This editor's recent piece on the divide between architectural education and architectural practice has spurred a lot of discussion, prompting both high praise for addressing a worsening problem and charges of, ahem, "neoconservatism." If it's a debate that interests you, please join us next Tuesday, May 29 at Gensler's new headquarters for the panel discussion, "A Teaching Moment." Panelists include UCLA's Neil Denari, Michael Maltzan, USC's Alice Kimm, Woodbury's Barbara Bestor, SCI-Arc's John Enright, and Gensler's Li Wen. At the panel we will discuss not only the schism between practice and education, but also new approaches toward technology, urbanism, and more. See you there!
Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":
The dream of again riding a streetcar in Downtown LA is one step closer to reality. Blogdowntown reports that an environmental review is now underway for two potential routes. The two paths, each four-miles long, were selected as part of the federally-required Alternatives Analysis (AA) process and were recently sent to METRO’s Planning & Programming Committee and Construction Committee. According to a press release from LA Councilmember Jose Huizar’s office, the primary route "proceeds south on Broadway from 1st Street to 11th Street, west to Figueroa Street, north to 7th Street, east to Hill Street, and north, terminating at 1st Street. The route would also include the ability to travel up 1st Street and into Bunker Hill on Grand Avenue as funding becomes available.” The alternate route would travel east on 9th Street instead of on 7th Street. If approved the streetcars would run 18 hours a day, seven days a week, according to blogdowntown, and would service the 500,000 workers and 50,000 residents in the area. The site describes the streetcars’ expected style as sleek and modern, similar to those of Portland and Seattle. Cost estimates for the project are in the area of $110-$125 million, according to published reports. While city sources have raised $10 million so far, a tax on property owners near the route must be passed before federal grants (covering half of the cost) can be requested. Passage of the tax would require two-thirds approval from the area's roughly 7,000 voters. Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. (LASI), which is heading up the project’s development and fundraising, is a public/private non-profit partnership composed of Downtown LA stakeholders. The formal environmental review and preliminary engineering process is estimated to take about a year, while groundbreaking is planned for 2014 and completion for 2016, according to the Huffington Post. Councilman Huizar’s press release cites an AECOM study estimating that the streetcar "would generate 9,300 new jobs, $1.1 billion in new development, $24.5 million in new annual tourism and consumer spending, and $47 million in new city revenue – all above projections for Downtown’s future without a streetcar.”
Robert Adams: The Place We Live Los Angeles County Museum of Art 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles Through June 3 In his 45 years photographing the American West, Robert Adams has documented the evolution of landscape and our relationship to it. In response to the rapid development of his surroundings in Colorado Springs and Denver, Adams began photographing a landscape marked by tract housing, highways, and gas stations. His photographs, Adams says, “document a separation from ourselves, and in turn from the natural world that we professed to love.” Nearly 300 prints showcase Adams’ career, from his early shots of Colorado’s desolate terrain to his recent works documenting migrating birds in the Pacific Northwest, with special focus on his portrayal of the Los Angeles region.
The building of a proposed neighborhood symbol on the corner of Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards in Silver Lake has been pushed back due to lack of funds. After winning the Envisioning Silver Lake competition last summer, LA firm ALLTHATISSOLID (ATIS) has been working with the city's Bureau of Street Services (BSS) to scale back and refine the design, called "Bloomrs," to fit the $100,000 budget with room for curbing and other street improvements included. The saddle-shaped structure, made of Cor-ten steel, has already been re-designed to occupy a smaller footprint and rises to a shorter height. The funding hiccup seems to have its roots in the hazy project scope, presented during the competition. “Our budget allocated for everything that we designed, but it didn’t include street improvements and curbing and intersection reconfiguration,” said Heather McGinn, partner at ATIS, who further clarified that the original proposal was only $6,000 over the $100,000 budget, set aside from the state’s $1.5 million Metro Call for Projects program. ATIS and the bureau are now trying to secure additional funds, estimated around $50,000 to $70,000, said Robert Gutierrez, Streetscape Section Supervisor of BSS. Pending funding and design, the “saddle” should be ready by Spring 2013.
Over the weekend, over 100,000 pedestrians and cyclists packed the streets of Los Angeles for the city's CicLAvia open streets initiative, a play off of the the Ciclovia in Bogotá, Columbia which popularized the movement to shut down city streets to cars and turn them over to the community for a day. But masses of people taking to the streets wasn't the big news out of LA. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made a surprise announcement that the city is the latest to join the bike share craze that's been pedaling across the nation. When it opens later this year, LA's bike share system will be among the largest in the country, so AN decided to take stock of where some of the biggest initiatives stand today. Los Angeles will be partnering with local bike share company Bike Nation to bring 4,000 bikes distributed over 400 stations throughout the city, marking a $16 million investment by the company. Bike sharing programs have been popular because of these public-private partnerships where the physical infrastructure is paid for by a private operator and funded by branding and member fees. According to StreetsBlog LA, the mayor said, "Angelenos are aching for a day without a car." He jokingly invoked the catch-phrase "Carmaheaven" describing the splendor of car-free streets created during last year's infamous Carmageddon. A previous attempt at initiating a bike share program failed in 2008 as many worried a flood of inexperienced cyclists would overwhelm the city, but times have changed. The city hopes to have the program installed in phases over the next couple years, with the first bikes hitting the streets as early as the end of the year. Farther north in California, a regional bike share system is taking shape in San Francisco and several Silicon Valley cities. 500 bike will be distributed throughout downtown San Francisco just before the opening of the America's Cup boat race. An additional 500 bikes will be located near transit stops in Redwood City, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and San Jose. StreetsBlog SF reports that the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has set a goal of 20 percent of trips in the city on bike by 2020. On the east coast, New York's massive 10,000 bike strong system will be the largest in the country by far and is expected to open this July. The city has been presenting preliminary station maps to community boards after a public input process earlier this year and a finalized map is expected to be released soon. 600 stations are planned across Manhattan and Brooklyn. Excitement across the city has been growing as evidenced by a recent bike share exhibition at the Center for Architecture. In Chicago, many have been waiting to see if DOT Commissioner Gabe Klein can pull of another bike share success story like he did when he helped set up a Capital Bikeshare in Washington, DC. His newest program will launch this September, sprinkling some 3,000 bikes across 300 stations in the Windy City with another 2,000 bikes and 200 more stations in the following two years. Mobility in the city took one additional step forward last Friday as the Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Committee approved a contract with Alta Bike Share of Portland, Oregon to provide the thousands of new bikes. But not to be left out, that bike Mecca of American cities—Portland—is starting up its own bike share system as well. The city released an RFP for a bike operator in March and bids are due at the end of May. With an anticipated opening set for April 2013, expect to see even more bikes will be cruising the Rose City. Bike Portland noted that the city is hoping to use the bike stations as place-making devices to maximize their benefits. Citizens are currently being invited to propose bike station locations on an interactive map.
The biggest new architecture project in Los Angeles just got a much smaller list of candidates. The General Services Administration (GSA) has released the shortlist for the new U.S. Courthouse in LA, a design-build project where architects are partnered with builders. When completed, the building, located on a 3.7 acre lot at 107 South Broadway, will measure 600,000 square feet. It’s projected to cost $322 million and be completed by 2016. The shortlisted teams include: Skidmore Owings and Merrill with Clark Yazdani Studio and Gruen Associates with Hensel Phelps Brooks + Scarpa and HMC Architects with McCarthy NBBJ Architects with Mortensen Shortlisted firms will now be expected to submit plans as part of a Request For Proposals. The winner is expected to be named by this August or September, and design is set to begin by the end of this year. Those who didn’t make the cut included Morphosis, Michael Maltzan Architects, Ehrlich Architects, AC Martin, Johnson Fain Architects, Fentress Architects, Rios Clementi Hale, and Cannon Design. Another exclusion was Perkins + Will, who GSA originally chose to design the project before it stalled several years ago.
Breaking Ground: Chinese American Architects in Los Angeles (1945–1980) The Chinese American Museum 425 North Los Angeles St., Los Angeles Through June 3 As part of the Pacific Standard Time initiative, the Chinese American Museum presents Breaking Ground to showcase the pioneering contributions made by four Southern California–based Chinese American architects. These architects, Eugene K. Choy, Gilbert Leong, Helen Liu Fong, and Gin Wong, all made contributions to the development of postwar California architecture, from Choy and Leong’s playful Chinatown Modernism to Wong’s radical masterplan for LAX and Fong’s development of the Googie style (think neon signage and cantilevered boomerang-shaped roofs). Original and reproduced photographs, blueprints, renderings, and drawings of works by the architects are on display, including original photographs by architectural photographer Julius Shulman (above, The Choy House).
LA’s proposed 44-acre Hollywood Central Park, which would be set atop the capped 101 Freeway between Santa Monica and Hollywood boulevards, made new friends in Washington last week, according to the LA Daily News. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood met with local congressman Adam Schiff and Friends of the Hollywood Central Park (FHCP), a non-profit formed in 2008 to raise funds for the park. LaHood expressed interest in the project, and provided insights on its development and possible benefits. He also offered to have members of his staff contribute to its planning process. As noted in the FHCP website, the park would be built on a deck constructed over the below grade portion of the freeway in that area, allowing easy park access from adjacent streets. FHCP stated that the “44-acre street level urban park allows us to rethink and reimagine our physical environment," adding that the final design would incorporate ideas developed by students at the USC School of Architecture's Master Landscape Studio. AECOM and The Olin Studio have also completed studies for the project. Park features would include “an amphitheater, walking trails, a dog park, a children’s playground, water features, recreational facilities and much more.” The AECOM feasibility study estimates the cost of building the park at $949 million; a more recent cost estimate by Psomas Engineering puts the total development cost closer to $1.15 billion. It's among several freeway cap parks proposed in the city. While $2 million in funding for the park’s EIR was approved by the CRA/LA Board in December 2011, the recent banishment of California's redevelopment agencies puts the funding in question. FHCP board members are working to resolve the issue and say they are moving forward with development. Once the EIR is completed, the feasibility report estimates that the park would take four years to complete.
It appears that AIA/LA is serious about opening a new architecture center, a storefront, multi-use space similar to that of the Center for Architecture in New York (above). According to a now expired post on Idealist.org, they’re looking for (and rumored to have already hired) a new fulltime “Campaign Director” for an $8 to 15 million capital campaign to “support the acquisition and renovation of an existing building for the new Center for Architecture and Urban Design Los Angeles,” and “create an endowment to maintain this new property.” According to the post the center will be “a highly collaborative organization that builds strong relationships with other organizations to carry out its mission.” The center is rumored to contain not just AIA offices and exhibition and event spaces, but perhaps spaces for the A+D Architecture and Design Museum and the Urban Land Institute's Los Angeles chapter.
You'd better get used to it, Los Angeles is remaking itself from a one trick pony town where car is king into a multimodal city for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. The latest improvement is Sunset Triangle Plaza, the city's first pedestrian plaza created by a new collaboration called Streets for People (S4P) that hopes to churn out dozens new pedestrian-oriented spaces a year across the city. The green-on-green polka dot plaza officially opened this month to crowds of gleeful pedestrians in the hip enclave of Silver Lake, northwest of Downtown LA. The year-long pilot project was designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios, who said the design is open to interpretation. "The dots play off of D.O.T., the abbreviation for Department of Transportation, which is integral to the Streets for People program," said firm principal Frank Clementi in a statement. The 11,000 square foot plaza at Sunset Boulevard and Griffith Park connects the neighborhood to a small triangular pocket park previously stranded in a sea of streets and plays host to a twice-weekly farmers market. Moveable bistro tables and chairs, also in green, fill the plaza and large pots filled with drought resistant plants serve as bollards at its perimeter. Streets for People is an initiative of LA's Planning Commission and and the LA County Department of Public Health that hopes to reclaim underutilized street space in LA. "Using paint and planters allows us to recapture streets for people in months rather than decades, and for thousands—rather than millions—of dollars," said William Roschen, president of the LA Planning Commission, in a statement. "Now that we have the process, template, and cooperation of city departments and the community, we have several key variables in place to do upward of 40 projects a year."
Those of you who thought Ice Cube was the only music star to love architecture, think again. It turns out that the bespectacled hipster god Moby is an even more dedicated disciple, even producing his own blog on the topic. The web site, simply called Moby Los Angeles Architecture Blog, launched about two weeks ago. While Moby calls his ramblings "pointless," "self-indulgent," and "oddball," we love it. The blog is already populated with atmospheric architectural photography—ranging from the prosaic to the epic—and often intelligent musings. Take for example this on-the-mark observation:
One of the things that fascinates and baffles me about l.a is the randomness and accidental beauty and strangeness of the architecture here. Every day I arbitrarily see buildings and houses and odd structures that go from the beautiful to the banal, usually within 10 feet of each other." The artist is especially interested in the secret nature of LA's best buildings. His most recent post documents a "moorish early 20th century quasi castle" in Hollywood. Says Moby: "Most cities are populated by remarkable architecture that’s pretty easy to find (chrysler building, st. peters, kremlin, big ben, etc). l.a is populated by about a million hidden gems.Read more at Moby Los Angeles Architecture.
With all the news coming out of Gensler lately we've officially declared November Gensler Month. The latest is the firm's new offices inside the Jewel Box building in Downtown LA, a glassy former bank branch located between huge towers at City National Plaza. Completed in record time (construction didn't start until about March of this year) the project, headed by Gensler Associate Richard Hammond, feels like a miniature city with flexible, open banks of offices and small, colorful meeting spaces abutting the open atrium—created by cutting a 30 foot by 50 foot skylight in the ceiling—that defines the space and provides views throughout the interior and onto the city at large. The offices contain an unmistakeable energy collected from the whirl of activity and people and from the connection to the city. The firm, which moved in a week ago, has signed a 12 year lease and can sign two 5-year extensions, so it looks like they'll be here for a while.