A few years ago, Realtor Monique Lombardelli fell in love with the work of Joseph Eichler, the developer whose architect-designed tract homes proliferated throughout Northern and Southern California in the decades following World War II. “[The Eichler homes] provide such a great environment, more of a relaxing, open feel,” she said. Lombardelli’s passion led her to produce a documentary on Eichler’s legacy, which in turn piqued her clients’ interest. “I started getting a lot of clients who wanted one, and there wasn’t anything to show them,” said Lombardelli. “Then I sold one that was a remodel, and everyone said, ‘I want an Eichler.’” Lombardelli wondered: was it possible to build new, Eichler-inspired homes based on the developer’s original plans? She describes the process of uncovering the plans as a “treasure hunt” during which she felt like Sherlock Holmes—following evidence from one archive to the next, trying to convince the archivists that her project was worthwhile. “It’s funny because all the people at these different archives, they said, ‘These plans, most of them have been thrown out, nobody cares. Why do you want them?’” recalled Lombardelli. She eventually found luck at the archives at UC Berkeley and Stantec. “Stantec has everything, it was a mecca, a nirvana for Eichler,” said Lombardelli. “I walked in there and it was like being in heaven.” Lombardelli purchased rights to everything the archives hold, which so far totals 65 plans. (The archives are so dense, said Lombardelli, that they are likely to uncover more plans as time goes on.) To turn her dream of building “new” Eichlers into a reality, Lombardelli needed a developer. That’s where Troy Kudlac of Palm Springs’ KUD Properties comes in. “I gave up a couple of times,” said Lombardelli, citing inflated estimates. “Modernism should not be that expensive—that’s what Joe [Eichler] said originally, that modernism should be experienced by everybody.” Kudlac agrees. He plans to build one or two Eichler-inspired homes in Palm Springs on spec. If all goes well, he’ll develop a small tract of about ten homes. “With something this kind of cutting edge and revolutionary, I’ve got to prove the concept,” said Kudlac. KUD Properties will submit plans to the city of Palm Springs by the end of March. They hope to break ground by mid-summer. In the meantime, Lombardelli is fielding inquiries from developers in Tampa, North Carolina, Colorado, New Mexico, Brazil, London, and elsewhere. She’s resisted requests to alter the plans, except where modern building codes require it. “I think we really need to respect what we’ve been brought up with, what our history is,” she said. “There’s a soul in each of these houses that really resonates with me. To duplicate that is very difficult, but I think if you’re duplicating that to make them live on, we have to keep them the same."
Posts tagged with "California":
Despite its collection of near-misses in California (LACMA, The Broad, Universal, etc.), OMA and Rem Koolhaas keep trying to land a headlining project in the Golden State. And it looks like they're about to design a high rise in San Francisco to accompany their (currently on hold) winning scheme for a mixed use project in Santa Monica. San Francisco’s Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (the successor to the city’s Community Development Agency) has given the firm initial approval to design a 550-foot-tall residential tower on Folsom Street, between First and Fremont streets, in the city’s Transbay area. The project features OMA's tower on one end of the block with podium buildings and townhouses filling the remainder of the block. The tower, and the accompanying row of low rises designed by Fougeron Architects on Block 8, will be a mix of 4,400 condominiums and rental apartments, with at least 27 percent of them affordable. CMG will be the landscape architect, and the developer is Related California. OMA said that it could not yet release images of the design, although several press outlets have released a rendering (at top), including the San Francisco Chronicle. OMA becomes the second starchitect-firm in a matter of weeks to take on a skyscraper in the city, after Jeanne Gang recently signed on with Tishman Speyer to design a tower in the same neighborhood. Both towers will be located near Cesar Pelli's Transbay Tower, now underway. The 40-acre Transbay area has been witnessing major developments since the city and county of San Francisco adopted plans to redevelop the area in June 2005. Under the plan, the city divided the area into two sections. Zone One encompasses a ten-acre segment of vacant public land where a portion of the Embarcadero Freeway once stood and will include a mix of residential, retail, and public open space, as well as a one-acre park. Zone Two will include the new Transbay Transit Center and the 1,070-foot-tall tower by Pelli Clark Pelli Architects. The plan is set to expire in 2035. More planning details on Block 8 in a report by the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure here. And more on the Transbay redevelopment project here.
Chicago architect Jeanne Gang (pictured) isn't just preparing to design new towers in Chicago and (perhaps) New York. According to her office, Gang has been hired by Tishman Speyer to design a high rise tower in San Francisco's Transbay district. The building's site (and, likewise a design) has not yet been revealed, but according to a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, it's near the now-rising Transbay Center. According to the Chronicle, Tishman is also developing the Lumina and Infinity towers in the area by Arquitectonica, and a 26-story office tower by Gensler and Thomas Phifer. (Photo: Courtesy Studio Gang Architects)
Smith|Allen's 3D-printed forest refuge is inspired by the site's patterning and historical cycle of deforestation and regeneration.When Brian Allen and Stephanie Smith first visited the sequoia forest in Gualala, California, they saw patterns everywhere. “We were really intrigued by patterning at many scales, from bark on the trees to light through the trees and also, at a micro scale, [the cells of] the sequioas,” said Allen. Two months later the pair was back, this time with 580 sculptural bricks forming the world’s first 3D-printed architectural installation. Translucent white and 10 by 10 by 8 feet in size, Echoviren resembles a cross between a teepee and a tree stump, a mass made light by the organic porosity of the bricks. Echoviren is intimately tied to its site on the grounds of Project 387, the residency in which Smith|Allen participated last fall. Besides the sequioas’ patterning, the designers drew inspiration from the primitiveness of their surroundings. “The overall form was driven by what is the most basic space we could make,” said Allen. “It turns [out to be] just a small oblong enclosure with an oculus, a small forest hermitage.” The oculus draws the eye up, to the natural roof formed by the sequioas’ branches. In addition, Smith|Allen address the history of the site as a place where regrowth followed the trauma of deforestation. Built of bio-plastic, Echoviren has an estimated lifespan of 30-50 years. “The 50 year decomposition is a beautiful echo of that cycle” of deforestation and resurgence, said Allen. Smith|Allen took a flexible approach to Echoviren’s design, alternating between analog and digital tools. They used tracing paper to extract patterns from photographs of sequoia cells, then trimmed and propagated the patterning by hand. “We initially tried to do it parametrically in Grasshopper, to replicate that cell structure as a generative tool, but we weren’t getting good results,” explained Allen. “For us, the parametric tools were more of a tool set than a generator.” Smith|Allen used KISSlicer to estimate the time required to print Echoviren, 10,800 hours in all. The designers ran seven consumer-grade Type A Machines Series 1 desktop 3D printers for two months straight. They used plant-based PLA bio-plastic, which in addition to being biodegradable, is also readily available. “We wanted to use something commercially available and easy to get our hands on,” said Allen. “The project was not about using inaccessible materials; accessibility gave us the tools to do this.” On-site assembly took four hours. Echoviren is a snap fit system, with dovetail joints in the XY and a pin and socket in the Z. Silicon adhesive secures each layer of bricks to the next. The bottom ring of bricks nestles within a hand-dug trench. Pyramidal in section, Echoviren is a compression structure. Its components vary in thickness from 6-8 inches at the bottom to less than an inch at the top. For Smith and Allen, the magic of Echoviren is twofold. First is the anticipation of the future, of the way the form will change as it decomposes. Just as important is how the installation came to be, how the technology of 3D printing enabled a firm of two to build Echoviren in less than a season. “As young designers, we struggle with getting our work out there and getting it built,” said Allen. “Using 3D printers, we’re able to really increase the amount of stuff we can do in a given time and transition it from a tool of prototyping and model building into real things.”
A software developer gets a subtly intergalactic theme for its new San Francisco headquarters.For the Giant Pixel corporation’s new headquarters, Studio O+A evoked the feel of a sophisticated galaxy far, far away in a renovated San Francisco workspace. With the help of Chris French Metal, Nor-Cal Metal Fabricators, and Seaport Stainless, O+A designers Denise Cherry and Primo Orpilla designed an interior environment that invokes themes from the client’s favorite movie, Star Wars, without delivering a set design for the Spaceballs parody. One of the office’s most notable features is an entry canopy constructed from ¼-inch hot rolled steel plate with laser-cut perforations that sets the office theme with a binary translation of the trilogy’s opening crawling text. “The Star Wars theme placed subtly throughout the office was what the client wanted,” Orpilla, who is one of the firm’s co-founders, said. “With the screen, they also found a way to vet job applicants and collaborators.” Doubling as a puzzle for visitors to the office, the software development company’s founders built an application that converted the film’s opening text crawl into binary code that could be visually translated for fabrication. According to Cherry, the ones and zeros from Giant Pixel’s software were translated to a computer punch code series. In an AI file, letters represented by zeros are punched out, and letters translated to ones were left solid, which was then exported to a DXF that fed the cutting machine. Each panel measures three feet by eight feet, so the character text fits well across most sections, though the blocking bleeds words across lines in a few places. The canopy had to be framed for stability, so Chris French Metal fabricated a from cold rolled steel flat bar and mechanically attached the canopy panels, said Jamie Darnell, project manager and designer for Chris French Metal. For the vertical portion, flush socket cap screws affix the frame to the floor. For the canopy, threaded rod and custom hanger clips suspend five panels from the rafters. To expedite installation, a tooth-like detail locks the panels together and aligns the edges. Less than one year after completing the interiors, an update to the storefront called for a variation on the pixelated theme from the interior. Within the brick and stucco façade, three openings were filled with an oversized version of the binary code that reads as a direct interpretation of the Giant Pixel brand. Eight-and-a-half-inch apertures—filled with tempered single-pane glass and sealed with VHB tape and black silicone—are bookended by two custom pivot doors weighing 800 pounds each. “We push to get in early on projects with the hope of developing collaborative relationships with the designers,” explained Darnell. “It’s more fun that way and the process and end product are usually more interesting in a collaboration than in a traditional design-bid-build process."
The California College of the Arts (CCA) was founded in 1907 by Frederick Meyer, a German arts and crafts cabinetmaker and did not have an architecture program until the 1980s. However it has been making great strides in the past 10 years to become more of a presence on the international art and design stage. But like all schools it struggles with rising fees and costs to educate young people so it has come up with Blueprints, Blue Jeans & Bluegrass, a fundraiser that will take place in its fantastic San Francisco campus. The party will honor Art Gensler the founder of the San Francisco firm that bares his name. All net proceeds from the gala will go to scholarships for talented and deserving students at CCA. The event takes place on March 26 and features a complete dinner, fancy cocktails and Bluegrass music. I want to fly out to San Francisco just to attend the Blueprints.
Up in Northern California, Andrew Wolfram has bolted Perkins + Will’s San Francisco office to become a principal at TEF (Tom Eliot Fisch). Wolfram was project architect for the SF Ferry Building, and also worked on the renovation of 140 New Montgomery, Timothy Pflueger’s art deco skyscraper for Pacific Telephone. (Photo: Courtesy Andrew Wolfram)
Last month we revealed three shortlisted schemes for the new West Hollywood Park, adjacent to the city's new library off La Cienega Boulevard. Last week the city announced that LPA and Rios Clementi Hale has won, beating out other finalists Frederick Fisher and Partners with CMG and Langdon Wilson. The scheme puts a strong emphasis on the connection between the park itself and its new recreation center and "resort style" rooftop pool (with cabanas and a view terrace). The rec center, clad with vertical green screens, will contain a park-like podium and a large grand stair leading from to the park. The sprawling public space would be divided into a hard-edged “public park,” programmed for larger events and athletics, and a sinuous “neighborhood park,” set for passive activities. The $80 million project is set for completion in 2017.
“We got very attracted to the project, and to the idea of making something that reconnects Los Angeles,” Zoltan Pali said of Taylor Yard Bridge, the pedestrian and bicycle bridge designed by his firm, Studio Pali Fekete architects (SPF:a). Originally introduced as part of a mitigations package twenty-two years ago, the bridge, which will span the Los Angeles River between Cypress Park and Elysian Valley, should be completed within two years at a cost of $5.3 million. “Frankly bridges are a very interesting topic,” Pali said. “It’s also one of those types of things that you can design ten bridges in ten minutes, there’s so many different ways of looking at it.” In the case of the Taylor Yard Bridge, the designers faced a unique set of challenges. Large power lines on the Taylor Yard side of the 360-foot span limited the height of the bridge. Also on the Taylor Yard side is a maintenance road, hampering access to the riverbank; on the opposite side is a narrow bike path. Finally, the two banks are about ten feet apart in height, necessitating a 3 percent grade. “[We] had a lot of issues we had to deal with from the standpoint of geometry,” Pali said. To deal with those concerns, and to minimize construction time, Pali and his colleagues chose a lightweight steel construction that eliminated the need for supports in the river bed. The body of the bridge is a 30-foot-by-30-foot box truss, painted orange. A DWP recycled water pipeline, painted purple, will provide a contrasting splash of color. The 17-foot-wide road platform, designed with lanes for pedestrian and bicycle use, “kind of floats, almost seems as if it’s suspended” within the truss, Pali said. The Taylor Yard Bridge is more than just a solution to a set of practical problems. It’s also Pali’s way of pushing back against over-the-top bridge designs. “Truth be told, we really wanted to have a counterpoint philosophically and architecturally from the sort of heroics that lots of folks go through to make bridges,” he explained. The designers aimed for “simplicity, elegance. We wanted to refer to those really beautiful, utilitarian bridges you see around the world, plus the railroad bridges that used to span the LA River. Just do what you need.”
For weeks we've been hearing murmurs about the hottest RFQ in California: the UC Santa Cruz Insitute of Arts and Sciences, a hilltop museum, research center, and innovation hub on one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. Finally the shortlist has been announced, and it features a group of very heavy hitters from around the country. The shortlist includes Steven Holl with TANNERHECHT; Tod Williams Billie Tsien with TEF; wHY design, Allied Works Architecture, Aidlin Darling Design, Jensen Architects with Ann Hamilton; and Fong & Chan with Patkau Architects. The list was culled from a group of 39 companies, and will be further slimmed to three by April. "We were delighted in the quality and the range of firms," explained the Institute's director, John Weber, who noted that the school was looking for design teams of varying scales and sensibilities. "We want to find the right partner to push us on how the building can respond to the mission of the Institute," Weber said. "The desire to have something like this has been around for a very long time, but it came into focus in the last couple of years," said Weber. The Institute's museum will contain interactive exhibits on topics ranging from climate change to cancer research, and the facility as a whole, measuring 27,000-31,000 square feet, will contain research and teaching facilities, seminar and conference spaces, study areas, a cafe, and more. "The vision is to engage the issues of our time through the arts, sciences, humanities and technology based on research here at UC Santa Cruz and bringing in material that complements and pushes what’s going on here," said Weber. The site, he added, is "really spectacular," wedged between a forest of Redwoods and Ancient Oaks above and a grand meadow overlooking the Pacific below. There will be a public presentation of the final three teams' schemes on April 3 at UCSC. The $32-40 million project's completion date will depend on ongoing fundraising, added Weber.
After a long hiatus, Inglewood's Great Western Forum—now called the Forum Presented by Chase—is back with a $100 million renovation by BBB Architects and Clark Construction. To celebrate the moment, the venue's owner, MSG, has ordered up one of the more unusual promotions we've ever seen: the world's largest vinyl record topping its roof, by New York company Pop2Life. The record—a replica of the Eagles' Hotel California album—was made out of 250,00 square feet of printed vinyl (nearly 4.5 football fields' worth), 5,000 nuts and bolts, and 2,000 linear feet of curved aluminum, all built in 10 days. The thing actually spins at 17 mph. Meanwhile, the Forum itself, which opened on January 15, has been fitted with a modernized seating bowl (which can flex from 17,500 seats to 8,000), new hospitality offerings, and a revitalized 40,000 square foot outdoor terrace. The exterior has been repainted "California sunset red." By the way, the Forum (1967) was originally designed by Charles Luckman, who also designed MSG's Madison Square Garden.
Speaking of zombies, two of Downtown LA’s most long-stalled projects appear to be rising from the dead. The mixed-use project revolving around Julia Morgan’s beautiful Herald Examiner Building on Broadway is apparently finally getting underway, now developed by Forest City, and no longer designed by Morphosis. The designer has yet to be revealed. Also Metropolis, a multi-building megaproject designed at one point by Michael Graves back in the 1990s, is apparently being brought back by Gensler. Of course downtown giveth and downtown taketh away. We hear that Johnson Fain, who were previously designing the Bloc development, a makeover of the former Macy’s Plaza, is no longer on the project. Studio One Eleven are now, according to a project spokesperson, “moving forward with implementation.” Johnson Fain had been “engaged to assist with the development of the concept and to oversee the schematic design phase of the Bloc.” Too bad they couldn’t finish the job.