are a perfect intersection of these values of engaging both general and specialist audiences. Meanwhile, an exhibition subtitle that indicates new objects acquired and old ones revealed could helpfully clarify what is really a multifaceted and engaging show, but not quite what its title suggests.

On a related note, in early February, the Carnegie Museum of Art announced the immediate elimination of seven positions, one of which was HAC curator Tracy Myers. Myers first joined the organization in 1997 and rose through the ranks with a range of well-received exhibitions on topics including Machine Age architecture, Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, Lebbeus Woods, and more recently, architectural photography. Neither she nor the Museum offered official comment. Curator Raymund Ryan remains in his position.

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What does Frank Gehry have planned for Los Angeles' Sunset Strip?
We've learned from Curbed LA that Frank Gehry is designing a large mixed-use development on LA's Sunset Strip called 8150 Sunset. Located on Sunset and Crescent Heights Boulevards, the project will be located on the site of an old estate nicknamed the "Garden of Allah." (The lot now contains a strip mall.) According to its Draft Environmental Impact Report (PDF), the new complex, consisting of two buildings sitting on a raised podium, will include 249 apartments, about 100,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, and a large central plaza. Updated plans and renderings are set to be released this spring, according to developer Townscape Partners. A group called Save Sunset Boulevard is fighting to block the project, calling it a "hideous monstrosity," and attacking its EIR. Among other things the association, which is represented by anti-development lawyer Robert Silverstein, called out the project's potential to add to congestion, dwarf local historic buildings, block views, and waste water and other resources. The glitzy Sunset Strip has become an architect magnet, drawing Lorcan O'Herlihy and SOM (Sunset La Cienega), Ian Schrager, CIM, and several more. It's also been a graveyard of sorts, felling projects by Eric Owen Moss, Hodgetts + Fung, Kanner Architects, and others in recent years.
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On View> Pittsburgh's Heinz Architectural Center tackles architecture from "Sketch to Structure"
Sketch to Structure Heinz Architectural Center Carnegie Museum of Art Pittsburgh Through May 20, 2015 The concept and visual for Sketch to Structure, an exhibition that has just opened at Pittsburg's Heinz Architectural Center, is so cogent and well thought out it's a wonder no other museum hasn't already staged such a show. The exhibit is curated by Alyssum Skjeie of the Heinz Center and takes the architectural design process and divides it into four discrete sections—concept, collaboration, communication, case studies—each with drawings and renderings taken from the center's own collection.   "Concept" begins with loose hand drawings like Richard Neutra's for the Los Angeles County Hall of Records and attempts to highlight how architects think through drawing implements—whether sketching, constructing a rough model, a quick watercolor, or increasingly, using computer models. Then, perhaps the most socially constructed section, "Collaboration," makes clear that architects work in office teams with other designers and with engineers, etc.—a process not recognized enough in exhibitions on architecture. This process is highlighted with drawings from Winold Reiss' four schemes for the Savarin Restaurant at Penn Station in New York City. The third part of the exhibit, "Communication," uses drawings, renderings, and models from the early 20th century to convey, as the curator claims, "a nearly final design." This is a large jump from Collaboration, but perhaps the final section, "Case Studies," clarifies, or brings together, what communication in an architectural practice means in a practical working condition. Case studies, the exhibit asserts, "pieces the parts of this process together, with groupings of models, renderings, drawings, and elevations on seven separate projects, illustrating how the other three exhibition sections work together in the larger design process." It might be argued that this chronological presentation is too linear and that architectural design moves back and forth across these sections, but the exhibition stakes a claim for this process and attempts to highlight it through strong visual examples. The exhibit will feature drawings by Lorcan O'Herlihy, James Wines, and the French firm Jakob + MacFarlane. If only this show were in New York, closer to my home! If your anywhere near the Steel City, go see this exhibition and let us know what you think of the sections.
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The Art of Planning
695 S. Santa Fe.
Courtesy shimoda design

LA’s Arts District, on the eastern edge of downtown, has for years been a center for experimentation. A rough-around-the-edges place far from the clutches of the usual, full not only of artists, but of semi trucks, imposing warehouses, dangerous chemicals, and gritty street art. That character is now facing a major test as a maelstrom of development is being proposed for the area, which is being compared in some real estate circles to the next Meat Packing District.

In order to keep up with the wave of speculation, and to try to maintain what makes the area unique, LA’s planning department in late August released a draft zoning overlay called the Arts District live/work zone. The final legislation, which would double the amount of residential units in the Arts District from 1,500 to 3,000, should be put in front of the planning commission by the end of the year.

Shimoda Design's 695 S. Santa Fe prior to changes.
Courtesy shimoda design

The update stresses keeping the existing character and uses of the area while addressing some of its livability issues. Among other things it will largely eschew traditional apartments in favor of live/work ones, continue to allow for both industrial and residential land use, and mandate a minimum of arts and productive uses in each new project. To help with habitability, it limits the most noxious industrial uses, encourages pedestrian paseos and plazas, and discourages blank, imposing walls.

Building aesthetics will not be strictly regulated, but structures will need to keep massing in check, utilize transparent street frontages, build close to the street line, and maintain some of the warehouse and loft character that has marked the area for the last few decades since the Artist in Residence ordinance allowed artists to start inhabiting former industrial buildings here.

“We don’t want a traditional building that sticks on corrugated metal and calls itself an industrial building,” said Bryan Eck, one of the LA city planners overseeing the measure.

The guidelines have the difficult task of balancing the demands of both existing artists and newcomers looking for a place that is both edgy and livable. The big question is what does the arts district want to be? Up to this point, said Tyler Stonebreaker, one of the founders of Creative Space, a real estate consultancy that has been “curating” much of the offerings coming to the Arts District, there has not been a clear conclusion. Like many here he favors an area with type one and two construction and does not want to water down the neighborhood so it looks like other parts of the city. “Is this an artist neighborhood or another sanitized neighborhood that people are going to live, work, and play in?” asked Stonebreaker.

LOHA’s Industrial.
Courtesy LOHA

In the center of the battle are architects. Many are top-level firms working with the neighborhood and city planning to adapt to the new ordinance, and in some cases to help inspire it.

Shimoda Design’s 695 South Santa Fe (formerly AMP Lofts) was already designed with an industrial-inspired aesthetic. But in response to local comments and to the developing ordinance, Shimoda has significantly increased the average size of the project’s units to facilitate live/work, added workshop spaces, and made the development less closed off, with permeability to a central open space, and shorter retail and townhouse spaces closer to the street and larger masses in the middle. “They’re trying to preserve the character of the community. It’s a special place,” said Ryan Granito of Bolour Associates, the developer of the project. “We’re interested in figuring out how we can capture the essence of the Arts District,” said Shimoda.

LOHA is building Industrial, a five-story development of live-work units, commercial spaces, and retail near the corner of Industrial Street and Alameda. Founder Lorcan O'Herlihy said that his basic design—a black brick and rusted steel building with large openings in its street wall to a courtyard—has not changed through the process. The building’s ground level units will have 18-foot ceiling heights and use type one construction, while above more traditional apartments will have 11-foot-high ceilings and be built with type five. O’Herlihy is not concerned about the use of wood construction in an industrial zone, as some neighbors are. “It’s how you work with the material that makes it work,” he said.

Doug Hanson, whose firm Hanson Design is designing the 122-unit 1800 East 7th Street, agreed. His building—which contains all live/work lofts, wraps around a courtyard and a paseo, and features a sculptural glass corner—will be clad with lightweight concrete panels and use type three construction. “People confuse the type of construction with the way they want it to look,” said Hanson.

Hanson’s 1800 E. 7th Street.
Courtesy Hanson la

For those like Stonebreaker, regular living spaces do not cut it. “If you want compartmentalized apartments you should go to areas that already have that kind of housing,” he said.

But neighbors are even more concerned with other projects that have raised eyebrows for continuing the unfortunate legacy of late-1990s and early 2000s projects here that took advantage of a policy that allowed ground-up buildings but did not clearly regulate them. “They became an example of what not to do,” said Eck.

So far the biggest offender is 950 East 3rd Street, a 472-unit, mixed-use project on the corner of Traction Avenue, in the long-vacant lot next to SCI-Arc. The developers, Legendary Development and Associated Estates, have not been forthcoming with their plans. But they have received criticism from the community for not reaching out, and for developing a huge amount of units that are not live/work and are out of character with the area.

Maltzan’s One Santa Fe has received positive reviews for its design, but some thumbs down for its hulking size, which dwarfs the rest of the area.

Regardless of how these projects turnout, the zoning, a precursor to much larger neighborhood plans in downtown, is still a work in progress. Issues like affordable housing—a vital issue in a place for artists who presumably will not be pulling in large salaries—have yet to be worked out. “We are looking to the community first to see how they want to guide growth in the future,” said Eck. “It’s a real struggle. There’s a lot of development pressure and a lot of speculation.”

Stonebreaker remains vigilant against “creeping other objectives.” For instance, he is guarding against those who want to remove industrial zoning here altogether. “When you’re in an M3 zone you’re choosing to be in an M3 zone. Don’t move to Hollywood if you hate clubs,” he said.

Shimoda, among others, is wary of the guidelines becoming too prescriptive and projects starting to look the same, especially those by developers not interested in pushing the limits. His new plans, some might say, are less unique than the original ones. “I get a sense that planners are trying to make Los Angeles another city and not what it is,” he said. “I get a little nervous when things are a little too pretty. I wonder, where’s the edge?”

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Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects Bends Billboards On The Sunset Strip
Are you an architect seeking a growth sector? How about billboards? A trailblazing firm in this field is Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA), who recently designed a new 68-foot-tall sign at Sunset and La Cienega on the Sunset Strip for the City of West Hollywood and Ace Advertising. Instead of the usual featureless, boxy armature, LOHA has designed a blue, wishbone-shaped, steel structure that one could even call (gasp) sexy. Its meandering, tubular shape also brings to mind snaking traffic in the area. The structure's torque was achieved using massive gas pipeline bending machines. "Infrastructure doesn't have to be marginalized," O'Herlihy said. "Why not glorify the structure?" The firm is now planning two more signs in the billboard-heavy area, at 8462 Sunset and 9015 Sunset. One tall and thin sign folds like origami and incorporates seating into its bottom-most curve; the other bends back forcefully as if trying to escape from the street. Coincidentally LOHA is collaborating with SOM on a large mixed-use project (containing residential, hotel, and retail) just across the street from their new billboard, Sunset-La Cienega. Between the signs and the buildings, we've considered nicknaming the area Lorcan-ville.