The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon has officially moved west. The bi-annual event, in which college teams vie against each other to build top-tier solar powered homes, opened yesterday at the Orange County Great Park. After a decade in Washington D.C. the competition had overstayed its welcome on the National Mall, and was looking for a new place to get the word out about sustainability, said event founder Richard King. The Great Park beat out sites in 20 cities around the country. Read More
What’s in a name? It seems that every time we get used to an architect’s name they go ahead and change it. We’re still confused by the name Ennead Architects (formerly Polshek Partnership), and we can’t get our heads around monikers like Rogers Stirk Harbour (formerly Richard Rogers Partnership) and Populous (formerly HOK Sport). Not to mention the headaches when firms like AECOM swallow the likes of Ellerbe Becket and EDAW.
The latest on the new name train are some of LA’s brightest firms. Daly Genik Architects is now Kevin Daly Architects. And wHY Architecture is now why design. The former came as a result of shuffled leadership—partners Kevin Daly and Chris Genik parted ways amicably. The latter is a branding change to broaden the firm’s scope beyond architecture. Both have completely new web sites. And both, no doubt, will puzzle us all until we finally come to terms with the inevitability of change.
AB 630, a bill that ensures that no one can use an architect’s “instruments of service” (i.e. plans, drawings, schematics) without his or her written permission, recently passed the California legislature without a single no vote. The bill passed the Assembly 78-0 and the State Senate 37-0. But now architects are getting nervous, since governor Jerry Brown has not decided whether he will sign it.
In recent years several proposals have been floated for freeway cap parks in Los Angeles with barely any traction. Until now. On Friday LA City Council voted to have various city departments (including planning and engineering) partner with nonprofit Friends of Park 101 to raise funds for a park that would bridge the 101 Freeway, connecting Downtown’s Civic Center with Olvera Street and Union Station. Possible grants could come from local, state, and federal sources. It’s still a long way from happening, but this is a big deal. Friends of the Hollywood Central Park have created a function on their web site where users can design their own cap park, but if Park 101 gets some of these funds we could be building a park downtown for real.
Last week Los Angeles councilman, Jose Huizar, announced the formation of a 21-member task force to help re-imagine Pershing Square, the beleaguered central park in the middle of downtown. The group includes local residents, design and architecture experts, business people, and government officials. Huizar said he hoped they could bring “a wide-range of ideas and perspectives to the discussion.” They’ll also have to develop an agenda and a timeline, and figure out how to fund the project.
AECOM, already busy working with Snøhetta on a basketball arena in San Francisco, has been chosen to design the new downtown basketball facility for the Sacramento Kings. Renderings for the project, set to open by 2016, will not be released until the fall, but earlier images, released when the ownership team was still competing for the site, show a pillow-shaped, glass ringed structure with a steep seating bowl and, rare for such a facility, natural light.
Finally. Los Angeles’ City Council on Wednesday passed a new mural ordinance, legalizing murals on private buildings after a decade of banning them. Of course would-be public artists still have to go through an extensive permitting process, and pay a$60 fee, but if they’re persistent they can finally go crazy. That is, as long as their murals don’t contain commercial messages.
“It’s a big victory and we’re thrilled,” said Isabel Rojas-Williams, executive director of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles. The group has been protecting the city’s murals and muralists since 1987. “Despite the recent restrictions, the city has remained one of the country’s mural capitals.”
Don’t believe us? Behold a selection below of our favorite (finally-sanctioned) murals from around the City of Angels, courtesy of the Mural Conservancy. They range from political to historical to street art / graffiti, to, well…the undefinable. Read More
On Tuesday, Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors voted to approve Disney’s huge new TV and film production facility on the Golden Oak Ranch near Santa Clarita. The project is being master planned by LA-based firm, Johnson Fain, and the 58-acre “Studios at the Ranch” will include more than 500,000 square feet of studios, sound stages, offices, writers and producers “bungalows” and other developments.
While pathways and parks are springing up near the Los Angeles River, plans to redevelop and green the concrete stretch still need the support of the Army Corps of Engineers and the federal government. In the meantime, students from landscape architecture firm SWA’s Summer Student Program have developed these mind bending proposals for the concrete expanse. Most not only remove the concrete, which was put in place in the 1930s, but provide walkable spaces, take down walls and other barriers, and add housing and additional program.
Thanks to the efforts of the Los Angeles Conservancy‘s Modern Committee, ten homes from Southern California’s Case Study House program have been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Launched by Arts + Architecture magazine in 1945, the Case Study program emphasized experiment and affordability, and produced some of the most famous houses in U.S. history, including the Eames House (Case Study #8), and Pierre Koenig’s Stahl House (Case Study #22).