San Francisco’s North Beach library, which AN reported on today is finally under construction after more than two years of delays, is the last of more than 20 city library branches to be repaired or rebuilt thanks to a $105 million bond measure that SF voters passed in 2000 called the Branch Library Improvement Program (with the unfortunate acronym, BLIP). The measure has spurred innovation from several of the city’s top firms, and we couldn’t resist sharing more of their work in the slideshow below. Only two remain: North Beach and the Bayview Branch Library, designed by THA Architecture in collaboration with Karin Payson A+D, which is scheduled to open later this month. Find a full list of library projects here.
A new video released by LA METRO gives us all a much clearer conception of the construction sequencing of the Regional Connector, the 1.9 mile downtown underground light rail line that will connect Los Angeles’ now-dispersed Gold, Blue, and Expo lines. The $1.3 billion connector, funded largely by 2008′s Measure R sales tax increase, is set to begin construction later this year. It will travel primarily under Flower Street and 2nd Street, and is set to open by 2019. Movement of utilities around the line began in December. Yes, more transit in Los Angeles. This is really happening!
It’s obvious that Moby, whose L.A. architecture blog has become quite the sensation, has now become the official mainstream spokesperson for the city’s design community. First he made the big address starting off the AIA/LA awards in Santa Monica. Now he put together a video (above) to accompany his address for the kickoff of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. Some of Moby’s many statements about LA architecture: “baffling,” byzantine,” “mind-numbingly complicated,” “fantastically uncohesive,” and, a little better, “LA has the most diverse, interesting architecture of any city on the planet.” Now we can only guess where he’ll pop up next. Meanwhile he becomes the latest in a line of celebs the Getty has tapped to promote its offerings, from Ice Cube to Anthony Kiedis. Move over Starchitects. Here come architecture stars.
Earlier this week, AN reported on the opening of Los Angeles’s first parklet in Eagle Rock. Thursday saw the arrival of the city’s second and third sidewalk-extending mini-parks, located on Spring Street in Downtown LA’s historic core. Created by architects/developers utopiad.org, designers Berry and Linné, and builders Hensel Phelps, the 40 foot by 60 foot parklets, located just a few parallel parking spots from each other, are impressively detailed and fitted, with wood planter boxes, minimalist bench seating, stone pavers, hardwood decking, and quirky touches like seat swings, astro turf, bar seats, colorful fences, foosball tables, and exercise bikes.
There’s a new couture addition to PROXY, the temporary shipping container village in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, designed by architects Envelope A+D. Adding to PROXY’s cool coffee shop, ice cream parlor, and Biergarten is a new store for clothing company Aether, made up of three forty foot shipping containers stacked atop one another, supported by steel columns. The guts of the first two containers have been carved out, making a double story retail space, with a glass mezzanine above jutting to the side, providing display space and views. A third container for inventory storage is accessible via a custom-designed drycleaners’ conveyor belt spanning all three floors. Workers can literally load garments from the ground floor and send them up to the top.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has seen some success in his time in office. But one element still remains a thorn in his side: MUNI, the city’s transit agency. In his State of the City address the other day (watch full speech below) Lee vowed to improve the notoriously late and overcrowded system, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. “We need to modernize our system…to better match up with 21st century patterns of where people live, work, and shop,” said Lee.
A few remedies that Lee has suggested: the formation of a task force to help develop a plan for modernizing the system and dealing with the city’s growing population; expansion of BART, the Bay Area’s regional transit system; new work rule reforms; and a bevy of new technologies. “Truly great cities have great transportation systems—Paris, New York, London, Tokyo,” Lee said. “I say San Francisco is pretty great, too, and deserves one as well.” The city is in fact adding a new transit line, the downtown T-Central, to help alleviate congestion problems. It’s slated to open in 2019. Check out images of the city’s upcoming line below.
We’ve known for some time that SOM will be designing the new US Courthouse in Downtown Los Angeles. We’ve even gotten some glimpses of their scheme. But the firm has just unveiled new images of the project, filling out the picture of this new landmark for the city on the corner of 1st Street and Broadway.
The familiar image of a cube-like, 550,000-square-foot structure in the middle of the city is now accompanied by a closer view of a folded glass façade imbedded with a United States seal. The building, which floats above a central core, appears to cantilever outward on all sides, with ramps and a small park leading the way to the entry. Inside we get a peek at a large central atrium rising several stories, and walls made of some kind of blond stone. Exposed central stairs appear to make climbing upward a public process. SOM is still unable to comment on their scheme, but we’ll let you know when that changes.
Well, it happened. After years of strife over the project, the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved the $2 billion, 1.5 million square foot redevelopment of the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. Back in 2009 the developer, Next Century Associates, threatened to tear down Minoru Yamasaki’s curving midcentury Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel to make way for the project. But a parade of preservationists, including the LA Conservancy and Diane Keaton, stood in their way. The result: a compromise in which the hotel would be preserved by Marmol Radziner and surrounded by two three-sided, 46-story residential towers by Pei Cobb Freed as well as a 100,000-square-foot retail plaza and over two acres of public open space by Rios Clementi Hale. The executive architect is Gensler. City Council certified the scheme’s Environmental Impact Report and approved a 15-year development agreement. Let the construction begin on another major Los Angeles development. Momentum is building.
While Los Angeles is getting most of the attention in California for its rapidly expanding light rail system, it appears that Sacramento is well on its way to a major overhaul of its own. Earlier this month the US Department of Transporation announced $135 million in federal matching money for the Sacramento Regional Transit District’s light rail system. Much of that will go toward the 4.3 mile Blue Line extension linking downtown Sacramento with the city’s emerging South County corridor. To see a list of current Federal Transit Administration projects go here. And for a look at all the emerging rail lines on the west coast take another look at AN‘s feature documenting rail expansion from San Diego up to Seattle.
This Friday evening, Los Angeles mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, and Jan Perry will take part in an unprecedented conversation about affordable housing. The topic is an important one, particularly because several funding sources for affordable housing—including state redevelopment funds and federal HOME funds—have been diminished or completely halted in recent years, causing a $72 million drop in public funding from 2008 to 2013.
The moderator, USC housing economist Raphael Bostic, doesn’t intend to pull punches. His questions will include confirming candidates’ commitment to the creation of a $100 million annual city budget for low- and moderate-income housing and finding out specific plans for addressing the city’s notorious homelessness problem. The event is being hosted by Housing For A Stronger Los Angeles, a coalition of housing providers, businesses, social service organizations, and other interested in affordable housing. It’s scheduled for Friday, January 11 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm, at the Conference Center at Cathedral Plaza in Downtown Los Angeles, 555 West Temple Street.