Posts tagged with "Silver Lake":
The tony neighborhood of Silver Lake, located on the periphery of Downtown Los Angeles, is the latest of many contested sites in a city grappling with dual perils of increasing urbanization and water scarcity.
In this case, Silver Lake’s namesake reservoir, a grandfather of the city’s pioneering urban water infrastructure system, is driving a wedge among neighbors and communities. The reservoir was decommissioned in 2006 to comply with new regulations from the United States Environmental Protection Agency that banned open-air, potable water reservoirs. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), who owns the Silver Lake Reservoir, opted to build a new, underground water storage facility in the nearby San Fernando Valley. That project—the Headworks Reservoir, an 110-million gallon system located on a 43-acre site—robbed Silver Lake Reservoir not only of its infrastructural purpose but also of its water. Ten years later and four years into a punishing drought, the decommissioned reservoir sits empty, its soft bottom sprouting scraggly tufts of new growth.
Fierce neighborhood rivalries have erupted over what to do about the 45-foot deep hole, especially considering LADWP has not published a workable plan for the future of the complex. Should the reservoir be refilled? If so, with whose water? If not, what happens to the land?
Silver Lake Forward, an organization of designers and activists who live in the area, has sprouted up to advocate for a more equitable vision of the future. The group is circulating a petition to persuade the LADWP to refill the reservoir sustainably, with an eye toward the delicate ecological balance necessary to maintain a healthy water landscape in Los Angeles. The group’s conceptual plan, designed by Mia Lehrer + Associates, aims for the gradual reintroduction of natural landscape ecologies by artificially raising the reservoir’s floor and converting the complex into a 31-acre park. The scheme features lookout points, boardwalks, and a series of small islands set aside for roosting water birds.
At a recent meeting discussing the project, Robert Soderstrom, cofounder and president of the organization, expressed hope for the group’s plan: “The people of this city will rise to the spaces we build,” he said.
An interactive installation reconsiders the definitions of enclosure and openness.Warren Techentin Architecture’s digitally-designed La Cage Aux Folles, on display at Materials & Applications in Los Angeles through August, was inspired by a decidedly analog precedent: the yurt. “Yurts are circular,” explained Techentin, who studied the building type as part of his thesis work at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. “That began the idea of using small-diameter rods and taking software and configuring sweeps with some special scripts that we found online.” But while the yurt’s primary function is shelter, Techentin’s open-air installation, built of 6,409 linear feet of steel pipe, is a literal and intellectual playground, its form an investigation of the dualities of inside and out, enclosure and openness. Once the architects became familiar with the scripts, which allowed them to manipulate multiple pipes simultaneously, they found it easy to generate designs. The hard part was settling on a final shape. Then an off-hand observation narrowed their focus. “Somebody made a comment about, it looks like a crazy cage,” said Techentin. “We realized, ‘Oh, there’s this cage component. What if we imagine spaces inside spaces?’ That’s where these interiorized conditions came through, kind of creating layers of inside and outside.” Technical constraints further influenced the form. “We had to jump out of the digital world and decide how this was made in reality,” said Techentin. To minimize materials costs, the architects decided to work with schedule 40 steel tube, which is available in 24-foot lengths. Returning to Rhino, they broke apart their model and rescripted it accordingly. They modified their model again after learning what radiuses their metalworking contractor could accommodate. “It was kind of a balancing act between hitting these radiuses, the 24-foot lengths, and repetition—but how do you get difference and variety,” said Techentin. Warren Techentin Architecture originally sought a digital fabricator for the project. But the quotes they received were too high, and they could not locate a manufacturer able to work with pipes longer than six feet. They contacted Paramount Roll and Forming, who rolled and bent the tubes by hand for one-tenth of what digital fabrication would have cost. “It wasn’t what we wanted, but in the end we wanted to see the project through,” said Techentin. Paramount sent the shaped steel to Ramirez Ironworks, where volunteers interested in metalworking helped assemble the structure. The design and fabrication team then disassembled it, painted the components, and transported them for reassembly on the site, a small courtyard in the Silver Lake neighborhood. La Cage Aux Folles invites active exploration. “My work draws great influence [from] architecture as something that you interface with, interact with—that envelops you, becomes part of an environment you participate with,” said Techentin, who overheard someone at the opening call his structure “a constructivist playground.” “We fully intended people walking around in there, lying down,” he said. “The surprise factor were the number of people who feel inspired to climb to the second and, more ambitiously, the third cages. We’re not encouraging it, but people do it.”