Posts tagged with "Downtown Los Angeles":

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Brooks + Scarpa unveils designs for new Southern California Flower Market in Los Angeles

Los Angeles–based architects Brooks + Scarpa has revealed plans for the large-scale redevelopment of the 107-year-old Southern California Flower Market in Downtown Los Angeles. The proposal aims to replace the two existing industrial structures on a 3.8-acre site at 755 Wall Street with a mixed-use, podium-and-tower complex. The proposed redevelopment would consist of a low-rise podium tower that will house mercantile facilities for the existing flower vendors along the ground floor, with between 50,000 and 60,000 square feet of office space and stacked parking above, while a second building on the site will consist of a 14-story apartment tower. That tower would include 290 apartments plus an undisclosed number of affordable units and would overlook a solar panel-topped amenity level meant for use by building residents. Preliminary renderings released for the project show a colorful, gridded tower rising out of the podium, with two of the tower’s exposures clad in what partner Angela Brooks described to Los Angeles Downtown News as flower-themed murals. Brooks went on to explain some of the inspiration for the project, telling the publication, “It's the idea of using the flower. It's going to be very modern in its design, but we’re trying to honor the Flower Market through the art.” The Flower Market was originally founded in 1909 by Japanese-American flower growers in a nearby area and moved to its current location in 1923. The Flower Mart is still owned by the descendants of that original group of owners and the proposed redevelopment scheme is part of a regional effort to preserve Los Angeles’s industrial and mercantile functions and heritage while accommodating a new and furious spurt of urban growth. The recently-revealed 6AM project by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron has similar conceptual underpinnings, with a housing tower and mercantile areas sharing the same site. The project aims to break ground in 2018.
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CallisonRTKL proposes Jenga-shaped tower for Downtown L.A.

Global architecture firm CallisonRTKL has unveiled plans for what could turn out to be one of Los Angeles’s most striking new towers.

The project, dubbed 5th and Hill, would be located on an L-shaped lot surrounding the Pershing Square Building located beside Pershing Square park. Though still in the early planning stages, the tower could potentially climb as high as 57-stories and, according to a rendering released by the firm, will feature cantilevered, glass-bottomed swimming pools projecting from the building’s envelope.

That existing Pershing Square Building, originally built in 1924 by architecture firm Curlet & Beelman as an office building, was updated in 2008 by Jeffrey Fish and his JMF Development Company, the same developer behind the new CallisonRTKL tower. The developer added two floors to the structure during that renovation, adding space to accommodate a restaurant called Perch that affords patrons stunning views of the Downtown Los Angeles skyline. The new tower would extend the Perch “sky lobby” laterally, with the new tower articulated around the restaurant area as it rises above. The area between the “sky lobby” and the ground floor will be designed as to bring light into the center of the new building’s site, with a released rendering for the project showing stepped and alternating volumes studded with greenery and structural members.  

As presented in documents filed with the city, the proposed tower could potentially take one of two forms. The preferred scheme entails a 57-story tower with 142 condominiums and 25,000-square feet of commercial space. The second option is two stories shorter and contains 100 condominiums, 200 hotel rooms, and 27,500-square feet of commercial space, overall.

In a press release celebrating the unveiling of the project, Fish cited Southern California’s domestic architectural history as inspiration, stating that the project is “inspired by iconic California mid-century architecture, [and] re-imagines California homes in a sleek, vertical tower. The same principles of celebrating California’s beautiful climate, and seamlessly connecting indoor and outdoor spaces, permeate the building’s design.”

The release of the proposal comes as the areas immediately around Pershing Square gear up for increased development and public interest in anticipation of the troubled park’s $50-million redevelopment by French landscape architecture firm Agence Ter.

News of the development was first published by The Los Angeles Times.

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Jai & Jai Gallery becomes an essential hub for L.A.’s young artist-designers

Jai & Jai Gallery, a 350-square-foot exhibition space sandwiched between a barbecue smokehouse and a former vintage music store in Los Angeles’ Chinatown neighborhood, is a beacon in the city’s bustling young architecture scene. Whereas older generations strove for the empty warehouses of Culver City and Santa Monica, a new generation of designers is looking toward the inner city as a place to make and exhibit art and design, positioning galleries and art spaces like Jai & Jai as loci of experimentation for the city’s foremost millennial makers. This scene at Jai & Jai is typical of an opening night: As a heavy mix of creative young professionals gossip about their latest projects, Jomjai and Jaitip Srisomburananont, the sisters behind the gallery, hold court with potential buyers, guide new visitors toward wine, and play host to what often has more in common with a low-key San Fernando Valley house party than any staid Westside art gallery opening. Jaitip explains to The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) that though the gallery’s social importance is somewhat unintentional, it reflects a deeply personal part of who they are as individuals, saying the transformation from art space to social hub “mostly happened organically; [our events] always have that ‘Jai & Jai vibe.’ It’s just like how we treat our family: You come to our house, have a drink, see some art. Thankfully, it’s echoed through our business as well.” The Jais, as they are known by the ever-expanding social scene surrounding the gallery, keep a frenetic pace at these openings, and if you manage to grab their attention, it’s usually only for a few minutes. Mid-conversation, if you’re, say, discussing writing an article about the show at hand, Jomjai will pull out her iPhone to tap out an email (to you). She’ll then pivot to someone who looks like a prospective buyer and deliver him or her to the featured artist before moving on to someone else, maybe an intern snapping photographs or someone potentially cooking up the gallery’s next show. The Jais do this for hours, until the gallery shuts down and the party moves to one of the nearby dive bars. By the time you get home that night, you’ll likely have another email waiting for you and maybe even a press kit. It might seem cliché to focus on this aspect of the gallery first, but it reflects a larger and equally obvious truth of the Los Angeles art and architecture economy of today: It takes a lot of hard work to make things happen. This tendency is something of a common denominator for the Jais, the resident social patrons who frequent their gallery, and the exhibited artists themselves. Of those two latter groups, many are early-on in their careers and necessarily run art and design practices parallel to their 9-5 jobs. They also use their exhibited artworks to fund or support client-based commissions for their own independent practices. Many other are fresh out of school, having recently launched their own practices, or are teaching at an area architecture schools. Jomjai describes the gallery as, “More of an open forum” than an incubator, where the sibling gallerists “allow an opening for new ideas.” According to the sisters, the gallery provides young practitioners “a chance to express themselves, their ideas and theories, whether they’re artistic, academic, or architectural.” Jaitip adds, “We like to engage everyone and for us, the gallery acts as platform that lets us do that at equal levels.” Since it opened in 2012, a who’s who of L.A.’s rising stars have exhibited work on the gallery’s walls, creating a self-reinforcing narrative for the storefront as a kick-back space for the city’s young, energetic, and experimental designers. The gallery, which recently expanded into the neighboring thrift store, intentionally takes on challenging exhibitions and works with its artists to chart new terrain. In 2015, Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular wrapped the interior of the exhibition space in panels of his trademark architectural cartoons, transforming the tiny space into a cave-like work of art. The work, Beachside Lonelyhearts, is carved up into a series of truncated and geometrically-shaped canvases; fragments of it can still be found in Jai & Jai’s growing archive. The year prior, Laurel Consuelo Broughton of Welcome Projects and Andrew Kovacs came together for a three-part show. Their Gallery Attachment and As-Built exhibitions took place in a parking lot across the street and inside the gallery, respectively. The parking lot show exhibited monochromatic, full-scale elements of architectural oddities while the show inside the gallery displayed a collection of measured as-built drawings made from the team’s collection of detritus outside. The duo also produced a zine to accompany and compliment their other trans-dimensional, multimedia works. Broughton told AN, “Before Jai & Jai the only spaces in Los Angeles for architectural exhibitions were institutionally sponsored. Being small and without institutional ties allows the gallery to exhibit work outside the traditional comfort zone for architecture and design,” to which Kovacs added, "Jai & Jai is an absolute asset for architecture in Los Angeles. I feel the gallery has a very open and flexible outlook that makes it possible to take risks with shows and explore new ideas." Mike Nesbit, independent artist and project designer at L.A.–based architecture firm Morphosis, has exhibited works of his “abstract-technical” art at Jai & Jai several times. His glitch-pointillist drawings and thickly-silkscreened, supersized concrete panel canvases filled the space last autumn for his Swipe show. The artist carted in massive slabs of cement coated in toothsome swipes of colored paint, lending a bit of L.A.’s abstract art bona fides to the space. And more recently, Clark Thenhaus of Endemic Architecture deployed office-based research as an exhibition titled Mind Your Mannerisms that catalogs, interprets, and manipulates San Francisco’s architectural turrets in paintings and models. Thenhaus’s show is the eighth show at Jai & Jai in the last year, with probably an equal number of gallery talks and panel discussions to support the exhibitions and promote other creative endeavors happening in the space over this period, as well. Thenhaus described the value of a space like Jai & Jai to AN  via email, saying, “The gallery enables a kind of exploratory freedom to more deeply consider and speculate on building and practice-related ideas in ways that cannot be achieved to the same level through more conventional outlets or client projects as a young office,” adding, “The value of this is, for a young practice, a way to stake an intellectual claim while also working directly on, and through, ideas related to disciplinary interests or to buildings that are yet to be fully designed or built.” If it seems like the work seems is all over the place, that’s because it is, and by design. The Jais intentionally take on challenging exhibitions and work with their artists to chart new terrain. Jaitip explains, “The main component through and through and from the beginning, has always been to engage the audience, whether they agree with the work or not.” This engagement plays out in the constantly changing gallery displays, which transform the space over and over again as the year goes on. Jaitip explained that for her, group shows like the 2014 show Chess, which showcased showpiece chess sets by a slew of designers, are the most rewarding, remarking, “To us, as gallerists, group shows are really inspiring to work on because [we coordinate] a group of people who believe in one concept and help bring them come together to tell a story. Chess and Bust were defining moments for Jai & Jai Gallery, as was Goods Used.” The gallery also timed the debut of their new online print shop with another group show earlier this year, Resolution – The Digital Print Group Exhibition, that used numbered prints of the work on display as a way of lowering the cost barrier for potential buyers. Jaitip explains, “We developed limited edition prints of these exhibited pieces to sell to a younger crowd and open up another branch for the gallery as a business and an organization that supports this type of success.” Chess sets and cartoon-caves as cutting edge architecture? In L.A., yes. That’s because the L.A. art and architecture scene is in a primal flux, not because art and architecture haven’t gone hand-in-hand here since the days of the deconstructionists and blobitects, but because in certain segments of the professional and academic architecture scene, they have become one and the same. Whether it’s the proximity to entertainment culture, the easier access to larger studio spaces, or the more readily available infrastructure for large-scale art production, L.A.-based architects are dabbling in a simultaneity of production and exhibition. Jai & Jai plays a central role in that conversation. As the Jais told me at the end of our conversation, they aim to keep working. “The goal is always to grow. Just grow, and to do that organically.”
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A temporary installation helps make L.A.’s Pershing Square cool again

Pershing Square, a 150-year old park at the center of Downtown Los Angeles, is currently slated to be demolished in lieu of a more pedestrian-friendly iteration by French landscape architects Agence Ter. Although the current park has seen more yesterdays than tomorrows, it managed to draw an unusual number of visitors this August for Liquid Shard, a temporary sculpture installation that enlivened the forlorn park.

The installation is the result of a collaborative public art project among Architectural Association Visiting School Los Angeles (AAVSLA) summer program directors Eulalia Moran and Devin Gharakhanian, their students, and L.A.-based artist Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics. Moran and Gharakhanian led a design class for visiting international students aimed at tackling music festival installation pieces, in which students were asked to design an installation for a music festival of their choosing. After the initial design studio, a prototype was chosen, fabricated, and installed by the students in Pershing Square. Gharakhanian said: “We intentionally chose a hyper-deactivated space in L.A.—no one goes there and it isn’t functioning the way it’s supposed to. But this project is a good example of art meeting architecture to have a positive impact on the city. Liquid Shard went viral and now there’s interest from other cities that are looking for similar types of public art. It’s important that municipalities and politicians are seeing that there is power behind art and architecture.”

Shiny and mesmerizing, the 15,000-square-foot installation is made of holographic mylar connected with monofilament, creating a billowing, fluttering wave of movement that gets caught in every breeze. The sculpture is made up of two such layers, each of which moves independently of the other, suspended between 15 and 115 feet above the square. The work, according to Shearn, is inspired by the so-called swarm behavior that schools of fish and flocks of birds engage in when they move in unison.

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Herzog & de Meuron unveils 58-story tower along future L.A. light rail line

  Irvine, California-based developer SunCal has released details for a Herzog & de Meuron-designed, $2 billion development plan that aims to jumpstart the creation of a new skyscraper district on a 14.5-acre site at the southern edge of Downtown Los Angeles. The project, dubbed 6AM after its location on 6th Street, between Alameda and Mill Streets, would bring roughly 2.8-million square feet of mixed-use development to rapidly growing corner of L.A.’s booming Arts District. According to The Downtown News and Urbanize LA, the proposed development would entail 1,305 apartments and 431 condominiums in an area rapidly transitioning from low-rise industrial and DIY art gallery functions to something much more akin to a traditionally-developed, contemporary urban area. The project, which would be located directly on a proposed light rail extension running along Alameda from Union Station in Downtown L.A. to the south Los Angeles County community of Artesia, would mirror the intense, high-rise growth currently ongoing in the areas surrounding Downtown L.A’s rapidly-growing transit system, like those along the Expo Line corridor and on the northern edge of South L.A. between the Expo and Blue Lines. The development of the Artesia line would be contingent on the passage of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Agency's Measure M ballot initiative this fall. Notable aspects of the project include a 430,000-square-foot hotel, 250,000 square feet of office space, a 29,000-square-foot school, 23,000 square feet of gallery space and 128,000 square feet of commercial space. Although the final configuration of the program and site are years away from being built, the addition of the educational and gallery components of the program mark a shift in tenor for the Downtown area, which has mostly seen an increase of luxury housing and associated commercial spaces in recent years. The addition of educational program could signal a transition toward a more holistic, neighborhood-style vision for the area separate from the consumption- and lifestyle-oriented developments that have marked Downtown L.A.’s recent development. Released information for the plan does not detail whether any of the housing units in the development will be affordable, however. The project itself is articulated as a grouping of parallel bars of mid-rise apartments, offices, and hotel blocks, much of which is lifted roughly forty feet above street level on a raised platform whose upper surface will be level with the cornice lines of nearby industrial buildings. Areas between the ground floor and this pedestal will contain commercial spaces services by exterior walking paths and leisure courts. The most daring aspect of the proposal entails a cluster of seven housing towers aligned along the length of Alameda, with the highest tower climbing to around 58-stories and a height of roughly 700 feet. Mia Lehrer & Associates will be providing landscape architecture services for the project, while AC Martin will serve as executive architect. 6AM is expected to be built in three phases starting around 2018. This story was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
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L.A.’s Grand Park gets new paper airplane–shaped shade structure

Downtown Los Angeles has a new public park art piece and shaped like paper airplanes. Big ones. The new, semi-permanent shade canopy installation, Paper Airplane, consists of a steel armature-supported canopy populated by eleven large-scale "paper" airplanes made out of canvas. The piece was designed by local artists Elenita Torres and Dean Sherriff. Located in Grand Park, itself designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios in 2012 to much fanfare, the installation marks the latest addition to the city’s public space boom. Dubbed by city officials as “The Park for Everyone,” Grand Park spans the blocks between the steps of City Hall and those of the Music Center and Disney Concert Hall complexes; it sees roughly one million visitors each year. The installation is the by-product of A Cooler Grand Park, a semi-public design competition held by the Music Center concert hall that sought to bring additional shading to the park’s Olive Court which spans between the Los Angeles Chief Administration Office and the Los Angeles Courthouse. Paper Airplane runs the length of the broad promenade between the two buildings and also acts as the edge of a fountain and splash pad area popular with children.  For the competition, the Music Center invited local visual artists with at least three years of experience working in their field to submit designs for a new installation. The winning proposal by Torres and Sherriff was selected via public vote with input also provided by a selection committee organized by the center. Construction and installation of the project were funded by Goldhirsh Foundation’s LA 2050 Grants Challenge, a prolific public arts program in the city. The installation adds to a banner year for parks in L.A, with recent months also seeing the selection of design teams for two new Downtown L.A. parks as well as stretches of the Los Angeles River redevelopment. The city’s Bureau of Engineering revealed in June its choice of Mia Lehrer Associates and OMA as the design team for the new Grand Park-adjacent FaB Park at the corner of First and Broadway. In April, Pershing Square Renew selected a proposal from French landscape architecture firm Agence Ter and local landscape architects SALT for the latest iteration of Pershing Square. Lehrer’s office was also selected this summer in conjunction with architecture firms Gruen Associates and Oyler Wu Collaborative to work on a 12-mile bike path along the L.A. River in the San Fernando Valley.
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First look: Bureau Spectacular designs flagship store for L.A.’s Frankie

Bureau Spectacular has designed the 2,000-square-foot flagship store for the Los Angeles–based Frankie, a high-end, ready-to-wear fashion house in L.A.’s Arts District. The retail space, which debuted Friday night with a red carpeted opening party, is the first store for the recently-rebranded label and is billed as a collaboration between Frankie's founder Kevin Chen and Bureau Spectacular's founding partner Jimenez Lai. For starters, Lai designed the store’s exterior facade, a black and white geometric abstraction spanning the post-industrial brick structure’s primary exterior wall. Bureau Spectacular also designed the store’s spartan interior, populating the space with one of the firm’s trademark "Super Furniture" pieces. The piece, when assembled into a single object, takes the shape of an eight-foot-tall staircase with a footprint of roughly 28 feet by 10 feet. This object is composed of nine geometrically complex components that are exploded across the store. Each piece houses some of the store's functional components, such as display areas for art books and trinkets, enclosed fitting rooms, storage spaces, and point of sale consoles. The project features the platonic geometries characteristic of Bureau Spectacular’s earlier work but marks a sharp shift for the designers—who are typically known for their designs' bold colors and graphic qualities—with its stark white material finish. Lai explained to The Architect's Newspaper (AN) that the monochromatic turn was a recent one for the firm, with Frankie and the recent Tower of Twelve Stories installation from this year’s Coachella music festival encompassing opposite ends of a new line of architectural inquiry. The Coachella project, with its stacked mass of tumbling geometric shapes collected over two pairs of pilotis, was also painted completely white but features an alternating array of colored lights projected onto it. With the firm’s Frankie piece, color is completely absent. Lai told AN via telephone, “In Southern California—or Los Angeles, anyway—when you paint something over with white, [the paint] deletes the materiality behind it. In both The Tower of Twelve Stories and Frankie, we are working with the idea behind ‘white.’” Lai described the contrasting geometric compositions of the pieces as embodying a tension between, “a ‘nice fit’ versus that of a ‘not very nice fit,’” with the visually dynamic Tower ascribing to the latter quality while Frankie, with its ability to explode and recombine back into a coherent form, aiming into the former. Lai summed up the project, saying, “[With Frankie], we are talking about a ‘nice fit.’”
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A dazzling, wind-driven sculpture takes over L.A.’s Pershing Square this week

Pershing Square, the five acre park at the center of Downtown Los Angeles, has been in the news quite a bit recently. The 150-year-old park has been seen as an eyesore in the area, an underused and dislocated public park isolated from the city’s growing street life, elevated atop a subterranean parking garage. Pershing Square’s reputation had fallen into such ill repute that in 2015, residents and business people came together to draft a plan for replacing the park with something new. That process culminated this Spring, when French landscape architects Agence Ter were selected as the winners of a public competition held to replace Pershing Square with a new park. The firm’s proposal for the city’s most historic open space aims to “get rid of trendy design approaches” that have plagued the park’s prior redesigns and provide, as Agence Ter partner Henri Bava declared at the announcement ceremony, a “timeless design able to change with the neighborhood.” Which is why you might be a bit surprised to learn that this week, Pershing Square is playing host to Liquid Shard, the latest collaborative public art project by L.A.-based artist Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics. His work, a collaboration with students attending the Architectural Association Visiting School Los Angeles (AAVSLA) summer program, under the direction of Eulalia Moran and tutor Devin Gharakhanian of SuperArchitects, the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, and the arts organization NOW Art L.A., takes the shape of a mesmerizing, iridescent wind-activated sculpture. The 15,000 square foot installation is made of two layers of holographic mylar connected with monofilament that flitter in the wind, creating a dazzling and otherworldly atmosphere in the park. The installation’s layers, hovering between 15 and 115 feet above the square, give the impression of a million tiny things moving in unison. Shearn told AN over telephone that the inspiration for the piece came from murmuring, the swarm behavior schools of fish and flocks of birds engage in as they move in unison. Shearn, who is well-known on the music festival circuit as the artist behind the giant, fully animatronic astronaut sculpture showcased at the 2015 Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Coachella Valley, California, developed the installation with AAVS students as part of a summer seminar. During the course, students produced their own versions of the installation, with the class coming together in the final weeks to work on a full-scale version developed by Shearn for Pershing Square. The project will be on view until at least August 11th, but potentially for longer.
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L.A.’s Westside loses its Santa Monica Museum of Art

In the nine months that saw the opening of a relocated Architecture and Design Museum as well as the new Broad Museum and Hauser Wirth’s West Coast outpost, Downtown Los Angeles residents can once again boast about the addition of yet another high-caliber contemporary art institution in their neighborhood: Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA). Exciting news for Downtown, but it is not without controversy. That’s because ICA LA is not a new art museum at all, it is the relocated, renamed, and rebranded remnants of the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA). After a year-long struggle with its landlords at Bergamot Station, the museum’s home since 1998, SMMoA’s board of directors decided to pack up and head east. Such a drastic move would be difficult for most major art institutions, except that SMMoA operated as a European-style kunsthalle, with no permanent collection tying it down. Now, ICA LA is in the early stages of a capital campaign to fund its relocation to a 12,700 square foot space at 1717 East 7th Street to be designed by Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY. Scheduled to open spring 2017, ICA LA’s new location will continue to operate as a non-collecting museum with 7,000 square feet of dedicated gallery space. The new location is expected to boast “ample public programming facilities” as well as an experimental kitchen-cafe, and other retail space. In a press release announcing the relocation, ICA LA Board of Directors’ President, Laura Donnelley said, “Throughout our history we have served our communities in greater Los Angeles through exhibitions, programs, and outreach, but have now chosen to move to Downtown LA to reinvent and redefine our organization the way that only a non-collecting museum focused on innovation, diversity, and discovery can. We are delighted to welcome these timely changes of venue, additions of leadership, and to move forward in further defining ICA LA’s role within our city and our collective place in the ever-expanding international dialogue of art and culture.”
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Here’s a First Look at the Finalists Vying to Redesign Downtown LA’s Pershing Square

Here’s the first look at the four final designs by Agence Ter and team, James Corner Field Operations with Fredrick Fischer and Partners, SWA and Morphosis, and wHY and Civitas for LA’s Pershing Square. Angelenos are being invited to comment on the finalists’ proposals over the next few weeks as Pershing Square Renew, a collection of designers, business leaders, and officials civic leaders, seeks to redevelop the centrally-located, five-acre square at the heart of Downtown LA. The teams of finalists hail from an original pool of ten groups that presented work to the nonprofit in October of 2015. That grouping was reduced to four teams in December, with those finalists' final submissions are now vying for the final selection, to be announced in May. The proposals are shown below and will be formally presented to the public at the Palace Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles on April 28th at a sold out event. See Pershing Square Renew’s website for updates on further public viewings.
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New renderings revealed for Kava Massih Architects’ 472 unit, mixed-use development in L.A.’s new Arts District

There’s a fresh set of renderings for an under-construction, mixed-use development in the new and upcoming Arts District (AD) in downtown Los Angeles (or DTLA). L.A., like other west coast cities such as Portland, Oregon's Pearl District or Seattle's Georgetown is now converting defunct warehouses into galleries, exhibition areas, restaurants, and living spaces. In L.A., the 400,000-square-foot housing and retail development is set to include 472 units—studio, one, and two-bedroom loft and flat style apartments. "[T]he development has been in the works for a few years, but recent designs for the project drew criticism from locals, who deemed it monolithic and worried about its car-focused layout," reported Curbed Los Angeles. "In response, parking was reduced from 922 spots down to 744 and a public walking path (which appears to be featured in the renderings) was inserted to connect Third Street to Traction Avenue." There are seven apartment buildings, some five stories high, and others six stories, oriented around a courtyard featuring a dog park and swimming pool, among other amenities. A "social club" features a library, lounge, and stalactite chandelier to illuminate the double-height space. Upper story walkways will connect the buildings together. Of the 400,000 square feet, 22,000 square feet will become retail planned at ground level. Berkeley, C.A.–based Kava Massih Architects is designing the project with local L.A. interior design firm House of Honey. The project reportedly costs $215 million. Phase one completion (a little over half of the units) is slated for December 2017.
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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.