Posts tagged with "California":

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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.”
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WRNS Studio to expand Microsoft headquarters in Mountain View with green roof, creekside habitat

Last week Microsoft submitted plans to the city of Mountain View to expand its Silicon Valley headquarters. As with Apple's upcoming building and Google's proposed campus, this one is also pastoral and eco-minded. A rendering by shows the low-rise office buildings enmeshed in a riparian landscape and topped by an expanse of verdant meadow. According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, WRNS Studio replaced SOM on the job. This new scheme not only updates the 515,000-square-foot campus, but also adds 128,000 square feet of workspace and 164,000 square feet of green roof. Changing the paradigm for parking, the design will restore more than 6 acres of asphalt surface parking into a “creekside environment.” But don’t expect a decreased demand for parking spaces, there’s talk of a new garage topped by a soccer field. "They’ve talked to us from square one about taking all the parking adjacent to Stevens Creek and turning that to habitat," said Mountain View Community development director Randy Tsuda told SVBJ. The tech behemoth also intends to buy the property, which it now leases. In an email to employees executive vice president Qi Lu wrote, “Today, I am excited to announce our plan to further invest in the success of the Silicon Valley region. Microsoft is acquiring the Mountain View Silicon Valley Campus to build a state-of-the-art facility and create an exceptional place to work... Sustainability, collaboration, and health & wellness are at the center of the design, incorporating features such as team courtyards, easy access to the outdoors, an onsite gym, and LEED Platinum certification.” WRNS’s plan calls for demolishing and rebuilding two existing buildings and infilling much of the campus with courtyards and outdoor spaces, while new programs along Macon Street and La Avenida Streets will directly engage with the community. Construction is expected to start in early 2017.
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On View> Experiments in Environment: The Halprin Workshops, 1966–1971

Graham.14.1_02_027 Experiments in Environment: The Halprin Workshops, 1966–1971 California Historical Society 678 Mission St., San Francisco Through May 1 From January 21 to May 1, the California Historical Society will exhibit archival documentation of Experiments in Environment, a series of cross-disciplinary workshops organized by Postmodern dance pioneer Anna Halprin and landscape architect Lawrence Halprin during the summers of 1966–1971 in northern California. During the Experiments in Environment workshops, dancers, architects, and environmental designers took part in “altering environments” with movement sessions and collective building projects. The California Historical Society’s exhibit includes original photographs, films, drawings, and scores of these projects. “Drawn from architecture, ecology, music, cinematography, graphics, choreography, and lighting, Experiments in Environment brought together artists, dancers, architects, and environmental designers in avant-garde environmental arts experiences,” said the California Historical Society in a press release. The exhibition was organized by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago. Visit experiments.californiahistoricalsociety.org/exhibition for more information.
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Facades pro Hagy Belzberg to architects: bring engineers on board sooner

Architects have long relied on engineers to help execute formally or functionally complex concepts. But, as Belzberg Architects founder Hagy Belzberg points out, "architects usually work out a schematic design" in response to a client's needs, "only later to invite the engineer to help substantiate their idea." Belzberg's own experience collaborating with facade engineers at Arup suggests a different approach—one in which the designers and consultants trade ideas and expertise from the very beginning. With Arup's Matt Williams, Belzberg will outline some of the benefits of a close association among AEC industry professionals through two cutting-edge case studies at next week's Facades+ LA conference. Belzberg and Williams' dialog workshop, "Process Shaping Design: Design, Digital Fabrication, and Delivery" is organized around two projects with distinct origins. The first is the Gores Group Headquarters (9800 Wilshire Boulevard) in Los Angeles. "The building will be a case study in how adaptive facades can help us reappropriate existing buildings so we don't have to knock them down," said Belzberg. Digital fabrication technology, he explained, allowed Belzberg Architects to craft a new envelope that is "highly sculptural and unique, but still performative." The second case study examines a series of commercial buildings in Mexico City. "It's the same digital fabrication on a new building," said Belzberg. In contrast to the more typical approach, Belzberg Architects brought Arup on board before touching pencil to paper (or hand to computer mouse). "What we're trying to promote is a case study in which we brought in the engineers on day one, so it becomes more performative, more efficient, and even more cost-effective," said Belzberg. Besides sharing some of their own work, Belzberg and Williams hope to use the workshop to dig into other examples—cases contributed by the participants themselves. "No one's going to have to do any homework, or any sketches," said Belzberg. "But we want people to come in with case studies of their own that we can work on: Not just questions and answers, but we're hoping that other architects will bring real-life scenarios so that we can brainstorm opportunities. It's not just about our work, but an opportunity to discuss audience case studies." To sign up for "Process Shaping Design" or another lab or dialog workshop, register today for Facades+ LA. Learn more and review the symposium agenda on the conference website.
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Seismic hot spots and facade design: Experts explain the risks and rewards

Southern California's enviable climate and landscape—sunny skies, balmy temperatures, picturesque mountains, and surfer-friendly beaches—come at a geological cost: proximity to active earthquake faults. Local AEC industry professionals are adept at meeting detailed building code requirements for structural safety. But when it comes to cutting-edge facade systems, said KPFF principals Mark Hershberg and Nathan Ingraffea, designers and builders are left with little to go on. Hershberg and Ingraffea will dig into this and other challenges and opportunities associated with seismic design at this month's Facades+ LA conference in a panel on "Anchors & Approvals: Structure and Skin in Seismic Design." In addition to Ingraffea (Hershberg will moderate), panelists include Dana Nelson (Smith-Emery) and Diana Navarro (California OSHPD). "A tremendous amount of time has been spent to increase the safety of building structures in seismic events through continual updates of the code, but very little work has been done to understand the behavior of facade systems in seismic events," noted Ingraffea. "This is a shame since the value of the facade system could be just as high as the value of the structure itself, and failure of either one could be catastrophic. This is a great opportunity for someone who wants to invest the time to modernize the code." In the meantime, designers, engineers, fabricators, and builders are left without "a well thought out design standard for seismic design of facade systems," said Ingraffea. The ASCE 7 contains only half a page on the topic. Worse still, the relevant text is "on one hand, very basic (one equation to check) and on the other hand overly onerous (dynamic racking tests), and they really do not apply to many modern facade systems," he said. As a result, building envelope design teams must tackle the issue of seismic design on a case-by case basis. "'Industry standard' is a term you hear a lot when you do a lot of facade engineering but from what I've seen the [seismic design] 'standard' is all over the board,'" said Ingraffea. In practical terms, a lack of data or guidance on seismic activity and building skins can cost precious time and money. "Most of the challenges we see with facade design in seismic hot spots are due to the amount of movement that can occur in a building system during a seismic event," explained Hershberg. "We service many clients who want to use new facade concepts or products that may have been developed overseas, and many times the products haven't been tested to determine the range of seismic movement that they can accommodate." The design team is thus forced to perform a series of qualification tests. "This introduces an additional set of schedule risks that are sometimes overlooked," said Hershberg. Learn more about the ins and outs of seismic design at Facades+ LA. Check out a full conference agenda and register for lab or dialog workshops today on the conference website.
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All you need to know about Building Enclosure Commissioning: Stevan Vinci on adding value with BECx

As Morrison Hershfield's Building Enclosure Commissioning Practice Lead, principal Stevan Vinci hears one question again and again: "The design team has an envelope consultant. What's the point of having a BECx authority on project?" The point, explained Vinci, is to ensure that the owner's expectations are understood and met throughout the design and construction process. "While the presence of a facade consultant on the design team adds value, their role may be limited to certain tasks or technical issues based on their specific project scope," he said. "The BECx authority works independently on behalf of the owner. The objective is to verify that the owner is getting what they are expecting and paying for." With Simpson Gumpertz & Heger's Jud Taylor, Vinci will offer an inside perspective on BECx services at this month's Facades+ LA conference in a dialog workshop on "Building Envelope Commissioning: The Who, What, & Why of BECx." Per Vinci, the BECx workshop targets "people in the design and construction community who want to know more about this service and how it will fit into their future projects, especially projects that will be using LEED v4." Designers, fabricators, clients, builders, and students will come away with a better understanding not just of the BECx process itself, but of how it can enhance a project's value. Architects, said Vinci, will also learn how to "effectively engage themselves in the Building Envelope Commissioning process." Vinci is eager to hear from BECx workshop attendees. "I'm looking forward to getting the audience's feedback concerning their perception and experience with BECx on projects as it stands today and where it can lead in the future," he said. "I not only enjoy being an educator but also learning from my audience's experiences." To register for Vinci and Taylor's BECx workshop or another lab or dialog workshop, visit the Facades+ LA conference website today. Secure your spot now and earn AIA CEUs in a unique, in-depth look at contemporary topics in facade design and fabrication.
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Wright’s Sturges House up for auction in Los Angeles

It’s the beginning of a bad joke: Superman, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Andy Warhol walk into a bar…. The truth of their commonalities is more a consequence of history than humor. Wright’s 1939 Sturges House in Brentwood is up for auction and Jack Larson, the last owner of the residence, played cub reporter Jimmy Olsen on the TV series Adventures of Superman in the 1950s.Larson passed away in September and his partner James Bridges died in 1993, but in their heyday they supported budding artists in the Los Angeles art scene from the early 1960s through the 1980s. Their home was full of artworks from Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and David Hockney, which will also be auctioned off in February in support of the Bridges/Larson Foundation. The modest wood-sided home, perched dramatically on top of a Brentwood hill is estimated at $2.5–$3 million. Los Angeles Modern Auctions has teamed up with Sotheby’s International Realty on the February 21 auction. As if Wright, Hollywood, and art world pedigrees weren’t enough, the residence was supervised by quintessential L.A. architect John Lautner and it was his first project in the city. Distinguished by its economy, the 1,200-square-foot home considered a Southern California adaptation of Wright’s Usonian house. A cantilevered deck and expansive glass windows that overlook the view extend the small living spaces. Thomas S. Hines, in his book Architecture of the Sun, quotes a February 1939 letter that Wright sent Lautner along with some sketches. “It is one of the simplest things we’ve done and one of the best.”
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Eric Owen Moss explores the origins of innovation in architecture

Eric Owen Moss, principal and lead designer of Eric Owen Moss Architects, has spent decades in the metaphorical trenches of architectural practice. But when he speaks about truly innovative design, he harkens back to the literal trenches of World War I, where German architect Erich Mendelsohn sketched his Einstein Tower, later built in Potsdam. "Mendelsohn was drawing something that no one else was drawing," explains Moss, who will deliver the afternoon keynote address at the upcoming Facades+ LA conference. "It was unique to him and his time and place." Moss contrasted Mendelsohn's work with the "swoopy Maya stuff" so many architects produce today. "There's a danger that the advent of Maya and Rhino and CATIA and all of this [technology] produces generic kinds of buildings," he said. "The power of the tools is dictating the design content." Instead, said Moss, the architect's tools, whether the Bauhaus-era parallel rule or today's digital modeling systems, should be a means to rather than the end of design. "I want to argue that architecture is still personal—it still has the aspect of Mendelsohn in the trenches—and that it's important that architecture not simply be a manifestation of the tools that are being used," he said. "It's not the plane that's flying the people, but the people are flying the plane." Meanwhile, the advent of digital design has introduced another set of problems—or, as Moss pointed out, opportunities. Today's AEC industry professionals use software "that is, by reputation, extremely precise, and extremely exact," he said. "There's a supposition that with sophisticated technological tools, it's all simple—and it isn't necessarily simple." Why not? The complicating factor is the human one. "I'm interested in talking about pieces that don't turn out the way you expect them too," explained Moss. Whatever the software designers promise, bringing a complex building envelope from concept to completion "is not necessarily easy. It's also contingent on the people." Returning to the distinction between innovative and run-of-the-mill architectural products, Moss recalled a recent public conversation with Frank Gehry. "We were talking about what would constitute a radical architecture," said Moss. In the end, he identified three necessary conditions. First, the work has to be inventive on a conceptual level. "It has to move architecture somewhere," said Moss. Second, the implementation of the project must also be innovative. Finally, he concluded, "the political side of the project has to be imaginative—meaning you have to get the city, the developer, the contractor to participate, to buy into it." Learn more from Moss and other facades experts, including morning keynote presenter and TEN Arquitectos founder Enrique Norten, at Facades+ LA, January 28-29. Register today at the conference website.