Posts tagged with "California":

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Governor Gavin Newsom proposes billion-dollar plan to alleviate California's homeless crisis

On January 7, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced his statewide initiative to resolve the homeless crisis. The plan calls for a $1.45 billion budget, $750 million of which is from taxpayer money that will be designated for supportive housing, while the remaining $700 million will go towards health-related expenses. “We have an unprecedented amount of investment, and with that, we want transparency and accountability,” Newsom later told KCRA in a televised interview. “We want to see a reduction in street population, we want more people rapidly rehoused, and we want [to provide] more access to behavioral health.” Newsom began a statewide tour on January 13 to speak with California's dispersed homeless population and local nonprofits to learn how best to spend the budget. “Californians have lots of compassion for those among us who are living without shelter,” said Newsom in a statement. “But we also know what compassion isn’t. Compassion isn’t allowing a person suffering a severe psychotic break or from a lethal substance abuse addiction to literally drift towards death on our streets and sidewalks.” The Governor also recently signed an executive order to invest in the search for vacant properties across California to develop them into affordable housing, with an emphasis on those next to highways, state roads, and other commonly-underdeveloped sites—although a recent raid on the nonprofit Moms4Housing in Oakland over squatting, complete with tanks, is seemingly at odds with this strategy. Though many of Newsom's plans for solving the homeless crisis were unsuccessful when serving as San Francisco's mayor from 2004-2011, the recent announcement is an opportunity for Newsom to focus his attention on a statewide level with a significantly increased budget. The plan comes shortly after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated that 151,000 homeless people, nearly one-quarter of the nation's homeless population, live in the state. While the amount of homelessness has decreased in other parts of the country, the report explains, the population has increased by 16 percent in California. Homelessness has been a significant issue in California given the skyrocketing cost of housing, mixed with a staggering shortage of affordable housing, making the issue a priority among California voters.
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Hacker Architects marries contextualism with material efficiency

The origins and guiding principles of Portland-based Hacker Architects stem from the six years founder Thomas Hacker spent working for Louis Kahn, an architect who knew how to match dramatic siting with phenomenal material palettes. Hacker has since retired, but the firm has expanded to a staff of over 60 people and continues to treat each project as an opportunity to mix contextualism with the latest in efficiency and sustainability. The firm is known for its innovative uses of cross-laminated timber, a favorite because of the material’s quick renewability and capacity to function as a carbon sink; the firm also employs a wide range of locally sourced materials to reduce waste and incorporates passive heating and cooling methods whenever possible.

Hacker Architects’ leaders feel they are in service to the public and have become specialists in the design of libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions. The handful of private buildings they’ve designed, however, are no less representative of the firm’s dual interests in siting and materiality. Inspired by local history, natural scenery, and the imperative to reduce our carbon footprint, Hacker Architects sets examples for the industry with every project.

Lakeside at Black Butte Ranch

Surrounded by the scenic Cascade mountain range and the Deschutes National Forest in Central Oregon, Lakeside adds a sprawling recreational and dining complex to the rustic-modernist resort atmosphere of Black Butte Ranch. The project used a $11.5 million budget to replace an aging pool facility with a 15,000-square-foot design that heightens the experience of transitioning from the rugged outdoor landscape to the calming resort.

Douglas fir is the primary structural component for the project, while the interior and exterior are almost entirely clad in locally sourced cedar, a material in common use in the Pacific Northwest because of how it gracefully weathers. The firm envisioned the building as an “aperture for the site,” framing views that might strengthen connections between the ranch and the vast landscape beyond.

Bayview/Linda Brooks- Burton Library

Replacing a branch library dating from 1969 in the historically underserved neighborhood of Bayview in the southeastern portion of San Francisco, the Bayview/Linda Brooks-Burton Library was completed in 2013 and designed to be an open and inviting space for the community it serves. Many of the library’s design gestures are a nod to the neighborhood’s African and African American past, including the street-level window walls adorned with illustrations of the area’s history, the kente cloth–inspired exterior paneling, and the space allotted throughout the library for works by local artist Ron Moultrie Saunders.

The firm designed the library to look inward, with a courtyard at the center large enough to host events; thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows that surround it, the courtyard provides generous natural light and views throughout the interior spaces. The library contains several environmentally efficient features that helped it achieve LEED Gold status, including passive ventilation and air-filtration systems in the exterior walls, embedded photovoltaic arrays, and a green rooftop that filters stormwater runoff using native grasses and perennials.

Berwick Hall

When tasked with creating a permanent home for the Oregon Bach Festival, an annual event in Eugene, Oregon, that celebrates the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, Hacker Architects combined an office space with a double-height rehearsal room acoustically designed to function like the musical instruments that it contains. A wood panel system made of tongue-and-groove Accoya boards allows the tops of two of the rehearsal space’s walls to bend in a way that provides abundant natural light from above while also preventing excessive audial buildup in the lower portion of the room.

Visually distinct from the cubic rehearsal space is the office bar, a lower-slung, redbrick building designed to match the older buildings on the University of Oregon campus. Many of its windows are operable, permitting natural ventilation while reducing the demand on the building’s active heating and cooling systems.

Sunshine Canyon Residence

One of Hacker Architects’ few residential projects—as well as one of the firm’s smallest, at 2,200 square feet—the Sunshine Canyon Residence was built in the hills outside Boulder, Colorado, to replace its client’s previous home, lost in the Fourmile Canyon Fire near the site in 2010. To preserve the landscape, the majority of the house is supported by narrow steel columns that minimized the amount of construction work on the site. Given that the house is in a cold climate that receives an abundance of annual sunlight, its windows face south to maximize solar gain and reduce the need for active heating.

The materiality and formal simplicity of the home were inspired by the abandoned mine shafts, rusted steel mining structures, and naturally occurring granite bordering the site that resurfaced after the fire. The majority of the exterior is clad with corrugated steel and untreated Ipe, both of which are designed to patina over time, like the nearby mining equipment. The interior is lined with clear vertical-grain fir that recalls the trees on the site while subtly changing in shifting daylight.

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Virgin to build another high-speed rail line from SoCal to Las Vegas

The United States has largely tailed other global leaders in the development of high-speed train infrastructure. State and municipal governments throughout China and the European Union have long-invested more in public transportation systems over the automobile, but one recent development in the U.S. may potentially bring America to the fore. A 170-mile-long, high-speed train from Las Vegas and Southern California is slated to start construction next year. Developed by Virgin Trains USA, the $4.8 billion rail line will be placed in between the Interstate 15 highway lanes, from Victorville, California, to Las Vegas Boulevard between Blue Diamond and Warm Springs roads in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to Tina Quigley, vice president of business strategy for the company, the build-out will begin on the western end in California. She told the told Las Vegas Review-Journal that contractors will likely begin work "in about five different areas when construction starts" and that "those five areas will probably be in California.” A section of the track stretching 35 miles will run through Southern Nevada and is expected to begin construction in 2021. Virgin is basing much of its design strategy for the project on a previous, 70-mile system completed by the company in South Florida between Miami and West Palm Beach. When complete, the train is expected to dramatically influence the economy of Victorville, a town with a population of fewer than 20,000 people, as well as the development of other high-speed rail projects throughout the United States. The price for train fare has not yet been determined, but it will have to remain competitive with plane fare and the cost of driving to remain a viable option for interstate travel. Though the project cannot begin until it receives a "record of decision" by the Federal Railroad Administration, Virgin has already begun securing equipment and materials, according to Nevada's Department of Business Director Terry Reynolds. The company received an additional boost last month when the state of California approved a $3.25 billion bond request to support the project. If all goes according to plan, construction on the route will break ground in the second half of 2020 and be completed in 2023.
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California coastal community geared toward eco-conscious tech elite now accepting offers

In the picturesque hills above Monterey, a quiet town on California’s rugged central coast, is a pristine, 609-acre forest that one investor purchased with dreams of turning the site into a unique real estate opportunity. When Nick Jekogian, CEO of New York-based Signature Group Investments, acquired the land in 2015 he first conceived of a golf course with Mediterranean-style mansions, a development not dissimilar from others in the area. However, after spending a weekend on the grounds, Jekogian decided it would be more worthwhile to instead develop it into a one-of-a-kind “agrihood”—a neighborhood providing communal agricultural facilities, farmland, and an abundance of green space for its residents. “I looked at a 200-year-old oak tree and realized that depending on what we do, it could either be taken down in the next few months or last for another 200 years,” said Jekogian in 2017. For a burgeoning class of millennial millionaires, agrihoods have become an attractive alternative to the golf communities and megamansion suburbs that attracted previous generations of wealth. Jekogian renamed the land Walden Monterey, in a nod to 19th-century transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau and the quiet life he led at Walden Pond. The site is divided into 22 lots, each of which will sell for $5 million. Although the project was initially announced in 2017, the community is now accepting offers and buyers will be given free rein to design homes on their 20-acre lots however they please—provided that they commit to two basic rules. The homes can only use renewable energy resources, and they are not allowed to cut down any of the 200-year-old trees currently on the property. Jekogian laid out these rules to establish Walden Monterey as a neighborhood where the houses blend into the natural environment in a manner similar to other California developments, such as the Case Study House Program in Los Angeles and Sea Ranch in Sonoma County. To give potential buyers a better sense of their investment, Jekogian commissioned architects to develop speculative renderings for home designs that “are light on the land” and range between 3,500 and 5,00 square feet. Walden Monterey will also be the new site of Walden Gathering, an event series that gathers “a diverse community of passionate innovators finding inspiration from nature to focus on making the world better for the next generation.” Sited 90 miles south of Silicon Valley, Jekogian hopes that Walden Monterey will find wealthy young clients from the region’s tech industry.
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Facebook pledges $1 billion to counteract California's housing crisis

To be a member of the middle class in San Francisco, California, it currently requires a minimal annual income of $192,000, more than double the national average of $78,442. While the rest of the country pays a mere average of $1,216 a month to rent a one-bedroom, the same space in San Francisco can easily set you back over $3,600. California has the highest poverty rate of any American state and the recent influx of tech companies in the Bay Area—along with the sudden increase in the cost of housing that followed—is cited among the biggest culprits. With accommodations for over 12,000 employees in Menlo Park, Facebook has become one of the largest companies headquartered in the area and critics have shown little restraint in pointing the cause of the local housing crisis squarely at the social media giant. In response to long-standing complaints, Facebook announced on October 22 that it will partner with the state of California and allocate $1 billion to address the housing crisis the company took part in producing.

According to Facebook Newsroom, the $1 billion will divided five ways: $250 million will go toward developing mixed-use housing in a partnership with the state of California; $150 million will be given to the Bay’s Future Fund toward the construction of affordable housing in the Bay Area; $225 million will be used to create roughly 1,500 affordable housing units on land in Menlo Park previously purchased by the company; $350 million will aid in the construction of affordable housing in other cities with Facebook offices (including Atlanta, Boston and Ashburn, Virginia); and the remaining $25 million will be used to develop housing on county-owned land for teachers and other “essential workers.”  

Altogether, the pledge will bring an estimated 20,000 additional housing units to the Bay Area, with an emphasis on helping teachers, nurses, and first responders “live closer to the communities in which they work.”

The news comes months after Google, another tech giant with headquarters in the area, also pledged $1 billion towards affordable housing in June. Just yesterday Apple shared it would one-up both Facebook and Google's offerings with a $2.5 billion commitment

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California to return ownership of contested island back to native tribe

The North Coast Journal reported that Indian Island, the largest island in Northern California's Humboldt Bay, will be returned today to the native Wiyot tribe that once owned it 160 years ago. Shortly after a unanimous vote made last week by the Eureka City councilmembers, Wiyot Tribal Chair Ted Hernandez and Eureka Mayor Susan Seaman signed a deed that formally transferred ownership of the 200-acre property.  

“[The agreement is] a really good example of resilience,” tribal administrator Michelle Vassel told the New York Times, “because Wiyot people never gave up the dream...It’s a really good story about healing and about the coming together of a community.”

Also known as Duluwat Island, the territory represents sacred land for the 600 remaining members of the Wiyot tribe, whose ancestors were decimated by settlers in the Wiyot massacre on February 26, 1860.

The news comes after several decades of many smaller land acquisitions, beginning with the first request made by the tribe to the city of Eureka in 1970. In 2000, the tribe raised $106,000 to purchase 1.5 acres of the island, after which the city provided an additional 40 acres. Because the island is heavily contaminated by a century of livestock grazing and its proximity to a former shipyard, the Wiyot tribe and members of the local community have since come together to clean up the land, including the restoration of a millennium-old mound containing ancient burial sites.

In 2014, the site was deemed adequate for ceremonial practices by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The tribe has since also begun attempting to revive the language and cultural practices that originated on the site prior to the 1860 massacre.

Bob Anderson, the director of the Native American Law Century at the University of Washington School of Law, commented on the recently-made deal by adding that “it sets an important precedent for other communities that might be thinking about doing this.” Now that the sacred piece of land is given back to the tribe, its members are planning to grow native plants and conduct annual ceremonies on the site, the first of which is scheduled for next March. 

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The Brady Bunch house gets thoroughly renovated for a new reality show

After it was announced last year that television channel HGTV was behind the $3.5 million purchase of the Brady Bunch house, originally built in 1959 in Studio City, California, fans were left in the dark about what might lay in store for the iconic home. That is until HGTV announced the premiere of its latest reality show: A Very Brady Renovation. The 90-minute premiere episode aired on September 9, which begins with Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott and a few of the original stars of The Brady Bunch conducting an in-depth tour of the home. That included informing the audience that the majority of The Brady Bunch, which aired on CBS from 1969 to 1974, was actually filmed on a soundstage, while the home purchased by HGTV was merely used for establishing shots (a common trick when filming TV shows). They then announce that the goal of A Very Brady Renovation is to replicate the well-known soundstage set interiors within the home. The house has been completely renovated, and subsequent episodes will reveal the project's incremental progression. In order to recreate the original show’s 15 unique interiors within the home, the team had to build out an additional 2,000 square feet, requiring the construction of an extra floor, and expanding the home's footprint into more of the 12,500-square-foot lot. This proved to be a heady challenge, as the house had to maintain its relatively modest street presence. The additions were necessary to replicate the show’s truly cavernous living room interior and its particularly iconic staircase. No detail, however, was seemingly too small to ignore: the distinct 1970s-era fabric patterning found throughout the original stage sets was almost entirely recreated with the aid of documents courtesy of CBS, while antique stores throughout Southern California were scoured for furniture identical to what was featured on the show. What will happen to the home after it has been renovated, however, has not yet been disclosed, but it will likely be revealed at the end of A Very Brady Renovation.
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Aston Martin will build an over-the-top luxury lair for your car

Luxury automaker Aston Martin Lagonda has unveiled a new custom design resource for car enthusiasts with big dreams and even bigger wallets. This month at Monterey Car Week in Pebble Beach, California, the company introduced their "Aston Martin Automotive Galleries and Lairs" service, that allows customers to work closely with the company’s designers and architects to create personalized bespoke garages for their vehicles. According to Aston Martin Lagonda’s chief creative officer Marek Reichman, the spaces will serve as more than just garages: The lairs are “A bespoke auto gallery designed by Aston Martin that either focuses on showing off the car or is part of a larger, integrated entertainment space with simulators and such like, takes Aston Martin ownership to the next level.”

The custom garage program will expand the company’s efforts to render car ownership more personal. The brand has already established "Q by Aston Martin," which enables buyers to work with representatives to create an ideal vehicle for them. The newest service, though, will be the company’s first foray into architectural services. The Galleries and Lairs project will be led by both the Aston Martin Design Team and Reichman’s own team, which has already collaborated with architects on the design of the company’s global brand center in Tokyo and several dealership interiors.

Austrian firm Obermoser arch-omo Architecture has produced visuals of what some of the galleries and lairs could look like, complete with dramatic spiraling staircases, glass walls, and water features that evoke James Bond films, the Batcave, or any supervillain’s dream hideout. Many of the concepts make use of circular motifs, including glass-enclosed turntables that can spotlight a car as the central focal point in any space. Aston Martin Lagonda suggests that the service can be used to build anything from small galleries for individual cars to entire luxury homes or collectors museums. In promoting the service, the company is emphasizing not only its collaboration with top architects but also its expertise in displaying and maintaining luxury cars.

Pricing will vary greatly depending on the size and scope of each project, but there certainly will not be any affordable options. The cheapest Aston Martin car—that's without the lair—will currently set you back $149,995. Customers interested in Aston Martin Automotive Galleries and Lairs can begin to make requests through the Aston Martin Partnership Team.

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Hood Design Studio leads revamp of the Oakland Museum roof garden

Hood Design Studio (HDS) will take a stab at revitalizing the famous terraced roof garden atop the Oakland Museum of California. The Kevin Roche-designed Brutalist structure has boasted a lush, 26,4000-square-foot landscape since it opened in 1969, and now the institution is looking to upgrade it for contemporary museum-goers.  The Oakland-based HDS has designed a site-specific intervention that enhances the Dan Kiley-designed outdoor space. Set to break ground next month, the $20 million project will reevaluate the vegetation in the garden by adding native plants from all over California. Specifically, the design team will embed plants representing one of the four ecological regions in the state–desert, coastal forest, woodland, and the Mediterranean climate—on each of the terrace’s levels. Though the plantings might take 15 years to mature, HDS envisions them as lightly spilling over the edges of the site and changing color in tandem with the seasons. In addition to a revamped landscape, HDS plans to demolish the northern garden wall, which was not part of Kiley’s original design, and replace it with a row of trees. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaff told Artnet she thinks the change will create more space and open up the museum to the lakefront in downtown. Throughout the garden, HDS will integrate more seating as well as a permanent stage for performances.  The Oakland Museum of California previously underwent an award-winning renovation from 2010-2012, that was handled by Mark Cavagnero Associates. The San-Francisco studio is working alongside HDS on the latest update to the seven-acre campus, and the roof garden is expected to be finished next fall. 
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Amir Zaki explores broken space and empty skateparks in Empty Vessel

Photographer Amir Zaki is turning his lens towards "California concrete"—empty skateparks—for his upcoming exhibition at the Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion on the campus of Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California. The uncannily clear images of the undulating bowls and ramps of the parks, while ubiquitous in Zaki’s Southern California, exist as alien landscapes outside the expectation of what you’d typically see outside your window.  Zaki unites both his bodies of work, photography and ceramics, in the upcoming exhibition Empty Vessel, which will run at the Doyle from September 19 through December 5. Using with a GigaPan attachment, a device that creates the same effect as a long exposure shot on film for his digital camera, Zaki took 50-to-60 photos of a scene or detail, and stitched the disparate takes together into one high definition image. The result is eerie, hyper-real prints, not dissimilar to the multiple exposures taken by architectural photographers to fine-tune the perfection of a space.  Hanging on the walls of the Doyle are these laser-sharp images of skateparks as sculpture or land art, accompanied by images of colorful broken ceramics. Destroyed by Zaki in his backyard, the visual juxtaposition of the different scales of "vessels" in the gallery is intended as a commentary on architecture—spaces and emptiness. The broken ceramics and the early morning, skaterless skateparks are brought out of the context of their accepted usefulness, purely just existing, as Zaki’s lens focuses our eye on the spaces they create. The idea of both the ceramics and the skateparks being vessels has to do with their sunken earth nature—while the ceramics are formed from the earth, fired, and then subsequently broken by the artist on his concrete back patio, when skateparks are devoid of skaters they become just concrete forms sunken into the earth. They are the reverse of high-rise contemporary urban architectures, scooped out forms of concrete instead of soaring roofed structures. However, while skateparks and their odd manmade topologies are not meant to be inhabited, they hold people and culture. While the cracked ceramics can no longer hold water or smaller objects, they still create dynamic, jagged spaces in Zaki’s eye. Shot from the bottom of the bowls and looking up at ramps and rails, the chosen perspective gives the parks an authority over the photographer as well as the viewer. It is as if they are inhabiting the space, taking time to understand and occupy a place that is usually seen as a fleeting blur atop a skateboard. Skateparks were not meant for human inhabitation or celebration, and neither was his ceramic earthenware. Zaki has sustained a unique interest in architectural subjects throughout his career, notably in his earlier collection of candy-colored lifeguard towers, titled Relics (2010). Using digital manipulation, nonhuman scale or horizonless perspectives, Zaki makes his built environments appear subtly irrational, made to be seen not experienced. He presents us with buildings that exist for themselves, not for us.  The juxtaposition of the ceramic shards can be read as a visual way to explore and question the origins of architectural form-making. The skatepark is like a shard of a building, no longer enclosed and warped at the edges. Yet it is still a functional piece, a place where the fringes meet. A broken jar may no longer hold water, a roofless building may not be an office. But architecture can be broken, shattered, and reclaimed. 
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Kanye West's affordable housing prototypes may have to be demolished

Kanye West had big plans to shake up the development market with a new affordable housing community, but it seems like the dream might be short-lived. News of the project in Calabasas, California broke just last month, but TMZ, who also obtained first images of the development from a Los Angeles County Public Works inspector, is reporting that state authorities are threatening its demolition if West does not comply with construction permit laws by September 15. 

West, who identifies with the pseudonym Yeezy, has demonstrated his interest in residential architecture and the housing market before, establishing the studio Yeezy Home and unveiling renderings of a stark concrete affordable housing complex in 2018. On a 300-acre forested plot of land in Calabasas, near West and Kim Kardashian’s shared home, his latest endeavor took a less conventional route. Writing for Forbes last month, Zack O’Malley Greenburg compared the prototypes for the development to Tatooine settlements from the first Star Wars movie, which in turn were inspired by vernacular housing design in Tunisia. While images of the interiors of the homes have not been released, it is clear from Greenburg’s account and photos shared online that they are igloo-like in form, with wooden skeletal frames “dozens of feet tall.” According to the photos released by TMZ, that description appears to have been accurate; they show rounded domes framed in timber and slightly sunken into the ground, with holes cut in the top to let in natural light.

Since the inception of the project, though, West’s foray into affordable housing has been mired in local controversy. At least two of his neighbors complained about construction noise, prompting state inspectors to pay the site a visit. While they were initially told that the structures were intended to be temporary and thus did not need a permit for permanent construction, inspectors later returned and noticed the homes’ concrete foundations. Concerned that West and his property managers were building something more lasting, they issued a citation last week that requires West to apply for approval from the city within 45 days or dismantle the buildings altogether. Although West and his team reportedly claimed that the foundations were simply added for increased stability, not longevity, it is unclear what West’s next steps will be.

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Autodesk invests in prefab home startup to help with disaster housing

Autodesk is making a bet on the future of prefabrication for disaster housing with an investment in FactoryOS and the company’s California-based “Rapid Response Factory.” In addition to allowing the startup to begin experimenting with constructing post-natural disaster homes on the factory floor, the funding will reportedly allow the Bay Area startup to create a Factory Floor Learning Center that will focus on housing policy in partnership with UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation. FactoryOS founder Rick Holiday explained to Fast Company that after several major natural disasters in California, like the recent forest fires, he received requests to build disaster housing; however, the company was not equipped to meet that demand, nor to build the smaller homes required. Thanks to the investment from Autodesk, Holiday told Fast Company that FactoryOS is “going to explore if [they] can create a standardized unit that could be used for supportive housing, or could be stitched together to create a small-to-medium to a larger-sized building after a natural disaster quickly.” FactoryOS has been able to streamline homebuilding through vertically integrating the construction process and creating a factory floor that can be used in all weather by union labor while easily integrating digital design and manufacturing. They claim that this precision has allowed them to reduce waste over traditional construction by as much as 40 percent, and costs by over 30 percent. The company believes that prefabrication could be a major answer during this time of national housing crises, when productivity in construction is not only stagnating but decreasing. At the moment, FactoryOS reports that they can create four-to-six apartment units in a day, however, with their continued growth and the addition of the Rapid Response Factory, they are hoping to bring that number up to as many as 16 units in 2021. According to Fast Company, this new deal will also require intensive data collection and tracking of social impact metrics, as well as environmental impact and cost. FactoryOS, which previously received an investment from Alphabet, has also just received an influx of cash from a Citigroup-funded incubator focused on affordable housing, according to The Verge's weekly newsletter.