Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":

L.A. Conservancy fights to landmark CBS’s Television City

While William Pereira’s Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) may soon face the wrecking ball in favor of Peter Zumthor’s tar-inspired blob, the Los Angeles Conservancy is trying to ensure that another iconic Pereira building remains. On Monday, the Conservancy filed an application to landmark Pereira and Luckman’s Television City, an International Style icon at the corner of Beverly and Fairfax. CBS is reportedly considering a sale of the site, which brokers have valued at anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion. Built in 1952, Television City was one of the first complexes constructed specifically for television production and broadcasting. Containing sound stages, studios, editing rooms, offices, and rehearsal halls, its rectangular volumes are clad in black and white walls of glass and stucco, with red accents. The complex has hosted The Carol Burnett Show, All in the Family, and The Ed Sullivan Show, and is currently home to The Price Is Right and The Late Late Show with James Corden. Landmark designation would require preservation design review and approval through the city’s Office of Historic Resources to guide any redevelopment and adaptive reuse of the campus, including new infill construction.

2017 Best of Design Awards for Facade

2017 Best of Design Award for Facade United States Courthouse - Los Angeles Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Location: Los Angeles, California

The new United States Courthouse, a LEED Platinum structure, meets its energy target of 35kBTU/GSF annual consumption through a variety of sustainable design features. The most visible is the facade—a solution that gracefully responds to the solar orientation of the site. A key challenge was to manage intense sun exposure from the east and west while maintaining the building’s alignment with the street grid. The pleated facade design incorporates shaded panels in east- and west-facing pleats to minimize solar thermal gain, and transparent glass panels in north- and south-facing pleats to maximize natural daylight inside the courthouse. This reduces annual solar radiation load and central plant load while lending visual dimension to the facade.

"At a time when much design effort is confined to the envelope, this project stands out for its intelligence in aligning environmental performance with architectural goals across various scales." —Eric Bunge, principal, nARCHITECTS (juror) Owner: General Services Administration General Contractor: Clark Construction Group Facade Contractor: Benson Industries Blast Engineering: Applied Research Associates Inc. Mechanical and Electrical Engineering: Syska Hennessy Group Inc.   Honorable Mention Project: University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Kate Tiedemann College of Business Architect: ikon .5 architects, Harvard Jolly Architects Location: St. Petersburg, Florida Inspired by the indigenous coral stone of Tampa Bay, the 68,000-square-foot Tiedemann College of Business is conceived as a porous container. The most unique feature of the building is its glass facade: The composition consists of a ceramic fritted first pane that is double-run with two tones of a circular pattern and a mirrored second pane that allows views out while reflecting the first pane’s patterned coating.

Renderings revealed for 11-story, A+D Museum–adjacent L.A. office tower

Architects Gensler and Legendary Development have revealed renderings for a long-anticipated 11-story development on an existing L-shaped parking lot surrounding the A+D Museum in Downtown Los Angeles. The proposed tower will be located at 4th and Hewitt Streets in L.A.’s booming Arts District and will contain up to 255,000 square feet of office spaces, 15,000 square feet of ground floor retail uses, 11,000 square feet of common areas, and 538 parking stalls. The 8,950-square-foot A+D Museum is to remain, though it will shrink to 7,800 square feet, according to a preliminary Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Rios Clementi Hale is performing landscape architecture services for the project, Urbanize.LA reports. The renderings were first published by Curbed LA. The development, according to the renderings, is designed to approximate the Arts District’s industrial vernacular aesthetic and will feature four lower levels designed to look like surrounding late nineteenth century factory buildings. These levels come complete with divided light, factory-style windows and exposed concrete frame elements. The lower portion of the building will be topped by a seven-story glass curtain wall–clad building mass that is highlighted on various corners by bump-out volumes and inset balcony spaces. The complex will overlook the existing A+D Museum and will be accessed from a courtyard currently adjacent to the museum. The project comes as the areas around the A+D Museum and adjacent Southern California Institute of Architecture campus see an increase in office-containing projects. Several former industrial complexes—including an old Coca Cola syrup factory and a defunct Maxwell House Coffee roastery—are being adapted and expanded as developers work to meet growing demand for office space in the district. Other areas of the neighborhood are seeing a boom in residential and mixed-use development, as well. The Draft EIR indicates that the project team expects to break ground on the project in 2019, with completion scheduled for 2021.

27-story tower to rise next to Halprin’s Grand-Hope Park in downtown L.A.

Developer Forest City West and architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) have unveiled renderings for a new 27-story apartment tower slated for construction on a site directly opposite the Lawrence Halprin–designed Grand-Hope Park in Downtown Los Angeles. The residential tower—currently known as 949 Hope Street—will feature 236 market-rate apartments as well as 6,700 square feet of ground floor retail spaces, Urbanize.la reports. Renderings for the tower depict a glass curtain wall–clad monolith anchored to the street by a low, single-story plinth containing retail and sidewalk seating. The tower’s base is topped along this commercial wing with an amenity level that is depicted as a rooftop garden and lounge. This level extends behind the tower into the center of the block, where parking and more terrace spaces are located. The building features a rounded corner that demarcates a cut-through walkway along the southern edge of the site and also features inset balconies along each facade. The tower is topped, according to the renderings, with a rooftop pool and a circular indoor lounge area. The project is slated for a booming quarter of L.A.’s downtown known as South Park. The area is currently ablaze with construction cranes, as the first of upwards of 20 residential and high-end hotel towers take shape in the areas surrounding the Los Angeles Convention Center and L.A. Live entertainment complexes just to the south of the 949 Hope Street site. The northern section of the neighborhood—where the proposed tower will be located—has seen a sharp increase in high- and mid-rise residential projects over the last few years, with many more on the way. The area was originally targeted for growth in the late 1980s—with the help of Halprin and developer Maguire Partners—who envisioned Grand-Hope park as the southern cap of a district-wide parks system that would connect residential areas with corporate office towers located several blocks to the north on Bunker Hill. Though many elements of that parks system were never implemented, Halprin’s designs for the bookend parks—Grand-Hope Park to the south and Maguire Gardens at the north—were built and currently function as urban oases amid the flurry of construction. Grand-Hope Park shares a site with the postmodern-style, Jerde-designed Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising from 1993 and is heavily used by neighborhood residents. There are concerns among park preservationists over whether the mature trees in Grand-Hope park might be singed by the light reflected from the many glass towers sprouting up in the area. Tellingly, representations of the park are mostly omitted in the newly-released renderings. The 949 Hope Street project is slated for completion sometime in 2020.

First renderings revealed for the Weingart Center’s trio of Skid Row towers

The first images of the Weingart Center’s Downtown Los Angeles towers have been released by San Diego–based Joseph Wong Design Associates, and the supportive housing towers are shaping up to stand apart from their neighbors. Rising across from each other on 6th Street and wedged between San Pedro and Crocker streets, the two projects (three buildings total) could provide up to 1,000 units of affordable housing on Skid Row once complete. Wrapping around the Weingart Center’s headquarters at 556 San Pedro Street, the new complexes will help expand the Center’s mission of providing transitionary housing and long-term case management to the neighborhood’s homeless population. According to the Weingart Center’s website, the 210,000-square-foot first phase of the project at 554 S. San Pedro Street will be split between two buildings and offer 80 percent permanent supportive housing for the formerly homeless, and 20 percent for affordable housing. Besides the new 228 efficiency units and 50 one-bedroom units, renderings show several open-air green areas embedded throughout each tower for residents to enjoy along with accessible rooftop space. The first phase will also include a 6,000-square-foot multipurpose area, recreation and fitness facilities, and be built to an unspecified level of LEED certification. An 18 story U-shaped building that wraps around an interior courtyard is shown in the renderings, while the separate 12 story tower hasn’t been shown in the images released. Across the street at 600 S South Pedro Street is the 19-story second site. Projected to bring 303 units to the area, 298 of them set aside for very low income individuals, the tower will also incorporate 20,000 square feet of ground floor retail. Featuring a four story wrap-around glass curtain wall at the base and patterned with cladding similar to its nearby partner, the two towers are set to make a splash in the low-slung neighborhood when finished. While other dedicated low income housing buildings in the area have traditionally been of the less expensive wood frame variety and much shorter, the Weingart Center’s ambitious project is part of a growing trend in the supportive housing world. Skid Row Housing Trust, another human services organization in the area, has also filed plans for a 77,000-square-foot, 14-story development nearby. Chelsea Investment Corporation is developing the project, and estimated completion for the first phase is in spring 2021 with the exact phasing of each site unknown at this time.

AN speaks with the architect behind L.A.’s beleaguered Parker Center

The Parker Center complex in the Downtown Los Angeles Civic Center is quickly moving toward demolition in recent months as the City of Los Angeles begins to make headway on a new master plan for the district. The complex originally opened in 1955 and was designed by legendary L.A. architecture firm Welton Becket & Associates as a headquarters for the Los Angeles Police Department. The building has been featured prominently in films depicting the city and is largely intact, architecturally speaking. The complex, however, was controversial from its inception. The police headquarters takes up a full city block in an area that was once part of the commercial heart of the Little Tokyo neighborhood, a factor that weighed heavily on and ultimately derailed recent efforts to grant historic status to Parker Center. On top of that, the complex carries a great deal of psychological baggage due to its use as a base of operations by the LAPD during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, an event associated with widespread police abuse and dysfunction. Perhaps understandably, instead of saving the structure, city agencies are instead working full-speed toward organizing its demolition. Urbanize.la reports that the city recently sent out RFPs to interested parties to solicit demolition bids; estimates put the cost of demolition at $12 million. The complex will be replaced in coming years by a yet-to-be-designed office tower containing 712,500 square feet of office space and 37,500 square feet of ground floor retail, according to a draft master plan for the area. The existing eight-story International Style structure is defined by a primary, tile-clad facade that bears the name of the building in midcentury-era script. The abstract, rectilinear office mass sits on a series of one-story piloti and was considered state-of-the-art for its time. On a Los Angeles Conservancy page dedicated to the complex, a quote from a July 1956 issue of Popular Mechanics describes the building as follows: “Ultramodern in all respects, the new eight-floor Los Angeles Police Building makes available to the city's police department the most scientific building ever used by a law-enforcement group." Behind the main facade, the building’s expenses are clad in alternating bands of ribbon windows and blue tile mosaics. Along ground floor areas, the complex features a large lobby space defined by glass enclosures that provide visual indoor-outdoor connections. Like many of contemporary works of architecture built in Los Angeles during the time, the complex featured integrated public art that complemented the architecture. The lobby space contains a series of public artworks, including a bronze sculpture along the exterior titled “The Family Group” by artist Bernard J. Rosenthal. The lobby’s interior spaces are highlighted by a large mural by Joseph Young titled “Theme Mural of Los Angeles” depicting various city landmarks amid abstract color fields. The Architect’s Newspaper spoke with Louis Naidorf, one of the designers of the complex, to learn more about the project. Naidorf worked for Becket for over a decade starting in 1950, a stint that included design work on the iconic Capitol Records tower in Hollywood when the architect was just 24 years old. Naidorf explained that the conceptual idea of placing an office tower over thin piloti was Becket’s idea, and that Naidorf himself had designed “the entire first floor, [including] the auditorium and the lobby, the concession stand, and the parking structure.” Naidorf explained that fellow legendary midcentury designer Richard Dorman was the author of the police and jail wings of the complex, with Naidorf designing exterior treatments for those areas as well as an accompanying security gate. He said, “My job was to design a welcoming setting—something light airy, friendly, and courteous.” In describing the design of the interior lobby, Naidorf had proposed a “battery of telephones to call bail bondsmen from, with a floated panel spanning across the structural columns. The mounted telephones—with a mural at the front that had some liveliness—gave people a degree of privacy and tucked that less-than-happy aspect of the lobby out of view.” Naidorf described the era surrounding the early post-war boom during which Parker Center was built as a “strange period that, in effect, wiped out the lives of a generation of architects” who had been educated before the Great Depression, but who, because of the economic collapse, the deprivation caused by the ensuing global conflict, and their age, were never drafted for the war and had been left bereft of professional opportunity as a result. In this period, Naidorf explained, any architects of the time found work on Hollywood film sets as set designers, working in light timber framing and plaster.  He told AN, “People old enough to be our parents were just getting licensed” during the tumultuous era, adding, that “architecture had been in the tank” for the preceding decade. Younger architects like Naidorf —who was “three days out from UC Berkeley” when he was hired by Becket’s office—found themselves enjoying a great deal of responsibility and creative agency consequently. Naidorf lamented the loaded and problematic history of the building. He said, “[I] always assumed architects were supposed to positively affect the lives of the people who used their buildings and that the ‘real client’ for projects like Parker Center were the people who work in the building, the people who walk by the building, the people who were affected somehow by the presence of the building.” Naidorf added, “Your work was a setting for their lives. At a more basic level, [you] can create spaces that are depressing or spaces that are happy.” Regarding the proposed demolition of the Parker Center, Naidorf said:
Buildings need to be seen as mute elements in this society. The police from that time are probably mostly dead. The most productive thing is not to destroy it; it’s to find some good and productive use for [the building] that serves a good civic purpose. Perhaps that purpose should be related to the needs of people who have not been listened to very much. I don’t know if spending the money to tear it down and then rebuilding it is in our best interest. There are areas of the site that are less significant; the parking structure could go away, for example. It won’t be seriously missed. If you wanted to—remove the jail wing. But the building [overall] is really a pleasant, adaptable office building with a useful auditorium and a welcoming lobby that can go to many new uses. To throw away a piece of the city’s history—as well as throw into the recycling bin the narrative of that building—seems to me very foolish.

Stanley Saitowitz, Gensler, and others reveal tower proposals for L.A.’s Angels Landing

Three finalist teams have released hotly-anticipated designs for a new tower complex at Angels Knoll, a former Los Angeles park now known as Angels Landing. The finalists were selected based on their submissions to a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the City of Los Angeles back in January to develop a parcel at 4th and Hill Streets, which was once home to Angels Knoll, a park that closed in 2013. The RFP asked architects to include affordable housing on the one-acre lot, which bridges the neighborhoods of the Historic Core, Civic Center, and Bunker Hill. Urbanize.LA reports that the development will also offer pedestrian access to California Plaza, the Pershing Square Metro Station, and Angels Flight, a historic railway. One design team, Angels Landing Development Partners (ALDP), is led by local developer Lowe Enterprises in collaboration with Cisneros Miramontes, Gensler, and Relm Studio. ALDP's tower design, pictured first in the gallery above, stretches to 883 feet (1.27 million square feet in all). Its building is proposed as a part of the UCLA campus. The tower would include 655 residences targeting university faculty, and it would host ample academic, office, and adaptable program space. The renderings depict an irregularly stepped tower of terra-cotta and glass with publicly-accessible terraced landscaping and green roofs on a few of the setbacks. Another team is comprised of Onni Group, a Vancouver-based developer, and Stanley Saitowitz of San Francisco–based Natoma Architects. In the renderings, two unevenly stacked steel-and-glass massings stand at respective heights of 840 and 410 feet tall. The shorter structure would include condos and a hotel, while the taller tower would include apartments, commercial space, and an elementary school. Two acres of open space are incorporated into the plan at ground level and at California Plaza. Angels Landings Partners (ALP), the final team, is a partnership between MacFarlane Partners, the Peebles Corporation, and Claridge Properties, as well as Handel Architects and Olin. ALP has also proposed two towers for the site, one at 24 stories and another at a lofty 88 stories. These structures would incorporate 400 rental units (20 of those affordable), 250 condos, and 500 hotel rooms. The buildings, with 57,000 square feet of open space, would also include extensive retail space and a charter school. If ALP's design were to move forward, the towers would become the largest minority-owned development in L.A. The city plans to select a developer for the project in November.

Los Angeles approves first high-rise development in Westlake neighborhood

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission has approved the Lake on Wilshire project, a 41-story mixed-use housing tower complex proposed by Archeon Group and developer Walter Jayasinghe for L.A.’s Westlake neighborhood. The proposal currently plans to bring 478 market-rate apartments—including 39 affordable units—to the area. The project site at 1930 Wilshire is currently occupied by a surface parking lot and is being developed to include an 850-seat performing arts center dedicated to Sri Lankan culture. The 70,000-square-foot performing arts center will sit at the corner of the site and is depicted in renderings for the project as a five-story structure wrapped in angular, multi-colored mosaic panels. The cultural center is planned to include ground floor public open spaces and feature a large statue located at the corner as well. An existing and historic medical office building located next door to the proposed tower and cultural center will be converted into a 220-key hotel room as part of the project. The project is located around the corner from the Westlake/MacArthur Park Purple Line Station and represents one of the first major market-rate developments for the predominantly working class and immigrant neighborhood. Westlake is sandwiched between Koreatown—which has seen many proposals for new, dense housing towers in recent years—and Downtown Los Angeles, another growing area. There are many concerns about the project, especially with regard to its less-than-stellar community benefits package and the high potential for neighborhood displacement the project could bring. Plans to provide $20,000 for the installation of Los Angeles Police Department surveillance cameras within a two-block radius of the project have also raised concerns in the neighborhood. Recent development in the area includes a 52-unit supportive housing complex for formerly-homeless veterans by L.A.-based Brooks + Scarpa and the Skid Row Housing Trust as well as a proposal by KTGY Architecture + Planning for an 85-unit transitional housing project built using repurposed shipping containers. A timeline for the Lake on Wilshire project has not been released. The project next heads to the Los Angeles City Council for final approval. For more information, see the Lake on Wilshire project website.

L.A.’s first shipping container complex for the homeless is on the way

KTGY Architecture + Planning has unveiled renderings for a new 85-unit transitional housing project built with repurposed shipping containers slated for Los Angeles’s Westlake neighborhood. The project, dubbed Hope on Alvarado, is being billed by developer Aedis Real Estate Group as the first shipping container–built transitional housing project in Los Angeles. According to a press release, the use of shipping containers will result in a truncated six-month construction timeline for the project. Plans call for craftspeople to assemble the shipping container components off-site while the building’s foundations are being laid. Off-site production will include the installation of final finishes and fixtures as well, so that once the foundations are prepared, the nearly-complete units can be crane-lifted into place. The project will represent a sort of test run for the building technique, as Aedis has announced it is pursuing a slate of shipping container–built projects across the Downtown Los Angeles-adjacent neighborhood. In the release, Keith Labus, principal of KTGY, said, “We’re not trying to hide the fact that these are shipping containers. There would be great costs associated with creating the level of character they already have.” Speaking in reference to the firm’s various projects planned for the area, Labus said, “Our approach is to work with what we have and develop something unique at each location.” The complex is wrapped in corrugated metal siding and is organized around a central courtyard surrounded by circulation corridors. Each unit will be made up of several containers that have been spliced together and punctured to allow for floor-to-ceiling window assemblies and doorways. Ground floor areas will be clad in storefront glass. Units in the complex will range from studios to one-bedroom configurations, averaging between 400- and 480 square feet in size. The complex will also contain ground floor supportive services. The project is among the first to be approved according to the Los Angeles Planning Department’s new Transit Oriented Community Guidelines. Hope on Alvarado comes as the population of Angelenos experiencing homelessness grew 23 percent last year, with the estimated number of unsheltered people rising to 57,794 individuals, according to a Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority report issued earlier this year.

Three new pedestrian-friendly bridges to cross L.A. River

The list of potential pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly bridges coming to a stretch of the Los Angeles River in northeast Los Angeles continues to grow with the recent announcement of a new $20 million span. The latest bridge would cross between the City of Glendale and L.A.’s Griffith Park, connecting over the L.A. River bed and Interstate-5. Designs for the proposed pedestrian link by T.Y. Lin International Group and the City of Glendale call for a winding, board-formed concrete span topped by distinctive white metal trellises. The trellises would be surrounded by integrated seating areas and planting beds. Plans for the exact location of the bridge are currently under discussion, and the city has released three potential sites. The bridge would only be built if a statewide voter referendum is approved for the ballot this year and is majority-supported in 2018. Laura Friedman, a local California Assemblyperson backing the project, said in a press release: “The bridge isn’t just a link between neighborhoods, it’s connecting people with open space, miles of bike paths, and economic opportunity, all while creating jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and congestion on our streets and freeways.” The bridge joins a pair of other proposals, including a $16.1-million scheme for  the North Atwater Multimodal Bridge roughly a mile south that is also being developed by the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering (BoE) on behalf of the City of Los Angeles. Funds for the bridge include a donation from developer Morton La Kretz, a grant from the Caltrans Active Transportation Program, and City of L.A. funding, among others. The bridge, designed by Buro Happold, is 325-foot-long and utilizes cable-stayed technology to span over the L.A. River. The bridge was initially donated by La Kretz, but project costs have spiraled out of control and now far exceed the initial donation amount. It is expected that the cost of the bridge will now be borne by taxpayers. The bridge is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in 2019. The Taylor Yard Bridge—designed by Studio Pali Fekete Architects— and is also planned for a nearby stretch of the river. The 400-foot-long $19 million bridge would span between the Elysian Valley neighborhood and Taylor Yard, which is currently being vetted for redevelopment. The bridge features a metal truss frame and contains an outlook at the center of the crossing. The bridge is expected to enter construction in 2018. Once these projects are completed, traveling between northeast Los Angeles and all points west of the L.A. River will be much easier than it is today.   This post has been updated.

MARS Pavilion experiments with robotic construction

How do two young designers get to participate in an invite-only robotics conference in Palm Springs, California, organized by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos? First, you have to be creative; second, you have to get your work online, and finally, you have to be lucky. Joseph Sarafian and Ron Culver, AIA were classmates at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design in Greg Lynn’s studio. They were exploring how to use digital design to create unique components that could be fabricated using state-of-the-art industrial robotics, the kind of robots that build cars. They developed a system that allowed the designers to go directly from a digital image to physical reality. Their prototype eventually found its way onto the internet. Then, according to Sarafian, “We got an email from Amazon’s team out of the blue, after seeing our robotic concrete research 'Fabric Forms’ on blogs and websites.” They were invited to attend what Amazon calls their MARS Conference (Machine learning, Automation, Robotics, Space exploration). Like a private TED Conference, the MARS Conference brings together business leaders, academics and others pushing the envelope of technology.  

The resulting MARS Pavilion prototype—including an exhibition and video of the design process—is currently on view at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in the Los Angeles Arts District.  The pavilion will be up through Saturday, October 7 and has been sponsored by CTS Cement and Helix Steel.

Besides acquiring The Washington Post and Whole Foods, Jeff Bezos owns Blue Origin, a space exploration company that is intended to compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The Blue Origin company motto is “Gradatim Ferociter,” Latin for “Step by Step, Ferociously.” This motto might also apply to the work of Sarafian and Culver. The MARS Pavilion by their firm Form Found Design (FFD) is the first robotically-cast concrete pavilion in the world. While it is intriguing to look at, what is more important than its image is its method of design and construction. The MARS Pavilion consists of 70 unique, robotically-cast “wishbone” shaped components that are all bolted together with an identical steel connection detail.  Using the robotic precision of large ABB industrial robots, they achieved a tolerance of 1/16 inch. This is extraordinary in concrete construction, where the usual level of tolerance is ¼ inch—It’s an improvement of 400%. All the MARS Pavilion forms are derived from concrete’s most inherent quality, compression. Walter P. Moore performed a structural engineering analysis and recommended one-inch "Helix Steel" twisted fibers for reinforcement rather than traditional re-bar. This provides greater flexibility. The goal is to allow for the precision fabrication of a wide range of design components at low cost. Ron Culver described their approach as “a true digital workflow where previously unbuildable complex geometry is now feasible.” In downtown Los Angeles, for example, Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed the Broad Museum proposing many unique concrete forms. Due to cost constraints, the design had to be simplified so that only the oculus (a curved opening at the front of the building) survived the value engineering and cost-cutting process. FFD believe their approach will allow design variation in concrete with no additional cost. FFD envisions many future applications including creating economical housing solutions for developing nations. Sarafian explained, “We are interested in exploring this fabrication technique to create an easy-to-assemble housing prototype for developing countries.” The MARS Pavilion installation is on view through October 7th at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum, 900 E 4th St, Los Angeles, CA 90013, tickets are available for the closing reception here. You can follow Follow their FFD's work on Instagram @formfound_design

L.A. picks three finalists for Lincoln Heights Jail redevelopment

The dilapidated and boarded-up Lincoln Heights Jail—a five-story, 229,000-square-foot art deco and modernist complex adjacent to the Los Angeles River—is on the verge of transformation as L.A. City Council officials prepare to implement redevelopment plans for the three-acre site. Sandwiched between Downtown Los Angeles and the city’s economically-stressed Eastside neighborhoods, the shuttered complex is one of the city’s most prominent historic landmarks. The triangular site sits in the city’s Cleantech Corridor and is written into the Cornfields Arroyo Seco specific plan as well. Those designations help poise the site for the type of high-end industrial redevelopment that is currently remaking the nearby Arts District while also threatening nearby communities with displacement. The jail was built in 1927 and was designed to hold 625 prisoners, though by the 1950s, it imprisoned more than 2,000 individuals, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy. Because of overcrowding, it was expanded in 1953 with a modernist wing. The jail has played an important role in the city’s history, holding individuals arrested during the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943 and the Watts Riots of 1965, for example. Individuals who had been arrested over suspicions regarding their sexual orientation were also imprisoned at the Lincoln Heights jail, which even contained a separate wing dedicated to incarcerating gay prisoners. The jail was decommissioned in 1965 and became vacant in 2014. Currently, developers CIM Group, WORKS, and Lincoln Property Company are each vying for the opportunity to remake the site. Developer CIM Group has proposed redeveloping the site as a mixed-use district called “The Linc” containing offices, housing—including multifamily and low-income units—retail shops, restaurants, and a community garden. The proposal calls for converting the art deco portion of the structure into a hotel with a rooftop restaurant. The 1953 addition would be converted to residential use while a triangular structure on the far end of the site will contain a single story of retail programming. CIM has partnered with architects LOHA, LA Más, and landscape architects Superjacent for the proposal. Nonprofit housing developer WORKS—Women Organizing Resources Knowledge and Service—is looking to re-envision the site as a community-driven enterprise called “Las Alturas.” The complex would include 122 housing units, including 66 permanent supportive housing and 47 moderate-income homes. The proposed complex would also include a community center, child care facilities, theater, and generously-landscaped areas designed by Mia Lehrer + Associates (MLA). Mia Lehrer, principal at MLA explained to The Architect’s Newspaper that the WORKS-led proposal represented “the kind of community-focused investor you imagine exists but you don’t get meet very often,” adding that the design team included partnerships with Cal Poly Pomona’s agriculture program, and architects Omgivning and Killefer Flammang Architects. A third proposal by Lincoln Property Company, Rios Clementi Hale Studios, and Fifteen Group is also on the table. That scheme—called the Lincoln Heights Makers District—calls for a commercial- and manufacturing-focused district containing four acres of open space. The plan includes 268,250 square feet of residential space, including an affordable housing component; 220,000 square feet of commercial space; and 57,000 square feet of manufacturing and retail spaces. The designers envision repurposing the existing jail facility as a manufacturing center with associated housing and commercial spaces located alongside.  The project has been proposed by the developer as part of a larger scheme that includes an adjacent, privately-owned 3.2-acre site that will contain live/work spaces. The proposal would include connections to the L.A. River as well as outdoor community-oriented leisure and work spaces.  The schemes are currently being vetted by the City's economic development committee before heading to the full City Council for consideration. The City Council is expected to decide on the proposals as soon as this fall.