Posts tagged with "California":
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.”
Santa Monica to make all new single-family residential construction net-zero energy starting in 2017
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.
In Lawndale, California, Rudolph Park host a myriad of paths of which feature a range of interactive spaces and landscape elements interspersed on the way. Not long ago, however, the 1.5-acre lot contributed little to the city and the state's South Bay area, which was deemed "park poor" due to its lack of pedestrian access to such park. Two non-profit organizations From Lot to Spot (FLTS) and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) worked with Laguna Beach, CA and Pasadena, CA-based landscape architecture firm EPTDESIGN to rejuvenation Rudolph Park. Upon its re-opening, Lawndale Mayor Robert Pullen-Miles described it as "the crown jewel of the city." The Architect's Newspaper spoke to the firm to discuss their approach and reasoning behind their design decisions.
The Architect's Newspaper: What informed the development of the “intellectual” and unstructured play experiences created for children’s areas? Why was this focused on?
EPTDESIGN: The park’s program was developed through community workshops led by FLTS and TPL. Program elements included green space, an amphitheater, a climbing wall, natural play, a restroom, a walking loop, fitness equipment, play for all ages, a picnic area, and a gently rolling lawn. EPTDESIGN developed a concept narrative to tie the program elements together. A narrative based on the site’s natural history grew from the public’s stated desire to have a “natural” space, and as a way to distinguish the park from others in the general area...that centered on a singularly themed play structure.
Could you explain the thought process behind the various topographical elements that feature throughout?
Lawndale sits where the coastal dunes once met the inland prairie, a land characterized by [a] unique topography of dunes and vernal pools. The park seeks to reintroduce the neighborhood to the dunes and prairie that once formed their landscape and to the ecosystems of the hills that frame the region. The park is divided into three zones: The Dunes, Prairie, and Hills. As a result, this playful topographic design allows the visitor to traverse high and low spots. [It] also highlights the site's low-impact stormwater strategy. To enter the site, one crosses over a vegetated swale and infiltration basin where all stormwater is collected.With regards to the climbing wall, how does the form and arrangement link to the overall scheme? What material is this and how was the wall constructed?
The concept narrative espoused playful topography as a way to tie the design to the site’s natural history, but the grading was also a very useful design tool to promote safety. The climbing wall and restroom were both grant-funding-contingent program elements that posed site security challenges. Both are large vertical elements that could obstruct sightlines from the street. Through the use of creative grading, the restroom was built into a constructed hillside. The climbing wall was oriented perpendicular to the street, sharing the same earthwork as the restroom structure, thus eliminating hiding spots. Behind and above the restroom and climbing wall, the finish grade slopes away gently, allowing unobstructed sightlines to the back of the park while creating a universally accessible route from the lowest spot in the park up to the highest.
The 50-foot-long climbing wall is an innovative feature, and an expression of horizontal strata, which involved extensive collaboration between the landscape architect, civil and structural engineers, architect, artist, and contractors. The climbing face is built from precast concrete modules that are anchored to a structural retaining wall. To keep cost down, there are only four different modules. Through the use of 3D modeling, the modules were laid out to create a varied and unexpected yet climbable texture while...avoiding the tacked-on look of off-the-shelf climbing wall handholds and integrating artwork.
I would also ask the same thing about the tiles. Are they featured throughout the park or just those pictured?
The tile work was done by artist Frank Bauer. EPTDESIGN worked with Bauer on the subject matter and locations. There are multiple pieces, and they are displayed in each of the three zones. Within the Dunes zone, ceramics were placed in a water runnel, and feature three-dimensional pieces for kids to discover. In the Prairie, tile work can be found in the entry plaza. And in the Hills zone, ceramic flower mosaics were placed in the climbing wall niches. All are intended to be “touched” and not just for visual display.
Claremont Custody Center in Coalinga, California is set to be repurposed as a medical marijuana production facility, after Coalinga city officials jointly agreed to sell the building to a local firm, Ocean Grown Extracts, to the tune of $4.1 million—conveniently covering the city's $3.8 million debt.
Prior to closure, the prison had a capacity of more than 500 inmates though operations were put to an end when California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations decided to shut the facility down in 2011. Now, after lying empty for half a decade, the building will now become a high-security factory for cannabis oil extraction.
“It’s like the Grateful Dead said: ‘What a long, strange trip it’s been,’” Coalinga Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Keough told the Fresno Bee after he and council members voted 4-1 in favor of the plan. “We listened to the citizens and created a package that was reflective of our population.”
“You can never do anything that satisfies everyone,” Keough added, “but we were pretty darn close to doing that.” It has also been reported that the 77,000-square-foot building is due to create approximately 100 new jobs as well ending a "long journey to medical cannabis legalization for Coalinga" despite medical marijuana use being legal in California for quite some time.
Co-owner of Ocean Grown Extracts Casey Dalton explained the firm has their eyes set on operations being up and running before the end of the year. “We’re thrilled to be able to offer 100 jobs and make safe medicine available for patients,” she said. “We appreciate Coalinga taking a chance not only on us, but on the industry.”
In order for the firm to carry out extraction, the facility must be secured under locked gates with no public access with 24-hour surveillance. As for the building's interior, much of it will remain as it was left. Meanwhile, all employees are subject to stringent background checks which must be passed, plants must have tracking devices on them and the plant must also have techniques for odor control.
This year, aside from deciding who will become the 45th President of the United States, voters across the West will consider several important statewide ballot races that will directly impact the region’s urban landscapes, ecological future, and transportation infrastructure. In California particularly, the philosophy of direct democracy via ballot proposals promises to bring many contentious issues to election day.
Charter Amendment C
San Francisco’s municipal lawmakers are taking their debate over affordable housing directly to the people. Consensus in the Bay Area is to raise the minimum inclusionary housing requirement from its current 12% level. Partisans, however, can’t seem to agree on whether to raise the minimum to 25%, as proposed by Supervisors Jane Kim and Aaron Peskin. Their ballot measure will be up for a vote in this June’s California primary. With details of the plan still to be hammered out and as a development boom rumbles through the city’s South of Market district, the city government must act soon if the area is to contain a better-than-average affordable housing stock.
Measure R 2
Voters in L.A. are potentially looking to cement their growing rail legacy with a 40-year capital improvement campaign funded by a round of tax increases. Thanks to the passage of 2008’s Measure R, two light rail extensions are opening in L.A. this year. In March, Los Angeles Metro put forth a wish list of projects to be funded by Measure R 2, the transit agency’s plan to raise L.A. County’s sale tax by an additional $.50. The increase, coupled with an extension of 2008’s hike, is expected to raise $120 billion for transportation related projects over 40 years. Metro is looking to avoid a repeat of 2012’s slim defeat of the similar Measure J, which garnered 64.72% of the vote, just shy of the 66.6% supermajority needed to pass. When asked about how Metro plans to broaden support within the electorate, Pauletta Tonilas, Chief Communications Officer, told AN, “Our goal is to plan for future growth and provide ways to better the way we get around the county. The draft plan we’ve released shows we are delivering projects in every area of the county and that has been a big part of our support.”
Anticipated projects include fast tracking the long-delayed westside Purple Line subway and South L.A.’s LAX “people mover” extension of the Green Line, as well as a third extension to the northern arm of the Gold Line to Azusa in the eastern reaches of the San Gabriel Valley.
Neighborhood Integrity Initiative and Build a Better L.A. Initiative
The NIMBY-driven Neighborhood Integrity Initiative (NII) is battling the Union-supported Build a Better L.A. (BBLA) measure for a say in the city’s growth. The NII takes aim at booming-Los Angeles’s outdated city plan, by forcing the city to update all supplementary community plans while changes to the General Plan can be agreed upon. Simultaneously, the bill puts a moratorium on all spot-zoned projects for two years. Because many of the city’s most ambitious construction projects require these spot-zoning measures—due to the outdated nature of the code—the NII effectively halts development city-wide. The BBLA initiative is fighting to instead fast track projects requiring spot-zoning variances if those projects employ union labor and include construction of affordable housing units.
In perhaps a sign of things to come this November, two large, density-oriented projects recently won approval in very different parts of L.A. County. Koning Eizenberg Architecture’s 249-unit, 32-foot tall mixed use complex at 500 Broadway won enthusiastic approval from Santa Monica’s City Council. The scheme’s approval centered on its addition of 64 off-site affordable housing units as well as its proximity to the soon-to-be-opened Expo Line extension. In Hollywood, the Stanley Saitowitz / Natoma Architects-designed Palladium Residences, two 30-story towers with 731 units, won approval from L.A. City Council. Although the project is comprised solely of market rate units, council members praised its location near public transit, in this case, the Red Line subway a few blocks north.
How can innovative design achieve zero net energy?
This is the challenge put forth by Chester “Chet” Widom, FAIA, State Architect of California, in the “7x7x7: Design, Energy, Water” initiative for the state’s education system. California has the largest population of any state in the union, yet it is strapped by a 5-year long drought that threatens the state’s economy and way of life.
In light of these concerns, Widom examined the geography and geology of California and determined the state is made up of seven distinct ecologies. He selected seven of the state’s leading sustainable design firms (WRNS Studio, Aedis Architects, Lionakis, Ehrlich Architects, DLR Group, Hamilton + Aitken Architects, and HGA Architects) and gave each an educational institution to study. Faced with unique instances of geographic and demographic diversity, the seven architecture firms were each asked to develop a conceptual case study that could form the foundation for a major state-wide campus design revolution.
In February, the California Division of the State Architect (DSA) completed a new initiative called “7x7x7: Design, Energy, Water,” that highlights ways to “improve the built environment while simultaneously greening California’s aging school facilities.” Widom pointed out that California has 10,000 campuses serving students from Kindergarten through community college. He postulated that each campus has an average of five buildings in need of renovation, meaning 50,000 buildings must be adapted, state-wide; a staggering challenge, indeed. But, if the state could use energy and water reductions to save $3,000 per year per structure over ten years, it could save $1.5 billion overall, money that could be put back into young people’s education.
That ambition inspires the seven imaginative projects dispersed across the state.
WRNS Studio and Ehrlich Architects were challenged by the harsh, tight urban environments of their sites in Oakland and South-Central Los Angeles, respectively. Both elected to use the energy and water challenge to totally transform their campuses. At Lincoln Elementary School in Oakland, dubbed “a place of asphalt” by Pauline Souza of WRNS, the team connected the students to nature by developing what Le Corbusier called the "5th facade," the roof, into outdoor, PV-powered energy-efficient classrooms. Souza said they would achieve 45% energy and water reductions by creating more natural environments for their “harshest critics,” 6-11 year-olds. Ehrlich Architects, with Mia Lehrer + Associates landscape architects, transformed the entire site—ground plane and roof—into a learning garden. Through xeriscape landscape interventions they would divert 200,000 gallons of water annually to be used for irrigation, education, and to teach students the value of the local watershed. This would ultimately turn, said the architects, “the entire campus into a learning tool.”
Embracing advanced technology in diverse climates led DLR and HGA to bring us back to the future. Working at the Bubbling Wells Elementary School in hot and windy Desert Hot Springs, DLR explored ideas to conserve energy and water, like “Water Harvesting.” This concept uses the wind to run a series of compressors that collect condensate from the humidity in the air, essentially capturing water out of thin air. DLR is now exploring a test of this technology with the Palm Springs Unified School District. In downtown LA, HGA was asked to study Los Angeles Trade Technical College. Rather than seeking to achieve Zero Net Energy, the firm instead suggested changing the question: What would happen if the project “started at zero” and moved toward the positive? With an integrated approach using cloud-based computer analysis and parametric modeling, HGA analyzed 640,000 combinations of design strategies to improve the healthiness and energy-efficiency of the school. One impressive result was the reduction in carbon emissions. The current building currently produces 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of the CO2 produced by 191 cars annually, but with a cluster of design interventions, the team would reduce carbon emissions to zero.
“DSA is proactive in meeting Governor Brown’s directive to achieve Zero Net Energy by 2030” and that, “7x7x7: Design, Energy, Water, is just the beginning of a process that has the power to transform 10,000 campuses and help teach millions of California students how to become stewards of their own environment,” Widom explained.
Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley Reseda neighborhood is poised to spend $23 million in reactivated excess bonds as a result of post-redevelopment bills signed late last year by Governor Jerry Brown.
The action came last September after a series of legislative moves that in 2011 began to wind down and ultimately dissolve all 400 of California’s local city and County Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs)—entities originally conceived to funnel tax increments into blighted areas to promote economic development and affordable housing projects. Leading up to the dissolution, much criticism had been directed to community redevelopment agencies, citing waste and corruption.
“The only way to mend it was to end it and cut out abuses,” said L.A. city councilmember Bob Blumenfield, who was serving in the California State Assembly at the time of the 2011 CRA dissolution and now represents the Third District, which spans the northwest portion of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley, including the communities of Canoga Park, Reseda, Tarzana, Winnetka, and Woodland Hills. His district contains three of the nine CRA-owned properties that must be developed within a certain frame of time, as set forth in the governor’s bills. “If we don’t put together an acceptable development deal within three years, the nine properties get sold off. Having said that, we have the potential with these three lots in our district to generate catalytic investment that we think will create a domino effect of more development.”
Reseda’s plans for the reinvestment of funds in Los Angeles consist of two key vision plans related geographically and culturally along the historic portion of Sherman Way. The Reseda Theater Adaptive Reuse Project (for which the RFP phase is underway) hopes to spur commercial oriented development, including entertainment, dining, and other services, to activate the street and generate more foot traffic. The “Reseda Rising” project is a larger revitalization project for Sherman Way’s historic commercial corridor and would include two non-contiguous CRA properties as lynchpins in the effort.
For other parts of Los Angeles, the city was able to transfer a pipeline of affordable housing projects, as well as some unspent affordable housing and general redevelopment purpose bonds. Once those projects are completed, however, there will be no more traditional tax increment funds to devote to redevelopment. Los Angeles is currently gearing up to establish a new type of agency that will take the place of the former redevelopment agencies. This model, provisionally referred to as Community Revitalization and Investment Authorities (CRIAs), would provide a minimum 25 percent work programs for affordable housing, with the intention to put a focus on challenged neighborhoods. Unlike the former CRAs, CRIAs would be run by separate boards composed of elected officials and at least two public members.
But the new agencies would be working with nearly 70 percent fewer funds under the CRIA model in accordance with restrictions governor Brown has set out in AB107 and other respective bills. When asked, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office couldn’t give benchmark dates or a timeline for this kind of reorganization, but re-emphasized the mayor’s strong desire to get 100,000 new housing units built in the city by 2021 (Under the mayor’s plan, outlined in 2014, 30,000 new building permits for housing have already been issued as of September 2015.)
Meanwhile, San Francisco will use its reinstated funds to finance a few key housing projects, but the city also negotiated to spend a portion of reactivated funds to implement the Transbay Redevelopment—a large-scale neighborhood and transportation redevelopment atop derelict and demolished highway ramps that were damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Currently used for parking, the mixed-use, transit-oriented neighborhood will comprise approximately seven million square feet of residential, office, retail, hotel, and park spaces, but 1,200 new units reserved for very low, low, and moderate income households (befitting SB 107 requirements). The project between the South of Market Street area and Rincon Hill on San Francisco’s east side also features a 1,100-foot tall-skyscraper by Pelli Clarke Pelli—the Salesforce Tower. San Francisco was able to continue with the Transbay Redevelopment in part because it is a continuation of funds originally allocated through a CRA, and also because of sheer political will and a big lobbying effort.
Other cities continue to fight for what they view are their legal rights to the property taxes and accrued interest that made up their local CRA funds. Watsonville and Glendale’s lawsuits against the California Department of Finance were settled in the municipalities’ favor, but hundreds of others remain unresolved.
Back in Reseda, councilmember Blumenfield is looking ahead to the economic development opportunities in his district, despite the looming questions about what kind of new agency might accommodate such projects in the future. “If we don’t spend the excess bond money from a development perspective, it’s just gone,” he said. “In my district we need market rate housing and affordable housing. We might be able to use some of the bond money to build affordable housing. Instead of traditional redevelopment funding, there are other options, such as borrowing on future tax revenue or subverting funds back into a project—these are just another shade of the same color.”