“This thing is real,” architect Craig Hodgetts said in an email about the Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s proposal for a high-speed transit system somewhere between a train and a human-scale pneumatique. Hodgetts would know: next year, he’ll direct a studio on the urban implications of the technology for SUPRASTUDIO, UCLA Architecture and Urban Design’s Master of Architecture II program. The partnership between SUPRASTUDIO, part of UCLA’s IDEAS laboratory, and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, the startup company formed to make Musk’s concept a reality, is part of a strategy to crowd-source much of the research and development behind the Hyperloop. For a full year beginning in the summer of 2014, post-professional students admitted to Hodgetts’s studio will research the social and spatial potential of the Hyperloop, in close cooperation with the engineers at Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. The physics of the system, Hodgetts said, are relatively straightforward. For him, the more interesting questions have to do with the passenger experience—with normalizing a new type of travel and counteracting the claustrophobic effects of the tightly-configured, windowless cars. Then there is the impact the Hyperloop will have on the cities it connects. In his studio, Hodgetts said, students will “start looking at new urban networks, at different priorities in terms of urban design. These are really exciting ideas from an urban design and architectural point of view.” Hodgetts, who is a principal at Hodgetts + Fung in Culver City, is no stranger to revolutionary ideas about urban transit. In 1969 he and Lester Walker introduced the Landliner, a straddle-bus that promised to turn sprawling metropolitan regions into continuous “Strip Cities.” Then, in 1978, Hodgetts produced drawings for an unmade movie version of the novel Ecotopia in which the primary form of transport was a network of mag-lev trains. (Like Musk’s Hyperloop, Hodgetts’s Ecotopia trains were propelled forward by pulses of solar-generated electricity.) Today, he’s not afraid to express his enthusiasm for the Hyperloop. After describing the basic principles of the system, he said, “I trust [Musk] totally on that, because we have a Tesla and it’s pretty much anything anybody said about it.” Hodgetts sees in the Hyperloop an “absolutely profound level of change.” It may do for transit, he said, what social media has done for communication. “The main thing that’s exciting to me is that one of the things that has made the biggest social changes is the relative lack of any friction whatsoever in social media...To have something in the physical world that leans in that direction is what I think is really profound.”
Posts tagged with "UCLA":
AIA Los Angeles has announced that UCLA SUPRASTUDIO lecturer Julia Koerner’s proposal Cellular Complexity is the winning entry for the 11th annual 2x8 Student Exhibition, a scholarship organization that has showcased projects of over 150 students from more than 15 architecture and design schools in California. This year’s winning scheme, in collaboration with Paris-based architect Marie Boltenstern and architect Kais Al-Rawi, presents a parametric pavilion of twisting planes that transitions in porosity from one end to the other. According to the AIA|LA, the jury appreciated the design concept's creativity and edginess. The installation and exhibition of student work is expected to be complete by February 2014.
Everybody seems to be opening up new offices these days. One of our favorite firms, Barton Myers Associates, is moving from Westwood all the way to Santa Barbara, which doesn’t sound promising. Cunningham Group has opened new digs in Culver City’s Hayden Tract, the collection of arts offices made famous by the wild constructs of Eric Owen Moss. And UCLA Architecture will remain in Westwood. But it’s ready to open a new robotics lab inside the old Playa Vista research facilities of Howard Hughes.
In a city obsessed with spectacle, it seems only fitting that graduate architecture students at UCLA would investigate the subject in one of its most literal forms. The students (including the author of this blog post) have designed objects, known collectively as Space Oddities, or Variations on the Disco Ball, for a 10-week technology and construction seminar led by professor Jasson Payne. The pieces, morphed from their disco ball origins, are now neither spherical nor symmetrical. Hung in a darkened gallery, they cast a dizzying array of reflections, shapes, shadows, and forms across the room. Meant to mingle the roles of design, craft, and digital technology, the objects were developed using digital software and milled out of high-density foam before being hand tiled with laser cut acrylic or glass mirrored tiles (or in one case, fake finger nails). The result: a unique relationship between the form and its material finish. Based on studies developed by Payne’s office Hirsuta the seminar was designed to pose the question, “Is it possible for an object with such distinct and established identity to blur its own associations toward novel readings?” Space Oddities, or Variations on the Disco Ball will be on display from 9am to 5pm until April 2 at Perloff Hall room 1220.
Try selling one Japanese garden, and all hell breaks loose. That's what UCLA is discovering after announcing plans to sell the UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in Bel-Air, which it has owned for more than 50 years, since 1964. The property also contains a lovely Georgian Colonial house and a traditional Japanese tea house. UCLA claims that the move is necessary due to budget cuts (the site costs over $100,000 a year to maintain, it says), and because the property serves no academic or research purposes. But garden and architecture lovers fear that the site—regarded as one of the nation's preeminent postwar gardens—will be in jeopardy if it transfers hands. UCLA says it hopes to find a responsible owner. We'll see how this shakes out.
Little Tokyo Design Week, which launched last night in downtown Los Angeles, captures a glimpse of the future city through the eyes of innovative designers and companies inspired by technology from Japan. The four-day celebration takes place in one of the country's few remaining Japan-towns and includes panels, exhibitions, parties, pop-up stores and even pub crawls. It opened last night with a forum from LA architecture school leaders Hitoshi Abe, Qingyan Ma, Ming Fung, and Andrew Zago, an outdoor screening of Hayo Miyazaki's beloved anime classic My Neighbor Totoro, and a discussion of urban life as a customizable, sustainable existence with Tim Durfee, Ben Hooker, Keiichi Matsuda, Jon Rafman and Sputniko! Basically, this design week is about how to face the future of a more populated globe. Familiar names like Toyota and Daiwa House stand out above the city lights with displays based on alternative energy and what happens when housing meets technology. But have no fear – designers are still the heart of design week. This includes Professor Tatsuya Wada's exhibit of interactive robots by Flower Robotics, Honda, Toshiba, and Sony called Robot Box; Brandon Shigeta's 3D photography ArtCube; and Victor Jones' and USC students' Food Futures (suspended nylon particles and rice representing the relationship between data and food production). The week's most tantalizing exhibits feature Stan Sakai's (informally known as the Japanese Stan Lee) Usagi Yojimbo, an eye-catching geometric behemoth by UCLA's Hi-C program, and a section dedicated to 1960s Japanese housing projects. An Astroboy-themed awards presentation featuring Tokyo/LA House Container and local theatre group East West Players will crown the most visionary designs and speculate on a “Future City." Little Tokyo has not forgotten its Japanese roots, including a photojournalism gallery at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center about the 2011 tsunami and earthquake. Festivities will help support Japan Platform, an organization helping Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims, and are made possible with help from the US Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. But wherever you decide to spend your time, use it wisely. This is “Carmageddon” weekend and the freeways will be packed. And isn't design week one more step towards sustainability and away from an urban nightmare?
Be afraid. Be very afraid. That was the theme at today's LA symposium, Imminent Danger: Earthquake Disaster and Risk Reduction in US Cities. The UCLA-hosted event brought together seismologists, engineers, architects, assessors and others to discuss preparation for the inevitable Big One, which, as everyone agreed, is not a question of if, but when. Despite the LA Times' questions about whether the conference's sponsors stood to gain from spreading earthquake fear, the insights to us seemed sincere and terrifying. We've compiled a few of the more sobering points, which should get you caring a little more about seismic retrofits and earthquake kits. •According to Kit Miyamoto, president of Miyamoto International, California knows which schools and other public buildings would be structurally unsafe in an earthquake, but doesn't have the money to fix them. •According to Peter Yanev, World Bank Consultant, while buildings in the Pacific Northwest are designed for much lower earthquake loads than those in California, the area's Cascadia Fault is more likely to produce a mega quake of 9.5 or greater. •According to Tom Heaton director of the Earthquake Engineering Lab at CalTech, buildings constructed before 1995 are more susceptible to earthquake damage than recognized because of "brittle welds," which often cause joints to break apart under seismic duress. •According to a 2008 study by the US Geological Survey called The Great Shakeout, the estimated damage from a 7.8 earthquake on the San Andreas Fault would total about $210 billion. •According to UCLA researcher Robert Nigbor, the notion that earthquake codes ensure buildings' safety in an earthquake is a fallacy.
It sounds like a summer blockbuster, but it's actually one of the most important symposia this year. Imminent Danger: Earthquake Disaster and Risk Reduction In U.S. Cities. It's being held on December 1 at UCLA, and features engineers, physicists, geologists, architects, and public officials getting together to discuss how to best prepare for the inevitable ground shaking disasters that will hit our cities in the near future. Thanks (unfortunately) to recent quakes in Haiti, Chile, and China, the group has a lot of new input to discuss. "Every time there's a large seismic event we learn more," said Gensler principal Rob Jernigan, who is one of the event participants. He adds that the conference is also a way for architects, engineers and other experts to come up with innovative earthquake-proof buildings that don't look like large bunkers: "We have to design for lateral movements without making giant, clumsy joints. We can develop a level of refinement," he said.
Now that downtown LA has tossed its hat into the ring to compete for Eli Broad's new contemporary art museum, we've finally reached Broad saturation. Broad has gotten the cities of Santa Monica, Culver City, and Beverly Hills to also compete for the museum, assuring that he gets the sweetest of sweetheart deals. Meanwhile, he basically controls most of the major public architecture and art in the city. There's now the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum in Miracle Mile, the Broad Art Center at UCLA, as well as MOCA (bailed out and greatly influenced by Broad), the LA High School For the Performing Arts (largely funded by Broad), Disney Hall (pushed and funded by Broad), and the Grand Avenue Project (also largely supported by Broad). Phew. It's great to have a guiding hand and all, but GEEZ! Ok, we promise not to mention the name Broad again. Until at least tomorrow...