We hope you’ve stretched your hamstrings—there have been a lot of developments in U.S. bike sharing programs lately, and we’re taking another whirl through them now. Although not without hang-ups, New York’s Citi Bike has at least not killed anyone yet. People love to joke about clueless tourists riding on the sidewalk, or on heavy-traffic avenues, or “salmoning” the wrong way down one-way streets — that’s true in Chicago as well as New York — but the fact that no bikeshare has so far produced little to no traffic carnage should come as no surprise, writes Charles Komanoff for Streetsblog. Crunching the numbers, Komanoff points out “for each day in 2012, all NYC cyclists racked up 16 times as many miles as have Citi Bikers on each day to date.” So while Citi Bike ridership has exceeded expectations, it’s still only a small bump in the city’s total bike ridership. The bikes themselves could be a contributing factor, too — they aren’t racing bikes, and crowds of bikers further leaden their slow pace. The naturally lower car speeds in popular Citi Bike areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn may also play a role. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, a proposed bikeshare system was stymied by existing restrictions on street furniture advertising. Smaller systems may move forward in some of L.A.’s municipal fiefdoms — Long Beach and Fullerton are apparently moving ahead, while West Hollywood and Santa Monica are conducting reviews. For now, though, what was once proposed as the nation's second biggest bike sharing program seems to have hit the brakes. Instead Chicago’s Divvy bike share is poised to become the largest such program in North America after announcing the addition of another 75 stations. Divvy already has 300 stations, with plans to add 100 more in 2014 (the additional 75 brings it to a total of 475). Federal funding enabled the $3 million expansion. CDOT also announced that it has applied for $3 million in state money to fund another 75 stations, which would bring the grand total to 550 stations. “As Divvy expands into more neighborhoods, and we build a 650-mile bikeway network throughout our communities, Chicago is quickly becoming the best biking city in North America,” said Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein in a press release. It will be one of Klein’s last as Chicago’s transportation commissioner — he announced his resignation effective at the end of the month. Klein oversaw Divvy’s development and implementation, and was known for riding his bike to work. Sustainable transportation advocates told Streetsblog Klein’s successor will have big shoes to fill.
Posts tagged with "California":
Just west of Los Angeles, a relaxed beach town on the California coast has recently received some major architecture news headlines. In 2013, some of the biggest firms in the country, from OMA to Gehry Partners, have set their sights on development projects in Santa Monica, planning to raise the skyline and increase the architectural density of the city. Not everyone is happy about this attention, though. This week, Curbed LA reports that the Wilmont Neighborhood Coalition, a group of Santa Monica residents from the high profile neighborhood from Wilshire Boulevard to Montana Avenue, have called for a moratorium on all development plans in the city. With a unanimous vote at their annual meeting, the group pleaded with the City Council to stop architectural projects in Santa Monica until the solidification of a zoning ordinance next year. According to a survey funded by the Huntley Hotel in downtown Santa Monica (whose owner is also a coalition board member), the group’s main complaint is the increase in traffic and the decrease in parking space that would be caused by city developments. The City Council’s Planning Committee will see a Zoning Ordinance Update on their agenda in a few weeks, but a decision on new building regulation in the city would not be reached until possibly late 2014. These Wilmont neighbors do not think that is soon enough to prevent the vehicular overcrowding they fear. Sending a symbolic vote of no confidence to City Hall, the Neighborhood Coalition has proposed a resolution that not only pauses all Santa Monica development agreements until the zoning decision but also introduces the adoption of a Downtown Specific Plan that would set a maximum height on projects in the downtown area. So far, the coalition’s objection has not had an impact on any current projects.
The architecture business seems to be—slowly—rounding back into form in Southern California. One indicator? A bunch of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and Requests for Qualifications (RFQs) for major public projects. One of the most significant is the $70 million renovation of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, whose management was taken over by the University of Southern California (USC) this summer. The iconic Parkinson & Parkinson–designed building will undergo long-delayed updates throughout, including improved sight lines, seating, concessions, audio/visual, lighting, restrooms, and much more. The stadium's last major upgrade came in 1993. The shortlist for the project for now includes Populous, NBBJ, DLR, HNTB, Gensler, and 360 Architecture. The West Hollywood Park Master Plan, to devise a new 70,000 square foot recreation center adjacent to Johnson Favaro's new West Hollywood Library, has a shortlist that includes recent AIA/LA Gold Medal winner Frederick Fisher and Partners with CMG and Buro Happold, Langdon Wilson, and a mystery team that we're still trying to ascertain. For the Long Beach Civic Center, which includes a commission for a new city hall, main library, and the revitalization of Lincoln Park, the shortlist includes architecture teams led by Fentress, SOM, and Pei Cobb Freed. Stay tuned as we learn the fates of all of these projects.
Los Angeles–based artist Cliff Garten has just completed his latest commission: Ribbons, a series of landscapes and sculptures in the courtyard of the Beaux-Arts 50 United Nations Plaza in San Francisco. The symmetrical design riffs on the existing structure's classical uniformity by inserting a sculptural collage of paving, seating, fountains, and plantings into the building's 20,000 square foot courtyard. Curving concrete pavers are set into a larger surface of decomposed granite, while cast concrete benches twist as if made of rubber, appearing to lift out of the ground pattern. "Concrete is great. I think I have finally found my medium for infrastructure," said Garten, who noted that he's hoping to develop a line of street furniture with the manufacturer Quick Crete. The project was commissioned by the General Services Administration's Art in Architecture Program, which sets aside a half percent of construction funds for federal projects for art. See more pictures below.
California Republicans (yes, there are a few, we think), your leader has arrived. After a multiyear battle, Mitt Romney has finally gotten permission to tear down their existing beachfront house and build an 11,000-square-foot mansion in La Jolla. Although it was approved in 2008 by the California Coastal Commission, neighbors were able to stymie the project—questioning whether it exceeded square footage allowances—until commissioners upheld their approval. According to the Los Angeles Times, the home is more than four times larger than the median house in the area. (As is this house by Zaha Hadid also planned for La Jolla.) It’s proof that Mitt truly loves the earth. And exploiting resources on top of it.
Beyond the Assignment: Defining Photos of Architecture and Design Julius Shulman Institute 7500 Glenoaks Boulevard, Burbank, CA Through November 1 Beyond the Assignment celebrates the work of ten of today’s leading architectural photographers in the United States who draw inspiration from their image-making predecessors, such as Julius Shulman and Ezra Stoller. The exhibition, curated by Bilyana Dimitrova, is being showcased at the Woodbury University Hollywood Gallery, and will be running from October 5 to November 1. Our experience of architecture is so often shaped by the photographers who document it. These photographers move “beyond the assignment,” helping to immortalize and define architecture and the built environment. Beyond the Assignment pays homage to this fact, casting a spotlight on an art form of great power that is too often overlooked. Featured photographers include Peter Aaron, Bilyana Dimitrova, Joe Fletcher, Timothy Hursley, Alan Karchmer, Jon Miller/Hedrich Blessing, Tim Street-Porter, Undine Prohl, Paul Warchol, and Lara Swimmer.
Last Thursday in his keynote address to the Transit Oriented Los Angeles conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the creation of the "Great Streets Initiative." In an executive directive—his first since taking office on June 30—Garcetti outlined a program that "will focus on developing streets that activate the public realm, provide economic revitalization, and support great neighborhoods." Garcetti defined "great streets" as accessible and walkable, with landscaping, shade, larger sidewalks, improved storm water drainage and green features. Turning to aesthetics, Garcetti said simply: "design matters." Los Angeles' streets should make room for sculptures and murals, and not just functional components, he argued. The "Great Streets Working Group" will direct the initiative. Led by Garcetti's Deputy Mayor of City Services, the gathering will include representatives of Departments of Planning, Cultural Affairs, Transportation, and Economic & Workforce Development, plus the Department of Public Works's Bureaus of Engineering, Street Services, Street Lighting, and Sanitation. Their first task will be to develop a plan in which 40 streets are identified for upgrades.
In Palo Alto, California, the city council recently approved a proposal (9-0) to alter the city's building code, requiring new homes to install wiring for electric car charging stations. Pre-wiring for the 240-Volt Level 2 charging stations costs about $200, while many homes in the city sell for over $1 million. The proposal would also make it easier for homeowners to get permits to retrofit their homes for the charging stations. (Photo: Steve Jurvetson / Flickr)While some fear the city is overstepping its boundaries, and that electric cars may not be the way of the future, supporters see this as a viable step closer toward more sustainable neighborhoods and cities by lowering greenhouse gases, in targeting the infrastructure of where we live first. Last year, Vancouver passed a similar ordinance requiring electric car charging stations in several types of residences. Here's a detailed checklist from the City of Palo Alto with the requirements for installing a home car charging station. And here's a roundup of which cities around the world have the most electric cars.
The architecture school at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco was only founded in 1986 and did not have its own campus until 1997. But the school—housed in a light filled old bus shed in the city's Potrero Hill Design District—is quickly carving out a unique role for itself as a center of architectural creativity and pedagogy. The College, with its dynamic president and acting director of architecture David Gissen, seems to be trying to work forward from its Arts and Crafts traditions (the CCA itself was founded in 1907 in Oakland) but link up with the vibrant and young tech industries and attitude that proliferate in this south of Market area. A sign of this new spirit is a small but fascinating exhibit, An Olfactory Archive: 1738-1969, curated by Gissen and new faculty member Irene Cheng and designed by Brian Price and Matt Hutchinson. The exhibit, Cheng claims, is "an in-depth, sensory exploration of one mode of experimental history: olfactory reconstruction." It features the work of several architects, designers and "perfumers" who focus on reconstructing historical scents. It includes Jorge Otero-Pailos, who reconstructs in the show of the odors of the Glass House, and Aaron Betsky and Herzog and DeMeuron's fragrance, "Rotterdam-Olfactory Object from 2004." The impetus for the show is the work done by Alain Corbin and Dell Upton, who both have highlighted the importance of odor as a historical force, from early nineteenth-century fears of miasmatic contagion to more recent concerns about air quality and pollution. In addition to the exhibit CCA will host Test Sites: Experiments in the History of Space, a symposium devoted to exploring other alternative historical practices such as reconstructions, counterfactual histories, new media, critical conservation, and even destruction. It will feature Lucia Allais, Keller Easterling, Amy Balkin, Amy Balkin, Nicholas de Monchaux, Jorge Otero-Pailos, and Mark Wasiuta. The symposium will take place CCA's Timken Auditoirium on Saturday, October 12 from 10am to 5pm. The exhibit runs through October 13.
We at Eavesdrop don’t like to toot our own horn, but sometimes we can’t help ourselves. So we have to point out the scene for the late July opening of Never Built Los Angeles, co-curated by our very own Sam Lubell. The event looked more like a Hollywood club opening than an exhibition opening, with a line that snaked around the corner and angry would-be partygoers trying to convince the bouncer (a.k.a. the fire marshal) to let them in. We especially love the description by AN contributor Guy Horton, here writing for KCRW’s blog: “The line of black clothing wrapped around the corner and kept going, reaching all the way down to a stretch of houses where local residents nervously peeked out to see what was going on. Cars were pulling all sorts of questionable maneuvers on Wilshire and adjacent streets as distracted, anxious architects hustled for parking. People were walking in from blocks away as if drawn from some invisible force. At any moment I was expecting police helicopters to appear overhead. That would have made my night complete.”
Peter Zumthor’s design for a new central building at LACMA has some experts concerned with its environmental effects. Critics including John Harris, chief curator of the National History Museum’s Page Museum, worry that the project could disrupt the La Brea tar pits, the same ecological features that inspired the building’s blob-like shape. At a meeting last month the county Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to request a presentation from the Page Museum fleshing out the curator’s concerns. That presentation has not yet been scheduled, according to the Page Museum’s press office. If Harris’s hunch proves correct, the LACMA redesign would join a long list of local architectural-environmental disasters, stretching back decades, to the earliest days of European settlement. For instance, Los Angeles Aqueduct had drained Owens Lake by 1924, and in 1941 began diverting water from Mono Lake. Only last month did the city of Los Angeles and other parties including conservationists reached a tentative settlement that would repair some of the damage done to Mono Lake. So without further ado, below is our list of some of the most significant environmental catastrophes (and near-catastrophes) in LA history. We hope LACMA's issues will be addressed, and that it won't be added to this list: Beginning in the early twentieth century, Los Angeles’s 14,000 acres of wetlands were filled in to make way for tony residential developments like Marina del Rey, dedicated in 1965. An earlier suburban enclave, Surfridge (part of Playa del Rey, developed in 1921 by Dickinson & Gillespie Co.), wiped out 300 acres of sand dunes that were home to the El Segundo Blue Butterfly, an endangered species. When LAX was built in the early 1960s, the airport took over Surfridge and razed the homes there—but not to restore the dunes. Instead, airport authorities bought the neighborhood to appease residents complaining of noise pollution and fenced it off without touching the dunes. Restoration would take another three decades to initiate and is ongoing today. On March 24, 1985, a methane gas leak caused a massive explosion in a Ross Dress-For-Less Department store in the Wilshire-Fairfax District of Los Angeles. Though the cause of the explosion remains the subject of debate, two Stanford professors argued in a 1992 paper that it was a product of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique that is once again being debated in the city. In any case, the disaster prompted Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-CA) ban on tunneling under Wilshire Boulevard, which in turn rerouted the subway’s Red Line. In recent years, Playa Vista, a giant development located just south of Marina del Rey, has been the site of a high-profile contest between architecture and ecology. The original plan for Playa Vista, initiated by Howard Hughes’ heirs after his death, would have destroyed 94 percent of the Ballona wetlands’ remaining acreage. After the plan was approved, the Friends of Ballona Wetlands filed a lawsuit. Following a period of inaction, the development was sold to Maguire Thomas Partners in 1990. The new developers agreed to rededicate a portion of the land to conservation and pay millions for restoration. Rounding out the list is the infamous Belmont Learning Center, now known as the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center. The high school, the nation’s most expensive at over $400 million, was built on top of the Los Angeles City Oil Field. Concerns over methane gas below the site resulted in an almost 20-year delay in the building process. The revision of state and local policy regarding school construction, and the installation of a $17 million gas-mitigation system, allowed construction to go forward, with a completely new architectural plan. Operating the system costs the school, which finally opened in 2008, between $250,000 and $500,000 annually.
Anaheim's Crystal Cathedral, designed by Philip Johnson in 1980, and containing more than 10,000 panes of mirrored glass, is one of Orange County's rare architectural treasures. Today the Roman Catholic Diocese, which purchased the church last year, announced that Johnson Fain and Rios Clementi Hale will be leading its $29 million renovation. The exterior of the building will be essentially unchanged outside of cleaning and replacing damaged glass, but the interior will be heavily remodeled to upgrade access, sight lines, finishes, and environmental comfort. The renovation will also add significant new elements to adapt to the church's new Catholic focus (it had once been an evangelical church), including a new altar, a baptismal font, and new cathedral doors. "It's an open palette inside," said Diocese spokesperson Ryan Lilyengren, who likened the iconic exterior to a shell. The 34-acre campus, which includes seven buildings (including structures by Richard Meier and Richard Neutra), will also be master planned to support a larger array of events and, as Rios Clementi Hale principal Mark Rios put it, "unite the campus and make a place that welcomes the community." Twenty four teams applied for the renovation, a list that was pared down to four before this final decision. One of the nation's first "megachurches," the 2,750-seat church will host masses every day, according to Lilyengren. The church will close to the public at the end of October (services will be held in the interim in Neutra's adjacent arboretum), and renovation should be complete by 2015 or 2016.