“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.

Observers sound off on San Francisco’s 49ers Stadium, the house that tech built

Architecture, West
Thursday, August 21, 2014
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Inside Levi's Stadium (Levi's Stadium)

Inside Levi’s Stadium. (Courtesy Levi’s Stadium)

San Jose Mercury News columnist (and frequent AN contributor) Alan Hess took on HNTB’s Levi’s Stadium, the new $1.3 billion home of the San Francisco 49ers. Hess compares the “starkly utilitarian,” 68,500 seat stadium to Silicon Valley’s high tech environments, and even to its high-end gadgets. The building “translates the high-def experience of a game we see on TV—the roaring crowd, the superhuman action of the players, the intense color of the grass under the TV-studio lighting, the camaraderie of loyal 49ers fans celebrating (or commiserating) en masse—into an enormous three-dimensional architectural spectacle,” Hess wrote.

Continue reading after the jump.

Gensler Goes Hollywood with “Vertical Campus”

The 14-story Icon at Sunset Boulevard will house office space for creative and entertainment professionals. (Courtesy Gensler)

The 14-story Icon at Sunset Boulevard will house office space for creative and entertainment professionals. (Courtesy Gensler)

Hudson Pacific Properties is banking on the continued appeal of Hollywood office space with its Icon at Sunset Bronson Studios, a 14-story tower designed by Gensler. Targeting creative professionals, Icon reconfigured the suburban campus typology for an urban setting. Gensler associate Amy Pokawatana called the development a “vertical campus,” blending “work, relaxation, and recreation.” Part of a $150 million studio expansion, the project takes its cue from a six-story building the developer finished on the Sunset Gower Studios lot in 2008.  Read More

Beverly Hills Loses Another Mid-Century Modern Icon

The Beverly Hilton-adjacent Robinsons-May department store has been demolished. (Kimberly Reiss)

The Beverly Hilton-adjacent Robinsons-May department store has been demolished. (Kimberly Reiss)

Beverly Hills gained a vacant lot this week as crews demolished the former Robinsons-May department store at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard. The four-story, marble-clad building, designed by Charles O. Matcham, Charles Luckman, and William Pereira in 1952 with interiors by Raymond Loewy and Associates, was retailer J.W. Robinson’s first store in suburban Los Angeles.

Continue reading after the jump.

Will Beverly Hills High’s Plans Destroy The City’s Most Famous Oil Derrick?

Beverly Hills' Oil Derrick (D Boone)

Tower of Hope as seen from Pico Boulevard. (D Boone)

One of the insider landmarks of Beverly Hills is the Tower of Hope, an art-covered oil derrick that sits at the edge of Beverly Hills High School, clearly visible from Pico Boulevard. Covered with fabric panels painted with colorful flowers by young hospital patients, the 155-foot-tall tower is a remnant from the days when the area was covered with oil fields (the high school once contained almost 20), and it’s become a popular visiting spot. It also still pumps oil, for Denver-based Venoco, with some of the proceeds going to the school. But Beverly Hills High’s major expansion plans call for removing the well altogether.

Continue reading after the jump.

Packard Foundation Goes Green With EHDD

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EHDD designed the David and Lucile Packard Foundation headquarters as a model of cutting-edge green building techniques. (Jeremy Bittermann)

EHDD designed the David and Lucile Packard Foundation headquarters as a model of cutting-edge green building techniques. (Jeremy Bittermann)

Net zero energy, LEED Platinum project raises the bar on eco-friendly office design.

For its new headquarters in Los Altos, California, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation put its building budget where its mouth is. The philanthropic organization, whose four program areas include conservation and science, asked San Francisco-based EHDD to design a net zero energy, LEED Platinum building that would serve as a model of cutting-edge green building techniques. “They wanted to achieve net zero in a way that was replicable, and that showed the path forward for others to follow,” said project manager Brad Jacobson. “It was not just a one-off thing, not just a showcase.” The building’s facade was fundamental to its success as an example of sustainable design. “We were surprised at how significant the envelope is, even in the most benign climate,” said Jacobson. “Pushing the envelope to really high performance made significant energy and comfort impacts, and could be justified even on a first-cost basis.” Read More

Ai Weiwei to exhibit at Alcatraz Island this September

Art, On View, West
Friday, June 20, 2014
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The first floor of the New Industries Building on Alcatraz Island. (Jan Stürmann/For-Site Foundation)

The first floor of the New Industries Building on Alcatraz Island. (Jan Stürmann/For-Site Foundation)

Known for his political activism and for art that spans east and west, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will hold an exhibit on Alcatraz Island this September. The show will include seven works at the notorious former federal prison—with partners including the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the National Park Service, and the For-Site Foundation.

More information after the jump.

Senior Housing in Oakland Pushes the Building Envelope

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Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects pursued both LEED and GreenPoints ratings for their Merritt Crossing senior housing complex. (Tim Griffith)

Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects pursued both LEED and GreenPoint ratings for their Merritt Crossing senior housing complex. (Tim Griffith)

Sustainability and high design meet in Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects’ affordable housing complex.

Designing a sustainable building on a budget is tricky enough. But for the Merritt Crossing senior housing complex in Oakland, California, non-profit developer Satellite Affordable Housing Associates upped the ante, asking Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects to follow not one but two green-building ratings systems. “They wanted to push the envelope of what they typically do and decided to pursue not only the LEED rating, but also the GreenPoint system,” said principal Richard Stacy. “So we actually did both, which is kind of crazy.” Wrapped in a colorful cement-composite rain screen system punctuated by high performance windows, Merritt Crossing achieved LEED for Homes Mid-Rise Pilot Program Platinum and earned 206 points on the Build-It-Green GreenPoint scale. The building was also the first Energy Star Rated multi-family residence in California, and was awarded 104 points by Bay-Friendly Landscaping. Read More

OMA Moving Ahead on Major Mixed-Use Project in Santa Monica After All

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The Plaza at Santa Monica (OMA)

After being sent back to the drawing board last fall, OMA’s mixed use Plaza at Santa Monica appears to be moving ahead once again. Located on a prime piece of Santa Monica–owned real estate on Arizona Avenue between 4th and 5th streets, the development—part of a glut of new mixed-use projects in the city—will be OMA’s first ever large scale project in Southern California. They are partnering with local firm Van Tilberg, Banvard & Soderbergh (VTBS).

Continue reading after the jump.

Another Lautner-Designed Building in Los Angeles Threatened With Demolition

AbilityFirst's Paul Weston Work Center, John Lautner's most recent endangered building (Los Angeles Conservancy)

AbilityFirst’s Paul Weston Work Center, John Lautner’s most recent endangered building. (Los Angeles Conservancy)

According to the Los Angeles Conservancy, yet another John Lautner building is in imminent danger. This time it’s the architect’s Crippled Children’s Society Rehabilitation Center, now known as the AbilityFirst Paul Weston Work Center, in Woodland Hills. Current owner AbilityFirst and Oakmont Senior Living, the potential buyer, submitted for a demolition and new construction permit in February, hoping to build a new Eldercare facility on the site, and the project was presented at a city Zoning Administration public hearing this week.

Continue reading after the jump.

Inaugural Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize goes to cliffside cube in Chile

Poli House, Chile (Cristobal Palma)

Poli House, Chile (Cristobal Palma)

After traveling all over the Western Hemisphere to inspect built work by emerging architects from Canada to Chile, a team of judges awarded the first-ever Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize on Tuesday, bestowing $25,000 and an offer to teach at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) on Mauricio Pezo and Sofia Von Ellrichshausen for their poetic Poli House, perched above the Pacific Ocean on a cliff in Tomé, Chile.

Continue reading after the jump.

AIA’s Committee On The Environment Announces 2014’s Top 10 Green Buildings

Arizona State University Student Health Services. ( Bill Timmerman / Courtesy AIA)

Arizona State University Student Health Services. ( Bill Timmerman / Courtesy AIA)

The AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced the winners of its annual sustainability awards program. Now in its 18th year, the COTE awards celebrate green architecture, design, and technology. According to a press release, the winning projects must “make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts.”

Each of the ten winners will be officially honored at the AIA’s National Convention and Design Exhibition in Chicago later this year, but, in the meantime, here’s a closer look at the 10 winners.

View the winners after the jump.

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