Posts tagged with "California":

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Marijuana reparations: A vehicle for housing reform in California?

If it seems like legalized recreational marijuana’s potential to instigate positive social change at the urban scale is little more than a pipe dream, think again. Several states and municipalities are already experimenting with innovative uses for legal marijuana revenues that hint at a possible urban dimension to the notion of so-called “marijuana reparations,” but these efforts do not go far enough. One approach comes from the state of Colorado, where lawmakers are working to change state law to allow municipalities to spend tax revenues raised via recreational marijuana sales to build new units of affordable housing for individuals experiencing homelessness. Officials there see a recent rise in homelessness as being related to the legal marijuana trade and are looking to utilize revenues from booming marijuana sales to fund re-housing and recovery efforts. The plan, if enacted, would seek to redirect $12.3 million in revenue—legal weed sales brought in $199 million in tax revenue in 2016—to build roughly 1,500 affordable housing units over the next five years. Oakland, California, on the other hand, is aiming to increase access to marijuana sales licenses via its equity permit program. That program aims to streamline the process by which formerly-incarcerated individuals who were jailed for marijuana-related crimes can apply for licenses to sell recreational marijuana. City Lab reports that by Oakland’s official estimates, African Americans made up 77 percent of marijuana-related arrests in the city during 2015. With such skewed figures, whites made up only seven percent of arrests for marijuana-related crimes that year while Latinos made up 15% of arrestees. The city is banking that by earmarking legal marijuana permits for formerly incarcerated individuals, some of those who suffered the most under the war on drugs will be some of the first to benefit from changing laws. These types of changes are a positive first step, but they do not go far enough in addressing the inequality engendered by the discriminatory racial paradigm that launched the war on drugs in the first place. Simply put, state and local municipalities have a moral, social, and financial obligation to rectify the impacts of the decades-long war on drugs that has unnecessarily criminalized African American and Latino communities across the country. The majority of people in prison are currently incarcerated at the state level, often due to local policing efforts. In the United States, the effects of racism on housing discrimination and incarceration rates are ongoing and well-documented. The intimately-related nature of post-World War II redlining practices, coupled with the facilitation of concentrated urban poverty by the interstate highway system, are directly responsible for the ease with which hostile policing and drug enforcement practices have been able to tear into communities of color left behind by suburbanization. Recent episodes of police brutality against people of color—and African Americans, in particular—point directly to the historical legacies that racist land use and policing policies have left on many communities to this very day. The historical legacy of these initiatives has also set up the parameters through which contemporary gentrification has been allowed to take hold in American cities. States and local municipalities are on the hook for limiting housing production over the last several decades. States like California have done an abysmal job facilitating housing production for years, a phenomenon that has created the rampant unaffordability crisis that is choking working class populations—the same groups suffering under draconian criminal policies—in major cities and small towns alike. Given these connections, it’s clear to see that the time to lay the groundwork for bold action is now; municipalities can no longer treat unaffordability and mass-incarceration as separate issues to be addressed piecemeal because they are a product of the same system of oppression. Here’s an idea for a holistic approach: What if states were to combine social justice–minded marijuana reparations efforts with housing market reform, as well? First, states like California should expand Oakland’s equity permit program to as many municipalities as possible, enabling at least the sales of legalized marijuana to economically benefit marginalized communities. The state should then administer revenues generated from recreational marijuana sales to directly incentivize the development of affordable and market rate housing within a certain proximity—say, one-quarter of a mile—of recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries or production facilities. This effort, if coupled with thoughtful increases in density around these facilities, would double- and triple-up the positive effects of the marijuana trade on marginalized communities by ensuring that new jobs and new housing are brought directly to communities besieged by the drug war. With this proximity-based approach, both urban areas and the rural communities across the state now responsible for growing and processing many cannabis products can benefit, as well. The state should also facilitate the development of community-based banks—again, located near dispensaries—tasked with providing private financing to individuals, families, business, and housing developers aiming to develop workforce housing within these communities. Formerly incarcerated individuals and their families should be given priority access to these funds, as well, an element could begin to facilitating paths to self-directed home ownership while also embedding more equitable access to financing within these communities. The potential impact of these policies could be high. In California, for example, recent legalization included levying a 15 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana sales as well as a wholesale tax of $9.25 and $2.75 per ounce on marijuana flowers and leaves, respectively. Recreational and medical marijuana sales are expected to reach $6.46 billion per year by 2020, potentially generating roughly $1 billion in tax revenues for the state. A rough calculation of the figures given earlier for Colorado’s affordable housing program indicates that state is aiming to spend roughly seven percent of marijuana revenue on supportive housing. Scaled to California’s marijuana economy, that would translate to roughly $70 million for housing reform. That’s a good start and, of course, the seven percent percent figure could go much higher. Additional funding could potentially be leveraged against funding from federal agencies for a larger effect, also. Either way, $70 million would certainly go far in communities that have seen economic disinvestment and marginalization for decades. Given the monumental shifts in marijuana policy and public opinion and the potential the booming industry has to generate vast amounts of wealth, it is essential that the spoils of legalized marijuana trade not only go to those who have access to capital and privilege necessary to start a marijuana-related business. It is also essential, given the ongoing housing crisis—and that phenomenon’s ties to other aspects of institutionalized racial inequality—that municipalities move to make housing reform a central component of any marijuana reparations program. These funds should be harnessed directly toward increasing business opportunities for individuals caught up by the war on drugs and be put toward the equitable redevelopment of the very communities torn apart by those policies.
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Now open: This shipping container Taco Bell is the world’s first

Today marks a new age for the always-evolving design of Taco Bell stores. The first permanent shipping container-based Taco Bell has opened in South Gate, California. The 1,080-square-foot restaurant has five modules and was developed by SG Blocks. The concept was first devised for a pop-up Taco Bell at the 2015 South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference & Festivals in Austin. The original Taco Bell location opened in 1962 as a walk-up counter in Downey, California, in the days when many fast food joints were windows. In early 2015, a social media campaign #savetacobell cropped up in favor of saving this original location. While the original Taco Bell was California Mission-style, it has gone through a series of upgrades over the years. Through the 80s, the Mission influence remained, but by the end of the 90s, it had become very simplified. In the 2000s, a more modern box was outfitted in wild colors, and recently, a “Scandi-National Park” version has made the Taco Bell even more modern. Is the Taco Bell shipping container here to stay? It is certainly timely for 2017. Will it be a sign of the fall of the modern democratic project, and the dawn of a new libertarian era where only strongest survive and we have to eat our Cheesy Gordita Crunches in the off-sheddings of capitalism? If anyone wants to find out, the address is 13601 Garfield Ave, South Gate, CA.
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190,000 evacuated as California’s largest dam nears failure

The Oroville Dam, which supports California’s second largest reservoir and is the tallest dam in the country, is showing increasing likelihood of failure after an exceedingly wet winter rain season. This year's rainy season has brought record rains to the state after years of drought. The 770-foot-high dam is located in northern California 75 miles north of Sacramento, the state capital. The dam, built between 1961 and 1967, holds roughly 3.5 million acre-feet of water—an acre-foot is equal to the volume contained within a sheet of water one acre in area and one foot in depth, or, 43,560 cubic feet—and is integral to the California Water Project, the state’s expansive flood control and irrigation system that delivers water from the wetter and more sparsely-populated areas in the north to the drier and more densely-populated communities along the coast and south. The dam, which holds back Lake Oroville, suffered a partial fracture along its emergency spillway early last week. The emergency spillway acts as a relief valve for the dam and is designed to be opened up when water levels in the dam get too high. It was used for the first time in the dam’s history this weekend. The damaged spillway is not paved over in concrete like the main spillway, but instead, exists as a wooded slope. The damage caused engineers tasked with managing the dam to slow down the release of excess water along the emergency spillway and, as a result, the reservoir reached capacity over the weekend. Use of the emergency spillway persisted to alleviate the high water levels. Despite assurances from officials that the dam was safe and structurally sound throughout the weekend, officials announced emergency evacuation orders late Sunday as it became obvious that water being released over the emergency spillway had resulted in the steady erosion of the hillside holding the dam’s foundations. The state’s Emergency Mass Notification system sent out the following message via email Sunday afternoon:
Emergency Mass Notification Message (2/12/17 4:20 p.m.) This is an evacuation order. Immediate evacuation from the low levels of Oroville and areas downstream is ordered. A hazardous situation is developing with the Oroville Dam auxiliary spillway. Operation of the auxiliary spillway has lead to severe erosion that could lead to a failure of the structure. Failure of the auxiliary spillway structure will result in an uncontrolled release of flood waters from Lake Oroville. In response to this developing situation, DWR is increasing water releases to 100,000 cubic feet per second. Immediate evacuation from the low levels of Oroville and areas downstream is ordered. This in NOT A Drill. This in NOT A Drill. This in NOT A Drill.
The dam sits above a wide swath of wooded and agricultural areas, including the communities of Oroville and Yuba City. As a result of the evacuation orders, roughly 190,000 residents were asked to leave the area to find higher ground. Engineers were able to lower the water level enough over Sunday evening to cease use of the emergency spillway, a development which will theoretically allow engineers to observe and try to repair the damages to the dam. Joe Countryman, a member of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board and a former engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, told the Sacramento Bee, "I think between now and Thursday, when the next storm arrives, they need to get the reservoir down as low as they can. Tomorrow, they need to start grouting the hell out of that embankment to try to shut off where that leak is." As a result of the potential catastrophe, The Los Angeles Times reports Governor Jerry Brown has put the entire California National Guard—a force of 23,000 of soldiers and pilots—on call for the first time since the Los Angeles riots in 1992. As of 7:00 AM Pacific Time, the dam is still in immediate danger of partial failure. We will bring more updates as they happen. For a list of evacuation sites and shelters, see the Butte County website.
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Renderings revealed for Disney’s Star Wars theme parks

The Walt Disney Company announced plans this week to open new 14-acre Star Wars-themed extensions to both Disneyland and Disney World theme parks by 2019. Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced the new timeline via a quarterly earnings call. Disney has also released a series of artists renderings for the theme parks, showing stylized views of a mountainous, forested planet with many of the images depicting the Millennium Falcon spaceship. The theme park worlds are being designed in the manner of a remote, intergalactic trading post, according to the company. The parks will be set on a “never-before-seen planet—a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space—where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life,” by a representative on the Disney Parks blog. Disney began construction on Disneyland’s Star Wars-themed expansion in April of 2016. The project, announced with a $1 billion budget, has also spurred a slew of upscale developments in the Anaheim Resort District (ARD), a 1,100-acre, purpose-built hotel and entertainment area in downtown Anaheim. The area sits between the city’s convention center and the Disney theme parks and caters to both groups with increasingly high-end accommodations. Controversy has erupted in the area in recent months as luxury hotel developers have rushed to build new high-end units—using taxpayer subsidies—in anticipation of the new Star Wars theme park. Taken together, an expected 2,380 luxury hotel rooms are on the way across a variety of developments. Disney is planning to build its own 700-room hotel to overlook the new Star Wars theme park. A pair of 580-room developments by Wincome Group is also on the way. One, a 580-room complex, will be located adjacent to Disney’s California Adventure park while the second hotel will sit across from the convention center. That second project will contain an additional 40,000 square feet of meeting space. JW Marriott hotels also has a 466-room hotel planned for the area. The Wincome and Disney developments alone will receive a combined $550 billion in taxpayer subsidies; subsidy estimates on the Marriott property are not readily available. The subsidies come in the form of tax breaks, which could allow the hotel operators to keep as much as 90 percent of the taxes collected on site, sending only 10 percent back to the municipality. There are fears that the new developments would cannibalize business—and tax revenue—from existing hotels that do not have access to the subsidies. The new Star Wars lands will take over space formerly occupied by portions of Disney’s existing Frontierland and Critter Country grounds and will replace several attractions, including Big Thunder Ranch. Upon completion, the new Star Wars areas will be the largest single-theme expansions each of the respective parks has undergone.
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Alan Hess organizes first exhibition of Wright collaborator and California architect Aaron G. Green

Historian Alan Hess has organized an exhibition showcasing the work of California architect—and Frank Lloyd Wright collaborator—Aaron G. Green at the Palos Verdes Art Center (PVAC) in Los Angeles. Green was a close associate of Wright’s and also a prolific and highly-regarded architect in his own right who spent six decades practicing architecture, mainly in the San Francisco area. Educated at the Cooper Union in New York City, Green received his first commission by convincing a couple that had solicited him for the design of a single family home to hire Wright—whom the young designer had never met—instead. Green used the project to become one of Wright’s Taliesin fellows. After serving in World War II and opening his own Los Angeles practice, Green moved to San Francisco, where he opened a joint office with Wright. Green acted as Wright’s West Coast representative until Wright’s death in 1959. Green continued his firm as an individual practice until his own death in 2001. Green’s work is exemplary for its focus on natural and organic forms and stands in contrast to the more staid and rigidly-delineated works of the late modern era, like those of William Pereira or Welton Beckett. In an email to The Architect’s Newspaper, Hess remarked: “The International Style aesthetic of simple glass boxes triumphed in the public relations battle to define modernism. But organic architecture put up a good fight by offering the alternative: richly crafted buildings with complex geometries, married to the land, and rendered in the natural textures and colors of wood, stone, and brick.” Hess added, “Frank Lloyd Wright lead that fight, aided by Aaron Green, John Lautner, Lloyd Wright, and many others. Today we are finally rediscovering this side of modern architecture.” Hess explained further that as many of the seminal works of the era have come under the wrecking ball in recent years, interest in their legacy has soared, writing, “Today we are finally rediscovering this side of modern architecture. This exhibit on Aaron Green… is just the tip of the iceberg in opening up a tremendous catalog of California's wide-ranging midcentury and late modern architectural heritage. We’re losing that heritage rapidly, so we need to understand and defend it.” Hess’s exhibition brings together rare photographs and original architectural renderings and plans from Green’s office. The exhibition also showcases a collection of contemporaneous magazines that promoted Green’s work throughout his career. The exhibition opens January 21, 2017, and will remain on view at PVAC through May 28, 2017. For more information, see the exhibition website.
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Bohlin Cywinski Jackson reinterprets the chalet for Lake Tahoe

San Francisco–based architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ) have completed work on the Mountainside Stellar Residences and Townhomes, a ski-in, ski-out complex of residences and townhomes located on the slopes of Northstar, an upscale community located beside Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border.

The project, designed in partnership with developers West Partners and Mountainside Partners, consists of six detached residences and 11 clustered townhomes, each designed to maximize views of the surrounding landscape and to operate on a year-round basis. The homes represent an attempt by the firm to reinterpret the upscale ski chalet for a contemporary area and are designed with sustainability and technology at their forefront and are built to achieve LEED Gold certification.

Located amid a grove of Jeffrey pine and Douglas fir trees, the detached residences are themselves clustered on a compact site overlooking ski slopes and a mountainside lift, with the homes visually grouped together by their mirrored floor plan configurations. Each 3,400-square-foot structure is entered from above and features a double-height, upper-level great room living area topped by a large, wood-clad roof overhang. The overhang shields an outdoor loggia that extends from the indoor living areas and is supported by a simply articulated post-and-beam assembly. A black-stained cedar wood shingled wall separates the living wing of each home from the bedroom areas, one of which is a master suite. That suite is cantilevered slightly over the ski slope and is wrapped on three sides by floor-to-ceiling glass walls. All of this rests above a blonde cedar wood siding-wrapped base containing two smaller bedrooms, a guest master suite, and a media and entertainment room.

The townhomes, each roughly 2,200 square feet in size, cascade down a gentle slope, except here, instead of having shifts in facade geometry indicate different aspects of program within a single home, the townhomes shift in geometry as ownership changes from one unit to the next. The clusters of paired townhomes—with the odd, eleventh townhome existing as a freestanding structure— are each topped by one of two halves of a thickened, sloping gabled roof plane. These roofs extend beyond the exterior walls of each unit and are wrapped in the same blonde cedar wood as the single-family homes. The roof planes turn down along the shared party wall between the units, giving each side a more individualized expression and massing. Like the detached homes, the townhouse units also feature groundfloor outdoor spaces that connect to an interior great-room configuration, except that here, bedrooms are located on the floor above. Each structure is clad in the same mix of blonde, gray, and black cedar planks.

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2016 Best of Design Award in Landscape > Private: Modern Vineyard by Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

The Architect’s Newspaper (AN)’s inaugural 2013 Best of Design Awards featured six categories. Since then, it's grown to 26 exciting categoriesAs in years past, jury members (Erik Verboon, Claire Weisz, Karen Stonely, Christopher Leong, Adrianne Weremchuk, and AN’s Matt Shaw) were picked for their expertise and high regard in the design community. They based their judgments on evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, strength of presentation, and, most importantly, great design. We want to thank everyone for their continued support and eagerness to submit their work to the Best of Design Awards. We are already looking forward to growing next year’s coverage for you.

Landscape > Private: Modern Vineyard by Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

Architect: Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture  Location: Paso Robles, CA

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture selected a subdued color palette accentuated with Mediterranean grasses and timeworn olive trees to define this 72-acre vineyard in the Paso Robles wine region. In order to create a poetic exchange among the landscape, architecture, and surrounding environment, the firm softened the structure’s modern aesthetic with grasses that mirror the native vegetation as it fluctuates through the seasons, creating a strong sense of connection with the region.

Landscape Contractor D’Alfonso’s Native Landscapes

Architect Ferguson-Ettinger Architects, Inc. Structural Engineer Craig Dobbs Isokern Fireplaces Earthcore Doors LaCantina Doors

Honorable Mention, Landscape > Private: Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative

Landscape Architecture: site design group, ltd. Location: Chicago, IL

Located on the South Side of Chicago, Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative is a unique development of 36 rehabilitated units that serve as mixed-income housing for artists, arts professionals, and those with a creative impulse, designed to foster community collaboration around the arts.

Honorable Mention, Landscape > Private: Gateway Plaza Landscape

Architect: Forum Studio Location: Richmond, VA

Positioned as a portal to downtown, this urban plaza weaves art, design elements, ample seating, and greenery through the site to catalyze a new urban vitality and serve as a model for sustainability.

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Priscilla Lovat Fraser to be new director of MAK Center in Los Angeles

Vienna-based MAK has named Priscilla Lovat Fraser as the new director of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, its Los Angeles—based satellite location. Fraser was chosen after a lengthy selection process following the departure of long-time MAK director Kimberli Meyer, who stepped down earlier this year to become the director of the University Art Museum at California State University Long Beach. Fraser was most recently senior architect and project manager at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), where she provided exhibition design for Chris Burden’s Metropolis II installation and the exhibition James Turrell: A Retrospective. Fraser has also been instrumental in shepherding Peter Zumthor’s controversial expansion proposal for the museum. That proposal requires the demolition of the existing William Pereira-designed LACMA building in lieu of a wholly new building by Zumthor consisting of a continuous gallery uplifted on a series of piers. Fraser has also served as the director of exhibitions and publications at Steven Holl Architects and worked under Barry Bergdoll in the Architecture Department of the Museum of Modern Art. In a press release announcing Fraser’s selection, Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, the artistic director of MAK, described the selection of Priscilla Fraser as an "exciting dual opportunity for a successful non-profit arts organization to both build on its legacy and reimagine its future. We have no doubt that Priscilla will embrace the mission of the MAK Center and expand it ambitiously." Fraser will take up her post at the MAK Center’s Schindler House headquarters starting January 2, 2017.
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How Tom Wiscombe Architecture will reinvent the Sunset Strip billboard

Tom Wiscombe Architecture (TWA) has been selected as the winner for “The Sunset Strip Spectacular Pilot Creative Off-Site Advertising Sign Request for Proposal” (RFP) competition for a site located at 8775 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, California.

TWA’s proposal reinvents the billboard as an overall typology, replacing the static, image-based, automobile-centric qualities with digitally driven, interactive, and public-space–making approaches.

The RFP comes as the City of West Hollywood, California, seeks to modernize the ubiquitous billboards that dot the Sunset Strip, a 1.5-mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard that cuts across the city’s northwestern edge. The municipality’s RFP called on designers to “design a technologically advanced, engaging, one-of-a-kind, billboard structure” while also inspiring “a 21st century vision with contemporary digital and interactive technologies, media, and multidimensional graphic design.”

TWA’s proposal reinvents the billboard as an overall typology, replacing the static, image-based, automobile-centric qualities with digitally driven, interactive, and public-space–making approaches. The scheme takes the typical “sign-on-a-stick” billboard and rotates it 90 degrees so that the short edge of the sign rests on the ground. In the process, the billboard transforms from a sign to a bell tower and, in the architect’s words, “speaks to a world where commercial and cultural content can be hybridized, and media is no longer just a way of advertising but a way of life.”

These two, now-vertical billboard planes are then bent and folded into a configuration that allows for human occupation. The billboard assembly is placed onto the site, which is articulated in the manner of a public plaza.

Wiscombe described the project this way: “Just a few months ago, Elton John and Lady Gaga did a pop-up duet right nearby our site, in support of his AIDS Foundation. I like to think of ‘The Belltower’ as a contemporary catalyst and venue for civic engagements like that. We are also committed to making it into a kind of digital testing ground for artists, who will be curated by our partner MoCA. They will essentially be able to take it over for periods of time. I think that fusing together the worlds of art and commerce will give the project life and force us out of our habitual modes of consuming media.”

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Santa Monica to make all new single-family residential construction net-zero energy starting in 2017

The city of Santa Monica, California has become the first municipality in the world to require net-zero energy construction for all new single-family residences. The city recently passed an ordinance mandating that all future single-family homes built in the coastal enclave achieve ZNE status, based on the standards contained within the 2016 California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen). Though the term has many nuanced definitions deployed across the construction industry and energy development fields, the CALGreen standard referenced by the Santa Monica ordinance defines ZNE construction as resulting in a building where the value of the energy produced on-site by renewable energy technologies and the value of the energy consumed annually by the building are equal. The new sustainability ordinance was approved by the Santa Monica City Council last week and will go effect in 2017 pending further approval. The new rule also contains a provision requiring new multifamily and commercial buildings reduce their energy consumption to ten percent below the rates set forth in the currently-in-effect 2016 California Energy Code. In a press release announcing the new guidelines, Santa Monica Mayor Tony Vazquez celebrated the city’s environmental bonafides, saying “Santa Monica is proud to take a global lead in zero net energy building standards that put the State’s environmental policy to action. Council's adoption of this new ordinance reflects our city's continued commitment to the environment,” adding, “ZNE construction, considered the gold standard for green buildings, is a major component that will help us reach our ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.” The measure comes after a steady increase in environmentally-focused regulation across the state and follows the adoption of the state’s Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan by the California Public Utilities Commission in 2008. That plan established a roadmap for all buildings in the state to be zero net energy users over time. The plan also established a goal for all residential construction to be ZNE by 2020 with all new commercial construction achieving the same status by 2030. Most municipalities, however, have lagged in reaching efficiency targets and Santa Monica’s aggressive timetable for realizing these changes marks the first ordinance passed by a California municipality to strive for ZNE construction. The measure also brings into relief a gaping disconnect in terms of what is and is not considered “sustainable” in the public mind, with the glossy, technological approaches to sustainability being pursued at the municipal level being seemingly at odds with draconian, anti-development measures being pursued via the ballot box aimed at reducing the city’s ability to generate dense, urban development. Before final implementation, the measure must gain final approval from the California Energy Commission.
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Peek inside under-construction UC Santa Barbara housing by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects

Construction on Los Angeles–based Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects’ (LOHA) 95,000-square-foot San Joaquin Housing projects at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is nearing completion.

The firm is designing two of four housing clusters on the 15-acre North Campus, one of the areas where the 20,000-student university is concentrating construction efforts as it aims to increase its student population by up to 5,000 new students over the next nine years. The San Joaquin Housing area is to contain housing for 1,000 of those new residents.

LOHA’s schemes are manifested as a pair of two- to three-story clustered apartment blocks joined by external circulation and communal spaces. The structures themselves are organized in shifting geometries, with rhomboid volumes projecting over, into, and from an activated courtyard. Walkways are made up of articulated armatures that attach to the buildings’ facades and project into the courtyard. The courtyard’s exterior-facing walls feature punched openings and are marked by white siding, while dark surfaces line the courtyard’s interior. Though the overall project aims for a certain kind of scalar contextuality, this organizational scheme is decidedly daring: Social hubs, such as reading rooms, dining areas, and other gathering spots are distributed along these pedestrian routes, with some of these volumes elevated one or two stories above grade. Construction photographs show a staccato filigree of painted steel supports framing out the walkways between plywood- and Tyvek-wrapped buildings.

The San Joaquin Housing complex, abutting the northern edge of the adjacent, unincorporated community of Isla Vista west of UCSB, is being developed as part of a multi-architect housing expansion for the university master planned by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM). LOHA’s two adjacent complexes will be joined by two low-rise apartment blocks from L.A.’s Kevin Daly Architects (KDA) and two housing towers by SOM. Philadelphia-based architects Kieran Timberlake will also be designing a dining facility in the complex. 

New construction is the result of the campus’s 2010 “Long Range Development Plan” (LRDP), set in motion to plan for the campus’s growth in its ecologically sensitive, largely suburban coastal community. The university’s growth rate dictated in that document, one percent per annum, is designed to mirror that of the neighboring city of Santa Barbara. Perhaps California’s state and local agencies should take note of this latest housing construction: It seems someone has finally figured out how to build housing to meet the community’s needs in a timely fashion without offending the neighbors too much.

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Controversy erupts as $6 billion Orange County development boom gains steam

Over the last ten years, Anaheim, California has seen steady growth in multi-family housing and mixed-use development that has—perhaps—begun to change the city’s reputation. The area was wiped almost totally clean in 1970s “urban renewal” efforts. With this influx of new residents and the addition of trend-conscious destination-amenities, like foodie market halls and “anti-malls,” Orange County developers have made strides in rebuilding and rebranding the municipality. However, a recently approved collection of publicly-subsidized, multi-billion dollar developments in the city's downtown—and near the Disneyland theme parks—are complicating downtown Anaheim's emerging narrative as a center for conscious consumerism. These developments include the construction of Disney’s new $1.5 billion Star Wars theme park, a $190 million expansion to the city’s convention center, and an increase in the luxury hotel supply that will cost $1.92 billion. Taken together, these projects will total a roughly $3.5 billion investment in the coming years. Moreover, they could shift the market in the so-called Anaheim Resort District (ARD), a 1,100-acre purpose-built hotel and entertainment development adjacent to downtown Anaheim aimed at convention-goers and theme park attendees, toward luxury tourism. In July, Anaheim approved three proposed luxury hotel developments for the area, aiming to bring an additional 1,914 new luxury rooms into operation within a few years. These projects include two developments by the Wincome Group: a 580-room hotel adjacent to Disney’s California Adventure park that will feature 50,000 square feet of meeting space and a 580-room hotel across from the convention center that will contain 40,000 square feet of meeting space. The third development involves a 700-room hotel by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts overlooking the Star Wars-themed Disney expansion. A press release for the Wincome project states that “design details of the properties are still to be announced” but preliminary renderings released by the development teams so far feature an assortment of architectural styles, including classical revival and contemporary. Disney’s development team has only released an artist's renderings of interior and poolside spaces. These developments are being built in addition to a previously-approved, 466-room JW Marriott hotel, also in the ARD, that is expected to begin construction next year. When combined, all four projects are due to add 2,380 luxury suites to the ARD and will encompass a building boom for luxury, “four diamond”-rated accommodations. Disney currently operates the only luxury hotel properties in the area on its theme park grounds, making the four additional hotel sites highly contested, especially considering that Wincome and Disney alone will receive a combined $550 billion in taxpayer subsidies to build their high-end hotels. The contentious use of these subsidies, which would send up to 90 percent of the taxes collected for each hotel bed back toward the operators (with the remainder going to the city), is amplified by the fact that the city still hasn’t finished paying off the initial round of public funding that led to the “four diamond” hotels Disney built in the late 1990s. Developers behind these new projects consider the subsidies necessary for their investments to pan out while city officials foresee a potential glut of luxury beds on the market. Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait was quoted in the Orange Count Register as calling the tax plan “financially devastating” for the city. Opponents also contend the increase in luxury units will cannibalize revenue from currently-operating, non-subsidized hotel projects. Complicating things further, a concurrent, $2.34-billion project in the nearby “Platinum Triangle” district, a collection of office, retail, convention, and sports facilities that include the Anaheim Angels Stadium directly adjacent to the ARD, is also making its way toward final approval. The new areas are modeled on the L.A. Live development beside the Los Angeles Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles; they will include a medley of pedestrian-oriented amenities, including hundreds of condominiums and apartments as well as over a half million square feet of shopping, office, and leisure areas. The Anaheim Angels recently came out against the development, citing the project's lack of Environmental Impact Report and its potentially adverse impact on the team’s own shopping and commercial expansion planned for another stadium-adjacent site. As quoted in the Los Angeles Times, Anaheim Angels attorney Allan Abshez wrote in a letter to the city that the project would “cannibalize the Angels’ existing food, beverage and retail operations at Angel Stadium” adding further that this disruption would “fundamentally undermine the Angels’ negotiations to remain in Anaheim over the long term.” Because the Angels’ stadium is publically-owned and the city is unwilling to fund needed renovations for the stadium, the team intends to embark on their own building spree to raise revenue for renovations. With plans for a new $300 million streetcar linking the HOK-designed ARTIC transit hub to Downtown Anaheim and Disneyland moving toward approval and an estimated 28,000 new residents expected to move into the Platinum Triangle area over the next decade, it’s clear to see that no matter what happens, Anaheim is decidedly changing. The question is not how successful that transformation will be, but whether Anaheim will get a return on its investment in the long haul.