Beverly Hills gained a vacant lot this week as crews demolished the former Robinsons-May department store at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard. The four-story, marble-clad building, designed by Charles O. Matcham, Charles Luckman, and William Pereira in 1952 with interiors by Raymond Loewy and Associates, was retailer J.W. Robinson’s first store in suburban Los Angeles.
The latest playground for big-name architecture is San Francisco’s Transbay District. As AN reported this spring, the city’s forthcoming Transbay Transit Center has spurred new projects from some of the field’s biggest names, including OMA, Studio Gang, Cesar Pelli, and Foster + Partners. Less than two weeks after Studio Gang revealed plans for its twisting tower in the district, Foster + Partners is out with some images of its own. Don’t get too excited—they’re fairly vague—but they were enough for San Francisco Chronicle architecture critic John King to call Foster’s plan, “gasp-inducing…from the ground up.”
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A thin shell pavilion with an audio feedback program invites engagement.
Apertures, the amorphous pavilion designed and fabricated by Baumgartner+Uriu (B+U) with students from SCI-Arc, challenges two of architecture’s defining dualities: the distinction between wall and window, and the division between exterior and interior. “Conceptually, we were looking at objects that are multi-directional and have apertures as their main theme,” said partner Herwig Baumgartner. “That was one aspect of it; the other was the barriers between inside and outside and how we can dissolve these. We’re interested in architecture that’s responsive through either movement or sound.” As visitors pass through or otherwise engage with the 16-foot-tall, 1/8-inch-thick structure’s many rounded openings, attached heat sensors trigger sounds based on human bio-rhythms, creating a feedback loop that encourages active exploration of the space. Read More
One of the insider landmarks of Beverly Hills is the Tower of Hope, an art-covered oil derrick that sits at the edge of Beverly Hills High School, clearly visible from Pico Boulevard. Covered with fabric panels painted with colorful flowers by young hospital patients, the 155-foot-tall tower is a remnant from the days when the area was covered with oil fields (the high school once contained almost 20), and it’s become a popular visiting spot. It also still pumps oil, for Denver-based Venoco, with some of the proceeds going to the school. But Beverly Hills High’s major expansion plans call for removing the well altogether.
Noted Los Angeles architect Randall Stout has died of cancer. He was 56. Stout served long tenures at SOM in Houston and at Gehry Partners in Los Angeles, then went on to found Randall Stout Architects in 1997. The office, which gained large commissions in the United States and Europe, became known for contortions of polished steel and raw stone, and for large, luminous interior spaces intimately connected to their surroundings. Despite these unusual forms, Stout’s buildings were regarded as people friendly and practical.
“Randall was a true architect,” Richard Keating, who worked with Stout at SOM from 1978 to 1986, said. “He understood materials and budgets and made excellent buildings.” Keating attributed this combination to his extended time with SOM and Gehry. “His approach to buildings was to be artful as well as responsible.” Read More
Are you an architect seeking a growth sector? How about billboards? A trailblazing firm in this field is Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA), who recently designed a new 68-foot-tall sign at Sunset and La Cienega on the Sunset Strip for the City of West Hollywood and Ace Advertising. Instead of the usual featureless, boxy armature, LOHA has designed a blue, wishbone-shaped, steel structure that one could even call (gasp) sexy.
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Net zero energy, LEED Platinum project raises the bar on eco-friendly office design.
For its new headquarters in Los Altos, California, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation put its building budget where its mouth is. The philanthropic organization, whose four program areas include conservation and science, asked San Francisco-based EHDD to design a net zero energy, LEED Platinum building that would serve as a model of cutting-edge green building techniques. “They wanted to achieve net zero in a way that was replicable, and that showed the path forward for others to follow,” said project manager Brad Jacobson. “It was not just a one-off thing, not just a showcase.” The building’s facade was fundamental to its success as an example of sustainable design. “We were surprised at how significant the envelope is, even in the most benign climate,” said Jacobson. “Pushing the envelope to really high performance made significant energy and comfort impacts, and could be justified even on a first-cost basis.” Read More
While Los Angeles implements plans for new bike lanes and other pedestrian improvements along its streets, there is still plenty of work to do. As part of that struggle, Highland Park residents and local activists this week staged the “Walk For The Dead,” along North Figueroa Street, wearing Day of the Dead makeup and costumes as a reminder of the pedestrians and bikers who have been killed by cars on the thoroughfare.
As AN recently reported, AEG’s plans for an expanded Los Angeles Convention Center are looking dim, so LA’s Bureau of Engineering’s is planning a design competition for the facility’s expansion and renovation. The Bureau recently released its Task Order Solicitation (PDF) for the project, shedding more light on what’s to come.
A collection of anonymous students at SCI-Arc calling themselves SCI-Arc Community have taken to Tumblr to express their concern over the hiring process for future school director Hernan Diaz Alonso. Their biggest complaint: the “extreme secrecy of the Director Search Committee.”