Posts tagged with "SOM":

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Will Chicago’s South Loop get its own Hudson Yards-scale development?

Chicago may be set to build an entirely new waterfront neighborhood master-planned by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and a state-of-the-art research center on the south side. Illinois governor Bruce Rauner, together with University of Illinois System president Timothy Killeen, announced the creation of a $1.2 billion public-private research partnership that will establish the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), a scientific research center that will focus on three key areas: computing, health and wellness, and food and agriculture. The DPI is supported by The University of Illinois, The University of Chicago, and Northwestern University, and has been designed as a research incubator meant to keep Illinois students in the state and to help link the disparate university campuses around Chicago, while also serving to attract students to Related Midwest’s newly unveiled “The 78” development. Once completed, the innovation center would hold up to 1,800 students, and feature residential, commercial, recreational and cultural space.   At 62 acres, The 78 will be built on a waterfront parcel that is an extension of the Chicago Loop and one of the city’s last undeveloped pieces of land. The name references the city’s 77-officially recognized neighborhoods, and Related hopes the project will be seen as a full, integrated neighborhood once it’s finished, similar to Hudson Yards in New York. Prospective residents and commuters won’t be lacking for transportation options either, as the CTA has Red, Orange, and Green Line stations located nearby, as well as a water taxi stop. Related has promised an as-of-yet unspecified amount of land to the DPI inside of The 78. The 78’s SOM-designed master plan envisions the new neighborhood as a continuation of Chicago’s central business district, and will bring residential, commercial, cultural and institutional projects, though 40 percent of the total land area will be green or public open space. A new half-mile long riverwalk will follow the entire length of The 78’s coastline and connect to already existing esplanades in adjacent neighborhoods. Other than SOM, a full suite of architecture studios have already signed on to contribute work to the massive ground-up project, including 3XN, Hollwich Kushner, and AS+GG. While The 78 and DPI have broad support from state and city-level politicians, as well as University of Illinois leaders, no public or private money has been raised for the project yet. Another make-or-break factor may be the result of Amazon’s HQ2 search, as Related is hoping The 78 will lure the tech company to set up shop in Chicago. With funding for the development currently uncertain, no timetables for either project have been released yet.
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New timber research finds exciting potential in steel and concrete composites

With mass timber projects on the rise around the United State, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and Oregon State University (OSU) have partnered to produce two new reports on how timber buildings can overcome their technical limitations by integrating steel and concrete. The new composite systems being proposed would allow timber construction to rise higher than before, with longer floor spans. The OSU Testing Report, released earlier this month, looked into the possibility of combining cross-laminated timber (CLT) floor systems with a concrete topper, to improve the strength of the flooring as well as lengthen its span. To accurately represent real-world conditions, the SOM team first drew up plans for a “typical” 11-story residential building and indicated where the wood columns would normally be. With the floor span determined, the CLT flooring was stress tested for load, bending, cracking and shearing, before and after the application of a concrete slab. A 2.25-inch thick concrete layer was applied over a 6.75-inch thick CLT floor for the experiment. After testing smaller, individual sections, an eight-foot-by-36-foot full-sized mockup was created and subjected to load testing, only failing after engineers applied eight times the normal service load, or around 82,000 pounds of pressure. One complicating factor is that CLT can be charred for a higher fire rating at the expense of its strength, and any real-world application of CLT would need to be thicker than in testing conditions. Still, the results are a promising first step to increasing floor spans in timber buildings as well as improving their acoustic properties. The second report was produced in conjunction with the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and examined how steel framing can best be integrated with timber floor systems. Because steel framing can span much greater distances than timber with smaller columns, and because CLT is lighter than concrete, a building that uses both should get the best of both worlds. In SOM’s modeling, this combination model was equally as strong as a steel and concrete building while offering window bays of the same size as a typical residential building. Ideally, high-rise timber construction of the future would combine both of these techniques, as the concrete slab topper adds extra seismic protection. With timber construction offering the potential for more sustainable, durable and quickly assembled towers, hybrid research could be a stepping stone towards bringing mass timber construction into the mainstream. All of SOM’s timber research reports can be found here.
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2017 Best of Design Awards for Civic – Administrative

2017 Best of Design Award for Civic – Administrative: Boston Emergency Medical Services Architect: The Galante Architecture Studio Location: Boston, Massachusets This new Emergency Medical Services facility replaced a dilapidated garage located on the historic grounds of the old Boston Sanatorium. Working in concert with the City of Boston Public Facilities department, the firm built a modest yet elegant building that provides security and stature through its solid shell and minimalist form. The approximately 10,500-square-foot structure comprises 11 bays—each capable of double loading and outfitted with a vehicle exhaust system—to house emergency vehicles already in Boston EMS’s fleet, plus additional equipment provided by Homeland Security in the wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon attack. A robust thermal envelope, efficient LED lights and daylighting units, and low-flow plumbing fixtures help make the building energy efficient. Its inherent flexibility supports Boston’s first responders in their efforts to protect the public and manage emergencies in both the short term and foreseeable future. "This project is a wonderful use of quotidian materials in a sharp, sophisticated way. Robert Venturi would be proud." —Matt Shaw, senior editor, The Architect's Newspaper (juror) Contractor: Gianluca Morle, WCI Corporation Project director: Scott Dupre with Boston Public Facilities Department Metal Wall Panels: Morin Daylighting Units: Firestone Building Products Site Lighting: RAB Lighting Honorable Mention New United States Courthouse – Los Angeles Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Location: Los Angeles, California Modern in spirit and rooted in classic principles of federal architecture, the New United States Courthouse contains 24 courtrooms and 32 judicial chambers within 633,000 (energy efficient) square feet. Envisioned as a “floating” cube, the building’s innovative structural engineering concept elevates the glass volume above its stone base, mitigating blast threats while appearing as a single hovering form. Honorable Mention San Diego Central Courthouse Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Location: San Diego, California This project consolidates San Diego County’s Criminal Trial, Family, and Civil Courts into a 22-story, 704,000-square-foot tower in the city’s downtown—a catalyst for the emerging government district. A three-story public lobby serves as the heart of the courthouse, while the traditional courthouse pediment has been reinterpreted as a shade-giving soffit.
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Preservation group launches ad campaign to rebuild the old Penn Station

Only a few days before New York City’s Penn Station fills to capacity with Thanksgiving commuters, preservation group Rebuild Penn Station has begun an ad campaign that they hope will build popular support for their plan to reconstruct the original McKim, Mead & White station demolished in 1964. While their proposal is already ambitious in scope, it butts up directly against the $1.6 billion, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)-designed redevelopment that Governor Cuomo unveiled in July. Rebuild Penn Station, a project of the National Civic Art Society, has plastered posters on trains arriving to Penn Station from New Jersey, and has been handing out fliers to Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road commuters there since Monday. Filled with renderings of a “new old” Penn Station, the leaflets offer glimpses of “civilized arrivals” and “the station we deserve”. The group’s $3 to $3.5 billion plan would relocate Madison Square Garden, an action deemed prohibitively expensive by the governor’s office, and faithfully re-create the original Penn Station using modern construction techniques. “[…] Modern panelization technology will allow the station to be built with just one-fifth of the original stone,” according to the frequently asked questions section on Rebuild Penn Station’s website. A complicating factor in this grand vision is that work on SOM’s renovation broke ground earlier this August. Instead of moving Madison Square Garden, the James A. Farley Building on 34th Street and Eighth Avenue also designed by McKim, Mead & White, will be converted from a former post office into a transit hub and extension of Penn Station. The Farley Building’s new Moynihan Train Hall will add retail, restaurants, and nine platforms with 17 tracks. A 92-foot-high skylight will also be built over the Farley Building’s exposed steel trusses, echoing the cavernous glass ceiling of the original Penn Station. Still, Rebuild Penn Station feels that these changes aren’t going far enough. “Today Penn Station is an ugly, cramped, and ineffective transit facility that is an embarrassment to the city and indeed all Americans,” said Sam Turvey, chair of the Rebuild Penn Station Steering Committee. “We propose rebuilding the station to bring back an architectural masterpiece, while simultaneously improving and updating the station’s functionality.” This isn’t the first time an alternative proposal for a new Penn Station has been floated. Last year, the New York Times commissioned Vishaan Chakrabarti to further detail his plan to reclad Madison Square Garden in double-paned glass, creating a multi-level atrium over the station. However, this still remains a proposal. The new Moynihan Hall is on track for completion in 2020.
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SOM’s $1 billion Kansas City airport set to soar after vote

Voters in Kansas City overwhelmingly approved a new $1 billion plan on Tuesday to transform the Kansas City International Airport (KCI). Passed by a 75-to-25 margin, work now begins on tearing down the existing three terminals and consolidating the airport into one building. Leading up to the vote, Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate had been tapped by Kansas City officials to develop the airport, with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) designing. Opened in 1972, the clover-shaped KSI was almost immediately made obsolete in the same year by the passage of new airport security requirements. The horseshoe arrangement allows passengers to easily get from the street to the gate, but also precludes the rigorous security checkpoints that modern airports require. Public opinion over the terminals has been sharply divided ever since the installation of an unwieldy glass wall between the ticketing and boarding area, required by the FAA after a hijacking attempt. SOM’s proposal for the airport has tried to keep the same level of convenience that Kansas City residents are used to. Their H-shaped terminal will have two concourses and accommodate 35 gates, and the arrivals and departure area has been split across different levels while still retaining curbside service. An improved arrangement of dining and retail options has been added as well, especially important as the project will be funded in part by concessions sales. Most striking is the firm's attempt to bring natural light into the concrete-topped concourse. Floor-to-ceiling windows and an undulating roof structure that references rolling hills is split up with even more glass that will give passengers uninterrupted views. Besides adding parking and expanding the size of security areas to avoid a passenger backlog, SOM has also included a series of two-story-tall fountains capable of having messages projected into them, reminiscent of Safdie Architect’s Water Vortex in Singapore’s Changi Airport. However, the project may be still tenuous despite the project’s 2021 completion goal. Edgemoor had been selected by the city after promising to pay for the project by taking on private debt without burdening taxpayers, but this also exposes them to bearing any cost overruns down the line. The firm now has to complete a detailed construction agreement with the city or the project will be handed off to AECOM. The airport vote follows a riverfront master plan unveiled in July, and it looks like new development in Kansas City won’t slow down anytime soon. The full terminal master plan and set of site studies can be found here.
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AIA|LA awards highlight diverse range of practices and projects

The American Institute of Architects Los Angeles (AIA|LA) chapter recently announced the winners of its 2017 Design Awards, which recognizes practices and projects across the region in categories celebrating overall design, status as rising talent, and quality of environmental sustainability. The three award categories—Design Award; Next L.A.; and COTE—paint a picture of the diverse and multi-faceted character of Los Angeles’s architecture scene, with winners representing a broad spectrum of practice.   Design Awards AIA|LA’s Design Awards highlighted two projects in particular with top honors: The New United States Courthouse by SOM and the Crest Apartments by Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA). Since opening in late 2016, the new courthouse has become one of the region’s premier public buildings. The iconic cube-shaped structure utilizes a 28-foot cantilever over the ground floor areas to create an open, public plaza and garden designed by Mia Lehrer + Associates. MMA’s Crest Apartments, on the other hand, is a very different sort of project. The 64-unit affordable housing project utilizes minimal ground floor structure and exuberant plantings and paving strategies to create flexible recreation spaces that double as car parking when not in use. The project was developed with Skid Row Housing Trust to benefit veterans who have previously experienced homelessness. The following projects were awarded “merit” and “citation” designations by the AIA|LA Design Awards jury:   Merit Awards Road to Awe, Dan Brunn Architecture West Hollywood, CA Hyundai Capital Convention Hall, Gensler Seoul, South Korea Oak Pass Main House, Walker Workshop Beverly Hills, CA House Noir, Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects Malibu, CA Citation Awards Helmut Lang Flagship Store, Standard Los Angeles, CA Southern Utah Museum of Art, Brooks+Scarpa Cedar City, Utah South Los Angeles Pool Renovation, Lehrer Architects LA South Los Angeles, CA Sunset La Cienega Residences, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP + Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects West Hollywood, CA Prototype | A True Starter Home, Lehrer Architects LA South Los Angeles, CA The Salkin House, Bestor Architecture Los Angeles, CA Corner Pocket House, Edward Ogosta Architecture Manhattan Beach, CA Ayzenberg Group, Corsini Stark Architects Pasadena, CA Platform, Abramson Teiger Architects Culver City, CA Desert Palisades Guardhouse, Studio AR&D Architects Palm Springs, CA The Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Kevin Daly Architects Los Angeles, CA Rice University Moody Center for the Arts, Michael Maltzan Architecture Houston, TX Saddle Peak Residence, Sant Architects Topanga, CA Mar Vista House Addition and Renovation, Sharif, Lynch: Architecture Los Angeles, CA 2017 AIA|LA Design Awards jurors were Gabriela Carrillo, co-founder, Taller | Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo; Lance Evans, associate principal and senior vice president, HKS Architects; and Neil  M. Denari, professor, Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA. AIA|LA Next L.A. The AIA|LA Next L.A. awards honor yet-to-be-built projects that are in the design and planning stage.  This year’s winning project—The West Hollywood Belltower—is designed by Tom Wiscombe Architecture. The project aims to redefine the vernacular billboard as a spatial, digital installation framed by a public park. The proposal was generated as part of a design competition orchestrated by the City of West Hollywood to guide the design of future billboards. The following projects were awarded “merit” and “citation” designations by the AIA|LA Next L.A. awards jury:   Merit Award Los Angeles Residence, Baumgartner + Uriu Los Angeles, CA   Citation Award St. Georges Church, PARALX Beirut, Lebanon A4H Office Building, P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S Glendale, CA Varna Library, XTEN Architecture Varna, Bulgaria Sberbank Technopark, Eric Owen Moss Architects Moscow, Russia Silver Lake Duplex, Warren Techentin Architecture Los Angeles, CA Twin Villa, Patrick TIGHE Architecture & John V Mutlow Architects Beijing, China Second House, Freeland Buck Los Angeles, CA Jurors for AIA|LA Next L.A. awards were: Mark Foster Gage, principal, Mark Foster Gage Architects; Alvin Huang, design principal, Synthesis Design + Architecture; and Julia Koerner, Director, JK Design GmbH.   COTE Award AIA|LA’s Committee on the Environment focuses on highlighting projects that “demonstrate achievement in the implementation of sustainability features” and is awarded by a panel of experts who focus on performance, systems integration, and sustainability research. For 2017, the committee awarded four projects with top honors, including the Mesa Court Towers at University of California, Irvine designed by Mithun. The project features a LEED Platinum sustainability rating, exterior circulation, and an emphasis on day-lit spaces. Other winners in the category include: the J. Craig Venter Institute La Jolla by ZGF Architects; the New United States Courthouse by SOM; and The SIX Veterans Housing by Brooks+Scarpa.   Citation Award UCLA Hitch Suites & Commons Building, Steinberg Los Angeles, CA Kaiser Permanente, Kraemer Radiation Oncology Center, Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign Anaheim, CA The jurors for the 2017 AIA|LA COTE Awards were: Ezequiel Farca, creative director, Ezequiel Farca + Cristina Grappin; Dan Heinfeld, president, LPA; and Ben Loescher, founding principal, Loescher Meachem Architects.   Other Awards At its award ceremony last week, the organization also presented its 2017 Presidential Honoree awards, which included honors for architects Design, Bitches, builders MATT Construction, and Mike Alvidrez of the Skid Row Housing Trust, among others. Those awards include: Emerging Practice Award: Catherine Johnson, AIA; Rebecca Rudolph, AIA | Design, Bitches Design Advocate, Builder Award: Steve Matt, Affiliate AIA|LA, Co-Founder, MATT Construction; and the late Paul Matt, Co-Founder, MATT Construction Community Contribution Award: Southern California Chapter, National Organization of Minority Architects (SoCalNOMA) 25-Year Award: Grand Central Market Restoration Design Advocate, Developer Award: Mike Alvidrez, Chief Executive Officer, Skid Row Housing Trust Building Team Award: Wilshire Grand Building Team Honorary AIA|LA Award: Tibby Rothman, Marketing Strategist, AIA|LA | journalist, writer, creative Educator Award: Dr. Douglas E. Noble, FAIA, Ph.D; Discipline Head, Building Science, Director of the Master of Building Science, University of Southern California, School of Architecture Gold Medal: Lawrence Scarpa, FAIA; Design Principal, Brooks + Scarpa
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Highlights from L.A.’s socially-driven Facades+ conference

The Facades+ Los Angeles conference took place last week in Downtown Los Angeles, bringing together technical innovators, socially-driven practitioners, and visionary academics to discuss some of the most resonant topics facing architecture today. Here are some highlights from the event’s first day. The conference opened with remarks from City of Los Angeles Chief Deputy City Engineer Deborah Weintraub, who elaborated on the city's ongoing public improvement projects. Weintraub’s office is involved with many key regional projects, including the First and Broadway Park and the restoration of the Los Angeles River. Many of the day’s discussions straddled architects’ multi-faceted approach to addressing the region’s ongoing housing crisis. Opening keynote speaker Stanley Saitowitz of Natoma Architects motioned toward the crisis in his opening keynote, which touched on the frustrating state of affairs relative to building high-density infill housing in apartment-starved cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. Nevertheless, Saitowitz vowed to push forward with his desire to provide “freedom of occupation” for city inhabitants through new apartment dwellings. The architect explained that he pursues this vision via an emphasis on the open plan and integrated service cores in his projects. The resulting unit arrangements allow for occupants to enjoy “better flooring, nicer kitchens, and more glass” in each apartment, Saitowitz explained. The architect chronicled several of his office’s most controversial high-rises, including the Palladium Towers in Los Angeles and several San Francisco– and Chicago-based projects. It is no coincidence that as rents and property values have skyrocketed across the region, more and more people are finding themselves homeless. Luckily, architects are leading housing justice discussions, especially those working with organizations like nonprofit housing developer Skid Row Housing Trust (SRHT) to develop affordable, well-designed social housing. The Architect’s Newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief William Menking led a panel discussion with Mike Alvidrez of the SRHT, Angela Brooks of Brooks+Scarpa, and Nathan Bishop of Koning Eizenberg Architecture (KEA) that discussed architects’ efforts at crafting thoughtful and impactful supportive housing projects. During the discussion, Alvidrez explained that SRHT’s projects were widely used to promote a recent ballot initiative aimed at raising taxes to fund more housing development and assistance. By pursuing a “housing-first” model that focuses social services on re-housing individuals first and foremost, SRHT has been able to spread design quality to over 1,800 inhabitants in projects as varied as Brooks+Scarpa's The Six and Michael Maltzan Architecture’s Crest Apartments. During the talk, Brooks described the social mission of the project as being focused on shared spaces, economy of structure, and sustainability. The discussion was a precursor for the afternoon keynote, which featured KEA principals Julie Eizenberg and Nathan Bishop discussing L.A.’s vernacular apartment types. Their discussion covered the quirks of apartment design in Los Angeles, which is guided predominantly by density restrictions and car parking requirements. The talk sought to situate the firm’s work amid a backdrop of increasing urbanization and density, especially the firm’s 500 Broadway project, which features 249 market-rate residences and is organized as a group of four buildings structured by prefabricated steel moment frames that allow for greater flexibility in placing interior partitions. These socially-driven discussions were bookended by a technically-driven examination of SOM’s new Los Angeles United States District Courthouse by Jose Luis Palacios, Keith Boswell, and Garth Ramsey of SOM. The project utilizes a dynamic, accordion-fold facade to maximize daylighting and minimize heat gain while also formally projecting democratic ideals regarding the nature of public space, justice, and building craft. The presenters focused on the beneficial aspects of the design-build nature of the project, a process with fostered conceptual and material innovation with regards to the building envelope and the architects’ overall seismic strategies. Later in the day, the Scholars and Skins discussion with Doris Sung of DO-SU Studio, Satoru Sugihara of ATLV, and Alvin Huang of Synthesis Design and Architecture covered myriad new developments in dynamic, technologically-focused material and formal innovation. Sung described her firm’s work with layered metal sheets that self-assemble and move into various shapes with the use of heat and sunlight. Sugihara focused his discussion on his firm’s facade work with high-technology and sustainability-focused firms like Morphosis. Huang detailed designs for a pavilion his firm designed for car manufacturer Volvo that utilizes a curving skin to create space and shelter. Huang described his treatment of the project's skin as “a canvas—everything has joints and patterning. There is no such thing as a monolithic surface.” The day’s events closed out with a talk by Alice Kimm of John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects (JFAK) that focused on the potential for so-called “selfie-architecture” to impact urban spaces. Kimm explained that as cities like Los Angeles grow, their reach will be buoyed by the proliferation of the images created by inhabitants and visitors of its streets and iconic structures. Missed the Los Angeles Facades+ conference? Meet The Architect's Newspaper in Seattle December 8th for the next conference installment. See the Facades+ website for more information.
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SOM and James Corner to rework Pereira’s Metropolitan Water District in Los Angeles

In a surprise move, SOM and James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) are coming together to transform the long-dormant William Pereira–designed Metropolitan Water District headquarters in Los Angeles’s Chinatown neighborhood. Los Angeles–based developer Palisades announced the design team on Tuesday via press release, explaining that the firms would work together to convert the historic late modernist structure into a “a mixed-use project focused on innovative design, open space and community.” The release explained that SOM design directors Paul Danna and José Luis Palacios would spearhead designs for the adaptive reuse portion of the project. JCFO will be responsible for the landscape design, including the site’s public open spaces. In the press release, Palacios said, “At the heart of this project is a desire to reflect the spirit and the history of this property through a modern, forward-thinking lens that embraces the Downtown site’s adjacency to Chinatown, Bunker Hill, Echo Park, and the Civic Center.” Palacios added, “It’s a challenge we are confident and energized to embrace.” The firm has its work cut out with the tower-and-matt project, as the expressive cast concrete structure—originally built between 1961 and 1973—has sat vacant for years. A tower portion of the sprawling complex was redeveloped starting in 2014 as a mixed-use development called The Elysian by Linear City Development and David Lawrence Gray Architects. The development includes 120,000 square feet of retail and 96 live/work units. The matt remaining portions of the complex have languished in tandem and were almost demolished entirely last year under previous development efforts. A brief but unsuccessful effort was made to landmark the structure, but the building’s nomination was left unapproved by city agencies. Potential reuse of the structure, however, represents a bright spot in Pereira’s fading legacy, as many of the notable architect’s other works have—or soon will—fall to the wrecking ball. Historian and Pereira scholar Alan Hess told The Architect's Newspaper, "MWD was a key turning point in Pereira’s long and influential career as he sought to maintain the vitality of Modern architecture while adapting to the realities of the 1960s. No place was better suited to understand these realities than Los Angeles. As one of the city’s innovative architects, Pereira designed the striking MWD to be true to Modernism's principles while creating a livelier, more human environment." Hess added, "Nothing would be more appropriate than for Palisades [than] to continue Pereira's spirit of innovation by showing how adaptive reuse addresses the prime need of our times: sustainability." Kim Cooper, preservation advocate with Esotouric told AN, "We're encouraged to see such a good team assigned to this important structure, and that the site's long and influential past is on their mind. Preservation and restoration of the Pereira structure's great bones can definitely be a part of any redevelopment project, and we look forward to being part of that conversation." Designs for the project are currently under development and a timeline for project completion has not been released. See the project website for more information. SOM’s Danna and Palacios will both be presenting at the upcoming Facades+ conference in Los Angeles taking place October 19th and 20th. See the Facades+ website for more information.
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Facades+ L.A. will bring together designers from west coast’s most innovative projects

On October 19th and 20th,  the Facades+ conference held by The Architect’s Newspaper will head to the L.A. Hotel Downtown in Los Angeles, bringing with it a series of insightful panel discussions centered around the west coast’s most innovative buildings and projects.   The conference panels will convene design leaders representing several of the region’s boundary-pushing practices and projects. Project types under consideration will include civic buildings, social housing complexes, architectural skins, and sports stadiums. The conference’s first panel will focus on the recently-completed Los Angeles Federal Courthouse building by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The energy-efficient project is designed with a ruffled perimeter glass curtain wall assembly outfitted with special baffles that dramatically cut heating and cooling loads for the structure. José Luis Palacios, Design Director of SOM’s L.A. office, and Keith Boswell, technical partner at SOM, will come together in a panel to discuss how the courthouse project came together. See AN’s review of the courthouse here. Many of the region’s most successful practices are socially- and culturally-driven, a dynamic that has resulted in a growing number of design-forward social housing projects across the region. Local efforts to address California’s homelessness crisis are spearheaded by the Los Angeles-based Skid Row Housing Trust, a non-profit supportive housing developer that focuses on design quality as an integral component of the re-housing process. The organization is helmed by executive director Mike Alvidrez, who will come together for a panel with architects Angela Brooks of Los Angeles-based Brooks + Scarpa and Nathan Bishop of Santa Monica-based Koning Eizenberg Architects to discuss attractive residential and community spaces that challenge the perception of supportive housing in L.A. AN recently reviewed Brooks + Scarpa’s The Six, a 56-unit supportive housing project developed by SRHT. The region is also home to a critical mass of young, digitally-driven design and architecture practices that are utilizing computer generated forms to push the limits of fabrication and construction. A third panel will bring together Doris Sung, principal of DOSU Studio Architecture, Alvin Huang, founder of Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA), and Satoru Sugihara, principal of ATLV, to discuss the relationship between architectural research and highly-specific skin assemblies. SDA recently completed work on the IBM Watson Experience Center in San Francisco, a project that utilized a CNC-milled aluminum panel system manufactured by Arktura to depict an abstracted "data narrative." The conference’s final panel will showcase California’s growing collection of contemporary sporting facilities, many of which are wrapped with provocative enclosures made from building components that highlight some of the advances in building envelope design and construction. The conversation will bring together Ron Turner, sports practice area leader and principal at Gensler, Sanjeev Tankha, principal at engineering firm Walter P Moore, and Lance Evans, senior designer at HKS, to discuss HKS’s City of Champions development for the Los Angeles Rams and Gensler’s Banc of California Stadium for the Los Angeles Football Club, among other projects. For more information on Facades+, see the conference website.
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LOHA, JFAK, and top L.A. firms to present at AN’s Facades+ conference in Los Angeles

At The Architect’s Newspaper, we are busy getting ready for the upcoming Facades+ conference in Los Angeles taking place October 19th and 20th at the LA Hotel Downtown. The conference will bring together a wide collection of L.A.-based designers and practices ready to share their knowledge and expertise. Below, we bring you some highlights from AN’s recent coverage of some of our featured speakers! SOM, along with Los Angeles-based P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S and developer City Century, unveiled plans earlier this year for a three-tower complex named Olympia slated for a 3.25-acre site in Downtown Los Angeles. The mega-project plans to include 1,367 residential units, 40,000 square feet of retail space, and 115,000 square feet of open space, with the towers climbing to 43, 53, and 65 stories in height. Paul Danna and José Luis Palacios, Design Directors at SOM Los Angeles and Garth Ramsey, Senior Technical Designer, have been our partners in organizing upcoming Facades+ in Los Angeles. They will appear onstage with Keith Boswell—SOM’s Technical Partner—and Mark Kersey—from Clark Construction—to speak about the new Los Angeles Federal Courthouse. Architects John Friedman Alice Kimm (JFAK) recently completed work on the La Kretz Innovation Campus in Downtown Los Angeles. The 61,000-square-foot “sustainability factory” will act as a green tech-focused start-up incubator space that also collects rainwater to feed an onsite public park and is powered by sunlight. The complex is designed to facilitate daylight penetration into interior spaces and features public gathering areas and a robot fabrication lab. Alice Kimm, co-founder at JFAK will be giving an afternoon presentation at Facades+. A new four-story apartment complex designed by Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA) is currently under construction at 1030 N. Kings Road in West Hollywood, California. The 30-unit condominium complex will feature cantilevered corners, faceted facades, and perforated metal panel and wood cladding as well as partial courtyards that will bring light and air into each unit and the building’s circulation spaces and common areas. The cut-outs will also hold balconies for the units. Lorcan O'Herlihy, founder of LOHA, will be giving a morning presentation at Facades+. Koning Eizenberg Architects (KEA) recently completed work on the new Temple Israel of Hollywood complex in L.A., a new addition to the 91-year-old Spanish Colonial style synagogue. The new wing carves out a communal courtyard for the complex that is wrapped on one side by a folded aluminum shroud. The addition’s main interior gathering space features a drop-down ceiling made from CNC-milled maple wood as well. Both co-founder Julie Eizenberg and principal Nathan Bishop of KEA will be delivering a keynote address at the conference. Visit the Facades+ website to learn more and sign up for the conference.
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Chicago reenacts unveiling of iconic Picasso sculpture

"It’s a bird! It’s a dog! It’s a woman!?" To this day, no one is exactly sure what the 50-foot-tall untitled Picasso sculpture in Chicago’s Daley Plaza actually is supposed to represent. Often called "the Chicago Picasso," the Spanish artist never revealed what or if it was supposed to represent anything at all. On the occasion of the sculpture's 50th anniversary earlier this week, hundreds came out for a reenactment of its unveiling. As part of the reenactment, each of the speakers from the original program were represented by new speakers. For example, in the place of the Bishop-elect, Chicago poet and songwriter Avery R. Young gave a stirring poetic invocation. Fittingly, Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke in place of Mayor Richard J. Daley. Rather than the grand unveiling of the sculpture with a giant cloth, onlookers were provided with fans designed by Chicago artist Edre Soto to cover their eyes for the second reveal. The sculpture was constructed by the American Bridge Company, a division of the United States Steel Corporation in Gary, Indiana, and commissioned by C.F. Murphy Associates, designers of Daley Plaza. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) acted as architects for the sculpture and their archives provide a look into the mixed reception the artwork received in 1967. Today, the sculpture is generally considered one of the great public artworks in a city that's also home to major pieces by Alexander Calder, Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, Jaume Plensa, and Anish Kapoor. SOM generously provided copies of letters to The Architect's Newspaper (AN) that both praised and condemned the “pile of junk.” “I came, I saw, I left. How could you? And you look like such a nice person too. What is it?” asked Alexander Marxen in her letter to architect-in-charge William Hartmann of SOM. Roughly a year before the sculpture was complete, Paul Kiniery Ph.D. asked mayor Daley to cancel the whole project. “I hope very much that you, as the senior executive officer of the City of Chicago, will prevent this monstrosity from being erected in the plaza of the Civic Center. It will be humiliating and embarrassing for all of us who live in Chicago and to see this 'thing' when we are in the downtown area.” Others attacked Picasso himself. In another letter to Mayor Daley, Howard F. Bickler wrote, “You see, Mr. Mayor … Pablo Picasso is a Communist. A self-admitted Communist.” Mr. Bickler had a better idea for the plaza, suggesting “a giant cross or a symbol of the American eagle.” Harold B. Hozman felt that if people saw the work for what it was, “P. Picasso would only be another embittered, unknown, pitiful blotch.” Yet, not everyone was quite so cynical about the Cor-ten monument. A handwritten letter by Kathleen Chesbro, an eighth-grade student at Our Lady of Victory School, to the Mayor reads: “It expresses modern Chicago, how Chicago is now and what the people are like, and what Chicago will be in the future. Modern!” A personal letter from fellow architect Spencer B. Cone, of Cone and Dornbusch Architects, to William Hartmann compared the piece to some other famous icons. “I’m sure the statue will become our counterpart of such attractions as the Eiffel Tower and the Great Pyramids.” Citing rave reviews of Picasso’s show at the Tate that year, Charles A. Gianesi, M.D., chastised the Chicago American newspaper for giving “ammunition to the ignorant with front and back page exposure.” Also noting, “I don’t understand or appreciate Picasso I may some day (sic), and until then, I am content to accept the opinions of my cultural peers.” Along with providing the letters, Eric Keune, director at SOM and an expert on the Picasso, spoke with AN about the importance of the sculpture. “This piece broke the dam and opened the floodgates for abstraction to be accepted by the public, for it to be a subject of discourse among everyday Americans. It started a chain reaction, this first, then Calder at the Federal Center, then Chagall, then Miró, Henry Moore in 70 W. Madison, Calder in the Sears tower, and on and on, all the way through Millennium Park.”
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New details emerge for major plan to urbanize San Francisco’s Treasure Island

Despite being recently rebuffed as the potential site for the forthcoming MAD Architects–designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, San Francisco officials are moving ahead with plans to expand the city's sleepy Treasure Island district into a lively residential enclave and tourist destination. The city recently revealed plans to add a bevy of cultural institutions and up to 20,000 residents to the man-made island, which sits in the San Francisco Bay halfway between San Francisco and Oakland. The San Francisco Arts Commission has developed an arts-focused master plan for the island in conjunction with urban and architectural master plans developed by SOM and Perkins + Will The plans, overseen by the Treasure Island Development Authority and the San Francisco Arts Commission, would see the island's public offerings expanded, beginning with a new series of public art installations. Eventually, the island—which is accessible only via its connection to Yerba Buena Island and the Bay Bridge—could add up to 8,500 new residential units and 550,000 square feet of commercial space. The island’s art program will be pursued using a projected $50 million fund generated by contributions made toward the city’s 1% for Art in Private Development fund as a result of the new development. According to a planning document released by the development authority, in the case of Treasure Island, the 1% for Art in Private Development funds will be applied toward the installation of public artworks on public lands. Generally speaking, the Treasure Island master plan, which includes the adjacent Yerba Buena Island in its scope, calls for leaving some 75% of the available land area free of development, with the remainder being plotted out as relatively dense mixed-use neighborhoods. The plan would focus on multi-modal complete streets designs in order to create a “network of parks and streets… [with] sunny, sheltered public space that is enlivened by artwork, buildings of enduring interest and active ground floor uses” while also reducing the island’s dependence on automobile traffic. The plan, according to the documents, would cluster development along the southern and western edges of the roughly rectangular island in a series of perimeter block formations. The project was selected in 2009 as one of 16 founding projects of the Climate Positive Development Program, part of the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Climate Initiative grants supporting “climate positive” urban developments. For more information on the project, see the Treasure Island Development Authority website. The full plan is available here.