Posts tagged with "Apartments":

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L.A. artist designs glitchy facades to revitalize stale housing models

If you are one of the many people concerned that apartments in American cities are all starting to look too much alike, there might be hope for you yet. Los Angeles–based artist and educator Elena Manferdini of Atelier Manferdini is currently working on a collection of glitchy apartment facades that aim to break up the monotony of some of those developments. With her designs, Manferdini is hoping to "re-open a discussion on the role of fantasy in art and architecture" by bringing beguiling geometric patterns and bright colors to at least seven multi-family complexes envisioned by FMB Development and a collection of other local architects, including Archeon Group, Dean Larkin Design, and Open Architects. Los Angeles–based FMB bills itself as a "community-oriented developer of luxury residential real estate," including the types of market-rate apartments that some Los Angeles homeowners might view as obtrusive in their neighborhoods. That's where Manferdini steps in by designing structures with interlocking blocks of patterned surfaces and expanses of varying opacity that work to simultaneously highlight and break down each of the proposed buildings. Manferdini explained that the designs are driven by the idea that, "facades are important for the city at large because they are inevitably the background of our public imagination." Manferdini added, "Facades negotiate how the privacy of human interactions come to terms with a surrounding cultural context." In L.A.'s densely-packed, low-slung urban neighborhoods, where privacy comes at a premium, sites are strictly limited in terms of height and allowable bulk, decorative elements help play a role in bridging the visual gap between existing housing stock and the types of multi-unit complexes needed to address the region's housing crisis. Manferdini's work for FMB builds on a series of exhibitions she crafted as part of her artistic practice, including the Graham Foundation–supported Building the Picture, a collection of drawing-photograph hybrid images that were exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015. For the exhibition, Manferdini created a series of fictional patterned facades partially inspired by some of the Chicago-based work of Mies van der Rohe. The layered, abstracted images proposed methods for obfuscating the underlying scale and window patterning of the hypothetical apartment structures by combining oblique and projected patterns on a collection of planar and faceted building forms. Manferdini explained further, saying, "The work insinuates that surfaces now have an unprecedented ability to be embedded simultaneously with optical affect and cultural associations," a concept that is ideally suited for testing in the real world through its application on the apartment buildings in question, according to the artist.

At 1017 Sierra Bonita, for example, Manferdini uses blue, white, and black Trespa panels, custom fritted glass, and gray stucco to lend a three-story apartment block atmospheric qualities. Hanging plants and balconies filled with hedges and landscape design by Green Republic Landscapes further dematerialize the five-unit building.

The Trespa panels make another appearance in red, blue, and black at 1408 Poinsettia, where Manferdini has arranged ascending striped patterns with vertical building elements that camouflage each of the three-bedroom small-lot subdivision homes. At 1139 N. Detroit, Manferdini pursues a more subdued approach by using custom-designed mosaic tiles and painted stucco. In each of the projects, Manferdini works to play off of the architectural elements using unconventional patterning and color choices, perhaps a welcome approach for Hardie-panel weary observers. The designs are due to come online soon: Many of the projects are currently undergoing planning review, and 1408 Poinsettia is currently under construction.
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The best of contemporary apartment design, minus the affordability question

Apartments currently represent one of the most fruitful sites of invention within the field of architecture. The contemporary world, simply put, is filled with provocative apartment buildings. Michael Webb’s Building Community—New Apartment Architecture aims to chronicle some of those exemplary projects, delivering a well-rounded—though somewhat incomplete—exploration of contemporary apartment design. At 256 pages, the tome, with muted graphic design by Praline, is jam-packed with 30 smart apartment designs from across the world designed by renowned firms, including Zaha Hadid Architects, Studio Gang, Michael Maltzan Architecture, Gehry Partners, and Bjarke Ingels Group. The book uses photographs, plans, sections, and other drawings to provide unvarnished views into the ways in which communality functions at the scale of multifamily housing. The collection offers a “greatest hits” approach to uncovering what’s possible when designers and developers work together toward the shared aims of livability and sociability, touching on widely publicized projects like Morphosis Architects’ Carabanchel Housing and Luciano Pia’s 25 Verde. The latter features 150 trees along its exterior, while the former utilizes a network of plazas and courtyards to create cool and social outdoor spaces. Another stellar example comes in the form of Jakob + MacFarlane Hérold apartments in Paris, from 2008. The chiseled, ETFE-wrapped housing blocks—“softly-molded and irregular,” in Webb’s words—are designed with multiple exposures for cross ventilation and dwelling-wide balconies attached to each unit. The balconies, due to their comfortable proportions, are populated by eccentric patio furniture, plantings, and knickknacks, exhibiting the lived-in qualities of these truly successful outdoor apartment spaces. They seem like great places to live. The book also offers a collection of ruminations from housing-focused architects like Édouard François and Lorcan O’Herlihy that shed light on some of the inner workings and contemporary struggles of apartment design. As Michael Maltzan’s and Stanley Saitowitz’s testimonials lay bare: It’s often too difficult, costly, and risky to build quality and affordable multifamily housing on a mass scale. All told, the book’s six thematic sections—“Urban Villages,” “Building Blocks,” “Promoting Sociability,” “Spirit of Place,” “Reaching Skyward,” and “Looking Ahead”—are too generic for the multifaceted buildings on display, especially “Reaching Skyward.” The heading unnecessarily creates a division by elevating tall apartment buildings into a separate class. It would have been more helpful, perhaps, to compare tall and short buildings within chapters together, highlighting each via juxtaposition. The book features several examples of thoughtful affordable and social housing projects, but their numbers are too few. Instead—perhaps as a commentary on contemporary practice—too many of the projects bluntly use “design” as a tool for extracting higher rents and padding the developer’s bottom line. Studio Gang’s contribution points to this fact directly—“People were so eager to live here that rents are the highest in Hyde Park,” the architect explains—as does MAD Architect’s Marilyn Monroe tower, which was so successful that the developer asked the firm to design a virtual carbon copy next door. Maybe it would have been more effective to couch this contemporary tendency within a larger discussion focused on the rich connections between economies and architecture. Either way, the general topic of affordability is glossed over. Webb’s book, after all, comes not only as rapidly urbanizing populations make high-density living a practical necessity, but also as this egalitarian typology is simultaneously being co-opted by wealth. The book’s introduction highlights this fact: Until recently, apartments were the domains of regular, hard-working folks, not the idle rich. Perhaps more architects can take a page from Webb, and fight for greater excellence and representation of these types. As Webb explains, “Huge complexes can be humane places for a wide variety of residents as long as they are well built and maintained, provided with essential services and connections, and softened by generous plantings.” Building Community—New Apartment Architecture Michael Webb, Thames & Hudson, 2017 $65.00
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Historic Foreman & Clark in Downtown Los Angeles to become apartments

OKB Architecture has released renderings that depict planned renovations to the historic Foreman & Clark building in Downtown Los Angeles. The L.A.-based firm will convert the former department store and office building into a mixed-use apartment complex containing 125 units and 8,500 square feet of ground level retail. The building dates to 1928 and is organized along a series of double-loaded internal corridors, which, along with many of the building’s original decorative elements, will be retained through the conversion. The proposed apartments will ring the building’s exterior facades, with one set of units looking out over a large fifth floor courtyard and the others along the perimeter of the structure. The building will contain a collection of one- and two-bedroom units. New additions to the structure include renovations to the fifth floor terrace overlooking the street and the addition of a new rooftop penthouse level. The shared terrace will contain building amenities like integrated seating areas, shade pavilions, and modest plantings. Renderings for the project depict updated ground floor retail areas with double-height glass-clad storefronts buttressed by low walls. The renderings also depict a new, more prominent residential lobby entrance along 7th Street marked by an oversized awning.   The project joins a growing number of new developments within and around Downtown Los Angeles’s historic Broadway Theatre District, including a forthcoming 450-unit condominium tower inspired by the surrounding historic mercantile structures by architects Hanson LA. Because many of the area’s structures are historically significant, many of the new developments in the district consist of interior renovations and condominium and office conversions. A timeline for the Foreman & Clark project has not been announced.
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11-unit apartment complex coming to West Hollywood

The West Hollywood Planning Commission (WHPC) has approved a small-scale, 11-unit apartment building designed by Culver City-based R&A Architecture+Design. The project is designed as an intimate courtyard apartment complex, with a series of two- and three-bedroom units organized around a central, shared open space. The dispersed masses of the complex are clad in a variety of surface materials, including corrugated sheets of aluminum, vertically-oriented wood siding, and expanses of glass. The more solid sections of the building are studded with punched openings that signal windows, doorways, and passageways into the courtyard in a manner that corresponds to the surrounding low-level density of the neighborhood. Units in the project average 1,585-square feet in size, according to a press release, and are connected to various types of outdoor spaces, including rooftop gardens and balconies. The project is designed to facilitate natural cross-ventilation via the courtyard, exterior staircases, and unit doors that are clad in louvers and screens. The units are also designed with concrete floors throughout that will act as thermal massing for each home. Christian Robert, principal at R&A explained the contextual massing of the project in a press release, saying, “(the) segmented massing respects the scale of nearby homes. As architects, we thoughtfully pay attention to the context and work to maintain the community spirit.” The intense contextual focus of the project is no mistake on the part of the designers, as the project comes on the heels of several controversial developments in the city, like the Gehry Associates-designed 8150 Sunset project. Recent, density-oriented projects have rankled locals in the densifying municipality and across the Los Angeles region. Los Angeles voters recently defeated a controversial and anti-development measure that sought to curb new housing production in the city, but a weariness toward dense development has taken root nonetheless. Construction on the R&A Design project is scheduled to begin spring 2018.  
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Kansas City's Pickwick Plaza Hotel undergoing major renovation

In downtown Kansas City, the former Pickwick Plaza Hotel is currently being remade into an apartment building. Built in 1930, the streamline Gothic structure was a popular destination for County Judge Harry S. Truman prior to his presidency. The building, aside from being a hotel, also offered transit, office, and commercial services. Now, Helix Architecture + Design, with the backing of developers Gold Crown Properties, is transforming the vacant building into market-rate apartments while retaining its mixed-use history: the building will feature "hospitality rooms," street level retail shopping, laundry, recreation/workout facilities, parking garage, and a pool. According to the architects, the majority of the apartments are due to be one bedrooms, each covering approximately 500 square feet. Repairs to clock which dominates the arcade and former bus terminal will also be made as part of the project. Speaking to the Kansas City Star, Thomas Smith, President of Gold Crown Properties, said on July 11 this year that the renovation was "about 50-percent complete." The developer has reportedly been chasing the project since 2009. “It’s had many challenges, but it’s too worth it,” Smith said in 2013. “This building has fascinated me from the get-go." Before construction began, the building had been subject to vandalism while also suffering damage from fire in 1996. Under the name Royal Towers, the building had served as a development for government-assisted housing for the elderly, but closed in 2009. Since Smith began his pursuit of the property, the scheme's price has risen significantly from an initial estimate of $46 million to $65 million. “Up on the top floor of the garage, we ran into a $5 million surprise,” said Smith. “The major structural repairs stretched our already stretched budget.” 45 housing units are due to be available from November while the South towers will come onto the market March 2017, offering more apartments, a large glass-encased saltwater pool as well as commercial space and an Easterly view of Ilus Davis Park. So far the project has garnered positive responses. Jan Beately of Historic Kansas City said that even those who were resident "architecture junkies" weren't quite aware of the Pickwick hotel's architectural significance before plans were revealed to retain its former glory.
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Tree-like diagrid columns connect two greenspaces in Manhattan’s Upper West Side

Unbroken bands of window walls sit beyond an exterior concrete structural frame.

Completed earlier this year, a new market rate rental building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side by Handel Architects features a striking exposed cast-in-place concrete diagrid “exoskeleton” structure. The system is designed in response to required zoning code setbacks that restrict building area to a mere 35’ wide at times. The project, named after it’s address at 170 Amsterdam, is located two blocks north of Lincoln Center, situated between two greenspaces – Central Park and the Lincoln Tower superblock – via 68th Street. The lobby is a prominent glassy space containing a mix of community programs, formally and programmatically connecting the two sides of the building together, while abstracted tree-like columns punctuate the building envelope. Frank Fusaro, Partner at Handel Architects, says the use of exposed architectural concrete is a contextual response to its location between the muscular buildings of Lower Amsterdam, where Lincoln Center resides, and the heaviness of classic Upper West Side apartment buildings. “LaGuardia High Schools exposed concrete, MLK School’s corten metal and glass skin wrapped around an opaque core, and the heavily ornate Beaux-Arts exterior of the Dorilton with its quoining, ironwork, brackets, cartouches, oriels and other details all share something in common: these are tough, robust and bold buildings.”
  • Facade Manufacturer Residential Windows, Skyline Dual Action Windows; Retail storefront, YKK; Lobby entrance storefront: Sentech Architectural Systems; Metal Panel North and South walls, Painted Aluminum Composite Panel by Omega Panel Products; Ground floor (East), Canopy and Bulkhead: Pre-finished Cement Board: Fibre C; Wood cladding: Descience Laboratories; Wood trellis: Structurlam
  • Architects Handel Architects
  • Facade Installer Cast in Place Concrete, Ryder Construction/ RC Structures; Residential Windows, Skyline; Retail storefront & Lobby Entrance, Ground floor (East), Canopy and Bulkhead: Crowne Architectural Systems, Inc.; Metal Panel North and South walls, KNS Building Restoration Inc.; Wood cladding & trellis: JM3 Construction LLC)
  • Facade Consultants IBA Consulting & Engineering
  • Location New York, NY
  • Date of Completion April, 2015
  • System High strength exposed architectural cast in place concrete exoskeleton with continuous window wall
  • Products Concrete formwork, Molded Fiber Glass Construction Products; Glass: Insulated energy efficient glazing PPG Solarban 72 Starphire Operable window hardware, Geze
Aside from the contextual benefits to exposing a concrete system, the architects noted several benefits to a structural exoskeleton system, contributing to the client’s full support from nearly the beginning of the project. The most significant benefits to the building envelope design were seen when interior floor area was able to be maximized. The structural system of the building resembles a shell structure, achieving high stiffness from an exterior diagrid of columns tied together with repetitive structural floor slabs. This stiffness allows for no shear walls to be required in the core of the building and relatively few interior columns. By moving the columns to the outside of the building, the city’s zoning department allowed for the floor area of the building to be measured to the face of the window wall, rather than the face of the structure. This allowed the architects to add an entire extra floor of program to the building. Additionally, the depth of the facade assembly acts as a brise soleil, passively helping to manage a less-than-ideal solar orientation (unavoidable due to the city grid and buildable area on site). Beyond the columns, a continuous band of window units, spanning from floor to ceiling, establishes the building’s thermal envelope. The windows feature a high performance low e coating to allow for high levels of transparency without sacrificing solar performance. Fusaro says the unbroken line of windows in the apartment units was essential: “The studios are sized just over 400 square feet, so having an exterior wall of glass makes the units feel much larger.” An extremely dense mix of concrete allows for the smooth finish and eliminates voids. The use of less rebar permits a pump tube to be placed in the column and minimizes vibration. Slag was added to the mix to make the color of the concrete more like limestone. Installation of the building envelope after the concrete was poured occurred surprisingly quickly, at a rate of about one floor per week, adding value to the system. The design of the diagrid was optimized to reduce the quantity of fabricating costly “X” forms by shifting the grid on a diagonal axis. The success of 170 Amsterdam has led Handel Architects to further work with exposed architectural cast in place concrete. Most notably, in the Upper West Side, another market rate rental building is under construction currently. For Fusaro, the elegance of exposed concrete is activated with an underlying connection to nature: “I love the organic nature of concrete, you can add or subtract a little of this or that and make it into something entirely different.” Handel Architects: Partner in Charge/Design Principal; Frank Fusaro Project Manager; Honyi Wang Design Team; Alan Noah-Navarro, Elga Killinger, Shridhuli Solanki, Rinaldo Perez, Ren Zhong Huang, Jessica Kuo, Jordan Young, Shujian Jian, Hong Min Kim, Ade Herkarisma, Ana Untiveros-Ferrel
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Eavesdrop> Study shows Angelenos hard up for rent

Forget about San Francisco being the hardest place to rent in California. According to a story in the New York Times (citing zillow.com), Angelenos spend 47 percent of their income on the median rent. That’s the highest in the country, and significantly higher than San Francisco, which ranks sixth on the list at 40.7 percent. And the problem appears ready to get worse as new supply struggles to keep up with demand in the overcrowded city. Maybe we’ll all have to move to Bakersfield.
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Pictorial> OneEleven, Chicago's ritzy Loop residential with a rocky history

Developers Related completed its resurrection of 111 West Wacker Drive earlier this year, opening a luxury rental tower on the Chicago River where for years stood a ghostly concrete frame left over from a previous owner's attempt to build. The site was originally intended to house the first Shangri-La Hotel in the U.S. Four years after the recession halted construction with just 28 stories of structural skeleton complete, Related broke "ground" again, this time planning about 60 stories and about 500 luxury apartments. That redevelopment finished up this summer, opening in July. About 60 percent of the units have since been rented, said Related spokeswoman Tricia Van Horn. Renting is the only option for the 504 units, which range from 575-square-foot studios to three-bedroom, three-bath residences of 2,400 square feet. They cost anywhere from $2,395 to $11,500 a month for one of the four penthouses. OneEleven's segmented construction led to some interesting design adaptations. Having scaled back from pre-recession ambitions, the new owners stacked a smaller building on top of the 28-story base, bifurcating the floorplate and creating some interesting outdoor spaces where the Shangri-La plan juts out at the 28th floor. A recessed zig-zag in the facade references datum lines of nearby buildings and alludes to the unusual construction history while shielding the transition between its disjointed floorplans. Views from outdoor “Club OneEleven” down Clark Street are spectacular, if marred a bit by the building's neighbor to the south. But rather than cram lower south-facing floors with low-light apartments, Related conceded that space to back-of-house, building systems and some amenities. The luxury rentals are targeted to “people who are really interested in having an urban life,” Van Horn said, underscoring the building's singular position in this section of the Loop not typically known for residential developments. Take a look inside OneEleven with these photos by Scott Frances.
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French designer imagines skyscrapers dripping with flowers in Casablanca

French designer Maison Edouard François has presented designs for The Gardens of Anfa, a project consisting of three residential towers, a low-rise office building, and several ancillary structures all situated within a large plot of parkland in Morroco. The four largest components of the design are clad in various flowers that pour down curved, irregular facades. The peripheral buildings are rectilinear and appear largely free of the organic attire found on their taller neighbors. Washingtonia palms populate the innermost portion of the complex, a flatland bordered on four sides by the aforementioned towers. The apartments feature 360-degree balconies surrounded by fencing rendered in Arabic geometric patterning. White and jasmine bougainvilleas cover much of their exteriors in contrast to the more vibrant hues found in the vegetal coating of the office building. The latter is a squatter rendition of the same basic form of the residences. This piazza is enclosed by a ring of smaller square buildings also to act as housing. These jigsaw structures are interspersed by rectangular protrusions that lend a decidedly tetris-like quality to the facades. Geometric apertures continue the Arabesque motifs found in the high-rises. Underground parking will be tucked away beneath this Moroccan Eden. The Gardens, which are set to be completed in 2016–2017, are not Edouard François' first dalliance into the union of flora and verticality. Round up the usual vegetal towers.
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Aqua Tower team dives back in for new Chicago project by Studio Gang

With the real estate market drifting through a relative recovery, one prominent Chicago developer seems to be saying, "Come back in, the water's fine." The team behind Chicago’s Aqua Tower is gearing up for another high-rise nearby. Chicago-based Magellan Development Group hired Studio Gang Architects for another tower in the 28-acre master-planned neighborhood of Lakeshore East. Gang’s 82-story Aqua Tower, 225 North Columbus Drive, opened in 2009 to international acclaim. Its organically rippled balconies suggest the movement of wind across water. The undulating balconies are functional, too, providing sun shading and eliminating the need for a tuned mass damper. Design details for the new tower are forthcoming, but the developers said it could work on either of two sites in the Lakeshore East area. Five years after the mixed-use tower opened, Aqua saw its last unit sold February 21. Dennis Rodkin reported the 3,200-square-foot town home at the building's base sold for $1.7 million. Aqua’s 262 condominiums, 474 apartments, nine town homes and 334-room hotel are a landmark for the Lakeshore East neighborhood, which is now home to more than 5,000 residents. Development there has taken off since Millennium Park’s 2004 completion. Magellan’s master-planned community include a Dubai-based private school's first U.S. location, a six-acre park, and towers from the likes of SOM, DeStefano + Partners, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, and Steinberg Architects.
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The History and Future of the Los Angeles Dingbat

“Dingbat” is a word with many meanings. It’s a synonym for nitwit. In typography, it’s a symbol used in place of a letter. And in Los Angeles, it’s a particular type of multi-family housing, dominant in the 1950s and 1960s and alternately maligned and embraced over the decades. Dingbat 2.0, an upcoming publication from the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design (LA Forum), explores the history and future of dingbat apartments. The subject of a current Kickstarter campaign, Dingbat 2.0 brings together essays on the origins of the Los Angeles dingbat with highlights from the LA Forum’s 2010 Dingbat 2.0 competition, in which participants were asked to reconfigure the dingbat for today’s urban reality. The dingbat is a “really interesting architectural type that can be looked at in a lot of different ways,” said Thurman Grant, co-editor with Joshua G. Stein of Dingbat 2.0. A subset of what John Chase and John Beach called “the stucco box,” the dingbat is unornamented except on its street-facing facade, where applied texture, rear-lit sconces, and pressed-wood script bearing the building’s (often fanciful) name differentiate one structure from the next. In obeisance to postwar cultural norms, dingbat developers built a separate entrance for each apartment, and made room for the automobile in a ground-floor carport. “In one way [the dingbat is] kind of sticky, in that you can apply a lot of things to it,” Grant said. “But it’s also kind of slippery, because you have these apartment buildings that are very clearly dingbats, and others that could be dingbats.” Part of the Dingbat 2.0 project is to better define the dingbat apartment typology. But the dingbat is more than just a historic artifact: it’s also a contemporary problem. The dingbat began as a waystation for upwardly-mobile immigrants from the Midwest. Today’s urban nomads have a different set of needs, which aren’t necessarily addressed by the car-centric stucco box. “That’s what the LA Forum initially identified [in the Dingbat 2.0 competition],” Stein said. “Something’s changed...We want to figure out what would better serve those kinds of populations.” The 2010 competition began a conversation that continues in the Dingbat 2.0 publication, many of whose contributors served on the competition jury. Whether the topic is the dingbat’s historical backstory, the appropriation of the dingbat aesthetic by 1970s avant-garde artists, or a speculative reimagining of small-lot development, Stein sees Dingbat 2.0 as a vehicle to better understanding the Los Angeles of today. “The book becomes a handbook to describe the life of the common Angeleno,” he said. Dingbat 2.0 includes essays by Barbara Bestor, Aaron Betsky, James Black, Dana Cuff, John Kaliski, John Southern, Steven Treffers, and Wim de Wit, plus a photo essay by Judy Fiskin. Click here to contribute to the Dingbat 2.0 Kickstarter campaign.