“Breaking New Ground” Competition Tackles Affordable Housing in the Coachella Valley

Architecture, West
Monday, September 22, 2014
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Resort communities and and shanty towns exist side by side in California's Coachella Valley. (Orin Zebest / Flickr)

Resort communities and and shanty towns exist side by side in California’s Coachella Valley. (Orin Zebest / Flickr)

Architectural competitions with substantial cash prizes tend to focus on monuments, museums, and other high-brow concerns. Such is not the case for Breaking New Ground: Designing Affordable Housing for the Coachella Valley Workforce. Sponsored by The California Endowment, a Los Angeles–based private health organization, Breaking New Ground targets the gap between the people who come to the Eastern Coachella Valley to play and those who keep its $4 billion agriculture and tourism industries running.

Continue reading after the jump.

Pedal to the metal at Los Angeles’ Union Station

Development, Urbanism, West
Thursday, September 18, 2014
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Proposed new east entrance to Union Station (Grimshaw/Gruen/Metro)

Proposed new east portal to Union Station (Grimshaw/Gruen/Metro)

After refining their master plan over the last several months, Metro, Grimshaw, and Gruen are ready, as Metro Deputy Executive Officer for Countywide Planning Jenna Hornstock put it, to “put the pedal to the metal.” They’re asking the Metro Planning and Programming Committee to approve several recommendations (PDF) to begin the implementation of their Union Station Master Plan, including the development of a Program Environmental Impact Report. Yesterday they presented to the committee, and a vote is expected at the next gathering on October 15.

Continue reading after the jump.

Eavesdrop> West Coast Odds and Ends

Eavesdroplet, West
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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SOM's massive Park Merced development in San Francisco. (Courtesy SOM)

SOM’s massive Park Merced development in San Francisco. (Courtesy SOM)

In one of the few towns where the AIA has serious pull, the AIA San Francisco has named Jennifer Jones as its new Executive Director. Longtime HMC principal Kate Diamond has left her position and is looking for a new job. While it pales in comparison to the news that AECOM has merged with URS, forming the biggest firm in the galaxy, WSP has bought “global design giant” Parsons Brinckerhoff for $1.35 billion. That’s no joke either. Finally, after more than six years of waiting, SOM has begun work on its massive redevelopment of the WWII-era housing development, Park Merced. In San Francisco that’s like waiting for fifteen minutes.

Three big-name teams shortlisted for Mesa, Arizona plaza

City Terrain, Landscape Architecture, West
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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Colwell Shelor+West 8+Weddle Gilmore proposal (City of Mesa)

Colwell Shelor+West 8+Weddle Gilmore proposal (City of Mesa)

If all goes according to plan, Mesa, Arizona is going to have one heck of a public plaza in the center of its downtown. The city just unveiled schemes from three teams, selected from a recent RFQ (PDF), to design the space, located on an area currently occupied mostly by local government buildings and surface parking lots. According to the city, the site, meant to accommodate up to 25,000 people, would host annual events like the Mesa Arts Festival, Arizona Celebration of Freedom, and the Great Arizona Bicycle Festival.

Continue reading after the jump.

Los Angeles Convention Center releases competition shortlist

Aerial View of LA's Convention Center and Staples Center (LA Convention Center)

Aerial View of LA’s Convention Center and Staples Center (LA Convention Center)

The Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering’s competition for a $350 million expansion and renovation of the LA Convention Center has been narrowed down to three final teams. And they are: AC Martin/LMN, Gensler/Lehrer Architects, and HMC/Populous. According to the project’s Task Order Solicitation (PDF), the teams will each receive $200,000 to “develop and present conceptual designs,” including models, renderings, plans, cost estimates, phasing plans, etc. Designs are due on December 8.

Continue reading after the jump.

On View> UC Santa Barbara displays Barton Myers’s works of architecture and urbanism

West
Thursday, September 11, 2014
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(John Fulker/Courtesy the west Vancouver Museum)

Barton Myers: Works of Architecture and Urbanism
Art, Design & Architecture Museum
UC Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA
September 12 to December 12

Barton Myers: Works of Architecture and Urbanism is coming to the Art, Design & Architecture Museum at UC Santa Barbara this September. The exhibition will display several of Myers’ projects from 1968 to 2002: a span of nearly 35 years. A variety of artifacts will be on display, ranging from sketches and scale models to the architect’s lectures and writings. Myers donated the materials on display to the Art, Design & Architecture museum in 2000. Among them is information and renderings of his most renowned built work, such as the Vidal Sassoon Salon (1968), as well as his more obscure work. The exhibition will display Myers’ work in the 1992 U.S. Expo Pavilion in Spain as well as his famous steel houses.

AECOM’s Merger Mania: Los Angeles–based firm doubles in size

Architecture, National, News, West
Thursday, September 11, 2014
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Both AECOM and URS have been active on the World Trade Center site in New York (AECOM)

Both AECOM and URS have been active on the World Trade Center site in New York (AECOM)

As the economy continues to hum along, it’s time once again for merger mania. By far the most significant example is Los Angeles–based construction giant, AECOM, which in the span of just a couple of months has more than doubled its size. In past years the company has bought firms like DMJM, EDAW, Ellerbe Becket, and Tishman, but it’s been nothing like this year’s spree.

Continue reading after the jump.

Red-Rock-Inspired Headquarters by ajc

Architecture, Envelope, West
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
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ajc architects outfitted Petzl North America's new headquarters with a southwestern-hued envelope. (©Dana Sohm)

ajc architects outfitted Petzl North America’s new headquarters with a southwestern-hued envelope. (Dana Sohm)

Earth-toned GFRC panels and contrasting metal wrap Petzl’s new North American hub.

When Petzl executives decided to move the climbing and caving equipment company’s North American headquarters from Clearfield to West Valley City, Utah, they sought an opportunity not just to expand, but to design a facility that would reflect the brand’s mission. “The two words we kept hearing from them were verticality and light,” recalled ajc architects founding principal Jill A. Jones. “The types of products they design really have to deal with the vertical world.” Working with a southwestern palette inspired by Petzl corporation founder and president Paul Petzl’s recent visits to Mesa Verde National Park and Machu Picchu, the architects designed a combination administrative, training, and distribution center whose mesa-like bottom stories and punctuating tower appear as if carved out of desert rock. Read More

Pictorial> Shortlisted firms share their visions for San Francisco’s Presidio

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CMG’s Observation Post proposal for the Presidio in San Francisco. (Courtesy CMG)

As AN just reported, five teams have shared their plans for the new Presidio Parklands, a 13-acre recreational site lying between Crissy Field and the Presidio’s Main Post. The schemes follow on the heels of a the Presidio Trust’s rejection last February of three teams’ proposals for a nearby cultural center. The winner will be chosen this January. See below for slideshows of all the available renderings of the projects. The teams—invited to compete last March—took their proposals quite far in terms of detailing and strategy. Be sure to read more about the project here.

View the renderings after the jump.

Los Angeles “Dress Rehearsal” removes a lane of Broadway for pedestrians

Landscape Architecture, Urbanism, West
Friday, September 5, 2014
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Tables, chairs, planters and umbrellas on Broadway (Sterling Davis/ Curbed LA Flickr Pool)

New York’s Broadway has company: Tables, chairs, planters and umbrellas on LA’s street of the same name (Sterling Davis/ Curbed LA Flickr Pool)

It may not look like Los Angeles’ next great street yet, but Broadway is changing fast. The latest development in the street’s ongoing transformation is the city’s Broadway Streetscapes Master Plan, which is revamping the historic thoroughfare for pedestrians and urban activity. The project just completed its $1.5 million”Dress Rehearsal.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Preservationists taken by surprise as demolition begins on Wexler’s Palm Springs Spa Hotel

Architecture, News, Newsletter, Preservation, West
Thursday, September 4, 2014
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Palm Springs Spa Hotel (Julius Shulman)

Palm Springs Spa Hotel. (Julius Shulman)

As preservationists steam, demolition teams working in the desert heat have begun to tear down Donald Wexler’s famed Spa Hotel in downtown Palm Springs. The hotel was closed in early June by its owners, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.  To add insult to injury, the demolition has begun with the hotel’s most famous element: it’s elegant, concrete-vaulted colonnade. Read More

Video> Drone footage shows construction progress at Norman Foster’s Apple Campus

Architecture, In Construction, Newsletter, West
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
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Perhaps the most hyped corporate campus in history, Apple’s Norman Foster–designed campus in Cupertino, is starting to come out of the ground. YouTube user jmcminn recently uploaded a video of a (loud) drone flying over the top secret construction site, where work began a few months ago and should continue through 2016. The circular foundations appear to be over a quarter complete.

Watch the video after the jump.

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