Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":

Placeholder Alt Text

Brett Steele, Architectural Association director, named new dean of UCLA School of Arts and Architecture

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has named Brett Steele, current director of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London (AA), as the new dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture. The Los Angeles Times reports that Steele will assume the new role in Los Angeles starting in August 2017. Steele will replace interim dean David Roussève who was managing the school’s transition after the departure of the prior dean, Christopher Waterman, who served in the role for a dozen years. Steele is American-born but also has a naturalized British citizen status. He received a diploma in architecture from the AA and also studied at the University of Oregon and the San Francisco Art Institute. During his tenure at the AA, Steele launched, among other programs, a digital prototyping lab; a campus expansion to the rural community of Dorset, Britain; the creation of new, full-time Master of Science and Master of Philosophy graduate courses; and a new doctorate program in design. Steele also worked as a project architect at Zaha Hadid Architects over two stints, between 1986 and 1987 and once again between 1992 and 1993. Regarding his new appointment, the L.A. Times quotes Steele as saying, “What got my attention and interested me is the nature of the role at UCLA and the composition of the school. I think we live in a time when the ability to assemble and invent audiences is as crucial to schools as all of the attention that most of them give to individual artists and performers and architects and designers. It’s in my view two sides of the same coin. There are a few very special places in the world where that’s built into the DNA and UCLA is simply one of those places.” As part of his new position, Steele will be in charge not only of the educational components of the arts and architecture schools at UCLA, but also several aspects of the institution’s public arms, including the Hammer Museum, Fowler Museum, and Center for the Art of Performance.  For more information on Steele’s appointment, see the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design’s website.
Placeholder Alt Text

Never look at skyscrapers the same way after seeing Jai & Jai Gallery’s latest exhibition

Hot On the Heels of Love: Sensational Speculations, an exhibition by John Southern and his firm Urban Operations currently on view at Jai & Jai Gallery in Los Angeles, attempts to collect almost 10 years’ worth of research surrounding the spatial and functional aspects of the skyscraper into one quasi-retrospective. The exhibition aims to enliven the tower, a “spatial manifestation of the sociological and psychological experiences exacted upon the modern individual within the territory of the contemporary metropolis,” by viewing tall buildings—loosely defined and subject to the tendencies and extremes of late-stage global capitalism—as more than simple aesthetic statements. Instead, the collected works are showcased as multifaceted ruminations on not only what tall buildings have been and can be, but also as a collection of sensational projects produced as cultural artifacts in their own right, representative of the times in which they were created.

Hot On the Heels of Love: Sensational Speculations by Urban Operations Jai & Jai Gallery 648 North Spring Street, Los Angeles Through January 2, 2017

Placeholder Alt Text

Four shining light towers mark Los Angeles’s latest public pool

This summer, Lehrer Architects completed work on its latest public park project: the Central Park Recreation Pool in South Los Angeles. Designed to replace an aging aquatics complex, the 1.44-acre project was funded by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, and is infused with Lehrer Architects’ characteristic do-more-with-less architectural ethos. The project, consisting of a refurbished bathhouse and pool, aims to reactivate a vital community gathering spot in what is one of the most park-poor areas of the city.

The bathhouse, a humble structure made of concrete masonry units, is wrapped by a segmented butterfly roof canopy made of tightly folded, corrugated white metal panels. The three roof pitches meet several times over the course of the building’s main entrance on East 22nd Street. At each meeting point, a delicate armature of steel members, including W-beams and square tubing, joins the roof planes. The south-facing exposure, its CMU walls painted bright shades of lemon and lime, gathers and warms the light filtering through the canopies. A longer but similarly articulated form is mirrored about the bathhouse’s central axis, where on the other side it shades the pool deck. At the foot of each of the columns supporting the canopy along this length, the firm has designed broad, monolithic concrete benches. The two benches on either end are cocked a half-turn inwardly, framing the type of communal, yet highly individualized public space that exists far too infrequently in Los Angeles.

Buried deeply into the far leg of an L-shaped site is a tetrarch of 20-foot tall towers, each housing a pair of concrete benches. The towers provide a different kind of social space that is simultaneously more intimate and public than the larger shaded area just mentioned. Shaped like parallelograms and wrapped in sheets of white perforated metal, the towers mark the recreation center’s location in the community during the day, reflecting and catching the sun’s light as it passes overhead. At night, the structures are lit up from within.

During a studio visit to Lehrer’s Silver Lake offices, the principal described the sculptural qualities of the sentinels: “The light and shadow towers work to create a calibrated sense of civic monumentality by relating to the pool, to the larger park, and (most) importantly, to the surrounding neighborhood beyond.”

Placeholder Alt Text

L.A. Conservancy sues City of Los Angeles over Frank Gehry project

The Los Angeles Conservancy is suing the City of Los Angeles for “blatantly disregarding environmental law” and violating the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by approving the Gehry Partners—designed 8150 Sunset development last month. The $300 million mixed-use project has faced community push-back from all sides, especially from wealthy neighbors who contested the project’s height, density, and parking provisions, even though the project is located on the Sunset Strip commercial corridor. Those partisans won out over the course of the approval process, as developers and even Frank Gehry himself, in an in-person testimonial before the Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM), pledged to rework the project to ameliorate community concerns. At that meeting, the starchitect said, “I’m going to make it, as best I can, something special for the community. Something that we would all be proud of.” The development was ultimately approved by PLUM and, later on, the L.A. City Council, but with a few caveats. In a nod to the neighbors’ concerns, the project’s residential towers were approved with a 56-foot height reduction, an additional number of affordable housing units, and increased number of parking stalls. Overall, the project will contain 229 market rate units, including 38 affordable units, 65,000 square feet of commercial space, and 494 parking spaces in a group of rumpled towers located on a site featuring multiple public plazas and ground-floor retail. But one point the designers and developers behind the project would not flex on—and that neither PLUM nor the L.A. City Council were eager to emphasize—was whether to save the historic, modernist-style Lytton Savings bank building currently occupying a portion of the site from demolition. The iconic structure, which features a striking folded concrete roof and large expanses of glass, became a rallying point for preservationists who were not necessarily against the project, per se, but hoped the developers would incorporate the structure into the proposal. The bank building was designed in 1960 by Kurt Meyer and since plans were announced, a group of preservationists rallied around saving the structure. The structure was quickly nominated as a Historic Cultural Monument (HCM) status by Friends of Lytton Savings. HCM status offers some degree of protection against demolition, except that PLUM delayed the structure's nomination and the L.A. City Council was able to approve 8150 Sunset in the augmented form described above. The building’s existence is now in peril, and as a result, the Los Angeles Conservancy has filed suit to “force the City of Los Angeles’s compliance with (CEQA).” The Conservancy argues that under CEQA regulations, a project must “avoid significant impacts such as the demolition of a historical resource if the fundamental project objectives can be met without demolition.” The Conservancy’s logic stems from a series of development proposals incorporated into the Environmental Impact Report (found here) developed as part of the project’s approval process that called for reusing the structure as part of the commercial component of the Gehry Partners development (the building currently operates as a Chase Bank branch). Those alternatives, however, were shut out of consideration by the developers, who simply preferred to start with a blank site. Previously, Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy for the LA Conservancy, had told The Architect’s Newspaper that the Gehry project would “unnecessarily demolish a historic cultural monument,” and added,  “there’s a very clear way for this project to move forward while preserving the bank building.”  Friends of Lytton Savings founder Steven Luftman told The Architect's Newspaper via email that his group is "still proceeding with the Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument (HCM) application with the full support of Councilmember David Ryu. The application goes to a vote with the LA City Council on Wednesday December 7th."  When asked whether the group would support relocating the endangered structure as part of a comprehensive preservation approach, Luftman replied, "We continue to believe the best solution is for the building to remain at its current site. Incorporating this city's rich architectural past with the new project can lead to an exciting and vibrant development," adding "(Lytton Savings) functions beautifully as a bank and it has wonderful potential for adaptive reuse. Once the alternatives are appropriately explored, as a last resort we would consider a sincere commitment by the developer to relocate the building." For now, however, the Lytton Savings bank stands imperiled as part of a long line of Modernist structures falling to the wrecking ball and the project stands to move forward as approved.
Placeholder Alt Text

From anti-flood measures to ecology, see what the L.A. Bureau of Engineering has in store for the L.A. River

Gary Lee Moore is the city engineer with the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering, one of the many organizations and agencies involved in the ongoing restoration and redevelopment of the Los Angeles River. Among the numerous river-related projects on which the bureau is currently working are the restoration of an 11-mile run of the river within city limits and the replacement of the Sixth Street Viaduct with new designs by Michael Maltzan Architecture.

The Architect’s Newspaper: What role does the L.A. Bureau of Engineering play in facilitating the ongoing L.A. River restoration process?

Gary Lee Moore: The Bureau of Engineering (BoE) has a long history of working on the Los Angeles River. We led the development of the L.A. River Revitalization Master Plan, passed by the Los Angeles City Council in 2007, and were assigned the responsibility of implementing the plan, which continues today. BoE also led the city’s collaboration with the United States Army Corps of Engineers on the development of the Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility study and the Alternative with Restoration Benefits and Opportunities for Revitalization (ARBOR) study that recommended Alternative 20 (the policy recommendation that called for the most expansive level of restoration for the river). Alternative 20 was adopted by the city council in June 2016 and is pending approval in Congress. BoE is also managing a variety of significant L.A. River projects that include new bikeways, river-adjacent parks, bridges that cross the river, and bridge underpasses, as well as restored river-access points and existing bridges. For our regional colleagues who are also focusing on river revitalization, BoE has been the city’s point of collaboration. This includes a variety of nonprofits and other public agencies.

How does the L.A. River restoration feed into the BoE’s overall mission?

BoE’s vision is to transform Los Angeles into the world’s most livable city. Revitalization of the Los Angeles River corridor, with public access, open space, native ecosystem restoration, and world-class parks, will contribute to creating a more livable, more sustainable Los Angeles.

What are some of the approaches being taken with regard to maintaining the river’s usefulness as a piece of flood control infrastructure for the region?

The ARBOR study assumed that current levels of flood protection would be maintained with the suggested changes to the river. For example, this means increasing the flood channel’s capacity where planting is suggested in the channel for habitat creation.

Which measures are being taken to guide forthcoming development along the L.A. River toward having a more positive relationship with the local hydrology and ecology (in terms of runoff, infiltration, sewage, etc.)?

The city established a citywide Low Impact Development ordinance in 2012 that requires on-site capture or infiltration and a dispersed approach to stormwater management that positively diverts it to the L.A. River.

In addition, recent projects done by the city along the L.A. River have been designed to direct stormwater into vegetated swales. The River Improvement Overlay (RIO) guidelines  produced by the Department of City Planning in 2014 provide private property owners along the river with design approaches that reflect habitat sensitivity.

In terms of ecology, the city uses Los Angeles County’s L.A. River Master Plan Landscaping Guidelines and Plant Palettes, published in 2004, which calls for a native L.A. River plant palette all along the river. This palette was identified to support local fauna and to restore the native landscape.

Placeholder Alt Text

Building-sized mural will cover the latest L.A. Arts District development

Downtown Los Angeles—based Togawa Smith Martin Architects has revealed renderings for a new mural-clad, 12-story multi-family housing tower in L.A.’s Arts District. The project, Arts District Center, would contain 129 live-work condominiums, an 113-room “art hotel,” and 70,000 square feet of retail space along the ground floor. The project will include a public “art plaza” at the corner of Fifth and Seaton Streets and include a 10,000-square foot of art gallery and event space plus a 3,000-square foot artist-collaborative space known as “CoLab” meant to incubate aspiring designers and artists. Renderings shown on the firm’s website and the Arts District Center's website depict a rectilinear tower set atop a double-height, brick-clad retail podium with the public art atrium anchoring the building’s commercial spaces to the street at the corner. The tower is set back from the street line in order to accommodate a terrace at the base of the housing component that overlooks the street. The building features neat rows of punched window openings and is clad on at least two sides by an architectural screen wrapped in large-scale murals. The eastern portion of the building is clad in floor-to-ceiling expanses of multi-colored glass and features projecting floorplates. Renderings also depict a large porte-cochère as well as a rooftop terrace. The Arts District Center is the latest in a long line of multi-family residential and mixed-use projects for the booming area on the eastern edge of Downtown Los Angeles and follows high-profile projects like the 6AM project by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and a slew of more modestly-scaled proposals like Studio One Eleven’s 2110 Bay development. For more information on Arts District Center, see the project's website.
Placeholder Alt Text

KFA and Leong Leong-designed LGBT center approved by Los Angeles City Planning Commission

This week, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission voted to unanimously approve plans for the Killefer Flammang Architects (KFA) and Leong Leong—designed Los Angeles LGBT Center (LALGBTC), Anita May Rosenstein Campus in Hollywood. The new healthcare and housing campus will include 100 units of affordable housing for seniors, 100 beds for homeless youth, new senior and youth centers, and up to 35 units of permanent supportive housing for young people. The mixed-use complex will also contain ground floor retail spaces. The project aims to expand the footprint and offerings of an adjacent complex, The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, which contains movie theaters, art galleries, offices, and meeting spaces. According to the only officially-released rendering for the project, the new and old facilities will be connected via interior and exterior courtyards and plazas, with the new building located at the corner of the block. The new three-story structure is composed as a series of stacked and curved curtain wall-clad volumes with the third floor extending beyond the perimeter of the lower levels along one side. The structure also features large, circular, and semi-transparent cut-outs that span multiple floors along these facades. In a press release for the project, KFA Principal and co-founder Barbara Flammang celebrated the commission’s unanimous approval, stating “We are delighted and excited that the Planning Commission recognizes the tremendous importance of the Center’s new campus,” she added, “KFA is proud to be helping increase the number of affordable housing units in a city that greatly needs them.” Because LGBT-identifying young adults make up a large portion of the overall homeless youth population, the project aims to fill a crucial void in services for members of that community in Los Angeles. LALGBTC CEO Lorri L. Jean told KPCC radio, “The new complex aims to help the two most vulnerable parts of our community, young people, and seniors who might face discrimination in other care facilities. Demand has skyrocketed in recent years and the need for affordable housing is particularly dire. The Center and our new campus are part of the solution to the growing problem of homelessness in our city.” For more information on LALGBTC’s services, see the center’s website.
Placeholder Alt Text

Displacement-inducing South L.A. project approved unanimously by L.A. City Council

A controversial $1.2 billion mixed-use project designed by Los Angeles—based architecture firms P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S and Gensler has won unanimous approval from the Los Angeles City Council, pushing Downtown L.A.’s booming, luxury-driven growth into one of Los Angeles’s most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. According to documentation supplied to the City of Los Angeles, the project aims to generate 1,400 market-rate housing units coupled with office, restaurant, and art gallery programs totaling up to 1,664,000-square feet of floor area. The development features a smattering of canted, glass-clad towers surrounded by a mid-rise layer of articulated apartment blocks with punched openings and projecting and recessed volumes. The project is to be divided up between two adjacent blocks and built in phases, with the so-called “West Block” containing an existing, 12-story, 180,000-square foot office tower with 30,000-square feet of restaurant and retail spaces on the ground floor as well as an 8,000 square foot rooftop terrace and restaurant space. Plans for that site, to be built first, also call for a 20-story, 208-room hotel tower. A shorter, seven-story tall apartment tower containing 100 units and an eight-story, 1,158-stall parking garage with ground floor commercial areas will also occupy the site. The second phase of the project, referred to in documentation submitted to the city as “East Bock,” will host two towers, 32-stories and 35-stories in height, respectively, adding 895 for-sale units with a cluster of three- to seven-story apartment blocks adding a further 428 rental and 14 live-work units. This block will also contain a four-story subterranean parking garage with 1,354 parking stalls. With only a paltry five percent of the overall units to be reserved as affordable housing, the project has been controversial among community and working class housing activists due to the impact it will have on current residents' ability to remain in the area. The project’s size, scale, and location threaten to fracture a largely working class, renter-occupied neighborhood with a relatively low-to-average median income by introducing high-end, transit-oriented development. The developers behind the project have promised to add $15 million to an affordable housing fund as well as providing $3 million for community organizations for job training and youth programs, but activists caution that it will not be enough to stem large-scale displacement. Construction on the project is due to start by the end of 2017 or early 2017, with the completion of the second phase of the project wrapping up in late 2021.
Placeholder Alt Text

Los Angeles Rams stadium breaks ground

The new $2.66 billion HKS-designed football stadium for the Los Angeles Rams broke ground in Inglewood, California late last week, bringing the newly-relocated National Football League (NFL) team one step closer toward completing the team’s transition from Saint Louis to Los Angeles. The stadium, designed by New York–based HKS, features a giant triangular roof supported by thick columns and made of ETFE. This super-roof also spans across an adjacent outdoor lobby called “champions plaza” to be used as a communal gathering spot for game day spectators. Los Angeles–based Mia Lehrer + Associates is acting as landscape architect for the project. The stadium has been designed to accommodate two professional teams and to seat 80,000 spectators for these types of sporting events, with the San Diego Chargers potentially lining up to use the stadium as their new home. The recent election dashed that team’s bid to fund a new stadium in San Diego proper, opening up the potential for the Inglewood stadium to host that team as well as the Rams. HKS has designed to the multi-use stadium to accommodate up to 100,000 spectators for concerts that utilize the playing field for floor seating and the stadium is also being considered as part of the city’s 2024 Olympic bid. The stadium will be located at the heart of the new City of Champions district, a purpose-built mixed-use, entertainment, and leisure neighborhood being constructed on the site of the recently-demolished Hollywood Park fairgrounds. The City of Champions development has been under construction for several months and with construction of the stadium component of the development (a late-in-the-game addition to the neighborhood) now underway, plans are quickly coalescing around making the new neighborhood a focal point for the region. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has publicly endorsed the idea of extending existing light rail system to the stadium and plans are currently being developed to provide such access. The stadium is due to be completed in time for the 2019-2020 NFL season.  
Placeholder Alt Text

What will Angelenos do with a decommissioned, 45-foot-deep reservoir?

The tony neighborhood of Silver Lake, located on the periphery of Downtown Los Angeles, is the latest of many contested sites in a city grappling with dual perils of increasing urbanization and water scarcity.

In this case, Silver Lake’s namesake reservoir, a grandfather of the city’s pioneering urban water infrastructure system, is driving a wedge among neighbors and communities. The reservoir was decommissioned in 2006 to comply with new regulations from the United States Environmental Protection Agency that banned open-air, potable water reservoirs. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), who owns the Silver Lake Reservoir, opted to build a new, underground water storage facility in the nearby San Fernando Valley. That project—the Headworks Reservoir, an 110-million gallon system located on a 43-acre site—robbed Silver Lake Reservoir not only of its infrastructural purpose but also of its water. Ten years later and four years into a punishing drought, the decommissioned reservoir sits empty, its soft bottom sprouting scraggly tufts of new growth.

Fierce neighborhood rivalries have erupted over what to do about the 45-foot deep hole, especially considering LADWP has not published a workable plan for the future of the complex. Should the reservoir be refilled? If so, with whose water? If not, what happens to the land?

Silver Lake Forward, an organization of designers and activists who live in the area, has sprouted up to advocate for a more equitable vision of the future. The group is circulating a petition to persuade the LADWP to refill the reservoir sustainably, with an eye toward the delicate ecological balance necessary to maintain a healthy water landscape in Los Angeles. The group’s conceptual plan, designed by Mia Lehrer + Associates, aims for the gradual reintroduction of natural landscape ecologies by artificially raising the reservoir’s floor and converting the complex into a 31-acre park. The scheme features lookout points, boardwalks, and a series of small islands set aside for roosting water birds.

At a recent meeting discussing the project, Robert Soderstrom, cofounder and president of the organization, expressed hope for the group’s plan: “The people of this city will rise to the spaces we build,” he said.

Placeholder Alt Text

Killefer Flammang Architects and MGA Entertainment team up for 24-acre mixed use campus in the San Fernando Valley

Bratz Doll manufacturer MGA Entertainment and Santa Monica—based Killefer Flammang Architects (KFA) are breaking ground today on a new 24-acre mixed use campus headquarters for the toy- and electronics-maker in the Chatsworth neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley. Dubbed "24" by Uncommon, the real estate company developing the project, the design calls for the adaptive reuse and expansion of an existing industrial structure. (Formerly, it was a Los Angeles Times printing facility.) The developers aim to create approximately 255,000 square feet of office space in the reused building. MGA will move its headquarters from nearby Van Nuys to the new facility and will concentrate development of its wares on-site. KFA’s master plan for 24 features several mixed-use housing blocks containing 660 apartments on land that is currently being used for parking. The apartments will be located above storefronts, with the complex also containing urban amenities like gym facilities, a pair of swimming pool areas, and a park for recreational sports. The complex will also contain a pre-school, community garden areas, and an amphitheater. Regarding the expansion, chief executive of MGA recently told the Los Angeles Times, “The new facility will be a state-of-the-art facility for people to create and work and live and play.” A rendering released by the developers shows the reused printing facility located at the center of the site surrounded by multiple clusters of five- to seven-story apartment courtyard blocks. Surrounding city streets flow into and out of the complex, with internal pedestrian areas generally separated from automobile traffic. The project, which will also feature a transit plaza that will connect to the nearby Orange Line bus rapid transit line and Chatsworth Metrolink commuter rail station, is bounded on its southern edge by a creek that feeds into the Los Angeles river. The project comes as sections of the low-rise industrial and suburban western San Fernando Valley begin to densify and coalesce around new pedestrian-oriented urban centers. Another recently-announced development includes the Westfield Promenade 2035 by Westfield Corporation, Johnson Fain, Togawa Smith Martin Architects, and HKS Architects. 24 will be built in phases with the adaptive reuse component coming by 2018 and the housing component gradually phased-in between 2018 and 2022.
Placeholder Alt Text

Gehry Partners’ 8150 Sunset unanimously approved by L.A. City Council

After much political wrangling and the promise of several key changes to the project, Gehry and Partners’ $300-million mixed-use project, 8150 Sunset, has been approved by the Los Angeles City Council, taking the controversial project one step closer toward beginning construction. Designs for 8150 Sunset, which was originally designed to add 249-units of market rate housing, 37 units of affordable housing, and 65,000 square feet of retail space to the Sunset Strip, were originally approved by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission back in August. The project features a cluster of five buildings grouped around public open spaces with commercial areas along the ground floor and a 15-story tower marking the northwestern corner of the site. The L.A. City Council’s approval comes a week after the project cleared the city’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee in a five-hour long meeting that included community input, as well as an in-person testimonial by architect Frank Gehry in support of the project. At that meeting, local Councilperson David Ryu dogged the project for its height, density, and paltry affordable housing component while also citing worries among community members that the project, as proposed, would badly increase traffic in the area. The meeting resulted in developers Townscape Partners agreeing to shorten the tower to 178-feet in height, increase the overall affordable housing allotment slightly, and provide an additional $2 million in funding for traffic mitigation measures. At the meeting, Ryu highlighted the project’s passage as the result of healthy compromise, stating, “8150 Sunset Blvd. is a much better project today” because of the agreed upon changes. Although developers Townscape Partners and the architect have wrestled with neighborhood and City Council opposition for months, the question of whether—and how—to save the historically significant Lytton Savings Bank building currently occupying the site is still an open question. Designed by Kurt Meyer in 1960, the late-modernist bank building is capped by a distinctive folded concrete roof plane and was recently approved as a city historic-cultural landmark in September. Back then, Adrian Scott-Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy, told The Architect’s Newspaper that the Gehry project—as presented—would “unnecessarily demolish a historic cultural monument,” adding “there's a very clear way for this project to move forward and preserve this bank building.” Consideration of the historic building’s future will be taken up by the City Council in November, when it will be decided whether to save the building or not and if so, whether to incorporate the structure into Gehry’s scheme or simply relocate the relic to a different site.