Posts tagged with "Morphosis":

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Here are 2019's most controversial moments in architecture

As 2019 draws to a close, we’re looking back on some of the events that made it memorable. We’ve rounded up this year’s funniest, most important, and most controversial stories, as well as homages to some of the people we lost. Here we’ve highlighted the top stories that illuminated some shadowy status-quo practices as well as fails by some worldwide favorites. Jeffrey Epstein’s black book lists big-name architects and interior designers The late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein kept a “black book” of contacts that were made public this summer by New York Magazine (a continuation of the logs originally revealed by the now-defunct Gawker). Among the business tycoons and powerful politicians, there was no shortage of big-name architects and designers inside. Perhaps the most prominent of these is Alberto Pinto, the interior designer who creates ultra-lavish spaces for the superrich. Luxury hotel genius Jean-Michel Gathy, Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, New York architect and fashion icon Peter Marino, as well as David Rockwell, made the list as well.  LACMA up to Zumthing with this highly-contested redesign Whatever your opinion is on the current LACMA building, the Los Angeles institution is headed for big changes with its new sprawling design by Peter Zumthor. Critics have argued the scheme—with its smaller size and exorbitant price tag—will take too much gallery space away, eliminate necessary libraries, as well as conservation facilities. Not to mention it was conceived largely behind closed doors and surprised locals and art professionals alike. The controversial plan to span a portion of the building across Wilshire Boulevard was approved earlier this month.  Ishigami’s unpaid interns lead to international argument on free labor This year’s Serpentine Pavilion inadvertently highlighted one of the most morally slippery practices in the industry: the use of unpaid interns. While free labor in architecture has long-been considered ubiquitous in Japanese firms, critics called out Junya Ishigami, the designer of this year’s pavilion, after it came out that Junya Ishigami + Associates had been recruiting unpaid interns to work 13 hour days, 6 days a week, with their own equipment. The uproar ignited a broader conversation across the profession this spring, and in response, Alejandro Aravena’s firm Elemental announced it would cancel its internship program and Patrick Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects claimed that “unpaid or low paid internships have nothing to do with exploitation,” but were instead the result of a well-functioning market. The Serpentine Gallery later ordered Ishigami’s office to pay all interns working on the pavilion project.  Calatrava continues to have constant kerfuffles with infrastructure work In both Venice and New York City, Calatrava-designed public works face-planted this year. The Oculus, a $3.9 billion transit hub that was conceived in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and opened in 2016, has a perennially leaking skylight that, according to this year’s estimates, will cost another $200,000 to fix. Meanwhile, water is also an issue in Venice, Italy, where Calatrava designed the Constitution Bridge over ten years ago. It's reportedly nearly impossible to navigate the bridge in the rain: Tourists regularly slip, and those with physical disabilities are obliged to take a water taxi to avoid the crossing. The city fined the architect €78,000 ($87,000 USD) in August. Residents bite back at Morphosis’s jaw-shaped Viper Room replacement  With residents calling the West Hollywood, California, nightclub redesign “grotesque” and more fit for a city like Dubai or Las Vegas, Thom Mayne’s proposal, whose timeline was announced this year, is not harmonizing with many. The 15-story hotel and condominium is set to replace the existing, infamous Viper Room and reconstitute it on the ground floor of the new building. At a public meeting in October, some locals questioned how the character of the 26-year-old club would remain in-tact while others flat-out said the proposed 369,000-square-foot structure doesn’t belong on Sunset Boulevard.
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Los Angeles is at a crossroads—don’t let it become New York

Makin’ my way downtown, I zip along on my Lime® scooter through the ersatz Japanese village of Little Tokyo, past taxis, buses, and Prii, to a bustling, small-scale warehouse district on the fringe of Los Angeles’s central core. The whirlwind of scales, land uses, languages, and people is dizzying, but I finally land at my destination: Sonoratown, a lively taco spot famous for its soft tortillas, which are made with flour driven up from Sonora, Mexico, in small batches by the owner’s mom. This delirious, quasi-urban experience is one that could only happen in the messy, diverse urban fabric of Los Angeles. You are free to grab whatever pieces of the kaleidoscopic surroundings you can, and the faster you are moving, the more there is to take. Somehow, this frantic energy and free movement seem unaffected or held back by the past. The cultural critic Sean Monahan called LA the capital of the 2010s, describing it as:
...a city whose attributes anticipate collapse: flat and amorphous, rather than vertical and defined; kitsch and pop, rather than avant-garde and tech; individualistic and mass, rather than institutional and elite. You can suggest San Francisco, HQ of disruption, or New York, backdrop for protest movements (#OWS, #BLM). But both places fail to capture the spirit of the age, because they are fighting so hard to change it. They are relics of empire, unsure of themselves after a decade in which success was indistinguishable from failure… Built on celebrity, media, and lifestyle, L.A. doesn’t presume to be building the future, merely inhabiting it. It’s a pick your poison kind of place. [Go wild] at Chateau Marmont. Spend half your paycheck on inscrutable health food at Erewhon. Commute four hours so you can live in a Riverside McMansion. Drive Uber every day, write screenplays every night. Sell out, drop out, suck up, fuck up. There is no right or wrong way to do L.A.
Monahan accurately describes why Los Angeles encapsulates the present, and why it’s the most exciting place in the US right now. However, it is also important to note where the city is moving in the 2020s. With the 2028 Olympics as a finish line, Los Angeles is at a crossroads, on a path to become a different place in the next decade. But with the city already at the forefront of global media culture (The Kardashians, Moon Juice, Goop, etc.), it doesn’t need global architecture to maintain its position as a worldwide force. How it defines itself as a physical place is still up for grabs, and it should learn lessons from other hyper-globalized cities, namely New York. Tomorrow’s Los Angeles is one of layers. Moving on from its days as a bastion of mythological American modernism centered around mobility (cars), individuality (single-family homes), and triumph over nature (lawns), it will add new collectivities on to itself. These layers will arise from the constant flux of the new: Technologies and emerging social patterns meld nicely into the loose, still-codifying culture and its corresponding urban forms. It is the flickering of new, communal, car-free, publicly subsidized lifestyles against the old, car-centric, low-density, low-regulation, “libertarian” bones of the urban landscape that make it such an interesting place for urbanism today. The oft-bandied-about claim that the city is libertarian is also not entirely accurate, as California is a sea of regulation and red tape, continually votes to raise its already high taxes, and both California and Los Angeles are leading on climate action. The city is quietly building public infrastructure at a pace that vastly outpaces New York. New York’s Second Avenue Subway took somewhere between 10 and 100 years to complete three stations, and the next phase will be three stops and will be completed by 2029 at the earliest. Meanwhile Los Angeles is (optimistically) on course to build 28 new lines by 2028. This includes an airport-connection line that will allow a direct link from LAX to the city. Meanwhile, New York’s MTA is in a worsening crisis with crumbling stations and delays only getting worse, and New Jersey’s NJ Transit recently gave up on accounting for the traffic expected to reach the American Dream Mall, instead calling on private industry to complete the line, citing none other than Los Angeles’s electric rail airport connector as an example. That’s right—L.A. is leading the way in public transit. Meanwhile, Uber, a municipal car share and micro-mobility options such as scooters have already altered how people get around (many young people don’t have cars at all) and where they live, partly due to an explosion in transit-oriented development around the new metro lines. It is unclear exactly how successful, affordable, and sustainable this will be, but change is certainly underway. New transit networks both public and private, along with lower parking requirements for new construction will profoundly impact development and housing typologies in the future. But it is no secret that Los Angeles is careening toward a New York–like affordability crisis (if it isn’t there already) that goes hand-in-hand with the urban whitewash of global capital. Homelessness is at record levels and only getting worse. In response, architects are working to develop new housing typologies, from affordable prototypes and accessory dwelling units, to larger, multi-family schemes that continue to evolve with new regulations and design challenges. The L.A. River and the L.A River Greenway in the San Fernando Valley are also emerging sites of urban experimentation and reclamation/rehabilitation of greenspace. Los Angeles has a unique architectural culture and urban fabric, but red flags are emerging. First, Bjarke Ingels Group and Herzog & de Meuron, international firms that are both very popular with the New York development community, have projects downtown. Related Group (of Hudson Yards fame) has moved in and is developing a large Frank Gehry project across from Gehry’s own Disney Concert Hall. It perfectly illustrates the lower design quality of developer-led construction and echoes Related Companies’ other project, Hudson Yards: “The project is anchored by a central plaza wrapped with shopping areas and public art.” The biggest red flag might be the shortlist for the La Brea Tar Pits project. In Miracle Mile’s Museum Row, a neighborhood that already has been marred by architectural globalists—once by KPF and twice by Renzo Piano—the shortlist for the La Brea master plan is New York establishment firms WEISS/MANFREDI and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, along with Danish firm Dorte Mandrup. It is a truly odd and troubling list. All three are talented firms, but their selection signals the wind turning toward a placeless architecture where, in California terms, “there is no there there,” reflecting classic donor-class aesthetics. Don’t even get me started on what director Michael Govan and the LACMA board are doing to push through their new building. Joseph Giovannini said it best:
In a sleight of hand that still has serious consequences for LACMA and Los Angeles, Govan introduced [Peter] Zumthor, the architect who presumably could achieve this world-class building, to his Board of Trustees. There was no competition, no public review or discussion, no transparency, just a shoo-in of the architect who had arrived in Los Angeles in Govan’s back pocket. “It won’t be the seventh Renzo Piano building in the country,” Govan explained to me in an interview. “We’ll have the only Zumthor.” …Had he even made it into a normal architect selection process, the jury might have concluded that he was mismatched and dangerously underequipped for the commission.
Some Angelenos say that local architects should get their due. L.A. has been defined in many ways by outsiders such as Neutra and Schindler, but also by local legends like Thom Mayne and Frank Gehry, as well as a younger generation like Barbara Bestor, Michael Maltzan, and a host of others who can deliver top-notch design. Los Angeles doesn't need the continental, polite, same-as-everywhere architecture that plagues institutions around the world. The architecture scene has always valued experimentation and allowed younger, more avant-garde approaches and diverse practices to gain ground, outside of the institutional weight that plagues places like the East Coast. It is not “provincial”—as some claim—to want to preserve this well-established local flavor while moving forward. In fact, what would be provincial is thinking that it is necessary to look outward for world-class architecture, or that a mythical global culture needs to be imported for the city to become a world-class place. Nothing defines the periphery like the center, and nothing makes one more provincial than defining oneself against New York. Of course, outside architects can come in and add to the culture; it just takes a bit of judgment. For instance, Spanish firm SelgasCano’s bright, breezy, kit-of-parts style seems to fit with L.A.’s pop modernist aesthetic, and Arata Isozaki’s MOCA has also become an iconic part of L.A. architecture. So let L.A. be regional and different. Don’t let it succumb to the pressures of global capital and “global architecture.” Don’t let Boyle Heights—a strong Latino neighborhood under development pressure, with several buildings already being renovated—become Hudson Yards. New York City has been ruined by capital, which was weaponized to take away the grittiness of places like Times Square, a project of Ed Koch and eventually of Rudy Guiliani. Later, technocrat billionaire Michael Bloomberg finished the sanitization of the city with sloppy rezonings of Williamsburg, West Chelsea, and Long Island City most notably, which ushered in the era of bland office towers and mega mall-like sterility. Developers like President Donald Trump and Related Companies, along with their elected enablers like Bloomberg and Guiliani have shared class interests that threaten the small-scale, local and regional urban landscapes where artists, immigrants, and the working class foment culture. How can Los Angeles be a laboratory for resisting the entropic, hegemonic cancer that is global capital, the global donor class, and the donor-class aesthetic? One tactic, and to be fair, something that the Bloomberg administration got right in places like Brooklyn and Staten Island, is downzoning to preserve the character of neighborhoods. This is also tricky and can lead to NIMBYism, which L.A. has certainly had its share of recently. In a similar vein, Thom Mayne provocatively suggested clustering development on the Wilshire corridor in order to protect other areas. The Wilshire area has seen some development, but not at the scale Mayne has suggested. Additionally, serious and innovative criticism is needed. Critics must not fall into 20th-century modes of operating; they have to get out in front of these debacles rather than react to them. There are a host of critics operating in Los Angeles, and no one is better positioned to have an impact than former L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, who is now in a unique role as the Chief Design Officer for the City of Los Angeles, a position where he is literally helping craft RFPs (request for proposals). As long as Hawthorne is able to be heard in the government and in the public and can surround himself with good people who will help guide L.A. through this crucial time, there is a real opportunity to have more and more expert opinions in the process that will avoid the disasters that haunt New York. This, along with more equitable and compensated juried design competitions, can help the people who make financial decisions make "better" aesthetic and cultural decisions. Regionalism, when connected to local ecology, provokes more interesting and nuanced design than a totalizing, global aesthetic. In terms of what resistance might look like outside of design review, Los Angeles is already taking on challenges in a unique way. In Boyle Heights, gentrifying art galleries have been pushed out by strong neighborhood coalitions demanding affordable housing and neighborhood services. Los Angeles could also adopt anti-gentrification policies such as rent control or downzoning to prevent the displacement of both residential and retail spaces. Many cities have adopted such plans, while Berlin and other cities have enacted rent freezes and other regulations on the housing market to ensure affordability. Los Angeles in many ways is the logical conclusion of the myth of the American West. Several time zones and thousands of miles in distance from New York and other global cities, it has historically been connected to global culture through mass media, not physical space. This isolation has left it to its own devices as an urban place. This doesn’t need to change as it grows into more of a global force. New forms and ways of living can be cultivated without abandoning what makes it a special place: its resistance to the forces of the outside. In the 2020s, defining a new localism would be quite an amazing achievement.
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Morphosis-designed Sunset Strip hotel lambasted by West Hollywood residents

Though the city of West Hollywood gave its approval to a construction timeline for 8850 Sunset Boulevard, an audaciously designed 15-story hotel and condominium by Morphosis that will replace the infamous Viper Room, the city’s residents are loudly singing a different tune. On October 10, several residents of West Hollywood attended a public meeting hosted by the city where they were given an opportunity to voice their opinions. Most participants were concerned that the aesthetic profile of 8850 Sunset Boulevard and its presence on the Sunset Strip would not be considered in an environmental analysis, which is typically state-mandated for all buildings of this type. “It doesn’t belong on Sunset Boulevard,” said Jessica Hancock, a resident of West Hollywood for 47 years, before commenting that the proposal might be more fitting in cities like Dubai or Las Vegas. Another resident commented that the proposal is “too tall, too massive, and the design is grotesque.” According to Curbed, Doug Vu, the city’s senior planner responded to these and other aesthetic complaints by stating that the site’s proximity to a significant transit corridor can legally excuse its design from being subjected to state regulations, and that it “may not be considered an environmental issue per se under the California Environmental Quality Act.” Others were concerned about its treatment of the Viper Room, the bar and nightclub cofounded in 1993 by Johnny Depp which currently sits on the site. Plus Development, the current development manager, plans to demolish the Viper Room, along with every structure on the block, and reconstitute the club into the ground floor of the new building, where its character will undoubtedly be altered. Subsequent public meetings concerning 8850 Sunset Boulevard and other proposed developments along the Sunset Strip are planned to take place in the near future, as the environmental review continues—and as the makeup of the street shifts away from low-rise entertainment venues and towards luxury hotels and housing.
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Architects and engineers will hone their skills during Facades+ L.A.'s Transitions Detailing Workshop

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Facades+ Los Angeles, taking place on November 14 & 15, is a two-day conference hosted annually by The Architect's Newspaper that highlights the region's most prestigious projects and advancements in facade technology. The second day of the conference is devoted to eight workshops that will provide a unique opportunity to dive into in-depth dialogues and tutorials with architects, contractors, engineers, facade consultants, and manufacturers. Since 2017, Facades+ has consistently featured the "Transitions Detailing Workshop: Where Systems Meet" workshop, this year led by Bradford J. Prestbo, associate principal of Sasaki; Chris O'Hara, founding principal of Studio NYL; Will Babbington, facade design director of Studio NYL, and Stan Su, director of enclosure design at Morphosis. The multi-year collaboration is a response to certain negative characteristics of the architectural community. "Historically, architects don't do a very good job of sharing knowledge or lessons learned," said Prestbo. "We saw this workshop as an opportunity to both share knowledge and teach others." The workshop is divided into three portions: Presentations, group work, and review. For the presentations, the instructors will largely draw from their own respective bodies of work and particular expertise. Prestbo begins with a discussion of opaque facade assemblies and their transitions to other systems. Su follows this demonstration with a dive into strategies for complex enclosure geometries—recent projects within this category include the Kolon One & Only Tower and the ongoing Orange County Museum of Art. Babbington and O'Hara wrap up the presentations with case studies stemming from Studio NYL's facade consultancy work, as well as their own takes on the projects already discussed. Over the next two hours, the attendees are broken up into a series of small teams, sketching systems solutions to mid-century modern projects and are supported with continuous feedback from the instructors. "These projects represent a variety of program and construction types, ranging from small residences to large commercial structures, using a mix of steel, concrete, masonry and wood construction," said O'Hara. "We chose Mid-Century Modern projects because of our love of the buildings, but it represents an era of great architecture that really did not consider building performance or energy usage. We are essentially protecting the guilty that era." Case studies include the Farnsworth House, by Mies Van der Rohe; Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, by Oscar Niemeyer; Saint-Pierre & Villa Savoye, by Le Corbusier; Healy Guest House, by Paul Rudolph; Alcuin Library & Hooper House II, by Marcel Breuer; Case Study House Number Number 9, by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen; Fisher House, by Louis Kahn; and the Denver Art Museum, by Gio Ponti.  The final half-hour of the workshop will be dedicated to the review of 'solutions' for the case studies by both the instructors and fellow attendees. This year, the instructors will also guide attendees to case studies more relevant to the climate zone of Southern California and in keeping with the state's increasingly stringent performance standards. Further information regarding Facades+ LA workshops can be found here.
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Morphosis's claw-like Sunset Strip complex now has a timeline

After months of speculation, a timeline has finally been determined for the construction of 8850 Sunset Boulevard, a 369,000-square-foot development which would rise over 15 stories and occupy an entire block of the Sunset Strip between San Vicente Street and Larrabee Street. Following a recently completed study by the city of West Hollywood, it has been determined that construction can begin on the Morphosis-designed, Viper Room-replacing project in the Spring of 2021 and could be completed in as few as 32 months. The site was originally purchased in 2017 by Silver Creek Development Co. for $80 million, and the project is supported by multidisciplinary real estate company Plus Development. The renderings for the development were first unveiled last December, and it appears that little, if anything, of the design has been subdued since then. The proposal still comprises two aesthetically distinct towers between a 120-foot-wide grassy hill and above a transparent ground floor. The amorphous tower facing San Vicente will be a 115-room hotel, while the rectilinear tower facing Larrabee will contain 31 condominiums and 10 or 11 units of affordable housing. The complex's ground floor will be primarily mixed-use, including a new home for the Viper Room, the infamous bar cofounded by Johnny Depp which is currently on the site. Amenities accessible to both towers will include a movie screening room, a gym, and a rooftop pool and restaurant. In addition, a three-story LED screen will be fitted into a void cut out of the tower facing San Vicente. When completed, 8850 Sunset Boulevard will be one of the most audacious buildings designed by Morphosis in its 47-year run, and will rival some of the firm’s other projects built around Los Angeles, including Emerson College Los Angeles and CalTrans District 7 Headquarters.
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Morphosis, Renzo Piano, SOM among shortlisted for civic office tower in L.A.

Less than three months after the controversial demolition of the Parker Center in downtown Los Angeles, a shortlist of high-profile architects has been released to head up the design of a new, 27-story municipal office tower in its place.  The $700 million “Los Angeles Street Civic Building Project” as it’s temporarily called, is being spearheaded by L.A. Bureau of Engineering and has been in the works for quite some time. The agency, which oversees the planning, design, and construction of all public buildings, infrastructure, and public spaces, first introduced the idea to raze the Parker Center, previously home to the city’s police department for 55 years, and build atop it in 2016. At the same time, the Cultural Heritage Commission was trying to get the aging building landmarked but failed to meet the deadline. The L.A. City Council ultimately approved the overall proposal in 2017 on the belief that a new tower would be less expensive than preserving and revamping the Parker Center’s 319,000-square-foot exterior envelope.  Though design details haven’t been released yet, the upcoming 450-foot tower is slated to contain 750,000-square-feet of office space with room for a conference center, a childcare facility, retail space, and an underground garage. Initial concepts for the project lightly reference the surrounding city buildings in the Civic Center District, including Los Angeles City Hall, a structure of similar height. Plans also call for a landscape that links pedestrians to Little Tokyo nearby, according to Urbanize L.A.  After issuing a request for qualifications this spring, the Bureau of Engineering reduced the five submissions it received down to a shortlist of three. Below are those finalists: DTLA Civic Partners, LLC This local team is led by SOM and Clark Construction, funded by Meridiam and Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate, and managed by ENGIE Services. LAC 3 Partners L.A.-based firm Morphosis is at the helm of LAC 3, which includes Hensel Phelps Construction, Macquarie Financial Holdings, and JLC Infrastructure, as well as Honeywell International in operations management.  Plenary Collaborative Los Angeles Smith Group and Renzo Piano Building Workshop are working together on the design for the project, while Webcor Construction, Plenary Group, and Johnson Controls will serve as the building, equity, and operations experts respectively.  Once this shortlist is approved by the L.A. Board of Public Works, an RFP will be presented to the City Council ahead of any further announcements. Construction is expected to start next year and end in 2023. 
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ACADIA announces keynote speakers and awardees for 2019 conference

The Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA), an organization that connects architects and design professionals working with digital technology, has announced the awardees and recipients for its 2019 conference, which will be held this October at the University of Texas at Austin. Titled “Ubiquity and Autonomy,” ACADIA says this year’s conference will investigate “the blurred divide between analog and digital processes,” a division (or non-division) of increasing importance to both architecture and daily life. Through various presentations of papers and projects, participants will question how emerging technology might change both how architecture is done, and what architecture is. Keynotes will be given by Morphosis's founding principal Thom Mayne, Jakob + MacFarlane founding partner Dominique Jakob, and UNStudio senior associate Harlen Miller. Mayne will also be receiving the ACADIA 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award. Awards will also be given to Dana Cupkova, Roland Snooks, Jose Sanchez, and Chris Yessios, and the Master of Science in Digital and Material Technologies at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning will be recognized as well. Leading up to the conference, which takes place from October 24 to 26, there will be three days of workshops with titles such as: Digital Tailoring: Form-Fitting Bizarre and Provocative Typologies, an investigation of the meeting of architecture, fashion, and the body, and Freeform Fabrication: Hand-bending timber structures with intelligent holographic guides, which will look at mixed-reality solutions for timber construction.
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Morphosis designs a new plant-heavy Korean American National Museum for L.A.

Morphosis Architects has unveiled its vision for the upcoming Korean American National Museum in Los Angeles. Slated for a small site in L.A.’s Koreatown district, the two-story cultural space will embody the past, present, and future of the Korean-American experience through the integration of a distinct multi-cultural landscape.  Led by Thom Mayne and Morphosis partner Eui-Saung Yi, the project will be the first permanent home for the institution, which was established in 1991 in order to preserve and interpret the history and achievements of Americans with Korean heritage. According to the architects, the design of the museum’s future building was inspired by Eulho Suh, a Morphosis alum and founder of Suh Architects in Seoul, South Korea. His work is heavily influenced by the concept of “displaced memory” and its embodiment in the physical space. Several elements within Morphosis’ proposal attempt to pay tribute to this idea.  For example, the museum’s plan is structured around the traditional Korean Hanok, or home with a classic courtyard in the middle. The building’s core features a central open space through which everything else—from the fluid ring of galleries to the offices and meeting rooms—is centered around. Even its sweeping concrete facade, which forms an abstract shape that rises from a thin, landscaped podium, isn’t able to give away the surprising scale of the sculptural interior. The bottom of the structure, which dually serves as a welcoming public space, will feature an embossed pattern typically found outside Korean palaces. With the landscape as the main focus of the architecture, Morphosis set out to create what they call an “allegorical migration” of the Korean-American experience, full of traditional Korean plants mixed with local California flora. This is most easily seen in a rendering of the rooftop sculpture garden which will contain maple, pine, and bamboo trees. By combining these plantings, the museum acknowledges the impact of Korean immigrants in the United States, and the continuing duality of both countries’ existence today.  Morphosis also notes that the museum’s external configuration is meaningful. Located at the corner of 6th Street and Vermont Avenue, guests will enter the museum at the corner of the intersection and be greeted with a triple-height gallery with two intersecting volumes. “By disengaging from the Cartesian direction of the city blocks,” writes Morphosis on its website, “the new orientation signifies the autonomy of the displaced landscape and begins a more dynamic centrifugal experience.”  The Korean American National Museum is scheduled to break ground next year, with an estimated completion planned for 2020. 
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Finalists revealed for new arts center at University of Illinois at Chicago

Early this year, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) announced a three-firm shortlist to design a new “Center for the Arts” for the College of Architecture, Design and the Arts (CADA). Chosen from an international pool of 36 teams that responded to a request for qualifications, the shortlist includes OMA (New York) with KOO Architects (Chicago), Johnston Marklee (Los Angeles) with UrbanWorks Architects (Chicago), and Morphosis Architects (Culver City) with STL Architects (Chicago). UIC is both the largest university and the only public research university in the Chicago area with a student body among the five most diverse in the country, 40 percent of whom are first-generation college students. Initiated in 2017, the new Center for the Arts is part of UIC’s 10-year master plan, which calls for major physical development of the campus. The Center for the Arts will be the new public face of UIC’s East Campus. The project aims to provide “radically accessible spaces for all users.” At approximately 88,000 square feet it will be the new home of the School of Theatre and Music (STM) with two primary performance spaces, including a vineyard style concert hall for 500 people and a flexible main stage theater for 270 people. Additional program includes a large lobby, box office, donor lounge, shop, and café. Morphosis and STL Architects have proposed a project shaped by site conditions. Cues from the site inform the form of the building’s facets made of terra-cotta, concrete, and glass, a signal to the existing materiality of UIC’s campus. The building has a clear front and back as service entries sit tightly along the highway at the north edge of the site, leaving the south and corner edges to reveal the belly of the building and main points of public entry. A generous drop-off zone leads into the interior lobby featuring Netsch-like cascading stairs with views toward the nearby West Loop neighborhood and downtown. In the theater, a continuous surface ramp runs the perimeter of the room to provide radical accessibility to students learning stage technology. OMA and KOO Architects have proposed a stackable program with a central concert hall flanked by two towers (one for students, one for the public) with neighboring performance spaces. The towers imitate the many Chicago bridges that link the city while the performance spaces act like bookends to anchor the project. A second-floor plinth accommodates dual entries, each with a continuous surface monumental ramp considered “radically accessible” with physical openness and flexibility. The theater has a rooftop terrace and a large mechanical facade that opens onto the existing Harrison Field, bringing performances outside with the city as a backdrop. The entire design is blanketed by a doubly-curved, semi-translucent roof that resembles the swinging of a conductor’s baton. Johnston Marklee and UrbanWorks have proposed two ziggurat-shaped buildings, which Mark Lee of Johnston Marklee described as both archaic and modern. Framed by a greenbelt that reflects attention back towards the campus, two brightly-colored volumes are housed within a glass and perforated metal veil. The formal strategy is a nod to Chicago architect Walter Netsch’s ideas of “stacking” while the material aims to visually open the campus, ostensibly creating a new approach to density. Connecting the two large volumes is a central core featuring an airy winter garden that expands programmatic possibilities for adjacent rehearsal rooms, café, store, and gallery. The University and CADA officials are currently in the process of securing the expected $94.5 million construction budget through private and public funds. It is unknown when the winner will be announced. The public may view and provide feedback on the proposals.
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University of Illinois at Chicago selects high-profile finalists for new building

The University of Illinois at Chicago has revealed the names of the three finalist teams competing to design a new Center for the Arts on campus. The three teams are JohnstonMarklee and UrbanWorks, Morphosis and STL, and OMA and Koo Architecture. All teams include a local partner firm. The new building will be an 88,000-square-foot performing arts center with a 500-seat concert hall, 270-seat theater, and various support spaces. It will sit on what is now the empty Harrison Field. The original campus for the school was designed by Walter Netsch and a team from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The three winning teams were selected from a pool of 36, and they will now work on a preliminary design that will be presented in April when the ultimate winner will be selected.
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Morphosis unveils a claw-like hotel to replace a legendary L.A. nightclub

The Viper Room, the legendary Los Angeles nightclub cofounded by Johnny Depp (and where River Phoenix overdosed) is set to get an architecturally ambitious replacement courtesy of Morphosis Architects. After developer Silver Creek Development Co. picked up the parcel in West Hollywood for $80 million in July of this year, it was announced that a 15-story hotel would go up on the site. Last week the public was given its first look at the replacement, which features a vise-like volume “clamping” down on a more traditional, loggia-adorned tower. The proposal also sports glassy ground-level retail bordered by V-shaped concrete columns. The 200-foot-tall hotel will feature 115 hotel rooms, 31 condo units, 10 affordable units, a gym, a spa, restaurants, a pool, and a new home for the Viper Room. It’s somewhat hard to see in the rendering, but the developer wants to include an 820-square-foot digital billboard on the Sunset Boulevard–facing facade. The project’s initial reveal came at a community meeting on December 11, where Silver Creek sought to solicit community feedback and refine the design. The hotel will move next to the West Hollywood Planning Commission’s Design Review Subcommittee, and then the Planning Commission proper. No construction timeline has been given as of yet.
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Thom Mayne to take over SCI-Arc’s cities program

Thom Mayne of Morphosis will be rejoining the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) as a full-time distinguished faculty member as the new coordinator for the SCI-Arc EDGE Design of Cities postgraduate program. Mayne, one of the original founders of SCI-Arc, will be taking over the Design of Cities program from current coordinator David Ruy, who will stay on as head of postgraduate studies at the school. Regarding Mayne’s new post, SCI-Arc director Hernan Diaz Alonso said:
“It is wonderful to have Thom Mayne come back home. He is a major part of what SCI-Arc is, was, and will be. Thom Mayne represents everything that we want our students to aspire to. Thom embodies the best aspirations of architecture as a historical, cultural, and political force that is unique among creative disciplines. Thom will help us to maintain the unique spirit of exploration that defines SCI-Arc. In the contemporary world, architectural thinking should be a platform for challenging the status quo. We welcome back to SCI-Arc, one of the pioneers of this idea.”
Mayne has extensive experience as an educator and has held teaching positions at Columbia, Yale, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Berlage Institute in the Netherlands, the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, and most recently at the University of California, Los Angeles, where Mayne led the school’s Suprastudio, among other institutions. The Design of Cities program is focused, according to the SCI-Arc website, “against the conventional wisdom that cities are hopelessly complex, informal networks beyond the reach of any design model, this program fundamentally believes in the power of the architectural imagination to create sustainable urban designs for the twenty-first century and beyond.” With a long legacy of urban- and sustainability-focused work and research under his belt and a growing momentum toward regional urban transformation in Los Angeles and California more broadly, expect to see Mayne’s provocative ideas take on new life as he undertakes his new position.