In the lead up to the holidays, public radio listeners in Southern California couldn’t help but tune in for some architecture news as KCRW DJs plugged the capital campaign for their new building designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects. The firm was awarded the Santa Monica commission in 2008, beating out Gensler, HLW, Morphosis, and CO Architects in the competition.
This year’s Monterey Design Conference could have been titled the “Monterey Design Short Video Clip Festival.” For as long as I can remember, most of the presentations at the conference have followed the same formula: show slides of recent work and explain them. But now most of the speakers are trying to tell a more nuanced story, informed by our mobile-app/social-media/you-are-never-offline age. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. I checked in with attendees to get their impressions.
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Endless table materializes intra-office connectivity in plywood, MDF, and epoxy.
When Culver City-based Clive Wilkinson Architects (CWA) sat down with representatives of the Barbarian Group to discuss renovating the advertising agency’s new 20,000-square-foot office, one word kept coming up: connection. “Before, they were all in offices designed for one person, but crammed five in each, and scattered,” recalled associate principal Chester Nielsen. “It was a pain. Bringing everyone into the open, and having them feel like they were all connected was super important.” The architects elected to “surgically gut” the leased New York Garment District loft to create a central workspace for between 125-175 employees. To materialize the theme of connection, they zeroed in on the idea of a single work surface, an endless table later christened the Superdesk. With 4,400 square feet of epoxy-coated surface atop a support structure comprising 870 unique laser-cut plywood panels, the Superdesk is a triumph of programmatic creativity. “Building a big table was not an obvious solution,” said Nielsen, “but it’s a simple one.”
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced the 2015 recipients of its Institute Honor Awards, which it describes as “the profession’s highest recognition of works that exemplify excellence in architecture, interior architecture and urban design.” This year’s 23 recipients were selected from out of about 500 submissions and will be honored at the AIA’s upcoming National Convention and Design Exposition in Atlanta. Here are the winners in the interior architecture category.
Building of the Day #10
The Barbarian Group
112 West 20th Street
Clive Wilkinson Architects
It seems like something out of an interiors sci-fi novel: a barbaric desk comes to life, invading a helpless office floor. Nothing can stop it. It grows around structural columns. Monsters represent our cultural fears, and this could be a story expressing our anxieties about Corporate America, if it wasn’t for the fact that Clive Wilkinson Architects’ superdesk for The Barbarian Group is so functional and so cool. A 1,100-foot-long uninterrupted white surface snakes about the office, arching to create nooks for informal meetings and casual encounters.
Yesterday Santa Monica radio station KCRW broke ground on its new hub, which will bring it out of a basement at Santa Monica College and into the architectural spotlight. The 35,000 square foot building, designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects, will be located on the college’s future Entertainment and Technology Campus, in the city’s creative business district, along the Expo line. Wilkinson won the commission back in 2008, but the bold, colorful design has developed significantly since then.
It’s hard enough for west coast firms to make it into architecture publications, but Clive Wilkinson has made it into the vaunted pages of the New Yorker. In the “Talk of the Town,” writer Nick Paumgarten describes Wilkinson’s thousand-foot-long, resin-topped “superdesk,” which he designed for New York ad agency Barbarian Group in Chelsea, as “swerving around the giant loft space like a mega slot-car track.” Barbarian calls the desk “4,400 square feet of undulating, unbroken awesomeness to keep people and ideas flowing.” In fact the desk even played a major role in a recent company party, and Paumgarten wondered if the desk itself might be taking on human characteristics: “One got a sense, after a while, that the superdesk might be capable of consciousness, that it was observing the humans as they heedlessly laughed and flirted and left glasses of wine on its carapace, and that it might be developing longings and resentments, or plotting its revenge.”
Never Built: Los Angeles
A+D Architecture and Design Museum
6032 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
July 27–September 29th, 2013
It is difficult to envision the city of Los Angeles any differently than it exists today, but AN West editor Sam Lubell and co-curator Greg Goldin, in collaboration with Clive Wilkinson Architects, have organized an exhibition at the Architecture and Design Museum that grants visitors the rare opportunity to get a glimpse of the city as it could have been. The team gathered a diverse assortment of renderings, models, and various media depicting parks, buildings, master plans, and transportation schemes that were designed with the intention of being built, but were deemed too novel to actually be brought to life. The collection features unrealized projects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1925 Civic Center Plan, William H. Evans’s 1939 design for the Tower of Civilization, and B+U Architect’s 2009 design for an office building on Firestone Boulevard, as well as many other projects that, had they been carried out, would have completely changed the physical reality of the city of Los Angeles.