Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":

Placeholder Alt Text

BREAKING: MAD Architects reveals alternate proposals for Lucas Museum in San Francisco and Los Angeles

Weeks after dropping a long-stalled bid for a Chicago location, MAD Architects and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art have released a collection of renderings for competing schemes aimed at finding the wandering, proposed museum a welcoming home in either Los Angeles or San Francisco. The firm’s proposal for the Chicago location was scrapped earlier this summer after fierce community opposition to the project, to be located on a coveted site along the city’s waterfront in Grant Park. Despite strong support from the city's political class, the $700-million scheme, reminiscent of a futuristic, pitched tent, was ultimately killed by a lawsuit filed by the local community group known as Friends of The Park. The new proposals, being shopped simultaneously between California’s two largest cities, are being presented as pedestrian-friendly, public spaces for each respective city. Both are arranged with expansive second-floor gallery and exhibition spaces that are lifted up on massive piers that allow for park and pedestrian areas to stretch underneath each complex. Each would be 265,000 and 275,000 square feet of overall interior space, with roughly 100,000 square feet of that dedicated toward gallery functions. The Los Angeles Times states that the overall project cost, including a future endowment for the museum, could potentially top $1 billion.  The San Francisco proposal for is being pitched for the city’s Treasure Island and is being incorporated into the SOM-designed master plan for the island community’s waterfront. The building’s rigid-looking exterior skin, punctured by two expanses of glass swoops, culminates in what—based on renderings released by the firm—appears to be a large auditorium space. Aside from the wavy building, these renderings also depict the building’s surrounding ground floor areas as being hardscaped plaza with pedestrian connections to the surrounding waterfront areas. The Los Angeles proposal, on the other hand, would be located in the city’s University of Southern California-adjacent Exposition Park. Located along the city’s Expo Line light rail line and within proximity of the forthcoming Gensler-designed Los Angeles Football Club soccer stadium, the proposal would cap the slew of other cultural and entertainment destinations in the park. Despite the light rail proximity, the scheme includes a 1,800-spot underground parking garage that the San Francisco locale does not. Also unlike the San Francisco proposal, the Los Angeles scheme would include public open space on its rooftop. Renderings for the proposal show the museum located in a leafy, park setting with people lounging on the knolls surrounding the structure. For now, as always, the schemes continue to be just that: hopeful proposals. Time will tell if one or the other scheme gets selected for either city and, more importantly, if one eventually gets built. A decision regarding the location is expected to be made within the next two- to four-months.
Placeholder Alt Text

AIA|LA announces 2016 Design Award winners

The Los Angeles chapter of American Institute of Architects Los Angeles (AIA|LA) announced the winners of the 2016 Design Awards program this week. This year’s awards breakdown consisted of its three categories that include honor awards for built projects, citations for forthcoming work, and a special category celebrating sustainable design. Winners for the built project honors were peer-selected by a jury of architects based across the United States who are, according to a press release issued by AIA|LA, “ conversant in the field’s potential at national and international levels.” Jurors placed a special emphasis on design excellence for the completed projects, with Gensler’s Shanghai Tower, Diller Scofidio+Renfro’s Broad Museum, and Brooks + Scarpa’s The Six housing project taking top honors. The organization also produced a group of winners for a counterpart competition, the AIA|LA Next LA awards, that honored as-yet-unbuilt work. The jury for these projects consisted of practicing architects, academics, and the Los Angeles Times architecture critic, Christopher Hawthorne. A few of the winners for this category included the Bi(H)OME project by Kevin Daly Architects; the Pure Tension Pavilion by Synthesis Design + Architecture, and the Studio Art Hall by wHY Architecture. The organization also launched its first annual COTE LA awards, citing projects that “further and/or demonstrate achievement in the implementation of sustainability features.” These projects, in turn, were chosen by sustainability leaders who considered aspects like performance and system integration. Here, the Los Angeles Police Department Metropolitan Division Facility by Perkins+Will, the Pico Branch Library, by Koning Eizenberg Architecture and The Courtyard at La Brea by John V. Mutlow Architects and Patrick Tighe Architecture won top honors. See below for the full list of winning firms and projects. 2016 AIA|LA Design Award Winners Honor Awards
  • Shanghai Tower, (Shanghai, China), Gensler.
  • Broad Museum, (Los Angeles, CA), Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler.
  • The Six - Affordable Housing for formerly Homeless and Disabled Veterans, (Los Angeles, CA), Brooks + Scarpa.
Merit Awards
  • Samsung American Headquarters, (San Jose, CA), NBBJ.
  • Rajeunir Black Caviar Palm Desert, (Palm Desert, CA), Studio Jantzen / O-S-A.
  • Embassy of the US Helsinki, Finland, (Helsinki, Finland), Moore Ruble Yudell Architects and Planners.
  • IVRV House, (Los Angeles, CA), SCI-Arc.
  • The Barbarian Group, (New York, NY), Clive Wilkinson Architects.
  • MirrorHouse, (Los Angeles, CA), XTEN Architecture.
  • Affordable Infill in the Inner City, (South Los Angeles, CA), Lehrer Architects LA.
  • Montee Karp, (Malibu, CA), Patrick Tighe Architecture.
Citation Awards
  • Bi(H)OME, (Los Angeles, CA), Kevin Daly Architects.
  • LAX CTA Entrance Phase 1, (Los Angeles, CA), AECOM, Los Angeles Design Studio.
  • Pure Tension Pavilion, (Milan, Bologna, Venice and Rimini (Italy), Moscow (Russia), Palm Springs (US)), SDA | Synthesis Design + Architecture.
  • The Bram Goldsmith Theatre at the Wallis, (Beverly Hills, CA), Studio Pali Fekete Architects [SPF:a].
  • The Gores Group Headquarters, (Beverly Hills, CA), Belzberg Architects.
  • CJ Corporation Blossom Park, (Gwanggyo, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea), Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign.
  • MU77, (Los Angeles, CA), Arshia Architects.
  • Loyola Marymount University Life Science Building, (Los Angeles, CA), CO Architects.
  • Pomona College, Studio Art Hall, (Claremont, CA), wHY Architecture.
  • Roberts Pavilion, Claremont McKenna College, (Claremont, CA), John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects.
  • CJ Corporation Blossom Park (Interiors), (Gwanggyo, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea), CannonDesign.
2016 AIA|LA NEXT LA Awards Merit Awards
  • 1st & Broadway Civic Center Park, (Los Angeles), Eric Owen Moss Architects
Citation Awards
  • WATERshed, (Los Angeles, CA), Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects.
  • Victory Healthcare, (Los Angeles, CA), P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S.
  • City on a City, (Los Angeles, CA), Zellner Naecker Architects.
  • The Mountains, (Dubai United Arab Emirates), AECOM.
2016 AIA|LA COTE LA Awards Merit Awards
  • LAPD Metropolitan Division Facility, (Los Angeles, CA), Perkins+Will.
  • Pico Branch Library, (Santa Monica, CA), Koning Eizenberg Architecture.
  • The Courtyard at La Brea, (Los Angeles, CA), John V. Mutlow Architects & Patrick Tighe Architecture.
CITATION
  • La Kretz Innovation Campus, (Los Angeles, CA), John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects.
  • The Resort at Playa Vista, (Playa Vista, CA), Rios Clementi Hale Studios.
Placeholder Alt Text

Architecture Lobby opens Los Angeles branch

The Architecture Lobby, an advocacy group of “architectural workers” that includes designers, principals, educators, and writers, and has announced the launch of a new Los Angeles chapter. The group, according to a press release announcing the new chapter, “advocates for the value of architectural work within the general public was well as within the discipline.” The lobby was formed three years ago as a decentralized, nationwide organization. It currently runs chapters in New York City, Chicago, Tampa, Denver, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and the San Francisco Bay Area. To commemorate the launch, the new Los Angeles chapter is holding a kick-off party on Friday, October 21 at Jai & Jai Gallery. The launch party will include a screening (Re)Working Architecture, a film created by the organization from a performance put on by the group at the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The party will also focus a discussion on the group’s book, Asymmetric Labors: The Economy of Architecture in Theory and Practice. The tome, first launched at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennial, is currently being featured in the Lisbon Triennial. On Saturday, October 22, the Architecture Lobby will also host a so-called “Think-In” panel event at University of California, Los Angeles aimed at broadly discussing critical topics in the field and profession. The panel discussion will be facilitated by Nancy Alexander. Panelists will include:
  • Frances Anderson, KCRW (DnA, Design and Architecture)
  • Wil Carson, 64North, UCLA
  • Peggy Deamer, Yale University and The Architecture Lobby
  • Jia Gu, Materials & Applications, The Architecture Lobby
  • Tia Koonse, UCLA Labor Center   
  • Elizabeth Timme, LA-Más
  • Mimi Zeiger, critic and curator, Art Center College of Design, The Architecture Lobby
  • Peter Zellner, ZELLNERandCompany, USC, Free School of Architecture
Both events are free and open to the public. For more information, see the Architecture Lobby website.
Placeholder Alt Text

Brooks + Scarpa unveils designs for new Southern California Flower Market in Los Angeles

Los Angeles–based architects Brooks + Scarpa has revealed plans for the large-scale redevelopment of the 107-year-old Southern California Flower Market in Downtown Los Angeles. The proposal aims to replace the two existing industrial structures on a 3.8-acre site at 755 Wall Street with a mixed-use, podium-and-tower complex. The proposed redevelopment would consist of a low-rise podium tower that will house mercantile facilities for the existing flower vendors along the ground floor, with between 50,000 and 60,000 square feet of office space and stacked parking above, while a second building on the site will consist of a 14-story apartment tower. That tower would include 290 apartments plus an undisclosed number of affordable units and would overlook a solar panel-topped amenity level meant for use by building residents. Preliminary renderings released for the project show a colorful, gridded tower rising out of the podium, with two of the tower’s exposures clad in what partner Angela Brooks described to Los Angeles Downtown News as flower-themed murals. Brooks went on to explain some of the inspiration for the project, telling the publication, “It's the idea of using the flower. It's going to be very modern in its design, but we’re trying to honor the Flower Market through the art.” The Flower Market was originally founded in 1909 by Japanese-American flower growers in a nearby area and moved to its current location in 1923. The Flower Mart is still owned by the descendants of that original group of owners and the proposed redevelopment scheme is part of a regional effort to preserve Los Angeles’s industrial and mercantile functions and heritage while accommodating a new and furious spurt of urban growth. The recently-revealed 6AM project by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron has similar conceptual underpinnings, with a housing tower and mercantile areas sharing the same site. The project aims to break ground in 2018.
Placeholder Alt Text

Big changes coming to Westfield Promenade mall in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley

The Westfield Corporation has filed plans to demolish its 43-year old Promenade mall in the far-western San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, aiming to replace the aging complex with a $1.5-billion mixed-use development containing 1,400 residences. The project, with design by Westfield's in-house design and architecture as well as HKS, Johnson Fain, and Togawa Smith Martin Architects, is inspired by the Warner Center 2035 master plan for the surrounding area, which calls for converting the Warner Center purpose-built business district into a functionally-diverse urban neighborhood. Among other things, the plan calls for “a mix of uses that are within walking distance of one another so people can easily walk rather than drive.” The area’s plan, to be implemented in 2035, would also aim to create "complete streets" that “accommodate alternatives to the car, in particular, an internal circulator in the form of a modern streetcar and ‘small slow vehicle’ lanes for bicycles, Segway-like vehicles, electric bicycles, other small electric vehicles, and any other vehicle that does not move faster than a bicycle.” Plans for the Westfield site would incorporate these principles through the addition of new internal, pedestrianized streets that connect to major thoroughfares as well as the use of the site as for “open streets” events that are closed to automobile traffic. Westfield Corporation’s plan for the Promenade mall, sitting just across the street from the area’s namesake Warner Center towers, calls for the addition of 1,400 residential units, 150,000 square feet creative office, 470,000 square feet Class-A office space, and 244,000 square feet of commercial retail space. The project will also contain a 272-room hotel adjacent to the creative offices and a second, 300-room hotel that will be physically connected to the Class-A office component. The housing components of the project will be arranged in low-rise courtyard complexes while the office and hotel components will hug the western and southern edges of the site. Another central component of the project involves a so-called “Entertainment and Sports Center” that will accommodate flexible seating for up to 15,000 spectators. The sports center will aim to boost the community-minded aspects of the new complex, with also include a one-acre central park and upwards of five-acres of rooftop gardens and patio spaces. Construction on the complex is due to begin in 2020 or 2021 and will continue in phases until 2035.
Placeholder Alt Text

Regen Projects sculpture exhibition fuses cars, mixed media, and music

Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas’s Autoconcanción, a collection of new sculptures, is on display at Regen Projects in Los Angeles. The collection of eight autobiographical, mixed-media installations uses the backseats from cars Cruzvillegas has used throughout his life and augments them with various apparatuses—lifting some on spindly stilts and shading others behind iridescent sheets of backlit, colored plastic. To these objects, the artist attaches radios that play reports from local stations. Each piece also contains some sort of native plant specimen perched somewhere, such as a palm tree still in its nursery bucket or a collection of oak saplings like those typically seen in Southern California freeway medians. The work, meant to be a reflection on Cruzvillegas’s life through Southern California car culture, is reflected via the Mexico City–based artist’s title for the exhibition, which translates to “car with song.”

Autoconcanción Regen Projects 6750 Santa Monica Boulevard Los Angeles Through October 22

Placeholder Alt Text

Michael Maltzan Architects designs exhibition for Huntington Library

  The exhibition, Lari Pittman: Mood Books, with works by artist Lari Pittman and exhibition design by Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA), is currently on view at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. Pittman is a Los Angeles—based visual artist who makes large-scale paintings that combine surrealism, geometric shapes, and narrative association with vivid color. The artist’s paintings vary widely in terms of size and scale and alternate between collections of single and multiple works. The exhibition on view features a collection of Pittman’s smaller recent works: six art-books containing a bound collection of 65 paintings by the artist, with the books resting on large pedestals designed by MMA. The tomes, styled in the manner of psychedelia-inspired illuminated manuscripts, are located in a dark, ancillary gallery and are removed from the museum’s permanent collection. Within that space, the books and their respective pedestals are organized in a straight line, with books open for viewing along alternating sides of the heavily articulated, painted plywood arrangement. MMA’s designs for the pedestals are articulated as stark-white, billowing forms, rendered in sumptuous planes with surface qualities halfway between those sheets of a paper and billowing drapery. Each pedestal is supported by four diminutive legs, where the form of each supported volume swoops down to touch the floor. Like sliced up milk cartons, the pedestals unfold and bend backward, connecting with adjacent pedestals to create one monolithic object. A light-gauge curved rod spans between the open section of each pedestal along the viewing edge, guarding Pittman’s works. A wall-based work on a touchscreen hangs, off in a the corner of the room, the small painting illuminated and pushed out from the wall by an exaggerated, extruded picture frame. The pages of each book will be turned throughout the course of the exhibition and all the sheets are accessible via the touch screen component. For more information on Mood Books, visit the Huntington Library website.
Placeholder Alt Text

Massimiliano Fuksas talks to AN about the Beverly Center renovation

The Beverly Center, an indoor shopping mall with 883,000 square feet of retail space in Los Angeles, is currently undergoing a $500-million renovation by Rome-based architecture firm Studio Fuksas. The mall, originally built in 1982, is a gigantic multi-level shopping center stacked above five floors of parking. It originally featured a Pompidou Center-style monumental staircase connecting the street to the mall above. The Architect's Newspaper's West Editor Antonio Pacheco interviewed Studio Fuksas Principal Massimiliano Fuksas over email to discuss the project. The Architect’s Newspaper: For a certain period of time, the Beverly Center was referred to as the "most popular tourist attraction in L.A. County." Which aspects of this project work toward reclaiming that mantle? Massimiliano Fuksas: The project pursues the understanding of shopping centers as a pivotal role in today's society, where they are perceived as magnets for social venues and cultural exchanges. The renovation does not consist only [of] the facade design, in order to enhance the building’s appeal, but is also meant to be regarded as an important step to rebrand the shopping center and create a new symbolic meeting area for luxury and contemporary retail in California. Which aspects of the redesign are aimed at creating a different identity for the complex? The chaotic Los Angeles environment evolves into the idea of representing a sense of fluidity and dynamism on the façade of the building. The elevations become white, continuously-reflective surfaces, and will reverberate through the fluctuation of the surrounding cityscape of Los Angeles: The reflected color of the sky superimposes itself upon the building’s materials and mixes with the environment. With the proposed reflecting envelope, the new landmark will change its appearance throughout the day and night and according to the public’s points of view. The fragmentation of the new skin dematerializes the existing volume, through the fluctuation of colors and the kinetic decomposition of the surfaces, into vibrating fragments. In addition, the metal mesh that wraps around the building gives a unique texture which will create an icon for the city. What is the new scheme doing to activate the street life around the Beverly Center? With the renovation, reflective and backlit perforated metal panels reverberate the interior lighting [to the outdoors], creating a visual luxury-promenade throughout the shopping floors. A sequence of curved voids punctures the floors and is intended to be a reminder of the fluidity found in the exterior façade, although in a more human scale as opposed to the urban scale of the exterior. This interaction between the inside and the outside is intended to create a sense of discovery for the users and culminates with a panoramic rooftop terrace. The terrace setting can be enjoyed, not only by the store visitors, but also attracts people and customers from the surrounding local communities. What are some of the ideas behind increasing the porosity of the building, in terms of views and access from within the Beverly Center itself? The idea is to take advantage of the unique location of Beverly Center by opening up the inside to the sky and to the spectacular views of the city. The continuous “river” skylight have a very strong connection to the void openings towards the city that are proposed in the mall, as well as feature ceiling lighting systems in the parking areas. These elements unify the whole building as one. Direct sunlight increases people’s perception of brightness. Larger and more articulated surface areas of the skylight increase the amount of direct sunlight available to shoppers. Entering the building, the visitors are guided through the floors by three-story atria and voids full of movement, which encourage activity throughout the commercial spaces. Large openings on the roof flood natural light through filtered skylights deep within the space to reach all shopping areas. The natural light will be perceived from the lowest levels of the Beverly Center in order to enhance the public areas and the retail activities.
Placeholder Alt Text

L.A.’s anti-development “Neighborhood Integrity Initiative” heads to March 2017 ballot

After being approved by their respective municipal bodies, a Los Angeles-area anti-development ballot measures isofficially heading to March 2017 ballot, raising many questions about the future of development and architecture in the region. The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously in September to send that city’s Neighborhood Integrity Initiative (NII)—a measure that would, among other things, block certain kinds of new development in the city for two years and force the city to update its General Plan—to the ballot. The approval comes a few weeks after supporters of the initiative delivered the necessary 104,000 signatures to City Hall, setting in motion the official leg of what has already been a brutal and painful political slog in the city. The initiative is organized by a group known as the Coalition to Preserve Los Angeles (CPLA), itself primarily funded by the nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). The group contends that the region’s recent development boom has had adverse impacts on the lives of its patients, who, because of new development, must now struggle with more traffic and rising rents. The group’s initiative, adopting the anti-establishment tenor of the other so-called populist movements of this election cycle, takes aim at politicians and developers. The group’s literature and social media presence paint a vivid picture: Los Angeles as a dystopia made up of crooked politicians in cahoots with monied developers, with both groups exploiting the city’s hugely outdated General Plan for personal and political gain at the expense of everything else, “neighborhood character” especially. But the organization’s goals—limited high-density development and the preservation of spread-out, low-density neighborhoods—also happen to align with the growing voices of so-called Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) groups. The suburban-minded citizenry supporting the NIMBY movement aim to use political and legislative maneuvers to maintain  sparse, auto-dependent neighborhoods, propping up property values and physically manifesting social stratification in the process. The Los Angeles region’s capacity for high-density housing has been slowly hemmed in by these groups over the decades, resulting in the current and ongoing housing crisis. Estimates indicate that the L.A. region would need to build more than a quarter-million units today just to keep up with demand, and as of December 2015, the region’s vacancy rate for rental units stood at a meager 2.7 percent, a historic and unhealthy low. Increasingly, academics and housing and social justice activists have argued that high rents resulting from low vacancy rates actively harm local economies and the poor. This idea has gained such prominence that even President Barack Obama has voiced his position. In the recently-released Housing Development Toolkit, President Obama calls for anti-NIMBY planning ideas, saying, “By modernizing their approaches to housing development regulation, states and localities can restrain unchecked housing cost growth, protect homeowners, and strengthen their economies.”   Amid the larger context of an intensifying regional homelessness crisis and the potential economic sluggishness resulting from high housing costs, one must ask which version of Los Angeles that the anti-development measures aim to preserve. One of the group’s central policy planks is the abolition of so-called “spot zoning” decisions, the types of lot-by-lot concessions working within contemporary Los Angeles’s outdated zoning code demands. Because Los Angeles’s zoning ordinances and current General Plan have not been updated since the 1990s, many of the large-scale projects delivering housing infrastructure to the region—luxury, affordable, and supportive alike—require “spot” modifications to the code in order to allow for the higher density and height associated with their development. CPLA, in a press release, accuses the City Council, where “campaign cash, gifts, and donations” are exchanged openly, of being too cozy with these developers, saying that benefactor developers “are allowed to destroy community character and max out local streets and water mains” through their use of these spot zoning measures. Because the Los Angeles City Council has the power to approve and make demands of development projects that need spot zoning variances, the opportunity for crooked politics is certainly rife, but many across the region are asking if an outright moratorium on spot zoning isn’t too drastic of a response given the current conditions. And because high-density housing development is already relatively limited to certain pockets and enough housing has not been built overall, the region is also contending with a parallel gentrification and displacement crisis. The initiative is seen by the development community as a project-killer and in pro-housing circles as a threat to working class neighborhoods. Housing advocates argue that a halt in construction would further limit the development of affordable units in tow with the luxury projects the initiative seeks to curb, and push wealthier professionals into working class neighborhoods, displacing residents further down the economic ladder. Michael Lehrer, principal at Lehrer Architects in Los Angeles, told The Architect's Newspaper (AN) via email, "The insidious effect of the new initiative will be a trickle down lack-of-housing. There will be less and less affordable housing, so that cheaper housing will be filled by people of more means. More people of lesser means will then become homeless." NII backers, though, have successfully peddled fear and suspicion through their campaign, bringing together an unholy alliance of Hollywood celebrities, anti-gentrification and working class advocacy groups, and wealthy landowners, blaming the skyline-changing projects for altering a perceived sense of “neighborhood character” and decrying the city’s “rigged development system.” These groups ignore the fact that the largest impediment to the city’s affordability lies not with luxury towers, but with an overabundance of single family homes and low-density zoning. If Los Angeles is to get more affordable, it must densify—not continue to spread out into the desert. Lehrer went on to say that restricting development as the NII proposes to do "radically restricts housing development. Legitimate concerns about lesser quality development must be answered with higher collective, legislative, and political leadership for design excellence and thoughtful urbanism and architecture that cherishes streets and quality pedestrian experience. That’s what we must always focus on and demand." In Santa Monica, the proposed Measure LV is on the Nobember 2016 ballot and would dole out even more draconian measures by requiring every building built taller than 32 feet in height to be put to a public vote. Regarding how anti-development initiatives like Measure LV would impact the ability of local architects to produce innovative architectural solutions that work toward alleviating the housing crisis, Julie Eizenberg and Hank Koning of Santa Monica—based Koning Eizenberg Architects told AN, “Requiring a public vote on buildings over 32-feet will inhibit any creative solutions in the development of multi-unit housing. Project budgets will stay the same, but the money currently spent on inventive solutions and creative design will instead be spent campaigning for a public vote. It’s a shame people are so afraid.” The Santa Monica ordinance would also upturn decades of civic progress for the beachside municipality that has a long tradition of mixed use development and pedestrian life. Worse still, the recently-opened Expo Line extension to the city from Downtown Los Angeles has reinvigorated the city’s potential for transit-oriented development; Measure LV would decapitate that energy with generational consequences. Koning and Eizenberg take issue with the relatively-low height threshold imposed by the measure, saying, “Under the current code, the maximum height that can be built by-right on most boulevards in Santa Monica is already 32-feet. Anything over that, up to a cap of 55-feet, goes through the Development Review Process that involves extensive public hearings. In most cases, we’re only arguing about 23-feet—but those feet make all the difference in terms of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and housing creation." The Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIALA) also recently came out against Measure LV, saying in a press release, “Measure LV ... is extreme, costly, and would result in devastating consequences ranging from haphazard planning, increased housing costs and decreased supply of affordable housing.” AIALA argues that the measure would undermine the city's Land Use and Circulation Element, a planning instrument already developed for Santa Monica via a “20-year-long democratic process.” The organization points out that Measure LV would hinder the development of housing units, overall, undercut the orderly planning approaches already in place through unpredictable voter approvals, lacks exemptions for public buildings like firehouses, and could also potentially limit the effectiveness of the city’s Architectural Review Board. L.A's measure, among several development-related initiatives that have gained traction this election year, will have to wait until the presidential election is over to have its test before voters. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Two historic L.A. structures saved from demolition (for now)

Two historically-significant structures in Los Angeles were temporarily granted a reprieve from the wrecking ball last month when both were approved by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Committee (CHC) to receive cultural landmark status as a Historic-Cultural Monument. One structure, the Charlotte and Robert Disney House, a craftsman bungalow that served as Walt Disney’s first Los Angeles residence and the location of his first animation and production facilities in the region, was recently being eyed as a potential tear-down property. A demolition permit was filed by the owner to remove the one story structure and garage to enable new construction. Located in the Los Feliz neighborhood, the house originally owned by Walt Disney’s uncle and aunt, and was used by the visionary storyteller as a temporary residence in the early 1920s when he first moved to the Los Angeles area.  The structure was recently listed on the Los Angeles Conservancy’s preservation watch list, a designation that brought public attention to its impending demolition and helped convince the CHC to take action on the structure's nomination. Adrian Scott-Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy, credited a diverse partnership between activists and city officials for the preservation success, telling The Architect's Newspaper (AN) over the telephone, “The Disney residence represents another threatened building where the Department of City Planning stepped up to the plate and initiated the nomination process.” Community and political will toward preserving the vernacular structure was anchored by the cultural and symbolic importance of Disney’s work in that community and in Los Angeles at-large. A second structure, the midcentury modern Lytton Savings Bank building designed by Kurt W. Meyer in 1960 , has also cleared the CHC’s vetting process. That structure has been under threat of demolition to make way for 8150 Sunset, a Gehry and Partners-designed development proposed by Townscape Partners. The $300-million complex is organized as a pair of towers stacked above an articulated podium, rising between five and 15 stories above the city, on a site carved into multiple, leafy public plazas fronting the Sunset Strip. The design for 8150 Sunset was approved by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission (LACPC) in August and aims to add 249-units of market rate housing, 37 units of affordable housing, as well as 65,000 square feet of retail space. One problem: The developer’s preferred scheme calls for a blank site, wiped clean of the historic bank. The bank’s architectural features, a roof made of folded concrete plates and expanses of glass and stone, invigorated preservationists to make a case for the structure. Scott-Fine told AN that the Gehry project, as presented, would “unnecessarily demolish a historic cultural monument,” and that “there's a very clear way for this project to move forward while preserving the bank building.” The developers were prepared for this turn of events and presented various options for the development to the LACPC in an Environmental Impact Report, including several of which called for the preservation and restoration of the bank structure. The project has been controversial on multiple levels, with other neighborhood factions decrying the project’s density, height, and massing. The LACPC’s project approval itself was contingent on the developers boosting the affordable housing component of the project by nine additional units, from 28 units to 37 units. Regarding where preservation in relation to other complex urban issues like affordability, gentrification, and development, Scott-Fine told AN, “One doesn’t trump another, nor are they mutually exclusive. You can achieve multiple goals at once,” adding, "Starchitecture doesn't trump our heritage." Next, both of the structures will head to the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee for final approval of their nomination status. So far, Townscape Partners have not issued a statement on the bank's nomination. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Jai & Jai Gallery becomes an essential hub for L.A.’s young artist-designers

Jai & Jai Gallery, a 350-square-foot exhibition space sandwiched between a barbecue smokehouse and a former vintage music store in Los Angeles’ Chinatown neighborhood, is a beacon in the city’s bustling young architecture scene. Whereas older generations strove for the empty warehouses of Culver City and Santa Monica, a new generation of designers is looking toward the inner city as a place to make and exhibit art and design, positioning galleries and art spaces like Jai & Jai as loci of experimentation for the city’s foremost millennial makers. This scene at Jai & Jai is typical of an opening night: As a heavy mix of creative young professionals gossip about their latest projects, Jomjai and Jaitip Srisomburananont, the sisters behind the gallery, hold court with potential buyers, guide new visitors toward wine, and play host to what often has more in common with a low-key San Fernando Valley house party than any staid Westside art gallery opening. Jaitip explains to The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) that though the gallery’s social importance is somewhat unintentional, it reflects a deeply personal part of who they are as individuals, saying the transformation from art space to social hub “mostly happened organically; [our events] always have that ‘Jai & Jai vibe.’ It’s just like how we treat our family: You come to our house, have a drink, see some art. Thankfully, it’s echoed through our business as well.” The Jais, as they are known by the ever-expanding social scene surrounding the gallery, keep a frenetic pace at these openings, and if you manage to grab their attention, it’s usually only for a few minutes. Mid-conversation, if you’re, say, discussing writing an article about the show at hand, Jomjai will pull out her iPhone to tap out an email (to you). She’ll then pivot to someone who looks like a prospective buyer and deliver him or her to the featured artist before moving on to someone else, maybe an intern snapping photographs or someone potentially cooking up the gallery’s next show. The Jais do this for hours, until the gallery shuts down and the party moves to one of the nearby dive bars. By the time you get home that night, you’ll likely have another email waiting for you and maybe even a press kit. It might seem cliché to focus on this aspect of the gallery first, but it reflects a larger and equally obvious truth of the Los Angeles art and architecture economy of today: It takes a lot of hard work to make things happen. This tendency is something of a common denominator for the Jais, the resident social patrons who frequent their gallery, and the exhibited artists themselves. Of those two latter groups, many are early-on in their careers and necessarily run art and design practices parallel to their 9-5 jobs. They also use their exhibited artworks to fund or support client-based commissions for their own independent practices. Many other are fresh out of school, having recently launched their own practices, or are teaching at an area architecture schools. Jomjai describes the gallery as, “More of an open forum” than an incubator, where the sibling gallerists “allow an opening for new ideas.” According to the sisters, the gallery provides young practitioners “a chance to express themselves, their ideas and theories, whether they’re artistic, academic, or architectural.” Jaitip adds, “We like to engage everyone and for us, the gallery acts as platform that lets us do that at equal levels.” Since it opened in 2012, a who’s who of L.A.’s rising stars have exhibited work on the gallery’s walls, creating a self-reinforcing narrative for the storefront as a kick-back space for the city’s young, energetic, and experimental designers. The gallery, which recently expanded into the neighboring thrift store, intentionally takes on challenging exhibitions and works with its artists to chart new terrain. In 2015, Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular wrapped the interior of the exhibition space in panels of his trademark architectural cartoons, transforming the tiny space into a cave-like work of art. The work, Beachside Lonelyhearts, is carved up into a series of truncated and geometrically-shaped canvases; fragments of it can still be found in Jai & Jai’s growing archive. The year prior, Laurel Consuelo Broughton of Welcome Projects and Andrew Kovacs came together for a three-part show. Their Gallery Attachment and As-Built exhibitions took place in a parking lot across the street and inside the gallery, respectively. The parking lot show exhibited monochromatic, full-scale elements of architectural oddities while the show inside the gallery displayed a collection of measured as-built drawings made from the team’s collection of detritus outside. The duo also produced a zine to accompany and compliment their other trans-dimensional, multimedia works. Broughton told AN, “Before Jai & Jai the only spaces in Los Angeles for architectural exhibitions were institutionally sponsored. Being small and without institutional ties allows the gallery to exhibit work outside the traditional comfort zone for architecture and design,” to which Kovacs added, "Jai & Jai is an absolute asset for architecture in Los Angeles. I feel the gallery has a very open and flexible outlook that makes it possible to take risks with shows and explore new ideas." Mike Nesbit, independent artist and project designer at L.A.–based architecture firm Morphosis, has exhibited works of his “abstract-technical” art at Jai & Jai several times. His glitch-pointillist drawings and thickly-silkscreened, supersized concrete panel canvases filled the space last autumn for his Swipe show. The artist carted in massive slabs of cement coated in toothsome swipes of colored paint, lending a bit of L.A.’s abstract art bona fides to the space. And more recently, Clark Thenhaus of Endemic Architecture deployed office-based research as an exhibition titled Mind Your Mannerisms that catalogs, interprets, and manipulates San Francisco’s architectural turrets in paintings and models. Thenhaus’s show is the eighth show at Jai & Jai in the last year, with probably an equal number of gallery talks and panel discussions to support the exhibitions and promote other creative endeavors happening in the space over this period, as well. Thenhaus described the value of a space like Jai & Jai to AN  via email, saying, “The gallery enables a kind of exploratory freedom to more deeply consider and speculate on building and practice-related ideas in ways that cannot be achieved to the same level through more conventional outlets or client projects as a young office,” adding, “The value of this is, for a young practice, a way to stake an intellectual claim while also working directly on, and through, ideas related to disciplinary interests or to buildings that are yet to be fully designed or built.” If it seems like the work seems is all over the place, that’s because it is, and by design. The Jais intentionally take on challenging exhibitions and work with their artists to chart new terrain. Jaitip explains, “The main component through and through and from the beginning, has always been to engage the audience, whether they agree with the work or not.” This engagement plays out in the constantly changing gallery displays, which transform the space over and over again as the year goes on. Jaitip explained that for her, group shows like the 2014 show Chess, which showcased showpiece chess sets by a slew of designers, are the most rewarding, remarking, “To us, as gallerists, group shows are really inspiring to work on because [we coordinate] a group of people who believe in one concept and help bring them come together to tell a story. Chess and Bust were defining moments for Jai & Jai Gallery, as was Goods Used.” The gallery also timed the debut of their new online print shop with another group show earlier this year, Resolution – The Digital Print Group Exhibition, that used numbered prints of the work on display as a way of lowering the cost barrier for potential buyers. Jaitip explains, “We developed limited edition prints of these exhibited pieces to sell to a younger crowd and open up another branch for the gallery as a business and an organization that supports this type of success.” Chess sets and cartoon-caves as cutting edge architecture? In L.A., yes. That’s because the L.A. art and architecture scene is in a primal flux, not because art and architecture haven’t gone hand-in-hand here since the days of the deconstructionists and blobitects, but because in certain segments of the professional and academic architecture scene, they have become one and the same. Whether it’s the proximity to entertainment culture, the easier access to larger studio spaces, or the more readily available infrastructure for large-scale art production, L.A.-based architects are dabbling in a simultaneity of production and exhibition. Jai & Jai plays a central role in that conversation. As the Jais told me at the end of our conversation, they aim to keep working. “The goal is always to grow. Just grow, and to do that organically.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Design, Bitches creates new “coffee classroom” in L.A. for Counter Culture Coffee

Design, Bitches has designed a new “coffee classroom” in Los Angeles for North Carolina–based Counter Culture Coffee’s growing list of national outposts.

The classroom occupies a repurposed Streamline Moderne structure just off Sunset Boulevard and is designed in plan as a tripartite demonstration kitchen. Espresso and brewed coffee facilities are separated by a thickened and stepped storage wall clad in translucent teal corrugated polycarbonate. Sections of the wall can be pulled out to create storage bins and seating. The coffee classroom on the other side of this wall opens out onto a small patio that contains a wooden amphitheater. The corrugated paneling also clads the risers of the amphitheater, which is peppered with small planters containing succulents.

Though the classroom is not a coffee shop per se, the space is open every Friday at 10:00 a.m. for public coffee tastings.

Counter Culture Training Center 1601 Griffith Park Blvd. Silver Lake, CA Tel: 323-919-7859