The high desert town of Lancaster, California, population 156,000, has set its sights on becoming, in the words of its mayor R. Rex Parris ”the solar capital of the world.” That means producing more electricity from solar energy than it consumes, which it would have to achieve by covering roofs, fields, and parking lots with enough solar panels to generate more than 200 megawatts citywide. The city, located about two hours north of Los Angeles in the Antelope Valley, already has about 40 megawatts built and 50 megawatts under construction, according to the New York Times; a combination of private investment and construction from the municipal utility.
Lancaster could prove to be a good case study: getting a solar permit in the sun soaked town is already much easier than anywhere in California—the number of residential solar installations have tripled in the last 18 months—and Parris is touting the initiative as an effective way to add jobs to the struggling area.
The newly opened Bullitt Center in Seattle has stridden beyond the checklists of the LEED rating system to bring “real green” architecture into the public’s eye. As the self-proclaimed “greenest commercial building in the world,” the Bullitt Center seeks to meet the exacting goals of the Living Building Challenge, a more rigorous certification alternative to LEED. Located in Seattle’s Capital Hill district, which is in the process of a metamorphosis into the city’s “Eco-District,” the six-story building aims to serve as a new standard for what can be accomplished when architects and developers put ecological design at the forefront of their priorities.
One of the jewels of the San Francisco Bay Area, the Golden Gate National Parks (including their new visitors centers), last week received the Stewardship Excellence Award from The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF). The award, created in 2001, is given to a person, group, or agency that shares TCLF’s mission of stewardship through education. In this case the groups overseeing the project were The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and The Presidio Trust, working with the National Park Service. The Golden Gate National Parks was established in 1972 and comprises 80,000 acres of open space and historic districts along the San Francisco and Marin coasts. It is considered one of the nation’s largest urban parks and is used by 16 million people annually.
It’s been about a year since the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (DOT) took the reins over MyFigueroa, a project that hopes to remake the 4-miles in and around Figueroa Street from LA Live to Exposition Park, near USC. But things are quickly wrapping up, because the $20-million Proposition 1C funds it was awarded need to be spent by 2014. On April 9, DOT hosted a community meeting in downtown LA to unveil updated designs for this crucial connective corridor, which when finished, would be the city’s first implemented complete street.
Los Angeles’ impressive new bridges have gotten a lot of press lately, including HNTB’s epic 6th Street Viaduct and Andrew Leicester’s unusual so-called basket bridge for the Metro Pasadena Gold Line extension. But one crossing is being worked on in total secrecy: a span over the 101 Freeway at Los Angeles Street, connecting the Civic Center and the Pueblo de Los Angeles.
Artists Jenna Didier and Oliver Hess, who run the city’s Materials and Applications gallery in Silver Lake, are designing the bridge. No renderings have been unveiled, and it’s all very top secret within the city, which is why eavesdrop is on the case. And while Thom Mayne (101 pedestrian bridge) and Asymptote (Steel Cloud) have both failed to make similar ideas happen, this looks like it’s actually moving. Stay tuned.
At a DeLab (Design East of La Brea) Tour this Saturday, Los Angeles-based firm Lettuce Office shared the epic story of its new solar array for LA’s Occidental College. The 1 megawatt installation, made up of 4,886-panels, follows the contours of its hilly site, with its angled panels raised just two or three feet off the ground. To guard against sliding, each set of panels had to be imbedded into the earth via concrete-supported columns.
Think LA has too many issues? Then start voting in the My LA2050 Challenge, a competition handing out $1 million in grants to some of the most innovative and creative ideas meant to tackle the city’s biggest problems. Voting, which is all online, began on April 2nd and lasts until April 17th.
More than 275 ideas have been proposed. One is AN West Coast Editor Sam Lubell’s exhibition, Never Built: Los Angeles, which brings to life more than 100 innovative, often unbelievable, unbuilt schemes—many dashed by LA’s inability to embrace innovation—and challenges the city to change its culture of public timidity and banality. Another favorite is Farm on Wheels, by LA-Más, in which food trucks will serve as citywide “hubs of healthy food.”
Well it looks like the tech craziness on LA’s west side—a.k.a. Silicon Beach—is just getting going. Of course, Google has basically taken over Venice, and a number of tech companies, including YouTube, are taking over Howard Hughes’ old facility in Playa Vista. Now we hear that Amazon is looking for a huge space in Santa Monica. The new LA outpost could measure as much as 80,000 square feet, putting this development in the upper echelons of the city’s tech world. It will certainly compete with the new campus they’re building up in Seattle, designed by NBBJ. Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley, the architectural one-upmanship continues. That same firm (NBBJ) just unveiled designs for its new HQ for Google, which it hopes will stand out among the other ambitious schemes for Apple, Samsung, Nvidia, and so many more.
Dialogues, the series of conversations between architects and artists that took place at the MAK Center in Los Angeles over the last couple of months, is finishing up tonight with an exhibit of the designers’ work. The show features drawings, images, and models from a serious lineup at For Your Art on Wilshire Boulevard. Contributors include: Doug Aitken, Barbara Bestor, Escher Gunewardena, Fritz Haeg, Jorge Pardo, Linda Taalman, Xavier Veilhan, Pae White, Peter Zellner, and many many more. The show will be up until April 16.