Local real estate and investment company Zephyr has named Joseph Wong of Joseph Wong Design Associates (JWDA) lead architect of their 60,000-square-foot mixed-use development planned for downtown San Diego. The Block, as it is currently known (the developer has yet to select a final name), will be the first high-rise, mixed-use project in the city since the recession. With an estimated cost exceeding $250 million, the development promises to be a major player in the demographic and architectural transformation of San Diego's urban core. Wong's design features two towers, 21 stories and 41 stories, respectively, rising from a residential and retail platform. According to the architect, the towers' siting and massing were influenced primarily by local conditions—including setback requirements and the creation of a sun access envelope for a planned public park to the northeast—as well as a desire to maximize views and daylighting. For the facade, said Wong "we thought about not just the context, site circumstance, its history, and surrounding buildings, but also about the longevity of the project and what it could be." The combination of glass of different transparencies and metal panels in a variety of colors helps distinguish the development from surrounding office buildings, while the clean lines and minimal material palette prevent the towers from feeling bulky. Residential balconies project from the glazing in an alternating pattern that highlights the corners and other points of significance, creating, said Wong, "a rhythm of form and function." While some of The Block's features, including a 25,000-square-foot "amenities deck" designed by Lifescapes International, are reserved for private tenant use, the project's street presence evinces public-mindedness on the part of both developer and architect. "Downtown San Diego is red hot and continuing to get better every day," said Zephyr co-CEO Brad Termini. "We hope to play an important role in providing a link between the Gaslamp Quarter, the financial core, and the emerging East Village." For Wong, the need to mediate between existing high-rise developments and the burgeoning residential fabric was a major factor in the design. "It requires both a visually striking architectural presence in the downtown skyline, and a decidedly pedestrian-friendly approach to its neighbors," he said. At the ground plane, the formal push and pull of the podium, which features two levels of retail on every side, encourages social engagement. Meanwhile, a 15-foot setback along Broadway combines with the 14-foot pedestrian sidewalk to create a south-facing public plaza and eases access to public transit facilities to both north and south. "By creating opportunities such as a public plaza, retail and commercial space, and recreation areas throughout the ground floor, The Block promotes [walkability] for both the community as a whole and the individual user. Its prominent location further encourages accessibility to neighboring sites and vice versa," said Wong. Wong, who describes The Block as a "milestone" development for JWDA, thinks of it as "a project that defines urbanism in every sense." "The design opportunities of this project are many, and ultimately have to do with the future architecture of our cities," he concluded. "We're creating an urban design that contributes to social interaction and addresses the relationship between public and private space."
Posts tagged with "California":
As Facebook taps Gehry for two more buildings, take a peek inside the tech giant’s new Menlo Park offices
Facebook has allowed precious few people to see its new Frank Gehry–designed headquarters in Menlo Park, California. One of the lucky scribes was architecture critic James Russell, reporting for the Wall Street Journal. He raved about the hangar-like building's massive ceiling heights, clustered "neighborhoods," lack of hierarchy, and oodles of natural light. Another glimpse of the 434,000, single-floor space, which will eventually hold 2,800 employees, was from The Guardian, which actually posted a picture of the new space by none other than Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg himself. “The building itself is pretty simple and isn’t fancy,” Zuckerberg told the Guardian. “That’s on purpose. We want our space to feel like a work in progress. When you enter our buildings, we want you to feel how much left there is to be done in our mission to connect the world." The Guardian noted that Facebook has just submitted plans for two more buildings next door, also by Gehry, with a floor area of roughly a million square feet. The scheme, also includes a community nicknamed "Zee Town," built for 10,000 employees on 200 acres. According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Facebook bought a 56-acre campus once belonging to Prologis south of their current campus in February, so their expansion seems to be just beginning. More pictures of the new offices below.
According to Palo Alto Weekly, Stanford University will soon break ground on a new series of bike and walking trails around its campus designed by Page/BMS Design Group. The 3.4-mile "Perimeter Trail" will stretch along sections of El Camino Real, Junipero Serra Boulevard, and Stanford Avenue, providing new connections to local parks, schools, existing trails, and the nearby foothills. The project, being implemented by both Stanford and the city of Palo Alto, is being funded by a $4.5-million allocation from Santa Clara County. The scheme will both introduce new bike and walking paths (including green bike lanes in heavy traffic areas) and upgrade existing trails, sidewalks, and landscaping. According to Stanford, most of the trail is expected to be complete by this fall.
Eavesdrop> Downtown LA, You’re Nuts: Soho House, swanky international development remaking the urban core
The swanky meter is getting dialed to 11 in Downtown Los Angeles. Rumor has it that the rarified Soho House club will be opening its second LA location in a six-story warehouse in the area’s Arts District. The facility will include the usual boojie facilities as well as a rooftop pool and artist studio rooms where guests can stay for weeks and months, as if they were staying at the Chateau Marmont. Meanwhile it’s a great time to be a Chinese developer in nearby South Park. Beijing-based Oceanwide and Shanghai-based Greenland Group are already building two of the largest projects in the city. Now Shenzhen-Hazens Real Estate Group has announced plans to build a $700 million project including three towers across from LA Live. Eavesdrop better start practicing its Mandarin.
AN has been covering Hodgetts + Fung's efforts to update Los Angeles' Norms Diner for the 21st century, but another of the firm's projects will rigorously update a less known—and perhaps more impressive—modernist structure nearby: Culver City High School's Frost Memorial Auditorium in Culver City. Originally designed by local architects Flewelling & Moody, the building has one of the most ambitious structural concrete domes in the city. Each rib was cast in place on a sculpted mound of earth, lifted into position, then joined to other ribs via another concrete pour. Hodgetts & Fung is expanding the building's cramped back-of-house spaces, installing new air conditioning, lighting, and electrical systems, providing handicap access, and adding a new steel-plated proscenium arch to better facilitate theatrical programs. They're also installing a new black box theater in back of the space. “It was never designed to be a production theater, it was designed to be an auditorium," said Craig Hodgetts. "While it was a great building, the shell inhibited them from doing the things that would have made it more useful... It had really good bones, but from a functional standpoint it was really lame," Hodgetts added. The new project will be complete by early next year.
Earlier this year AN's Eavesdrop column predicted the shortlist for Wilshire Boulevard Temple's "Gathering Place," a 55,000-square-foot event space across the street from the institution's sanctuary. The final list has been revealed and includes big hitters such as OMA, Kengo Kuma & Associates, Morphosis Architects, and Steven Holl Architects. The only firm we didn't predict was Holl (we had Renzo Piano taking the fourth spot). According to the temple, the New York Times prematurely crowned OMA as the winner. "These things often leak but don’t always get reported accurately," said Temple spokesperson Susan Gordon. The announcement of the winning team is still "weeks away," said Gordon. Members of the selection committee include Erika Glazer, Eli Broad, Tony Pritzker, Dana Hutt, and Richard Koshalek. Meanwhile the temple—which is following an ambitious master plan— has already begun construction on the renovation of two school buildings, its Karsh Social Service Center, a rooftop athletic facilities, and a new landscaped walking path. Stay tuned for more.
Four teams have been shortlisted to compete for the design of the Armenian American Museum in Glendale, California. Commemorating the contributions of Armenian-Americans and "sharing the Armenian experience," the 30,000-square-foot building will include exhibition space, an auditorium, library, classrooms, and support spaces. The announcement came on the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The teams, chosen by the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee (AGCC) of the Western US, include Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design, Belzberg Architects, Frederick Fisher and Partners, and Alajajian-Marcoosi Architects. The museum is in negotiations with the city of Glendale to secure a 1.7 acre property for the institution just south of the Glendale Civic Auditorium, at 1305 North Verdugo Rd. Lord Cultural Resources (who consulted on the 9/11 Memorial Museum) are helping develop the master plan for the museum site. Conceptual plans are due in mid-May, and the winning team will be chosen this June, said Berdj Karapetian, chairman of the AGCC's Landmark Sub-Committee. Karapetian said that after a feasibility study is completed the museum will begin raising money for the building, which he estimates could cost roughly $30 million to construct.
If you’re in San Diego on April 30th, come meet AN’s Bill Menking at the San Diego Architectural Foundation
On April 30th, the San Diego Architectural Foundation will be hosting AN's Editor-in-Chief Bill Menking for an intimate mix and mingle. The event will be held at architect Rob Quigley's home, which he will be touring at 5:30p.m. and the mixer event will follow at 6:00p.m. Menking is looking forward to learning more about the architecture scene in San Diego, and talking to those in attendance about the work we do here at AN. If you're in the area and interested in attending, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Silver Lake's so-called Bates Motel—it's actually the soon-to-be-demolished Sunset Pacific Motel—is in the process of getting whitewashed with lime wash as part of French artist Vincent Lamouroux's installation, Projection. The undertaking, which opens to the public on Sunday and lasts for two weeks, was sponsored and organized by downtown LA gallery Please Do Not Enter. AN West Coast Editor Sam Lubell talked with Lamouroux to get the scoop on his ambitious urban piece. AN: How get this idea? Why the Bates Motel? Why Los Angeles? Vincent Lamouroux: I first saw the hotel 15 years ago passing by, and I was very interested. Over the years I kept looking at the building and nothing was happening to it. No change at all. So I was curious, and I became more and more excited. I came up with the idea of doing something with it two years ago. I was interested in finding a way to capture the entire building and its periphery: the motel sign, the billboards, the palm trees. To bring together all these elements that were an idea of LA, or an idea of the California Dream. What is it about? Does it symbolize anything about Silver Lake? Los Angeles? The fleetingness of things? I wanted to bring attention to the particular site. Something about the building's relationship with the urban environment on Sunset Boulevard. I got the idea to transform the hotel with a white coat of lime on it, to differentiate the landscape and make it both appear and disappear within the site. The idea of the white is also about making something appear. The idea was also to reveal the nature of everything. That things change constantly from one state to another. We have a quest for symmetry, for stuff that could stay always the same. But everything that comes to life will die. I wanted to indicate this idea of change for the building, but in relation to the urban landscape. I’m also trying to understand how desire works, and how we get attracted to things. How our attention is captivated by something. We experience something every day in a city that is full of signs and advertisement and colors. Lots of things that capture our attention. By adding this white, a blank color, it draws attention by being a kind of rest or quiet moment in the urban landscape. What were the specifics of the installation? We use spray guns and firehoses and fire nozzles for the inside parts; the courtyard and rooftop. For surfaces connected to the streets we use spray guns. The title, Projection, refers to the process of applying the lime and the idea of how we project ideas, possibilities, dreams, onto something. There are different solutions for different parts of the building. They all stick directly to the building. So far because it’s not raining at all it should be fine. I like the idea that the piece is going to disappear. We are just proposing a specific space and a specific time for it. Because it becomes true to life it’s going to disappear and change. Is the building being torn down? We don’t know. The developer has plans for it, but they appear to be on hold. Please Do Not Enter enabled this to happen? Before opening the gallery they were art collectors and they collected my work. Just before they moved to Los Angeles I told them I had an idea here. I brought them an architectural model of the project. I asked them to look at it once I was in Los Angeles. They were excited about the idea. The gallery is called Please Do Not Enter, so it was perfect. They paid for the whole project. We got the support of the community, of some other people involved in the project. But they made it happen. Do you live in L.A.? I live in Paris. I probably spend four months of the year in Los Angeles. Did you anticipate just how bright this white would be? Not completely. Even myself, I have to wear sunglasses all the time, especially when we’re in the courtyard. I knew the lime would have the quality to catch and reflect the light. It's the material we use to make buildings whiter. To me the whiteness gives the motel the feeling of a ghost. I like the idea of a ghost. The idea that the whole motel would become a cinema screen, a white canvas, for the projection of desires. We live in a world of objects, and all the objects around them are surfaces for projections of desires. Something completely blank like this looks somehow kind of unfinished. By the fact that it’s unfinished maybe you can ask yourself what was, what is, and what will be there. Also the building is closed. People don’t get access, creating a sense of mystery. What is your next project? I’m doing another site specific project in Portugal, near Lisbon. I’m trying to build a suspended island on the sand dunes near the ocean. I’m going to work with wood. It’s a wood construction floating above the ground that will be designed as an island in the air.
Renowned Los Angeles gallery Edward Cella Art and Architecture, which left its six-year home on Wilshire Boulevard last year, is opening its new location on La Cienega Boulevard in Culver City on May 9. The new space, and its graphic identity, are being designed by LA-based Group Effort—a collaboration between Jessica Fleischmann/still room and Rachel Allen Architecture. In both cases they've created a "modern look," said gallery owner Edward Cella, that "plays with the texture and angularity of the building," and gives the gallery a fresh "new start." Cella has also commissioned sheet metal specialist Alex Rasmussen (of Neal Feay Company) to create a striking new aluminum reception made up of weathered, organic plates. The inaugural exhibit will be called UNBOUND, featuring new large format paintings by gallery artists Joshua Aster, Kendell Carter, Mara De Luca, Spencer Lewis, Donnie Molls, Ruth Pastine, Chris Trueman, and Jeffrey Vallance.
Pioneering post-war landscape architect Asa Hanamoto passed away at his home in Mill Valley, California on April 9. The son of Japanese immigrants, Hanamoto was interned with his family at the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in Northern California during World War II. He then served in the U.S. Army, studied at UC Berkeley, started his career at Eckbo, Royston & Williams, and went on to design public projects including parks, campuses, recreational designs and community plans over a career that lasted more than five decades. Hanamoto's firm, RHBA (now called RHAA), blazed a trail for then-nascent fields of environmental and community planning. It is known especially for work on the Willamette River Greenway Study (1975), establishing a vital recreational and scenic corridor along the Oregon river; and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (1976), assessing and planning the 116-square mile project and establishing management plans that still guide the area. Hanamoto's biography can be found at the Cultural Landscape Foundation's web site.
Berkeley designers propose building this pavilion entirely out of books, and you can help kickstart the project
Leaders of the Bay Area Book Festival (taking place June 5–7 in Berkeley) are teaming up with arts group Flux Foundation to make Lacuna, a wood-framed, yurt-like structure containing over 50,000 books, all donated by the Internet Archive. The "participatory" installation, designed with built in benches and alcoves, will have walls literally made out of stacks of books. Ceilings will be made of book pages attached to guy wires. lt will sit in Berkeley's Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park, creating what organizers call "a reflective space that offers contrast to—and respite from—the busy energy of the festival." In a digital world, this reminder of books' physicality, and the opportunity to read them and reshape the space, should be a major draw—especially as many bookstores still struggle to stay open. The project is still seeking funding. You can contribute to its Kickstarter campaign here.