Posts tagged with "Eric Garcetti":

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Going green at ULI’s VerdeXchange: The L.A. River, development, and the future of Los Angeles

If words were water, the Los Angeles River would be overflowing its banks. If pronouncements were viable projects, a very green sustainable Southern California is in the offing. There certainly were a lot of words and pronouncements at the industry heralded “FutureBuild” convocation in L.A. this week, staged over two days by the venerable VerdeXchange conference with the Urban Land Institute. Attending were an estimated 700 people described by the sponsors as “public and private sector market-makers who buy, manufacture, sell, finance, endorse, and legislate green technologies, products, innovations, infrastructure, and sustainable services.” It was very much a design and development crowd. Of major interest was a keynote session entitled “A River Runs Through It: Reimagining L.A.’s Water Way,” with opening remarks by the city’s personable Mayor Eric Garcetti, to be followed by a widely promoted panel prominently featuring celebrity architect Frank Gehry. Garcetti was his smooth self, reviewing the rise and fall of the river’s prominence through the city’s history, touting its present planned revitalization by a concerted community effort, and its critical importance to the future of the city. It was a variation on a speech the mayor has been delivering for several years. However, it did not assuage the announcement that Gehry had bowed out of the event at the last moment. His appearance had been anticipated as an opportunity for him to reply to the skepticism surrounding his appointment by the mayor’s L.A. River Revitalization Corp. to master plan the 51-mile waterway. Instead of being viewed as a second coming, the selection roiled river advocates who had been involved in various long term and long suffering efforts, marked by team planning and transparency. They charged that Gehry, with little landscape experience, has come late to the party, attracted by the publicity it is generating and a $1.4 billion price tag. Gehry has been sharply dismissive of any criticism, while his fans, including the mayor and his minions, have been hinting at the architect generating concepts that will catapult the city to prominence and also enhance its bid for the 2024 Olympics. They will have to wait a little longer, according to Tensho Takemori, Gehry’s surrogate, who said the office was still gathering information while working on a 3D model of the river. “We are not holding our breaths,” commented architect Gerhard Mayer. Indeed, in addition to the one on the L.A. River, the sessions covering every shade of the rising “green” consciousness, from energy to infrastructure, were mostly standing room only. Said an architect trading candor for anonymity, “We’re here not for Frank, nor really for the presentations, but for the networking.” Green is hot.
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The end of the Los Angeles’ Sixth Street bridge brings a subdued HNTB-Maltzan design

So long, Sixth Street Bridge. We knew it was coming, but Wednesday marked the last day the iconic Art Deco span would be open to the public. Built in 1932, the iconic double-loop overpass over the L.A. River will live on in movies, videos, and photos. A victim of age, the bridge was declared unsalvageable due to irreversible decay in 2012 and the Bureau of Engineering launched a competition to design a new, $400 million, cable stayed structure. HNTB with Michael Maltzan Architecture came out the winners in that infrastructural bout and with the demise of the old bridge their loop-de-loop ten-arch span is one step closer to realization. The mayor’s office released new renderings of the bridge that look decidedly toned down from the 2012 winning boards. While older images depicted stairways built into the arches so that pedestrians could get an elevated view and the concrete embankments planted with wildflowers, updated renderings depict a staid park in the shade of the roadbed. that with the Developer Leonard Hill (a founding partner of Linear City Development) recently gave a $1.9 million gift to the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles. Those moneys were earmarked to fund the design, construction, and programming of an arts plaza beneath the new Sixth Street Bridge. With such a contribution, one might hope that the park space slated to open in 2019 will be more fully realized than the uninspired placeholder suggested in the renderings.
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Vince Bertoni nominated to lead Los Angeles’ planning department

At the top of the year, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti kicked off 2016 by putting his attention toward the future of L.A.’s physical shape as he nominated Pasadena Planning Director Vince Bertoni as the new head of the Los Angeles Department of City Planning (LADCP). If approved by the City Council, Bertoni will replace long-time department director Michael LoGrande. The nomination comes at a time when the planning department has taken heat for pro-development and pro-density positions and neighborhood groups have leveled lawsuits at the agency. Mayor Garcetti touted Bertoni’s 25 years of planning experience, which includes a previous tenure at LADCP as well as planning positions in Beverly Hills, Santa Clarita, and Malibu. “As we work together to shape the future of the Los Angeles cityscape, we need an expert at the helm who brings both fresh ideas and an intricate understanding of our city’s complex planning process,” said Mayor Garcetti in a press release. Bertoni would take over a department that, according to the L.A. Times, has expanded in recent years, going from 270 to 408 planners. When he served as Deputy Planning Director in Los Angeles, Bertoni oversaw the adoption of 16 historic preservation overlay zones, new guidelines for the Broadway corridor, a bicycle master plan, and a Hollywood community plan, all projects that continue to be part of the mayor’s vision for the city.
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Here are three bold designs from winning teams that completely reimagine the Los Angeles Convention Center

The Los Angeles Convention Center is desperately in need of an overhaul. Architect Charles Luckman designed the original boxy structure in 1971 and James Ingo Freed added the glassy Annex in 1997. Today, both buildings lack the square footage and amenities to add up to a competitive venue. Centers in Las Vegas or Chicago eclipse LA’s meager 870,000 square feet by double or triple square footage. Indeed, in the decades since the venue was constructed the whole approach to convention center design has changed. The City of Los Angeles announced the three final teams in a design competition for a proposed renovation and expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center: AC Martin and LMN Architects, Gensler and Lehrer Architects, and HMC Architects and Populous. The schemes, on public view at the convention center through June 4, reflect the need for not only a bigger, more contemporary venue, but for a full-service destination, not unlike nearby LA Live. As the South Park neighborhood continues to boom, renderings show connections between the older buildings across Pico Boulevard, and include landscaped outdoor spaces, bold supergraphics, and open-air entertainment areas equipped for concerts. Each design comes in under a budget of $350 million or less. A comparison to LA Live is no accident. AEG, developers of that venue as well as the Staples Center and the Ritz-Carlton/J.W. Marriott, were contracted to revamp the dumpy Convention Center as part of the defunct Farmers Field NFL stadium plan. The design competition was launched in late 2014 before AEG announced that it would no longer pursue the stadium project. As part of the larger “Expansion and Futurization Project” for the Los Angeles Convention Center, the City of Los Angeles' (led by the L.A. Department of Convention and Tourism Development and the Bureau of Engineering) competition is somewhat of a back-up plan to ensure that LA remains a draw. “Today, we’re taking a big step forward in investing in our future and bringing more business, more visitors, and more jobs to our city,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I’m very pleased that with these functional and attractive designs, Los Angeles is closer to a Convention Center that reflects our city’s position as the global capital of creativity, innovation, and possibility.”
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Eavesdrop> Don’t call me Shirley! Eric Garcetti lands Airplane! in Downtown Los Angeles

Last month LA Mayor Eric Garcetti attended a screening of his favorite movie, Airplane!, at the historic Million Dollar Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The event included a Q&A with Garcetti and the film’s directors, Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker. https://youtu.be/07pPmCfKi3U Garcetti, always a student of urban design, talked about how different the city is becoming from the 1980 film rendition in terms of density, transit, diversity, prestige, and overall “urban-ness.” He also couldn’t stop bashing the film’s home base, LAX, promising that it would finally be renovated beyond its 1980s appearance, and that a train would finally get there by the end of the decade. Of course, nobody could figure out which zone was for loading and unloading.
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Eavesdrop> California’s Olympic Letdown: Los Angeles & San Francisco lose out to Boston

  Alas, despite being hailed as the favorite to represent the United States in the race for the 2024 Olympics, Los Angeles has lost out to its much older competitor, Boston. LA had pitched what Mayor Eric Garcetti hailed as the “most affordable” proposal, using mostly existing facilities, including the LA Memorial Coliseum, the Staples Center, and even Frank Gehry's Disney Hall, Griffith Observatory, and the Queen Mary. Maybe the USOC isn’t as into a bargain as we thought? Or maybe after giving LA two games they’re just not that into us anymore. San Francisco, by the way, lost out on its bid, which also banked on affordability. Damn, the Olympic Village could have been the only cheap place to live there outside of Oakland!
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Los Angeles’ sustainability chief talks going green in SoCal

Thanks in no small part to the local AEC industry, Los Angeles is a leader in sustainability in several areas, notably green building. But there is still room for improvement, said Matt Petersen, former president and CEO of Global Green USA. Petersen would know: he's the city's first Chief Sustainability Officer, appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti as part of a broader administrative overhaul. "The mandate the mayor gave me was to build on the great things Los Angeles is already doing, and to put forward a vision for sustainability in the city," explained Petersen. Petersen, who will represent the city at Facades+ LA in early February, has spent the last year preparing Los Angeles' first ever comprehensive sustainability plan. "We're headed toward the finish line as we speak," said Petersen, who expects to deliver the plan to the mayor's office within the next several weeks. "It's been an extensive process of engagement both internally and externally." Water conservation is one of Petersen's top concerns, especially in light of the ongoing drought. In an executive directive released last year, Mayor Garcetti set the ambitious goal of reducing water usage by 20 percent. "The biggest source of water use is outdoor landscaping," noted Petersen. "How do we get Angelenos to replace ornamental lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping?" Architects and landscape architects can play a critical role in encouraging the shift, he said. "Landscape architects have a rich history [of working with drought-tolerant landscaping] in Los Angeles—they've done a lot already." As for non-residential projects, said Petersen, "we're really thinking about how to reuse water or divert it before it goes into a storm drain. How do we start to break from the tradition of moving water as quickly as possible from the building site?" Energy efficiency is another area in which Petersen's priorities overlap with AEC industry goals. "Los Angeles was a little behind for about a decade, because the utility was historically not investing in energy efficiency," admitted Petersen. His office has set a goal that the utility meets 15 percent of its needs through efficiency measures—the highest such standard in the country. On the positive side, Los Angeles already boasts both more Energy Star buildings and more installed solar than any other city. "Can we build on our leadership and expand the number of LEED-certified buildings, not just to have plaques on the wall, but to encourage an integrated design process?" asked Petersen. "An integrated design process, when done right, can deliver so many benefits. We hope that the design and construction community helps us [get there]." To hear more from Petersen, join the movers and shakers of high performance building envelope design and construction at Facades+ LA. For more information and to register, visit the conference website.
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Los Angeles proposes ambitious, and costly, earthquake plan

In the wake of damaging reports about Los Angeles' unpreparedness for the next Big One, Mayor Eric Garcetti yesterday proposed a new earthquake plan that, if passed, would require owners to retrofit thousands of wood frame and concrete buildings. The report, led by the mayor's Science Advisor for Seismic Safety, Dr. Lucy Jones, would specifically target "soft-first-story" buildings and "non-ductile reinforced concrete" buildings built before 1980. It also recommends shoring up the city's water supply in the case of an earthquake, developing an alternative firefighting water supply and facilitating stronger pipes and aqueducts. The effort would also upgrade the city's telecommunications and power networks to prevent dangerous disruptions. You can read the full report here. "Instead of being complacent and then jarred into action by a devastating earthquake, LA is moving forward proactively," Garcetti said in a statement. The city's last major earthquake legislation came in the 1980's, requiring retrofit of vulnerable brick buildings. Outside of political questions, the biggest issue to implementation, of course, would be cost. According to the LA Times, the cost of retrofitting a modest wooden apartment building ranges from $60,000 to $130,000. According to the New York Times the cost of retrofitting some builders could easily exceed $1 million each. The mayor has no formal plan to aid property owners with payment, but he offered the prospect of tax breaks  (such as a 5-year business-tax exemption), access to private lenders, the waiving of permit fees, and CEQA exemptions as possible aids. As for improving public infrastructure Garcetti has proposed a statewide "Seismic Resilience Bond Measure" that could be introduced in a future election. According to insurer Swiss Re, Los Angeles faces greater risks of catastrophic loss from earthquakes than any city in the world except Tokyo, Jakarta, and Manila. Sobering thought. As California State Geologist John Parish told AN, "This ain't Kansas." Some business leaders have argued that plan will be too expensive without substantial financial assistance. Others argue that it's being proposed too late.
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Los Angeles Announces Makeover Candidates for Great Streets Program

As the United States' prototypical car-oriented freeway town, Los Angeles continues to edge its way toward becoming a pedestrian-friendly metropolis. The city's Great Streets Initiative, a program intended to redesign public space to be more pedestrian- and cyclist-friend, officially moved forward this week as Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the first 15 streets that will be targeted for improvement throughout the city. According to the mayor's press release, changes will start with plazas and parklets and expand to changes to curbs, street lighting, street trees, and street furniture. The mayor pointed out that streets make up 13 percent of the land in the city, so it makes even more sense to change them into what he calls "transformative gathering places." Garcetti stressed the need to build off of existing successes and funding, and to create Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) where they are needed to continue with such work. Each of the city's 15 council districts (CDs) will contain one of the streets. Already-active areas like Silver Lake's Sunset Junction (which Garcetti focused on while a councilman there) and Larchmont Village's Larchmont Boulevard are not on the list, because they're already considered "Great Streets," despite their remaining issues. Garcetti's list includes many wide streets full of cars and strip malls and short on character. In other words, the city has its work cut out for it. The city's budget for Great Streets this year is $800,000, meant mostly for seed funding. The undertaking, announced last fall, is slated to include up to 40 streets as it moves ahead. Here's the full list of streets that made the first cut: CD1: North Figueroa St between Avenue 50 & 60 CD2: Lankershim Blvd between Chandler & Victory CD3: Sherman Way between Wilbur & Lindley CD4: Western Ave between Melrose & 3rd St CD5: Westwood Blvd between Le Conte & Wilshire CD6: Van Nuys Blvd between Victory & Oxnard CD7: Van Nuys between Laurel Canyon & San Fernando CD8: Crenshaw Blvd between 78th St & Florence CD9: Central Ave between MLK Blvd & Vernon CD10: Pico Blvd between Hauser & Fairfax CD11: Venice Blvd between Beethoven & Inglewood CD12: Reseda Blvd Plummer & Parthenia CD13: Hollywood Blvd La Brea & Gower CD14: Cesar Chavez Ave between Evergreen & St. Louis CD15: Gaffey St between 15th St & the 110
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Mayors, Philanthropies Team Up for Energy Efficiency Blitz

A team of mayors and nonprofit foundations said Wednesday that they’ll spend enough retrofitting major U.S. cities to save more than $1 billion per year in energy costs. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropy, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation pledged $3 million each year for three years to provide technical advisers for 10 cities across the country: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Orlando, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City. The City Energy Project, as it’s called, is intended to cut 5 to 7 million tons of carbon emissions annually, or roughly the amount of electricity used by 700,000 to 1 million U.S. homes each year. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Institute for Market Transformation will help the cities draft plans to reduce waste and improve energy efficiency—a process the group said should not take more than one year. Chicago’s participation could lower energy bills by as much as $134 million annually and could cut about 1.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, according to the mayor’s office. In a prepared statement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the investment would create jobs: “More energy efficiency means new jobs and continued economic growth, and a more sustainable City,” Emanuel said, “which will lead to a further increase in the quality of life for the people of Chicago.” Last year Illinois tightened its building code and Chicago ordered large buildings to disclose their energy use. In Chicago, like many of the nation’s older cities, large buildings eat up much of the city’s energy—together the buildings sector accounts for 40 percent of primary energy consumption in the U.S. While energy efficiency has long been recognized for its financial opportunity, major banks have only recently begun to invest. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he hopes City Energy Project will connect building owners and private financiers, bringing more money to large-scale efficiency initiatives.
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Los Angeles Mayor Announces “Great Streets” Program

Last Thursday in his keynote address to the Transit Oriented Los Angeles conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the creation of the "Great Streets Initiative."  In an executive directive—his first since taking office on June 30—Garcetti outlined a program that "will focus on developing streets that activate the public realm, provide economic revitalization, and support great neighborhoods." Garcetti defined "great streets" as accessible and walkable, with landscaping, shade, larger sidewalks, improved storm water drainage and green features. Turning to aesthetics, Garcetti said simply: "design matters."  Los Angeles' streets should make room for sculptures and murals, and not just functional components, he argued. The "Great Streets Working Group" will direct the initiative. Led by Garcetti's Deputy Mayor of City Services, the gathering will include representatives of Departments of Planning, Cultural Affairs, Transportation, and Economic & Workforce Development, plus the Department of Public Works's Bureaus of Engineering, Street Services, Street Lighting, and Sanitation. Their  first task will be to develop a plan in which 40 streets are identified for upgrades.
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Los Angeles Names First-Ever Chief Sustainability Officer

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti last week named Global Green CEO Matt Petersen as the city’s first-ever Chief Sustainability Officer. Peterson, according to the mayor's office, will be tasked with "making the city's departments greener and neighborhoods healthier, and fulfilling Garcetti's campaign promise of creating 20,000 new green jobs." Peterson should also have his hands full, not only getting each city department to cooperate, but on thorny issues like regulation of the city's ports and transit corridors. Global Green, if you're wondering, is a non-profit dedicated to "advocating for smart solutions to global warming including green building for affordable housing, schools, cities and communities that save money, improve health and create green jobs." Since its founding almost 20 years ago it has organized design competitions, testified in congress,  hosted awards, and raised money on behalf of green causes.