First there was the Grand Park, then Pershing Square decided to spruce things up with a design competition, and now four competing schemes for a third Downtown Los Angeles park were presented to the city in a public meeting this week. The proposals were from teams lead by AECOM, Brooks + Scarpa, Eric Owen Moss Architects, and Mia Lehrer + Associates with OMA and IDEO. The two-acre First & Broadway Civic Park will take over a full block in the heart of the L.A.’s Civic Center near City Hall and the Gordon Kaufmann’s Art Deco Los Angeles Times building. The overall greening of Downtown Los Angeles is consistent with its ongoing renewal. As such, each of the teams provided ample amenities in the park—canopies, cafes, music venues, movie screens—in addition to the standard fare of gardens, trees, and benches. AECOM’s proposal takes iconic modernist landscape architect Garrett Eckbo’s 1946 Landscape for Living as a starting point, and then updates his California dream to be a collective experience. Hints of fifties modernism show themselves in the irregularly shaped lawn, which is framed by “The Wingnut,” which houses a gallery, and a 200-seat restaurant “The Paper Plane.” Undulating ribbons—green space above, amenities underneath—define Brooks + Scarpa's plan. The team suggests that the scheme is ecological with drought-minded plantings and integrated terraces and cisterns that lead to an expansive dry well. Hidden within the proposal is some programming sure to excite the design community: the Architecture and Urbanism Festival, a possible 3-month long curated event that would include temporary installations and public programs. Eric Owen Moss Architects, never a firm to shy away from odd forms, proposed a large cocoon-like structure dominates a rolling and grassy green space. Ready to compete with the nearby crowning towers of City Hall and the Times, EOM’s event pavilion seems equipped to screen films and host events. Mia Lehrer + Associates powerhouse team also includes OMA, IDEO, and Arup, among others. Their proposal takes food as its design driver. While the scheme shows a central paved plaza and side gardens lush with alien-ish shade canopies and mature trees, the main emphasis is on a multi-use pavilion building that includes a beer garden, a test kitchen, a restaurant, and an amphitheater. Presentation boards and models of the designs are on public display at the Department of Building and Safety at 201 North Figueroa.
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"Few people think about it or are aware of it. But there is nothing made by human beings that does not involve a design decision somewhere." -Bill MoggridgeBill Moggridge, director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and an outspoken advocate for the value of design in everyday life, died September 8th, 2012, following a battle with cancer. He was 69. Designer of the first laptop computer and co-founder of the renowned innovation and design firm, IDEO, Bill pioneered interaction design and integrated human factors into the design of computer software and hardware. Bill was a Royal Designer for Industry, a 2010 winner of the Prince Philip Designers Prize, and a 2009 winner of Cooper-Hewitt’s National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement. He described his career as having three phases: first, as a designer; second, as a leader of design teams and; third, as a communicator. “All of us at the Smithsonian mourn the loss of a great friend, leader and design mind,” said Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough. “In his two short years as director of Cooper-Hewitt, Bill transformed the museum into the Smithsonian’s design lens on the world, and we are forever grateful for his extraordinary leadership and contributions.” In those two years Cooper-Hewitt saw record exhibition attendance, an increase in digital access to the collection and new efforts to bring design education to K-12 classrooms. He worked with Diller Scofidio + Renfro to reimagine the museum visit as a participatory experience with an innovative interactive design component and led the museum's $54 million expansion and restoration program. Bill's legacy lives on in "his innovative vision for the future of the museum [that] will be realized upon reopening," said Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture. "His foresight will impact museum visitors and design thinkers of tomorrow. He will be greatly missed.” Learn more about Bill and his life's work at the Cooper-Hewitt website.
Architecture for Humanity just announced the winner for the 2009 Open Architecture Challenge: Classroom. The global competition involved 1,000 registered design teams from 65 different countries. The challenge for the architecture, design, and engineering community was simple--partner with actual students and their schools to create real solutions for a classroom of the future. The winner, Teton Valley Community School in Victor, Idaho, was designed by local firm Section Eight. The concept is centered around the idea of place-based education in the school, a mode of learning that gives more importance to cultural and environmental sustainability than technology and consumerism. The design is set on an existing two-acre site. An open-flex learning space includes collapsible and foldable partitions, allowing the reconfiguration of the area as needed. Section Eight collaborated with students, parents, teachers, and members of the community to create an environment which also teaches its students. Apertures, which let in light, also allow students to see the thickness of the strawbale walls. The mechanical systems for the geothermal heating and cooling system are visible through large viewing windows.--Christina Chan Other notable entries include:Founders’ Award: The Corporación Educativa y Social Waldorf, Bogota, Colombia . Designed by Arquitectura Justa, Bogota, Colombia . Best Urban Classroom Upgrade Design: Rumi School of Excellence, Hyderabad, India. Designed by IDEO, San Francisco, CA. Best Rural Classroom Design: Building Tomorrow Academy, Wakiso and Kiboga, Uganda. Designed by Gifford LLP, London, UK . Best Re-locatable Classroom Design: Druid Hills High School, Georgia. Designed by Perkins + Will.