Posts tagged with "Santa Monica":

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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.

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Tropical Modernism: Lina Bo Bardi's SESC Pompéia falls under Veronika Kellndorfer's lens

Berlin-based Veronika Kellndorfer will be exhibiting Tropical Modernism: Lina Bo Bardi at the Christopher Grimes Gallery in Santa Monica through September 2 of this year. Showcasing Italian-born Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi's SESC Pompéia in São Paulo, Kellndorfer's duotone works examine the dialogue between Bardi's Brutalist style and the vegetal context of her buildings. In 1958, while lecturing in Salvador, Bo Bardi defined architecture as “an adventure in which people are called to intimately participate as actors.” Bardi refrained from having an office during her career as an architect and her desire to mix Brazil's modernist architecture movement with a natural, but Brazilian, approach is reflected in Kellndorfer's work. “I wasn't born here,” Bo Bardi once said. “I chose to live in this place. That's why Brazil is my country twice over.” Using a process she honed in the 1990s, Kellndorfer silk-screens photographic images to highly reflective glass panels to merge hues and blur the distinction between image and form. Here, the translucency of her work lends itself to the modernist style of Bo Bardi's work while contrasting to the more sinister tones applied to the images. Further juxtaposition can also be also found in the arrangement of Kellndorfor's work. Placing natural against the Brutal(ist), Bo Bardi's laconic detail work is amplified through this medium yet distorted when used in conjunction with the glass. The exhibition also builds on Kellndorfer's solo exhibition last year which was held at the Casa de Vidro in São Paulo, a former residency of Bo Bardi. During this period, Kellndorfer was exposed to further realms of Brazilian modernism in the form of Oscar Niemeyer and the gardening work of Roberto Burle Marx who's work is currently on display at the Jewish Musuem.

Land Art Generator 2016 Santa Monica: Powering Places in Southern California

The Land Art Generator Initiative is delighted to announce that LAGI 2016 will be held in Southern California, with the City of Santa Monica as site partner. This free and open call ideas competition invites individuals or interdisciplinary teams to design a large-scale site-specific work of public art that also serves as clean energy and/or drinking water infrastructure for the City of Santa Monica. The complete Design Guidelines along with CAD files, photos, and more will be available on January 1, 2016 at The design site includes the breakwater adjacent to the historic Santa Monica Pier and offers the opportunity to utilize wave and tidal energy as well as wind, solar, and other technologies. Throughout 2016, LAGI will hold numerous events showcasing the submissions and the design ideas they contain. Public programming will reach a broad demographic throughout Los Angeles County and beyond with exhibitions, panel discussions, lectures, publications, and more related to the science of energy as experienced through art. Through a generous partnership with the LA Chapter of the US Green Building Council, the award ceremony, exhibition, and book launch will be in Los Angeles during October of2016 at Greenbuild 2016. A concurrent exhibition will be located at the Santa Monica pier. Following the successful model of past LAGI competitions (see for more information) there will be a book (published by Prestel) that documents 60 of the design solutions and provides a rich contextual framework with essays on art and energy. LAGI 2016 comes to Southern California at an important time. The sustainable infrastructure that is required to meet California’s development goals and growing population will have a profound influence on the landscape. LAGI 2016 is meant to provide a positive and proactive vision of how these new infrastructures can be enhancements to our most cherished places. Whether providing clean and renewable electricity to power our homes and automobiles, or providing the clean water so vital to our survival, public services are at their brightest when they can be a celebrated component of urban planning and development. As California works to achieve its important renewable energy portfolio goal (raised to 50% by 2030 in the governor’s January 5, 2015 State of the State Address) large-scale exurban generation will be increasingly augmented by urban micro-generation. As the infrastructures that will cleanly power our future productivity become more prevalent in our commercial and residential centers, the issue of their aesthetic integration becomes more important. Power plants, once unseen and forgotten, will become an integral part of our daily lives. Embracing this fact, the time is now to proactively address the influence of these new machines on the built environment, and imagine a future in which clean energy technologies have been intentionally designed into well-planned cities. The biennial LAGI competition seeks to showcase how utility-scale renewable energy infrastructures can be seen not only as engineered machines, but also as conceptual landscape elements, placemaking tools, and destinations for tourism and recreation.
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Clive Wilkinson Architects' new digs for KCRW underway in Santa Monica

In the lead up to the holidays, public radio listeners in Southern California couldn’t help but tune in for some architecture news as KCRW DJs plugged the capital campaign for their new building designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects. The firm was awarded the Santa Monica commission in 2008, beating out Gensler, HLW, Morphosis, and CO Architects in the competition. The three-story, 35,000-square-foot KCRW Media Center has a price tag of $48 million with extra funding needed to fit out the studios and offices of public radio station and NPR affiliate. As part of Santa Monica College’s expanded Media and Technology campus, the new building replaces KCRW’s cramped basement office with state-of-the-art studios and performance spaces, including the 18,000-square foot Wallis Annenberg Plaza Courtyard and Outdoor Stage and a 180-capacity auditorium for community events. Santa Monica College’s new entertainment and technology campus will also include new teaching facilities, TV and production studios, and a new parking garage. KCRW staff is scheduled to move into the new building later in 2016. In the meantime, check out the construction time lapse.
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Marmol Radziner's Past Forays into Guerrilla Architecture

An architectural Banksy lurks behind the well-tailored facade of Marmol Radziner. While the architecture and design-build practice is best known for its modern and high-end contemporary designs—they recently received two preservation awards one from the California Preservation Design Awards for the rehab of Richard Neutra’s 1955 Kronish House and the Pioneer in Modern Restoration & New Design Award from the Palm Springs Modern Committee—the firm recently revealed that it has a radical soul. In the late 1990s the firm created a series of what we would now call tactical urbanism interventions—acts of guerrilla architecture that drew attention to issues around Los Angeles. Ron Radziner spoke earlier this fall at the AIA San Francisco's Architecture and the City Festival about the works he called Heavy Trash, thus linking the practice to previously anonymous installations. The title of the project came from the possible violation they’d be tagged with if caught: littering. As if the artifacts of their urban actions were like old furniture or construction debris left on the curb. Performed over a series of years, the interventions took different forms. A bright orange stair and viewing platform to peep over hedges and gates was spotted around town, showing up in Los Feliz, Brentwood, and Park La Brea to draw attention to fortressed spaces in the city. One of the earliest projects was a metal staircase in West Los Angeles. It provided access to a public park that had been cordoned off with a tall metal fence in order to keep out the homeless. What’s interesting about the installation is not only did it constitute a kind of protest to NIMBY attitudes in the neighborhood, but also the design reflected the material investigations going on in the office. The step detail—metal C-sections welded to a steel tube—is not so dissimilar to a staircase in a Beverly Hills residence. Asked about what could be seen as a cognitive dissidence between high-end homes and street art, Radziner bridged the gap by stressing the firm’s hands-on approach across the spectrum. “The projects came out of our ability to make things so easily,” he recalled recently. The Heavy Trash actions brought together the firm’s designers and fabricators in the workshop, who volunteered their time to produce the pieces. When it came time to install, the teams would don reflective vests and put out orange cones to make things look “official.” Perhaps the most prescient of their civic additions was a series of billboards erected in Santa Monica announcing a fictitious “Aqua Line” metro link from downtown Los Angeles to the beach. Radziner joked that the action made a difference on reality, “If you look at the Expo Line graphics, they are aqua.”
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Pictorial> Crews taking down Santa Monica's California Incline for replacement project

On April 20, construction workers began demolishing Santa Monica's California Incline, a longtime connector between the Pacific Coast Highway and the city's overlooking bluffs. The 1,400-foot-long roadway, built in 1930, is getting a $20-million renovation (including a seismic retrofit and a new pedestrian bridge) by Caltrans and the city of Santa Monica that is expected to take year to complete. Below take a last look at the wonderfully weathered incline as we know it. (Click on thumbnail to start slideshow.)  
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Amid changing development landscape and high rents, Santa Monica Museum of Art begins search for a new home

Edward Cella Art and Architecture is not the only Los Angeles art institution leaving its longtime location soon. AN has learned from the Los Angeles Times that the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMOA) is closing its doors at Santa Monica's Bergamot Station early next month. According to the newspaper, the move was largely precipitated by the city's selection last fall of developer Bergamot Station Ltd/Worthe Real Estate and architect Fred Fisher for a major redevelopment of Bergamot. That scheme has been noted for its effort to maintain the 33-gallery complex's industrial shed vernacular. The museum had hoped for a proposal by 26th Street TOD and Rios Clementi Hale that would have added $17 million to its endowment. Furthermore the owner of Bergamot, Wayne Blank, doubled SMMOA's rent last spring. "It was a huge blow," SMMOA Executive Director Elsa Longhauser told AN. "It made it clear that the landlord was not eager to continue his support of the museum." "They picked the development team that offered them the most, which wasn’t the best of the three teams," Blank responded to AN. "They had the worst plan. It would have destroyed Bergamot." He added: "It was no longer comfortable to have them on board." Bergamot, once a train station and site for light manufacturing, has been a home to art since the early 1990s. SMMOA is now taking time to look for a new home. "We will use this time very intensely and judiciously to examine all the possibilities and determine what makes the most sense,” Longhauser told the Times. "There are a number of leads, but nothing’s signed and sealed," Longhauser told AN. She said there was a chance that the museum may have to leave Santa Monica altogether, largely because of the city's high rents. Blank, who hopes SMMOA can "reinvent itself" elsewhere, said that he is now looking for another non-profit to take the museum's space, if possible. The city's redevelopment of Bergamot won't start for another two to three years at the earliest.
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Eavesdrop> Expo Line’s First Riders? Unexpected patrons swarm Santa Monica

There’s been a lot of sunny news revolving around the incoming Expo Line in Santa Monica, which is scheduled to open sometime in 2016. But with all the feverish construction, it appears some unwelcome guests are coming out of the shadows (or actually, the ground). Several businesses around the construction—including those of architects—are reporting increased numbers of cockroaches making their way into their offices. Some have even called it an infestation. Who knew mass transit would attract such a wide ridership?
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Santa Monica Radio Station KCRW Breaks Ground on New Headquarters by Clive Wilkinson Architects

Yesterday Santa Monica radio station KCRW broke ground on its new hub, which will bring it out of a basement at Santa Monica College and into the architectural spotlight. The 35,000 square foot building, designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects, will be located on the college's future Entertainment and Technology Campus, in the city's creative business district, along the Expo line. Wilkinson won the commission back in 2008, but the bold, colorful design has developed significantly since then. KCRW, which started out three decades ago, has grown from 14 to 110 employees, so it was definitely time to move out of their cramped underground offices. The new facilities, with plentiful access to natural light, will offer high tech production facilities, community gathering spaces, and top tier office spaces, as well as an 18,000 square foot courtyard and outdoor stage and a 180-seat auditorium. Radio performances will be open to the public, making the station even more of a community and musical center. KCRW has so far raised $33 million of the total $48 million for the new campus. Construction is expected to be done by the end of 2015, with the station moving in by 2016. Santa Monica College's new entertainment and technology campus will also include new teaching facilities, TV and production studios, and a new parking garage.
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OMA Moving Ahead on Major Mixed-Use Project in Santa Monica After All

After being sent back to the drawing board last fall, OMA's mixed use Plaza at Santa Monica appears to be moving ahead once again. Located on a prime piece of Santa Monica–owned real estate on Arizona Avenue between 4th and 5th streets, the development—part of a glut of new mixed-use projects in the city—will be OMA’s first ever large scale project in Southern California. They are partnering with local firm Van Tilberg, Banvard & Soderbergh (VTBS). At a recent Architectural Review Board (ARB) meeting, the OMA-VTBS team presented its original proposal at 148 feet high and an alternate the city had asked them to consider at 84 feet. “Overall, the Board was very pleased with the design ideas and the potential that it represents,” said Francie Stefan, community and strategic planning manager for the City of Santa Monica. She noted that the concerns raised by the board had to do with daylighting and ventilation strategies for such large floor plates. According to Santa Monica Special Projects Manager Jing Yeo, since OMA is still collecting input they have not yet started on such revisions. Regardless of building height, the board wants the major concept elements to be carried through, including the mix of vertical relationships and the multilevel landscaping that would be done by Philadelphia-based landscape firm OLIN. It remains to be seen if the building's green roofs stay in future renderings and just how much affordable housing can be jammed into the project. Both of these concerns were raised by the selection committee when it issued its recommendation to pursue negotiations with the development team. Since this was just an early concept review, the project will be back a number of times before it gets final approval from the ARB.
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Shortlist Specials: West Coast Projects Name Names

As the economy continues to roll we’re again awash in shortlists and competition wins. The Santa Monica City Services Building has a shortlist that includes SOM and Frederick Fisher. Teams shortlisted for the Herald Examiner Building include Christof Jantzen and Brenda Levin. LA’s Wildwood School shortlist includes Gensler, Koning Eizenberg, and one unknown team. The UC San Diego Biological Building has gone to CO Architects (recent winners of the AIACC Firm of the Year award). EHDD has won the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, and Harley Ellis Devereaux has won the Long Beach Belmont Plaza Pool.
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Wealthy Neighborhood Coalition Demands Halt in Santa Monica Development Projects

Just west of Los Angeles, a relaxed beach town on the California coast has recently received some major architecture news headlines. In 2013, some of the biggest firms in the country, from OMA to Gehry Partners, have set their sights on development projects in Santa Monica, planning to raise the skyline and increase the architectural density of the city. Not everyone is happy about this attention, though. This week, Curbed LA reports that the Wilmont Neighborhood Coalition, a group of Santa Monica residents from the high profile neighborhood from Wilshire Boulevard to Montana Avenue, have called for a moratorium on all development plans in the city. With a unanimous vote at their annual meeting, the group pleaded with the City Council to stop architectural projects in Santa Monica until the solidification of a zoning ordinance next year. According to a survey funded by the Huntley Hotel in downtown Santa Monica (whose owner is also a coalition board member), the group’s main complaint is the increase in traffic and the decrease in parking space that would be caused by city developments. The City Council’s Planning Committee will see a Zoning Ordinance Update on their agenda in a few weeks, but a decision on new building regulation in the city would not be reached until possibly late 2014. These Wilmont neighbors do not think that is soon enough to prevent the vehicular overcrowding they fear. Sending a symbolic vote of no confidence to City Hall, the Neighborhood Coalition has proposed a resolution that not only pauses all Santa Monica development agreements until the zoning decision but also introduces the adoption of a Downtown Specific Plan that would set a maximum height on projects in the downtown area. So far, the coalition’s objection has not had an impact on any current projects.