Posts tagged with "Ehrlich Architects":

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California’s 7x7x7 program explores how its schools can be more sustainable

How can innovative design achieve zero net energy?

This is the challenge put forth by Chester “Chet” Widom, FAIA, State Architect of California, in the “7x7x7: Design, Energy, Water” initiative for the state’s education system. California has the largest population of any state in the union, yet it is strapped by a 5-year long drought that threatens the state’s economy and way of life.

In light of these concerns, Widom examined the geography and geology of California and determined the state is made up of seven distinct ecologies. He selected seven of the state’s leading sustainable design firms (WRNS Studio, Aedis Architects, Lionakis, Ehrlich Architects, DLR Group, Hamilton + Aitken Architects, and HGA Architects) and gave each an educational institution to study. Faced with unique instances of geographic and demographic diversity, the seven architecture firms were each asked to develop a conceptual case study that could form the foundation for a major state-wide campus design revolution.

In February, the California Division of the State Architect (DSA) completed a new initiative called “7x7x7: Design, Energy, Water,” that highlights ways to “improve the built environment while simultaneously greening California’s aging school facilities.” Widom pointed out that California has 10,000 campuses serving students from Kindergarten through community college. He postulated that each campus has an average of five buildings in need of renovation, meaning 50,000 buildings must be adapted, state-wide; a staggering challenge, indeed. But, if the state could use energy and water reductions to save $3,000 per year per structure over ten years, it could save $1.5 billion overall, money that could be put back into young people’s education.

That ambition inspires the seven imaginative projects dispersed across the state. 

WRNS Studio and Ehrlich Architects were challenged by the harsh, tight urban environments of their sites in Oakland and South-Central Los Angeles, respectively. Both elected to use the energy and water challenge to totally transform their campuses. At Lincoln Elementary School in Oakland, dubbed “a place of asphalt” by Pauline Souza of WRNS, the team connected the students to nature by developing what Le Corbusier called the "5th facade," the roof, into outdoor, PV-powered energy-efficient classrooms. Souza said they would achieve 45% energy and water reductions by creating more natural environments for their “harshest critics,” 6-11 year-olds. Ehrlich Architects, with Mia Lehrer + Associates landscape architects, transformed the entire site—ground plane and roof—into a learning garden. Through xeriscape landscape interventions they would divert 200,000 gallons of water annually to be used for irrigation, education, and to teach students the value of the local watershed. This would ultimately turn, said the architects, “the entire campus into a learning tool.”

Embracing advanced technology in diverse climates led DLR and HGA to bring us back to the future. Working at the Bubbling Wells Elementary School in hot and windy Desert Hot Springs, DLR explored ideas to conserve energy and water, like “Water Harvesting.” This concept uses the wind to run a series of compressors that collect condensate from the humidity in the air, essentially capturing water out of thin air. DLR is now exploring a test of this technology with the Palm Springs Unified School District. In downtown LA, HGA was asked to study Los Angeles Trade Technical College. Rather than seeking to achieve Zero Net Energy, the firm instead suggested changing the question: What would happen if the project “started at zero” and moved toward the positive? With an integrated approach using cloud-based computer analysis and parametric modeling, HGA analyzed 640,000 combinations of design strategies to improve the healthiness and energy-efficiency of the school. One impressive result was the reduction in carbon emissions. The current building currently produces 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of the CO2 produced by 191 cars annually, but with a cluster of design interventions, the team would reduce carbon emissions to zero.

“DSA is proactive in meeting Governor Brown’s directive to achieve Zero Net Energy by 2030” and that, “7x7x7: Design, Energy, Water, is just the beginning of a process that has the power to transform 10,000 campuses and help teach millions of California students how to become stewards of their own environment,” Widom explained.

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Seven lucky California architects selected for 7x7x7 design and drought initiative

El Niño may be predicted, but life in the west is still parched. With an eye towards climate change, California’s State Architect has enlisted seven noteworthy architecture firms to develop seven case studies in sustainable school design, for seven representative school campuses. 7x7x7: Design, Energy, Water is an initiative to address the state’s aging school facilities with design concepts that will reduce energy and water consumption at campuses. The architectural firms selected to develop case studies for 7x7x7 are Aedis Architects (San Jose), DLR Group (Riverside), Ehrlich Architects (Culver City), Hamilton + Aitken Architects (San Francisco), HGA Architects (Santa Monica), Lionakis (Sacramento), and WRNS Studio (San Francisco.) “These are cutting-edge firms doing visionary work to promote sustainability in architectural design, and we are very fortunate to have them contribute their creativity and expertise,” said state architect Chester A. Widom in a statement. According to the press release from Department of General Services, 7x7x7 is in keeping with Governor Brown’s ambitious climate change and sustainability goals outlined in Executive Order B-18-12, Proposition 39, and the Governor’s 2015 inaugural speech. “The ultimate goal of 7x7x7 is to initiate a conversation among school superintendents, school facilities personnel, boards of education, and other key decision makers for school construction, so that we all reimagine together how schools can be renovated to reduce energy and water usage and create great opportunities for education,” explained Widom, noting that school buildings around the state have “great bones” and offer renovation and modernization opportunities. The architects’ case studies will be presented during events scheduled at the end of January 2016 along with an executive summary written by architect and editor Tim Culvahouse. A “call to action” event will follow with the launch of a publication in February 2016.
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Monterey Becomes Eclectic: Lessons from the Monterey Design Conference

A weekend at the 2015 Monterey Design Conference (MDC) held at Asilomar leads to a wealth and variety of insights about architecture and design. Including a lesson in "uglyful," says Guy Horton. I learned some new things at the 2015 Monterey Design Festival. Wait. I meant to write “conference.” Monterey Design Conference. That was a true slip. Everybody knows it’s the Monterey Design Conference. Sorry. But to me it was more like a design festival. And is it just me or did MDC seem edgy and on edge this time around? It seemed to pull the 800+ crowd—the conference sold out for the first time in its history—along for a wild ride. This was in no small measure due to the natural and off-the-cuff tone set by Reed Kroloff, who emceed the whole affair. It was, to mention just a few of the many highlights, a whirlwind of poetry, Jimi Hendrix, hot rods, and light by self-styled “stray dog” Rand Elliott. It was video of Liz Taylor applying makeup, Apocalypse Now, Jimi Hendrix again, and the sublime and sometimes frightening world of the “uglyful” by Atlanta dame Merrill Elam. With her, we all went down the rabbit hole. Feel free to dig deeper into this. Later, back on solid ground, came the precision of Bernard Tschumi’s words and drawings, pulled from the codex of his experience; the urgent, sometimes funny, and always intricate art of Pae White; and Junya Ishigami’s disappearing architecture, which took the wind out of anything that tries too hard or uses too much building material. The “emerging talent” definitely emerged. Doris Kim Sung, principal of DOSU Studio Architecture, pretty much mapped out how she owns the territory of thermobiometals and it will be everybody else’s job to catch up. Using his 15 minutes to the max, Alvin Huang, principal of Synthesis Design + Architecture, posed a series of questions as design propositions that will keep him, and others working in the digital realm, busy for at least the next 15 years. The whole thing was like a carnival, with bonfires and architects in black drinking the local Syrah on Monterey's powdery white sand. I know for a fact that at least one architect went surfing every morning. There was a nice left just off the Asilomar grounds. On the beach I bumped into Takashi Yanai and Patricia Rhee (both in black) from Ehrlich Architects. The entire firm was at MDC to be honored as the 2015 AIA Firm Award winner. “It really makes you think differently,” said Rhee when asked what the conference means to her. “It’s definitely out there,” said Yanai. “It’s like being in school again.” “What was most significant to me was hearing a range of mature, truly individual voices ringing out with specificity and confidence. The individual voice in architecture is something that takes years and years and decades to establish, and for many it never solidifies, never gels,” says MDC conference chair Alice Kimm of John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects. The voices were indeed individual and, like Elam’s “uglyful,” had the power to take us outside ourselves, even if only for a weekend. And it worked. It’s all a little hard to pin down in 500 words. Just look at the relentless, blow-by-blow @mdc_conf Twitter feed and you’ll get the idea. “I recommend that everyone experience MDC at least once,” said Kimm. “It has a weird but magical combination of gravitas, levity, and inspiration that stays with you for a long time.”
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Moshe Safdie gets AIA Gold and Ehrlich takes home the Firm Award

The American Institutes of Architects has bestowed its most prestigious accolade, the 2015 AIA Gold Medal, to Israeli-born, Canadian-American architect Moshe Safdie. His influential projects—such as The Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem, the Salt Lake City Library, and the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore—have spanned the globe and demonstrated a muscular, yet sensitive style that, embedded with social responsibility, prioritizes the community experience with special attention to the context of a given place and to the public realm. “I think you need to, as an architect, understand the essence of a place and create a building that feels like it resonates with the culture of a place. So my buildings in India or in Kansas City or in Arkansas or in Singapore, they come out different because the places are so different,” Safdie said in a statement. Safdie is guided often by the words of his early mentor, Louis Kahn, who asked, “What does a building want to be?” This question is both specific and overarching for Safdie, leading to different solutions regarding programming and the materiality of a building. Aesthetically, his work brings together different forms—both angular and curvilinear. “Moshe Safdie has continued to practice architecture in the purest and most complete sense of the word, without regard for fashion, with a hunger to follow ideals and ideas across the globe in his teaching, writing, practice and research,” wrote Mike Davis, president of Boston Society of Architects, in his nomination letter. Los Angeles–based Ehrlich Architects, founded and led by Steven Ehrlich, has been selected for the AIA Firm Award. The firm’s work, with its California modernist roots, incorporates diverse styles from other cultures and traditions, which is apparent in projects such as the John Roll U.S. Courthouse in Yuma, Arizona, the 700 Palms Residence in Los Angeles, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in Phoenix, the Ahmadu Bello University Theater in Zaria, Nigeria, and Federal National Council Parliament Building Complex in Abu Dhabi. “The marriage of the particular with the universal is one of the great virtues of the firm’s design approach, where connections between culture, climate, people and place are woven together in a distinct humanistic architecture shaped by circumstance,” Steve Dumez said in a statement.