BCJ’s Civic Center an Exercise in Democracy

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Bohlin Cywinski Jackson's design upends convention in favor of metaphorical and literal transparency. (Nic Lehoux)

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s design upends convention in favor of metaphorical and literal transparency. (Nic Lehoux)

Newport Beach’s central government complex emphasizes transparency, sustainability.

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson‘s (BCJ) Newport Beach Civic Center is in one sense classically Southern Californian. With its light steel structure, plentiful windows, emphasis on indoor-outdoor spaces, and roofline inspired by ocean waves, it evokes a timeless delight in Pacific coast living. But it also represents something new, both for the city of Newport Beach and for civic architecture more generally. Built on a marshy site that had previously been written off as uninhabitable, the LEED Gold Civic Center and adjacent 16-acre park, designed by BCJ in cooperation with PWP Landscape Architecture, acts as a different kind of anchor for the automobile-oriented community. “It was shaped in part by a desire to create a great public space,” said principal in charge Greg Mottola. “How do you make an urban civic space in the context of the suburbs?” Read More

Zip over Apple’s under-construction headquarters and take a seat in its newly-unveiled auditorium

Newsletter, West
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
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Apple's auditorium pavilion (Poltrona Frau Group)

Apple’s auditorium pavilion (via Poltrona Frau Group)

The excitement over Apple’s new mega-campus in Silicon Valley continues to build. First, we got an aerial drones-eye-view of the under-construction Apple Campus 2 in Cupertino, California (check it out after the jump!). And now, we get to see the corporate auditorium where the company will show off its new products once complete in 2016.

Continue reading after the jump.

Red Deer Lights Up Burning Man

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As visitors climb on and around Luz 2.0, integrated sensors trigger an interactive lighting display. (Dustin Wong Photography)

As visitors climb on and around Luz 2.0, integrated sensors trigger an interactive lighting display. (Dustin Wong Photography)

Prismatic pyramid evokes desert mirage by day, Aurora Borealis by night.

Given that their pyramidal acrylic installation at this summer’s Burning Man was inspired in part by Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side of the Moon album cover, it seems safe to say that the architects at Red Deer “get” the festival’s vibe. “We try to get very intimate with our sites, so it was interesting to approach one that we hadn’t been able to visit,” said founding director Ciarán O’Brien. “Some of the primal forces we could see at play there were the heat of the desert and the way people interact with structures. Specifically, for us it was about light in all its forms.” The UK firm worked closely with the structural engineers at Structure Mode to design a transparent six-meter-tall structure comprising interlocking equilateral triangles, while New York Institute of Technology professor Charles Matz contributed an integrated light display based on the Aurora Borealis. “All kinds of imagery came to mind that held to the desert landscape,” said O’Brien. “By day, the concept evoked a mirage; by night, a kaleidoscope. One is ephemeral, a non-place; the other is specific, a beacon.” Read More

On View> “Home: My San Francisco” traces domestic space and identity

On View, West
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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(John Fulker / Courtesy West Vancouver Museum)

(John Fulker / Courtesy West Vancouver Museum)

Home: My San Francisco
AIA San Francisco Center For Architecture + Design Gallery
San Francisco
Through October 31

Home: My San Francisco is an exhibition designed by Julie Blankenship in collaboration with photographer Julie Sadowski examining the rapidly evolving design of domestic space in response to changing views of identity, family, work, life, technology, and sustainability. The show captures the narrative environments contained within the city’s indoor and built environments through photographs, supplemented with an online collection of images, interviews with residents, architectural drawings, and texts.

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“Breaking New Ground” Competition Tackles Affordable Housing in the Coachella Valley

Architecture, West
Monday, September 22, 2014
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Resort communities and and shanty towns exist side by side in California's Coachella Valley. (Orin Zebest / Flickr)

Resort communities and and shanty towns exist side by side in California’s Coachella Valley. (Orin Zebest / Flickr)

Architectural competitions with substantial cash prizes tend to focus on monuments, museums, and other high-brow concerns. Such is not the case for Breaking New Ground: Designing Affordable Housing for the Coachella Valley Workforce. Sponsored by The California Endowment, a Los Angeles–based private health organization, Breaking New Ground targets the gap between the people who come to the Eastern Coachella Valley to play and those who keep its $4 billion agriculture and tourism industries running.

Continue reading after the jump.

Pedal to the metal at Los Angeles’ Union Station

Development, Urbanism, West
Thursday, September 18, 2014
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Proposed new east entrance to Union Station (Grimshaw/Gruen/Metro)

Proposed new east portal to Union Station (Grimshaw/Gruen/Metro)

After refining their master plan over the last several months, Metro, Grimshaw, and Gruen are ready, as Metro Deputy Executive Officer for Countywide Planning Jenna Hornstock put it, to “put the pedal to the metal.” They’re asking the Metro Planning and Programming Committee to approve several recommendations (PDF) to begin the implementation of their Union Station Master Plan, including the development of a Program Environmental Impact Report. Yesterday they presented to the committee, and a vote is expected at the next gathering on October 15.

Continue reading after the jump.

Eavesdrop> West Coast Odds and Ends

Eavesdroplet, West
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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SOM's massive Park Merced development in San Francisco. (Courtesy SOM)

SOM’s massive Park Merced development in San Francisco. (Courtesy SOM)

In one of the few towns where the AIA has serious pull, the AIA San Francisco has named Jennifer Jones as its new Executive Director. Longtime HMC principal Kate Diamond has left her position and is looking for a new job. While it pales in comparison to the news that AECOM has merged with URS, forming the biggest firm in the galaxy, WSP has bought “global design giant” Parsons Brinckerhoff for $1.35 billion. That’s no joke either. Finally, after more than six years of waiting, SOM has begun work on its massive redevelopment of the WWII-era housing development, Park Merced. In San Francisco that’s like waiting for fifteen minutes.

Three big-name teams shortlisted for Mesa, Arizona plaza

City Terrain, Landscape Architecture, West
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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Colwell Shelor+West 8+Weddle Gilmore proposal (City of Mesa)

Colwell Shelor+West 8+Weddle Gilmore proposal (City of Mesa)

If all goes according to plan, Mesa, Arizona is going to have one heck of a public plaza in the center of its downtown. The city just unveiled schemes from three teams, selected from a recent RFQ (PDF), to design the space, located on an area currently occupied mostly by local government buildings and surface parking lots. According to the city, the site, meant to accommodate up to 25,000 people, would host annual events like the Mesa Arts Festival, Arizona Celebration of Freedom, and the Great Arizona Bicycle Festival.

Continue reading after the jump.

Los Angeles Convention Center releases competition shortlist

Aerial View of LA's Convention Center and Staples Center (LA Convention Center)

Aerial View of LA’s Convention Center and Staples Center (LA Convention Center)

The Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering’s competition for a $350 million expansion and renovation of the LA Convention Center has been narrowed down to three final teams. And they are: AC Martin/LMN, Gensler/Lehrer Architects, and HMC/Populous. According to the project’s Task Order Solicitation (PDF), the teams will each receive $200,000 to “develop and present conceptual designs,” including models, renderings, plans, cost estimates, phasing plans, etc. Designs are due on December 8.

Continue reading after the jump.

On View> UC Santa Barbara displays Barton Myers’s works of architecture and urbanism

West
Thursday, September 11, 2014
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(John Fulker/Courtesy the west Vancouver Museum)

Barton Myers: Works of Architecture and Urbanism
Art, Design & Architecture Museum
UC Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA
September 12 to December 12

Barton Myers: Works of Architecture and Urbanism is coming to the Art, Design & Architecture Museum at UC Santa Barbara this September. The exhibition will display several of Myers’ projects from 1968 to 2002: a span of nearly 35 years. A variety of artifacts will be on display, ranging from sketches and scale models to the architect’s lectures and writings. Myers donated the materials on display to the Art, Design & Architecture museum in 2000. Among them is information and renderings of his most renowned built work, such as the Vidal Sassoon Salon (1968), as well as his more obscure work. The exhibition will display Myers’ work in the 1992 U.S. Expo Pavilion in Spain as well as his famous steel houses.

AECOM’s Merger Mania: Los Angeles–based firm doubles in size

Architecture, National, News, West
Thursday, September 11, 2014
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Both AECOM and URS have been active on the World Trade Center site in New York (AECOM)

Both AECOM and URS have been active on the World Trade Center site in New York (AECOM)

As the economy continues to hum along, it’s time once again for merger mania. By far the most significant example is Los Angeles–based construction giant, AECOM, which in the span of just a couple of months has more than doubled its size. In past years the company has bought firms like DMJM, EDAW, Ellerbe Becket, and Tishman, but it’s been nothing like this year’s spree.

Continue reading after the jump.

Red-Rock-Inspired Headquarters by ajc

Architecture, Envelope, West
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
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ajc architects outfitted Petzl North America's new headquarters with a southwestern-hued envelope. (©Dana Sohm)

ajc architects outfitted Petzl North America’s new headquarters with a southwestern-hued envelope. (Dana Sohm)

Earth-toned GFRC panels and contrasting metal wrap Petzl’s new North American hub.

When Petzl executives decided to move the climbing and caving equipment company’s North American headquarters from Clearfield to West Valley City, Utah, they sought an opportunity not just to expand, but to design a facility that would reflect the brand’s mission. “The two words we kept hearing from them were verticality and light,” recalled ajc architects founding principal Jill A. Jones. “The types of products they design really have to deal with the vertical world.” Working with a southwestern palette inspired by Petzl corporation founder and president Paul Petzl’s recent visits to Mesa Verde National Park and Machu Picchu, the architects designed a combination administrative, training, and distribution center whose mesa-like bottom stories and punctuating tower appear as if carved out of desert rock. Read More

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