The AIA has released its Architecture Billings Index (ABI) for September, and the news looks good. According to the organization, the ABI score went to 51.6, up from 50.2 in August (any score above 50 reflects an increase in billings). The spike marks the fastest increase in the demand for design services since 2010.
The AIA tied the upswing in billings to an increased demand for rental housing. “Going back to the third quarter of 2011, the multi-family residential sector has been the best performing segment of the construction field,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “With high foreclosure levels in recent years, more stringent mortgage approvals and fewer people in the market to buy homes there has been a surge in demand for rental housing. The upturn in residential activity will hopefully spur more nonresidential construction.”
Design East of La Brea, a.k.a. de LaB, is throwing its first ever fundraiser on Saturday, June 26, and you’re invited. A redux of 2008′s City Listening, City Listening II will feature local design writers (including AN‘s very own Sam Lubell) reading selected stories about Los Angeles. There will also be a silent auction of art work by de LaB members, food, drinks, and special guests. To put the cherry on top, the event is being hosted at downtown LA’s beautiful Spring Arts Tower. Tickets are on sale now (here) and if you purchase yours by tomorrow you’ll get a discount!
Last night was the American Academy of Arts and Letters‘ annual ceremonial. The venerable organization inducted new members, meted out awards, and exhibited newly acquired artwork. Among the honorees were many familiar names from the architecture world. Henry Cobb, a long-standing member of the Academy, presented the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture to Michael van Valkenburgh—only the second time in history that the prestigious prize has been given to a landscape architect (Dan Kiley was the other, in 1995). The Academy also inducted Thom Mayne of Morphosis into its membership, citing the convention-defying nature of the controversial architect’s work as reason for his worthiness. Read More
According to the Los Angeles Business Journal, downtown LA’s long-delayed Grand Avenue project is going to, er, keep being delayed. Related, the developer, has asked the city for an extension to its deadline to begin construction on the $3 billion Frank Gehry-designed behemoth. The way things stand now, if they don’t get the pile drivers working by February 2011 LA will take their baby away. Related wants until February 2013, a period of time they’ll presumably spend with their fingers crossed, waiting for the condo market to climb back out of the hole it’s fallen into. Also caught up in this mess is a parcel of land that billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad wants to use to build his very own art museum. Could this cultural component be a bargaining chip that will invoke the city’s leniency? Well, Related sure hopes so.
A band of students from SCI-Arc and Caltech have been selected to compete in the DOE’s Solar Decathlon, to be held on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on October 2011. The team will go head to head with 20 other student groups from all over the world—including Canada, Belgium, China, and New Zeland—to determine once and for all, or at least for the next two years, who can build the most livable and sustainable sun-powered residence of 500 square feet or less. Read More
I don’t know what y’all are doing on May 6 to 8, but if landscape design tickles your pickle then you might want to hightail it down to the Lone Star State. The Cultural Landscape Foundation has partnered with Preservation Dallas and Historic Fort Worth to bring us Landscapes For Living: Post War Years In Texas, a symposium on modern landscape architecture in Texas at the Dallas Museum of Fine Art. Read More
555 Washington, the proposed 38-story neighbor to SF’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid, has ridden a troubled road on its way though the city approval process. It seems that uneven path will continue. The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that the planning department recently put a hold on a vote on the project’s environmental impact statement, claiming that the developer still owes the city $102,000 in uncollected fees. Needless to say, the doodoo has hit the fan. Is the planning department trying to chisel the developer to fill its budget gap? Or was it simply incompetent in collecting the fees in the first place? Will the developer refuse to pay unless their project receives the green light? Or will it go along obediently while the city chases its tail? Stay tuned…
If you want to understand just how under-appreciated California architect Edward Fickett is just try finding a picture of any of his work online, and then compare that task with finding something by his contemporaries Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler. Fickett, who died in 1999 at the age of 83, was no slouch. To name a few of his accomplishments, he designed the passenger and cargo terminals at the Port of Los Angeles, Edward Air Force Base, Dodger Stadium, a bevy of hotels and restaurants, mansions for hollywood stars, and some 60,000 light and airy tract homes known as the “Fickett Houses.” Read More
The Las Vegas Sun reports that, in spite of some hold ups with environmental approvals, work is expected to begin this year on the $4 billion DesertXpress, a high-speed rail link between Vegas and Victorville, California. Construction on the 185-mile project, which involves two parallel, at-grade tracks through the Mojave Desert, mostly along the I-15 corridor, should take four years. Service is scheduled to being in late 2014. Aecom and Stantec have both been involved in the project thus far, along with a slew of engineering companies. The decision to begin/end the line at Victorville has raised some eyebrows. There are advocates who are pushing for an extension to Palmdale—the site of a future high-speed rail link to Union Station—allowing non-stop rail service from downtown LA to Vegas. DesertXpress chose the Victorville terminus because it is the first major population center west of the Cajon Pass, easily accessible to millions of people in the Inland Empire, and could be paid for without recourse to public tax dollars. To date, the project has been entirely privately funded, though it could be eligible for Federal Stimulus money in the future.