Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":

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SCI-Arc and Woodbury University both launch new architectural scholarships

The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and the Woodbury University School of Architecture in Los Angeles separately announced new scholarship opportunities for students this week. SCI-Arc’s latest new scholarship program—the third such new initiative launched in the last year by the university—is part of a new partnership with the country of Colombia aimed at benefitting students attending the university's new SCI-Arc Bogota program. SCI-Arc Bogota was launched last year in order to create a pipeline for Colombian and South American students seeking access to SCI-Arc’s undergraduate and graduate architectural programs. In a press release announcing the new scholarship, SCI-Arc Director Hernan Diaz Alonso said, “We are happy to continue expanding SCI-Arc’s relationship with diverse parts of the world,” making reference to the Bogota location as well as the recently-opened SCI-Arc Mexico outpost in Mexico City the school also debuted last year. The new initiative will be helmed by Juan Ricardo Rincon Gaviria, principal at Taller Paralelo Arquitectos in Bogota, a noted international firm. SCI-Arc Bogota’s educational program also includes a double-degree accreditation with the University of the Andes’ masters program and a full annual scholarship grant for Colombian students with the Foundation for the Future of Colombia (COLFUTURO).  COLFUTURO was founded in 1991 by public and private sector leaders in the country to “promote, guide, and finance graduate studies for Colombian professionals” attending international universities. The foundation benefits a selected student who is awarded up to $50,000 over two years in financing. SCI-Arc’s new scholarship aims to match this amount for the selected student. Applications for the foundation’s Loan-Scholarship program are due February 28; the winner of the scholarship will be announced in May 2017. Woodbury University also announced this week that initial contributions to the Norman R. Millar Scholarship Endowment fund had surpassed $30,000. The fund, which will benefit the school’s overall architectural scholarship programs, was started by the university after Millar’s death early last year. Starting in 1999 Millar served as dean of the university’s architecture school and is credited with helping increase its enrollment threefold over the course of his tenure. Millar also focused strongly on increasing diversity at the school and was instrumental in developing the Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL) initiative through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). IPAL facilitates students’ ability to complete the requirements necessary for architectural licensure concurrently along with their degrees. In a press release announcing the scholarship fund’s endowment, Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter, interim dean, Woodbury School of Architecture, lauded Millar’s contributions to the university, saying “Norman’s talent and experience as a practitioner and vision as an educator helped thousands of young people achieve success in the field of architecture. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear from a former student, colleague or fellow architect whose career was inspired by Norman’s leadership, and who wishes to honor his legacy by making a contribution to the scholarship endowment established in his memory.” Donations can be made to the Norman R. Millar Scholarship Endowment here.
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Theaster Gates showcases artworks at Regen Projects in Los Angeles

Regen Projects is currently showcasing new works by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates in Los Angeles.
The exhibition, titled But To Be A Poor Race, uses painting to explore themes found within W.E.B. Du Bois's seminal book, The Souls of Black Folk. In the book, Du Bois uses essays to chronicle examples of exceptionalism within the African American community in an effort to humanize Black experiences during an era of segregation and racism. Du Bois's work is considered to be important both as a sociological exploration and a political text.
The paintings on display reinterpret statistical data presented in The Souls of Black Folk as abstract, geometric fields of color. The artist also uses sculpture—including a collection of sculptural objects, ephemera, and video artworks—to explore themes of Black experience, visual politics, and shamanism. Three of the works utilize bound copies of Jet magazines, a weekly digest focusing on important figures in the African American community that ran in print form from 1951 until 2014, to convey the lines of a long poem. Each of the works contains a stanza from the poem, with the three works arranged at eye level along the gallery walls so they can be read while walking.
In a press release for the exhibition, Gates describes the exhibition as an exploration of racialized poverty, saying, "But To Be A Poor Race questions a particular kind of poverty, one that is not just about a lack of economic capital but one that is deprived of the basic elements from which one can make a living."
In a work hearkening to contemporary political times, the exhibition also features a video titled My country tis of thee that depicts a musical performance of the song My Country 'Tis of Thee by Gates and musicians The Black Monks of Mississippi. In the video, the artists perform the patriotic song as both a sincere expression of patriotism and simultaneously as a work of satire. The exhibition is on view until February 25, 2017. For more information, see the Regen Projects website.
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New renderings revealed for Los Angeles Football Club stadium

The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) and architects Gensler have revealed new renderings for the $250-million LAFC stadium in Los Angeles’s Exposition Park. The new renderings also showcase the stadium’s new name—the Banc of California Stadium—and provide a glimpse into the complex’s sleek interiors. The 22,000-seat stadium was approved by the Los Angeles City Council in 2016 and is now currently under construction. The structure is designed as an open-air stadium with steeply-raked and sweeping seating areas shaped around the field. That “European-style” arrangement, according to the architects, emphasizes fans’ experience of watching each match by putting the viewer in a closer relationship with the field and players. The complex will also include commercial and restaurant functions oriented toward the larger community. Renderings for the complex show generous pedestrian areas surrounding the main entry of the stadium as well as tree-lined paths leading to other attractions in the park. The stadium joins a growing number of new attractions coming to the urban park, including the recently-proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (LMNA) building designed by Chinese firm MAD Architects. The board of directors for the LMNA announced last week it was choosing Los Angeles as the location for its new museum. LAFC’s new stadium takes the place of the recently-demolished Welton Becket-designed L.A. Sports Arena, a structure built in 1959 that played host to the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers professional basketball teams as well as college basketball teams for University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles. The L.A. Sports Arena held its final event in March when Bruce Springsteen performed a sold-out concert there. The new stadium is expected to open for the 2018 soccer season. This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your area and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
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SOM’s new L.A. courthouse needs almost no artificial lighting during the day

The new Los Angeles U.S. District Courthouse is located downtown midway between City Hall and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and it’s a worthy companion to those exemplary civic landmarks. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) won the competition four years ago with a simple yet powerful design: A cube of folded glass that seems to float above a recessed base. The nine upper floors are suspended from a multi-dimensional roof truss system supported on four structural cores—a strategy that halves the amount of steel a conventional building requires and makes it more resistant to a blast than one supported on columns. Architects and the Clark Construction Group collaborated on a design-build program that brought the building to completion in 40 months, and it expects to secure LEED Platinum rating.

Few buildings achieve so much, so quickly, and SOM has made a significant contribution to the renaissance of Downtown L.A., which is still a work in progress. A park designed by OMA and Mia Lehrer + Associates will occupy the long-vacant block fronting City Hall, and a Frank Gehry–designed mixed-use complex, repeatedly delayed, may soon begin construction to the west across from Disney Concert Hall.

As SOM design partner Craig Hartman explained, “We began with the concept of a courthouse that had the appropriate scale and massing and strengthened the civic axis of First Street. The facades had to achieve transparency and clarity of expression, qualities that express what Americans hope to get from the justice system.”

To exploit the drop of 25 feet from Hill Street to Broadway, the building was raised so that—as Hartman noted—the topography flows under it and it stands apart, accessed by steps on three sides and by ramps that slice up through gardens to either side of the entry. Steel bollards provide an unobtrusive security perimeter. The downtown grid is 38 degrees off from a true north-south orientation, which complicated the architects’ task of protecting the facades from solar gain. Rather than rotate the building, they folded the glass. About 1,600 chevron-shaped units of high-performance, blast-resistant glass were craned into place, and nearly all of them have an inner baffle on the side that receives direct sunlight. That cuts solar gain by half, and a rooftop array of photovoltaic panels further reduces energy consumption. The elegance of the detailing at the corners and along the upper and lower edges is the product of intensive research by SOM, which constructed full-scale mock-ups and worked closely with curtain wall manufacturer Benson Industries.

The upper stories are cantilevered 28 feet over an entry plaza, shading people who are waiting to pass through the security barrier inside the glass doors. From there, they emerge into a soaring atrium with south-facing baffles that channel light down to all 10 levels, including the 24 courtrooms on floors five through ten. “The whole building is about light,” said José Luis Palacios, design director at SOM with Paul Danna. The courtrooms are lit from clerestories facing in and out to achieve a harmonious balance. United States Marshals deputies share the third floor with the holding area for the accused. The 32 judicial chambers occupy the periphery with sweeping views of the city. Artworks, including a multi-level work by Catherine Opie, enhance the minimalist interior.

The public has free access to the upper floors and to a tree-shaded patio in back, which is flanked by low, meticulously detailed glass wings. Jurors gather in one and a cafe occupies the other. Many cases are settled by mediation, even on the day scheduled for a trial, and there are breakout areas with comfortable seating on three upper levels to accommodate these encounters. Only a small amount of artificial light is required and this is provided by energy-efficient LEDs.

The architects’ main client was the General Services Administration, whose Design Excellence Program has done much to enhance the quality of federal architecture country-wide. But SOM also worked with a committee of judges, headed by Justice Margaret M. Morrow, who enunciated 10 guiding principles for the design of the courtrooms. “Decorum, fairness and equality are the essentials and those haven’t changed very much over the years,” explained Hartman. “But judges have different opinions on how to express those qualities and it’s surprising how much latitude there is in the layout. Judge and jury need to see the face of a witness, but where are they all to sit?”

To refine its design and win approval from the judges, SOM did a full-scale mock-up of their courtroom, which groups all the parties closely together. Sidewalls clad in ribbed gypsum reinforced plaster assure good acoustics, for audibility is the highest priority of all. A tilted ceiling diffuses the natural light, and every position—including the raised dais of the judge—is wheelchair accessible.

“America’s civic buildings offer a permanent record of our democracy’s values, challenges, and aspirations,” declared Hartman at the opening. Though the SOM courthouse is a demonstration of these ideals, the reality is that ever fewer Americans can afford a day in court, given the dizzying rise of legal costs. That’s the next big case for judges and legal associations to ponder.

This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your area and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.

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Rios Clementi Hale Studios uses nordic detailing for Habitat 6, a new L.A. “small-lot subdivision” development

Los Angeles–based architects Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH Studios), Riley Architects, and Integrated Development recently debuted Habitat 6, a collection of six new single-family homes in Los Angeles’s Los Feliz neighborhood.

The project is made possible by L.A.’s “small-lot subdivision” ordinance, a special land use maneuver instituted back in 2005 aimed at increasing the availability—and density—of single family housing across the city’s existing neighborhoods by allowing developers to subdivide existing lots into multiple properties to build collections of detached single-family residences. More controversially, the project is also the result of a protracted preservation struggle that resulted in the demolition of the Oswald Bartlett House, designed in 1914 by visionary Los Angeles architect Albert C. Martin. Applications for cultural monument status for the home were denied in 2014, paving the way for its demolition and replacement with RCH Studio’s units.

Bob Hale, partner at RCH Studios, described the difference between the design of a traditional single-family residence and a small-lot subdivision project: “The main issue here is that we have a single-family unit that’s part of a multi-family community, so engendering a sense of community in the overall project while maintaining sense of privacy for each of the units was one of the main objectives.”

As with most small-lot subdivision projects, Habitat 6’s site is organized around a central driveway used to access each unit’s two-car garage. In a nod to the normative tract house, each home features a small ground-floor yard. The homes range in size from 1,954 to 2,106 square feet and feature a flexible room on the ground floor, combined living room, kitchen, and dining areas along the second floor and two bedrooms, each with en-suite bathrooms, on the floor above.

Each home sits on a Douglas Fir wood-clad parking plinth, while the buildings’ exteriors are clad in expanses of white stucco interrupted by vertical bands of floor-to-ceiling punched picture windows. Some of these openings wrap the corners, while others are contained within wood-clad recessed and pop-out volumes. The units’ apertures are positioned such that neighboring homes do not face into one another. Inside, living room areas are designed with 10-foot ceiling heights (generous by Los Angeles standards), and feature clean, white walls accented with raw wood planks. Other interior finishes include marble countertops and backsplashes in the kitchen, and tile and board-formed concrete wall surfaces.

This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your area and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.

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BREAKING: Los Angeles chosen as new site for MAD Architects’ Lucas Museum

The Board of Directors for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts elected this afternoon to pursue Los Angeles as the latest site for their troubled museum proposal. The decision marks the third time the museum board has attempted to find a site for the $1 billion, MAD Architects-designed scheme. The firm's initial San Francisco proposal was rebuffed in 2015. The team made a try for a site in Chicago, only to scrap the plans in the face of fierce opposition to the project by a local community group known as Friends of The Park. Instead, Los Angeles's Exposition Park, home to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, California African American Museum, California Science Center, and the Museum of Natural History of Los Angeles County will now potentially host Lucas's namesake museum. The Los Angeles proposal was selected after the museum team made parallel pitches for a second site on San Francisco's Treasure Island and one in L.A.'s Exposition Park. The new museum, if built, will be located along the city’s Expo Line light rail line, within proximity of the forthcoming Gensler-designed Los Angeles Football Club soccer stadium, and would cap a park already brimming with global cultural and entertainment destinations. In announcing their decision, the Lucas Foundation's board of directors extolled the virtues of the urban park and its surrounding neighborhood, saying, "While each location offers many unique and wonderful attributes, South Los Angeles’s Promise Zone best positions the museum to have the greatest impact on the broader community, fulfilling our goal of inspiring, engaging and educating a broad and diverse visitorship." In an effort to preserve the green spaces of the park, the selected scheme will include public open space on its rooftop. Renderings for the proposal show the curvaceous museum located in a leafy, park setting topped with tufts of greenery. The museum also appears to gingerly touch the ground by coming down in a series of large, discrete piers. It's still unclear what sorts of developmental hurdles the museum will need to surpass prior to start construction, but the project clearly has a fan in L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti, who after learning of the decision, remarked to the Los Angeles Times, “It’s a natural place to have this museum in the creative capital of the world and in the geographic center of the city. It’s a banner day for L.A.” This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your area and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
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Four NFL teams swap stadiums on the West Coast

San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas National Football League (NFL) teams are playing a game of musical chairs, as a new generation of stadium-centered mega-developments attempt to lure established franchises to and from the West’s largest cities. NFL teams are notorious for holding their host cities hostage when it comes to demands over new stadium construction, and the current team swap going on across the region is no exception. Reuters reported earlier this year that when the Rams, formerly of Saint Louis, left the Gateway City for Los Angeles at the start of the 2016–2017 season, they also left behind a staggering $144 million debt resulting from the 1995 construction of the HOK Sport (now Populous)–designed Edward Jones Dome that the municipality must pay off on its own. All this for a structure used to host eight games during the normal football season. The Rams were lured back to Los Angeles in the same way they were lured away from it: with promises of a brand-new, state-of-the-art sports temple. In the most recent case, however, the altar in question will be entirely privately funded by Rams owner Stan Kroenke who is a billionaire. It will also be smack dab in the middle of the new City of Champions mega-development, a 238-acre neighborhood being built atop the site of the former Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood. Overall, the City of Champions project is due to cost $2.5 billion and will include 3,000 housing units, 620,000 square feet of commercial space, as well as a new casino and hotel. The stadium component, designed by global architecture firm HKS, features a sail-like, triangular ETFE super-roof supported by thick columns that caps the stadium and also shelters a large, outdoor “champions plaza” to be used as a communal gathering spot for spectators. The 80,000-seat stadium will be able to hold up to 100,000 fans for concerts and is being designed to accommodate two football teams. Simultaneously, Kansas City–based MANICA Architecture had proposed a competing stadium for the nearby city of Carson, California, in an attempt to lure the Rams and, potentially, the San Diego Chargers to a new stadium there. After the HKS proposal for the Rams became a reality, MANICA’s proposal resurfaced in Las Vegas as a potential new home for the Oakland Raiders, a team that itself went from Oakland to Los Angeles and then back again during the late 1980s and early 1990s over unmet stadium-upgrade demands. MANICA recycled its nearly $2 billion Carson proposal for Sin City, trading in an open-air proposal for an air-conditioned scheme featuring a retractable roof. The project was approved in November of this year after much political wrangling that included raising special taxes to fund the stadium’s construction and a $650 million cash infusion from billionaire Sheldon Adelson. While the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas has not been finalized, the team’s current bout with wanderlust began after a deal to share the recently completed, $1.2 billion HNTB-designed Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, fell through. That stadium was designed to accommodate two teams, hold between 68,500 and 70,000 spectators during sporting events, and be the first ground-up LEED Gold–certified NFL stadium in the country. In December, officials in the Bay Area announced yet another plan to try and keep the Raiders in Oakland by putting forth the plans for a new $1.25 billion, 55,000-seat football stadium to replace the existing OaklandAlameda Coliseum. The last time the Oakland Coliseum received major upgrades was back in 1995 when a $25.5 million renovation brought luxury suites to the stadium. The new plans include space for a new Oakland A’s baseball team ballpark, while also including a sizeable commercial component, and even a “Grand Central Station-like” transit connection to the regional Bay Area Rapid Transit system to connect the new sports complex with the metropolitan region. Although the Raiders are working toward moving to Las Vegas, and the Rams are settling into their new home in Los Angeles awaiting the 2019 completion of the City of Champions complex, the future of the San Diego Chargers remains in doubt, as well. A ballot initiative in support of their newly proposed stadium was a casualty of this year’s November elections, paving the way for the Chargers to potentially take up residence in Los Angeles if they can’t figure out a new approach. That ballot initiative would have raised area hotel tax rates to help fund a new stadium. Both teams have until January 15th to vet bids from their respective cities before they can begin to formally consider other offers. Either way, things don’t look great for the prospects of either team to stay in their respective cities. The Los Angeles Times recently quoted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as saying,“We have not made great progress in Oakland and San Diego. There is not a stadium proposal on the table that we think addresses the long-term issues of the clubs and the communities. So we need to continue to work at it.”
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L.A.’s Purple Line subway extension receives in $1.6B federal funding

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was in Los Angeles this week to commemorate the announcement of $1.6 billion in federal funding toward the extension of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (LAMTA) Purple Line subway route.

The existing Purple Line opened in 1993 and begins in Downtown Los Angeles’s Union Station, sharing track with the system’s Red Line along most of its length. The route separates from the Red Line in the MacArthur Park neighborhood and currently terminates as a two-stop spur along the city’s Wilshire Boulevard corridor. Eventually, the Purple Line is expected to reach the oceanside community of Santa Monica and is being built in a piecemeal effort to achieve that goal.

The first, 3.9-mile long extension from the current terminus at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue to La Cienega Boulevard is currently under construction and is expected to open for service in 2023.

The second phase of expansion will run from La Cienega Boulevard to Century City, roughly two-thirds of the way between Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

The new round of funding announced by Foxx includes a $1.187 Federal Transit Administration Capital Investment Grant, a $307 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan, and a $169 million grant from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program. The remaining $747 million in funding for the $2.41 billion expansion will come from Measure R funds, a voter-approved transportation sales tax increase passed in 2008. Construction on the phase two extension is expected to begin in 2018 and will be completed by 2026. There is a possibility that construction on the extension could be sped up so the line would be operational for the 2024 Olympic games, should the city be selected as that year’s host.

Phase three of the extension will move the end of the line 2.6-miles further west to the upscale Westwood neighborhood and the nearby Veterans Administration Hospital (VA) complex. Plans for extensions beyond the VA campus have not been announced. 

The current round of funding was bolstered by the passage of Measure M this November, which entails an additional county-wide tax increase to fund transportation infrastructure projects across the region in perpetuity. According to government officials, the guarantee of these future funds compelled the Transportation department to move forward with the latest round of grants and loans.

The new transit line has the potential to reshape the city’s Westside neighborhoods and could usher in a new era of dense, transit-oriented development along Wilshire Boulevard. Anticipation for the future line is building, as a similar transformation has already begun to occur along the system’s recently-opened Expo Line that runs several miles to the south along a parallel trajectory.

Already, several high-rise housing projects have been announced along the eastern portions of the Wilshire corridor, including a 15-story residential luxury tower designed by Steinberg Architects in the Mid-Wilshire area and a Pei Cobb Freed & Partners-designed addition to Minoru Yamasaki’s Century Plaza Hotel in Century City.

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Three huge LED public art installations planned for downtown L.A.

Over the last few years, the areas around L.A. Live and the nearby Los Angeles Convention Center in Downtown Los Angeles’s South Park neighborhood have been undergoing a development boom, with mid- to high-end condominium and apartment complexes sprouting up at a steady clip. However, a new crop of projects currently either under construction or in the entitlement stages of development—dubbed Metropolis, 1020 Figueroa, Circa, and Oceanwide Plaza by developers—signal an infusion of upscale amenities headed for the area, all connected to the financial core and the rest of the city by a growing transit system, including the Long Beach–bound Blue Line and Santa Monica–bound Expo Line.

Three of the four projects mentioned above—1020 Figueroa, Circa, and Oceanwide Plaza—are to be located on the blocks directly across the street from the StaplesCenter, with the Metropolis development located a block northwest. Through their sheer density and size, they will bring a sorely missing street culture to an area that is roaring back to life.

But what will greet those pedestrians when they step off the trains and onto the streets? Walls of LED screens.

That’s because each project features large expanses of LED ribbon walls wrapping street-level commercial and leisure programs. And, to varying degrees, these ribbon walls are being programmed with art content in an effort to bring a new form of artistic expression to the street.

The Metropolis project, consisting of a multiphase, multi-tower hotel and apartment complex on a 6.33-acre site, is currently under construction, with the first phase of the project due to finish at the end of 2016. Eventually, the $1 billion-plus development will consist of four towers: Tower I will be 38 stories tall and contain 308 condominiums; Tower II will be 18 stories tall and contain a 350-room hotel; Tower III will be 40 stories tall and contain 514 condominiums; and Tower IV will be 56 stories tall and contain 736 condominiums. This project, designed by Gensler, is much further along in the construction process than the others and, as such, its arts program is starting to come into sharper focus.

The Metropolis project, like the others mentioned here, is subject to Section 22.118 of the City of Los Angeles Administrative Code, “Arts Development Fee Credits” (ADF) provision that requires commercial projects valued at $500,000 or more to pay a fee either based on the square footage of the building or equal to one percent of the project’s Department of Building and Safety permit valuation—whichever is lower—into a fund used to increase access to public art citywide. The ADF fund is administered by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, an arm of the city government that maintains a trust fund organized by project address to be used to fund arts initiatives at required sites, as necessary. This “one percent for the arts” approach is common in many California municipalities and is being stretched by this collection of projects to incorporate potentially new definitions of what public art might be in the city.

For Metropolis, arts consultants Isenberg & Associates partnered with project management firm DG Hunt & Associates to find suitable artists for the project. After a lengthy selection process, a team made up of digital media artists Refik Anadol and Susan Narduli was selected for the project. Their work Convergence, a 100- by 20-foot LED wall installation, will be unveiled in January of 2017 as construction on phase one wraps up, creating, the developers hope, an opportunity to introduce the project to the city and local community. Anadol and Narduli describe Convergence as “a generative construct fuelled by data and informed by aesthetics,” a synergy of Anadol’s digitally focused art practice and Narduli’s narrative-infused artwork. The duo wants the artwork—located in a plaza facing Francisco Street on the site’s eastern edge—to “create a lively public space by giving urban activities a new experiential dimension.” They plan to do this by fusing the “real-time demographic, astronomical, oceanographic, tectonic, and climate data streams, as well as social media posts, traffic, and news feeds into a constantly shifting cinematic narrative of Los Angeles.” The project was developed hand-in-hand with the architects as part of the overall design process, and is being deployed as an integrated architectural component of Metropolis.

According to the team’s statement, “Convergence explores new ways of storytelling through an intelligent platform that both expresses and responds to the spirit of the city in a seamless fusion of digital content, public space, and urban life.” The work will be available in situ for pedestrians to experience as part of the new sports and entertainment promenade the developers behind Metropolis hope to extend from L.A. Live to the upper reaches of the financial district. It will be available online, as well as via a mobile-device-friendly website accompanied by real-time audio. Experiencing the work in person will generate changes to the physical manifestation of the art, as the attendant data resulting from proximity, interaction, and occupation become woven into a living digital display.

It’s unclear what pedestrians can expect from the arts programs developed for the other three projects, but if Anadol and Narduli’s Convergence is a guide, expect more lights, more data, and perhaps most importantly, a closer relationship among architecture, digital art, and the public realm.

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Bureau Spectacular–designed Frankie debuts in L.A. Arts District

Los Angeles–based Bureau Spectacular recently debuted a 2,000-square-foot flagship store for Frankie, a high-end fashion house. The shop, located in L.A.’s Arts District, is a spare box with polished floors and exposed brick walls framing what the firm calls a “super furniture” piece. The exterior is covered in black and white graphics that riff on the early 20th-century structure’s industrial detailing, with framed, jack-arched windows and various downspouts and roll-up doors along the facade painted with diagonal black bands—streaks of extreme shadow.

Inside, Bureau Spectacular designed an assembly of functional volumes that can be brought together into one 28-by-10-foot staircase. The firm’s founder Jimenez Lai considers the staircase to be the latest in the firm’s “super furniture” line of works, with the constituent components of the sculptural stair containing clothing racks, dressing rooms, storage bins, and display shelves. Lai described the work as an exploration of composition and part-to-whole relationships, with the interplay between those two aspects of the design being rather literal.

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L.A.’s Playa Vista is becoming “Silicon Beach” and plays host to top architecture firms

The Playa Vista neighborhood on Los Angeles’s west side is quickly becoming Southern California’s answer to Silicon Valley, as it plays host to a growing contingent of technology-focused companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, and WeWork. And as capital, brainpower, and new residents flow into the area, so too have big-name architecture firms with high-minded designs.

The Playa Vista tract was originally owned by airline mogul Howard Hughes, who used the ocean-adjacent expanse as the manufacturing facility and airstrip where he built his famous Hercules (Spruce Goose) airplane. President Bill Clinton designated the 1.3-square-mile area as one of six national pilot projects of the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing in 1998, and the property began its redevelopment as a mixed-use neighborhood in 2002. In the years since, the 460-acre area, partially master-planned by Los Angeles–based Moule & Polyzoides, has seen its population boom to over 10,000 residents. In recent years, the area has gained the moniker “Silicon Beach,” as technology companies originally based in the nearby communities of Venice and Santa Monica have outgrown their initial outposts, expanding the technology industry’s footprint southward.

Last year, Google signed on to lease 319,000 square feet of space in the Hercules Campus, a complex redeveloped by Brenda Levin and Associates and EPT Design for the Ratkovich Company, including the 200- by 700-foot Hercules building in which Spruce Goose was designed. The team restored the building, adding pedestrian-oriented amenities to the complex while also converting the historic structure into a series of soundstages and tech-friendly offices.

Michael Maltzan Architecture, which designed the eight-acre Playa Vista Central Park in 2010 with Office of James Burnett (OJB), is adding a new 425,300 square foot office complex called The Brickyard. The Brickyard is also beind developed with OJB. The new complex, currently under construction, will feature partially-sunken landscaped parking areas that aim to extend the park outward into the office zones. The office structures, articulated as a maze of stacked, shifted, and offset volumes, are made up of two principal masses: one long office block that bends at two elbows in order to frame the aforementioned parking deck and a singular, six-story office tower. Both buildings feature punched openings as well as a variety of delicately-articulated access points that connect the parking and ground-level areas with what’s above. The complex will include a 9,000-square-foot daycare facility and will help fulfill Playa Vista’s goal of becoming a full-service neighborhood.

Gensler has also been busy at Playa Vista, undertaking the architectural repositioning of four existing office spaces in its Playa Jefferson complex. Vantage Property Investors has announced a tech-focused project dubbed “Building E,” which will encompass another large office structure designed for creative collaboration. The structure, undertaken with 360 Construction Group and AHBE Landscape Architects, will bring 200,000 square feet of open plan creative office space to the district, with large expanses of glass, terraced floor plates, and a cantilevered anchor office space. Li Wen, design director and principal at Gensler, detailed several key aspects of the design, including “side-core configurations that allow open floorplates, direct access to and abundance of private outdoor space, operable windows, sawtooth skylights, thinner floorplates for natural ventilation and deep penetration of natural light, and flat slab construction that provides for 13-foot ceiling heights.” The ocean-oriented project is located adjacent to the “lifestyle amenity-rich” Runway at Playa Vista Apartments by Johnson Fain.

Last but not least, Shimoda Design Group and OJB completed work in 2015 on The Collective, a 200,150-square-foot, LEED Gold office park complex designed for Tishman Speyer that features five two-story buildings clad in distinctive, tilt-up concrete panels (seen at the top of the article). These panels, interspersed with expanses of glass, are topped by zigzagging, metal-clad roofs. The campus connects the humdrum of office life directly to the adjacent outdoor areas via a series of landscaped paths, bringing in the sensitive Ballona and Bluff Creek wetlands that run alongside Playa Vista’s northern and southern edges. With new lease agreements being signed almost by the day and the careful, meticulous process of filling in the district’s vacant parcels fully underway, Playa Vista looks more and more like a sure bet for L.A.’s growing roster of creative offices spaces.

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Peek inside the new restaurant and cocktail bar almost 1,000 feet above L.A.

With the recent completion of a Gensler-led renovation to the building’s lobby and uppermost floors, the addition of a terrifying glass slide by M. Ludvik Engineering, and the opening of 71Above, a smart restaurant and cocktail bar designed by Los Angeles–based Tag Front, L.A. suddenly has reason to reconsider what might be one of the city’s most easily overlooked landmarks: the U.S. Bank Tower.

The 1,018-foot stepped skyscraper at the heart of the city’s central business district was built in 1989 and designed by Henry N. Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Its 73 stories culminate in a flat-topped, multilevel penthouse suite formerly occupied by a boardroom. In recent years, the tower has struggled with high vacancy rates and the dramatic renovation comes as the building’s new owners, Overseas Union Enterprise Limited (OUE) aims to reinstate the building in the public’s mind.

Central to that effort is the Tag Front–led design for 71Above, located in the uppermost floor of that ex-board room. The overhaul has transformed a prototypical office building into a contemporary and noteworthy spot and modernized the spiky, crenelated cap sitting atop what is now—with the recent topping-out of the Wilshire Grand tower—L.A.’s second-tallest building. As a result, 71Above has been added to the city’s collection of remarkable spaces; there all can enjoy the tower’s panoramic views.

Tag Front described the project’s guiding principles as encompassing “the existing nature of the building, [the space’s] footprint, and the client’s desire for the dining and lounge areas to wrap around the entire building.” The space features wraparound atmospheric vistas thanks to special high-tech glass developed by SageGlass that very slightly changes opacity as the sun moves across the sky, minimizing heat and glare within the space and removing the need for view-blocking draperies.

The self-shading windows are framed by expanses of thin wood-panel piers suspended from the facade. These piers lurch forward at the molding line, pivot out over the dining room, and accentuate each aperture. In some areas, the panels conceal collapsible partitions that can be pulled out to make private dining rooms. Along a central area, the same wood paneling is used to frame the restaurant’s wine collection.

The ceiling spanning between these two areas, however, is a testament to the union of geometric articulation and functionality. Here, Tag Front installed a ceiling configuration, developed by architectural-products manufacturer Arktura specifically for the project, that consists of a hexagonally shaped grid of woven baffles made of recycled plastic that dampen sound. This arrangement complements the city stretching out just over the precipice, mimicking what, from nearly a thousand feet above, looks like an orderly, gridded urban expanse.

According to Tag Front, the design team focused on the spatial and acoustical qualities of the ceiling from the beginning of the project. “After going through five or six different types of solutions and modeling each one [using 3-D software], we finally decided on the hexagonal, cellular baffle ceiling,” Tag Front explained. “We felt that due to its nature, the hexagonal cells were able to adapt to the complex, circular, and faceted geometries of the building in a much more interesting way, filling most of the space with their detailed, ornate nature and at the same time leaving strategic voids where the hexagonal brass chandeliers were suspended below them.”

Tag Front explained that Arktura had been experimenting with repeated acoustical baffle modules suspended from thin-gauge wire to create a flexible, unobtrusive, and highly functional ceiling made of recycled materials. “We came across a miniature mock-up version of one and pushed them and the client to make it into an oversize version and a suspension system that also allowed the cells to move up and down vertically along with the cellular horizontal movement,” the architects said. “Everything evolved from that moment.”

In the end, the team of designers, fabricators, and carpenters came together to create a space that is relatively novel for the city: one of the few observation-deck-level restaurants not perched on a mountainside.

Resources

Structural Engineering Services Nabih Youssef Associates

Ceiling Assembly Arktura

Glasswork

Altered Glass (213) 327-2016

Exterior Windows SageGlass