Posts tagged with "Johnson Fain":

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A Mexican food-themed museum is coming to downtown L.A. in 2019

The Downtown Los Angeles-based LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, a cultural center located in L.A.'s El Pueblo Historical Monument, is pushing for a new Mexican food-themed museum to open in early 2019. The museum, dubbed La Plaza Cocina, is slated for the forthcoming LA Plaza Village, a new, mixed-use affordable housing development designed by Johnson Fain. The 355-unit complex has been under construction since 2016 and is nearing completion. Designed with landscape architects SWA, the development will bring 71 low-income units to the area, as well a variety of neighborhood-serving retail and cultural spaces, including La Plaza Cocina. The Los Angeles Times reported that the new 2,500-square-foot museum will focus on the history and evolution of Mexican food, with a particular emphasis on the development of Mexican-American cuisines in the Southern California region. It will also house a demonstration kitchen and host programs, events, and exhibitions associated with Mexican food and culture in L.A. “Los Angeles is the Mexican food capital of the country, and it deserves a place that celebrates the history and culture that we have with Mexican food.” John Echeveste, CEO of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, told The Los Angeles Times. “It’s important, not only to Latino families, but anyone who eats.” Echeveste described the museum as a “multipurpose space centered around Mexican cuisine in all of its ramifications." It will even feature a separate specialty store on site where visitors can buy spices, foods, and cultural media. According to the report, the museum will offer a slate of cooking and history classes taught by some of the region's best and most well-known Mexican chefs. In the future, it will provide cross-cultural programming with Mexican chefs via live broadcast in Mexico. The entire development is slated for an early 2019 opening.
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AIA California Council bestows top honors on two L.A. firms

The American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC) has awarded a pair of Los Angeles-based architecture firms its two most prestigious honors of the year. Late last month, the council gave Johnson Fain its Firm Award, highlighting the practice’s 28-year track record of delivering thoughtful and diverse project types while also praising the company’s enriched office culture as reasons for bestowing the honor. In a press release praising Johnson Fain’s employee amenities—which include watercolor classes and in-studio yoga sessions—an unnamed AIACC juror remarked, “How they blur lines between personal and business is inspirational. They seem to be cornering a niche on the work/life balance for their employees and it shows in their innovative work.” Johnson Fain is currently at work on a variety of high-profile projects across Southern California, including a 42-story tower in Downtown Los Angeles, a renovation of Philip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral in Orange County, and a 355-unit mid-rise apartment complex in L.A.’s historic center. AIACC also awarded Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) its Distinguished Practice award, praising the firm’s “passion for the constantly changing urban landscape, and the complexities which go into designing in such [areas].” The organization specifically praised LOHA principal and founder Lorcan O’Herlihy for promoting a “much-needed conversation about the relationship of design to landscape.” A juror praised the firm’s “high level of design [and] solid commitment to education, urbanism, community and environment,” adding, “I always learn from [LOHA’s] work.” LOHA currently has its hands in a variety of market-rate and supportive housing projects in Los Angeles and recently opened a new satellite office in Detroit, where the firm is working on a 210,000-square-foot mixed use development and the new African Bead Museum, among other projects.
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These four developments will reshape L.A.’s storied Solano Canyon corridor

Four forthcoming developments planned for areas immediately surrounding the recently-opened Los Angeles State Historical Park in Downtown Los Angeles's Chinatown and Solano Canyon neighborhoods have the potential to completely reshape the industrial, working-class area into a new node for mid-rise, mixed-use urbanism. According to various reports and an environmental review, the four projects detailed below will bring up to 1,690 housing units, 92,406 square feet of retail and office spaces, and 2,962 parking stalls to several transit-adjacent lots currently occupied by industrial warehouses, parking lots, or hillside brush. The new 32-acre state park opened earlier this year after a lengthy approval and renovation process and will eventually link to a fully-restored Los Angeles River greenway. The largest of these developments will be the two-phase Elysian Lofts complex by developers Lincoln Property Company, S&R Properties, and architects Newman Garrison + Partners. The linear development will be located on a long, narrow site bounded by the Gold Line and Broadway. The southern end of the 8.08-acre site closest to the Chinatown transit stop will be developed first. That section will include 451 residential units—including seven live-work suites— and 9,871 square feet of ground-floor retail. This phase will also include 3,465 square feet of office spaces and a three-level subterranean parking garage containing 880 parking stalls. Phase one of the project will be distributed across three mid-rise towers rising between 7- and 14-stories in height with the tallest tower topping out at 155 feet. The second phase of the project will improve the northernmost section of the site with 469 units, 8,070 square feet of retail, and 2,000 square feet of offices. This phase of the development will also include 10 live-work units. This second three-tower complex will sit atop a three-story parking podium with 903 parking stalls and will bookend a linear park located between the two development parcels. Phase two will be distributed across three mid-rise towers rising 7-, 8-, and 14-stories in height with the tallest tower topping out at 170 feet. The northern section of the site will also host a two-story structure containing a rooftop pool for use by residents. Renderings for the project depict grouped clusters of variegated mid-rise towers clad in large expanses of glass with views oriented over the State Historic Park. The development also features tree-lined sidewalks along Broadway and internal walkways but does not physically connect to the State Historic Park. According to currently available materials, the development does not include an affordable housing component. Just below the transit stop at the foot of the Elysian Lofts site, architects Workshop Design Collective is working on a 50,000-square-foot adaptive reuse project aimed at transforming the historic Capitol Milling Building. The brick- and timber-truss structure dates to 1881 and is being designed to include an artisanal food hall, a microbrewery, and creative offices among other uses. The five-building complex will be connected by a series of indoor-outdoor spaces that include a mezzanine level, dining terraces, and a public staircase. Across the street, architects Johnson Fain and developer Atlas Capital Group are working on a new mixed-use complex called College Station that will contain 770 dwelling units, 51,000 square feet of ground floor commercial spaces, and parking for 1,179 cars and 899 bicycles. The development will be spread out across six structures situated above a two-story podium containing parking and retail. The cluster of mid-rise housing blocks would be connected by a terrace level located above the podium. Renderings of the project depict a mix of linear apartment blocks featuring projecting balconies, metal panel cladding, and vertical louvers. The controversial project has been scaled down over time due to community concerns that it would jump-start gentrification in the area. Chinatown’s median household income is roughly $22,754 per year according to Preserve LA, and while the development is expected to contain some affordable housing, it is unclear whether those units would be affordable to current longtime residents. Just down the street from College Station, Omgivning is working on a 19,000-square foot adaptive reuse complex that would transform an existing poultry processing plant into a creative office and retail complex for developer City Constructors. The project involves designing the creative office portion of the building into a new 10,000-square-foot headquarters for the developer with the remaining 9,000 square feet of space dedicated to restaurants and retail. These projects are currently in various stages of development and will join a growing number of long-term proposals for areas surrounding Chinatown, the Los Angeles River, and the adjacent Olvera Street and Civic Center neighborhoods that include a new master plan as well as a speculative proposal by AECOM to add 36,000 housing units to areas around the L.A. River. With construction ramping up and new schemes coming to light almost weekly, it’s clear that the areas around L.A.’s Chinatown will soon look very different than they do today.
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Are skyscrapers shaped by local history and culture? This new book argues “yes.”

One hundred and thirty-three years after the first skyscraper appeared, in an era when air rights are just another tradable commodity and globalization can make one city feel much like another, Scott Johnson argues compellingly in Essays on the Tall Building and the City that skyscrapers have become a reflection of their particular region. To prove his point, the architect and cofounder of Los Angeles–based firm Johnson Fain closely analyzes high-rises in New York City, London, Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, and São Paulo through a series of essays and lush photographic spreads. In each essay, Johnson provides richly detailed context about the particular city’s history and its approach toward urban planning. His selection of cities is not accidental; from one of the newest metropolises to some of the oldest, Johnson demonstrates how each region’s tall buildings are shaped by a particular history and culture.

In his chapter on Paris, Johnson delves into the city’s ruthless zoning practices, from the 1850s push to transform medieval alleyways and pedestrian haunts into grand, easily patrolled boulevards, to the 20th-century creation of perimeter “new towns” that encouraged growth only on the outskirts of the central city. Famously, the city banned all high-rises in 1972 after the public outcry over the Tour Maine-Montparnasse. As a result, many of Paris’s built skyscrapers bear a kind of hushed, almost reticent form, utilizing step-backs and semi-transparent facade elements to visually reduce their volumes. The four towers of the National Library of France use a combination of glass and wood shutters to create a vivid interior life but the appearance of a “monolithic nature” on the outside, for example.

In contrast, Abu Dhabi’s towers are rooted in a much more eager, demonstrative soil. The city’s relative lack of historical precedent gives rise to some of the most imaginative and fluid skyscrapers in the book; from the Capital Gate to the Strata Tower, Abu Dhabi’s skyscrapers reflect a big-picture idea of what a “global city” should be, their often mixed-use programs perched on a context-free coastline. Similarly, the frequently playful skyscrapers in Tokyo spring from a weird mix of strict building-code safety regulations and a kind of spot-zoning mentality stemming from a weak master urban plan. From the decorous facade of the Yamaha Ginza building to Jun Mitsui’s Ice Cubes, Tokyo’s signature skyscrapers are identifiable by a vivid energy pushing against strictures, like otherwise well-behaved children attempting to burst free from parental oversight.

Although an argument could be made that skyscrapers are inherently a global typology instead of a regional one due to the myriad financial, design, and political entities that help put them together, Johnson’s case studies offer a compelling aesthetic sampling. There are, of course, numerous nondescript towers that fill out every city’s skyline. In this book, Johnson concentrates on those buildings that share the characteristics he believes defines each metropolis; the wide variety of architectural firms, clients, and timelines involved elevates his observations beyond mere coincidence. Once you entertain Johnson’s thesis, it becomes easier to conceive of those towers that lack regional characteristics as merely structural tourists jostling among the denizens.

In keeping with the other two volumes of his series on skyscrapers, Performative Skyscraper: Tall Building Design Now and Tall Building: Imagining the Skyscraper, Johnson has attempted to create a book that is not only accessible to young architects but eye-opening to veterans of the profession. By virtue of sharing his nuanced eye and macroscopic understanding of each of these urban centers, Johnson provides not only a refreshing take on tall buildings, but also the idiosyncratic ground from which these cities spring.

“Essays on the Tall Building and the City” Scott Johnson, Balcony Press $45.00

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Johnson Fain unveils new rendering for 12-story tower Los Angeles’s Arts District

Los Angeles–based architects Johnson Fain have revealed a new rendering for 641, a proposed mixed-use tower in the Los Angeles Arts District. The tower, located at 641 South Imperial Avenue, is expected to rise a total of 12 stories and will become among the tallest buildings in the vicinity, upon completion. The tower complex will contain 140 live-work lofts, 7,000 square feet of ground floor retail, and 7,000 square feet of creative office space. The complex will also contain an arts-focused space, as well as four levels of subterranean parking that will house 162 automobile stalls. According to the rendering released by the firm, the rectangular tower will feature a gridded facade along at least one side populated by large, presumably unit-wide balcony spaces. These modules are repeated across the expanse and feature angled edges that will function as vertical louvers for the east-facing facade. The angled walls will follow an undulating pattern as they climb up the tower’s height and seem to be bounded by glass railings and floor-to-ceiling windows along the balcony spaces. The arrangement sits atop a two-story, brick-clad base containing the ground floor retail and creative office spaces along the second floor. Units in the development are expected to range between 600 and 1,300 square feet in size, according to Johnson Fain. The Arts District neighborhood is currently made up of one- and two-story warehouse and industrial buildings, but many large-scale projects are in the works. A recently-revealed complex by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) for a lot around the corner from 641 is due to rise approximately the same height. Architects Herzog & de Meuron have also proposed a large-scale project for Sixth and Alameda nearby. That project, dubbed 6AM, includes a pair of high-rise towers—one due to climb 732 feet high and the other, 710 feet—that will transform the neighborhood’s skyline. A timeline for the Johnson Fain project has not been released.
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Plans for “Fig & 8th Tower” in downtown Los Angeles revived

Plans to begin construction have been filed by architects Johnson Fain and developers Mitsui Fudosan America for the newest proposed high-rise tower set to rise in downtown Los Angeles. The so-called 8th & Fig tower is to be located at the heart of the city’s downtown financial district, an area that has seen a boom in high-rise construction over the last few years, including the Wilshire Grand Hotel tower, now the city’s tallest tower and highest building west of the Mississippi River, as well as several other adaptive reuse projects and the addition of a new Whole Foods market. The 42-story tower is set to contain 436 residential units that will rise out of a four-story podium containing 10,000-square feet of commercial space along the ground floor as well as an eight-level, 479-stall parking garage with four subterranean parking decks. Renderings depicting the glass-clad tower feature striated facades on all sides with each level’s floor plate protruding slightly from the building’s envelope. The podium level will feature amenities like a pool deck as well as what appears to be a series of landscaped, park-like areas. The project comes as Johnson Fain breaks ground on work across the region, with a new mixed-use, 355-unit, mixed-income pedestrian housing complex moving forward in the nearby Chinatown area and the firm’s ongoing renovations to Phillip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral also moving forward this year. Plans filed with the city detail a March 2018 construction start date, with the project team aiming to open for occupancy the building sometime in 2020.
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Big changes coming to Westfield Promenade mall in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley

The Westfield Corporation has filed plans to demolish its 43-year old Promenade mall in the far-western San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, aiming to replace the aging complex with a $1.5-billion mixed-use development containing 1,400 residences. The project, with design by Westfield's in-house design and architecture as well as HKS, Johnson Fain, and Togawa Smith Martin Architects, is inspired by the Warner Center 2035 master plan for the surrounding area, which calls for converting the Warner Center purpose-built business district into a functionally-diverse urban neighborhood. Among other things, the plan calls for “a mix of uses that are within walking distance of one another so people can easily walk rather than drive.” The area’s plan, to be implemented in 2035, would also aim to create "complete streets" that “accommodate alternatives to the car, in particular, an internal circulator in the form of a modern streetcar and ‘small slow vehicle’ lanes for bicycles, Segway-like vehicles, electric bicycles, other small electric vehicles, and any other vehicle that does not move faster than a bicycle.” Plans for the Westfield site would incorporate these principles through the addition of new internal, pedestrianized streets that connect to major thoroughfares as well as the use of the site as for “open streets” events that are closed to automobile traffic. Westfield Corporation’s plan for the Promenade mall, sitting just across the street from the area’s namesake Warner Center towers, calls for the addition of 1,400 residential units, 150,000 square feet creative office, 470,000 square feet Class-A office space, and 244,000 square feet of commercial retail space. The project will also contain a 272-room hotel adjacent to the creative offices and a second, 300-room hotel that will be physically connected to the Class-A office component. The housing components of the project will be arranged in low-rise courtyard complexes while the office and hotel components will hug the western and southern edges of the site. Another central component of the project involves a so-called “Entertainment and Sports Center” that will accommodate flexible seating for up to 15,000 spectators. The sports center will aim to boost the community-minded aspects of the new complex, with also include a one-acre central park and upwards of five-acres of rooftop gardens and patio spaces. Construction on the complex is due to begin in 2020 or 2021 and will continue in phases until 2035.
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Johnson Fain to revamp Philip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral

This week Los Angeles–based architects Johnson Fain revealed their plans for the first phase of upcoming renovations to Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s iconic Crystal Cathedral in Anaheim, California. The building, completed in 1980 and part of a larger religious campus that contains notable structures by Richard Meier and Partners as well as Richard Neutra, will begin renovations this year. The iconic structure’s continuous glass panel exterior will be preserved during the renovation. A bulk of the new work will pertain to the building’s interior spaces, which are being reconfigured and expanded in order to accommodate a larger congregation. Plans revealed for the renovations include the reorientation of the worship spaces, with the existing, “antiphonal” arrangement with two singing groups on either side of the main stage being converted into a traditional Catholic altar configuration. In this arrangement, the choir will be located behind the altar with the altar itself pushed forward into the nave of the church. A new organ will be located further behind the choir, creating a new focal point for the cathedral. The new altar will also receive specially-calibrated devices the firm calls “quatrefoils” that will make for a more efficient distribution of light and forced air in the worship space. The proposed renovations come after several years of uncertainty for the church. The structure was purchased by The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in 2011, after the Crystal Cathedral Ministries, the church’s original congregation, declared bankruptcy. The building was subsequently rechristened as “Christ Cathedral” and has been awaiting renovation ever since. Neutra’s Arboretum building, a massive drive-in church located adjacent to the Crystal Cathedral structure, was renovated in 2014. During the public unveiling of the new plans in the cathedral, which took place during a day-long, 40th anniversary for the complex, the architects handed out virtual reality headsets to attendees and played the animation below.
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Johnson Fain and SWA Group break ground on 355-unit mixed-income complex in L.A.’s historic center

Architects Johnson Fain, landscape architects SWA Group, developers High Street Residential, Principal Real Estate Investors, Benchmark Contractors, and the non-profit Cesar Chavez Foundation (CCF) have broken ground on a $140-million mixed-use, mixed-income development in Los Angeles’s historic center. The long-in-the-making multifamily complex, “La Plaza de Cultura,” will bring 355 units to an area that is currently made up of a patchy network of parking lots, freeway off-ramps, and homeless encampments, and surrounds the more pedestrian-friendly areas directly adjacent to Union Station and Olvera Street. The project aims to feed into the tourist zone by stitching together several major streets with a large, stepped paseo filled with 46,000 square feet of retail space overlooked by housing. Johnson Fain’s proposed 717,000-square-foot complex will include 71 affordable units set aside for residents making up to 80 percent of the Area Median Income. The complex is designed as a terraced structure spanning between Hill, Broadway, and Spring Streets, encompassing a grade change of roughly 40 feet between Hill Street and Broadway alone. Renderings for the development depict a structure that gradually steps up to Hill Street, with the stepped paseo connecting the two thoroughfares. The various volumes of the complex—apartment blocks, terraces, and balconies—are clad in a range of materials and feature punched openings. SWA’s landscape design calls for a network of generous public open spaces connecting the paseo to the circular, historic plaza at Olvera Street. By designing these interstitial open spaces as landscaped walkways punctuated with wayfinding and informational signage, an attempt is being made to guide pedestrians from Union Station, the central node in L.A.’s mass transit system, with Olvera Street and the new complex itself. In doing so, the complex will begin to bridge the urban gaps between Union Station and the adjacent Chinatown neighborhood, an active commercial, arts, and entertainment district nearby. The project is being co-developed by CCF, a Latino-focused nonprofit that provides affordable housing services to area residents. Under a special development deal, the organization will lease the site from the City of Los Angeles for one dollar per year while subletting the property to the developers for $250,000 per year during construction and for almost twice that after the development is completed. The arrangement will provide operational funding for the nonprofit while also housing the group’s headquarters. Aside from providing a $30,000 contribution to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the project also features a favorable deal for local labor, requiring 30 percent of the workers to be hired from the area, with ten percent of those workers taken from so-called “disadvantaged groups.” La Plaza de Cultura is anticipated to finish construction in mid-2018.
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Stalled No More? Downtown Los Angeles Developments Could See New Life

Speaking of zombies, two of Downtown LA’s most long-stalled projects appear to be rising from the dead. The mixed-use project revolving around Julia Morgan’s beautiful Herald Examiner Building on Broadway is apparently finally getting underway, now developed by Forest City, and no longer designed by Morphosis. The designer has yet to be revealed. Also Metropolis, a multi-building megaproject designed at one point by Michael Graves back in the 1990s, is apparently being brought back by Gensler. Of course downtown giveth and downtown taketh away. We hear that Johnson Fain, who were previously designing the Bloc development, a makeover of the former Macy’s Plaza, is no longer on the project. Studio One Eleven are now, according to a project spokesperson, “moving forward with implementation.” Johnson Fain had been “engaged to assist with the development of the concept and to oversee the schematic design phase of the Bloc.” Too bad they couldn’t finish the job.
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Renovation Team Announced for Philip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral in Anaheim

Anaheim's Crystal Cathedral, designed by Philip Johnson in 1980, and containing more than 10,000 panes of mirrored glass, is one of Orange County's rare architectural treasures. Today the Roman Catholic Diocese, which purchased the church last year, announced that Johnson Fain and Rios Clementi Hale will be leading its $29 million renovation. The exterior of the building will be essentially unchanged outside of cleaning and replacing damaged glass, but the interior will be heavily remodeled to upgrade access, sight lines, finishes, and environmental comfort. The renovation will also add significant new elements to adapt to the church's new Catholic focus (it had once been an evangelical church), including a new altar, a baptismal font, and new cathedral doors. "It's an open palette inside," said Diocese spokesperson Ryan Lilyengren, who likened the iconic exterior to a shell. The 34-acre campus, which includes seven buildings (including structures by Richard Meier and Richard Neutra), will also be master planned to support a larger array of events and, as Rios Clementi Hale principal Mark Rios put it, "unite the campus and make a place that welcomes the community." Twenty four teams applied for the renovation, a list that was pared down to four before this final decision. One of the nation's first "megachurches," the 2,750-seat church will host masses every day, according to Lilyengren. The church will close to the public at the end of October (services will be held in the interim in  Neutra's adjacent arboretum), and renovation should be complete by 2015 or 2016. Overview of Crystal Cathedral Campus (Diocese of Orange)
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Studios at the Ranch: Disney Makes Move to “Hollywood North”

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County's Board of Supervisors voted to approve Disney's huge new TV and film production facility on the Golden Oak Ranch near Santa Clarita. The project is being master planned by LA-based firm, Johnson Fain, and the 58-acre "Studios at the Ranch" will include more than 500,000 square feet of studios, sound stages, offices, writers and producers "bungalows" and other developments. According to site plans submitted to the county the project's sound stages will be located on its southern side, with offices to the north. It will be completed in seven phases. According to the LA Times, the area, nicknamed "Hollywood North" and "Hollywood's Backlot," is becoming increasingly popular for filming because of its low costs and open, diverse spaces. More than half a dozen local ranches now serve as popular filming locations. More pictures and documents for the newest kid on the block below.