In the latest escalation of Los Angeles’s Hollywood Sign wars, Warner Brothers has announced something of a truce: a plan to build a $100 million gondola system that would connect the entertainment company’s studio backlot in Burbank, California with the iconic sign. The plan was announced via The Los Angeles Times earlier this week and comes as Los Angeles works to assuage concerns of the wealthy homeowners who live near and around access points to the sign. Those homeowners complain that increased public desire to visit and see the landmark has created gridlock and unsafe conditions in their neighborhoods as tourists peer out from their cars and stop in the middle of the street to take photos of and selfies with the sign. Though world famous as an iconic symbol of L.A., the Hollywood sign has never functioned as a traditional monument that people can freely visit. Instead, intrepid hikers and explorers must traverse a series of canyon trails, including the Beachwood Canyon access point, which the city closed in 2017, to get close to the sign. The super-adventurous have long illicitly hiked to the site of the sign itself, where the 40-foot-tall letters are simply and unceremoniously affixed to the hillside with poured concrete footings. But in recent years, as athleisure activities and Instagram have taken off, interest in visiting and seeing the sign has blossomed, presenting headaches for neighbors and questions of safety for visitors alike. After a recent trail closure, local city councilperson David Ryu commissioned a study aimed at finding ways to increase public access to the sign without impacting neighborhood residents. The wide-ranging recommendations included punitive measures like planting new trees and shrubbery to obscure views of the sign from the circuitous Mulholland Drive as well as visionary fixes, like potentially building a gondola system and visitors center along south-facing slopes of the Hollywood Hills. The most outlandish recommendation called for erecting a replica sign on the opposing side of the mountain that faces the San Fernando Valley. Warner Brothers’ plan represents a strange hybrid of the latter approaches. The company has large studio and production facilities in the San Fernando Valley that are a tourist draw in their own right. The proposed plan—an architect or design team has not been announced—would essentially expand those facilities to include access to the Hollywood sign by spanning over nearby Griffith Park and other adjoining hillsides. The scheme is in the very early phases of planning and study and will require many agency and local approvals, but the studio has offered to pay for the gondola, so at least funding is secured. Chris Baumgart, chair of the Hollywood Sign Trust said via email, “The Warner Brothers proposal is just one of many solutions that added together will help ease the burden of over-tourism faced by the neighborhoods.” Baumgart added, “There is no one solution to the complexities of this issue. The scope of the Warner Brother’s project will have a long road of vetting with community groups and local governments involved. The Environmental Impact Report for construction in an open space is just one of the challenges that will have to be navigated if this intriguing idea is to come to fruition.” The gondola proposal comes weeks after Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies, LLC announced its own plan to construct a gondola system that would take passengers from the Los Angeles Union Station to Dodger Stadium. That $150 million proposal is also under development, has support from L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, and is projecting a 2022 opening date. A timeline for the Hollywood Sign gondola has not been announced.
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Following an extensive, more than a decade-long restoration, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House in Los Angeles is for sale. The 5,500-square-foot neo-Mayan hilltop house was designed by Wright in 1923 and is on the market for a cool $23 million. The home is the last and largest of Wright’s “textile block” homes in Los Angeles. The home was last listed for sale in 2009 for $15 million following a slew of upgrades and renovations, a figure that eventually fell to a mere $4.5 million in the fallout of the 2008 economic collapse. In 2011 the home finally sold to business executive Ron Burkle, the current owner. The home was previously owned by the Ennis House Foundation, which sold the property to Burkle with a requirement that it be open to public tours for at least 12 days per year, a stipulation that will follow the house as it changes hands once again. After the 2011 purchase, Burkle spent the next six years fully restoring the home with help from Wright’s grandson Eric Lloyd Wright, who was the historic preservation consultant for the project. Matt Construction executed the restoration work on the house, a project that involved structurally stabilizing the house as well as replacing nearly 4,000 of the home’s 27,000 textile concrete blocks. The building was also re-roofed during the restoration, and the home’s interior wood floors, ceilings, and art glass windows were restored. Prior to the restoration work, the home had sat in horrible shape after suffering extensive structural damage following the 1994 Northridge earthquake. In 2005, torrential rains in L.A. caused much of the roof damage and interior deterioration that the latest restoration corrected. The home is famous for being shown in a variety of films, including Blade Runner and House on Haunted Hill. The home was originally commissioned for Charles and Mabel Ennis and is currently listed on the market by Beverly Hill-based realtors Branden and Rayni Williams of Hilton & Hyland.
The Los Angeles City Council has voted to designate the William Pereira-designed CBS Television City complex in Los Angeles as an official city historic-cultural monument, paving the way for the complex to be preserved or adaptively reused as redevelopment talks for the 25-acre site heat up. The International Style complex was built in 1952 and features gridded expanses of clear glass set along planar geometries. Designed by the firm Pereira and Luckman, the complex is among several of the office's many threatened works, including their LACMA building, among many, many others, and one of the few to glide toward landmark status in recent years, a surprise given the red-hot development climate in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Conservancy nominated the complex for landmarking earlier this year as rumors began to swirl that CBS was interested in redeveloping the complex. Alan Hess, an architectural historian who wrote the building's historic nomination on behalf of the Conservancy, told The Architect's Newspaper that "CBS Television City is a true landmark of the electronic age, and a real testament to the design and planning vision of William Pereira and Charles Luckman," adding, "They built it at the dawn of television, yet it is still in use today for its original purpose. That’s good design. It stands alongside [Richard] Neutra’s Lovell House and Skidmore Owings and Merrill’s Crown Zellerbach tower in San Francisco as one of California’s three greatest examples of International Style architecture." Hess added that the importance of the structure and its International Style design surpass its use as a television facility, as well, saying, "The International Style was inspired by the straightforward functionalism of factories, and CBS Television City is, in fact, a factory building, not a house or office building. CBS can be congratulated for being a good corporate citizen and supporting this designation." The complex came into being as a replacement facility for the Columbia Square broadcasting facilities located just a few miles away in Hollywood, CBS's original home designed by William Lescaze in 1938. Columbia Square was restored, reused, and expanded by Rios Clementi Hale Studios in 2017 as part of a larger project that added a high-rise tower and new office spaces to the site. The award-winning project has been heralded as a marquee approach for preservation-focused adaptive reuse. A potential project for the Television City site has not been announced.
In a radical move in 2000, Mehrdad Yazdani established the Yazdani Studio under the larger umbrella of CannonDesign. The shuffle surprised many architects, both competitors and some members within Cannon itself. The move created a firm within a firm, established to be both part of CannonDesign and at the same time somewhat separate. This allowed Yazdani to explore design ideas that were distinct and somewhat unusual when compared to most of the buildings coming out of the large architectural and engineering practice at the time. Yazdani explains that his namesake studio is a platform for exploration of design ideas, separate from CannonDesign’s Los Angeles office. When you walk into the L.A. office of CannonDesign, you see a broad open space of desks, people, and computers, but the Yazdani Studio is set apart upstairs, almost as though it were a completely different office. The Yazdani Studio offers an innovative model for designer-centered ateliers, one where an architect can work with the security of a large practice and the flexibility of a boutique operation. Yazdani came to CannonDesign when his previous firm, Dworsky Associates, was acquired by the larger office. For six years (1994-2000) Yazdani served as Design Director for Dworsky Associates in Los Angeles. During that time they were selected to design the Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada as part of the national GSA Federal Design Excellence Program. The 437,000-square-foot project won acclaim and drew national attention, demonstrating that a federal courthouse could be both secure and welcoming, giving the judges both the monumentality they wanted and the public the accessibility they sought. The project's success carried Yazdani’s national design reputation to such a level that when Dworsky Associates was acquired by CannonDesign in 2000, Yazdani was offered the option to create his own studio within the larger firm. Creating the Yazdani Studio was a paradigm shift from how large integrated A/E firms had been working. Typically, if design was a high priority, a firm might promote one or two individuals to positions of authority and design leadership. Several examples made waves nationally: Ralph Johnson, FAIA, Global Design Director, at Perkins + Will; David Childs, FAIA at SOM New York and Craig Hartman, FAIA at SOM San Francisco, both Design Partners; and Joan Soranno, FAIA, Design Principal with John Cook, FAIA at HGA. All of these architects set design direction, lead clients and internal teams, and have won many national design awards, yet none have a studio in their name. CannonDesign agreed to create the Yazdani Studio to help elevate design within the firm. Today with roughly 1,000 people and 20 offices, CannonDesign CEO, Brad Lukanic remains a strong proponent of the Yazdani Studio. This year, Lukanic invited Yazdani extend his influence further by joining the Cannon board of directors to bring, “pre-eminent design to the board.” University of Utah, Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute Salt Lake City, Utah Consistent with the Yazdani Studio ambitions to constantly innovate, this was a first-of-its-kind facility, combining places for students to live, invent, and collaborate. It brings together 400 student residences and 20,000 square feet of “garage” or incubator space to encourage students to develop ideas that will spawn Utah-based start-ups. After being open for just over a year, the number of start-up companies developed on campus has tripled. The building attracts students from all over campus—it’s a magnet for creative thinking. CJ Blossom Park Gyeonggi-do, South Korea Recently selected as the “Lab of the Year” by R&D Magazine, this 1,200,000-square-foot facility is a new research headquarters for CJ Corporation intended to reposition the company’s operations into an interdisciplinary format, designed to “increase efficiency, create a culture of integrated innovation, and accelerate speed-to-market.” With a three-leaf-clover floor plan, the internal spaces encourage interaction and stimulate cross-fertilization. Museum of Tolerance, Jerusalem, Permanent Exhibitions Jerusalem, Israel A series of undulating pavilions provide a journey through human history. The 44,000-square-foot exhibit seeks to teach the core values of kindness and respect for mankind. The delicate human scale reflects the museum’s goal of teaching social justice and dignity through interactive, multi-media exhibits. EMAAR Hospitality Address Towers at Harbour Point Dubai, United Arab Emirates EMAAR Properties selected the Yazdani Studio to design two major towers. The design frames the Santiago Calatrava-designed Observation Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour City, now under construction. EMAAR Properties gained international recognition when they developed the Burj Kalifa, the 160-story mixed use tower that is the tallest building in the world, designed by Adrian Smith, then of SOM. The Yazdani Studio-designed towers are 60 and 65 stories totaling 2,240,000 square feet. The project serves as both a focal point and a gateway to the Dubai Creek Harbour.
The new Gensler-designed Banc of California Stadium opened for its inaugural Major League Soccer season in late April, ushering in Los Angeles’s first new open-air sports and entertainment venue since the debut of Dodgers Stadium in 1962. The 22,000-seat arena is designed with intimacy in mind: No seat in the stadium is farther than 135 feet from the field, with those closest sitting just 12 feet from the action. The arrangement of steeply raked seating and close proximity to the game is meant to create a closer connection between players and fans in the manner of European-style gameplay, according to Gensler.
The buoyant-looking complex is built on a concrete base and is topped by slender, 45-foot-tall steel section canopies. Draped between these structural elements are 190,000 square feet of translucent ETFE fabric to provide cover from L.A.’s sometimes brutal sun while still allowing enough sunlight through so that grass can grow on the pitch. The complex—chock-full of pedestrian-oriented plazas, viewing and celebration terraces, and restaurants—connects directly to newly landscaped areas designed by Studio-MLA.
Banc of California Stadium 3939 S Figueroa Street Los Angeles Tel: 323-648-6060 Architect: Gensler
In Los Angeles—when it comes to preservation battles and development, at least—history tends to repeat itself. Such was the case last week, as the Gehry Partners-designed 8150 Sunset complex cleared another legal hurdle in the quest to demolish an existing historic building so that the project might move one step closer to construction. The California Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal brought forth by the Los Angeles Conservancy against a recent ruling that would have allowed developers Townscape Partners to demolish the 1960s-era Lytton Savings bank designed by Los Angeles architect Kurt Meyer located on the project site. The bank itself was built following the destruction in 1959 of the storied Gardens of Allah hotel complex, an elaborate collection of villas surrounding the historic Hayvenhurst estate. In its time, the hotel hosted a who’s-who of Hollywood entertainers and literary personalities, including the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the actress Alla Nazimova—after whom the complex was originally named—Greta Garbo, the Marx brothers, Ronald Reagan, and many others. Urban legend has it that the demolition of the Gardens complex inspired the line "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot" in the Joni Mitchell song "Big Yellow Taxi,” though sources—and Mitchell herself—do not quite agree on the matter. At the time of its destruction, the Gardens complex was seen as representative of an outdated style in need of renewal. Nearly 60 years later, Frank Gehry says the existing concrete folded plate structure that replaced the gardens has “outlived its time” as well, and is incompatible with his proposed design, a rumpled collection of twisted, fluted forms set to rise on what is now the city’s Sunset Strip. Gehry has pledged to “recognize” the Lytton structure as part of the redevelopment, though he has not specified what that means. The latest mixed-use project would bring a clump of segmented towers surrounded by broad public spaces and a stepped plaza to the site. Contained within the three squat towers that make up the project would be 229 housing units, including 38 low-income designated homes. The housing element will be joined by 60,000 square feet of commercial spaces, as well. It is unclear what’s next for the project. A statement from the L.A. Conservancy website states that the latest ruling “effectively ends legal efforts to stop the needless demolition of the historic Lytton Savings building,” however. A statement put out by Friends of Lytton Savings referred to the ruling as “bad news.” Steven Luftman and Keith Nakata of Friends of Lytton Savings said via email, “Demolishing the Lytton building will be a tremendous loss for Los Angeles. The building represents what was good about the ‘Mad Men’ era of architecture in Los Angeles: Kurt Meyer and Bart Lytton created a soaring space that brought art, sophistication and the vision of a bright future to the people of this city.’’ A development timeline for 8150 Sunset has not been released.
The developers behind a recently-proposed project that would bring a 1,020-foot-tall, Handel Architects-designed skyscraper complex to Downtown Los Angeles have officially submitted their project plans with the City of L.A. Urbanize.la reports that developers MacFarlane Partners, Peebles Corporation, and Claridge Partners submitted updated plans for a 1.26 million-square-foot proposal last week that would bring 120 condominiums, 450 apartments, 480 hotel rooms, and 50,000-square-feet of commercial uses to the hillside site formerly known as Angels Knoll park. The $1.2 billion project will also include a 45,000-square-foot charter school and is being designed to hug the rugged terrain via a complex of porous edges that connect to the adjacent Angels Flight funicular and an associated staircase. Site and landscape design for the project is being performed by OLIN and will feature a complex set of outdoor terraces, amphitheaters, and gardens. At least 50 percent of the project site will be left open under the current scheme, with a pair of towers and a stepped podium occupying improved areas. Glenn Rescalvo, partner at Handel Architects, told The Los Angeles Times, “We want to make the site as permeable as possible. You could enter from different points and reach all the other locations." Renderings for the project depict a tapered 88-story tower filled with condominiums, apartments, and 192 hotel rooms. A second, 27-story tower will house the remaining hotel rooms and the charter school. Don Peebles of Peebles Corporation told The Los Angeles Times, "It's basically a neighborhood within a building," adding, “It's the wave of the future for urban living." The Handel Architects proposal was selected by the city’s Chief Legislative Analyst earlier this year from among three other bids that included proposals by Natoma Architects and Gensler. The development site was originally envisioned as the location for a third tower planned for the California Plaza complex in the 1980s and 1990s, but the plan never materialized. Instead, disused site eventually became Angels Knoll park in early 2000s and was immortalized in the 2009 film 500 Days of Summer. The park closed in 2013 and its grounds have sat fenced-off and vacant ever since. The project will soon be joining the long-stalled, Frank Gehry-designed Grand Avenue Project, which is slated to contain 436 housing units, a 314-room hotel and 209,000 square feet of commercial space in a pair of 20- and 39-story towers. The Handel Architects project is estimated to take at least 41 months to build; the development team behind the project has announced a projected completion date of December 31, 2024.
For architecture enthusiasts with an artistic streak, there are a number of art exhibitions inspired by architecture and design on view across the U.S. Of course, there is Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams at MoMA, already announced in AN, along with gallery shows in New York and Los Angeles worthy of a visit, featuring drawing, sculpture, installation, animation, and more. Serban Ionescu: A Crowded Room and Serban Ionescu and Anjuli Rathod Artist Serban Ionescu, who previously studied architecture, presents an immersive installation of drawings, sculptures, and animations in A Crowded Room at New York’s Larrie. The title and work in part references his experience as an immigrant and his father’s 2006 deportation, while still creating a narrow space touched with color and levity. The animations were made in collaboration with Narek Gevorgian. Ionescu’s work is also part of a two-person exhibition at Safe Gallery in East Williamsburg along with paintings by Anjuli Rathod. Serban Ionescu: A Crowded Room Larrie 27 Orchard Street, New York, NY Through June 17 Serban Ionescu and Anjuli Rathod Safe Gallery 1004 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY Through July 15 Vernacular Environments, Part 2 Vernacular Environments, Part 2 is the second iteration of the now annual group show at Edward Cella Art and Architecture that explores the diverse ways artists figure and engage with the environment and built world. Featured artists include Shusaku Arakawa, R. Buckminster Fuller, Rema Ghuloum, Hans Hollein, Jill Magid, Alison O’Daniel, Aili Schmeltz, Paolo Soleri, and Lebbeus Woods, working across a wide array of media. Ruth Pastine has created “Color Zones” to engage with both the architecture figured in the artwork, as well as the architecture of the space itself. Vernacular Environments, Part 2 Edward Cella Art and Architecture 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA Through July 14th Escher: The Exhibition and Experience Taking up a large swath of Industry City in Sunset Park is a retrospective of the eminent Dutch artist M.C. Escher, whose vertiginous drawings are rich with architectural references. Not relegated merely to lithographs, drawings, or other two-dimensional forms, the exhibition, presented by Italian organization Arthemisia,also features installations that place you in the midst of the artist’s illusionary drawings and disorienting spaces. Escher: The Exhibition and Experience Industry City 34 34th Street, Building 6, Brooklyn, NY Through February 3, 2019
The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has unveiled six potential alignments for a forthcoming transit project that could link L.A.’s San Fernando Valley with the city’s Westside neighborhoods and—eventually—with Los Angeles International airport (LAX). The concepts were unveiled last week and represent the latest efforts to span over the Sepulveda Pass with public transit, an effort that is complicated by the route’s steep terrain, the presence of the Santa Monica Mountains, and the presence of Interstate-405, the busiest and most congested freeway in the United States. Plans call for building the link in two phases, with an initial segment connecting the Westwood with the southernmost edge of the valley due to be completed by 2026. A southern extension to LAX could be completed by 2057 under the current timetable. For that initial segment, the six proposed alignments are as follows: Concept 1: Planners envision a 10-mile underground subway alignment that would link the future terminus of the regional Purple Line subway with the Orange Line busway in the valley neighborhood of Sherman Oaks, where the line could link with a forthcoming north-south transit route planned for Van Nuys Boulevard. To the south, the new heavy rail transit line (HRT) would also link with the east-west Expo Line that connects Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Concept 2: A second potential HRT line would follow a similar tunneling route but would connect with the Orange Line station on Sepulveda Boulevard instead of Van Nuys. The potential alignment could contain as many as five miles’ worth of aerial alignments constructed to link separately with the forthcoming Van Nuys Line, as well. This route would run a total of 13 miles in length and could connect to the Expo similarly to Concept 1. Concept 3: This alignment would follow the same path as Concept 1 but would be built using light rail transit (LRT) technology, a cheaper option that would ultimately carry fewer passengers per train at slower speeds than the HRT proposal. The underground route would ultimately run about 10 miles in length. Concept 4: This route would run along the same alignment as Concept 3, but would feature a mile-long aerial spur that would link to the Orange Line. Plans are currently underway to convert the Orange Line from a bus rapid transit route (BRT) to a light rail line, meaning that, with this option, the two routes could potentially share trains in the future, creating the possibility of several different one-seat routes. Concept 5: Metro is also considering monorail and rubber tire trams for the Sepulveda Pass route, options that would blend below-ground, at-grade, and aerial alignments to cross through the mountain range. Concept 5 would follow the same route as Concept 1 but would result in a transit line that simply linked the two regions without offering the interlining capabilities of Concept 4 or the capacity and speed of Concepts 1 and 2. Concept 6: Concept 6 is proposed as an extension of the Purple Line route, an idea that would thread the primarily east-west line northward into the valley, where it could link with other forthcoming lines or even extend further in their stead. The potential alignment would be the death knell for the “Subway to the Sea” concept originally proposed for the Purple Line that would have extended the line to Santa Monica. That idea has been on the back burner for years as Metro has moved ahead with planned extensions that take the route only as far west as Westwood, where the line simple dead-ends. Metro will be gauging public opinion on the routes over coming weeks and will announce a consolidated list of route options at a later date. The route is listed as one of the 28 transit projects Metro would like to complete before L.A. hosts the 2028 Olympics, so the timeline for the project will likely be sped up over the coming years.
The Los Angeles Design Festival (LADF) returns to L.A. this weekend, offering up a wide-ranging slate of art- and design-focused events that aim to highlight the city’s growing design scene. We’ve put together a few highlights for the weekend below. Though the festivities actually kicked off last night at the official opening party, things get serious today, with a bevy of installations and receptions opening to the public Friday and on through the weekend. Highlighting the day’s events will be a keynote address by Los Angeles Chief Design Officer and former Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne. The keynote presentation will feature a discussion focused on housing in Los Angeles between Hawthorne, Barbara Bestor of Bestor Architecture, Julie Eizenberg of Koning Eizenberg Architects, and Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular. This evening, Antonio Pacheco, AN’s west editor, will be moderating a panel discussion at SPF:a Gallery titled “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the L.A. River” that will focus on whether L.A. can avoid the dreaded “High Line Effect” as it revitalizes and restores the Los Angeles River. The discussion will feature panelists Deborah Weintraub, Chief Deputy City Engineer, and Chief Architect for the City of Los Angeles; Mia Lehrer, president and founder of Studio-MLA; Helen Leung, co-executive director, LA-Más; Mark Motonaga, partner at Rios Clementi Hale Studios; and Yuval Bar-Zemer, co-founder, managing partner at Linear City Development LLC. Saturday, the INTRO/LA modern furniture exhibition opens in the Row DTLA complex in Downtown Los Angeles. The annual exhibition will highlight the work of Another Human, Block Shop, Estudio Persona, Massproductions, and Waka Waka, among many others. Saturday will also feature a special pop-up show featuring the work of L.A.-based offices Feral Office and Spatial Affairs. The exhibition will highlight the collaborative work of Berenika Boberska (Feral Office) and Peter Culley (Spatial Affairs) who have come together for a joint project titled “New Walled Cities and Hinterlands,” an exploration of Los Angeles’s particular urban forms as they relate to clustered densities and single-family neighborhoods. Sunday will see another panel discussion—also at SPF:a Gallery—this one led by Steven Sharp, founder and editor-in-chief of Urbanize.LA, who will preside over a conversation titled “The Tech Frontier: The Rise of 'Silicon Beach'” that will address the socio-economic implications Silicon Beach could have over the long term as moneyed tech workers settle in Los Angeles. The panel will include Marc Huffman, vice president of planning & entitlements, Brookfield Residential; Michael Manville, assistant professor of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs; Li Wen, design director and Principal at Gensler; and Russell Fortmeyer, associate principal for sustainability, ARUP. The last day of the festival will showcase a “a critical round-table discussion” called “The Morning After” covering the DOPIUM.LA [ D / M E N S / O N S ] exhibition and event at the A+D Museum taking place the night before. The discussion will feature contributions from curators, designers, and artists involved with DOPIUM.LA, as well as a conversation centered on the notion of temporality and impermanence in the production and exhibition of works of design and art, including how those efforts contribute to material reality. The afternoon will also feature a conversation between Andrew Holder and Benjamin Freyinger of the Los Angeles Design Group hosted by THIS X THAT, Hem, and Poketo. See the LADF website for more information and a full slate of calendar events.
The dominant “indoor-outdoor living” narrative that drives so much of Los Angeles’s architecture can seem old and tired, but every now and then a project comes along that presents a new perspective on this classic arrangement. The Terasaki Research Institute (TRI) by Los Angeles–and Sendai, Japan-based architects Atelier Hitoshi Abe (AHA), is such a project. TRI was founded by the late Dr. Paul Terasaki, a University of California, Los Angeles professor and longtime almost-client for AHA whose exciting visions for potential projects could never quite get off the ground, as Hitoshi Abe, AHA principal, explained. One day, Terasaki approached Abe with a realizable commission: new offices for a namesake research institute that would carry on Terasaki’s legacy in the field of modern organ-transplant technology. Terasaki was interested in experimenting with a new brand of semi–al fresco, semipublic architecture that could better engage with the community and support lectures, exhibitions, and other public programs. The doctor tasked AHA with creating a 15,000-square-foot building that could function more like an arcade courtyard than a research lab; AHA responded by connecting street and interior via an outsize internal hallway overlooked by the building’s main programs. The inverted complex is located in Westwood—steps from the UCLA campus—in the shell of an old commercial building sandwiched between an Urban Outfitters and a Sur La Table. There, a plate-glass and stucco facade gives way to a broad foyer that contains a small bookstore filled with daylight and medical texts. Beyond a round desk and up half a flight of steps, the building’s main level unfolds on either side of the internal street, which is proportioned for group gatherings and socializing. The 25-foot-wide hallway runs the length of the building, creating two atrium spaces that are connected along the ground but are interrupted above by a pair of bridges, one containing offices and the other a lounge. The rough stucco-clad walls in the gray atria are populated by seemingly random punched openings. Some of the square apertures are transom-height windows into office and meeting areas; others are waist-level connecting to a single-loaded corridor wrapping the second floor. A tertiary field of smaller squares along these walls conceals air-return grilles. A translucent, double-membrane PTFE roof system supported by a lightweight metal tension structure encloses the space. The hub-and-spoke design leaves room at the top of each atrium for an oculus, which the architects wrapped in reflective metal. The mirror-finish oculi reflect different kinds of light and views into the space depending on the time of day, including twisted vistas of the surrounding city with its postmodern condominium and office towers. Beyond the second sky bridge sits a serene presentation room that functions like a gallery and is oriented around a large LED screen that shows a rotating selection of electronic art and media. Abe explained that he and Terasaki came together hoping not just to bring the public into the institute, but to extend the life of the street into the offices “so researchers could look with interest into their own building.”
In recent years, L.A. County’s homeless population has elevated by astronomical levels, climbing over 23 percent in just 2017 alone. As part of the county’s overall Homeless Initiative, last September, the L.A. County Arts Commission launched Part of the Solution: Yes To ADU, a design competition soliciting innovative uses for accessory dwelling units (ADU) in single family lots. The winners were announced late last month. There are up to 1.3 million dwellings in the county that could accept such lots, points out L.A. Country Arts Commission Civic Art Project Manager Iris Anna Regn. Officials hope the competition winners will get designers more involved in policy strategy, and help homeowners visualize how to develop ADUs on their properties. Competition winners were selected anonymously from a pool of 43 professional and student entries. First place went to recent graduates Lilliana Castro, Allen Guillen and Cheuk Nam Yu, who suggested eliminating dwellings’ fences and walls to create more open neighborhoods and better integrate dwellings into the city. Their pre-fabricated constructions, imbedded with green wall panels, solar roofs, and art walls, would be cheaper, easier, and faster to install. Two teams —Anonymous Architects and Esther Ho — tied for second. Anonymous proposed a modular solution built around recycled plastic packaging that could be customized with elements like solar balloons, water tanks, gardens, and even bird houses. Ho proposed another modular solution, called the Barcode House, which could be easily adapted to varied uses, from dorm rooms to small businesses. Two Honorable Mentions went to Bureau Spectacular and Wes Jones Partners. Bureau Spectacular's Backyard Urbanism suggested that ADUs could perform other uses besides housing, like recreation spaces or laundromats. Jones suggested the use of shipping containers, their designs kept simple but elegant to fit into their contexts. The competition-winning proposals, and a handful of others, will be exhibited throughout the county for the next few months, including a panel discussion at Downtown LA's Institute for Contemporary Art on May 24. Already the Arts Commission has shared the visions via events at East LA College and the AC Bilbrew Library. “This is an important new typology that people are being asked to do all time now,” pointed out Regn. “It won’t just provide new housing options, but it could help people stay in their neighborhoods and keep communities together." Of course ADUs will not provide the only solution to L.A.’s homeless and affordable housing crisis. It’s just one of many strategies, added Regn. “Everything needs to be thought about now—supportive housing, mental health, social enterprise, much more— to solve this humanitarian crisis.”