Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mayan Revival-style Ennis House finally finds a buyer

The Ennis House, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mayan Revival masterpiece tucked into the hills of Los Feliz, has traded hands more than one can count. After being placed on the market for $23 million last June, the home has once again found an owner in an unnamed buyer for $18 million. Though it went for roughly 22 percent below the initial asking price, the sale reflects a number of records beat: it is both the most expensive property to be sold in the neighborhood and the priciest Wright-designed home in history by more than $11 million (the second most expensive being the Storer House, which sold for $6.8 million in the Hollywood Hills). The 6,200-square-foot home sold for such a high price thanks in part to the completion of a $17 million renovation over six years, initiated by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy following the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and severe water damage that incurred in 2005, which required the replacement and repair of nearly 3,000 of the home's 27,000 concrete blocks as well as the creation of a new structural frame. The home’s role in over 80 movies and television shows including Mulholland Drive, The Rocketeer, Rush Hour, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Beverly Hills Cop II, and, of course, Blade Runner, likely contributed to its inflated price tag as well. It is unclear whether the buyer will open the house to the public for tours, as it has been in the past, or if it will function as the buyer’s private residence. The home, after all, does contain a wealth of features fit for a millionaire, including a motor court, a screening room with a wet bar, a koi pond, and sweeping views of Los Angeles accessible via a number of balconies and platforms.
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Old Hollywood Mansion transformed into bridge housing emergency shelter

Less than five weeks after the completion of the Gardner Street Women’s Bridge Housing Center, a mid-century library converted into a 30-bed emergency homeless shelter, it was announced that another in the bridge housing program is now open for business. A palatial, century-old mansion on a busy stretch of Hollywood Boulevard has been subdivided into a 42-bed facility designed to serve up to 40 families. The building, known as the Wallis House, is adorned with Corinthian columns set against a series of light pink facades. Formerly a single-family home, it's now being managed by Aviva Family and Children’s Services, a nonprofit group that has provided services and housing for Hollywood’s homeless community for over 100 years. Aviva’s primary goal is to serve 18- to 24-year-old women who have nearly fallen into homelessness or are in the process of transitioning out of homelessness with the aid of related public services. Los Angeles City Councilmember Davis Ryu expressed that “young single mothers face high barriers to making ends meet and are at a far greater risk of harm when living on the street." He said they need housing and services to meet their specific needs. Work on the renovation began on February 28 with the aid of a $2.3 million from the city’s Homeless Emergency Assistance Program (HEAP). A Bridge Home, the nonprofit behind Wallis House and other bridge housing developments throughout Los Angeles County, has placed several bridge housing centers in Hollywood since the area is home to the greatest number of homeless residents aged 18-24 in the country.
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Rios Clementi Hale utilizes rolled steel and industrial detailing to activate historic ROW facades

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Bringing new life to the historic Los Angeles Terminal Market, Rios Clementi Hale (RCH) designed ROW DTLA to reinterpret the industrial nature of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s major produce hub. Reimagining the site where goods were once unloaded from railroad cars and delivered across Southern California, the team designed new storefront systems for ROW that embraced the site’s historic character through industrial materials and raw utilitarian details.

  • Facade Manufacturer StileLine U.S. Aluminum Corp. Sign Excellence CA Signs Signmakers Christopher Simmons Flux Vitro
  • Architect Rios Clementi Hale Studios House & Robertson Architects
  • Facade Installer BreakThru Glass Universal Ironworks Harris Glass Liberty Glass & Metal
  • Location Los Angeles, CA
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • Products StileLine Storefront Flush Front Storefront Vitro Solarban 70

Building upon the existing concrete storefronts throughout ROW’s 30-acre campus, the project transformed the long warehouse-style structures by using steel facade systems and street art. Each building featured different storefront and facade designs. RCH’s approach uses modern storefront systems that would support new pedestrian retail activity, but also feel at home within the historic industrial facades. The team utilized a palette of cut metals and neutral tones alongside artists’ murals, and storefront systems by facade manufacturers StileLine and U.S. Aluminum Corp.

In the Produce Buildings, the team specified aluminum storefronts with a wide-flange header and sill. To create strong indoor-outdoor connections in the office lobbies, the team designed a custom steel angle divided light system that is visually thin to allow visibility through it. For building two, RCH worked with House & Robertson Architects and StileLine to create steel storefronts with custom concrete sills. The approach is echoed in building three, where the custom sills are placed alongside refurbished original steel windows and aluminum storefront windows with a one-inch IGU. This also where Flush Front Storefront was used and Solarban 70 glass, specified for its transparent, color-neutral aesthetic and solar control. RCH creative director Sebastian Salvadó explained the restoration and facade systems used throughout the spaces, saying that, “For the Produce Building’s retail facades, we used crisp aluminum frames combined with steel wide flanges to add a level of detail along the more intimately scaled shopping street. In the industrial warehouse-style buildings, we used a rolled steel frame system. The tough, institutional quality, with its exposed screws and ability to span tall heights, worked well with the massive concrete warehouse buildings and their tall, first floor spaces.” The existing produce market, where L.A.’s bodegas have long sourced their fruits and vegetables, was left largely unchanged. At the southwest corner of the site, a cascading rooftop park was added to a new 10-story, 4,000-space parking garage. The greenery along its walls was designed to be emblematic of the landscape approach, which encourages nature to gradually encroach on the old industrial site. Together, ROW DTLA incorporate 100 years of Los Angeles history into a 21st-century commercial district that links Downtown L.A. to the burgeoning arts district. RCH creative director Sebastian Salvadó will present the ROW DTLA at Facades+ LA on November 14 as part of the "Adaptive Reuse and Context" panel.
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MILLIØNS explores the future of hempcrete in the United States

Last May, Zeina Koreitem and John May of the experimental Los Angeles architectural practice MILLIØNS conducted a weeklong workshop for Space Saloon, a “community in residence” design-build festival in Morongo Valley, California. While the small-scale structure they oversaw in the desert landscape was novel in form, spatial sequencing, and coloration, its most stunning aspect was perhaps the fact that it was primarily built with hempcrete, a material virtually nonexistent in the American construction industry. Currently, both the production and application of concrete is woefully unsustainable. As the world’s most common building material, the production of the ancient compound requires a tenth of the world’s industrial water production and produces 2.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. Once a concrete building is completed, its exterior envelopes absorbs and retains the sun’s heat, contributing to rising temperatures in urban areas (known as the heat island effect). If the biggest global cities, including those in India and China, continue to rely on concrete to meet the demands of their increasing populations, an additional 470 additional gigatons of carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere by 2050, according to the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. All of that's before even taking into account the material's deadly human cost of production. First developed in France in the 1980s, hempcrete appears to be a miracle material in contrast to its traditional cousin, beginning with how it's produced. Not only do the hemp fields from which it originates absorb airborne carbon while they grow, but the crops continue to absorb greenhouse gases after they are harvested and transformed into building materials—287 pounds of airborne carbon dioxide are estimated to be captured by one cubic meter (35 cubic feet) of hempcrete, while a half-ton is emitted into the atmosphere by each ton of cement, according to the European Cement Association. Hempcrete is also up to eight times lighter than concrete, meaning it takes significantly less energy to transport, minimizing its carbon footprint even further. When the inner woody core of hemp plants, known as hemp hurds, is mixed with lime or clay as a binding agent, the fibrous consistency of hempcrete has demonstrated better ventilation, fire resistance, and temperature regulation properties than its predecessor. Although the material doesn't offer the same load-bearing capabilities of traditional concrete, developers throughout Europe have made great efforts to test its limits and have so far produced buildings as high as ten stories (which could, of course, be improved with increased research and application). Despite all of the apparent benefits of hempcrete, the North American construction industry is only beginning to take note. Following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp's cultivation under certain conditions, there are only about 50 homes throughout the U.S. built at least partially with hemp, while the practice has become relatively common in Canada and Europe. As marijuana production becomes a more regulated industry, and hopefully the production of hempcrete and other hemp materials could become the building blocks of America’s future as the material becomes less stigmatized.
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One of the last Ricardo Legorreta-designed homes listed for $77.5 million

Joel Silver, the producer behind blockbusters including The Matrix, Lethal Weapon, and Die Hard, has been living large with his family in a 26,000-square-foot-home in Brentwood, a tony neighborhood on the Westside of Los Angeles. As the director is currently seeking a smaller home elsewhere in the L.A. area, he recently listed the home with Judy Feder of Hilton & Hyland and Kurt Rappaport of Westside Estate Agency for $77.5 million. Named Casa de Plata (Spanish for “House of Silver”), the home was built in 2003 and is one of the last buildings designed by Ricardo Legorreta, the late Mexican architect responsible for Pershing Square in Downtown Los Angeles and the San Antonio Public Library. Like the majority of Legorreta’s other work, the design of Casa de Plata is inspired by the colorful, minimalist homes of mid-century architect Luis Barragán, while adding a bit of whimsy and surrealism of his own, including glass brick walls and ziggurat-like ceilings. The home also includes a substantial circular atrium with a retractable skylight, a 30-foot-tall family room with hydraulic doors, and a home theater with tiered seating for 20 people. Many of the materials throughout the home were imported from Mexico, including the dramatic limestone flooring in the entryway. The five-acre property includes an English maze garden, a sunken basketball court, a swimming pool, and an outdoor kitchen with a pizza oven. If the property sells for the listed price, Casa de Plata would nearly double the Brentwood price record of $40 million set in 2014 and would become one of the most expensive properties sold west of the 405 freeway. Silver has invested in other architecturally-significant properties, including the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Storer House in the Hollywood Hills, which the director sold in 2002 for $2.9 Million.
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Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects plans top-heavy tower in L.A.'s Hancock Park

In the quiet Los Angeles neighborhood of Hancock Park, local firm Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) have revealed initial plans for an 11-story, 34,000-square-foot apartment building to be developed by Metros Capital near the corner of Rossmore Avenue and Clinton Street. In order to fit 14 units on the tight, irregularly-shaped 7,000-square-foot lot, the architects had to come up with a top-heavy design scheme that would not draw excessive attention to itself within its low-slung context, which consists of several preserved, Art Deco-style apartment buildings designed in the 1930s and ‘40s. The result is a design with a series of incrementally shifting floor plates that play a few visual tricks from the street. “Passing by the tower becomes an elusive spectacle,” wrote LOHA in a statement, “seemingly narrower at the bottom if you’re facing one way and skinnier at the top if you’re facing the other.” Additionally, the building’s ground floor is set far back from the street to avoid interrupting the pedestrian-friendly character of the neighborhood, while the communal spaces are entirely located on the rooftop. The shifting section of the building was prompted by “the elongated S-curve of Rossmore Avenue, as well as the marque-like facades of nearby multi-story apartment buildings.” LOHA hopes that the building will exemplify a preferable alternative to the more common apartment building typology found in Los Angeles, of “massive floor plates that maximize the ground plane and create a sort of squat density, where buildings are tightly glued to the sidewalk." The project is scheduled to break ground early next year and be completed sometime in 2021.
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Barbara Bestor’s SCI-Arc commencement speech evokes L.A.'s unique architecture history

Despite its youth, the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) has educated a surprising number of figures that have come to define the field. One such figure is local architect Barbara Bestor, who graduated from the school with a master’s degree in 1992 and has since designed several prestigious projects in and around Los Angeles, including the Silverlake Conservatory for Music, and the Beats by Dre campus in Culver City, and also oversaw the renovation of the Silvertop Residence, a hillside home first built in 1956 by local legend John Lautner. As the commencement speaker for SCI-Arc’s 2019 graduation ceremony, Bestor elaborated on the storied history of the city and how it directly influenced her career. “I think that, like the city of Los Angeles,” began Bestor, “our culture of freedom as architects is a uniquely West Coast culture that's actually in touch with our past history.” She then went on to recount how the unique qualities of the city that inspired experimentation among luminaries including Frank Lloyd Wright, Ray Kappe, Deborah Sussman, and Rudolph Schindler, who had a “habit of driving around to job sites with a load of two-by-fours in his station wagon so that he could improvise new ideas in real-time.” Bestor then reminded the audience that the freedom afforded by the relative lack of history Los Angeles can be liberating but also daunting. “It demands that we grapple with big existential questions like ‘what am I doing here,’ ‘what's my artistic voice,’ and ‘will my voice ever be part of the larger architectural conversation around the world?’” Bestor’s way of first navigating the city’s creative landscape was to work on houses, coffee shops, clothing stores, kitchen renovations, and several other small projects. “Even the most pragmatic and mundane programs,” she explained, “contain some freedom for the architect to create extra value, ideas about gender politics, fun experiments, and so on.” Bestor ended her speech by advising her listeners, “whether you’re staying here in L.A., or going off to Mexico City, or Beijing, or Seoul,” to “take that sense of freedom with you… You are all now West Coast Architects... part of this great, living tradition of experimentation and innovation.” It seemed fitting that, following her speech, an honorary M.Arch degree was presented to Frank Gehry, an architect who has called Los Angeles his home since 1947 and found a career by tapping into the experimental spirit of the city recounted by Bestor.
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A study of L.A. strip malls validates a long-ignored building type

Sunset Market Plaza: Meditations on Strip Malls in Los Angeles Edited by Shaina Goel and Use All Five Published by Use All Five List Price: $35.00 If there was ever an official tribunal to determine what Architecture is and what it is not, the strip mall building type might be placed in the latter category without hesitation. Strip malls, sometimes known as mini-malls, can rarely be traced back to an architect, virtually never receive historic protections, and are rarely perceived as anything more than a response to the modern consumer’s demand for convenience. Even their origins struggle to align with any familiar canons of architecture history: when the 1972 oil crisis caused several gas stations to close throughout Los Angeles, their small corner parcels became ideal sites for the inexpensively-constructed building type, which attracted small business owners due to their relatively cheap rental costs. A new self-published book by the Los Angeles-based design firm Use All Five and edited by Shaina Goel intends to elevate the strip-mall into a building type as worthy of study as any other, complete with a historical overview, fine-art photography, and genuine speculations concerning its future against the prevalence of online shopping. Sunset Market Plaza: Meditations on Strip Malls in Los Angeles begins with a plea for clemency from Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour’s 1972 classic Learning from Las Vegas: “Learning from the existing landscape is a way of being revolutionary for an architect. Not the obvious way, which is to tear down Paris and begin again, as Le Corbusier suggested in the 1920s. But another, more tolerant way; that is, to question how we look at things.” Just as the two saw the common person’s tastes made legitimate in Sin City, so too does the team behind Sunset Market Plaza elaborate on its subject without a hint of irony or derision. Its spiral-bound spine and numerous fold-outs, in fact, lend it the essence of a field guide. The first half of the book details several of the “best strip malls in L.A.” and nearby San Gabriel Valley, each distinguished by their site plans rendered in dense green stripes and the businesses they contain. Comparing plans, it becomes clear that the strip mall is an infinitely variable thing: some are more than one story, some are irregularly shaped, some have scores of underground parking and many have surprising relationships to the street(s) in front of them. Reading through their descriptions tells us that many of the businesses have not only survived for decades but have also become some of the most popular destinations in the city for a variety of cuisines and specialty services. Sunset Market Plaza also includes a few proposals for the future (or alternate past) of the strip mall, in response to the highly informed marketing present in the world of online shopping. “What would happen,” its editors ask, “if these strip malls were designed with more explicit intentionality?” The results, as they imagine them, are “made with consolidation in mind.” One proposal imagines a strip mall as a one-stop-shop for self-publishing, with independent shops that, when combined, would become a graphic designer’s paradise, while another, titled “Wedding Chapel Plaza” divides the space into several independent businesses catering to the wedding crowd. It becomes up to the reader to determine whether these spaces function better with all of its spaces united under one industry or, more traditionally, as divided among many independently-spirited businesses. An interview between urban planner Jonathan Crisman and urban developer Sam Bachner, the “key figure in the history of strip malls because of his role in co-founding La Mancha Development Company,” succinctly reveals the thought process behind their unique aesthetics. When asked about his approach towards the architecture and design of strip malls, Bachner claimed that he has always aspired “to incorporate elements which are reflective of the specific community in which they are located… Some places might care more about color schemes, or I might have one place with a bell tower, or maybe I will use a blue tile roof in Koreatown—it’s all about community context.” Near the end of Sunset Market Plaza are Catherine Opie’s panoramic photos of strip malls across Los Angeles, all of which honorably confirm the site-specificity Bachner describes as well as their delicate beauty. “[Strip malls] are about the American dream for me,” writes Opie. “But they’re very fragile. They change almost overnight, and are often forgotten about, just like the freeways.”
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Historic Hollywood library converted into emergency homeless shelter

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has treated the city’s homeless crisis as a high priority since he first took office in 2013. A Bridge Home, one of Garcetti projects developed in collaboration with City Councilmember David Ryu, was launched in April of last year in response to a new state law that enables cities to construct a relatively expedient building type known as “bridge housing” to provide shelters for the region’s homeless female population. For its planners, this has meant applying a $20 million budget to the construction of an additional 222 units of bridge housing across the city’s 15 City Council districts within the first two years of the program. After 10 months of construction, the Gardner Street Women’s Bridge Housing Center, the seventh bridge housing project to date, opened in Hollywood inside a former library on September 16. Originally built in 1958, the Honnold & Rex-designed Will & Ariel Durant Branch Library required very little transformation to become the permanent home of a housing center. The main space was divided to provide the majority of the building’s services, including beds for 30 women, bathrooms, a communal kitchen, and support services, while the original front desk and central clock were left in place. “The fact we were able to salvage this building, keep its historic integrity and help meet the crisis of our time is beautiful,” commented Ryu. To ensure that its occupants feel safe, the original outdoor spaces are now gated, the entire facility is staffed by licensed clinical social workers, all of whom are women, and many of its public spaces will soon host various skill training services. While some of the other shelters completed through the program have more beds and amenities—The Bread Yard St. Andrew’s offers 100 beds in the nearby Chesterfield Square of South Los Angeles—the Gardner Street Center demonstrates the benefits of repurposing a building as opposed to constructing anew. Eighteen additional shelters are in the works throughout the city, and statistics suggest they can’t come soon enough; an estimated 18,000 women are currently experiencing homelessness citywide, with 2,500 in Hollywood alone. Critics of A Bridge Home have drawn a connection between the program and the restrictions the city council is currently reviewing that would limit where the city’s homeless population can live and sleep. One proposal being considered at the moment would disallow the homeless from sleeping with 500 feet of most public spaces.
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MOCA digs up its past in its Foundation exhibition

Celebrating 40 years since its founding in 1979, The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles has unearthed some of their best hits for this latest exhibition: The Foundation of the Museum: MOCA’s Collection. To be specific, the show takes place in The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, the museum’s first official building, a former police car warehouse renovated by Frank Gehry in 1983 with all the rawness the architect’s work was known for in that era. The exhibition on display, organized by senior curator Bennett Simpson and assistant curator Rebecca Lowery, reveals a collection that will remind its visitors of the radical spirit that once led the museum’s founders to hire an architect as nonconformist as Gehry in the first place. Institutional critique and curatorial transparency appear to be the two uniting forces grouping the artworks on display: In any part of the museum, one can hear the critical voice of performance artist Andrea Fraser from the three television sets displaying her video works peppered throughout the exhibition; one room is a nearly standalone installation of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s Untitled (Portrait of MOCA), which serves to challenge the self-aggrandizement of the museum itself in plain text. Perhaps most impressive is the recreation of Chris Burden’s Exposing the Foundation of the Museum, for which the artist dug into the museum’s floor to literally expose the concrete foundations of the museum’s building. First presented in the very same spot in 1986, the piece allows visitors to see the guts of the building for themselves, turn around, and see the other pieces of the exhibition with a fresh perspective. Curators Simpson and Lowery should be applauded for their decision to juxtapose Burden’s piece next to Gordon Matta-Clark’s Office Baroque, the product of the artist’s excavation of a corporate office building. Separate from any curatorial mission, the pieces from other notable artists, including locals Mike Kelley, Laura Owens, and Ed Ruscha, are a delight to see under a single roof.
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Three distinct schemes speculate on the future of the long-forsaken L.A. River

The L.A. River is not to Los Angeles as the Seine is to Paris, nor the Thames to London. Its 51 miles of concrete were not designed to become a uniting landmark when they were first poured in 1938, but rather as a functional safeguard against an infamous flood that devastated the city in March of that year. Though it currently provides a handful of narrow parks, bike trails and opportunities for brief kayaking excursions along its winding path between its mouth in Long Beach and the flats of Canoga Park, the LA River has widely been dismissed as little more than a blight in the neighborhoods it divides in half. Only within the last few years, however, has the city funded drastic improvements to the appearance and functionality of the Mighty L.A. Revisiting the loosely organized LA River Master Plan of 1996, the city has most recently focused its attention on Taylor Yard (also known as the G2 parcel), a 42-acre parcel sitting on the river’s midway marker near Mount Washington that was once a hub for the Southern Pacific Railroad freight trains that enabled the city’s growth in the first half of the 20th century. After purchasing the land for $60 million, the city invited firms WSP and Studio MLA (Mia Lehrer + Associates) to collaborate on three separate visions (viewable here and released in June) for the abandoned site’s future as a public park, each of which is distinguished by varying levels of interaction with the river: “Island” would blend the park and the river with the addition of an artificial island (in a formal gesture reminiscent of the Ile de la Cité in Paris); “Soft Edge” would provide a large, flat park set against the river without obstructing its path; and “The Yards” would feature a radial plan with a raised circular platform at its center from which visitors can observe the river and the city from a vantage point. The unifying consideration for each of the three plans, however, is to replace the prohibitive fencing along the L.A. River with amenities which will draw visitors close to its edge. “With Taylor Yard,” Mia Lehrer expressed, “our hope is to create experiences at different scales that are very close to nature and also celebratory of the community.” Whichever plan is selected will have to incorporate a viewing platform to be completed next year by SelgasCano, the Spanish firm behind Second Home and the Serpentine Pavilion currently parked at the La Brea Tar Pits. The Taylor Yards project will be opened to the public in shifts, the last of which is expected to be completed at least ten years from now. “The objective of a phased approach is to address required remediation as funding is available,” said Michael Drennan, project manager for WSP, “while allowing more immediate public use of portions of the site, along with interim site uses for natural flora and fauna.”
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Kanye West's dome-shaped housing prototypes were demolished

Less than a month after news broke that Kanye West’s futuristic affordable housing project might face the wrecking ball, most of the Star Wars-reminiscent structures have been torn down. TMZ reported that three of the four dome-shaped prototypes, located on the 300-acre wooded plot that Kanye West and Kim Kardashians call home in Calabasas, California, were fully taken down as of yesterday after failing to comply with building codes set forth by the Los Angeles County Public Works. The project was originally slated to be shut down by this Sunday, September 15, if West’s team didn’t get proper construction permits for the buildings, and it seems that a trio of the homes were taken down ahead of the deadline. The remaining dome will reportedly also be demolished before then as well. The prototypes were part of the rapper-slash-designer-slash-producer’s grand vision to build an egalitarian community of sustainable homes, according to a Forbes writer who toured the property last month, in the style of the Tatooine settlements that debuted in the first Star Wars film. The four tall, rounded huts that West built near his Calabasas home, featured wooden frames of various sizes with holes cut in the top for natural light. Each structure was semi-sunken into the ground and included a concrete foundation.  According to TMZ, the state inspector who came by twice to see the homes after receiving construction noise complaints from surrounding neighbors (construction crews were working on weekend days when they shouldn't have been) said since the concrete bases were installed, it suggested the domes were more permanent rather than temporary and different permits were required. It’s unclear whether West will build the prototypes elsewhere or if he will move the remaining home to a property he just bought in Wyoming.