Lights, Zoning, Action! Blockbuster Day for Zoning in Los Angeles

West
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
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A look at Hollywood. (Courtesy Stock Footage Hollywood)

Yesterday will be remembered as a historic day for Los Angeles planning wonks. First, city council approved the Hollywood Community Plan, which, among other things, paves the way for increased density near transit, more mixed-use development, and more integrated transit plans in the ever-improving entertainment center of LA. Right afterward, we learned from Curbed LA that the council also approved the Comprehensive Zoning Code Revision Ordinance, which will help the city—through a new trust fund—overhaul its zoning code for the first time since 1946. According to LA City Planning, the new code, when completed, will “include clear and predictable language that will offer a wider variety of zoning options to more effectively implement the goals and objectives of the General Plan and accommodate the City’s future needs and development opportunities.” In other words, simpler, streamlined zoning tailored to individual neighborhoods and needs. Also in the mix, the new codes will include a dynamic, web-based zoning code, a layperson’s guide to zoning, and a unified downtown development code. Hallelujah!

Eavesdrop> SOM and Cavagnero Take San Francisco’s Moscone Center Expansion

Eavesdroplet, Newsletter, West
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
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(Courtesy Moscone Center)

(Courtesy Moscone Center)

Here’s one thing we know: No matter how gigantic convention centers and airports grow, they’re never big enough. Now we’ve heard through the grapevine that San Francisco will be the latest to loosen its belt a couple notches with the help of SOM and Mark Cavagnero Associates. The city is jumping on the expansion bandwagon with the addition of 200,000 to 450,000 square feet to the Moscone Convention Center in the South of Market neighborhood. The original center opened in 1981 and its first expansion, Moscone West, followed in 2003.

More after the jump.

Keeping Busy at ArchPaper West.  Keeping Busy at ArchPaper West We’ve got our plates full this month at Dwell on Design/LA Design Festival/AIA LA Design Conference. On Thursday, June 21 we’re hosting a studio tour at our new West coast offices, the American Cement Building, featuring eight architecture firms in one building. Next, on June 22-24 we’re hosting architect consultations at Dwell, connecting more than 20 of the city’s top architects to potential clients. Finally on June 24, West Coast Editor Sam Lubell is moderating an expert panel at the AIA Design Conference examining how architecture can contribute to the public realm.

 

Eavesdrop> Grimshaw and Gruen Take Union Station

Eavesdroplet, Newsletter, West
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
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Grimshaw and Gruen's vision plan for Union Station. (Courtesy Grimshaw/Gruen)

Grimshaw and Gruen's vision plan for Union Station. (Courtesy Grimshaw/Gruen)

This is big: Our sources divulge that UK firm Grimshaw and LA-based Gruen Associates have won the commission to master plan the six million square feet of entitlements at Union Station in Los Angeles. A formal announcement is expected this coming Monday on Metro’s web site (our leak is unconfirmed), with the Metro board approving the firms after that.  Grimshaw has made a name for itself designing infrastructure and transit stations around the world, including Lower Manhattan’s upcoming Fulton Street Transit Center and London’s Waterloo Station. Gruen recently completed design on phase one of the Expo Line and has served as executive architect on several recent projects, including the Pacific Design Center. The site around Union Station encompasses about 38 acres and is anticipated to become a transit and commercial hub for the city. It will likely include offices, residences, retail, entertainment, parks and a potential high speed rail station.

Eavesdrop> Fuksas to Redesign LA’s Beverly Center

West
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
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The notorious Beverly Center (JohnnyRokkit/flickr)

Beating out shortlisted competition including John Friedman Alice Kimm and Brooks+Scarpa, Italian firm Studio Fuksas has been awarded the commission to revamp the Beverly Center, the legendary (not to mention, ahem, aesthetically challenging) high end shopping mall in Beverly Hills. The job, overseen by Michigan-based developer Taubman Group, calls for revamping a building that has become tired both inside and out. Read More

PALI TALKS ABOUT ACADEMY MUSEUM

West
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
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May

As we reported last week, Zoltan Pali and Renzo Piano were tagged to design the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ new film museum inside LA’s former May Company Building. We recently caught up with Culver City-based Pali, principal of SPF:a, to discuss the project. It’s still early, so he couldn’t give many details, but he did share some Twitter-sized kernels about his approach and his upcoming collaboration. Read More

Could the Grand Avenue project be coming back to life?

West
Monday, June 4, 2012
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An early rendering of The Grand (Related Companies)

Frank Gehry and Related Companies’ left-for-dead Grand Avenue project in Downtown LA (now known as “The Grand”) may be getting a new lease on life, reports the LA Times. The $3 billion, mixed-use development, which includes condos, hotels, shops and a 12-acre park (Grand Park, which is opening this summer), was supposed to begin construction in 2007, yet no shovel has touched earth, at least not for a building. But now Related is reportedly rethinking the project’s “luxury aspirations,” toning down some of the most expensive elements and lowering rates on condos to get things moving. “We still believe we can create some of the highest values downtown….But do I think we have to be a little bit less ambitious? Yes, I would agree with that,” Related president Bill Witte told the Times. He would not comment on whether Gehry’s wavy towers would remain, but Witte did say that the project’s “dimensions, scope and scale” could be adjusted. Meanwhile Grand Park’s web site doesn’t provide a definitive completion date, so stay tuned for more on its opening.

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Last Chance to Make a Sonic Trace.  Last Chance to Make a Sonic Trace LA radio station KCRW is challenging designers to put together a portable sound booth to collect stories for its program Sonic Trace, which explores questions about community and immigration. Producers will be toting the booth all over LA’s diverse communities (ideally on the roof of their VW Wagoneer), from Koreatown to South Central, so it’s got to be lightweight and hearty. Hurry because submissions are due on June 8!

 

Strange Sentence for Phonehenge Creator

Newsletter, West
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
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(Flickr user RuggyBearLA)

(Flickr user RuggyBearLA)

For those of you that don’t know “Phonehenge,” it was one of California’s classic DIY creations (right up there with the Watts Towers and Salvation Mountain), created by former phone company repairman Kim Fahey out of old telephone poles in the Mojave Desert. Unfortunately the structure, in Acton, CA, was demolished last year because of code violations, and according to the Washington Post a judge recently sentenced Fahey to pay the $83,488 it cost to demolish it.

In an even stranger demand, the court sentenced Fahey to 63 days of community service, five of them in the county morgue. “The judge thought it was an extreme fire danger and I guess she just wanted him to see dead people,” defense attorney Jerry Lennon told the Post. But there’s a silver lining. A group called Save Phonehenge West is raising donations both to pay for Fahey’s legal bills and to rebuild Phonehenge in Kern County, to the north.

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Moss out in WeHo? Or maybe not?

Newsletter, West
Thursday, May 24, 2012
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Rendering of Moss' Sunset Strip Hotel (courtesy Eric Owen Moss Architects)

Rendering of Moss' Sunset Strip Hotel (courtesy Eric Owen Moss Architects)

While it was approved by the city of West Hollywood back in 2009 (and again in 2010), it looks like Eric Owen Moss’ large hotel on the Sunset Strip might be in trouble. Curbed LA reports that the property containing the 11-story project, which was also to include condos and retail, has been bought by Marriott hotels’ “Edition” brand of luxury hotels, which WeHo Patch has said “doesn’t seem inclined to use the Moss designs.” Our calls to Marriott were not returned.

The Moss scheme was originally proposed by developer Richard Weintraub (with no hotel operator), and Marriott’s involvement became clear when the West Hollywood planning department approved the company’s modifications (slightly increasing size, adding a nightclub) to the project last Thursday. But wait. According to West Hollywood Planning Manager John Keho, Marriott has not yet told the city who the architect of their proposal will be, nor have they given a timeline for when they might submit architectural plans. According to Moss principal Eric McNevin, “Nothing has been confirmed yet. It’s not known yet. What was reported was speculation.” Stay tuned.

Join Us For A Teaching Moment Next Tuesday

West
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
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This editor’s recent piece on the divide between architectural education and architectural practice has spurred a lot of discussion, prompting both high praise for addressing a worsening problem and charges of, ahem, “neoconservatism.” If it’s a debate that interests you, please join us next Tuesday, May 29 at Gensler’s new headquarters for the panel discussion, “A Teaching Moment.” Panelists include UCLA’s Neil Denari, Michael Maltzan, USC’s Alice Kimm, Woodbury’s Barbara Bestor, SCI-Arc’s John Enright, and Gensler’s Li Wen. At the panel we will discuss not only the schism between practice and education, but also new approaches toward technology, urbanism, and more. See you there!

Architecture is on Display at the Venice Art Walk

West
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
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Exterior of Google's new HQ in Venice. (IK's World Trip/Flickr)

Exterior of Google's new HQ in Venice. (IK's World Trip/Flickr)

Trust us, you don’t want to miss this weekend’s Venice Art Walk & Auctions (May 19-20), which in addition to showing off the area’s wealth of art studios and galleries, will introduce you to some of its finest new architecture. That’s impressive because everybody knows that Venice has more architects per square foot than pretty much anywhere else.

Continue reading after the jump.

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