Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":

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L.A.’s expanding subway line spurs first crop of luxury towers

By the time currently planned extensions to Los Angeles’s Purple Line are completed in 2024, the subway line will run from Downtown L.A. to Westwood, roughly nine miles further than it does today. Work on the extension is well underway, and, not by coincidence, the first crop of Purple Line–adjacent luxury high-rise housing projects recently came online, providing a glimpse at what L.A.’s residents can look forward to as transit starts to rework surrounding neighborhoods. As speculative developments, the new crop of towers represents a sort of trial run for transit-oriented luxury housing in L.A. The new buildings are not innovative so much as they are novel, imported typologies for a city in which the wealthiest denizens typically occupy mountainside perches, not the tops of towers. These first projects share a few qualities—namely that several came into being as the worst of the Great Recession hit, products of not only hard work but also a litany of delays, project sales, and redesigns. Their final manifestations, hard-fought as they were, hint at some of the shortcomings the recession generated: generic podium-and-tower massing, use of conventional materials like smooth stucco and glass, and generous, if not overly fussy, shared amenity spaces.
Downtown, two projects—the TEN50 apartments by HansonLA and Atelier DTLA by San Francisco–based Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB)—will bring a combined 514 units to a dense neighborhood already connected to the existing transit network. The TEN50 condominium complex, which features an architecturally dynamic form despite its conventional construction systems and materials, was first approved over a decade ago, but did not enter construction until 2015. The 151-unit complex rises 24 stories and features 5,900 square feet of groundfloor retail. The tower is wrapped in expansive window assemblies and features projecting balconies. At one corner, planar massing shifts as multistory, undulating curtainwall-clad volumes jog in and out of the main building mass, creating a series of overhanging terraces. The building’s most striking amenity? A drone landing pad on the sixth floor designed in anticipation of robot-based on-demand delivery services. Two blocks closer to the subway line, SCB’s 33-story Atelier DTLA apartment building features 363 luxury rental units in a black glass-clad tower. The structure features an expansive fifth floor amenity level complete with swimming pool, planted terraces, bocce court, and a shared lounge carved out from the main building mass. The tower’s rooftop terrace has wraparound views and a second swimming pool. The apartments themselves feature generous interior designs by Rodrigo Vargas Design, with bedrooms and living areas oriented around the tower’s slightly canted and sometimes cantilevered exterior walls.
In Koreatown, the Purple Line’s current terminus, Steinberg Architect’s 190-unit 3033 Wilshire bolsters the “linear downtown” running along Wilshire Boulevard. The tower’s floor-to-ceiling curtain-wall facades are interrupted by vertical spandrels; along the tower’s most prominent corner, the walls gently angle inwardly, creating long, tapered balconies. The larger units are designed with bedrooms spaced far enough apart to accommodate shared living arrangements, according to the architects. A podium-level dog run is fronted by a series of private terraces adjacent to the space, while operable awning windows and inset balconies rhythmically interrupt the tower’s stucco-clad facade along this exposure. The 40-story Ten Thousand Santa Monica tower by Handel Architects is decidedly the most high-end of the bunch. The 283-unit tower was completed in 2016 and features canted exterior facades and a broken envelope that provides each of the six to eight units per floor focused views and variable outdoor patio spaces. The units feature interior design by Shamir Shah Design and include 10-foot-tall ceilings throughout, as well as fancy finishes like Italian titanium travertine, statuary marble, limestone, and walnut flooring. The higher-end units feature 16-foot-tall living areas. The complex also boasts water-wise landscaping by Meléndrez, including a two-acre private park that faces south and is lined with 12-foot-tall privacy hedges.
As these projects fill up with new tenants, eyes across the region will be turned toward how the completed towers interact with their surroundings and whether they facilitate pedestrian-oriented lifestyles. A big question moving forward will be whether developers and city agencies can forego their penchant for oversized parking podiums and whether, when faced with fewer budgetary and entitlement restrictions, architects and developers will begin to truly work toward a locally derived variant of the luxury tower typology.
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Iconic postmodern Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant heavily damaged after fire

An iconic postmodern Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlet in Los Angeles has been severely damaged after a fire yesterday afternoon. Located on 340 North Western Avenue, in Koreatown, the restaurant suffered burns to its roof and walls. Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart told San Fernando Valley Media that 40 firefighters took to the scene, dealing with the fire in just over 30 minutes. No injuries have been reported; however, an investigation into the cause of the fire is still underway. The KFC was formerly run by Jack Wilkee, who took on the franchise to make changes to the restaurant, which he operated for 25 years. "I challenged the notion that all KFC franchises should have the same standard design of fake mansard roofs (and) outsize Colonel Sanders bucket," Wilke told the L.A. Times in 1990. "Why not do something radically different for a change?" To make such a change, Wilke, an art collector, sought the expertise of local architect Elyse Grinstein, who he knew from his art circles. Grinstein's influence, exhibited in her charred work, comes from Frank Gehry, her former boss, and Michael Graves, who was Grinstein's student when she was a teaching assistant at the University of California, Los Angeles. Wilke enjoyed Gehry's overtones that carried through in Grinstein's architecture so much so that he let her have free reign with the KFC's design. "I turned the design over to her, and let her have her head," he said. As a result, Jeffrey Daniels, Grinstein's partner and colleague at the Culver City practice Grinstein/Daniels, produced the Koreatown icon that many know today. "Jack (Wilke) wanted to do an updated Googie KFC," Daniels said, "but we convinced him to take it one step further and reinterpret the 1950s diner style in a more sophisticated 1990s idiom," Daniels said, also speaking to the L.A. Times 27 years ago. The design may have been the first KFC to break the formal mold that had been a precedent for KFC's before, but it certainly was not the last.

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Also in California, the Palm Springs KFC dons a Googie aesthetic. Meanwhile, in Georgia, the Marietta "Big Chicken" (which became a KFC franchise in 1991) sports a 56-foot-tall steel chicken, complete with a moving beak. The much-loved roadside restaurant recently received $2 million makeover.
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Curvaceous tower coming to L.A.’s Wilshire Boulevard

Large Architecture, Jamison Services, and Hankey Capital have revealed new renderings for 2900 Wilshire, a mixed-use high-rise development slated to bring a 23-story tower with 644 apartments and 13,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space the  Koreatown neighborhood in Los Angeles. Renderings for the project depict a curvaceous tower clad in floor-to-ceiling curtain walls studded with narrow vertical metal panels. The tower’s facades feature alternating and deep-set balconies along the rounded corners of the tower’s V-shaped mass. The complex is topped by a grassy rooftop amenity level and its parking podium also boasts amenities, including a swimming pool. The new renderings are an update over previously-released views that accompanied an earlier planning submittal. The updated images portray a slightly more streamlined structure with more pronounced balconies and highly-polished cladding materials. The development is slated for a site located opposite the neighborhood’s Lafayette Park and comes amid increased high-rise development in a predominantly working-class area fed by a growing public transit network. A timeline for the project has not been released.
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Renderings revealed for LOHA’s faceted 30-unit condominium complex in West Hollywood

Architects Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) and owner National Construction have released renderings for a new 30-unit condominium complex in West Hollywood that features cantilevered corners, faceted facades, and perforated metal panel and wood cladding. The four-story complex at 1030 N. Kings Road is located in the same neighborhood as the firm’s much-heralded Habitat 825 complex. 1030 N. Kings Road is designed to break down in scale as it rises and features a series of geometric cut-outs along its facades. The cut-outs establish viewsheds for individual units while also allowing for natural daylight to flood into the building’s common areas, which include a shared gym and communal seating spaces. The cut-outs also contain screened outdoor balconies and terraces accessible to building units. The development’s two large amenity spaces are located along the building’s most prominent facades, which are wrapped in the various cladding types. Renderings for the project depict a faceted housing block with large windows, a double-height entry lobby, and well-lit corridors. The 41,500-square-foot project comes as LOHA expands its footprint in the L.A’s bustling multifamily housing sector. The firm recently completed work on a starburst-shaped apartment complex in Los Angeles. In addition to moving forward on the 1030 N. Kings Road project, Lorcan O'Herlihy will also be presenting at AN's Facades+ conference in Los Angeles this October. See the Facades+ website for more information. The project is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in mid- to late-2018.
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Elon Musk’s Boring Company receives approval to build a test tunnel in L.A.

Elon Musk’s The Boring Company—a tunnel-focused start-up aimed at reducing the overall cost of building underground tunnels in urban areas—has received approval from the Hawthorne City Council in Los Angeles County to build an initial two-mile-long test tunnel under the city’s streets. The approval was made this week and would allow Musk’s Boring Company to extend an ongoing pilot tunnel being dug on the site of the company’s headquarters in Hawthrone, near Los Angeles International Airport. The company is building the tunnel using a second-hand boring machine that was originally used to dig a sewer tunnel in San Francisco, Daily Breeze reports. The souped-up boring machine is named “Godot” and is designed to dig tunnels that measure 14 feet in diameter, 50 percent narrower than traditional subway tunnels. The smaller diameter is expected to bring costs down considerably, reducing costs three to four times compared to traditional methods, according to The Boring Company website. In recent weeks, the company took to building a shaft and a 160-foot-long tunnel on the property, a passage that will be extended underneath local city streets as soon as is feasible. With the approval comes a series of new details surrounding Musk’s plan, including a proposal for a new type of autonomous vehicle system that would allow the entire system to function seamlessly. The 14-foot wide vehicle would consist of an automated platform that can hold pedestrian passengers and bicyclists. These so-called “Skates” would travel in the tunnels and be capable of carrying people, vehicles, as well as other types of freight. The tunnels are also being planned to reuse excavated dirt from the construction process into site-cast building blocks that can be used to line the tunnel interiors in lieu of conventional concrete coatings. Musk also expects that the tunnels will be a useful way of extending a proposed Hyperloop network into dense urban areas.  Brett Horton, SpaceX's head of construction, said in a statement, "We won't have construction crews walking down the street, we won’t have any trucks or excavators working in those areas." Instead of performing labor-intensive and traffic-snarling decking procedures like those involved with traditional subway construction, "Everything that we’re doing is underground," Horton explained. For now, construction on the tunnels continues.
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Herzog & de Meuron reveal mountaintop campus project in L.A.

Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron has revealed renderings for a new 447-acre mountaintop campus for the Berggruen Institute, a policy-focused consortium of think tanks funded by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen. The complex—made up of a collection of subdued structures that occupy only roughly 10% of the overall site—is being planned to include a private residence for Berggruen’s family, 15 scholars’ residences, and a series of gardens strung along a publically-accessible linear park. The campus is anchored on its southern end by a low-slung research center with views towards Downtown Los Angeles. The campus will be located on a mountaintop that was formerly used as a landfill; the project site consists of a portion of the mountainside that was scraped and flattened in the 1980s in order to cap the landfill. That previously-disturbed 32-acre section of land will contain the development in its entirety, with the remaining 415-acres of the property persisting in a more-or-less natural state. The linear site is organized with the private residence at its north end, the scholars’ residences at the center, and the linear park and research center at its southern tip. The research center—dubbed “the Institute Frame” by the architects—consists of a rectangular structure containing a large courtyard at its center. The building is lifted 12 feet off the ground and contains a variety of indoor-outdoor connections along the elevated sections. The Frame’s courtyard will contain natural landscaping, a spherical 250-seat lecture hall, and a large reflecting pool, among other components. The frame structure will also house visiting scholars in a collection of apartments, with plans calling for 26 scholars-in-residence units and 14 visiting scholar units. The Frame Institute will also contain meeting rooms, study spaces, offices, artists’ studios, media spaces and dining and reception areas, according to the release. Regarding the pared-down architectural approach, Jacques Herzog of Herzog & de Meuron told the Los Angeles Times, “We want to use the spheres in the purest possible way, to make them almost immaterial. Not an expression of new technologies or a heroic engineering solution. They shouldn’t show any sign of effort or structural expression. We were just interested in this idea of the purity of the form—in its innocence, so to speak.” In a press release announcing the project, Nicolas Berggruen stated, “By building our campus here on the Pacific coast, we hope to advance the position of Los Angeles as a world center for ideas, linking the East to the West. By commissioning this visionary design from Herzog & de Meuron, we demonstrate our intention to make an important contribution to the architecture of Los Angeles and the world.” Gensler will work as the executive architect on the project, with landscape design to be performed by Michel Desvigne Paysagiste and Inessa Hansch Architecte. Although the project has already begun initial planning review, a timeline for the project has not been released.
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David Adjaye has L.A. projects in the pipeline

This post is part of our years-long running Eavesdrop series (think page 6 for the architectural field). It’s your best source for gossip, insider stories, and more. Have an eavesdrop of your own? Send it to: eavesdrop[at]archpaper.com.

Does David Adjaye, lead designer behind the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. have Los Angeles–based projects in the pipeline?

Yes, according to the architect himself. During a recent interview at the Dwell on Design conference with Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, Adjaye teased that his office had several potential L.A. projects on the way—up to half a dozen of them, in fact.

The architect could not elaborate further, but he hinted the projects might be diverse in their programming and occupy sites scattered across the city.

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Gehry’s Grand Avenue towers in L.A. roar back to life

The long-stalled Grand Avenue Project by Gehry Partners in Downtown Los Angeles has roared back to life over the last year and is now slated for a 2018 groundbreaking. Urbanize.la reports that newly-filed construction permits for the $290 million project call for bringing 128 condominiums, 214 market rate apartments, 86 deed-restricted affordable housing units, and 305 hotel rooms to one of the most prime sites in Downtown Los Angeles. These components will take shape across a pair of towers, one 39-stories tall and the other rising 20 levels. The project also calls for 200,000 square feet of commercial spaces along the ground floors of the complex, which surrounds a central paseo that will bisect the site. The development’s multi-faceted towers are composed of shifting, boxy volumes that slide pass one another and grow narrower as each mass climbs higher into the sky. The paseo will be capped on the Grand Avenue side by a large public plaza. The project has been in the works for over a decade and was originally devised as the first phase of Grand Avenue’s redevelopment. The project has been delayed for so long, however, that later phases of that plan, like the Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed Broad Museum, have already come to fruition. The project is slated to take four years to build, with final occupation taking place sometime in 2022.
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wHY subtly transforms historic Masonic Temple to house Marciano Art Foundation

Rather than donating artworks to large, existing institutions, it is becoming more and more common for wealthy art collectors to create their own museums for displaying their extensive collections.

In Los Angeles, we have the Getty Museum; the Broad Museum; the Hammer Museum; and the Norton Simon Museum, for example. This arrangement allows the collector to assure that the works he or she acquired will be displayed in a manner that they control and won’t get lost within a much larger institution.

In New York, Ronald S. Lauder opened the Neue Galerie, and of course, in 1959 further up Fifth Avenue, the Guggenheim family opened their museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Sometimes these museums are very successful and draw visitors for years after their initial opening.

Adding to the trend, the Maurice & Paul Marciano Art Foundation (MAF) recently opened in Los Angeles to display some of the 1,500 art objects that the brothers have collected. The Marciano brothers made their fortune by creating and marketing Guess Jeans. For the last seven years, they’ve been working closely with MAF Deputy Director Jamie G. Manné to acquire a very diverse and often innovative collection. It was always their intent to create their own museum and four years ago the artist Alex Israel noticed that the large Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Wilshire Boulevard was for sale. He told his friend—Manné—who also thought it had great potential. Manné told Maurice and he decided to buy it for $8 million.

The Masonic Temple was designed by artist and architect Millard Sheets. It opened in 1961 to serve the growing population of the Masons of California, a fraternal order whose mission was to “foster personal growth and improve the lives of others.” The Masons had noble goals but maintained a very private organization, which is reflected in the Millard Sheets design. It is a large and imposing 110,000-square-foot travertine structure on Wilshire Boulevard with essentially no windows; in other words, a big white box.

Three years ago the Marciano’s retained architect Kulapat Yantrasast and his New York and Los Angeles–based firm wHY to convert this white elephant into a museum that would engage the community, welcome the public, and display a wide range of art objects in a variety of media. wHY was an informed choice—they have extensive experience designing museums both new and old, including the Grand Rapids Museum in Michigan; the Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky; the Pomona College Studio Art Hall in California; and the interiors for the Art Institute of Chicago and Harvard Art Museums.

The design approach within their practice is based on collaboration, both externally and internally. Externally they work with the owner and engage the community to develop their design approach. Internally they integrate the firm’s four studios, each of which is named for its focus: “buildings,” “objects,” “grounds,” and “ideas.” Yantrasast said, “We intentionally work together from the beginning; architects, landscape architects, planners, and interior designers. We create a group of thought leaders, with the ideas workshop as the glue.” Yantrasast sees himself as the conductor of a group of “the best musicians.”

With MAF the goal was to respect the architecture of Millard Sheets while transforming his very private, enclosed box into a welcoming and engaging environment to experience contemporary art within. For the most part, they have achieved their goals with a few shortcomings.

wHY created a sculpture garden courtyard to welcome visitors who may approach by car from the rear or as pedestrians. This works well. The entry foyer is flanked by a bookstore and lounge, leading to the lobby, where they have saved and restored two beautiful light fixtures and three elegant elevator cabs.

The galleries comprise essentially two levels and a mezzanine to display the very diverse Marciano art collection. On the ground floor wHY converted the former 2,000-seat auditorium into a spacious 13,600-square-foot exhibition hall, with all interior lighting; essentially a vast black box that includes 65 pieces by the L.A.-based artist Jim Shaw. The former stage has been transformed into a dramatic sunken sculpture court, with Adrian Villar Rojas's reinterpretation of Michelangelo’s David lying in repose.

While the mezzanine is also dark and filled with video art, the top floor holds the most dramatic spaces. Yantrasast removed the hung ceiling from this floor to reveal the bold structure that supports the roof, creating a large 12,000-square-foot gallery to display major pieces of the Marciano collection. By stripping away a portion of its rear travertine elevation and replacing it with glass, the gallery is filled with waves of natural north light. This move also offers a pleasant promenade overlooking the city and the famous Hollywood sign. One unfortunate detail is that a beautiful Millard Sheets mosaic mural has been preserved, but a full height wall has been erected only six feet in front of it, making it virtually impossible to truly appreciate Sheets’ artwork.

Yantrasast believes that architects who design art museums are a “matchmaker between the art and the people,” and that the building “must support the art,” he said. It’s a delicate balance creating inviting spaces to exhibit art and making buildings that enhance their environment. In essence, wHY’s architecture becomes a subtle, quiet partner and does not dominate the art. At the MAF, generally wHY has succeeded as a “matchmaker.” They have created flexible, spacious galleries to display the extensive and diverse art. The inaugural exhibition, labeled Unpacking: The Marciano Collection and curated by Philipp Kaiser, formerly with L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art, works well in the newly re-imagined building and includes the work of 44 artists. Maurice Marciano seemed quite pleased with the result. He said, “We’ve been really blessed to give back to the artists’ community, and to share our passion with everybody.” In an ironic turn of events, the MAF has given new life to the Masonic Temple and extended the Masons’ goal to “improve the life of others.”
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Los Angeles will host the 2028 Olympics

Los Angeles is set to host the Olympics in 2028, its third time doing so following the 1932 and 1984 games, as first reported by the New York Times.

L.A gave up the bid for the 2024 games, which will be hosted in Paris, after a deal was struck with the International Olympics Committee (IOC). The Committee had not reached a consensus as to which city would take the earlier games until today. The unusual arrangement saw the simultaneous announcement of the hosts for both the 2024 and 2028 games.

The city, when making its bid for 2024, proposed using its existing facilities from the previous Olympics. While extensive retrofitting and building temporary facilities will take place, no new permanent structures will have to go up. In this way, L.A. would be the “most affordable” of any U.S. proposal, as Mayor Eric Garcetti claimed. The L.A Memorial Coliseum and surrounding Exposition Park will be the main stages for the games; other significant venues include the Staples Center, Nokia Theater, Griffith Observatory, Dodger Stadium, and Rose Bowl. 

The city’s proposal also relies heavily on expanding transit infrastructure, including the light rail, streetcar systems, and LAX's Tom Bradley International Terminal. Officials have made the promise that 80 percent of spectators and visitors will be connected to venues by public transportation.

The U.S. has not hosted a Summer Olympics since 1996 when it was held in Atlanta. The success of both games, and especially in 1984 when the city turned a $250 million profit, as well as the advertised lower cost due to existing infrastructure, has made both the public and city officials amenable to hosting. Boston was originally chosen to be the American bid over Los Angeles and San Francisco but withdrew last minute in 2015 due to cost overruns. 

L.A. had originally made its proposal and plans for 2024, and not 2028. According to the Times, while the city is still willing to accommodate for four years later than planned, officials have acknowledged that the cost and logistical estimates in the bid will likely be higher in 2028.

The official announcement will take place on September 13 in Lima, Peru.

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Murmur’s Heather Roberge appointed new chair of UCLA architecture department

Heather Roberge, principal of Los Angeles–based architecture firm Murmur, has been appointed the new chair for the University of California, Los Angeles Department of Architecture and Urban Design (AUD). Prior to Roberge’s appointment, Los Angeles architect Neil Denari had been interim chair. Denari’s appointment came in 2016 after former chair Hitoshi Abe decided to step down. Roberge’s appointment is not the only recent change at UCLA—Brett Steele was named as the new dean of the university’s School of Arts and Architecture late 2016. Roberge has been a faculty member at AUD since 2002 and has taught widely at schools such as Washington University in St. Louis, Ohio State University, the Pratt Institute, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, among others. According to Murmur’s website, Roberge’s academic work “investigates the spatial, structural, and atmospheric potential of digital technologies on the theory and practice of building.” Roberge has helmed Murmur since 2008. The firm was also named an Emerging Voices awardee in 2016 by the Architectural League of New York. Murmur’s 2015 exhibition, En Pointe, won an AIA|LA Design Merit award in 2015, as well. Roberge worked as a partner at the design practice Gnuform prior to starting Murmur. Roberge assumes chairpersonship as wider shake-ups have infused new waves of leadership at several other Los Angeles area architecture schools. Milton Curry was recently appointed as the new dean of the Southern California University School of Architecture while Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter was named new dean of the Woodbury School of Architecture earlier this year, for example.
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Hollywood’s historic John Anson Ford Amphitheatre set to reopen after major renovation

The newly upgraded and renovated John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles is making its official debut this weekend following nearly three years of construction. Levin & Associates Architects acted as design architect while Mia Lehrer + Associates (MLA) performed landscape architecture services on the $72.2 million project; both firms are based in L.A. The 1,200-seat outdoor amphitheater complex was originally built in 1931 as a replacement structure for a previous theater that had burned down. The complex—then known as the Pilgrimage Theatre—was built out of masonry to resemble the fabled gates of Jerusalem. The original complex utilized rough, board-formed concrete surfaces throughout, with smoother treatments deployed across the crenelated towers and walls that make up the theater’s stage areas. The completed renovation brings a new two-story, 11,055-square-foot concessions and office structure to the complex that includes a commercial kitchen, new projection booth, control room, and a series of catwalks designed to optimize new stage lighting upgrades. The renovations also carved out 3,500 square feet of “found space” from underneath the stage. The removal of the underlying bedrock allowed the design team to address rampant drainage issues—The stage is embedded into the hillside site, an arrangement that resulted in storm runoff rushing directly into the complex’s basement levels. Levin & Associates also added ADA-compliant artists’ spaces, including accessible restrooms and dressing areas, as well as new telecommunications systems. MLA has reworked the hillside landscape behind the stage to introduce a native “generational landscape” that will age gracefully in place and is designed to be held in place by a series of retaining walls. The landscape architects also added a series of mature tree specimens to the site, including two mature coast live oaks and two strawberry madrone trees. The amphitheater area is wrapped in a modular acoustical metal panel wall assembly that is designed to keep sound from performances inside the complex while deflecting the traffic and noise of the nearby Interstate-101. The entry and approach areas of the complex were also reworked to be ADA-accessible.