Amazon renderings released this week in a Seattle design review board meeting would have made the late Buckminster Fuller proud. They reveal new plans for an additional structure on the proposed three-block, three-tower Amazon complex in downtown Seattle: three five-story conjoined biodomes up to 95 feet tall, with the largest 130 feet in diameter. These glass and steel domes, envisioned by local firm NBBJ, would provide 65,000 square feet of interior flex work and brainstorm areas for Amazon employees, while leaving abundant space to accommodate trees and diverse plantings. Inspiration came from nature found indoors—in greenhouses, conservatories, and convention centers around the world. From Renzo Piano’s “Bolla” in Genoa, to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken in Brussels. (Fun fact: the largest dome in the United States—an indoor sports arena—is in fact in Washington State, in Tacoma, a city south of Seattle.)
One of the few regions that superstar Bjarke Ingels has yet to invade is Southern California, and he’s made it clear that he wants that to change. It just might, soon. Ingels, we hear from an unnamed source, has been added to one of the teams competing to design the city’s 4th and Arizona mixed use project in Santa Monica, a city experiencing the beginnings of a building boom. They’ll replace RTKL on a team that also includes local firms Koning Eizenberg and Rios Clementi Hale. So now this shortlist is the most starchitect-heavy of any in the region, including not just BIG, but OMA with VTBS and Robert A.M. Stern with Brooks + Scarpa. In addition to a building that could reach up to 130 feet, the RFP calls for a “programmable gathering space that adds to the community’s civic life with public gatherings and seasonal activities.” Currently, the city hosts an ice skating rink on the site in the winters. According to the RFP a winner is expected to be chosen by Santa Monica’s city council by this August. Stay tuned.
Yesterday, AN reported on the incredible new entertainment complex that millionaire James Goldstein is building next to John Lautner’s Sheats Goldstein Residence in Beverly Hills. But even without an adjacent nightclub, the house often hosts splashy events, the most recent of which was the latest art/architecture installation that’s part of artist Xavier Veilhan’s Architectones series. As he did at Richard Neutra’s VDL House and Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House 21, Veilhan created several site specific installations for the site, ranging from a life size statue of John Lautner to a series of cords stretching over the home’s pool. The project was curated by architect Francois Perrin and organized by Galerie Perrotin.
In case you’ve missed it (and you certainly wouldn’t be alone), Los Angeles is voting for mayor tomorrow. And if you’re an architect, planner, or design lover, you probably want to know who will serve your interests. There are a number of resources, starting, of course, with the candidates’—Eric Garcetti’s and Wendy Greuel’s— web sites. You should also have a look at the AIA/LA’s groundbreaking candidates’ forums, moderated by city planning commissioner Bill Roschen and LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne. Among so many other debates, another favorite was this one, hosted by KCRW radio host Warren Olney.
AN just heard from MOCA that their embattled show, A New Sculpturalism, Contemporary Architecture in Southern California, is moving ahead. The date has been pushed back from June 2 to June 16, but it will still take place inside MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary, presumably featuring the same roster of both emerging and star architects, minus Frank Gehry, of course. The show had been put on hold for several weeks for reasons that vary according to whom you ask. Curator Christopher Mount had blamed mismanagement at MOCA, while others had blamed apprehension about the show’s direction, and Gehry’s withdrawal.
Less than two weeks ago, the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” sent 20 thoroughbreds racing around the track at the Kentucky Derby, but across the country, Inglewood’s Hollywood Park race track has announced that it will be ceasing all races at the end of this year. Forever.
The race track is set to be replaced by about 3,000 homes, more than 600,000 square feet of retail space, 75,000 square feet of commercial space, a renovated casino, about 25 acres of parks, and and a 300-room hotel.
With summer just around the corner, bicyclists are getting excited to try out the new bike-share systems being installed in many cities across the nation. After initial delays, New York City’s bike-share program is set to open by the end of the month, and San Francisco, Seattle, and Hoboken have similar plans of their own on the horizon.
San Francisco: SPUR reports that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District signed a contract with Alta Bike Share to spin the wheels on a bike-sharing program for San Francisco. Alta Bike Share runs similar bike programs in Washington, D.C. and Boston and will be the operator of new programs in New York and Chicago this year. San Francisco plans a two-year pilot program consisting of 700 bikes in 70 locations that will launch this summer throughout the San Jose to San Francisco region. Last year the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition set a goal of 20 percent of trips in the city on bike by 2020 and now, after several delays, the plan will be the first regional program in the country.
A big one hasn’t hit California for a little while, which means it’s the perfect time to enact more stringent retrofit legislation. Just in case, you know… Near the end of last month San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed into law the city’s new mandatory soft-story retrofit program, which calls for retrofits to buildings with large openings for storefronts or garages. There are quite a few in the city: 2,800, home to about 58,000 people and 2,000 businesses, according to the Mayor’s office.