Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":

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L.A. at an affordability crossroads: Talking with housing activists Abundant Housing LA

A staggering 68.8% of Los Angeles voters in this week’s election pulled the lever against the anti-development initiative Measure S. Following the election—which, problematically, had a historically low turnout rate of 11.45%—there has been much debate within the anti-Measure S camp regarding what, if any, takeaways are to be had from the results. Taken together with this week’s passage of Measure H (an initiative focused on raising sales tax to fund housing assistance and development for formerly homeless individuals) and the passage of the transit-friendly Measure M and Measure HHH (a municipal bond-funded proposal to build 10,000 new supportive housing units, passed last November), the defeat of Measure S might suggest an electorate doubling down on a vision for a dense, equitable, and urban Los Angeles. The elephant in the room is that Los Angeles is one of the most unaffordable major cities in the world, an issue that has come to the forefront of civic discourse there as rents have increased year over year to the detriment of many deeply-rooted communities. The pro-Measure S side argued to some success that systematic corruption in the development community was fueling the production of luxury units. Those new luxury developments, Measure S proponents argued, were being pursued at the expense of rent-controlled housing in L.A.’s core communities. The “no” camp fought back by arguing that passage of Measure S would depress housing production so much that rents would grow worse still. In the end, the opposing argument—that the best way to keep rents from going any higher was to not hinder the development of more units—won out. Central in the efforts to fight Measure S was the relatively new group, Abundant Housing LA, a local collective of pro-housing advocates dedicated to building more housing of all types in the Los Angeles area. The self-described Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) group fought Measure S the old fashioned way: phone banking, canvassing, and online activism, all to much success. The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) caught up with Mark Vallianatos, communications director for Abundant Housing to discuss the election results and what Los Angeles can make of the recent election results. AN: Now that Measure S has been defeated, what are some ways Abundant Housing LA plans to harness the growing momentum for a denser, transit-oriented Los Angeles? Abundant Housing LA was formed to advocate for more housing of all types (affordable, market rate, permanent supportive, co-ops, etc). We support good projects and better policies and have grown rapidly, showing that there was a pent-up demand for an active YIMBY group in L.A. Measure S forced us to switch gears. We focused on campaigning against it because it threatened to hurt Angelenos by raising rents even higher and by forcing more people, especially the working poor and younger residents, to leave L.A. We are now excited to get back to our positive agenda of advancing housing. We will continue to support good developments that expand the number of homes in the city without displacing residents. And we hope to expand advocacy for better plans and policies. We are already engaged on a few transit and community plan updates, and will try to do more if the city follows through on accelerating community plans. We need these new plans to reverse the downzoning that has led to low vacancy rates and high housing costs. This is a tough sell, not just due to local opposition, but because planners are wary of adding more capacity than required to meet projected population growth. We also want to improve and simplify planning and entitlement processes so it is easier to construct housing in the region. AN: Ballot box Planning initiatives like Measure S have a long and problematic history in California and in Los Angeles, particularly. Is it time to revisit some of our legacy initiatives like Proposition U? Yes, we see upzoning of commercial corridors as key to allowing more space for housing without removing older rent stabilized apartments. We also want to figure out how to allow more new housing in existing residential areas. This requires a balance of preservation and allowing ‘missing middle’ housing types, so that not all new units have to fit into commercial and industrial sites. AN: There has been lots of debate recently regarding Los Angeles's lack of affordable housing, including potential measures to fund its development by taxing the construction of market-rate units. Where does Abundant Housing stand in this debate? We strongly support identifying more local funding for the construction and preservation of deeded affordable housing. We supported City of L.A. Measure HHH, for example. We are on record opposing the proposed linkage fee because it taxes the construction of housing to pay for housing. We proposed that the City identify alternative sources of funds such as a parcel tax that are A) more board based and B) do not discourage new housing. Fees on parking and/or real estate recording may also be good sources of money that do not put the burden on home construction. AN: What role (if any) is Abundant Housing LA playing with regards to housing development affiliated with the expansion of the transit system? We have begun advocating on the City of L.A.’s new transit neighborhood plans as well as Community Plans in areas with expanding transit. Our initial advocacy focuses on the Expo Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan and DTLA 2040. We also plan to advocate around the transit neighborhood plans being developed for the purple and orange lines. For each of these plans, we encourage the city to significantly upzone to take advantage of the once in a lifetime opportunity of the re-establishment of rail transit in L.A. County. We also encourage density bonuses to incentivize affordable units. AN: What role can architects play in Abundant Housing LA's mission? We welcome L.A. area architects as members and/or as resources on urban design. Most of our advocacy to date has been in the City of L.A., and we have aspirations to do more in other cities in L.A. County. We rely on members to be local advocates in their neighborhood or city. In addition to encouraging more housing, we are also interested in allowing and encouraging more types and scales of development, as well as innovative construction methods, in order to expand housing choice, reflect the diversity of the region, and encourage good urban form. We would welcome architects’ expertise on housing typologies, planning and building codes, and other insights on how L.A. can add housing, enhance quality of life, adapt to climate change, and support civic culture. As a relatively new volunteer organization, we get work done by empowering members to take the lead on projects that they are passionate about. We would welcome architects’ expertise. For more on Abundant Housing LA, see their website.
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The new L.A. Rams stadium will be breathable beyond belief

There are a few holes in HKS's stadium design for the Los Angeles Rams. In fact, there are 20 million. By numbers HKS has gone big: The $2.66 billion, 70,000-seater-stadium will use more than 36,000 panels of which will have 20 million perforations punched into them.

Dallas-based HKS prescribed an aluminum and ETFE skin to create a triangular facade-cum-canopy over and around the playing field where the Los Angeles Rams are set to play. Triangular panels form the structure too. Made from aluminum, the metal portion of the skin responds to the variable SoCal climate without the need for a HVAC system. Additionally, an ETFE ellipse, located in the center of the roof bathes the playing field in diffuse daylight. The desired effect, HKS said, is to create the impression of being outside.

A Design Assist project with facade fabricator Zahner Metals, HKS used their research and development arm, HKS LINE (the latter acronym stands for "Laboratory for INtensive Exploration") to aid the development of the stadium's skin. James Warton, a computational designer at HKS, spoke to The Architect's Newspaper, about the process used to conceive the facade.

Warton explained that the holes inside the in the triangular panels form an image on the facade, which can be seen properly when approaching the stadium from afar. Due to fabrication logistics and schedule, "only" 20 million perforations could be made with a required minimum distance of half-an-inch between each one. To get around this, though, eight different hole sizes were used to allow perforations to fall neatly in line with the panel's edge as well as enhance the facade's pattern.

To do this, a strategy using, Grasshopper, Rhino, C++ and Visual Studio was conceived which let HKS LINE determine perforation density and mapping. "Perforation sizes corresponding to grayscale values within the source image are also mapped onto the panel," said Warton. "We had to think of a system that would enable us to see every bit of information about every tile. This information is translated into text that can be used to make the panel."

The stadium, when completed in 2019, will be the world’s most expensive. James Warton will be speaking at the next Facades+ conference in New York April 6+7. There he and other members of HKS will discuss the Los Angeles Rams stadium and its facade in further detail. Seating is limited. To register, go to facadesplus.com

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Los Angeles completes purchase of 42-acre L.A. River-adjacent parcel

The City of Los Angeles recently closed escrow the G2 parcel, a 42-acre strip of land adjacent to the Los Angeles River that will be revitalized as a publicly accessible nature preserve and flood control area as part of the L.A. River’s long-term restoration. The parcel represents the last sizable holding leftover from the 250-acre Taylor Yard site along the river’s eastern banks adjacent to the Cypress Park neighborhood and across from the bustling Frogtown neighborhood. Taylor Yard, a large, river-adjacent industrial lot formerly owned by the Union Pacific Railroad, has been systematically disassembled over the years. Those other portions of Taylor Yard have been turned into the Rio de Los Angeles State Park, the Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies, and the Taylor Yard Transit Village. Acquisition of the G2 parcel allows the city to connect two adjacent, State-owned parks: the Rio de Los Angeles State Park and the Bowtie parcel. This will create, once the G2 Parcel’s revitalization is complete, a roughly mile-long riverfront access frontage for the surrounding community. In a press release celebrating the G2 Parcel’s acquisition, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “We’ve always considered G2 to be the crown jewel in our vision to revitalize the L.A. River, and that’s why I have been committed to fighting for the resources to finally return this land to the people of Los Angeles and the wildlife that call it home.” The parcel marks a key step forward for the complex and contentious L.A. River restoration projects that aim to revitalize the concrete-lined flood control channel. It was announced last year that Mia Lehrer and Associates, Oyler Wu Collaborative, and Gruen and Associates would extend the river-adjacent bike path that runs along the banks opposite from the G2 Parcel into the San Fernando Valley. That project would add about 12 miles of riverfront bike paths and further the city’s goal of developing bicycle trails along the river’s entire 51-mile length. Gehry Partners has also been working on a master plan for the river since 2016. Gehry’s planning efforts are being pursued in tandem with the city’s adopted Alternative 20 plan, a proposal that calls for the restoration of an 11-mile stretch of the river north of Downtown Los Angeles. The Alternate 20 plan relies on stitching together a series of river-adjacent plots—including the G2 Parcel and Piggyback Yard in Downtown Los Angeles—in tandem with the restoration of the river channel itself. Next steps for the restoration of the G2 Parcel include site remediation in coordination with the State’s Department of Toxic Substances Control as well as planning efforts aimed at making the site more accessible to the public.
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Corgan and Gensler adding new international concourse at LAX

Architecture firms Corgan and Gensler, along with operator Los Angeles World Airports, broke ground yesterday on a new, 12 gate, $1.6 billion concourse expansion aimed at boosting the super-jumbo airplane handling capabilities at Los Angeles International Airport’s (LAX) Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT). The project, known at the Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC) will connect to the existing and recently-expanded TBIT via a pair of underground tunnels, complete with three sets of moving sidewalks. One of the tunnels will be used by passengers exclusively while the second will be utilized by the airport for operational services. Once traveling through the tunnel, passengers will emerge inside the new terminal, where the new gates—two of which are specially designed to accommodate the next generation Airbus 380 super jumbo and Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental jets—await. The expansion will include 50,000 square feet of gateway space, including 44,000 square feet of “L.A.-centric dining and shopping options,” according to a press release issued by Gensler. The new concourse will also feature 60,000 square feet of airline lounges, two nursing rooms, a service animal relief area, and children’s play areas that will be integrated into the spaces surrounding the boarding gates. In addition to the leisure and waiting areas described above, the expansion includes the 85,000-square-foot Baggage Optimization Project that will add a new baggage handling facility to the airport. The new facility will include an 11,000-square-foot tunnel to along the north side of the structure as well as a 45,000 square foot tunnel along the eastern edge that will connect to the airport’s baggage conveyance systems. The new concourse is designed to mimic the wave-inspired geometries of TBIT and features a linear collection of curved roof structures studded with clerestory lights. The spaces within the new concourse are designed to maximize daylighting as well as ease of movement through the waiting and leisure areas, with a special emphasis on maintaining sightlines between these spaces and the departure gates. GKKWorks will act as associate architect on the project. The project is expected to be operational by 2019 and fully completed by 2020.
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Los Angeles wants to make developers pay for affordable housing

The Los Angeles City Council is set to consider the Affordable Housing Linkage Fee (AHLF), a new ordinance that would tax certain types of new residential and commercial construction across the city in order to fund a generation of new, deed-restricted affordable housing units as well as refurbish existing affordable housing stock. The plan—approved Thursday with a few tweaks by the City Planning Commission and now headed toward consideration of the full City Council—proposes to levy a linkage fee of $5.00 per square foot of new office, hotel, retail, and warehouse projects as well as a $12.00 per square foot fee on new residential construction. The fee would be administered by the City of Los Angeles and is expected to generate between $75 million to $92 million in funds each year earmarked toward the construction of new affordable housing units. The new levy represents the culmination of years of planning study aimed at alleviating the region's crippling housing crisis. It is thought that the Los Angeles region is deficient by nearly 500,000 housing units, a situation that has resulted in staggering rent increases over the last few years. To boot, the city has been gradually down-zoned to the detriment of housing production and has, for the last several decades, produced far fewer market-rate units than necessary to meet population growth. The result? Tightened supply and higher rents for everyone. A recent study by Adobo lists Los Angeles as having the fourth highest percentage of renters in the country; Los Angeles is also the largest city by far among the lists' top ten. Furthermore, a 2016 study by New York University’s Furman Center and CapitalOne found that nearly 60 percent of renting Angelenos pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent. Additionally, a whopping 33 percent of the overall total pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing.   The dearth in new market-rate units has put pressure on low-income and working class communities across the region. As high earners have been locked out of traditionally upscale and professional class areas, they have begun to scour working class neighborhoods for rental and ownership opportunities. And though few would argue that the city needs to produce fewer affordable housing units, there is fierce debate regarding whether taxing housing production is the right step to take considering the facts above. In a strongly-worded letter presented to the City Planning Commission, a group of academics and activists decried the linkage fee’s potentially depressing effects on market-rate housing production, saying, “The Nexus Study’s highly optimistic analysis projects enough revenues to create approximately 450 affordable units, though if L.A.’s analysis mirrors Oakland’s, there will be a greater number of market‐rate units lost—potentially 1.5‐2X the low‐income production. If these affordable production numbers are correct—and we question their accuracy, noting that no other city’s program has produced nearly this many units (San Francisco’s, for example, has produced only 89 per year)—then for every 450 low‐income units produced, up to 900 low‐income families will ultimately be displaced. How can public policy support such an outcome?” According to the authors of the letter, economically disadvantaged individuals and families across Los Angeles disproportionately live in market-rate housing. The authors argue that while the linkage fee would indeed facilitate the creation of new affordable units, the number of potential market-rate units it would preclude from being built—a figure that will not be tracked by the city and would be very difficult to discern in the first place—outweighs the benefit of the relatively few affordable units due to be created by the fee. The proposed fee is headed to the City Council and, if approved, would be implemented in later this year.
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Los Angeles Conservancy announces 2017 preservation awards

The Los Angeles Conservancy has selected eight recipients for the organization’s 2017 Preservation Awards. The annual designations, which celebrate “outstanding achievement in the field of historic preservation,” are culled from across Los Angeles County and include physical structures as well as organizations and preservation-minded programs. This year’s Chairman’s Award was given to SurveyLA: The Los Angeles Historic Resources Survey, a program launched by the City of Los Angeles, Department of City Planning and the J. Paul Getty Trust. It aims to survey the entirety of the City of Los Angeles’s historic heritage. The entities behind the program developed a special app that allows surveyors to digitally record survey information and photograph properties and artifacts through the use of a tablet. The survey examined over 800,000 land parcels and 500 square miles of land; the effort represents the largest survey of its kind ever completed by an American city. The survey, structured in correspondence with the city’s 35 Community Plan Areas, seeks to embed preservation awareness with the city’s planning apparatus. The LA Conservancy also made several project-based recognitions, including the recently completed redevelopment and expansion of the CBS Columbia Square complex by House & Robertson Architects, Inc. and Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH Studios). The Historic Resources Group served as preservation architect and consultant on the project, which sought to restore what was once the West Coast headquarters for radio and television broadcaster CBS. The restoration of the existing office, commercial, and broadcast structures will be supplemented by a large mixed-use addition located at the back of the site. CBS Columbia Square was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 2009 and it is currently eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (though it has not yet been listed). A Cultural Landscape Report for the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, prepared by the arboretum, was also awarded project-based recognition. The report details an extensive survey and planning mechanism for the long-term maintenance and restoration of the complex which contains important works of architecture from the early 1900s and midcentury modern eras as well as ecologically- and culturally-important landscapes. The restoration of the Kinross Cornerstone building in Westwood was also recognized. The project was originally built in 1930 by noted architect Stiles O. Clements—who also designed the Wiltern building in Los Angeles—in the Spanish Revival Style. However, it suffered incompatible alterations in the 1960s and 1970s. The building also underwent a heavy-handed seismic retrofit in the 1990s. Architects Nadel, Inc. has performed a thorough restoration of the property. Frederick Fisher and Partners’ restoration of Glendale’s Grand Central Air Terminal—Los Angeles’s first commercial airport—received an award for its meticulous attention to detail. The project entailed converting certain existing portions of the complex into an events and business center as well as creating a new visitors center to educate the public on the site’s historic significance.   The Preservation Resource Center at the Shotgun House in Santa Monica was recognized for its dogged perseverance. The building, after having been relocated three times and being threatened with demolition, is Santa Monica’s only intact shotgun house and has been repurposed as the headquarters for the Santa Monica Conservancy. The conservancy also recognized the Los Angeles Public Library’s Valley Times Photograph Collection, a digitized archive of midcentury era photographs of the San Fernando Valley originally kept by The Valley Times newspaper, which ran in print from 1946 to 1970. Lastly, the Conservancy recognized the View Park Historic District National Register Nomination in South Los Angeles, one of the largest National Register historic districts in California, the largest district in the country relating to the history of African Americans, and home to the County’s first local landmark.   The awards will be presented at a luncheon on Wednesday, May 3 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
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New details revealed for Herzog & de Meuron’s $2 billion development in L.A.

Those holding their breath in anticipation of seeing Herzog & de Meuron’s 6AM project—developed by Irvine, California–based developer SunCal and located in Los Angeles’s booming Arts District neighborhood—anytime soon are in for a long wait. Why? Because according to a preliminary report filed with the Los Angeles City Planning Department (LACPD), the $2 billion development is not expected to be completed until 2035. As reported by Urbanize.LA, the multi-phase project (the firm’s first in Los Angeles) is due to ultimately contain, among other components, a pair of articulated, 58-story housing towers. The project’s initial environmental report indicates that 6AM will function like a small-scale city, complete with a large grocery store, arts spaces, offices, a school, and other diversely-programed amenities, all developed, according to the document, in “a range of building types and heights that are based on the existing building typologies” and crafted from “rough, ‘authentic’ and typical industrial construction materials.” The 2,824,245-square foot complex will ultimately contain a total of 1,305 apartments, 412 hotel rooms, 431 condominium units, 253,514-square-feet of office space, an approximately 29,316-square-foot school, approximately 127,609 square feet of community-serving retail, and 22,429 square feet of art space. The project will be organized as a porous, mid-rise, mixed-use district on the ground floor, with the arts programs, school, commercial areas, offices and live/work lofts organized in a set of gridded blocks topped by a 40-foot-tall concrete platform. The four-story-tall platform—articulated in renderings that accompany the report by square-shaped, exposed concrete piers—will act as a tabletop for a second layer of program to be located directly above, mainly apartments. Generally speaking, those apartments are to be organized along five of the six linear bands that run from north to south along the short dimension of the 15-acre site. The band closest to the Alameda Street-fronting towers will contain office spaces throughout. The apartment blocks will contain a mix of unit sizes, with a section along Mill Street dedicated to hotel uses. The apartments, like the two towers at the opposite end of the site along Alameda, will look down on the ground floor areas via a series of openings designed into the concrete tabletop structure. Those towers, made up of a bundled set or square floor plates arranged at staggered heights, will rise along Alameda Street beside a potential light rail line to be built to Artesia in southeast Los Angeles. The lowest section of the northern tower is also being designed to contain a hotel.
  • Building 1, located at the corner of 6th and Mill Street will contain a 152-room hotel and 22,429 square feet of arts programming. The 118-foot-tall structure will contain a hotel-focused “amenity deck” along the eighth floor. This building will also contain an undisclosed number of apartment units.
  • Building 2, also 118 feet tall, will contain 245 condominiums atop the platform and approximately 41,852 square feet of retail along the lower levels. It is anticipated that this block will contain the site’s aforementioned grocery store in the lower shopping area, as well as restaurants and live/work units. This block will contain residential amenities at the fourth level and along the rooftop.
  • Building 3 would rise to 110 feet in height and contain 532 apartments above the table top, with 62,966 square feet of retail functions underneath, including potentially, a food market hall, restaurants. The tabletop area is due to contain outdoor amenities, including a swimming pool. The under-table areas are also being designed to contain apartments and up to 21 live/work units.
  • Building 4 will house 251 apartments, 17 live/work units and a 29,316-square-foot school. The planning document indicates the school program may exist in any number of configurations, including as a private or hybrid private/public school and will serve up to 300 K-12 students.
  • Building 5 will rise to 126 feet in height and will contain 253,514-square feet of office uses.
  • Building 6 would rise 58 stories to a maximum height of 732 feet and would include 186 condominiums, 260 hotel rooms and 7,020 square feet of retail that will share the below-table areas with residential and hotel lobby areas.
  • Building 7 will rise to 710 feet in height and will include 522 apartment units and 7,228 square feet of commercial areas.
The building is also due to contain a whopping 3,441 parking stalls, as well as 298 short term and 1,889 long-term bicycle parking spaces. Mia Lehrer & Associates will be providing landscape architecture services for the project, while AC Martin will serve as executive architect. 6AM is expected to be built in three phases starting around 2018.
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wHY to cap existing Los Angeles warehouse with automated parking garage

A California Environmental Quality Act submittal by Los Angeles and New York City-based architects wHY and British real estate firm Est4te Four Capital indicates that plans are in the works for a large-scale overhaul of the former Challenge and Creamery Butter Association Building (CCBA Building) in Downtown Los Angeles’s Arts District neighborhood. Information contained within the report details plans for an innovative 190,165-square-foot mixed-use complex that would bring housing, a private membership club, ground floor retail, and office space to the neighborhood. According to renderings included in the report, the complex, located on a 0.68-acre site, will be made up of a mix of old and new building components, with a new office, club, and parking block located directly on top of an existing warehouse structure originally built in 1926. The two-story existing warehouse will accommodate 17 live-work artists’ lofts as well as parking access and commercial spaces in new square footage located on the side, beside the existing structure. One innovative component of the project includes the stacked parking structure located above the existing building. That four-story mass is actually designed as an automated parking garage with 241 automobile and 40 bicycle stalls. The parking area is contained within a large, four-story volume that does not contain traditional floor plates but instead is made up of large racks of stacked parking stalls. The floors above the parking areas are due to house office and event space as well as the 71,000-square-foot membership club. That aspect of the program is planned to contain private terraces, offices, a restaurant, and lounge areas. The team behind the project is pursuing a General Plan Amendment, Zone Change, Height District Change, Master Conditional Use permits for the project. A timeline released by the developers of the project indicates that it is to be built over the course of 18 months starting in the third quarter of 2017 with an estimated completion date of early 2019.
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MADWORKSHOP announces 2017 fellows

The Martin Architecture and Design Workshop (MADWORKSHOP), a Santa Monica, California–based foundation focused on incubating student design projects into built work, has announced its 2017 design fellows. The five students—Heeje Yang, Jayson Champlain, Jeremy Carman, Belinda Pak, and Joseph Chang—are all currently fourth-year students at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Bachelor of Architecture program. A sixth, previously-announced fellow, Riccardo Blumer, is a practicing architect and researcher from Varese, Italy. The six fellows will spend the next year being incubated by MADWORKSHOP as they elaborate designs for a series of individual pilot projects. The fellows’ projects, according to a press release issued by the foundation, will focus on MADWORKSHOP’s 2017 design theme: Emergency Architecture. Yang will work on improving the designs for the Chair Six prototype, a foldable chair designed by 2014 fellow Yuan Yao. Champlain and Carman, both of whom participated in the MADWORKSHOP-funded Homeless Studio taught at USC last semester, will partner to develop innovative approaches to the safety- and privacy-related aspects of temporary, post-disaster shelter design within the context of large sports stadiums. Pak will work on prototype designs for an emergency wristband that can convey medical and contact information while Chang will design a backpack that converts into a stretcher that could be carried by a single person during emergency situations. Finally, Blumer will develop research on the design of socially-conscious architecture through the use of innovative technology and representational techniques. MADWORKSHOP was founded by David C. Martin and Mary Klaus Martin in 2015 with the aim of supporting “the next generation of inventors and designers with a focus on technological craftsmanship.” The organization funded an elective studio at USC during the Fall 2016 semester that focused on developing a rapid re-housing prototype that could be deployed in as little as two weeks. The studio, taught by MADWORKSHOP acting director Sofia Borges, a faculty member of USC School of Architecture, and R. Scott Mitchell, owner/principal of L.A.-based Gigante AG, partnered with non-denominational ministry Hope of the Valley and consulted with nonprofit housing developers and city agencies while developing their prototype. Also in 2016, the organization also installed the Sanke furniture system in the courtyard of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. That installation, a colorful collection of tables and chairs designed to operate as a deconstructed communal table, was developed by 2015 fellow Sonia Lui. For more information on the fellows, see the MADWORKSHOP website.
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Gensler reveals renderings for 52-story tower in Los Angeles

It’s finally happened—the furious rush of development along Figueroa Street in Downtown Los Angeles stretching from the still-under-construction Wilshire Grand Tower has finally reached Interstate-10. The highway is Downtown L.A.’s informal southern boundary, separating the increasingly tony central city from starkly less affluent neighborhoods located directly to the south. Over the last year, as the Wilshire Grand Tower has gone up and the city’s transit system immediately below has expanded, a large collection of proposals for a new district of high-rise, residential towers has been gradually unveiled beside the L.A. Live and Los Angeles Convention Center complexes. The latest proposal, first reported by Los Angeles Downtown News, marks the 18th new tower proposed for the stretch, with at least 17 other new high-rise housing towers currently awaiting approval or actively under construction. Gensler has a hand in several of the projects, including the Metropolis (four towers), 1020 South Figueroa (three towers), and Fig+Pico (two towers) projects. SOM and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S are behind the Olympia development (three towers), while CallisonRTKL is working on the Oceanwide Plaza (three towers) development, and Harley Ellis Devereaux and Hanson LA are partway through construction on the twin Circa towers. Gensler’s latest contribution to the district—1660 South Figueroa—will take over an existing car dealership lot and will contain more than 300 residential units, as well as a 250-key hotel and 15,000 square feet of ground-floor office and retail space. Broken down further, the tower is expected to contain 202 market-rate condominiums and 134 apartment units, including 23 condominiums and nine apartments reserved for low-income households. The project also calls for 499 parking stalls dispersed across nine levels of parking, five of which would be located underground. In contrast to many of the other projects mentioned above, most of which are articulated as generic, glass-clad mixed-use towers composed predominantly of vertically-extruded floorplates located atop ornamented retail and parking podia, 1660 South Figueroa is articulated as a hodge-podge of typological tower forms. The tower’s tripartite vertical organization exists as a long and narrow, 19-story housing block at its base that features balconies and large-scale punched openings at its upper reaches. That mass is topped by a pair of 20-story glassy condo towers, one canted slightly off-axis, creating a narrow and tall donut hole at the center of the building. Above that? A six-level mass itself topped by a diminutive, multi-story mid-rise mass. Throughout, the agglomerated mass of towers features grassy accretions, vegetated expanses of building mass punctured by horizontal, punched openings. Details for the project are forthcoming; groundbreaking, construction timeline and budget for the project have not been released.
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San Fernando Valley poised to tackle homelessness with new $1.2 billion housing initiative

The San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles has a reputation as a quintessentially suburban enclave. But, as the inner-city areas of Los Angeles have begun to embrace the hallmarks of traditional urbanism—increased housing density, fixed-transit infrastructure, and a dedication to pedestrian space—the valley has found itself parroting those same shifts in its own distinct way.

One area where this transformation is taking shape is housing, specifically, transitional and supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals.

According to the Los Angeles Homelessness Services Authority, the number of homeless people in the San Fernando Valley increased by 36 percent last year. Though the increase was significantly lower throughout L.A. County overall last year, one thing is clear: The number of people without homes in the areas around Los Angeles’s urban core area is growing. A similar trend is playing out across the country. Not only are urban homeless populations being increasingly displaced out toward the suburban areas by gentrification, but greater numbers of suburbanites themselves are becoming homeless, as well, due to a fraying social net and systematic income inequality.

Dire though the situation might be, Los Angeles—and the San Fernando Valley in particular—is currently poised to make strides in re-housing currently homeless individuals living in quasi-suburban environments by building a collection of new housing projects across the city. That’s because this November, 76 percent of L.A.’s voters supported Measure HHH, the city’s Homelessness Reduction and Prevention, Housing, and Facilities Bond. The initiative will raise $1.2 billion in bonds to pay for the construction of up to 10,000 units of housing for the homeless. The victory represents a shift in collective perspective that goes hand-in-hand with changing urban attitudes: As transit, density, and pedestrianism spread, so too has a visceral awareness that the city’s homeless population has been wholly abandoned by society and that action is overdue.

The passage of Measure HHH represents an opportunity for architects to assert themselves in civic and cultural discourse at an incredibly meaningful scale. And as much as the valley has begun to accept increased density, so too is it likely to see its fair share of new transitional and supportive housing as a result.

Already, the Skid Row Housing Trust (SRHT), a local affordable housing provider known for its focus on design quality, has begun to expand into neighborhoods beyond Skid Row. The organization opened a new set of apartments designed by Los Angeles–based architects Brooks + Scarpa this summer in the MacArthur Park neighborhood just west of Downtown Los Angeles. The project, called The Six, is the group’s first development with permanent supportive housing specifically for veterans. The name of the complex comes from the military shorthand, “got your six,” which means “I’ve got your back.”

The complex is designed around a central, planted courtyard and is expected to receive LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It features solar panels on the roof and ground-level supportive services for the residents, with a large public courtyard located on the second floor. Units rise up around the perimeter of the courtyard along a single-loaded corridor and are capped by a roof terrace and edible garden. The firm also calibrated the building’s architectural massing in order to respond to passive cooling and lighting strategies and features selectively glazed exposures as well as a courtyard layout that facilitates passive lighting and ventilation.

Another project under development by SRHT is Michael Maltzan Architecture’s (MMA) Crest Apartments in Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley. Crest Apartments will deliver 64 affordable housing units for formerly homeless veterans. The building is laid out as a long, stepped housing block raised on a series of piers above multifunctional hard- and soft-landscaped areas. The long and narrow site shapes the complex such that the building’s mass steps around in plan as it climbs in height, creating vertical bands of windows aimed toward the street and side yard in the process. The ground floor of the complex contains supportive service areas as well as a clinic and community garden. The building recently finished construction and residents are beginning to move in.

The future of housing efforts in the valley is also being tackled by students at University of Southern California (USC), where a studio funded by the nonprofit Martin Architecture and Design Workshop (MADWORKSHOP) is aiming to develop a rapid-re-housing prototype to be deployed across the valley. The studio, formally unrelated to Measure HHH, is led by Sofia Borges, acting director at MADWORKSHOP and R. Scott Mitchell, assistant professor of practice at USC. The professors tasked architecture students with studying the spatial implications of homelessness at the individual person’s scale.

Ultimately, the studio, with nondenominational ministry Hope of the Valley as its client, developed the beginnings of a single-occupancy housing prototype that could be mass-produced and temporarily deployed to selected vacant sites in as little as two weeks. The cohort spent the semester meeting with officials in the city government, including the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, to work on an actionable plan for implementing their prototype. The students built a full-scale mock-up of the 96-square-foot unit for their final review and detailed plans for how the unit might be aggregated into larger configurations as a sort of first-response to help people transition from living on the streets to occupying more formal dwellings like The Six or Crest Apartments.

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New renderings revealed for twin condo towers in Downtown Los Angeles

The architects and developers behind the new 2-million-square-foot Circa complex have revealed new renderings for their partially-completed project in Downtown Los Angeles’s South Park neighborhood. The project, designed by architects Harley Ellis Devereaux with interiors by Hanson LA, will bring 648 apartments to the neighborhood in a pair of 35-story high rounded, twin towers. Those units—located above a 48,000-square foot, five-story retail and parking podium—will be arranged in one-, two-, and three-bedroom configurations and will range in size from 700 to 3,800 square feet. The towers will be connected by a landscaped pool patio and cabana areas located atop the podium. Additionally, according to the new renderings released by the developer, the towers will also feature streamlined floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall exteriors. The buildings’ eastern and western facades also contain protruding exterior balconies. A construction camera overlooking the site shows the podium level and towers’ structural components partially completed, with the towers rising out of the ground and nearly reaching their apex. The complex is located along a booming strip of development that includes a collection of at least 15 other new high-rise housing towers that are either undergoing approval or under construction, including Metropolis (four towers), Oceanwide Plaza (three towers), 1020 South Figueroa (three towers), Fig+Pico (two towers), and Olympia (three towers). These towers, funded predominantly by foreign capital and located directly across from the Staples Center, L.A. Live complex, and Los Angeles Convention Center are due to change not only the character of the areas immediately surrounding these venues—many of the proposed projects feature large-scale, electronic signs for advertisements and art—but also the city as a whole by introducing a large collection of luxury and market-rate apartments, condominiums, and hotels. Circa is due to open in early 2018. For more information on the project, see the Circa website.