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.
Posts tagged with "California":
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.
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.”
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.
For Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter, associate dean at Woodbury University School of Architecture, director of WUHO Gallery, and co-founder of [WROAD], architectural practice and education are inextricably intertwined. Wahlroos-Ritter, who joins moderator Alexander Korter (CO Architects) and co-presenters Michael Fox (Cal Poly Pomona), Quinyun Ma (USC), and Neil Denari (UCLA) in a panel on "Facade Education: Preparing Future Practitioners for True Performance" at next month's Facades+ LA conference, first taught at Cornell University after her work as project architect on the Corning Museum of Glass attracted the school's attention. That initial seminar, on the innovative use of glass in building envelopes, helped her carve out a professional niche in the field and also led to an appointment at Yale. At the time, recalled Wahlroos-Ritter, Yale did not offer courses like hers—neither classes on glass, specifically, nor on the intersection of architecture and engineering more generally. "That has changed a lot, [especially] when I think back on when I went to school," she said. The contemporary accreditation process, for one thing, "has elevated the need for systems integration," explained Wahlroos-Ritter. While in the past it had not been unusual for students and faculty from other disciplines to consult on student work, she said, "to rely on engineers to complete a project is new." Her students' relationship to technology like the performance simulation platform Autodesk Ecotect Analysis has also evolved since Wahlroos-Ritter began teaching. "Students are conversant with Ecotect as part of learning BIM," said Wahlroos-Ritter. "That's something I'm seeing more and more in curricula." Meanwhile, students gain hands-on experience in fabrication by building mock-ups of building envelope components. "I think in some ways the academy is leading that part of the conversation," said Wahlroos-Ritter. "Students are learning tools that aren't necessarily part of the trade. Many senior architects don't have the skills these students do." Wahlroos-Ritter relishes her job molding young minds. "For me, one of the exciting moments is the epiphany where students begin to see systems as an intrinsic part of design" rather than something to consider as a postscript, she said. "I talk about Louis Sullivan a lot. He considered the building a living, breathing organism—then everybody forgot about it, of course. I think there's a renewed appreciation for the role building systems can have in the perceptual narrative of a building." Catch up with Wahlroos-Ritter and other facade educators, designers, fabricators, builders, and researchers at Facades+ LA January 28–29. Register today on the conference website.
Facades+ Los Angeles co-chairs Kevin Kavanagh and Alexander Korter hope to shake things up when the acclaimed conference series returns to Southern California in January. Senior associate and associate principal, respectively, at CO Architects, Kavanagh and Korter have rethought the event in terms of architecture as process—a theme that also captures their personal approach to design. "Architecture is about managing and manipulating various drivers and influencers in order to enhance and inform design inspiration," explained Kavanagh. "It's a creative discipline, but a lot of the external drivers—cost, quality, owners' preferences—are as much a part of the design process. They shouldn't be looked at as restrictions, but are ultimately things to work off, that will make [the design] better." In other words, said Korter, Facades+ LA's content will revolve around "bringing process into [architecture], bringing performance into it as an equal partner in designing good, long-term sustainable buildings." The structure of the event reflects this approach. For the day-long symposium, Kavanagh and Korter worked to balance keynote presentations—which Korter characterizes as "more inspirational, design-driven in traditional terms"—with panels—to be "much more discussion-based, topic-based, and maybe less about case studies." Questions posed to and by the panelists may include, for instance, how owners view high-performance facades, and how best to make full and good use of available data streams. "The presentations look backwards, because they're about work that's been accomplished," added Kavanagh. "With the panels, we're asking, 'What's next?' We're taking it out of design and asking, 'What should facades do?'" "If the presentations are an inspiration and the panels are about areas of interest—very specific points of view—then the workshops are all about implementation," explained Kavanagh. "The ideal is that the attendees get something very concrete that they can take right into their day-to-day practice." The workshop offerings on day 2 of Facades+ LA will include deep dives into subjects including commissioning; what role facades play in boosting environmental performance; narratives of project execution; and the development of low-cost, high-performance curtain wall systems. Kavanagh and Korter quip that their relaxed yet dynamic approach to architecture (and conference planning) may not immediately appeal to Type-A AEC industry professionals. But in the end, they remain convinced that a fresh take will benefit all Facades+ LA participants, from architects to fabricators, builders, engineers, building owners, and academics. "Hopefully there is a little bit of chaos that will make it more fun, a little looser," said Kavanagh. For more information on Facades+ LA, visit the conference website. Check back often for up-to-date information on the symposium agenda and workshop offerings.
The NEXT Conference, sponsored by the AIA San Francisco, just concluded its first year, and The Architect’s Newspaper was there moderating two panels. Day one convened in a historic bayside dock transformed into a children’s Exploratorium. We moderated a session on the urban planning concept of "Placemaking" that featured David Burney, Jennifer Wolch, and two "makers," Anisha Gade and Sue Mark of the firm Marksearch. This relatively new way of thinking about planning, particularly marginalized and rapidly transforming the space of the city, is making inroads into city planning circles and art academies and joining these two practices. David Burney just launched the first academic Placemaking program in the country at Pratt Institute and described how the practice is training students to link policy to the use and ownership of public space. Jennifer Wolch Dean of the College of Environmental Design at Berkeley was more critical and nuanced about Placemaking. She wondered what happens when the makers leave a place and move on to another site? Might this practice inevitably be, Wolch wondered, just another gentrifying agent in an already rapidly changing neighborhood? The two Placemakers Gade and Mark presented their latest North Oakland project, Communities Crossing, that attempts to “reveal a community in search of its identity.” Follow-up questions debated various aspects of the practice but left the gentrification issue unresolved on the table. The audience and panelists from earlier sessions seemed thrilled to be in the company of other practitioners, so the harder questions about the long-term impact of the practice were not addressed. The second day of the conference moved to the sagging modernist San Francisco County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park. In a session labeled "Business," we moderated a panel, Architects & Social Media, with Kenneth Caldwell, Amanda Walter, and architect Mark English. Caldwell a communications consultant to architects argued that designer featured profiles in traditional or “earned” media are difficult to come by and that today most architects would be better served to have a social media strategy targeted to their existing networks. This he considers professional “owned media.” But he argued content in these media streams should be delivered personally to key those contacts nurtured over many years. Walter was more direct. She wrote the book Social Media in Action: Comprehensive Guide for Architecture, Engineering, Planning and Environmental Consulting Firms, which is the bible for design firms trying to figure out marketing. Water claimed they should “consider what issues and challenges their potential clients are looking for online and then develop and share content that helps them." Mark English, a San Francisco architect who specializes in single-family homes and entertainment projects, spends 10 hours a week promoting his practice on various social media sites. He also claimed that he has gotten four major projects in the last year from his personal blog posts and other media posts. This session had a flurry of audience responses and questions to these media professionals from both older architects trying to understand this media landscape and young designers just starting out and wanting to know how to position their firms. Created by the earned media, this panel highlighted the difficulties of owned media. The NEXT Conference was lightly attended and suffered from being staged in two venues (each with its own problems) across the city, but hopefully the organizers will learn from this first event and give San Francisco the professional conference it deserves "NEXT" year.
A prominent Los Angeles foodie with a taste for architecture tipped us off that Eric Owen Moss’ steel-wrapped Waffle building would soon be the home of a new restaurant. But don’t expect any breakfast items on the menu. We’re told that the plan is for a high-end, 24-seat chef's table–style joint. Ask the sommelier for the corkage fee on BYO-syrup.
Cao Fei: Shadow Plays The Mistake Room 1811 E. 20th St., Los Angeles Through November 21, 2015 Cao Fei’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, Shadow Plays, features a chaotic conglomerate of contemporary urban forms in Chinese life. Focusing on the obscurities, Fei’s work offers a surreal sideways glance at China’s rapid development. Utopian and dystopian universes exist in her video and “Second Life” artworks, representing the hypothetical extremities to which China is susceptible as a product of growth and potential collapse. Pop-culture references punctuate Shadow Plays, intertwining developmental, cultural, psychological, and economic shifts in her home country. Fei adds an overriding sense of playfulness to the situation. The almost childlike arrangement and oversaturation of components makes the dystopian undertones of her work all the more disturbing, amplifying the fact that, like children, we are all perhaps powerless to the external forces being exhibited on and in China today.
Going to the AIA/LA Design Awards is a totally different experience when you’ve been on the jury, as I was this year. For one, you get to see the entire spectrum of the awards program, the behind-the-scenes production and the staging of what seemed like a thousand projects flashing before you in a darkened room. Not only do you have the heavy responsibility of judging all of these, but also you then have to champion and defend the ones that really speak to you. There was a lot of debate and discussion—and even some yelling and throwing of chairs involved. And probably way too much caffeine. The best part about being on the jury was to finally see and meet the people behind all the winning entries, whether unbuilt Next LA projects, where propositions about cities and buildings moved the bar a few notches higher, or the built projects that make people think twice about what architecture is and can be, was gratifying beyond simple description. Of course, in the back of my mind, were all those projects that didn’t make the cut, some of my personal favorites. Overall, what I came away with was an excitement about the state of architecture right now. While it might seem obvious, the awards remind you that there are so many different ways of thinking about and doing this, so many ways of shaping environments that impact people on multiple levels. From the awards ceremony at the Aratani Theater in Little Tokyo, the crowd shuttled and walked—I think Alissa Walker, winner of the Design Advocate Award, did in fact walk—to the dinner reception at the A+D Museum’s new digs in the adjacent Arts District. If I had to measure the awards in decibels, the loudest cheers and applause definitely went to Sarah Lorenzen, Chair at Cal Poly Pomona, who won the Educator Award. “I guess it’s good to be a teacher,” joked AIA/LA president Ted Hyman of ZGF Architects, who presented the Presidential Awards. One of the best moments of the night had to have been Steven Ehrlich’s heartfelt and genuine speech after he was presented with the Gold Medal. He spoke to the core of the discipline and profession. “At every step in my practice I’ve been blessed with the most talented and congenial collaborators and courageous clients that anyone could wish for,” said Ehrlich. His speech was all about “we.” And truly, that’s what design is all about.
We live in a listicle age. Why write an article when you can clump a few names together and call it a trend? So when Los Angeles Magazine listed six women who have changed the face of Los Angeles architecture, which included one dead AIA Gold Medalist and two New Yorkers, it was bound to create outcry. Brava to the three local gals who made the cut, but let’s celebrate all the women of the L.A. architecture and design scene. When local schools put one lady on the lecture series and pat themselves on the back, we know more needs to be done for gender equity.