Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":

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Another L.A. parking lot bites the dust for MLA’s Ishihara Park

Since opening in 2016, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (Metro) new Expo Line light rail has yielded an array of world-class public amenities at its western end in Santa Monica, including the new Ishihara Park by Mia Lehrer + Associates (MLA).

The 2.35-acre buffer park—named after local World War II veteran George Haruyoshi Ishihara and commissioned by the City of Santa Monica—is built on a slight 110-foot-by-55-foot space set aside during construction of a new maintenance facility servicing Metro's Expo Line fleet.

Astrid Sykes, senior associate at MLA, said that the firm designed Ishihara Park to be “more than just a buffer” between the low-rise neighborhood and the monolithic maintenance depot. “We designed it to be a true asset for the community as well,” Sykes explained. The multifaceted park, shaped by local input, reflects a desire to create spaces for recreation and decompression that also sequester carbon and groundwater.

To meet these ends, the park is organized as a series of discrete “garden rooms”—a bird habitat, community pavilion, rock garden, fruit grove, and meadow—connected by a meandering half-mile-long walking trail.

The far western end of the park not only contains vine-covered trellis structures, salvaged pine trees, and lush undergrowth habitats for birds, but also has a collection of stationary exercise equipment. Tranquil wooded trails flow through the bird-habitat/exercise area and lead to a central community space. Here, a pair of lawns and two picnic pavilions flank a plaza. The picnic pavilions are spared in their construction: A set of steel-beam structures that provide shade over streamlined cast-concrete picnic benches. Between the pavilions, low concrete walls studded with integrated cantilevered seating frame the plaza, while four light poles run tidily through the center of the space in parallel with surrounding trees. The eastern pavilion runs into a second, diminutive lawn populated by smooth concrete sitting-rocks and benches made from planed-off logs.

Beyond the lawn is a fenced playground—called the “rock garden”—containing a parabolic swing set, climbing-rock area, merry-go-round, and an assortment of sinuous cast-concrete benches. Further down its length, the park contains a fledgling orchard and a teaching garden. At the far eastern end, the walking path splinters into a series of sand-packed trails that frame a collection of ficus trees.

The ends of the park are populated by trees, some already existing on the site, others transplanted from along the light rail line’s path. The end result, according to Sykes, is “a new park in the spirit our changing metropolis.”

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L.A. Metro takes multi-pronged approach to improving aging Blue Line

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LAMTA) is working toward making a series of modest but necessary improvements on the 27-year-old Blue Line light rail line connecting Downtown Los Angeles with downtown Long Beach. The 22-mile-long transit link was the first modern transit line built in the region and with 83,612 boardings per day, is considered one of the transit system’s workhorse lines. The LAMTA recently approved a $81.5 million contract to move forward on several practical improvements to the line that would boost efficiency, shorten disruptions caused by maintenance work, and speed up overall travel. The biggest item on the list of improvements for the line consists of the addition of four new interlocking segments to the route. Interlockings provide opportunities for trains to bypass certain segments of track in the event of a stalled train or while maintenance work is being performed on a certain section of track, for example. The transit line currently features only six such interlockings, a situation that can create waits of up to 40 minutes when track maintenance is being performed. These delays typically disrupt service for several hours after the fact, when they do occur, snarling the transit system’s already spotty on-time performance throughout the day. The new interlockings are expected to reduce these types of delays substantially, allowing trains to run every 15 to 20 minutes or so, while maintenance work is performed. The transit authority has also begun switching out the line’s aging fleet with new rail cars. The line’s train fleet has not been substantially upgraded since the early 1990s, so the aging Kinkisharyo P865 trains will be replaced by newer P3010 trains, the same locomotives that run on the system’s Gold and Expo Lines. The first of the new trains went into service in May of this year and are going be completely rolled out by the end of 2018, according to The Source.   Long Beach is also working toward implementing a long-delayed light synchronization improvement plan throughout the line’s final stretch in downtown Long Beach, Longbeachize reports. The improvements would coordinate traffic signals along the parallel and intersecting streets that run around the transit line in order to assure Blue Line trains hit green lights at each intersection, speeding the line’s passage through the downtown area. Delays along this stretch due to the lack of synchronization reportedly increase travel times by between five and 30 minutes. The transit authority has also studied creating express lines between Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Long Beach but has not released any plans to implement such measures.
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MAD Architects releases new renderings of the Lucas Museum’s public loggia

NBC Los Angeles has released another collection of new renderings for the MAD Architects–designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. While The Architect’s Newspaper published several of these new renderings back in May, the latest release includes three new images depicting the public loggia located between the building’s two main entry pods. The renderings depict a series of bubbling masses rising from the surrounding parklands with what appear to be metal panel-clad bubbles and domes stretching up out of the ground. At one end of the loggia, the bubbles conceal a restaurant space; on the other, they shelter entries to a library and digital classrooms. At the center of the loggia, the building’s mass rises to its crescendo, where it is capped by a central oculus. The dome’s descending pendentives frame the complex’s two main, glass-clad entrances. One end of the loggia contains entrances to an amphitheater while the other end leads to the museum’s principal entrance. The oculus above is framed in glass curtain walls, allowing visitors to see below from above. The inside of the entry spaces is clad in wood paneling, similar to MAD Architects' treatment for the Harbin Opera House in Harbin, China. The Lucas Museum is expected to begin construction in September of 2018 and open in 2021.
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Lucas Museum receives final approval, moves toward 2018 groundbreaking

The Los Angeles City Council voted this week to grant final approval for the MAD Architectsdesigned Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. The most recent iteration of the project—sited in Los Angeles’s Exposition Park, across the street from the University of Southern California, George Lucas’s alma mater—represented the third attempt to find a home for the itinerant museum-to-be. Previously, Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson, who is the chairperson for DreamWorks Animation and a driving force behind the project, had tried for two separate sites, first in the San Francisco Presidio and later in Chicago’s Jackson Park. Both efforts were rebuffed by community activists. Last fall, the Lucas Museum board of directors made another push for California by selecting two potential sites in the Golden State, with a site on San Francisco’s Treasure Island and one in L.A.'s Exposition Park competing for the $1 billion museum. The Los Angeles site was chosen earlier this year amid much public fanfare on the part of elected officials. Some, however, fear the project will bring increased gentrification to the working class neighborhoods surrounding the park. The proposed 300,000-square-foot complex will rise five stories—roughly 115 feet—and contain a movie theater, lecture hall, library, restaurant, and digital classroom spaces, all in addition to its galleries. The boat-shaped structure, according to renderings, will be lifted off the ground via two large piers containing the ancillary programs mentioned above. Three floors of continuous gallery spaces will span above the piers, with a planted rooftop terrace capping off the entire complex. The museum will be underpinned by a 2,425-stall parking complex located underground and will be surrounded by nearly 11 acres of new parkland. The museum’s collection, according to the Lucas Museum website, will be divided into three categories: Narrative Art, Art in Cinema, and Digital Art. The museum will also make its debut with a $400 million endowment. The unanimous approval from the L.A. City Council paves the way for the museum to break ground in 2018. The museum is expected to open in 2021.
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L.A. pushes ahead with $1.4 billion light rail extension despite lack of full funding

Officials in Los Angeles are forging ahead with plans to extend the city’s Gold Line 11.5 miles east through the suburban communities of Glendora, San Dimas, and Claremont. The $1.4 billion project will extend the route’s northern branch for a second time in its 13-year history, following an 11-mile expansion that opened last year. The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (LAMTA) voted this week to approve funding and partnership agreements necessary for construction to start in September 2018. The Claremont extension will be the first project directly funded with revenue generated from the county-wide Measure M sales tax that was approved last November. Because the route crosses into San Bernardino County, which is not covered by Measure M, funding for the last leg of the route will be contingent on San Bernardino County contributing to the project, which is expected to occur. In the meantime, the transit authority will apply for a $249 million grant from California’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program to make up for the shortfall. The fund provides transit funding to state municipalities using revenue generated from the state’s carbon "cap and trade" market. The transit authority will also dedicate $26 million in savings resulting from the construction of the previous Gold Line extension toward the project, with an additional $100 million in funding coming from Measure R, a previous L.A. County–wide sales tax aimed at boosting transit across the region. The announcement for the new extension caps off the busy period following the November election. In the eight months since, the transit agency has moved toward plotting out which potential projects will move forward and in which order; the Gold Line extension is at the top of the list. LAMTA is also studying several alignments for a southern extension of the Gold Line and is partway through work on the Regional Connector, an underground link crossing Downtown Los Angeles that would connect the northern branch of the Gold Line with the Long Beach–bound Blue Line, creating a new, continuous north-south line. The Connector would also link the southern branch of the Gold Line with the Santa Monica–bound Expo Line, establishing a true east-west connection across the region. The agency has also had to fight for transit funding promised during the Obama administration that current administration officials have been reluctant to administer. The extension is expected to open in 2026.
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Tallest tower west of the Mississippi River debuts in Los Angeles

After three years of nearly round-the-clock construction, AC Martin’s Wilshire Grand Center in Downtown Los Angeles has finally opened to the public.

LA's new tallest skyscraper (73-floors) officially opens today.

A post shared by Hunter Kerhart (@constructdtla) on

The 73-story building celebrated its grand opening on Friday in a pomp-filled ceremony that included a performance by the University of Southern California marching band. Representatives from AC Martin and L.A.’s political and business establishment were on hand as well to inaugurate the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.

Coming together nicely! 📸: @constructdtla

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The 1,100-foot-tall tower contains a mix of uses, including a 900-key InterContinental Hotel, 265,141 square feet of Class A office space, and 45,100 square feet of restaurant and commercial spaces. The tower also features L.A.’s first “sky lobby,” which will provide some of the highest views in the city. The uppermost levels of the tower will be home to a steakhouse and several bars, including Spire 73, which according to Eater, is now the highest open-air bar in the country.
The sail-shaped, pinnacle-capped tower is the first new skyscraper constructed in the city without a flat roof. Until recently, fire regulations required that tall buildings provide helicopter landing pads on their rooftops to help evacuate occupants in the event of a fire or earthquake. The helipads were seldom used and, as a result, the regulation was changed last year to allow the city to develop a more dramatic skyline. Instead of offering a helipad, the Wilshire Grand is outfitted with a more extensive fire suppression and warning system than would normally be the case. The early detection system includes networked voice and visual communications capabilities that allow building operators and firefighters to communicate with every floor of the structure, according to KPCC.
Now that the building is complete, all eyes are pointed toward San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. When completed, that tower will be the second tallest in the West, rising just 30 feet shy of the Wilshire Grand at 1,070 feet in height. The tower is expected to finish construction in 2018.
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wHY converts old masonic temple into 110,000-square-foot art gallery

The much-anticipated Marciano Art Foundation by Los Angeles– and New York–based architecture firm wHY debuted May 25.

The 110,000-square-foot gallery, created by Paul and Maurice Marciano of Guess Jeans fame, has taken over the abandoned Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Los Angeles’s Wilshire Boulevard, bringing life to an old neighborhood eyesore. The midcentury-modern structure was built in 1961 by architect and artist Millard Sheets, and has been renovated to display works from the Marciano Art Foundation collection, which has a deep focus on Los Angeles–based contemporary artists.

In remarks made at a preview of the building, wHY principal Kulapat Yantrasast explained that rather than craft a traditional museum, the firm sought to create something “more like an artists’ playground—a place where people can make mistakes, do something new, and experiment.” The architect added, “It’s an interesting challenge to turn something that is very closed-in and secretive and make it something public, open, and welcoming.”

The three-story steel-framed structure is organized loosely and flexibly in order to accommodate a diverse collection. A wide balcony level provides vantages of the ground floor galleries, which have been curated to highlight the thematic tastes of the collectors. The building’s second gallery is located on the top floor in a former ballroom. An old meeting room on that same floor now houses sculptures by artists Mike Kelley and Sterling Ruby.

The building, as generative as it is showcasing, also features a collection of site-specific murals installed throughout, including a naturalistic site installation by sculptor Oscar Tuazon in an exterior courtyard.

Marciano Art Foundation 4357 Wilshire Boulevard Los Angeles Architect: wHY

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LACMA launches Kickstarter to bring Guatemala’s only contemporary art museum to U.S.

The Los Angeles Museum County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Nuevo Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Guatemala have launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring Guatemala’s first and only contemporary art museum to the United States. The museum—colloquially known as NuMu—is contained within a five-square-meter egg-shaped pod that can hold up to four people at a time. Jessica Kairé and Stefan Benchoam, the artist-organizers behind the museum, plan to build a mobile replica of the structure that would go on tour through creative communities in Guatemala, Mexico, and the American Southwest. The museum would eventually end its journey at LACMA in Los Angeles in time to join celebrations for the city’s Pacific Standard Time festival of exhibitions due to take place this Fall. Pacific Standard Time is being organized to strengthen existing connections between Southern California–based artists and art institutions and their peers throughout Central and South America. The pod will be included in a group exhibition organized by LACMA called “A Universal History of Infamy;” The exhibition will focus on the work of more than 15 artists and collectives that delve into anthropology, theater, and linguistics via their work. So far, the Kickstarter has garnered over $21,000 in pledges. The ultimate goal of the initiative is to raise $75,000. See the NuMu Kickstarter page for more information.
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A bold form mixes public and private spaces in Brooks + Scarpa’s latest supportive housing project

The new 52-unit permanent supportive-housing project for formerly homeless individuals, many of them veterans, designed by Los Angeles firm Brooks + Scarpa, takes its name—The Six—from military slang for a person who “has your back.” The project is Skid Row Housing Trust (SRHT)’s first outside Downtown Los Angeles, and it continues the organization’s very successful run developing functional, neighborhood-scale, and formally transformative housing.

From up the street, The Six immediately impresses; the nearly scale-less stark-white block and its oversized opening to the street reveal, as one gets closer, the human scale contained within. A main skeletal stair anchors the inside of a vast courtyard and draws the eye into the innards of the building. This attention to sequence, for Brooks + Scarpa principal Angela Brooks, is something her office imparts to each project, no matter the type or size. “Where’s the threshold between the neighborhood and your house?” Brooks asked. “If it’s just a single line, that’s too thin. We want it to be deep with a sense of public, semipublic, and then finally private [spaces] along the way.”

In a careful exercise of balancing transparency and security, Brooks + Scarpa’s design lives up to sentiment “I’ve got your back” by achieving a comfortable clarity in volumes that open up and lift residents above the street and neighborhood, simultaneously providing a sense of security and privacy.

When arriving at The Six, one cuts across the front yard—past planted, open areas set back from the street—landing under an expansive overhang that encloses a security entrance and a community- and computer-room cluster. Next, one transitions into a smaller space: a lobby that shares the floor with administrative offices, a conference room, a public computer lab, and parking. The second level, accessible by an elevator from the entry or via a concealed front stair, reveals the large public courtyard perched above the street.

From the courtyard level, the apartments and their circulation balconies stack up in a “U” formation four levels above, defining the supertall, breezy space within. Also on this level, a TV room with couches, laundry facilities, and a small kitchen fills out the public common areas. The building’s fundamental volumetric and formal gestures simultaneously work with its site orientation to maximize daylighting, exposure to prevailing winds, and natural ventilation.

The areas that can be seen from the outside are the most public of the common spaces offered to residents in the project, and their placement at the front—in the window seat—allows for a shared, privileged relationship to the street and suggests a powerful shift in dependence for the folks living at The Six.

Brooks said, “We made sure to construct a sequence of spaces that help you come into the site itself.… Once you get onto the second level, you see the street again in another way.” She added that by pulling the elevator and reception desk deep into the building, the designers allow “people to have some space and time through which to walk into something, to contemplate something, to think about something, to say hello to neighbors.”

It’s this simple and thoughtful implementation of careful and confident architecture that gives The Six its strong humanity of place. It’s a rare experience in Los Angeles, where the development process and its built manifestations typically find design opportunities in disposable surface treatments or hollow stylistic flourishes. With SRHT’s dedication to quality projects and real architecture, the organization will likely achieve more breakout projects in the near future thanks to the recent passage of initiatives, at the county and city level, that allocate resources toward preventing and ending homelessness.

If The Six can be a precedent moving forward, it’s likely SRHT will continue to provide L.A. more like-minded projects that are much more than a roof overhead.

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West of West designs hidden pop-up store in L.A.’s Melrose Place shopping center

Los Angeles– and Portland, Oregon–based architecture firm West of West recently completed work on a 400-square-foot pop-up shop for optical and sunglass retailer Garrett Leight California Optical (GLCO).

The store is located behind Alfred Coffee & Kitchen in the Melrose Place shopping center in West Hollywood, California. The pop-up shop includes birch-wood-clad interior partitions as well as typographic murals by design studio Cool August Moon. Designs also include a specialized display wall made up of white wooden pegs that support shelves and handheld mirrors.

One of the typographic walls is framed by a built-in bench made out of black-painted birch with a pair of tropical indoor potted plants. The bench sits adjacent to a secondary storefront entrance—the primary access point is through the coffee shop. That entrance is highlighted by a sheet of safety glass and is decorated with GLCO’s orange logo. That logo appears again inside the store, cut out of the birch accent wall behind the sales desk. An experimental magazine shelf made up of wooden dowels is located opposite the glasses wall; a lens-tinting machine and a marble-clad point-of-sale kiosk fill out the remainder of the space with raw concrete floors throughout. West of West explained in a statement: “The project was fascinating to us because of its hidden location—the experience of discovering an unexpected space is in contrast to the majority of the work we do.”

The store is open through the end of June.

GLCO at Alfred Melrose Place 8428 Melrose Place, Los Angeles Tel: 917-262-0955 Architect: West of West

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21-story tower coming to downtown Long Beach

Developers Ratkovich Company, Urbana LLC, and Owl Companies have unveiled the latest version of the so-called Broadway Block project, a new 375-unit mixed-use development in downtown Long Beach, California. The $154 million mixed-use project, Longbeachize reports, will bring a collection of housing, office, and creative spaces to the city’s growing downtown area. The two-building complex is made up of a 21-story tower joined to a seven-story apartment block by a wide pedestrian paseo. Aside from the 375 units, the complex will also contain 5,773 square feet of creative office space, 3,873 square feet of flex space and 6,012 square feet of loft space. The complex is being built with an eye toward local California State University Long Beach (CSULB) students, as well, and will contain 1,311 square feet of so-called “ArtExchange” space and 3,200 square feet of general purpose space that will be shared exclusively with the university. The complex is expected to contain a mix of market-rate and deed-restricted, affordable units, with previous reports showing that roughly ten percent of the overall units would be designated as affordable housing for Cal State Long Beach graduate students. Renderings for the development depict the seven-story structure as a stucco-clad apartment block with ground floor retail and arts spaces. The building mass features inset loggia, projecting balconies, and an array of gridded, punched openings. The accompanying 21-story tower is depicted with floor-to-ceiling glass walls and projecting floor plates while the paseo in between is shown containing trees, covered seating areas, and a collection of diminutive retail kiosks. The project comes as Downtown Long Beach undergoes a bit of a revival. Architects SOM are currently in the midst of redeveloping the city’s civic center while a slew of other mid- to high-rise apartment developments and pedestrian improvements come to the district. Gensler is also working on a $250 million redevelopment scheme for the aging Queen Mary complex. The Broadway Block project is expected to break ground in 2018.
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New renderings unveiled for Mia Lehrer + Associates and OMA’s FaB Park in L.A.

Designs for the forthcoming First and Broadway (FaB) Park by Mia Lehrer + Associates (MLA) and Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) have been reconfigured to address community desires of Downtown Los Angeles residents. The new designs, portrayed in a collection of new renderings, depict a more leafy proposal for the two acre park than was originally proposed. The original design featured a central plaza flanked by groves of native plantings, sunken terraces, and a 100,000-square-foot food pavilion. The proposal was also dotted with large-scale shade structures and contained a small creek at its southwest corner. The new iteration of the project features a greater number of trees and shade structures, according to the renderings. The scheme also features a new 10,000-square-foot meadow that grows out of the creek bed, which had been retained in a reconfigured shape. The designers have also improved the food pavilion by adding a rooftop terrace and shade pavilion beside the structure. The two-story structure will host a restaurant, though a vendor has not been selected and there are community concerns regarding the future restaurant’s affordability. The project is expected to break ground in 2018 and be completed by 2020.