Finally. Los Angeles' City Council on Wednesday passed a new mural ordinance, legalizing murals on private buildings after a decade of banning them. Of course would-be public artists still have to go through an extensive permitting process, and pay a$60 fee, but if they're persistent they can finally go crazy. That is, as long as their murals don't contain commercial messages. "It’s a big victory and we’re thrilled," said Isabel Rojas-Williams, executive director of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles. The group has been protecting the city's murals and muralists since 1987. "Despite the recent restrictions, the city has remained one of the country's mural capitals." Don't believe us? Behold a selection below of our favorite (finally-sanctioned) murals from around the City of Angels, courtesy of the Mural Conservancy. They range from political to historical to street art / graffiti, to, well...the undefinable.
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On Tuesday, Los Angeles County's Board of Supervisors voted to approve Disney's huge new TV and film production facility on the Golden Oak Ranch near Santa Clarita. The project is being master planned by LA-based firm, Johnson Fain, and the 58-acre "Studios at the Ranch" will include more than 500,000 square feet of studios, sound stages, offices, writers and producers "bungalows" and other developments. According to site plans submitted to the county the project's sound stages will be located on its southern side, with offices to the north. It will be completed in seven phases. According to the LA Times, the area, nicknamed "Hollywood North" and "Hollywood's Backlot," is becoming increasingly popular for filming because of its low costs and open, diverse spaces. More than half a dozen local ranches now serve as popular filming locations. More pictures and documents for the newest kid on the block below.
Thanks to the efforts of the Los Angeles Conservancy's Modern Committee, ten homes from Southern California's Case Study House program have been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Launched by Arts + Architecture magazine in 1945, the Case Study program emphasized experiment and affordability, and produced some of the most famous houses in U.S. history, including the Eames House (Case Study #8), and Pierre Koenig's Stahl House (Case Study #22). Overall, 35 plans were published, and 25 homes were built. The National Parks Service listed the ten residences on the National Register in late July. (One more home was deemed eligible but its owners objected.) While not completely safe, all will be granted preservation protections under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). While the Eames House had already been listed, those added to the list include Case Study #1, 9, 10, 16, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23A, 23C, and 28. The move is especially important because several Case Study homes have been demolished, and others have been altered beyond recognition. “With so few Case Study Houses in existence, and a few owners who do not appreciate the homes’ cultural and architectural significance, we need to stay vigilant,” said Regina O’Brien, chair of the LA Conservancy's Modern Committee, in a statement.
Culver City firm wHY Architecture has been selected to design a new art museum in Los Angeles for Maurice and Paul Marciano, the founders of clothing empire Guess? Inc. The museum will be located inside a marble-clad, four story Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Wilshire Boulevard near Lucerne Boulevard. When retrofitted in 2015, the austere building, originally designed by legendary artist Millard Sheets, will contain 90,000 square feet of exhibition space, showing off the Marciano's impressive collection, which will be open for "periodic exhibitions for the public." wHY has also designed L&M Arts and Perry Rubenstein Gallery in LA, an expansion of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, and the Tyler Museum of Art in Texas. They're also working on a Studio Art Hall at Pomona College outside of LA.
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Concreteworks fabricates a Hauer-inspired concrete screen for a residential West Coast architect.Oakland, California–based design and fabrication studio Concreteworks has crafted custom concrete products—bath fixtures, commercial and residential surfacing, outdoor furniture—for more than 20 years. In the last three years, the company has branched out into “lab projects,” in which the 30-member workshop models and mills concrete into three-dimensional architectural features. It does so without the aid of specifications from the designer. “We solve the design issue and the technical requirements,” creative director Mark Rogero told AN. Interior architect Michelle Wempe of Zumaooh discovered Concreteworks’ advanced capabilities in the company’s showroom and was impressed enough to incorporate the work in a residential project she was working on in Sonoma. Though her original design did not include it, Wempe asked Rogero to develop a custom patterned architectural screen at the terminus of a hallway between a living area and private quarters. “We got a lot of inspiration from Erwin Hauer’s work, and the client contributed some images of a 2D cross that is a symbol of peace in some parts of the world,” Rogero said. Working in Rhino with a Maya plugin, the Concreteworks design team began building a digital model from the client’s 2D image, extrapolating it to resemble the work of Hauer. The 3D form emerged as two identical crosses woven together at a 90-degree-angle, alternating between horizontal and vertical orientations. Digital modeling further revealed that the team’s initial sizing of the components was far too large. Originally 12 inches in length, the cross components were reduced to 9 inches in order to fit within the install location. Concreteworks 3D-printed two of the crosses and used these to make two rubber silicon molds. For the next 28 days, the fabrication team used fiber reinforced, ultra-high performance concrete to cast four crosses per day until all 112 components had been formed. The most advanced concrete mix available was used in order to accurately render the delicate details and gentle curves of the mold. The fabricators cast a hole in the center of each piece and threaded them, like beads, on a tensioned steel rod so the final assembly resembles a spine. “It was for a residence so we don’t anticipate a lot of wear, but it does have some flexibility,” Rogero said. The crosses were stacked vertically from bottom to top, and secured to the base with epoxy. A concealed turnbuckle at the top applies tension to each rod. Though Concreteworks’s lab practice is in its nascency, it has yielded great success for the design studio and its clients. “Normally people come to us for custom products that we already know how to make,” Rogero said. “But now we’re offering a service that can accomplish goals for the design community when they don’t know how to do it themselves.”
Welton Becket's 1958 Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, once a beacon of midcentury optimism, this weekend shuttered its doors. The bending, intricately ornamented auditorium hosted several Academy Awards in the 1960s, as well as concerts by the likes of Eric Clapton, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Prince, and Bob Dylan. But the facility recently fell on hard times, as bands gravitated to larger venues (leaving it mostly hosting trade fairs), and as a planned $52 million renovation was recently cancelled when California abolished its Community Redevelopment Agencies. Santa Monica Civic, a working group strategizing the venue's future, told the LA Times that it will take several months to develop a new plan for the landmarked structure, including film screenings, live theater, or even restaurants.
In 2005, San Francisco officials rezoned Rincon Hill, a neighborhood close to the Financial District, to allow for high-density housing. Since then, residential developments have popped up, including The Infinity, One Rincon Hill, and the under construction 45 Lansing Street, in an area that was once a maritime and industrial hub. The newest, Tishman Speyer and China Vanke's LUMINA, at 201 Folsom Street, broke ground this Wednesday. The Arquitectonica-designed development will add 655 condos to the Rincon Hill neighborhood, with views of the city and bay. The residence—two towers (the tallest at 42 stories) and two mid-rise buildings arranged along a courtyard—will have luxury amenities like floor-to-celing windows, a full service sky terrace, and a three-story clubhouse with a pool. Expected completion for the project is spring 2015.
AIA Los Angeles has announced that UCLA SUPRASTUDIO lecturer Julia Koerner’s proposal Cellular Complexity is the winning entry for the 11th annual 2x8 Student Exhibition, a scholarship organization that has showcased projects of over 150 students from more than 15 architecture and design schools in California. This year’s winning scheme, in collaboration with Paris-based architect Marie Boltenstern and architect Kais Al-Rawi, presents a parametric pavilion of twisting planes that transitions in porosity from one end to the other. According to the AIA|LA, the jury appreciated the design concept's creativity and edginess. The installation and exhibition of student work is expected to be complete by February 2014.
The American Institute of Architects has announced the winners of the 2013 Small Project Awards, a program dedicated to promoting small-project designs. Since 2003 the AIA Small Projects Award Program has emphasized the work and high standards of small-project architects, bringing the public's attention to the significant designs of these small-projects and the diligent work that goes into them. This year's ten winners are grouped into four categories: projects completed on a budget under $150,000, projects with a budget under $1.5 million, projects under 5,000 square feet, and theoretical design under 5,000 square feet. CATEGORY 1: These three recipients had to complete small-projects constructions, objects, an environmental art, or architectural design with a budget of $150,000. Bemis InfoShop Min | Day Omaha From the AIA: "More than a new entry and reception area for a contemporary art center, the InfoShop is a social condenser and transition space between the city and the galleries. With increasing emphasis on social and environmental issues, the art center is becoming a laboratory for ideas rather than a repository for artifacts." The jury commented: "This is such a remarkable process! It represents a designer's victory as opposed to an ideologically born, experientially rich element. ... A context is built on triangular patterns cut into a wall of panels and beautifully engages a sculpturally reception desk that double as a bar for entertaining. The reception space looks great, effortlessly orients the visitor and functions very practically. It is playful without being whimsical. This project is an exemplary demonstration of craft in the digital age." Cemetery Marker Kariouk Associates South Canaan, PA From the AIA: "Before dying, a woman left a note for her children to be read after her death. This note was less a will (she had nothing material to leave her children) than several abstract wishes for them. The sole request on her own behalf was that her gravesite becomes a garden." The jury commented: "This is a design that embodies the idea of ‘remembrance’. The bronze plates, graced with a deeply personal and poetic message, are organized beautifully—pushing and pulling you through the space as you engage it. This is respectful, celebratory work that gracefully merges with its landscape and poignantly reveals the spirit of a woman." Studio for a Composer Johnsen Schmaling Architects Spring Prairie, WI From the AIA: "An unassuming structure nestled into a rural Wisconsin hillside, this intimate retreat serves as a studio for a Country Western musician to write his work and reconnect with nature." The jury commented: "The wood detailing, the use of color, and the simplicity of this retreat for a musician is inspiring. An inspiring place in which to create music and commune with nature. The color palette is at once animated and subtle." CATEGORY 2: These three recipients had to create small-project constructions with a budget of $1,500,000. Nexus House Johnsen Schmaling Architects Madison, WI From the AIA: "This compact home for a young family occupies a small site in a historic residential district in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. Successfully contesting the local preservation ordinance and its narrow interpretation of stylistic compatibility, the house is an unapologetically contemporary building, its formally restrained volume discreetly placed in the back of the trapezoidal site to minimize direct visual competition with its historic neighbors. The jury commented: "This is absolutely beautiful. It is well detailed and not overwhelming. It fits fantastically into the surrounding neighborhood and doesn’t take away from the other architecture. As the name Nexus suggests, this house is very well connected. Composed of a brick podium and a wood clad block on top, it masterfully accomplishes a variety experiences in a compact footprint." Pavilion at Cotillion Park Mell Lawrence Architects Dallas From the AIA: "Commissioned by the Dallas Parks Department, this new shade structure bridges the gap between two groups of trees at a natural gathering place in the park." The jury commented: "This is such a fantastic way for the public to be able to experience architecture in a park setting. The whimsical pop of red draws the eye and leads to you walk in and experience the space. It plays with light and provides a shading experience. An exquisite filigree steel structure, that is at once shade pavilion and large environmental art piece." Webb Chapel Park Pavilion Cooper Joseph Studio Mission, TX From the AIA: " We were asked by the Department of Parks and Recreation to create a picnic pavilion to replace a decaying 1960s shelter. Given Texan heat and humidity, climate control was a priority." The jury commented: "Cleverly integrated into the site the side berm and concrete overhead create a thermal cooling mass the way sustainable design traditionally did. This pavilion project is unlike anything we have seen before. A beautiful public work that will surely inspire those that experience it to embrace architecture in a new way." CATEGORY 3: The three recipients in this category had to complete a small-project construction, object, an environmental art, or architectural design under 5,000 square feet. These projects had to be designed as well as constructed, fabricated, and/or installed majorly by the architect. 308 Mulberry Robert M. Gurney, FAIA Lewes, DE From the AIA: "The starting point for this project is small house at 308 Mulberry Street, originally constructed in the early nineteenth-century in the heart of the historical district of Lewes. In the redesign, the exterior of the original structure is meticulously restored." The jury commented: "A demanding redesign that respectfully preserves the original architecture, while artfully transforming the home." Nevis Pool and Garden Pavilion Robert M. Gurney, FAIA Bethesda, MD From the AIA: "Located in a neighborhood bordering Washington, DC, this suburban site has the advantage of being located adjacent to woodlands. A contemporary house surrounded by mature trees and manicured gardens anchors the site. A new swimming pool, stone walls, and terraces behind the house organize the rear yard and establish a dialogue between the existing house and a new pavilion." The jury commented: "A suburban backyard is transformed with a new panoramic awareness of water, forest and sky." Tahoe City Transit Center WRNS Studio Tahoe City, CA From the AIA: "The Tahoe City Transit Center (TCTC) represents a vital step toward achieving a more sustainable transportation network within the region." The jury commented: " This is first class design and craftsmanship that works on many levels. The scale of the bus is tamed. The project is reminiscent of the approachable architecture of the early century. The wood siding and trees in the background integrate very well. The design is modern and vernacular at once. This profound piece of public infrastructure serves a very important civic function with a low impact modest foot print." CATEGORY 4: The recipient in category 4 was challenged to draft a completely original architectural design that is purely hypothetical and theoretical, and less than 5,000 square feet. Four Eyes House Edward Ogosta Architecture Coachella Valley, CA From the AIA: "A weekend desert residence for a small family, the Four Eyes House is an exercise in site-specific "experiential programming". Rather than planning the house according to a domestic functional program, the building was designed foremost as an instrument for intensifying particular onsite phenomenal events." The jury commented: "The imagery is expertly rendered and communicated. Both rational and lyrical and possessing excellent spatial quality. Architectural towers and horizontal lines modulate the viewer's experience and connection with an elemental landscape. It redefines how a home should be built. ... This project takes the experience of place and via an ‘architectural amplifier’ of thoughtful movement (ascension into each bedroom space) and choreographed view capture / light receiver (well-placed windows), makes it a triumphant celebration of humankind situated in the center of the natural universe."
Last week, AN reported on the development of Alameda Square in Los Angeles, the 1.5-million-square-foot mixed use project being designed at the old American Apparel factory site on the southwest edge of LA's Arts District. Movement on projects like this beg the question: Just how hot is LA's Arts District? AN's West Coast Editor Sam Lubell sat down for a short chat with James Sattler, a Vice President of Acquisitions at JP Morgan Asset Management, to find out. The Architect's Newspaper: What potential do you see in the LA Arts District? Do you see it as one of the major development areas of the city? James Sattler: Clearly there is a lot of development activity in the area, and this mirrors the pattern we are seeing in many parts of Downtown. I think the Arts District has the potential to become a terrific example of LA’s current wave of post-industrial urban renewal and can ultimately mature into a veritable live/work/play neighborhood with a deeper array of housing, office, and retail uses. Why is it such a major draw for real estate investment? I think the residents, artists, and businesses here today are attracted to the Arts District because it is such a truly authentic urban environment that is connected to the energy and grittiness of Downtown but with a very approachable, pedestrian-friendly scale. Access to a rapidly improving public transport system is also a big plus. It’s hard to find this combination of characteristics in a neighborhood here in Southern California, yet people appear increasingly drawn to the type of urban lifestyle that the Arts District offers. Investors are drawn here for similar reasons. Are there any particular projects in the area that you see as transformative? I think the LA MTA’s Regional Connector project will be huge. When complete it will provide much more convenient access from the Little Tokyo/Arts District station to the rest of the Metro Rail system which will ultimately link to other parts of LA County like downtown Santa Monica, and potentially LAX and UCLA. I also think that the city’s plan to revitalize the LA River corridor, which runs along the east side of the Arts District, will have a big positive impact. Some people call this the next Meat Packing District, ala Manhattan. Do you agree? While I think there are some parallels in terms of an industrial neighborhood in transition, I think it’s too facile to compare them like that. I think one of the reasons for the success of the Meat Packing District is that the city took a very active role in developing the High Line and helping to preserve historical elements of the neighborhood that create its unique sense of place. Time will tell if the Arts District evolves similarly in LA.
At a DeLab (Design East of La Brea) Tour this Saturday, Los Angeles-based firm Lettuce Office shared the epic story of its new solar array for LA's Occidental College. The 1 megawatt installation, made up of 4,886-panels, follows the contours of its hilly site, with its angled panels raised just two or three feet off the ground. To guard against sliding, each set of panels had to be imbedded into the earth via concrete-supported columns. The array was supposed to open two years ago, but infighting at the university over the ambitious design caused considerable delay. In the end, Lettuce's plans won out, and now the handsome array supplies 11 percent of the university's power. And despite initial objections (the firm was at one point "shouted out of the room," explained principal Kara Bartelt), the $6.8 million project is now becoming a selling point for both the school and its builder, Martifer Solar. "It represents a new paradigm for arrays as architectural objects that, like buildings, are expected to contribute aesthetically to their environment," noted Occidental President Jonathan Veitch. See a live view of the solar field on the university's solar cam, here.
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] The perforated aluminum skin would replace the previously proposed glass facade. (Courtesy TJPA) It looks like Pelli Clarke Pelli's Transbay Transit Center, which stretches about three blocks through the city's Rincon Hill neighborhood, might go ahead with its first major piece of value engineering. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the architects have suggested that the building's undulating glass skin become perforated aluminum. The move would meet federal safety guidelines and chop $17 million from the estimated $1.59 billion budget for the center's first phase. The Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) board will be asked to approve the change at its March 25 meeting. The structure is not expected to be complete before 2017. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] "This is a dramatic change in material, but the philosophical change is not enormous," said Fred Clarke of the firm Pelli Clarke Pelli, who said the terminal would still feel light, not heavy. Chronicle critic John King warned that the move "could make the transit center less of a sinuous, snaking form—and more of a drab block—as it spans First and Fremont streets." On Pelli's side, Clarke argued that the wrapping would still be transparent. Of course he admitted: "Architects who do this kind of building must be very, very pragmatic."