Posts tagged with "San Fernando Valley":

LACMA is planning to launch up to five satellite campuses throughout L.A. County

During a recent breakfast with members of the local AIA|LA chapter at Gensler’s Los Angeles offices, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) director Michael Govan announced a potential plan to add up to five satellite campuses to LACMA’s current sites. While the plan is largely still in the works, Govan explained that as the institution seeks to demolish and replace its existing William Pereira and Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer-designed complex, LACMA was “hitting the limit for space on Wilshire Boulevard” and would need to start looking at other sites for potential future expansions.  Explaining that he had explicitly instructed Peter Zumthor—the architect behind the controversial $600 million revamp—to design a singular structure that would be difficult to expand, Govan said, “There’s never been a building that’s been added onto that has been made better [because of that addition].” Govan explained that it would be better if LACMA’s future expansions happened “elsewhere in Los Angeles” so that the new facilities might become a resource for the broader population of Los Angeles County. Govan then detailed a conceptual plan for the future of a “de-centralized” LACMA that could bring a jolt of arts and educational programming to arts-starved communities throughout the city, starting with South Los Angeles, where the organization recently announced what could turn out to be its first regional outpost.  Earlier this year, LACMA announced plans to expand to a 80,000-square-foot industrial building in South Los Angeles Wetlands Park and to a vacant site located in the 104-acre Earvin “Magic” Johnson Park in an effort to boost community outreach and make better use of its resources while the expansion at the Wilshire campus is under construction.  LACMA is also currently operating a small gallery at Charles White Elementary School in L.A.’s MacArthur Park neighborhood, where it is working to have an updated security and ticketing system installed that would allow the space to be open to the public on weekends, Govan explained. LACMA plans to exhibit objects from its collections there and to work with local artists and students at the school to create programming for the site, as well.  Aiming for a “decentered museum for a decentered metropolis,” Govan also explained that LACMA is currently partnered with the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College for an exhibition on ancient Egyptian artifacts in LACMA’s collection. Govan hinted that sites in the San Fernando Valley were also potentially under consideration and that ultimately, he would like to see five 50,000-square-foot satellites in operation over the next decade or so. 

L.A. is one step closer to bringing light rail to the San Fernando Valley

Although the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles is home to nearly two million people, aside from two subway stops and a bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor, the enclave maintains relatively few robust regional public transit connections. That situation is likely to change over the coming decade if a plan to build a 9.2-mile light rail transit line is implemented as recommended by a recent Los Angeles County Metro staff report.  Staffers call for Metro to build the so-called Alternative 4 plan, a scheme that would stitch the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station in the northeast corner of the valley together with the Metro Orange Line BRT route on the valley’s southern edge. The L-shaped route would run on a 2.5-mile segment within the Metro-owned railroad right-of-way adjacent to San Fernando Road along its northern stretch with the remainder of the route running at-grade in the street median along Van Nuys Boulevard.  Although perhaps best known as a 1950s-era cruising spot, Van Nuys Boulevard is now home to the second-busiest busway in the valley and also clocks in as the seventh busiest bus route system-wide. The planned light rail route would shave 30 minutes off the current travel times, with trains passing every six minutes during peak intervals. With a bit of luck, the proposed route also has the potential to definitively link the valley with the rest of Los Angeles, depending on which alignment is chosen  for other forthcoming high-profile project routes. Metro is in the planning stages for the Sepulveda Pass transit project, a scheme that would bridge the mountain pass currently traversed by Interstate-405 in order to connect the valley to L.A.’s Westside neighborhoods and to Los Angeles International Airport. Metro is investigating a smattering of transit schemes for the route including heavy rail subway, light rail, and even a monorail, among other options. If the agency goes with the light rail alternative, it’s possible a one-seat ride from San Fernando to LAX might one day be a possibility. Several of the other alternatives under consideration for the line could still create the regional link, albeit with a transfer from the Van Nuys line to the Sepulveda Pass route.  If a direct connection to the Sepulveda Pass is unavailable, the Van Nuys line also has the potential of becoming a spur off of the Orange Line—the existing BRT route in the valley—which Metro is considering converting to light rail sometime in the future. Metro has not explicitly stated this potential alignment as a possibility, but if the agency decides to pursue heavy rail or a monorail through the Sepulveda Pass, it would be an easy way to connect the route to the existing and planned transit system. Metro is also currently eyeing extending the Orange Line east through Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena, though only as a BRT project as of now. The agency is also considering a complimentary east-west BRT line through the valley along Nordhoff Street. The recommended proposal for the Van Nuys line has the potential to remake the valley, either way, as the areas surrounding the potential route are already densifying and lots of development is slated for adjacent neighborhoods. The Metro Board of Supervisors will take up the light rail recommendation on June 27th; The agency expects to begin construction on the route during fiscal year 2020-2021 with final completion due by 2027, just in time for the 2028 olympic games.

The “birdhouse ranch” legacy of L.A. suburb builder William Mellenthin

The work of prolific mid-20th century developer and architect William Mellenthin is largely unknown outside of the greater Los Angeles area, where the builder erected more than 3,000 homes over an illustrious career spanning between three decades. Mellenthin, the subject of an informative new book by historian Chris Lukather titled A Birdhouse in Paradise: William Mellenthin and the San Fernando Valley Ranch Homes, pioneered the distinctive “birdhouse ranch” style of the single-family home, a housing variant marked by the decorate application of pitched-roofed dovecote components, back-to-back fireplaces, board-and-batten siding, and other traditional stylings. With his development company—Wm. M.Mellenthin Builder—Mellenthin revolutionized single-family housing design in the city’s San Fernando Valley by delivering affordable new semi-custom homes in eye-catching styles. By combining the indoor-outdoor domestic spaces, rambling floor plans, and sturdy construction methods, the Midwesterner became a force to be reckoned with during the nascent real estate bonanza that engulfed the region in the immediate postwar era. Until recently, however, Mellenthin’s work had been largely forgotten due to its humble qualities and the ubiquity of the dovecote style in the San Fernando Valley, following the wholesale adoption of his “birdhouse” treatments by other contemporaneous builders. Nonetheless, interest in Mellenthin’s work is increasing, especially as real estate prices continue to climb around the region. West editor Antonio Pacheco connected with Lukather to talk about Mellenthins’s distinctive stylings, his most notable works, and the somewhat malleable nature of the homes he built.   The Architect’s Newspaper: Who was William Mellenthin and why should architects care about his work? Chris Lukather: William Mellenthin was a prolific builder. He began building homes in Los Angeles in 1923, and built over 3,000 homes in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. [He also] created designs for “Birdhouse” ranch homes that featured a cupola or dovecote built prominently into the roofs of the homes. The undeniable charm and curb appeal of these homes was very popular with home buyers, and, as a result, he created something of a trend. With returning World War II veterans, families wanted a home and lifestyle that epitomized leisure and fun. Mellenthin’s success brought many imitators. Today there are hundreds of “Birdhouse” homes throughout the Valley—many by builders who borrowed the cupola style. But there is only one original, and that is William Mellenthin. Mellenthin was one of several prominent architect-developers of the postwar era—Cliff May and Joseph Eichler are others—How does a Mellenthin home differ from other ranch houses of this period? Mellenthin homes were more “midcentury traditional” than midcentury modern. They featured diamond-paned windows, dual fireplaces, high beamed ceilings, hardwood floors, and wood paneling throughout the house. He usually built floor-to-ceiling windows in the rear of the house to allow more natural light into the home. One trademark of a Mellenthin home was how low it looked from the street. “The lower, the better,” was their motto. Most homeowners I meet today talk about the quality build of his homes. These homes were built to last. Most Mellenthin homes have withstood the major earthquakes, and fared better than other homes built during the same time. What are a few of his more notable works? His most notable work is in the Sherman Oaks area, [where he also designed] the layout of the streets. He created one development in the early 1950s, with only two entrances and nine cul-de-sacs, creating a private, exclusive area of beautiful tree-lined streets and homes. It’s like an oasis in the Valley. These homes, in a variety of styles and sizes, make up the prime Mellenthin development of the era. He [also] built many custom homes in the hills above Studio City, south of Ventura Boulevard. These homes had unique features, and custom-designed cupolas that his homes on the Valley floor usually did not have. You mention in your book that Mellenthin’s son Michael continued the family business and even worked on projects with the architect Cliff May after the elder Mellenthin’s death. What direction did Michael take Wm. Mellenthin Builder when he was in charge? Michael went to the University of Southern California and received a degree in Engineering. He began building homes in the mid-1950s, joining his father’s company and continued working through the 1970s. The family business officially closed in 1978. Although William is known for the quality build of his homes, Michael is known to have built homes better than his father. In the early 1960s, Michael built homes with a more midcentury modern style, and eventually phased out the “Birdhouse” design. Michael also built some commercial buildings in the Valley. Mellenthin worked to provide his clients semi-custom homes—Did he himself envision the buildings as remaining static over time or did he consider them malleable? Mellenthin’s homes were built to suit, so I don’t think he envisioned a lot of remodeling or updates to the homes later on. What would Mellenthin make of some of the changes that some owners have made to his structures? I’m sure he would not be happy with some of the second stories that have been added to his homes today. [However,] a lot of homeowners have knocked out the walls that separate the kitchen from the den or living room. I’m sure he would have welcomed these changes that help create a more open floor plan. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  A Birdhouse in Paradise: William Mellenthin and the San Fernando Valley Ranch Homes Chris Lukather Writing Disorder $35.00

Killefer Flammang Architects and MGA Entertainment team up for 24-acre mixed use campus in the San Fernando Valley

Bratz Doll manufacturer MGA Entertainment and Santa Monica—based Killefer Flammang Architects (KFA) are breaking ground today on a new 24-acre mixed use campus headquarters for the toy- and electronics-maker in the Chatsworth neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley. Dubbed "24" by Uncommon, the real estate company developing the project, the design calls for the adaptive reuse and expansion of an existing industrial structure. (Formerly, it was a Los Angeles Times printing facility.) The developers aim to create approximately 255,000 square feet of office space in the reused building. MGA will move its headquarters from nearby Van Nuys to the new facility and will concentrate development of its wares on-site. KFA’s master plan for 24 features several mixed-use housing blocks containing 660 apartments on land that is currently being used for parking. The apartments will be located above storefronts, with the complex also containing urban amenities like gym facilities, a pair of swimming pool areas, and a park for recreational sports. The complex will also contain a pre-school, community garden areas, and an amphitheater. Regarding the expansion, chief executive of MGA recently told the Los Angeles Times, “The new facility will be a state-of-the-art facility for people to create and work and live and play.” A rendering released by the developers shows the reused printing facility located at the center of the site surrounded by multiple clusters of five- to seven-story apartment courtyard blocks. Surrounding city streets flow into and out of the complex, with internal pedestrian areas generally separated from automobile traffic. The project, which will also feature a transit plaza that will connect to the nearby Orange Line bus rapid transit line and Chatsworth Metrolink commuter rail station, is bounded on its southern edge by a creek that feeds into the Los Angeles river. The project comes as sections of the low-rise industrial and suburban western San Fernando Valley begin to densify and coalesce around new pedestrian-oriented urban centers. Another recently-announced development includes the Westfield Promenade 2035 by Westfield Corporation, Johnson Fain, Togawa Smith Martin Architects, and HKS Architects. 24 will be built in phases with the adaptive reuse component coming by 2018 and the housing component gradually phased-in between 2018 and 2022.

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.