Posts tagged with "California":

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Oakland Misses Affordable Housing Opportunity

More people are living in urban areas. We all know younger millennials are choosing more urban lifestyles and rents are rising. Much has been written about micro-housing, from Seattle to New York’s Carmel Place by nArchitects. Will these types of units help make housing more affordable? The issue of housing in urban centers—especially affordable housing—is a great and complex issue. On the west coast, cities like L.A. and San Francisco have a notorious shortage. Seattle, dealing with rapid growth, is trying to do things a little differently. Mayor Murray has launched the Housing and Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), with an action plan that proposes rethinking density upzoning by 16 percent of Seattle and building 20,000 affordable housing units in the next ten years through public and private funding. Sometimes, though, it seems two steps forward means one step back. In California this Tuesday, Oakland’s City Council approved market-rate housing on a parcel of publicly owned land near Lake Merritt in a 6-1 vote. This could allow a developer to build a luxury condo on the site. The vote shot down an alternative, the E. 12th Street People’s Proposal, which called for a different use for the land—affordable and mixed housing. The E. 12th Street proposal called for 133 units, housing just over 700 people. The proposal put the cost of development at a little over $46,000,000, with funding that could have come from a mix of sources including state and federal grants.
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OMA submits sculpted proposal for L.A.’s FAB Civic Center Park

Working alongside landscape architects Mia Lehrer + Associates and design firm IDEO, OMA has put forward a sculpted proposal that features a partially covered green roof, curved steps, and elevated solar panelling. The project was submitted as part of a competition to design the First and Broadway (FAB) Civic Center Park in Los Angeles and will include a café, beer garden, test kitchen, and amphitheater seating. OMA hopes to introduce a "new type of park space" that is a versatile habitat for art and socializing. In doing so, space to eat, relax and escape the hectic downtown L.A. life results in a sculpted design that reflects and shades the selected areas. Mature oak and sycamore trees have been planted in and around the vicinity to harbor the tranquil environment. Almost mimicking this, elevated parabolic solar panelling are dotted around in a similar fashion, forming a cluster, orientated to achieve optimum efficiency. On the underside, they reflect the greenery below and thus maintain the sense of being a natural environment. The gentle curve that these panels produce (as seen in the first image) are emulated throughout the design. This can be seen in the "edible" green roof where sculpted forms break away and juxtapose the rigid orthogonal form of the building's structure. Likewise, another prominent example exists in the steps that offer an inviting recluse and alternative space to sit. While the building prides itself on being a getaway, a dialogue with the surrounding streetscape is maintained. "The corner of First and Broadway provides a new connection—visually and physically—from the cultural corridor of 1st Street to the front steps of City Hall," the firm says. "The extensive system of low seat walls will create an undulating ribbon of informal seating and shaded areas which define a series of 'park rooms' for intimate gatherings or spaces for art and cultural programming, while larger capacity amphitheater seating integrated into the restaurant is available for watching performances in the main plaza." OMA has also installed a hierarchy to the structure, divided by its corresponding story. Two distinct environments can be found with "quick and casual" spaces on the ground floor and "refined and elegant" above. As a result, each level responds to the "district's surrounding civic and cultural landmarks."
Energy efficiency, as mentioned before is also on OMA's agenda.  The proposal offers "net-zero" efficiency with regard to water and energy use thanks to the solar panels and water conservation facilities which are part of the "Golden California" landscape.
Three other firms—AECOM, Brooks + Scarpa, and Eric Owen Moss—submitted proposals, as well.
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Gustafson Guthrie Nichol to design San Francisco Shoreline Parks at the India Basin Waterfront

Seattle-based Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN) will design Shoreline Parks and 900 Innes along the India Basin coastline. GGN was awarded the commission after coming first in the design ideas competition put forward by the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department and the Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the San Francisco Parks Alliance.

According to the brief, the competition encouraged candidates to "reimagine" the two locations around India Basin Shoreline Park in order to establish a "spectacular and seamless 1.5-mile-long network of public parks on the City’s southeast shoreline."

Well-recognized in the field of landscape architecture, the firm already has designed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus in Seattle, the Lurie Garden at Millennium Park in Chicago, North End Parks in Boston.

The India Basin Waterfront Parks, Trails and Open Space Plan, a public-private planning consortium is also underway, taking a regulatory stance to safeguard the project and make sure that the developments  "along the 1.5-mile shoreline eventually look, feel and operate as a coherent, comprehensive, and integrated parks system."

“As our City continues to grow, we are committed to the sustainability of our City by making investments in parkland that enhance our world class waterfront,” said San Francisco mayor Ed Lee in a press release. “I’m pleased with the progress of the India Basin Waterfront that ensures a legacy for future generations to come.” 

GGN fought off competition from 19 other proposals including one from AECOM and a joint submission from SWA and Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects. A PDF, part of GGN's winning submission, can be found here.

“We are honored to be entrusted to work with India Basin's neighbors and visitors, to enhance the things that people already treasure about this gem of a site,” said founding principal of GGN, Shannon Nichol. “India Basin includes a rare expanse of original tideflats and preserved boatyard architecture. Our approach to the competition further softened the shoreline, added walking routes across Innes Avenue between the water and the neighborhood, and sized the park's spaces for everyday activities. We look forward to working with the community to test and hone that initial approach with the full input of neighbors and the people who will be using this park every day.”

Situated in a remote untouched alcove of San Francisco, the brownfield site that is the India Basin offers rare opportunity for the city to confront environmental and ecological issues with the implementation of a park complex. Currently, the site has little to offer in the way of amenities, but landscape development could see an influx of visitors to the area, to which business would undoubtedly follow. 

As for the competition, five necessities were put in place. These included continuous connector trails, bike paths, increased access to the shoreline, and enhanced habitats and gathering spaces. As for the historic landmark of the Shipwright’s Cottage at 900 Innes, submissions required a brief outline of how this would be restored. After being announced as winners, GGN will seek to install a "21st-century legacy park" with particular focus on "public access, recreation, resiliency, and habitat enhancement."  

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Wilshire Grand Tower tops out over Downtown Los Angeles

AC Martin is one step closer to completing L.A.’s newest and tallest tower. As workers and business executives in hardhats scribbled optimistic phrases like “we did it!” and “one year left to go” onto a massive wide flange beam, Wilshire Grand Tower, LA's soon-to-be tallest spire, topped out Tuesday afternoon at a gregarious ceremony hosted by Turner Construction and AC Martin, the tower’s chief contractor and architect, respectively, and Korean Air, developer of the project. Crew members cheered as cranes lifted the final beam into place, 892 feet up, completing the structure’s core and leaving only the tower’s top floors and spire to be constructed. The ceremony, attended by many of the 800 workers rapidly assembling the west coast’s newest homage to high strength concrete and glass, included a barbecue lunch prepared on site that filled the surrounding business district with the wafting scent of mesquite. The event was celebratory in nature, with team members, executives, and elected officials posing for photos as journalists surveyed the cavernous rib cage of the building’s future shopping plaza along Figueroa Street. According to Turner Construction’s website, when completed, Wilshire Grand will host 20 floors of Class A office (400,000 square feet) and a 42 story hotel consisting of 900 suites. The aforementioned 400,000 square feet of podium along Figueroa is set to include ballrooms, meeting halls, pedestrian-oriented retail, and a 1,250-spot parking garage. The structure is the first building to rise since L.A.’s City Council overturned a 40 year fire safety rule mandating flat-topped skyscrapers in the city. Wilshire Grand Tower, rising to 1,099 feet in height, will also the first to employ a concrete core instead of a prototypical steel frame. This novel (for Los Angeles) roof shape will contain a sky lobby, observatory, sky pool deck, and restaurants. The building, set to rank as the second tallest building west of the Mississippi River upon completion (taller than San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower, but shorter than Seattle’s 4/C Tower), is due to finish construction in early 2017.
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After 13 years and multiple changes, San Francisco planners approve massive project by Arquitectonica

After a drawn out, 13-year process, architecture firm Arquitectonica has rolled back the years on its design for the final installment for Trinity Place on San Francisco's Market Street. The firm has reverted to a design it originally conceived back in 2006 and had approved in 2007. However, the final phase required much back and forth and Arquitectonica and San Francisco's Planning Department have just now found accord and are moving forward. Since Arquitectonica submitted its original plan in 2003 for the site, 13 years have passed along with numerous iterations to the project. Originally, 1,410 housing units had been planned, but this proposal was altered in 2006 due to complaints from locals. After that, the final third phase of the project lay in limbo, being changed and changed again in the process. But while the project stalled, the area has also changed. When Arquitectonica cofounder Bernardo Fort-Brescia submitted yet another set of plans last week (that were very close to the 2006 scheme), the San Francisco Department acknowledged that perhaps Mission/Market Street had caught up and finally gave it the green light. Prior to Arquitectonica's inception, the 4.5-acre plot was occupied by a motel that in the 1970s had been converted into apartments. Now, two, 24-story cubic volumes rise up, interlocking and overlapping with various elements, all of the same simple orthogonal nature. The structure houses 440 units, "360 of which are rent controlled," the firm said, settling one of the earlier disputes. This, however, is just the "first phase" (which has already been built) of Arquitectonica's overall plan, which will offer a whopping 1,900-units. Phase two lies on the same plot. It boasts 105 more units with 21,000-square-feet of retail space, while the third and final phase will use a Tetris-like, golden "L" shape to house 915 new residences. They don't come cheap, either, with prices starting at $2,775 for an unfurnished "junior one bedroom." "We wanted to start with something very graphic and pure compared to the background of San Francisco, and then the composition changes personality from one building to the next," said Fort-Brescia. "By the time it reaches Market Street, we’re trying to create a more subtle streetscape."
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Eavesdrop> I See a Red Door: At SCI-Arc, black is the new black

The mark of directorial change is happening at SCI-Arc. It’s not just a new website with modelesque faculty photos, but keen observers have tracked a gradual darkening on campus. Touches of black are spreading through the library and offices. Gone are the schools trademark wooden seminar tables, replaced by sleek, black showroom furniture. Kylo Ren would feel at home.
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The City of Los Angeles seizes tiny houses from the homeless

Tiny houses—be they Brutalist or just twee—are seen by some as a lifestyle option for Pinterest de-clutterers, and by L.A. advocates as a small step towards solving their city's homelessness crisis. The City of Los Angeles, however, disagrees. https://twitter.com/DaleLezon/status/631521843510251520 In South L.A., city officials are seizing "tiny homes" that belong to homeless residents. After the City Council passed a tough "sweeps" ordinance last year, the city was more easily able to categorize the diminutive dwellings as "bulky items" that could be confiscated immediately. Elvis Summers, a formerly homeless L.A. resident who built and donated the houses, removed seven of them in advance of the city's cleanup. Summers had placed the houses on 110 Freeway overpasses for homeless people to use in lieu of tents. In all, he's built and sited 37 homes, with help from $100,000 in donations and a network of volunteers. https://twitter.com/peoplestrustTOR/status/703665135764664320 "It’s not a permanent solution, but nobody is doing anything for shelter right now,” Summers told The Los Angeles Times, adding that the houses should not be destroyed, but returned to him. “They keep just saying we need permanent housing, but it never happens.” The structures, some advocates for the homeless say, are a safer, cheaper alternative to having homeless people camp on sidewalks. Connie Llanos, Mayor Eric Garcetti's spokesperson, says the mayor is intent on getting homeless people into shelters or permanent housing. For its part, the city did not offer alternative accommodations upon seizing the houses. Although housing choice vouchers and supportive SROs are proven solutions for housing the homeless, cities and individuals outside of L.A. are turning to tiny houses to meet demand. Last year, a Nashville pastor built six cheery, 60-square-foot tiny homes for the homeless that are parked next to his church. In Portland, Oregon, 60 people reside in Dignity Village, a community of small private homes made out of mostly recycled materials.
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San Francisco seeking enhanced landmark protection for one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most significant works

A gestural ramp takes visitors to the upper stories, passing objets d'art nested into built-in niches. A bubbled skylight lets the sun's rays penetrate into an expansive atrium, even on cloudy days. The AIA says the landmarked building is one of Frank Lloyd Wright's 17 essential works. The Guggenheim? Not so much. Wright's only San Francisco building, a city landmark since 1974, sits on Maiden Lane, a quiet side street downtown. The last tenant, Xanadu Gallery, closed up shop last year. Before the next tenant moves in, preservationists are rallying to expand existing landmark protections to include parts of the interior that date to 1948, including the ceiling, a skylit plane comprised of 120 acrylic domes, mahogany display cabinets, and a brass hanging planter. Wright designed the project, one of his only renovations of an existing building, in 1948 for V.C. and Lillian Morris. The couple had a shop on the same street and had previously commissioned Wright to design four houses for them (none were built). The space became the home of the V.C. Morris Gift Shop. Although the exterior, whose arch could be a subtle tribute to Louis Sullivan, is elegant, Wright experts concede that the interior is more architecturally significant. 140 Maiden Lane was a real-world test for the Guggenheim, built in 1959, which Wright conceptualized sixteen years earlier. The skylight hints at Wright's later work, like the 1961 Marin County Civic Center. The Prairie-style homes Wright completed in the Chicago suburbs are echoed in the masonry cliff, muses John King, The San Francisco Chronicle’s urban design critic. When Xanadu Gallery moved into the space in 1997, the owners, Raymond and Marsha Handley, restored many of the interior details that were left to languish in the basement. They consulted preservation experts, including Aaron Green, who with Wright collaborated on the Marin Civic Center. Marsha feels confident that the new owner, a Hong Kong–based investor who also owns Los Angeles's Bradbury Building, will be mindful of this building's significance. It's rumored that the new tenant may be a restaurant, or a European clothing boutique. City Planners have broached the bid for elevated landmark status with the owner's representatives, as they intend to send the revised landmark designation to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors in the next few months.
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Graham Harman Joins SCI-Arc’s Liberal Arts Faculty

The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) has announced the appointment of philosopher Graham Harman to its Liberal Arts Faculty as "Distinguished Professor of Philosophy." Harman will fill the post in this fall. Harman is a well-regarded figure within the discipline of philosophy, respected for his contribution to contemporary speculative realism movement and for his development of object-oriented ontology. He has published 12 books including The Quadruple ObjectGuerrilla Metaphysics: Phenomenology and the Carpentry of Things, and Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy, and is currently editor of the Speculative Realism book series at Edinburgh University Press. "During my lectures over the years, I have rarely felt as challenged and inspired as I do when speaking at schools of architecture," said Harman speaking of his appointment. "Along with the chance to give whatever I can to the SCI-Arc community, I see this move as a remarkable learning opportunity.” Harman engages in critical discourse involving science, art, and architecture, landing him on a list of the top 100 most influential people in the art world, as collated by Art Review. “We are thrilled and honored that someone of Graham’s stature and reputation will join our faculty,” said SCI-Arc Director Hernan Diaz Alonso in a press release. “This appointment clearly demonstrates our mission to deepen the school’s Liberal Arts agenda to one of architecture as a human endeavor.” Chair of the B.Arch. Program, Tom Wiscombe, said of his appointment, “Graham is a unique and notorious figure in philosophy and the arts. His fresh metaphysical project offers a way of understanding reality not as a product of the human mind, but rather as a cornucopia of independent and vibrant objects, large and small, human and non-human. Graham is irreverent, with as many adversaries as acolytes; he is at home in the battlefield of ideas. His remarkable imagination and style, and his ability to leap in and out of realms of ideas and aesthetics will be huge assets for our school. In the coming years, Graham will no doubt engage and provoke the speculative design culture of SCI-Arc, as well as being a crucial contributor to our Liberal Arts Program."
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Gwyneth Paltrow hires Gensler to design private Hollywood club to rival SohoHouse

Golden Globe–winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow has unveiled plans for a private club in West Hollywood with a design by California-based Gensler. "The Arts Club," as it will be known, is touted to cost $3,000 a year, and will occupy a 132,000-square-foot plot. The club includes a wellness center, night club, selection of restaurants, creative office space, gallery, cinema, and 15 guest rooms. A multi-story underground parking garage will also be located on Hilldale Avenue. The club hopes to emulate the successes of the SohoHouse private club that originated in London in 1995. SohoHouse has since expanded to New York, Chicago, and West Hollywood. According to Curbed LA, the club will take the place of the former Hustler building on the Sunset Strip. That structure, owned by Larry Flynt, had occupied the space for 18 years. The adult magazine will move its offices to Hollywood Boulevard. In a marked transition, Paltrow has reportedly deemed the club a no swearing zone.

As for Gensler's design, the nine-story building uses a vertical aluminum fin system that pivots upon axial fittings attached to the building's facade. Besides the aforementioned amenities, the rooftop terrace will be the building's main attraction, offering a luxury pool with a view over L.A.

Paltrow's dream isn't quite ready for construction yet, however, as the proposal still awaits permission for various aspects of design, notably the structure's height.
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Eavesdrop> ‘Chella Yo Self: Jimenez Lai excited about Coachella this summer

L.A. designer Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular recently discovered that he would be designing one of the large installations at Southern California music festival Coachella this summer. Announcing the exciting news on Facebook, he said “I want to kiss the earth Kevin Costner–style. I’m now able to say I’ve been on the same poster as Ice Cube, LCD Soundsystem, and Guns N Roses.”