Notes from the AIA: Tepid Outlook for 2011

National
Friday, May 13, 2011
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Recent AIA billings report.

Yesterday we attended a sobering panel at the AIA convention entitled The Construction Outlook: Implications for Architecture Firms. Presented by the AIA’s Chief Economist Kermit Baker and McGraw-Hill Construction’s Vice President of Economic Affairs Robert Murray, the panel crystallized the problems that continue to plague the architecture profession. In short, while the downturn has ended, the upturn, which is indeed inching along, is coming along VERY slowly, or as Murray put it, we’re facing “an extended bottom.” Projected 2011 growth for U.S. construction starts is 1%, according to McGraw-Hill Construction. The high points are multi-family housing, which are projected to see a 22% gain, Manufacturing building, which could see a 24% gain, and commercial building, which is set to see an 11% jump. Other high points include urban infill, adaptive reuse, renovations, and sustainable design. Perhaps the biggest loser in the coming year will be public work, which is seeing cuts across the board due to debt issues. The AIA’s Billing Index has edged just barely into slightly positive territory after three years of steady declines, said Baker. Read More

A really BIG mosque

International
Thursday, May 5, 2011
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A public plaza is formed by carving away the corners of the new buildings.

Just when you thought  architecture juggernaut Bjarke Ingels and his firm BIG couldn’t win YET another commission in YET another country… the firm announced yesterday that it had beat out competitors including Zaha Hadid to lead the construction of a new cultural center in Albania’s capital, Tirana. The complex will consist of a mosque, an Islamic Centre, and a Museum of Religious Harmony.

The design team is made up of BIG, Martha Schwartz Landscape, Buro Happold, Speirs & Major lighting, Lutzenberger & Lutzenberger, and Global Cultural Asset Management. A triangular site plan is divided into the three main components, all carved away to form a central plaza oriented toward Mecca. images after the jump

Gensler First Moving Downtown Via Video

Shft+Alt+Del, West
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
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An "elevated" vision for Downtown LA, circa 2030

As we’ve noted, architecture giant Gensler is moving from Santa Monica to Downtown LA (a move that has seen its share of  controversy lately thanks to the firm’s city-provided subsidy). With the help of three talented  students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Professional Studio program, the firm has put together a video about their new ‘hood.  It documents Downtown’s dramatic growth and change over the years, and offers predictions and suggestions for its future. Read More

Roche Unleashes On SCI-Arc

Dean's List, Newsletter, West
Friday, April 29, 2011
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From Roche's Isobiot®ope at the Venice Bienale

Architect-researcher-conceptual designer-provocateur Francois Roche was recently invited to give a lecture and exhibition at SCI-Arc relating to the work of his firm R&Sie(n). However he canceled both, revealing the reasons in an open letter, after the jump. Much of it is in self-described  “Frenchglish,” but you get the idea.

He’s not so happy with what he characterizes as the school’s arrogance, its narrow focus on design, and its “lack of interest for politics and attitude.”  Them’s fightin’ words… Meanwhile SCI-Arc spokesperson Georgiana Ceausu tells AN that Roche’s summer exhibit didn’t work out because he wanted to display something he had already shown, which is against school policy.

Reach Roche’s scathing letter after the jump.

We Heart Architectural Salvage

East, West
Thursday, April 28, 2011
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Vintage glass chandelier from Southern California Architectural Salvage.

Our friends at Echo Park Patch today report on one of the coolest places in Los Angeles: Southern California Architectural Salvage (formerly Santa Fe Wrecking). Located in a large warehouse in downtown LA, it’s a great place to find architectural oddities like towering teak gates from Argentina, claw-foot bathtubs, iron gates, chandeliers, or vintage doors, sinks, and toilets.

The list is pretty extensive, and the only criterion: “It has to be different from what you get at Home Depot,” says owner Jerry Hernandez. Among our other favorite salvaging spots are Silver Lake Architectural Salvage, which recently moved to Pasadena, CA, the ReBuilding Center on Portland, Oregon’s Mississippi Avenue, and the Demolition Depot in New York.

Share your favorite salvaging hot spots in the comments below and check out a few salvage photos after the jump.

More after the jump.

Much Ado About Nothing At Grand Avenue

West
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
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The park next to the Broad will NOT look like this.

Curbed LA yesterday shared schemes for the zone around Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Broad Museum, revealing renderings of two residential towers to the south and east of the project and space for a new plaza.  The images sent the ever-excitable architecture community chattering. But while it’s great to get a better sense of what’s going up, as the blog pointed out and the architects have reiterated, the images don’t reveal what the design will actually look like.

Continue reading after the jump.

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A Look Back at Los Angeles Mega Mansions

West
Monday, April 25, 2011
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10451 Revuelta Way is one of the biggies on our list.

In honor of the passage earlier this month of LA’s Baseline Hillside Ordinance (Warning: PDF), which prevents “out-of-scale” single family development on LA’s hillsides via height and FAR restrictions, we’ve dug up five of the most ridiculously gigantic homes in the city. Prepare yourself for an onslaught of square footage, bathrooms (why does the number of bathrooms always seem to double the number of bedrooms?) and opulent taste (note the preponderance of French Chateaus: will there be another revolution?) The ordinance, which goes into effect on May 9, is the third in a series of city measures to prevent McMansions and other neighborhood busters. So perhaps say goodbye to this type of development in LA. At least for now.

Check out the mega-mansions after the jump.

SCI-Arc Nomadic No More

Dean's List, West
Friday, April 22, 2011
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A look at SCI-Arc's Santa Fe Depot building (bottom).

Finally. After 39 years of wandering around Los Angeles and trying to convince its landlord to sell, SCI-Arc today announced that it has bought its building in LA’s Downtown Arts District. The 1,250 foot-long Santa Fe Freight Yard Depot building, a reinforced concrete structure designed by architect Harrison Albright, stretches seemingly forever along Santa Fe Avenue. Students like to bike or skateboard inside it to get to class.

The school moved to the former rail depot 10 years ago after a 2001 renovation by architect Gary Paige. The school’s opening came when building owner Meruelo Maddux Properties filed for bankruptcy—meaning it really needed the money. The school bought the property for $23.1 million. Other homes for the school have included Marina Del Rey and Santa Monica. But now it finally has a real home.

And their edgy, coarse and lively corner of downtown, as SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss has pointed out, is where it’s always wanted to be. “SCI-Arc is absolutely committed to Downtown,” he told AN in a recent interview, adding that the area is a laboratory for architectural and urban development. “We are staying Downtown. Period.”

 

Neutra In Danger in Beverly Hills?

West
Thursday, April 21, 2011
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Site of Neutra's Kronish House (via Redfin)

Last month we reported on Beverly Hills’ virtually nonexistent preservation policies and the destructive results for Modern architecture. Well those (lack of) rules seem to be at issue again, as we learn from Curbed LA that Richard Neutra’s 1955 Kronish House is for sale, with a listing on Redfin emphasizing the land’s “huge upside potential as a major estate.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Landscape Takes Center Stage

West
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
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Ruth Shelhorn's Disneyland Town Square, 1955

Why doesn’t landscape architecture in Southern California get the same attention as architecture? That’s one of the questions that will be answered at Friday’s Landscapes for Living conference at SCI-Arc. The event, organized by the Cultural Landscape Foundation, will focus on Post War Landscape designs in the region, which have largely stayed under the radar. For instance, who has heard of Ralph Cornell, who designed legendary landscapes like the Torrey Pines preserve near San Diego, Beverly Gardens in Beverly Hills and the Civic Center Mall and  Music Center plaza in Downtown LA ? Other subjects will include Ruth Shelhorn, the only female architect to work on the original plans for Disneyland, and designer of the park’s entrance and Main Street; Bridges and Troller, who designed Century City; Lawrence Halprin, better known for his parks in the Pacific Northwest but also active in California; and of course the legendary (but under appreciated) Garret Eckbo.

Celebrate Neutra This Weekend

West
Friday, April 8, 2011
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Neutra's Lovell Health House, one of the Neutra homes you can visit this weekend.

If you love the work of Richard Neutra or his son Dion, check out the round of festivities in LA this weekend that we like to call NEUTRAPALOOZA! They’re otherwise known as the Neutra Practice 85th anniversary Celebration Party. Our favorite event is the “Followers of Famous Design Fathers” symposium on Saturday, which will include Eric Lloyd Wright, Emily Ain, and Nathaniel Kahn, among others. And for you lucky Neutra house owners, there’s the Reunion of Neutra Owners, Clients, Collaborators, and Builders later in the day. The events end on Sunday with a comprehensive Neutra Interiors tour and a tour of Neutra’s famous Lovell Health House in Los Feliz. If you’re a Neutra fan you really shouldn’t miss this. And if you’re not, you’ll probably become one if you go. Either way you can’t lose.

Silver Lake′s Grassy Nirvana Finally Opens

West
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
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After years of waiting, as of this past weekend Silver Lake residents can finally enjoy the “Meadow,” a 6-acre swath of grassy land adjacent to the Silver Lake Reservoir and west of Silver Lake Boulevard that’s been fought over and delayed for several years. It was determined that the Meadow could  be opened to the public because the Reservoir itself will soon be replaced as a drinking water source by underground storage tanks north of Griffith Park (plus restless neighbors fearing outsider encroachment and the destruction of local habitats finally relented). We finally had a spare second to check it out today, and were very impressed.

Read More

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