Although the weather seems like summer will never end, fall has been a tizzy of school daze–related comings and goings. After raising eyebrows a couple years ago when he left his practice and teaching behind to join AECOM’s Los Angeles office, Peter Zellner recently left the corporate world to hang a shingle with former AECOM-er Paul Naecker and is back molding young minds at SCI-Arc. Going from gown to town, Roger Sherman, long-time UCLA faculty and co-director of the urban think tank CityLAB, is now Urban Projects Director at Gensler. Splitting the difference, Predock Frane Architects shuttered after 15 years, with principals Hadrian Predock and John Frane going their separate ways. The former is heading to USC to don cardinal and gold as undergraduate director of architecture and the latter will be joining the executive suite at HGA Architects and Engineers as associate vice president and principal in the L.A. office.
Posts tagged with "Gensler":
Not content with 423,000 square feet designed by SHoP Architects in San Francisco’s Mission Bay, Uber is expanding into Oakland. The company purchased the former Sears building from developer Lane Partners, who bought the building last year. Genlser is on deck to transform the old department store into 330,000 square feet of creative office space. The iconic chunk of real estate prominently faces both Broadway and Telegraph Avenue and its redevelopment marks a turning point for Oakland. Renamed Uptown Station, the building is located atop the 19th Street BART station. The ride-share company plans to locate up to 3,000 employees in the Oakland headquarters, noting that some 2,000 Uber employees currently live in the East Bay. According to the San Francisco Business Times, the expansion is a game changer for Oakland. It reported that if Uber fills the whole space, it “would become Oakland’s largest employer, that isn’t a government agency or medical center.” Gensler’s proposed renovation of the Sears Building comes with a possible $40 million dollar price tag. Interactive renderings done by Steelblue for Lane Partners show the old building stripped down to the concrete and brick, with an 85-foot-tall atrium spilling light into an interior courtyard full of retail spaces on the first floor. "We're proud that Uber was attracted to Oakland's creative energy, incredible talent, progressive values, prime location and accessibility to the entire region," Oakland Mayor Leslie Schaaf was quoted as saying in the San Jose Mercury News. While Uber will surely attract more investment in the neighborhood, Downtown Oakland’s revival since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake has also led to increasing displacement in the city’s urban core. Last month, UC Berkeley researchers at the Project For Urban Development released a study that tracks displacement and gentrification in the region. The accompanying interactive map shows a swath of advanced gentrification along Broadway from the Old Oakland historic district to the Temescal neighborhood.
Ricardo Legorreta’s much maligned design for Pershing Square is getting a makeover. The day after the Los Angeles City Council voted to support a public-private partnership to overhaul the five-acre urban park, councilmember José Huizar and Pershing Square Renew announced an international design competition geared to rethink the open space that now sits ingloriously on top of an underground parking garage. The design competition grew out of a task force established by Huizar, which members of the design, development, and policy communities, including Macarlane Partners, Gensler, NBBJ, JFM Development, LA Recreation & Parks, and the Urban Land Institute. MacFarlane Partners, which is developing 99,000 square-foot site overlooking the square, pledged $1 million pledge to seed Pershing Square Renew. The Department of Recreation and Parks earmarked $1 million for “immediate future for infrastructure improvements and amenities.” In 2013, AN published a series of renderings by Gensler of a reimagined Pershing Square. Rather than being an early entry into the contest, that design was a catalyst for recognizing the space’s potential. The firm is now the Urban Design Advisor to Pershing Square Renew and cannot participate in the competition. Remarks by Huizar at a city hall press conference emphasized the need for community input at every stage of the design process. The stakeholders in Downtown Los Angeles in 2015 are vastly different from 1992 when Legoretta’s project opened. The goal is to make the square more welcoming and accessible to all users. Because there are more residents and businesses downtown, the competition brief stresses that the park needs to accommodate a number of uses at any time of day or night. In early 2015, Project for Public Spaces hosted a series of outreach events and workshops, and a report of activities and programmatic vision is included as part of the competition brief materials. “The architecture doesn’t support use now,” said Huizar of Legorreta’s belltower and brightly colored walls. Frustrated at how “fortress-like” the existing park seems, he hopes instead for a town square. “Use informs design, not design informs use,” he noted. The brief and accompanying report suggests that proposed designs could incorporate surrounding roadways and sidewalks, with occasional street closures for events. One challenge for all design proposals is how to tackle the ramps leading into the parking structure; a hurdle that Gensler’s Brian Glodney described as “Like a moat.” The competition also raises some tough questions about the role of architecture in relationship to placemaking and community engagement. “Our intention is not to create a masterpiece, but to create a canvas that invites the community to create their own masterpieces in how they use the space,” said Eduardo Santana, executive director of Pershing Square Renew. The competition asks for letters of interest to be submitted this month, followed by a request for qualifications in October. A shortlist of firms will be asked to submit proposals to a jury. Finalists will present to the jury in February with a winner announced later that month. The renewed Pershing Square is planned to open in 2020.
A new parklet has popped up in Washington D.C., and unlike the short-lived public spaces that appear in parking spaces for PARK(ing) Day, this one is sticking around until mid-October. The seasonal space, dubbed parKIT, opened on July 14 and takes over two parking spots. parKIT features yellow triangular benches and planters and was created by two designers at Gensler who won an in-house competition for the project. (The parklet sits right outside of Gensler's Washington office. Golden Triangle Business Improvement District funded the project and will be hosting small events with Gensler in the space once a week. "We are always looking for more ways for people to enjoy the outdoors in our great neighborhood," said Leona Agouridis, executive director of the BID in a statement. "While we have many parks, this is a fun way to think differently about a part of our community." If you're in the District and want to park it at parKIT, swing by 2020 K Street NW. [h/t GreaterGreaterWashington]
Playful op-art beats out fifty shades of gray in competition to design new Los Angeles Convention Center
Call it a win for color. A bright-hued design for the renovation and expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center by Populous and HMC Architects beat out the gray proposals by the other two finalists—Gensler and Lehrer Architects and AC Martin and LMN Architects—in a city-led competition. As previously reported by AN, the competition and design selection marks an important first step in the “Expansion and Futurization Project” led by the L.A. Department of Convention and Tourism Development and the Bureau of Engineering, which sees remaking the currently dowdy and cramped convention center as critical to attracting conventions, events, and investment to the area. A four-representative panel from the city’s tourism and engineering departments selected the winner. Each proposal was required to come in under a budget of $350 million. Populous and HMC Architects’ team includes landscape firm Olin and Chu + Gooding Architects. Per the brief, their design connects the South Hall and West Hall of the convention center with a structure over Pico Boulevard and expands the venue with more meeting rooms and a series of outdoor multi-use spaces, including a covered, but open-air performance venue overlooking a refurbished Gilbert Lindsay Plaza. Op-art supergraphics unite the scheme, with a tomato red and white stripe pattern appearing as paving, wall treatments, and architectural elements. It's a bold take on the conventional convention center approach, which for years was marked by interiority and overall blandness. Like the dazzle dazzle camouflage used on battleships, the move lessens the building's bulk while making it infinitely more exciting. The Populous/HMC proposal now goes to the City Council for approval.
Here are three bold designs from winning teams that completely reimagine the Los Angeles Convention Center
The Los Angeles Convention Center is desperately in need of an overhaul. Architect Charles Luckman designed the original boxy structure in 1971 and James Ingo Freed added the glassy Annex in 1997. Today, both buildings lack the square footage and amenities to add up to a competitive venue. Centers in Las Vegas or Chicago eclipse LA’s meager 870,000 square feet by double or triple square footage. Indeed, in the decades since the venue was constructed the whole approach to convention center design has changed. The City of Los Angeles announced the three final teams in a design competition for a proposed renovation and expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center: AC Martin and LMN Architects, Gensler and Lehrer Architects, and HMC Architects and Populous. The schemes, on public view at the convention center through June 4, reflect the need for not only a bigger, more contemporary venue, but for a full-service destination, not unlike nearby LA Live. As the South Park neighborhood continues to boom, renderings show connections between the older buildings across Pico Boulevard, and include landscaped outdoor spaces, bold supergraphics, and open-air entertainment areas equipped for concerts. Each design comes in under a budget of $350 million or less. A comparison to LA Live is no accident. AEG, developers of that venue as well as the Staples Center and the Ritz-Carlton/J.W. Marriott, were contracted to revamp the dumpy Convention Center as part of the defunct Farmers Field NFL stadium plan. The design competition was launched in late 2014 before AEG announced that it would no longer pursue the stadium project. As part of the larger “Expansion and Futurization Project” for the Los Angeles Convention Center, the City of Los Angeles' (led by the L.A. Department of Convention and Tourism Development and the Bureau of Engineering) competition is somewhat of a back-up plan to ensure that LA remains a draw. “Today, we’re taking a big step forward in investing in our future and bringing more business, more visitors, and more jobs to our city,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I’m very pleased that with these functional and attractive designs, Los Angeles is closer to a Convention Center that reflects our city’s position as the global capital of creativity, innovation, and possibility.”
For Kristopher Stuart, design director and principal at Gensler, Houston's rapid evolution is exactly what makes practicing architecture there exciting."Houston is a city of change and a great testing ground for new ideas," he said. "The past decade has been particularly robust for design and construction, so we've developed some excellent benchmark projects representing the current state-of-the-art for facade design. The new projects focus on sustainability and resilience with our often extreme local weather in mind; wellness and connectivity that improve the quality of life for people; and performance and innovation that make buildings smarter, more efficient and more cost effective for owners and managers." Next month, Stuart will co-chair Facades+AM Houston, a half-day version of the acclaimed Facades+ conference series. The morning seminar comprises three panels featuring three experts each on topics relevant to AEC industry professionals, observers, and students in Houston and beyond. The June 18 event marks the symposium's Energy City debut. Facades+AM Houston attendees will not have to look far to find examples of innovative envelope design and construction. Stuart cited several recently-completed projects in the city's "energy corridor," plus high performance buildings for Anadarko, ExxonMobile, and Southwestern Energy north of downtown. Downtown, construction is presently underway on Skanska's Capitol Tower and 609 Main, developed by Hines. "It will be exciting to see this next generation of buildings emerge, iconic buildings that will raise the performance bar while enhancing the human experience within the urban environment," Stuart noted. He also pointed to some of the Midway Companies' recent or planned work including CityCentre and Kirby Grove, describing them as "more contextual, urban infill projects that are looking at facades from an experiential as well as a performance perspective, projects that will impact the way we think about facades in the Houston design community." In Stuart's view, Houston's challenging climate has pushed the local AEC industry to a deeper understanding of how design decisions affect performance. The community has also been successful in cultivating relationships with facades consultants and fabricators to execute efficient envelopes. "One might say that we've mastered the basics, and now need to shift our focus to innovative materials and fabrication techniques as well as unique collaboration relationships in order to achieve more dramatic performance enhancements that will be executable and affordable," he said. Stuart looks forward to the June 18 conversation with other movers and shakers in the field of high performance envelope design. "Facades+AM Houston is a unique opportunity to share some outstanding work that has been executed recently either in Houston or by Houston design firms, to hear about facade innovations from academic and industry experts, and to engage in a conversation about the future of building facades in the Houston market," said Stuart. To learn more or to register for Facades+AM Houston, visit the event website.
It's a good time to be a Chinese developer in Downtown Los Angeles. Beijing-based Oceanwide and Shanghai-based Greenland are already building two of the largest projects in the city: Fig Central and Metropolis. Now according to LA Downtown News, Shenzhen-based Shenzhen-Hazens has announced plans to build a $700 million, Gensler-designed project on Figueroa street across from LA Live. The scheme includes a 30-story hotel and 30- and 42-story condo towers. There would be 650 condos altogether as well as 80,000 square feet of retail, most of it along Figueroa, heating up the already super hot South Park. Apparently the company's connection to the area is based on basketball in addition to business. “Our chairman is a big fan of the NBA—the Lakers, the Clippers," Shenzhen-Hazens General Manager Greg Sun told the Downtown News. "So he comes to Staples [Center] often when he is in town, and he sees big crowds here. When we did our research, we saw an opportunity to do something big in a gateway city.”
If approved, this terraced building will rise in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, bringing the neighborhood new office space for tech and creative companies—and momentarily interrupting its unceasing march of bland and boxy new apartments. The "Williamsburg Generator," as it has been dubbed, would be the neighborhood's first ground-up speculative office building in four decades—but it is not a done deal just yet because the Gensler and HWKN–designed building sits within an area zoned for manufacturing. The Wall Street Journal reported that the project's developer, Toby Moskovits, who heads the women-led Heritage Equity Partners, will seek a special permit to get the project approved. While it would include 20 percent light manufacturing, some are already saying it is not appropriate for the industrial-zoned area. This issue will certainly be hashed out when the project enters ULURP in the next few weeks. As for its design, the Generator's brick and glass exterior is intended to evoke the neighborhood's industrial past while still giving it that glassy, modern feel. According to a press release from the development team, the interior layouts will be flexible and modular to accommodate the startups that will populate its halls. A public passageway will also cut through the building's two main volumes.
Eavesdrop is scratching its head. First, in January, Gensler released new renderings for the Hotel Alessandra in downtown Houston. Where before the firm had proposed a sleek modern glass tower for the site with strong, swooping vertical lines that accentuated the building’s height, the new iteration shows a collection of rectilinear facade treatments of varying levels of transparency arranged to express a podium, tower, and crown with cornice. Jonathan Brinsden, CEO of the project’s developer, Midway, described the new look as a “modern interpretation of European style.” Then in February we learned from Nancy Sarnoff of the Houston Chronicle that real estate company Hines is in the middle of constructing “a dense European village” (a.k.a. gated community) in the northwest 610 Loop full of townhouses in “Regency and Normandy” styles. The development also features a canal, so residents can pretend they live in Amsterdam, perhaps. A day later, news emerged that The Woodlands Development Co., a subsidiary of The Howard Hughes Corp., is building “luxury high-rise residences with a European sensibility” designed by Atlanta architecture firm The Preston Group. By the look of the rendering, however, the project’s sensibility seems to be closer to that of The Westin hotel that is rising next door. Eavesdrop is unsure what the marketing benefits might be of touting Europeanism in real estate development projects of this kind, nor if there is a hell waiting for those who would seek to undermine and cheapen 2,000 years of Western Civilization so that they can chisel a few extra bucks out of their customers, but we are damn sure not going to be duped into aping this meaningless drivel!
Gensler's Los Angeles football stadium may be in trouble (still, not dead), but the firm is busy as ever. Their latest news is the expansion of the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton in Downtown Los Angeles, creating the second largest hotel in California. The new 650,000 square foot tower will be directly connected to the existing hotel via a bridge across Olympic Boulevard. The angular building's grid of varied glass will be arranged vertically, in contrast to its sibling's horizontal orientation, and it will not bulge out the way its neighbor does. It will feature a second floor amenity deck including a restaurant, bar, fitness center, executive lounge, and pool area. Combined with the existing JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles, the facility will contain 1,756 rooms and over 200,000 square feet of function space.
With some help from Gensler, ASLA to turn its headquarters into the Center for Landscape Architecture
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has tapped Gensler and landscape architecture firm Oehme van Sweden to turn its Washington, D.C. headquarters into the state-of-the-art Center for Landscape Architecture. ASLA bought its 12,000-square-foot home in 1997 for $2.4 million and watched as its value increased to $6.9 million. Since the building was about ready for some fixing up, the society decided it was a good time to go ahead and truly transform it at a cost of $4 million. The building’s existing facade is set to be altered so that the new center is more inviting to passers-by. Inside, the building will be reconfigured to create rooms for meetings and events, exhibitions, a catering kitchen, and restrooms. An existing enclosed double staircase will also be opened to create a three-story atrium that can be dressed up with elements of landscape architecture. The renovation has something for ASLA’s current (and future) employees as well. The new space comes with an upgraded kitchen and restrooms, new conference rooms and administrative space, and even a “wellness room” and “focus rooms." Gensler is aiming for LEED Platinum designation with the renovation. “This is an opportunity to create a facility to reflect the image and ethic of our profession—a world-class Center for Landscape Architecture that will inspire and engage our staff, our membership, allied professionals, public officials and the general public,” said Mark A. Focht, the immediate past president of ASLA, in a statement. ASLA's board of trustees unanimously approved the plan in November and funding is already a third of the way there. Construction is slated to start this fall.