Posts tagged with "Michael W. Folonis Architects":

Placeholder Alt Text

AIA California Council names Lifetime Achievement and Distinguished Practice awards

The American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIA/CC) has announced this year’s picks for the prestigious Distinguished Practice and Lifetime Achievement awards. The organization named Santa Monica-based Michael W. Folonis, FAIA for the former award and Betsey Dougherty, FAIA and Brian Dougherty, FAIA of the California-based firm Dougherty, and Beverly Willis, FAIA, architect and founder of the Beverly Willis Architectural Foundation (BWAF), for the latter honor. The selection of Betsey Dougherty and Brian Dougherty marks the first time in the history of the award that a pair of firm principals has been given the Lifetime Achievement Award simultaneously.  
In an email to The Architect's Newspaper, Folonis said, "I’m honored and humbled to have received the award. For over 30 years I have had the privilege to work with incredibly talented individuals, consultants and of course clients, who without them this award would not have been possible."
Folonis began his eponymous practice in 1983 and has worked in Santa Monica as well as across Los Angeles as an advocate for design excellence, both as a practitioner and educator. Among other designations, Folonis has served as a member and chair at the Santa Monica Architectural Review Board and has sat on the Los Angeles Historic Preservation Overlay Zone Board. His firm is currently working on a series of innovative multi-family housing complexes in Santa Monica, including an 84-foot tall donut-shaped apartment complex called 1415 5th Street. That project takes an innovative approach to the city’s setback requirements by removing building mass at the center of the structure in order to gain more height, creating an interior courtyard in the process.   Firm partners Betsey Dougherty, FAIA and Brian Dougherty, FAIA, of Dougherty have over 80 years’ worth of experience between them, with Brian acting a founding member of the California Collaborative for High Performance Schools and Betsey being one of the first “actively involved women in the AIA Orange County chapter,” as stated in a press release marking the honors. The pair—who helms a wide-ranging practice with offices in Oakland and Costa Mesa, California—have been active AIA members since the 1970s and serve on a variety of professional organizations; Betsey sits on the California Architects Board (CAB) licensure board and the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture. Dedicated architect philanthropist Beverly Willis—who started the BWAF in 2002 in an effort to “expand knowledge about women’s contributions to twentieth-century American architecture by uncovering their lost histories and restoring them to the historical record” while also highlighting professional issues relating specifically to women in the architectural field—was described by the jury as “an amazing woman. Her focus on service as well as design is unsurpassed.” According to the AIA/CC’s press release, the awards jury voted unanimously for Betsey, Brian, and Willis, calling the architects “passionate and exemplary pioneers within the AIA,” adding, “their contributions should be recognized at the highest level possible.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Michael Folonis Architects crafts a new approach to Santa Monica's setback guidelines

Housing in Santa Monica is understandably highly prized: The air is clear and cool, the ocean is nearby, and there is ample public transportation, including the new Expo Line connecting Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles. The arrival of high-tech employers like Google and Twitter has given the area a new name: Silicon Beach. And so, young professionals seeking employment, enjoyment, and well-designed, efficient apartments are searching L.A.’s coastal areas for affordable, convenient housing.

One of the more forward-thinking design responses to this need involves what is typically viewed as a restriction: height setbacks. Michael W. Folonis Architects, who is designing several housing projects that include both market-rate and affordable apartments in the area, has taken an innovative approach to setback requirements in its six-story complex at 1415 Fifth Street. This mid-block development, with 100 feet of street frontage on a 150-foot-deep site, contains 64 units, 13 of which are affordable, and includes a mix of studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units. Santa Monica has adopted the Affordable Housing Production Program (AHPP) requiring that 20 percent of new units serve moderate-income residents.

One of the unique challenges for architects working in the City of Santa Monica is responding to the “step-back” requirements of the planning and zoning department: Typically the building volume is set back just 10 feet on the ground floor and then steps back further on each of the upper floors, like a giant staircase. At 1415 Fifth Street, this required a setback of 84,600 cubic feet to be removed from the development envelope.

In an inventive alternative solution, Folonis proposed a deeper setback on the ground plane, creating a large open space for outdoor dining and interaction with the community. In addition, Folonis created a major three-story open portal that allows natural light and ventilation to flow into a central courtyard that is open to the sky. This achieved 88,563 cubic feet of open space, more than required by the planning and zoning department. The design maintains the cornice line, while the portal provides residents with an outdoor amenity that Folonis describes as “a cultural, social gathering place” that connects residents to city street life.

Travis Page, City of Santa Monica senior planner, said, “It’s unusual for an amazing idea like this to come forward” from the planning and zoning requirements. The city is looking at modifying the requirements to encourage future creative solutions.

The exterior facade facing southwest employs dramatic perforated aluminum sunshades that were generated directly from solar studies to allow sunlight to enter in the winter and also provide shade in the summer. This “passive solar design” is an integral part of Folonis’s design approach that he has been practicing since 1983. 1415 Fifth Street also provides bike storage for 150 bicycles, and the complex is just two blocks from the new Metro Light Rail station, which encourages the use of public transportation. All units benefit from natural ventilation, reducing the use of mechanical ventilation. 

The project is expected to break ground later this year and to be complete in 2017.