Posts tagged with "Silver Lake":

Placeholder Alt Text

Breuer-inspired Los Angeles house turns old split-level conventions upside down

The Los Angeles Design Group (LADG) recently completed work on their Armstrong Residence, a 1,894-square-foot renovation of an existing, split-level single family house in Los Angeles’s Silverlake neighborhood. The house's massing is directly inspired by Marcel Breuer’s former Whitney Museum in New York City, except that instead of jutting out over a busy Manhattan street, the Armstrong House instead steps out along its back facade, mimicking the slope of a gentle hill located behind the house. Along the street front, an inset-bay window—Breuer’s streetside eye juts out from the structure—interrupts the otherwise monolithic, charred cedar wood exterior. The front window is contained within an overhanging car port and its panes are torqued to align perpendicularly with the nearby Silverlake Reservoir. On the back side of the house, a projecting oculus is similarly torqued and arranged here, in parallel with the slope. Both windows are an attempt, according to the LADG principals Andrew Holder and Claus Benjamin Freyinger, to “interiorize” exterior landscape features as elements of interior scenography. Along areas where the exterior envelope is broken, like along the lids of the oculus or the planes of a stepped-back, third-floor facade, the wood siding shifts to a natural finish. The house is designed as an “upside down house,” organized with a large, clear-span living room at the top floor with two levels containing two bedrooms, bathrooms, a study, and a laundry room located below. The new top floor acts like a hat over the existing spaces. The living room organization, much like the original split-level design, maximizes the house’s viewshed toward the reservoir. The space is organized around its views, with a built-in kitchen assembly on one short end of the rectangular great room, and a relaxed seating area located opposite. The areas between these spaces are animated through the presence of a pair of operable window-walls that open onto a generous exterior terrace. The indoor-outdoor living room—its front wall pulled back from the facade and clad in naturally-finished cedar—looks out over the surrounding hillsides and reservoir.
Placeholder Alt Text

What will Angelenos do with a decommissioned, 45-foot-deep reservoir?

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.

Placeholder Alt Text

Q+A> French artist Vincent Lamouroux turned this Los Angeles building into a stark, white ghost

Silver Lake's so-called Bates Motel—it's actually the soon-to-be-demolished Sunset Pacific Motel—is in the process of getting whitewashed with lime wash as part of French artist Vincent Lamouroux's installation, Projection. The undertaking, which opens to the public on Sunday and lasts for two weeks, was sponsored and organized by downtown LA gallery Please Do Not Enter. AN West Coast Editor Sam Lubell talked with Lamouroux to get the scoop on his ambitious urban piece. AN: How get this idea? Why the Bates Motel? Why Los Angeles? Vincent Lamouroux:  I first saw the hotel 15 years ago passing by, and I was very interested. Over the years I kept looking at the building and nothing was happening to it. No change at all. So I was curious, and I became more and more excited. I came up with the idea of doing something with it two years ago. I was interested in finding a way to capture the entire building and its periphery: the motel sign, the billboards, the palm trees. To bring together all these elements that were an idea of LA, or an idea of the California Dream. What is it about? Does it symbolize anything about Silver Lake? Los Angeles? The fleetingness of things? I wanted to bring attention to the particular site. Something about the building's relationship with the urban environment on Sunset Boulevard. I got the idea to transform the hotel with a white coat of lime on it, to differentiate the landscape and make it both appear and disappear within the site. The idea of the white is also about making something appear. The idea was also to reveal the nature of everything. That things change constantly from one state to another. We have a quest for symmetry, for stuff that could stay always the same. But everything that comes to life will die. I wanted to indicate this idea of change for the building, but in relation to the urban landscape. I’m also trying to understand how desire works, and how we get attracted to things. How our attention is captivated by something. We experience something every day in a city that is full of signs and advertisement and colors. Lots of things that capture our attention. By adding this white, a blank color, it draws attention by being a kind of rest or quiet moment in the urban landscape. What were the specifics of the installation? We use spray guns and firehoses and fire nozzles for the inside parts; the courtyard and rooftop. For surfaces connected to the streets we use spray guns. The title, Projection, refers to the process of applying the lime and the idea of how we project ideas, possibilities, dreams, onto something. There are different solutions for different parts of the building. They all stick directly to the building. So far because it’s not raining at all it should be fine. I like the idea that the piece is going to disappear. We are just proposing a specific space and a specific time for it. Because it becomes true to life it’s going to disappear and change. Is the building being torn down? We don’t know. The developer has plans for it, but they appear to be on hold. Please Do Not Enter enabled this to happen? Before opening the gallery they were art collectors and they collected my work. Just before they moved to Los Angeles I told them I had an idea here. I brought them an architectural model of the project. I asked them to look at it once I was in Los Angeles. They were excited about the idea. The gallery is called Please Do Not Enter, so it was perfect.  They paid for the whole project. We got the support of the community, of some other people involved in the project. But they made it happen. Do you live in L.A.?  I live in Paris. I probably spend four months of the year in Los Angeles. Did you anticipate just how bright this white would be?  Not completely. Even myself, I have to wear sunglasses all the time, especially when we’re in the courtyard. I knew the lime would have the quality to catch and reflect the light. It's the material we use to make buildings whiter. To me the whiteness gives the motel the feeling of a ghost.  I like the idea of a ghost. The idea that the whole motel would become a cinema screen, a white canvas, for the projection of desires. We live in a world of objects, and all the objects around them are surfaces for projections of desires. Something completely blank like this looks somehow kind of unfinished. By the fact that it’s unfinished maybe you can ask yourself what was, what is, and what will be there. Also the building is closed. People don’t get access, creating a sense of mystery. What is your next project? I’m doing another site specific project in Portugal, near Lisbon. I’m trying to build a suspended island on the sand dunes near the ocean. I’m going to work with wood. It’s a wood construction floating above the ground that will be designed as an island in the air.
Placeholder Alt Text

On View> Installation exposes earthquake country in Silver Lake, Los Angeles

Domus Materials and Applications 1619 Silver Lake Blvd Through Spring 2015 You can't tell at first glance, but Silver Lake gallery Materials & Applications is measuring the ground shaking beneath your feet. Their newest installation, Domus, by D.V. Rogers, detects worldwide seismic activity measured by the US Geological Survey and reveals it with a 7-foot-tall, multi-colored LED "light chandelier" display and with pulsing sounds. All is encased inside a 20-foot-tall, six-sided "hexayurt" made with simple exterior insulation panels and filament tape. The installation will be up until next Spring. A key component of Domus is to engage people with earthquake-preparedness and post-disaster strategies, a reality that is often ignored in temblor-prone Los Angeles. The structure itself is an example of low cost architecture for possible disaster zones. Rogers has already hosted workshops on the topic, and more events are planned during the show's duration.
Placeholder Alt Text

Constructivist Playground by Warren Techentin Architecture

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.
  • Fabricator Ramirez Ironworks, Paramount Roll and Forming
  • Designers Warren Techentin Architecture
  • Location Los Angeles
  • Date of Completion April 2014
  • Material Schedule 40 steel tube
  • Process Rhino, scripting, bending, cutting, sleeving, welding, bolting, painting
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.”
Placeholder Alt Text

An Inland Beach for Los Angeles’ Silver Lake Neighborhood?

[beforeafter]silver-lake-reservoir-beach-01silver-lake-reservoir-beach-02[/beforeafter] Thanks to new EPA regulations, Silver Lake is saying goodbye to it reservoir. But resident Catherine Geanuracos hopes the community will soon be saying hello to something new: a body of water repurposed for recreation, complete with lap lanes, an open swim area, and a miniature beach. As the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) prepares to drain Silver Lake Reservoir and the adjoining Ivanhoe Reservoir and reroute the city’s drinking water supply through underground pipes, Geanuracos’s organization, Swim Silver Lake, is urging city officials to transform the area into a destination for serious swimmers and casual beach-goers alike. Geanuracos says that she, like many Silver Lake residents, has often wondered how the Silver Lake Reservoir Complex might be put to public use. “Every time I run [around it], I’m like, ‘why can’t I go swimming in it?’” she said. “It’s an amazing space that hardly anyone has access to.” This fall, when Geanuracos first heard about plans to drain the reservoir, she realized the time for action was here. She launched Swim Silver Lake less than a month ago, at her own birthday party. Over 700 people have signed up online to support the project. Swim Silver Lake will be presenting their proposal to the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council in February. In the meantime, Geanuracos is scheduling meetings with key government players, including the LADWP, the Los Angeles City Council, and the mayor’s office. She recognizes that the novelty of her idea poses a particular challenge. “It’s not like there’s a precedent for how you do this, because we haven’t had this opportunity before,” she said. Geanuracos is also looking for assistance from the local design community. “I’m not a planner, not an expert, but hopefully we’ll find some folks [with the right skills],” she said. “It could be an amazing project for a student team or a young firm.”
Placeholder Alt Text

October 19: Hyperion Avenue Studio Tour In Silver Lake

LA architecture aficionados take note: this Saturday you can tour five architecture studios within a one-mile stretch on Hyperion Avenue in Silver Lake, thanks to a fundraiser organized by de LaB (design east of La Brea). The studios featured on the self-guided tour include Michael Maltzan Architecture, known for civic-minded projects like the New Carver Apartments, and Lehrer Architects, whose recent work includes the Spring Street Park downtown.  Tourgoers can also stop at WTARCH, MASS Architecture & Design, and MAKE Architecture. The tour begins at 3:00 pm and ends at 6:00 pm.  A buy-your-own happy hour follows. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased online.  Proceeds from the event benefit de LaB programs.  For more information, visit de LaB's event page
Placeholder Alt Text

Late Bloomr: Silver Lake Centerpiece Delayed

The building of a proposed neighborhood symbol on the corner of Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards in Silver Lake has been pushed back due to lack of funds. After winning the Envisioning Silver Lake competition last summer, LA firm ALLTHATISSOLID (ATIS) has been working with the city's Bureau of Street Services (BSS) to scale back and refine the design, called "Bloomrs," to fit the $100,000 budget with room for curbing and other street improvements included. The saddle-shaped structure, made of Cor-ten steel, has already been re-designed to occupy a smaller footprint and rises to a shorter height. The funding hiccup seems to have its roots in the hazy project scope, presented during the competition. “Our budget allocated for everything that we designed, but it didn’t include street improvements and curbing and intersection reconfiguration,” said Heather McGinn, partner at ATIS, who further clarified that the original proposal was only $6,000 over the $100,000 budget, set aside from the state’s $1.5 million Metro Call for Projects program. ATIS and the bureau are now trying to secure additional funds, estimated around $50,000 to $70,000, said Robert Gutierrez, Streetscape Section Supervisor of BSS. Pending funding and design, the “saddle” should be ready by Spring 2013.
Placeholder Alt Text

Celebrate Earth Day With a “Neutra Run-Walk” in Silver Lake

Architecture lovers, time to get motivated. This Earth Day (April 22) you can celebrate Richard Neutra’s 120th birthday by participating in the Neutra Run-Walk for Health, a 4k or 8k jaunt around LA's Silver Lake Reservoir. “Neutra always stood for health, so it made sense to host this event,” said Dion Neutra, son of the famous architect. Neutra says he hopes the walk will become an annual event for the Neutra Institute. The walking path will start at the Silver Lake Meadow in front of the VDL Research House II, at 2300 Silver Lake Blvd., and continue counter clockwise around the reservoir. The walk is open to everyone, whether they plan to finish the race in record time or take a leisurely stroll. “We want to remind people what it’s all about. Just get out and get around, no matter how slowly,” said Neutra. Each participant gets a free commemorative pin and entry to the awards ceremony. Though prizes still haven’t been finalized, Neutra said they might give a signed copy of Neutra's Survival Through Design  to the winner. Proceeds go toward the preservation of the VDL Research House II and other efforts by the institute. Register on the Neutra Institute webpage.
Placeholder Alt Text

LA Kicks Cars to the Curb, Opens First Pedestrian Plaza

You'd better get used to it, Los Angeles is remaking itself from a one trick pony town where car is king into a multimodal city for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. The latest improvement is Sunset Triangle Plaza, the city's first pedestrian plaza created by a new collaboration called Streets for People (S4P) that hopes to churn out dozens new pedestrian-oriented spaces a year across the city. The green-on-green polka dot plaza officially opened this month to crowds of gleeful pedestrians in the hip enclave of Silver Lake, northwest of Downtown LA. The year-long pilot project was designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios, who said the design is open to interpretation. "The dots play off of D.O.T., the abbreviation for Department of Transportation, which is integral to the Streets for People program," said firm principal Frank Clementi in a statement. The 11,000 square foot plaza at Sunset Boulevard and Griffith Park connects the neighborhood to a small triangular pocket park previously stranded in a sea of streets and plays host to a twice-weekly farmers market. Moveable bistro tables and chairs, also in green, fill the plaza and large pots filled with drought resistant plants serve as bollards at its perimeter. Streets for People is an initiative of LA's Planning Commission and and the LA County Department of Public Health that hopes to reclaim underutilized street space in LA. "Using paint and planters allows us to recapture streets for people in months rather than decades, and for thousands—rather than millions—of dollars," said William Roschen, president of the LA Planning Commission, in a statement. "Now that we have the process, template, and cooperation of city departments and the community, we have several key variables in place to do upward of 40 projects a year."
Placeholder Alt Text

Construction Watch: Tattuplex

Meet architect Tom Marble's Tattuplex. The steel-framed duplex, cantilevering off a steep hill in LA's Silver Lake neighborhood is being built for nurse and buddhist-monk-in-training Tim Tattu. The project's steel frame was fabricated off-site by Ecosteel, allowing it to be bolted together onsite in just a few days. And of course, it has one of the most beautiful construction sites imaginable, overlooking the Silver Lake reservoir.  Marble started the design with two hexagons. Then he really got to work: "Through more than 70 iterations -- what I call fermentations -- we pushed and pulled the geometries so as to maximize livability without compromising the concept," he said. The downstairs will be a one-bedroom apartment, the upstairs will be a studio. Sustainable elements include passive heating and cooling; composting kitchens (and maybe toilets); rainwater cisterns; deep overhangs for shading; a tree orchard and vegetable garden below and a vegetated roof upstairs.The rest of the house should be done  this summer. Stay tuned as we see it finish up.
Placeholder Alt Text

Silver Lake′s Grassy Nirvana Finally Opens

After years of waiting, as of this past weekend Silver Lake residents can finally enjoy the "Meadow," a 6-acre swath of grassy land adjacent to the Silver Lake Reservoir and west of Silver Lake Boulevard that's been fought over and delayed for several years. It was determined that the Meadow could  be opened to the public because the Reservoir itself will soon be replaced as a drinking water source by underground storage tanks north of Griffith Park (plus restless neighbors fearing outsider encroachment and the destruction of local habitats finally relented). We finally had a spare second to check it out today, and were very impressed. The grass is lush and healthy, the views are spectacular, and the crowd is under control (at least on a weekday). The $1 million project was paid for by state and city funds. Along with the adjacent new walking path, it's part of the Silver Lake Master Plan, developed in 2000 by landscape architects Mia Lehrer + Associates. The only caveats: Look both ways when crossing the crazy street toward the park. And no sports and no dogs allowed. This is a lazy man's paradise.