Search results for "los angeles"

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Last Stool Standing

Hem collaborates with designers to benefit Los Angeles’s design community
In concurrence with the Los Angeles Design Festival, Stockholm-based design brand Hem hosted a festival to celebrate and give back to L.A.’s design community. Hem Fest took place on June 22, 2019, at the Hem and Madera LA Showroom in Los Angeles and featured a variety of activities including a raffle auction, a ping-pong-table-turned-work-station, and stick-and-poke tattoos. The main event starred a raffle auction of reimagined Max Lamb “Last Stools” designed by a pre-selected group of eight local architects and designers: ETC.etera, Kelly Wearstler, LA-Más, Oliver M. Furth, Rapt Studio, Snøhetta, The Archers, and wHY Objects. The proceeds from ticket sales go to LA-Más’ mission to “envision a world where city growth is equitable and self-directed—where the best local solutions are brought to a city-wide scale.” Read the full story on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.
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Shake It Up

Why doesn't the U.S. design buildings to survive earthquakes?
Earthquakes have been in the news lately with increasing regularity: Southern California recently experienced a July 4th quake registering 6.4 on the Richter scale followed by one just a day later at 7.1. It's predicted that within the week there's an 11 percent chance that a major quake could follow, and, of course, there's the looming specter of the so-called Big One. But despite the relative frequency of seismic activity on the West coast and in other parts of the United States, in general, the U.S. lags behind other earthquake-prone countries, especially Japan, in terms of earthquake readiness. A recent New York Times investigation asked why, when buildings can be designed to stand up to earthquakes, the United States has so few of them. Though there are notable exceptions—like older retrofits such as Los Angeles’s city hall, and luxurious new construction like Apple’s Foster + Partners-designed headquarters, a ring that floats on base isolators rather than being fixed to a traditional foundation—most buildings in the States feature concrete cores, relatively un-rigid construction, and no seismic shock absorbers or isolation systems. Even those that do, the Times reports, are of varying quality of construction, with many failing basic preparedness tests. Simply put, while Japanese buildings are, in general, designed to sway in an earthquake and minimize damage (and use a steel grid to make up their core), American buildings are designed primarily to fail and collapse in a way that will hopefully minimize loss of life. This can mostly be chalked up to not only weak regulations, but to economics. It’s more costly to build an earthquake-ready building, though obviously only in the short run. A federal study demonstrated that rebuilding after a quake in urban centers will cost billions of dollars, and is four times as expensive as simply building a structure that can stand up to an earthquake in the first place. However, with lax laws and a real estate and development market that prioritizes short term ownership and thinking, building owners and developers remain wary of spending the extra cash up front; estimated to only add approximately 13–15 percent in cost in a seven-story building, according to the Japanese construction company Nice Corporation. Though, per the Times, engineer Ian Aiken says that some systems “can cost as little as 5% more.” Tokyo, which experiences more than 1,000 seismic events each year, is also anticipating its own big quake in the next 30 years, a follow up to the devastating 1923 earthquake. while predictions of the potential damage remain calamitous, there is perhaps no city more ready to take the hit. Not only are high rises, skyscrapers, and smaller buildings all designed to withstand significant seismic activity, but, as The Guardian reports, “parks feature hidden emergency toilets and benches that turn into cooking stoves, and the city has the world’s largest fire brigade, specifically trained to prevent the kind of flash blazes that spread after earthquakes.” The city is not only a world population and business center, but also a major tourist destination, something that's likely to become only more true with events like the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. But even new construction for the Olympics is getting the high tech treatment. Seismic isolation bearings are being placed inside the new Tokyo Aquatics Center and the Ariake Arena, which will be home to Olympic volleyball and wheelchair basketball games. The aquatics center and arena are using Bridgestone Seismic Isolation Systems, an update to older methods that relied on increasing the rigidity of buildings or adding additional framing. Instead of adding greater rigidity, base isolation systems use rubber bearings ranging in size between approximately 23 inches and 70 inches to allow structures to sway slowly and cause only minor disturbances, if any at all, on the floors above, instead of allowing the whole structure to shake violently. Similar such bearings can be found in buildings like Tokyo Station and Los Angeles's City Hall. While the isolators are often placed in the foundations of buildings, for the new arenas, they’ve been located in the roofs, a common approach for buildings with large open spaces that helps decrease the stress on the roof’s support elements. Still, all the technology in the world only goes so far if the community isn’t prepared. As Tokyo-based disaster preparedness specialist Ronin Takashi Lewis told The Guardian, even all this tech, “If you look around the Tokyo skyscrapers it’s incredible how advanced a lot of technology here is, especially seismic resistance – but my concern is preparedness at the community and individual level.” As per usual, technology alone won’t save us. Still, hopefully the United States can learn from Tokyo and invest in resilient buildings for safer cities and communities.
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Outstanding Universal Value

Eight Frank Lloyd Wright buildings are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites
A collection of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of The 20th Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, a 382-page nomination document. The eight major works span fifty years of Wright’s career and represent the first modern architecture designation in the country on the prestigious list. The designation was announced during the World Heritage Committee meeting on July 7 in Baku, Azerbaijan. The property consists of eight buildings, including Unity Temple (1909, Oak Park, IL), the Frederick C. Robie House (1910, Chicago, IL), Taliesin (1911, Spring Green, Wisconsin), the Hollyhock House (1921, Los Angeles, CA), the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House (1937, Madison, Wisconsin), Taliesin West (1938, Scottsdale, Arizona), Fallingwater (1939, Mill Run, Pennsylvania), and the Guggenheim Museum (1959, New York). UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) recognizes landmarks or sites for having cultural, historical, or scientific relevance throughout the world. The international importance of a potential World Heritage Site celebrates places of “outstanding universal value.” The process to be added is strict, with locations needing to meet certain criteria, such as being an example of human creative genius. Wright is widely considered to be the greatest American architect of the 20th century. In its nomination, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy stressed Wright’s architecture as a response to functional and emotional needs, the evolving American lifestyle, and rooted in nature’s forms and principles. The Wright nomination has been in development for more than 15 years. Spearheaded by the Chicago-based Conservancy, the nonprofit organization facilitates the preservation and stewardship of the remaining structures designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. "Each of these buildings offers innovative solutions to the needs for housing, worship, work or leisure," wrote members of the World Heritage Committee in a press release announcing the designation. "Wright's work from this period had a strong impact on the development of modern architecture in Europe." Wright’s buildings will be the 24th American site on the World Heritage List, which includes over 1,000 sites around the world. The U.S. Department of State’s press office released a statement expressing pleasure about the decision, though in 2018 the Trump administration withdrew from UNESCO, citing anti-Israel bias. A majority of American sites on the list are national parks, as well as Thomas Jefferson’s neoclassical Monticello and the University of Virginia.
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Art, Art, Art!

Kate Fowle is MoMA PS1's new director
Drumroll, please: Curator Kate Fowle is MoMA PS1's new director. Until recently, the U.K.-born Fowle had been acting as the first Chief Curator at Moscow's Garage Museum of Contemporary Art since 2013. She will succeed Klaus Biesenbach, who left a 23-year tenure at MoMA PS1 about eight months ago to head up The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. “It’s an honor to take the helm of MoMA PS1 at this juncture in its rich history,” said Fowle in a press statement. “I look forward to working with the team and board to create a generative environment where our outlook is transformed through artists and their perspectives on the world.” Before her stint in Moscow, Fowle directed the New York-based Independent Curators International (ICI) from 2009 to 2013. The organization connects contemporary art curators around the world. The announcement comes on the heels of the first public viewing of this year's Young Architects Program (YAP) installation by Mexico City-based Pedro y Juana in the courtyard of the Long Island City MoMA offshoot. YAP invites emerging firms to build a summer installation in the PS1 courtyard that provides light and shade to visitors during Warm Up, the museum's summer Saturdays music event.
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Coworking Coming Soon

DesignAgency to retrofit L.A.'s historic Bradbury Building for coworking
NeueHouse, the private coworking space company in Hollywood, has announced its expansion to the iconic Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles. Coming this November, the up-and-coming company will cement its place in the history of businesses that have occupied the 126-year-old property.  Built in 1893, the Romanesque-office building is lauded for its Victorian-style skylit atrium—a narrow scene featuring balustrades of ornate ironwork and a series of walkways, stairs, and elevators that conjure up memories of a Parisian alleyway. It was designed by architect Sumner Hunt and is the oldest commercial building in L.A.’s central city. Following a $7 million renovation in the 1990s, square footage in the city-landmarked building has been in high demand. In recent years, it’s been home to a Chinese art gallery, an architecture and design museum, Marvel Comics, and the Berggruen Institute, among others. The police department currently holds a 50-year lease for its office of internal affairs.  Keeping this productive and inspired spirit in mind, NeueHouse has called upon local firm DesignAgency to outfit the second floor of the building with a contemporary vision that’s respectful of the structure’s historic integrity. Utilizing the entirety of the 25,000 square feet of space, the design team will have plenty of room to build out amenities for the company’s professional members, such as a gallery, lobby café, conference space, private offices, and a meditation nap room. According to DesignAgency’s founding partner Anwar Mekhayech, this is what the interior architecture studio does best.  “Inhabiting signature buildings, we create interiors that offer a sense of history, an air of residential modernity, an aura of timelessness,” he said. “At the same time, we are driven by the challenge of anticipating every need of the contemporary creative professional.”  The Bradbury Building is a fitting second West Coast location for NeueHouse given the track record of innovation and artistry that’s happened within the historic structure. Many films such as the original Blade Runner and 500 Days of Summer have been shot in the five-story building, as well as music videos by Janet Jackson, Earth Wind and Fire, Cher, and Justin Timberlake. According to NeueHouse CEO Josh Wyatt, who just secured $30 million in funding for the startup, the new space supports its main goals. “Our mission of fostering a creative system at the intersection of commerce and culture, underpinned by design-driven environments, elevated hospitality, and original cultural programming, is what sets NeueHouse apart.” NeueHouse Bradbury is the company’s third location. In 2016, the company opened its flagship office in the former West Coast CBS headquarters at Columbia Square, which is currently at capacity and boasts an extensive waitlist for membership. Its second spot in Madison Square, New York, is full as well.
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Double Dutch 2.0

Could jump roping robots change how we think about architectural drawing?

"Movement was always an underlying instigator to how I look at form," explains architect Amina Blacksher, who began ballet at age six. Her work crosses boundaries and unifies seemingly disparate practices, as she now, among many other things, uses the tools and methods of an architect to investigate the place of robots in our lives and the relationship between the analog and digital. Most recently, her explorations of movement and robotics have taken the form of two arms that join humans to play jump rope.

Two industrial robotic arms from ABB, jointed similarly to a human's, swing ropes in partnership with a human while people Double Dutch amid the ropes. Custom 3D-printed grips are attached to the robotic manipulators to hold on to the ropes but also to allow for human error, like stepping on a rope, without toppling over the robots.

The Double Dutch project began at Princeton University during the Black Imagination Matters incubator and Blacksher has continued to develop the project, exploring the cultural history of jumping—from children’s games to the Maasai jumping tradition, trying to evoke that “cleansing moment” when suspended in the air.

The Double Dutch robots reveal the intelligence inherent in our bodies: the fact that children’s games possess so much kinetic knowledge that we often overlook and that there is such a profound complexity to sensing and moving through our world. "Rhythm is something we often take for granted," said Blacksher, “but even a simple circle with a jump rope is not a continuous velocity. It’s weighted, it has a rhythmic bias.” It requires choreography, something that is seemingly so "simple" for humans, children even, but incredibly difficult for robots. And these ironies and oppositions are revealing.

The Double Dutch project is part of Blacksher’s mission to help us realize new relationships to robots and a more complicated relationship to the typically divided analog and digital. It's also about normalizing what is likely to become increasingly commonplace human-robot relationships.

As an architectural problem, robots could change how we make and understand space. "No arc is absolutely the same," Blacksher said of the swings made by the jump rope robot. “I’m compiling these micro-deviations to create a pseudospace that could be 3D printed or spun." In a way, the arcs these robots make are a form of architectural drawing, but a drawing through physical space in three dimensions. This is leading Blacksher to ask: “How do you make a drawing that has a duration?”

Architecture began with hand drawing and has obviously been radically impacted by 2D CAD software, then powerful 3D software suites, and more recent technologies like virtual reality. Robotics has the power of "redefining what a drawing is," said Blacksher, moving it into 3D space and “using the body again in the generation of a drawing in a way that makes the design process exponentially more intelligent.” By using digital and physical technology in real space and establishing a unique circuit of the relationships between code, movement, embodiment, image, and space, architects might find new tools and new ways of thinking through design problems. "It’s in the relationship between the analog and digital where I’m interested in finding form."

Blacksher’s research is ongoing. Some of it will be incorporated into future classes at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and updated Double Dutch robots will be exhibited in Los Angeles this fall. Blacksher hopes to "raise the stakes of holding robots to accountability in terms of rhythmic precision, and their relationship to  space and time." She hopes we can see a future where "robots are friends, not just something purely functional."

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Eames for the Sky

The Getty Conservation Institute charts a 100-year plan for the Eames House
It’s not easy being a septuagenarian, especially when your bones are made of steel and your skin consists of little more than brittle sheets of single-pane glass. Just ask the Eames House, an icon of midcentury industrial modernism designed as a personal residence by storied design duo Charles and Ray Eames in 1949. The conservation of the breezy home, filled with the eclectic knick-knacks and thoughtful design objects that define the couple’s colorful and practical oeuvre, is the subject of a new plan crafted by the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), the Eames Foundation, and project architects Escher GuneWardena Architecture that aims to preserve the residence for posterity. Described as an “outstanding international exemplar of postwar modern residential design” by GCI, the house, a national historic landmark, sits on a scrubby, eucalyptus-filled bluff outside Los Angeles overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was originally developed as part of the influential Case Study House Program initiated by Arts and Architecture magazine editor John Entenza. Organized as a pair of spartan volumes set on a landscaped terrace, the home pioneered a new approach to residential design that married soaring, interlocking interiors with industrial construction materials—steel trusses, plywood paneling, and expanses of early curtain wall glass—to “humanize” the fruits of mass production while also providing effervescent but economical accommodations. But in the decades since, those then-experimental approaches have shown their wear, despite the Eames Foundation’s laudable stewardship. GCI’s plan, like the inventive spirit that went into designing the house, will work as a global case study in its own right by piloting conservation and research approaches for stabilizing and maintaining modernist-era structures. Detailed conditions assessments, an inventory of existing elements, and long-term site stabilization strategies are being developed in conjunction with the plan in an effort to create an approach that better resembles a cohesive preservation ethos rather than a detailed to-do list for the home. As a result, the effort is focused on problem-solving tasks like replacing asbestos tiles with nontoxic finishes, adding moisture barriers to prevent indoor condensation, and examining microscopic layers of paint around the premises to develop a detailed color-coded timeline for the complex. Describing the plan, Tim Whalen, the John E. and Louise Bryson Director of the Getty Conservation Institute, said, “While the GCI undertakes initiatives all over the world, it is critical to recognize the important organizations that we engage locally, like our work at the Eames House,” adding, “We are pleased that the completion of the Conservation Management Plan will now guide future conservation efforts.”
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L.A. Transforms Itself

Before the 2028 Olympics, L.A. embarks on its most transformative urban vision in a generation
The 2028 Summer Olympics (L.A. 2028), officially known as the Games of the XXXIV Olympiad, are coming to the Los Angeles region in just nine years. The event will make Los Angeles only the third city in the world, behind Paris and London, to ever host the games three times, and could potentially cement the city’s status as a 21st-century global economic, entertainment, and cultural powerhouse. But what will it take to get there? Though L.A. 2028 has been billed by organizers and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as a no-frills affair that will make use of existing or already planned facilities—“we could do the Olympics probably two months from now,” Garcetti quipped in a recent interview—the effort has become a symbolic capstone for a variety of ongoing urban and regional metamorphoses across Southern California. This symbolic quality has transformed the Olympics from a novel pipe dream into a rallying cry for what could be the most transformative urban vision the city and region have seen in over a generation. When L.A. last held the games in 1984, city officials made history by holding the first and only Olympic games that turned a profit. The effort’s success resulted from a distributed event model that used existing university student housing and training facilities to create a networked arrangement of mini–Olympic Villages across a region spanning from Santa Barbara to Long Beach. Organizers also presented a novel media strategy for the games by fusing spectacular and telegenic installations by Jon Jerde and colorful magenta, aqua, and vermilion graphics by environmental designers Deborah Sussman and Paul Prejza with the marvel of television broadcasting, giving the impression of a cohesive urban vision for the games despite the fact that some locales were more than 100 miles apart from each other. For 2028, local officials are hoping to repeat and surpass these successes. Garcetti, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the private L.A. 2028 committee tasked with bringing the games to life have stated that unlike many recent Olympic games around the world, L.A. 2028 is designed on paper to break even, financially speaking—once again, mainly due to the lack of new purpose-built structures or venues that would be created for the event. But these verbal and rhetorical gymnastics mask the full extent of the coming transformations and underplay both the scale of the games and the effects of what L.A. will have to accomplish to make them happen. In reality, L.A. 2028 will not be possible without the completion of several key initiatives, namely, the ongoing expansion of Los Angeles County’s mass transportation network and the planned expansion and renovation of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). As part of a 50-year vision to double the size of the region’s mass transit network, Mayor Garcetti helped pass a sweeping ballot initiative in 2016 that will transform L.A.’s transportation system. Afterward, as Garcetti worked to secure the Olympic bid, he unveiled the Twenty-eight by ’28 initiative to speed up and prioritize certain transit improvements outlined in the 2016 plan so they can be completed in time for the games. In total, the plan aims to complete 28 infrastructure projects by the time the games begin. One of the new transit lines due to be completed by 2028 will connect the southern end of the San Fernando Valley, where track and field and other events are to be held at the Valley Sports Park in the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area, with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where the Olympic Village is to be located. There, the university is busy preparing to add 5,400 new student housing units. Up to 6,900 new student beds are envisioned by UCLA's latest Student Housing Plan, while up to 1,400 additional student beds could be brought online at several other UCLA-adjacent sites, as well. Though these projects are being built to help address a severe shortage of student housing, they will also ensure that when Olympians arrive to compete in 2028, their accommodations will be in tip-top shape. The southern end of the UCLA campus will connect to the forthcoming Purple Line subway extension, another project that is being sped up in preparation for the games. The line will link UCLA to Downtown Los Angeles, where many of the transit network’s lines converge. The 9-mile extension to the line was originally planned in the 1980s, but was held up by decades of political gridlock. Between UCLA and downtown, areas like West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood are adding thousands of new hotel rooms in advance of 2028. Though the region is carved up into competing municipalities that have a history of working at cross purposes, it is clear that local decision makers are readying these districts to absorb a substantial portion of the incoming flood of international tourists. For example, a current bid to extend the forthcoming north-south Crenshaw Line— which will connect LAX with the Purple Line north through West Hollywood—has picked up steam in recent months in an effort to provide a direct ride from the airport to this burgeoning hotel and nightlife quarter. L.A. 2028’s major sports park will be located at the L.A. Live complex in Downtown Los Angeles, near the eastern terminus of the Purple Line, where city officials have also been pushing for an expansion of hotel accommodations. Here, as many as 20 new high-rise complexes are on their way as the city works to add 8,000 new hotel rooms to the areas immediately surrounding the Los Angeles Convention Center, where basketball, boxing, fencing, taekwondo, and other sporting events will take place. This new district will be tied together by a nearly continuous podium-height band of LED display screens that could produce a modern-day equivalent of Jerde’s, and Sussman/Prejza’s visualizations. Just southeast of Downtown Los Angeles, the Expo Line–connected University of Southern California campus will host the Olympic media village, which will also make use of existing dormitory accommodations, including a recently completed campus expansion by HED (Harley Ellis Devereaux). Gensler’s Banc of California stadium, also a recent addition, is located nearby in Exposition Park, the home of the 1932 and 1984 games, and will host soccer and other athletic events in 2028. In the park, a newly renovated Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will be retrofit with an elevated base to allow Olympic medalists to rise up out of the ground to receive their honorifics. A trip south on the Crenshaw Line will bring visitors to the Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park, a new state-of-the-art stadium being built for the Los Angeles Rams National Football League team by Turner and AECOM Hunt that is set to open in 2020 and will host the L.A. 2028 opening ceremonies. The stadium will be much more than a sports venue, bringing together a 70,240-seat stadium and a 6,000-seat concert hall under one roof. Its total capacity for mega-events can be stretched to 100,000 people. The stadium will also serve as an anchor to a much larger, 300-acre district that includes commercial, retail, and office buildings along with residential units. This development, formally called the L.A. Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, is expected to be twice as big as Vatican City. Its staggering expense of more than $5 billion is tempered by the fact that it relies more on private financing than many other NFL stadiums built in the last three decades, which have traditionally leaned heavily on taxpayer funds and the pocketbooks of football fans. Besides the L.A. 2028 games, the stadium is also expected to host the 2022 Super Bowl and the 2023 College Football Playoff Championships. Not far away, Los Angeles World Airports is working on a multiphase effort to bring two new terminals and dozens of new flight gates to the airport, including a $1.6 billion Gensler and Corgan–designed terminal capable of handling “super-jumbo” airplanes for long-haul international flights. The facilities are set to open by 2028 and will join new consolidated transportation hubs that will streamline private automobile, mass transit, and pedestrian traffic for the busy airport. At the end of April, the L.A. 2028 organizing committee updated the estimated cost to be about $6.9 billion, up from the $5.3 billion figure submitted in the city's bid. This still hasn't changed the expectation that L.A. will at least break even on hosting the games. These projects show that while the L.A. 2028 Olympics are being somewhat undersold by their boosters, the investments necessary to bring the games to L.A. are, in fact, quite vast. Ultimately, future Angelenos might look back quizzically at the muted rhetoric surrounding the games and the once-in-a-generation effect they will have on the region.
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Future Fellows

Knight Foundation announces its first class of Public Spaces Fellows
Seven influential leaders, experts, and practitioners have been selected for the inaugural class of Knight Public Spaces Fellows. Launched this year by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a non-profit committed to fostering community in service of democratic ideals, the program will grant each individual $150,000 to put towards building effective public space initiatives around the United States. Selected from an open call that drew of over 2,000 candidates, the Knight Fellows stood out for their track records of influencing or creating spaces that advance community engagement and connection in cities. Sam Gill, the Knight Foundation vice president for communities and impact, describes the individuals recognized in this inaugural class, saying in a statement, “These rare people see something different when they look at streets, parks, and sidewalks—they see a vision of how our communities could look, feel, and be different.” Knight has expressed a desire for their chosen nominees to incorporate and build upon their existing and former projects, while also using the fellowship to break ground on new projects and ideas for the field. Check out the list of seven recipients below:  Anuj Gupta (Philadelphia) As general manager of Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia's famous 125-year-old food and retail hub, Gupta has helped bring a record number of visitors to the space in his tenure. He's integrated innovation distribution models for service, selected new and trendy vendors, and figured out special ways to keep people coming back to the market. He's widely recognized for his initiatives that connect people of different cultures through food.  Robert Hammond (New York) Hammond is the cofounder and executive director of the High Line on Manhattan's West Side. A vision that began 20 years ago, it's now one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city and has spurred a wave of development in the Chelsea neighborhood. In 2017, he established the High Line Network, which assists communities in the infrastructure reuse projects.  Walter Hood (Berkeley, California) Widely known for designing award-winning urban spaces for cultural institutions such as the Cooper Hewitt Museum, the Broad Museum, and the Solar Strand at the University of Buffalo, Hood creates projects that intersect with art, fabrication, landscape, research, and urbanism. He's a professor at the University of California, Berkley where he teaches landscape architecture and urban design, and is the founder and creative director of Hood Design Studio Eric Klinenberg (New York) As the Helen Gould Shepard Professor of Social Science at New York University, Klinenberg thinks and teaches on urban public spaces. He most recently served as research director of Rebuild by Design, the federal competition that sought innovative ideas for rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Last year, he published “Palaces for the People”, a book about how social infrastructure such as libraries, parks, and playgrounds can revitalize democratic culture and civic life. Chelina Odbert (Los Angeles) Odbert is co-founder and executive director of Kounkuey Design Initiative, a nonprofit design firm based out of Los Angeles, the Coachella Valley, Nairobi, and Stockholm. Her studio heavily focuses on community participation and its role in public development, as well as how design can integrate the strongest environmental, social, and economic strategies to help solve inequity.  Kathryn Ott Lovell (Philadelphia) Lovel currently serves as the commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, one of the nation's largest parks systems. Appointed in 2016, she established the first strategic plan for the agency, "Our Path to 2020," which emphasizes citizen-centric service, a commitment to the city's well-maintained assets, and creating relevant and accessible programming such as the Parks on Tap mobile beer garden, and the Philadelphia International Unity Cup soccer tournament, among others.  Erin Salazar (San Jose, California) Salazar is the founder and executive director of Exhibition District in San Jose, a woman-owned and operated arts nonprofit that's helping create economic opportunities for artists to do work in downtown San Jose. A muralist herself, she is committed to city beautification and redefining the concept of public space while also drawing out the cultural authenticity of a city that's rapidly urbanizing and full of large corporations. Most recently, Exhibition District started Local Color, an incubator project that reactivates neglected buildings. 
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Do It for the Archigram

Archigram, architecture's pop legends, come alive in new book
Archigram: The Book Dennis Crompton, editor Circa Press, 2018 $135.00 A dozen years ago, in the early stages of a dissertation, I found myself in the special collections room at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. To my left, a tweedy professor type softly sang Latin lines from an ancient leather-bound tome. To my right, a pair of art historians hunched intently over delicate sheets of 18th-century foolscap. As the attendant eyed me skeptically from across the room, I sat snickering at what appeared to be a sci-fi comic book. I had just unpacked all nine and a half issues of Archigram, and, frankly, I was a little giddy. There they were: The iconic first broadsheet of 1961, insisting that “a new generation of architecture must arise”; the iconoclastic third issue, advocating “a throwaway architecture” to replace society’s stubborn preference for permanence; the prophetic seventh issue, “Beyond Architecture,” which suggested that “there may be no buildings at all in Archigram 8.” (Spoiler: there were.) And, of cozurse, the breakthrough “Zoom Issue,” which in 1964 launched the group into the international spotlight, and which, in response to my giggles, was now shedding bits of desiccated cellophane tape onto the special collections room floor. These infamous and now extremely rare magazines were produced—painstakingly, mostly by hand, run off after hours in the print rooms of unsuspecting London architecture firms—by a loose band of young English architects that eventually congealed into the famous sextet that took the name of the magazine as their own: Warren Chalk, Peter Cook, Dennis Crompton, David Greene, Ron Herron, and Michael “Spider” Webb. At first, the group used the magazine as an antidote to the dull, conventional work they chafed against in 1960s London. Early issues featured formally exuberant projects, mostly from their student days, as well as more recent competition entries by themselves and their friends. Loosely thematic issues related to expendability, science fiction, the city, and experimentation came next, followed by more polemic editions that aimed to drive architecture beyond building. A last “half issue” that featured work on the boards at the short-lived firm, Archigram Architects, appeared in 1974. Archigram’s flagship projects—Cook’s Plug-In City, Herron’s Walking City, Webb’s Cushicle, and many more—all made important appearances in the magazine, as did the work of fellow travelers like Cedric Price, Buckminster Fuller, Nicholas Grimshaw, and Craig Hodgetts. By the mid-1960s, young architects from around the world were eagerly awaiting each new issue. By the end of the decade, a generation of architects had taken up the group’s technophilic agenda. Without Archigram, the early careers of architects as diverse as Rem Koolhaas, Thom Mayne, and Richard Rogers would be difficult to imagine, and the development of high tech architecture unthinkable. Ironically, by the time high tech had reached its apotheosis in the 1980s, Archigram had largely fallen out of favor, overshadowed by the heady critical culture of postmodernism and deconstruction. While I was at the Getty, the group was enjoying something of a renaissance. A major exhibition had opened in Vienna in 1994. By 2005, it had toured sixteen additional cities and had spawned four catalogues. Simon Sadler released an informative monograph, Archigram: Architecture Without Architecture, in 2005. Hadas Steiner followed in 2009 with an excellent study, Beyond Archigram: The Structure of Circulation. Yet even with all this, it was difficult to get a sense of the Archigrams themselves. Sure, some of the pages had been reproduced in print over the years, and all of them are now online at the Archigram Archival Project. Unfortunately, books and magazines tend to privilege Archigram’s projects over its publications, and the online archive, attempting to stave off piracy, provides images only at disappointingly low resolutions. The pamphlet’s idiosyncratic shape and feel—each with its own trim size, color scheme, graphic identity, and quirky design devices (a pop-up skyscraper centerfold in issue 4, a cutout megastructure model in issue 6, etc.)—remain elusive. Archigram: The Book works hard to change this. Edited by Dennis Crompton and featuring extensive commentary from Peter Cook and other surviving Archigram members, this generous volume takes Archigram’s nine and a half issues as its central organizing device. Every issue is reproduced in its entirety at high resolution and in full color. The book’s large trim size (14 inches by 11 inches) accommodates reproductions at close to original size (sometimes enlarged), allowing careful study of the original layouts. It even includes the pop-up skyscraper! Extensive presentations of key Archigram projects complement the magazine pages. Many of these feature gatefolds to afford the group’s expansive drawings the space they deserve. Even seasoned Archigram aficionados will find surprises here. The book presents canonical projects with a thoroughness that earlier publications generally lack, and lesser-known ones with equal intensity. Key moments in Archigram’s history—such as its 1963 Living City exhibition, a BBC television special from 1967, and the Archigram Opera, first performed at the Architectural Association in 1972—receive ample treatment, and seminal historic documents, such as Reyner Banham’s 1965 “A Clip-on Architecture,” are also included. More documentary compendium than analytical treatment, this book (and Michael Sorkin, in his generous introduction) largely maintains the party line, best articulated by Banham in 1972, that “Archigram is short on theory and long on draughtsmanship,” and that it did what it did “for the sheer hell of doing it.” True enough. Archigram unapologetically privileged pleasure over politics and rarely bothered to unpack theoretical propositions beyond pithy captions. Its reluctance to address head-on the thornier sociopolitical implications of its work left its members exposed to searing criticism, particularly in the early 1970s. This book acknowledges but doesn’t trouble too much over those implications or Archigram’s relation to broader historical contexts of the 1960s and ’70s. (If these are your interest, head for Sadler’s and Steiner’s books, noted above.) The argument here— and, ultimately, I think it’s the correct one—is that Archigram’s graphic work, in all its exuberant, technicolor, detail-driven complexity, is what matters most. So, does this sumptuous volume produce the same kick as fondling original Archigrams? No. The presentation is a little too slick to capture the raw excitement of the originals. But it’s still an awful lot of fun, and it comes closer than any previous attempt. Unless you’re ready to don the white gloves and head to the archive, Archigram: The Book is about as good as you’re going to get. Todd Gannon is head of the architecture section of the Knowlton School at Ohio State University and the author of numerous works of architectural scholarship and history.
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50/50 Chance

Stalled California housing bill could give architects chance to redesign the state’s cities
California needs 3.5 million housing units. That’s more housing units than currently exist in most states. This shortage—California ranks 49th in housing units per capita, ahead of only Utah—developed slowly but has metastasized into a true crisis, with housing costs rising to untenable levels for all but the most well-off Californians. In considering how and where to add a volume equivalent to all of Virginia, a key question is, what state—or, rather, what city—will those new units look like? Will they look like the tract homes of Phoenix? The row houses of Philadelphia? The high-rise apartments of New York City? The triple-deckers of Boston? The genteel mansions of Richmond? Or, perhaps worst of all, the mid-rises of Hollywood? The answers depend in large part on where new housing gets built. A recent bill in the California legislature almost provided the answer—almost. Senate Bill 50, sponsored by San Francisco–based State Senator Scott Wiener, would have mandated increased housing densities around major public transit lines and “jobs rich” areas throughout the state by requiring cities to permit multifamily buildings of up to five stories by right. Wiener contended that California needs more housing and that the best locations are those that enable residents to minimize commuting by personal automobiles. A relatively late amendment would have eliminated single-family zoning, permitting homeowners to build up to four units on any single-family lot, and limited the high-density provisions to counties of over 600,000 residents. California has always maintained a tense relationship with density, often failing to plan for it while suffering its ill effects all the same. SB 50 could be the catalyst to help the state abandon its suburban fetishes once and for all. An updated version of a bill that Wiener sponsored last year, SB 50 nearly made it out of the State Senate until Appropriations Committee Chair Anthony Portantino scuttled it with a procedural tactic, refusing to bring it to a vote in committee. The move put an abrupt end to what had arguably been the most heated debates over land-use legislation in state history. SB 50, like many other recent controversies related to development and housing in California, did not inspire neat loyalties. While its core support came from the increasingly influential YIMBY movements and core opposition came from homeowners, the politics were messy at best. Conservatives could love its relaxation of regulations but hate its emphasis on dense urbanism. Liberals were more intensely fractured. SB 50 appealed to values of inclusion and of progressivism, be they socioeconomic or aesthetic. For some, the bill served the cause of equity simply by potentially creating more housing. Other liberals saw it differently. Advocates of social justice feared SB 50 would empower capitalist developers while displacing and disenfranchising vulnerable populations through eviction and demolition. Older liberal activists, especially in suburban areas, put their economic interests first, recoiling from the prospect that increased housing supply might depress their property values. Many of them protested SB 50’s potential to interfere with “neighborhood character.” (Wiener’s antagonist Portantino represents La Cañada Flintridge, a comfortable suburb north of downtown Los Angeles.) Institutionally, the League of California Cities and many city councils statewide condemned SB 50 for trampling on “local control,” asserting that land use decisions have always belonged to municipalities and municipalities alone. Many mayors, however, including those of Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose, praised SB 50 for giving cities a new opportunity to ease their housing crisis—and to do so equitably statewide, forcing housing-phobic cities to approve their fair share of housing rather than ignore demand and dodge their obligations in the name of municipal sovereignty. By some accounts, a full 97 percent of California cities failed to meet their state-mandated housing goals in 2018. The California chapter of the American Planning Association controversially opposed SB 50, citing concerns about technical aspects of the bill’s language, even though many of its more progressive members favored it. Chapters of the American Institute of Architects did not take a position on it. Design rarely factored into these discussions explicitly, but its influence cannot be overlooked. Fears about changes to “neighborhood character” often accompany prejudices about “undesirable” racial or socioeconomic groups. They also refer to lousy design. Many homeowners recoiled against SB 50 out of fear that modest cottages might be overshadowed by a new triplex next door or crowded by the addition of an accessory dwelling unit. Urban activists took aim at even bigger targets. Opponents of growth in Los Angeles in particular have long railed against what they consider oversized, ugly, and excessively capitalistic apartment buildings. Such enormities often occupy full city blocks and rise five or six stories, with wood framing above one-story concrete bases. They have been the mainstay of Hollywood’s decade-long growth spurt and have arisen in many other moderately dense neighborhoods around the state. Revulsion is, often, completely justified. Large but underwhelming, and expensive but unrefined, such developments have poor detailing, clunky dimensions, and, often, antagonistic relationships with the street. They have neither humor nor grace nor character, and they succeed at one thing and one thing only: housing many people. Typically, those people are well off—or at least are pretending to be. While California’s housing crisis has many causes, it’s not unreasonable to say that lousy design is one of them, and it’s not unreasonable for opponents of SB 50 to make apocalyptic predictions about aesthetics. This is the backdrop against which architects should contemplate the revival of SB 50. Wiener has pledged to bring it back next year, and the appetite for major housing legislation remains fierce—before long, some version of SB 50 will pass, and the opportunities for architects and architecture will be profound. The quality of design that follows the passage of the next version of SB 50 will, without exaggeration, determine the look, feel, and function of California cities for at least the next generation. Many opponents of SB 50 criticize it as a "giveaway" to capitalist developers. If architects are to support the next version of SB 50, they should want to be seen as stewards, not opportunists. Upzoning around transit stops will create entirely new transit-oriented neighborhoods. Places that currently consist of park-and-ride lots and single-family homes will rise to five and six stories, with less parking than most zoning codes currently mandate. That’s like taking a cookie cutter to San Francisco’s Mission District or Los Angeles’s Koreatown and depositing the result in bedroom communities and office parks. Of course, California has hundreds of major transit stops and jobs centers (over 200 light- and heavy-rail stations alone), and the whole point of SB 50 is to distribute development statewide so that neighborhoods grow gradually. Even so, some places will be transformed sooner rather than later. In a state where many residents are mortally afraid of density, the choices that architects make will determine whether the new urban California is a dream or a nightmare—they can stumble into the latest versions of capitalist postmodern, or they can reflect on everything we have learned about the benefits of density. Designs have to be thoughtful, attractive, and socially conscious. They have to celebrate density, enhance the public realm, and give California cities a sense of style and character that they have lacked for decades. (Likewise, cities’ design guidelines and review boards will have to get savvier.) If SB 50’s single-family home provision survives (which seems unlikely), it will create a bonanza for residential architects. They will get to re-learn the art of the duplex, triplex, and quadplex—typologies that used to be common in California but have been all but extinct since the Truman administration. But new homes must not realize neighbors’ worst nightmares. They must not loom over their predecessors. They must not be large for largeness’s sake. In short, they must treat neighbors as clients. Whatever lawmakers intend for SB 50, the public will render its final judgment according to how architects seize the moment. Whether they like it or not, architects bear the final responsibility to fulfill the public trust. Of course, the real beauty of SB 50—if it comes to pass and if it works as intended—will be invisible. That will be the opportunity to craft affordable and humane housing for hundreds of thousands Californians.
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Fractured Future

Cracks found on L.A. Times building ahead of controversial development
In January, several cracks appeared on the exterior of the historic Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A. While some have suggested the fissures may be due to ongoing transit construction next door, preservationists also say they could signal a larger problem—one that could threaten a controversial, mixed-use development on the site. The Times Mirror Square project comprises the restoration of the L.A. Times’s flagship building, a 1935 structure by Gordon Kaufmann, as well as a 1948 addition by Rowland Crawford—both recently landmarked buildingsas well as the build-out of two apartments towers in place of what’s now a William L. Pereiradesigned office structure from 1973. Vancouver-based developer Onni Group bought the five-building complex in 2016 and has since been through a fraught preservation battle to move the project forward. But now, the sight of cracks have people wondering what it will mean for the mega-project’s future. “Who is responsible for this?” said preservationist Richard Schave, co-founder of historic L.A. tour company Esotouric, in reference to the cracks. “It’s the $64 million question. That number refers to the cost of phase one construction on the Regional Connector project, L.A.’s massive rail line expansion. A new station is under construction next door to Times Mirror Square and the agency building it, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), may be responsible. Metro is already monitoring the cracks of the L.A. Times buildings using geotechnical sensors. Details on the severity haven’t been released yet, but some think Metro may be forced to provide data for the final environmental impact report (EIR) of the Time Mirror Square project, which is due out in a few months. Don Spivack, a former administrator at the L.A. Community Redevelopment Agency, said if the cracks on the structure are one to two millimeters, there’s nothing to worry about. “They may be cosmetic, not structural cracks,” he said. “But this complex has a tangled history due to its layered construction. Each building was individually engineered and connected to the others in ways that permitted passage between them. If some of those connections were not properly engineered at the time or modified later, the question stands whether or not this poses a risk to their preservation.” This isn’t the only issue. There’s a history of subsidence on buildings in the area when subways are built, and seismic activity has also likely caused them to move over the years, according to Spivak. The L.A. Times reported that, so far, cracks have been noticed in the cafeteria, newsroom, and the Pereira-designed garage of the complex. Visible cracks on the facade can be seen on the first floor of the Crawford Building (a.k.a Mirror Tower), and on its northwest facade at the corner of 2nd and Spring Streets, across from Regional Connector construction. While the idea that the building is sinking has sparked fear, Spivack and John Lorick, a former vice president at the L.A. Times, said it would be nearly impossible for that to be true. They also remarked on the overall neglect that Times Mirror Square had suffered under its last owner, Tribune Media. But, they said, any demolition and construction on or near the site could inevitably alter the historic structures—and Onni Group doesn't have a great track record with that.  “I was not completely surprised when I first read about the damage to the [Kaufmann and Crawford] buildings," said Lorick. "Although the reported damage was attributed to subway construction, I had always eventually expected to read about some accidental but irreparable damage to the Crawford and Kaufmann buildings during demolition or construction on the site because of the complex interconnection of the buildings and their foundations.” When asked for comment, the developer didn’t respond by the time of publication. The L.A. Department of Building & Safety told AN that once the project goes through the entitlement process at City Planning, inspectors will investigate any structural issues brought to light.