The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently voted to fund the construction of the first phase of a new master plan by AHBE Landscape Architects and a new community event center designed by Paul Murdoch Architects that aims to transform Magic Johnson Park in South Los Angeles. A statement from the office of Mark Ridley-Thomas, supervisor for the 2nd district, announcing the agreement explains that the initial $50 million phase will bring a 20,000-square-foot community events center, an outdoor wedding pavilion, a splash pad, and new children’s play areas to the 120-acre park. Plans for the initial phase also include upgraded security lighting, new walking paths, and additional parking space. The project will also transform the park into a key element of the region’s water management ecosystem by diverting and filtering water from nearby Compton Creek in order to irrigate a 30-acre section of the park and to fill a large artificial pond, as well. The initial phase will be bolstered in future years by a physical expansion of the park as grounds are added to the site from an adjacent housing development known as Ujima Village that has been torn down and will be converted to parkland. The site was once home to oil storage facilities, Urbanize.la reports, and has been remediated significantly since closing to residents in 2010. AHBE is currently at work on a series of transformative projects across the L.A. area, including a new $8.5 million public park slated for L.A.’s Chinatown neighborhood and a mixed-use renovation and expansion plan for the South Gate Galleria complex in Redondo Beach, California, led by Gensler. The firm also recently completed a landscaped terrace at Cedars Sinai hospital that functions as a collection of outdoor rooms anchored by a large pavilion designed by Ball-Nogues Studio constructed out of CNC-shaped steel tubing. The initial phase of the master plan is set to begin in October of this year and be wrapped up by Spring 2020. The final $135 million buildout should be completed by 2036.
Posts tagged with "AHBE Landscape Architects":
Los Angeles–based AHBE Landscape Architects and the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering have revealed renderings for a new $8.5 million public park slated for L.A.’s Chinatown neighborhood. The so-called Alpine Park will take over a bare hillside currently marked with rudimentary paths that are heavily used by the local community to cut across the hilly neighborhood. The hillside currently connects a densely-populated cluster of homes and apartment complexes at the top of a hill with a local public library branch down below. Evan Mather, principal at AHBE, told The Architect’s Newspaper that the community had been calling for the park for years, explaining that the challenge of the site has “always been about accessibility and the fact that the neighborhood [generally] lacks outdoor open space.” In place of the informal paths, AHBE is proposing a series of formal recreational terraces and paths anchored by three outdoor rooms. The composition follows the steeply-sloped site, which climbs over 30 feet in height across its narrowest exposure and over 100 feet between the library and the residential section of the neighborhood. The landscape architects have added a series of staircases, ramps, and an elevator to help with the change in elevation. The stairs anchor the L-shaped pocket park along one end, with a lotus plaza, bamboo garden, and so-called “heavenly garden” located at the bottom, middle, and top of the site, respectively. The three secondary gardens are connected by sloped ramps lined with native Palo Verde trees, roses, bamboo, Chinese Flame Trees and other native and drought-tolerant specimens. The project is expected to begin construction in early 2018 and open to the public in early 2019.
A long-awaited mixed-use renovation and expansion plan led by international architecture firm Gensler and developer Forest City for the aging South Gate Galleria complex in Redondo Beach, California was finally revealed late last week. The plan calls for adding 300 housing units and a 150-bed hotel over an existing mall parking lot, demolishing several existing shopping structures, and redesigning retail areas with a new focus on open-air dining and pedestrian accessibility. A rendering released for the project depicts a grand lawn surrounded by open air dining spaces while elevations for the project showcase a mix of building forms, including a traditional apartment block, a balconied hotel, and re-skinned existing mall structures. The project site plan features generous planted open spaces at the site’s northeast corner, where a series of swales and trails wind from the busy intersection of Artesia Boulevard and Hawthorne Boulevard toward the proposed hotel. The project team also includes AHBE Landscape Architects; KGM Architectural Lighting; RSM Design; Tait & Associates engineers; and architects Togawa Smith Martin. Regarding the project, Forest City president Ratner told The Daily Breeze, “we want to enable people to use public transportation, walk or bike to shopping and dining destinations and use their cars a lot less than they do today.” Ratner added, “the proposed development will pay significant attention to better pedestrian and bicycle access and will promote easy transitions between a variety of transportation options.” The 29.85-acre site was identified in the City of Redondo Beach 2013-2021 General Plan Housing Element as the site with the “greatest potential for future residential development” in the city and as “an ideal location for transit-oriented development involving high-density residential uses” due to its proximity to a new stop along a forthcoming expansion of the regional Green Line light rail line that runs through the area. Despite that vaulted status, the project density has gradually fallen over time. Originally, the project was proposed with 480 residential units, a number that had to be scaled back after community opposition arose against the added residential density. The site itself is zoned for up to 650 units, according to a Draft Environmental Impact Report. The project is currently open for public comment as it makes its way through the environmental review process.
The Max Factor Building—built in 1974 by A.C. Martin & Associates as an extension to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles—has never really been well-loved. The forlorn hospital complex is made up of a trio of institutional towers placed atop a pair of parking structures that are arranged around what should be a courtyard but is actually a five-lane boulevard that delves underneath the main tower. In a 1992 review of complex for The Los Angeles Times, critic Aaron Betsky described the black glass and limestone-clad structures as an example of “purposeful blandness” and labeled the hospital an “anti-urban bunker of bad form.” Flash forward to 2017: The towers remain unchanged in their appearance but stand renewed along the podium terraces that flank either side of Gracie Allen Drive, where AHBE Landscape Architects and Ball-Nogues Studio (BNS) recently completed work on new healing gardens and a pavilion, respectively. According to Calvin Abe, principal at AHBE Landscape Architects, the terraces had been a forgotten public space at the hospital for many years, a fact Abe hoped his interventions could shift by reorienting the way patients and visitors arrived at Cedars, as they made their way from the parking structure to the hospital proper. Benjamin Ball, principal at BNS, explained that the neglected terrace “had not been given much consideration as public place for the hospital” when originally designed, a fact worsened by its sensitive location sandwiched between air intake grilles and operating rooms. The arrangement meant that any construction activity would have to be undertaken rather silently and without generating much dust. To boot, the site’s existing structural arrangement meant that improvements would need to be vigorously studied in order to guarantee that new loads were being resolved without disrupting the podium’s original structural grid. As a result, the project team came to consider the site as more of a performative skin than a static structure. The surface-level project tries to heal the “epidermis of the complex,” as Abe explains, referring to the outermost public region of the hospital, by “grafting a piece of living, breathing landscape above the existing parking decks.” To achieve this goal, the firm re-designed the two terrace areas as a series of multi-functional outdoor garden rooms—what they call “portable gardens” due to the fact that the structural requirements forbade permanent installation of these new planters. Even so, Abe was able to soften the edges of the terraces with wide swaths of tall grasses, wooden boardwalks and benches, and ancillary, succulent-rich beds framed in three eights inch thick stainless steel sheets. Along the north arm of the terrace, sinuous benches made from kiln-dried Brazilian hardwood pop in and out of their surroundings, sometimes nestled into supple berms, at other times sitting proudly under the sun above the boardwalk. The planted areas are mirrored in a more minimal and integrated fashion across the way, where the edges of the wide, wavy beds seamlessly transition from stainless steel border to wooden bench and back again. The north arm of the terrace is organized as a tripartite band of terraces, with a large wooden boardwalk sandwiched between the grassy precipice and succulent bed. At the center of the run, the path bulges out to make room for BNS’s pavilion, a looming husk crafted by humans and CNC machines out of woven networks of stainless steel tubes. Ball explained that his team wanted to contrast the prototypical architecture of the medical towers with a sculptural pavilion that could stand out on the improved terrace. To counter the geometric, stone-clad exposures of the towers, BNS designed a multi-lobed shade structure that would be inspired by self-supported concrete shell structures but be constructed out of CNC-shaped steel tubing. “We tried to develop a language that could only be achieved using this type of machine-shaped caged shell,” Ball explained. Ball described the pavilion as having “no hierarchy in terms of structure,” a quality that would instead be lended by the pavilion’s billowing forms, which themselves were finessed by the quotidien requirements of the structure’s lateral loads. The billowing form wraps over the walkway on one side and frames a smooth, J-shaped bench underneath a parallel and transversal lobe. When seen from the boardwalk, the structures appear squat and wide, a quality that disappears entirely when the pavilion is viewed from the opposite edge, where the shells rise proud of the boardwalk and slip past one another. BNS, working with local fabricator Hensel Phelps, worked to meld into reality a form that not only faithfully represented the computer-generated mass—Rhino and Maya were used, among other programs—but that also reflected what the CNC machines could ultimately produce. Ball explained that the design and fabrication teams had to work iteratively to establish limitations for the structure, adding that the back-and-forth process ultimately “outlined the aesthetics of the project—It created the rule book, not the other way around.” The structure was eventually fabricated off site, assembled in its entirety prior to installation, and finally craned into place. Ultimately, the structure came within a two centimeter tolerance of the digital model, due in equal measure to the digital tools and the highly skilled craftwork of the fabricators. Ball explained finally: “To get a project like this to look polished and highly crafted, you need hand skills.”
While feature length architecture documentaries like My Architect, Visual Acoustics and Unfinished Spaces have received oscar nominations and international acclaim (sometimes both), there's always room in our hearts for shorts. One of the most talented filmmakers in this genre is Evan Mather, who has put together a string of the briefer variety. Eight of his shorts will be screened tomorrow evening at LA's A+D Museum as part of its on screen series. Mather, who has been making films since he was eight years old, is also a landscape architect, working as a principal at LA's AHBE landscape architects. He's brought that expertise to films for AHBE and others. He's also made a feature, A Neccessary Ruin, about Buckminster Fuller's Union Tank Car Dome. "I'm interested in the perception of landscapes and how we remember them—how they influence us," said Mather, who grew up in New Orleans. Although, he adds, "It can be a challenge to convey highly technical information in an interesting way." One of the pieces, Building A Sustainable Future, documents the creation of AHBE's work at Burbank Water and Power, which included the transformation of abandoned substation into a large vine trellis, employee garden and courtyard. Another, Pavilion dans les Arbes, is the story of Touraine Richmond Architects' beautiful new Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area Visitors’ Center in California’s San Bernardino Mountains. A third is 12 Minutes to Vegas, which through time-lapse video compresses the three-and-a-half hour drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas into 12 minutes. Now that's speeding. Others tackle issues in the profession like recycling paper waste (So What?), using traditional materials in new ways (Ojama), and design philosophy (Expressions). Mather believes that this type of video work will soon become the norm in architecture. "As designers we need move beyond relying on animated fly-thrus and video translations of PowerPoint presentations... With these tools being so accessible more and more design firms are using video to communicate their work."