On Monday, members of LA’s design and architecture cognoscenti descended on the Tesla store on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to celebrate the official relaunch of KCRW’s DnA (Design and Architecture). The event featured a discussion between DnA host and executive producer Frances Anderton and Elon Musk, the visionary founder-CEO of Tesla and Space X. Those present included Michael Rotondi, Ray Kappe, Thom Mayne, developer Tom Gilmore, and Getty architecture curators Wim de Wit and Christopher Alexander. After ten years as a monthly on-air program, DnA will re-emerge as a more comprehensive weekly podcast and blog. To help curate what’s being billed as “DnA 2.0", Anderton is enlisting the talents of local design journalists—or “DJs”—that she has hand-picked. “I’m thrilled that we will increase our coverage of, and participation in this creative community and the work that shapes our lives,” said Anderton. In the discussion Ms. Anderton honed in on Mr. Musk’s hands-on approach to design and innovation and how his operations are solidly based in California. “I like to be close enough to be involved,” he said. “With outsourcing, something we at one time considered, you lose the potential for innovation in the process.” Questions from the audience ranged from whether science fiction played a role in his work—“Definitely Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy and Heinlein”— to if he could solve LA’s traffic problem. “I’ve got a design for a double-decker freeway worked out,” he said. When a young member of the audience asked about flying cars, he thoughtfully responded that he thought the challenge wasn’t getting the cars to fly but in preventing them from crashing into everything. When asked if he had any advice for architects about getting more visionary buildings erected in Los Angeles, Mr. Musk demurred, saying “I wouldn’t presume to give advice. The problem isn’t the architects. We just need more clients here who want to put up visionary buildings.”
Posts tagged with "Santa Monica":
Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced the winners of its Mayors Challenge, a competition meant to generate innovative ideas for the improvement of city life. Out of the 300 cities that submitted proposals, the giving institution created by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg gave the Grand Prize for Innovation to Providence, RI, and its mayor, Angel Taveras. The city was awarded $5 million to implement its project, what Bloomberg Philanthropies called a "cutting-edge early education initiative." Under the initiative, participating children will wear a recording device home that will monitor the conversations they have with their parents or other adults. The transcripts of these conversations will then be used to develop weekly coaching sessions in which government monitors or someone will coach the grownups on how better to speak with their children. Bloomberg Philanthropies said it selected the "revolutionary approach" for the way it uses "proven technologies to measure vocabulary exposure in low-income households and help[s] parents close the word gap." Hello Big Brother! But, then, it's not a surprising choice coming from the man who has recently tried to ban jumbo sodas, did ban smoking in public places, and ordered the erection of signs at fast food restaurants telling consumers just how fat they're about to become. Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Santa Monica also made the top five list, each taking away $1 million to put toward the implementation of their own proposals. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to build a data system to help city leaders make better decisions to prevent problems before they happen. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will launch a new procurement process to make it easier for entrepreneurs and "social innovators" to answer RFPs. Santa Monica is developing an index to measure well-being and thereby make it part of policy making. Houston walked away with the Fan Favorite prize, which added $50,000 to its purse. This prize was co-sponsored by the Huffington Post and resulted from 58,000 votes. Bayou City mayor Annise Parker is developing a one-bin recycling program, or One Bin For All, as it is called. The measure will save citizens the nuisance of sorting their refuse. Instead, recyclables will be separated from regular garbage at transfer facilities, with the goal of recycling 75 percent of all waste. Houston is currently seeking a private company to partner with on the project. In addition to the money, each of the five members will receive a trophy designed by international art star Olafur Eliasson. While no image of the trophy was available at blog time, a description was: "The Mayors Challenge Prize for Innovation award is a spherical sculpture formed by three concentric circles—square, circle, and dodecagon—encircling a hanging compass. The compass indicates steadily north, uniting the prize winners and assisting viewers in imagining their collective responsibility to navigate towards the greater good for all."
OMA and Robert A.M. Stern are not the only starchitects zeroing in on Santa Monica. Frank Gehry is designing a 22-story, 244-foot-tall tower on a 1.9 acre site on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. Plans for the project were submitted to the city yesterday, according to the Santa Monica Planning Department. The tower, located just a block from the beach and around the corner from the 3rd Street Promenade, would house a 125-room hotel, 22 condos, and two stories of retail and restaurants. A 36,000-square-foot art museum, incorporating two landmarked structures, would also be built just north of the tower. The $72 million scheme, known as the “Ocean Avenue Project,” is being developed by M. David Paul Associates and the Worthe Real Estate Group. Neither the architect nor the developer would comment on the project at this point, but according to the project web site, the development uses "urban planning principles consistent with the vision and principles of Santa Monica's Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) and the city staff recommendations for the Downtown Specific Plan." That includes a stepped-back design that reduces the bulk of the building, street level retail to activate the street, and the integration of public space and amenities—including a rooftop observation deck—into the design. According to the Santa Monica Daily Press, the "architects chose to go with a white material to play off of other prominent Santa Monica buildings, and attempted to marry an art deco feel with Gehry’s distinctive style." The project still needs to get city approval. The first community meetings are expected to be held in March. Right now the city is considering over 30 development applications, a sign that the economy is definitely back in a big way, and a precursor to several upcoming neighborhood battles.
The fabrication team cut, folded, and welded 264 aluminum panels into 66 uniquely shaped sun shades.One of the challenges of designing affordable housing, points out Kevin Daly, principal at LA firm Daly Genik Architects, is “managing a balance between the economic forces that demand repeatability and the risk that monotony comes with that repetitiveness.” Daly Genik and LA fabricators Machineous came up with a great solution for Broadway Apartments, an affordable project at the corner of Broadway and 26th Street in Santa Monica, developed by Community Corporation of Santa Monica. The project is made up of four nearly identical building blocks, arranged in a pinwheel plan around the site. Each has a facade primarily facing the sun, so to allow for large windows on these flanks the firm chose to install large, angular aluminum shades, projecting around the windows. The shades also animate the facades, forming a 3-dimensional tapestry along the building’s edge. To provide the efficiency that Daly describes, the shades are all made using the same material—1/4 inch thick aluminum, coated with urethane paint—and the same technique—CNC milling. But in order to avoid the monotony that Daly also refers to, each one of the shades' 264 aluminum panels are slightly different in size and shape. The 66 hoods range in size from 48 inches by 72 inches to 120 inches by 72 inches. The walls containing the hoods are also slightly curved, creating even more variety. Machineous cut each panel using its massive in-house robotic CNC mills, which have six-axis arms that can work in three dimensions. The mills were originally designed to produce cars in assembly plants. Each shade was "unfolded" into four parts from the Rhino documents and the 3D surveying data (to make sure the shades met the curving walls plum) that Daly Genik provided, post-scripted in Excel, and "nested," as Machineous principal Andreas Froech puts it, onto 48-inch-by-144-inch aluminum sheets. Each of the shades' four pieces were continuously welded at the corners to produce a continuous look. Machineous had to make several mockups to try out this technique. A stiffening 2-inch-wide bar of the same material was folded down along the horizontal front edges to avoid any sagging of the up to 120-inch span of the shades. The shades’ immense variety required careful communication. Each sheet had to be labeled with a sharpie after being cut out to keep track of it all since they weren’t built according to location. “Every part is one of a kind and cannot be replaced by another one," said Froech. “That’s always the challenge of designing with multiples and variation. It’s a little nerve wracking. It’s a huge puzzle.” But the puzzle worked, mostly on the first try. “It’s so complex, but also simple,” said Froech. “It’s really just cutting out shapes. But there’s no room for error. If something’s not right it gets complicated very quickly. What you see is what you get.”
Architects do a lot of things outside of CAD details. Don't believe us? Check out Unfrozen Music tomorrow night at the Santa Monica Public Library's MLK Jr. Auditorium, hosted by AN West Coast Editor Sam Lubell. The concert will feature classical piano, chamber music, and jazz performed by LA architects like John Friedman Alice Kimm's Alice Kimm, Gensler's Terrence Young, NBBJ's Gary Popenoe. And trust us, these guys are good. This is our third year going. More details here.
Unfrozen Music: Architects in Concert Santa Monica Main Library Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 7:00 PM Tomorrow night a few talented Los Angeles architects—several featured on the pages of AN over the years—will be showing off their skills at the third annual Unfrozen Music, a concert at the Santa Monica Library's MLK Auditorium. Emcee'd by AN West Coast Editor Sam Lubell, the lineup ranges from chamber music to jazz to indie rock. And here's a secret—they're all really good. The night's lineup: Alice Kimm and Doris Sung—chamber ensemble Jon Frishman, et al, Blue Fountain—jazz band Jonathan Ward, Gary Popenoe, et al—jazz band Lorenzo Marasso—classical piano quintet Melody Jiang—classical piano solo Terence Young, et al, Splendido—indie rock band
After attending the recent Alt Build Expo in Santa Monica it became clear to us at AN that the aging Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, a Decorative Modernist structure designed by Welton Becket back in 1958, was in serious need of an update. (Becket, by the way, designed the Capitol Records Building, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and a good deal more of mid-Century Los Angeles.) Well it looks like our wish is coming true: On May 26 the Santa Monica City Council voted to approve a $47 million remodel and seismic retrofit of the auditorium, using Santa Monica Redevelopment Agency funds (the vote to allocate funds was sped up because such monies may soon be frozen once the state budget is passed). No firm has been chosen, but we will keep our eyes peeled on the RFP, which was posted here last month. "They anticipate a design build contract," said Santa Monica spokesperson Carol Lemlein, who noted that perspective teams will be made up of architects, contractors, engineers, and preservation experts.
Capping Santa Monica. Curbed LA got some great renderings from students at USC who where charged with imagining even more highway caps for the Pacific Coast Highway, this time from Arizona to California Avenues. Beyond freeway parks, the students proposed housing, hotels, and community centers. Breaking Whitney. With the deal signed for the Met to take over the Whitney's Breuer building on Madison, directors at the ground breaking for the new branch at the High Line had all the more reason to celebrate. DNA reminds readers that the museum is actually retuning home. Ol' Gerty got the ball rolling on 8th Street way back in 1930. Dylan Sings. Happy B-day Bobby! Bob Dylan turned 70 on Tuesday and in celebration the Infrastructurist presents Dylan's Ten Best Infrastructure Songs, including "The Levee's Gonna Break" and "Marchin' to the City." Old School. Design New Haven has the Robert A.M. Stern drawings for "street calming measures" at Yale that are part of the $600 million for renovations, including two new residential colleges. The plan includes mixed use buildings intended to encourage street life at all hours and improved access to the Farmington Canal Greenway .
[ Updated 02.08.2011: Added the interview video, a gallery of Scarpa's 502 Colorado project, and more. ] You know you've hit the big time when you're not only invited to appear on Oprah, but you're interviewed by Leonard DiCaprio on Oprah. Such is the case with Larry Scarpa, of Santa Monica firm Brooks + Scarpa, who talked to Leo about his former firm Pugh + Scarpa's 502 Colorado in Santa Monica, which DiCaprio calls the “first green affordable housing project in the country.” Whether or not that’s true, the building does include 200 solar panels on its rooftop, providing much of the building’s energy. DiCaprio doesn’t ask Scarpa about any of the 44-unit building’s other green elements (including strategic orientation, natural ventilation, co-generation, and recycled materials), but that’s okay, he'll dream about it later. At least Scarpa gets to remind stubborn developers that building green can be cheaper than conventional building. By the way, we think Scarpa, who’s already a dead ringer for Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio, has earned himself a spot on DiCaprio’s next film, Devil in the White City, about the architects of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Wake up and get that architect an agent NOW.
AN has just learned that Gwynne Pugh of well-known Santa Monica firm Pugh + Scarpa has decided to leave the firm to start his own company, Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio. Pugh and Lawrence Scarpa have led the firm for the past 22 years—Pugh actually hired Scarpa in the '80s. Pugh's new company, which "specializes in the design of structures, urban design, planning, sustainability, and consultation to companies and public entities," launched on September 1. In 2011, firm principal (and Scarpa's wife) Angela Brooks, who now runs Pugh+Scarpa's sustainable development department, will be elevated to principal-in-charge, precipitating a new firm name: Brooks+Scarpa. The firm would not comment on the changes (and Pugh's profile is already off the firm's site), but we will keep you informed as more information becomes available.
Despite the frustration of having to drive everywhere, often sitting through interminable traffic, at least Angelinos can boast some of the prettiest parking structures in the country. One of the latest to the game is Pugh + Scarpa's dressed up garages for the redeveloped Santa Monica Place mall, garages that were originally designed by the same man behind the now demolished mall, Frank Gehry himself. Not content to simply dress up some old garages with a flashy new facade, the mall has dedicated space on each of the two parking structures for art installations As Curbed reported last week, the proposals, which include the above one by Ball Nogues and a tile mural by Anne Marie Karlsen, recently received final approval from the Santa Monica City Council. The plans had been kicking around for a few year, and frankly, we're a little surprised to see Ben and Gaston's Newton’s Cradle-inspired piece being realized, since Ben once confided in us some uncertainty on getting the gravitationally anchored sculpture to stay aloft. Then again, playing on this uncertainty is what much of the firm's work is all about. Bully for the young designers, though, and for Santa Monica for taking such a risk on this ballsy project.
Just when we thought that Santa Monica was all set to get Eli Broad's new art museum (Santa Monica City Council is expected to vote on an "agreement in principal" for the museum on January 19), the LA Times gets an email from the Broad Foundation saying it wouldn't make up its mind on a location for a few months. In the email, dated January 13, the Broad Foundation said: “There are more than three cities that have expressed an interest in the Broad Art Foundation headquarters/museum. Discussions are still ongoing, so we can’t say more at this point. But we’re keeping our options open and hope to make a decision on a location this spring.” The story also seems to resolve the location of that mysterious third possible location for the museum: a 10-acre parcel on the campus of West L.A. College in Culver City (although West L.A. College President Mark Rocha said he hasn't heard a peep from Broad). This saga will obviously be drawn out until 2050, so we prescribe patience for those who want an answer soon.