This October, for the first time, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon—a biennial competition encouraging schools from around the country to create affordable, solar powered, Net Zero houses—will be held outside of Washington D.C. The new location, in the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California, gives SCI-Arc and Caltech a distinct home field advantage. The team of 16 SCI-Arc and 20 Caltech students is creating a fascinating structure, called DALE, which stands for Dynamic Augmented Living Environment (their last entry was called CHIP.. get it?) that could only be possible in the moderate Southern California climate.
The perforated aluminum skin would replace the previously proposed glass facade. (Courtesy TJPA)
It looks like Pelli Clarke Pelli’s Transbay Transit Center, which stretches about three blocks through the city’s Rincon Hill neighborhood, might go ahead with its first major piece of value engineering. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the architects have suggested that the building’s undulating glass skin become perforated aluminum. The move would meet federal safety guidelines and chop $17 million from the estimated $1.59 billion budget for the center’s first phase. The Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) board will be asked to approve the change at its March 25 meeting. The structure is not expected to be complete before 2017.
On Monday, members of LA’s design and architecture cognoscenti descended on the Tesla store on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to celebrate the official relaunch of KCRW’s DnA (Design and Architecture). The event featured a discussion between DnA host and executive producer Frances Anderton and Elon Musk, the visionary founder-CEO of Tesla and Space X. Those present included Michael Rotondi, Ray Kappe, Thom Mayne, developer Tom Gilmore, and Getty architecture curators Wim de Wit and Christopher Alexander.
Travis Somerville: A Great Cloud of Witnesses
Catherine Clark Gallery
150 Minna Street, San Francisco
Through April 13
In his solo exhibition at Catherine Clark Gallery, Travis Somerville presents a mixed-media exhibition, layering past and present. He continues his work investigating historical memory and questioning how particular fragmented stories are simplified into collective truths. Specifically, Somerville uses imagery from the Civil Rights movement to explore the status of human rights in our contemporary society. By presenting current stories of immigration, Uzbekistan’s child labor, and the uprisings of the Arab Spring against collages, images, and objects from the Civil Rights movement, Somerville explores our “post racial” culture. One installation presents a line of reproduced racially designated water fountains mounted to a gallery wall.
On Saturday I moderated one of two AIA/LA-sponsored panels about bio-inspired design at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. The first panel looked at the general influence of nature on design, from the Mars Rover to the San Diego Zoo, and ours zeroed in on architecture’s envelopes and skins, with insights about breaking away from the static, heavy, and largely-unresponsive architecture of today by architect Tom Wiscombe, Arup engineer Russell Fortmeyer, and evolutionary biologist Shauna Price. Speaking of bio-inspired design, before the panel I got an early look at the new gardens at the Natural History Museum, designed by Mia Lehrer + Associates.
Now we’re really confused. Amidst reports that LA’s MOCA might be taken over by LACMA or USC, now we hear via the New York Times that the struggling institution might now join forces with the National Gallery in Washington D.C. According to John Wilmerding, the chairman of the Gallery’s board of trustees, MOCA is “close to working out a five-year agreement…to collaborate on programming, research and exhibitions.” The deal wouldn’t include fundraising assistance, but would obviously bolster MOCA’s ability to raise money with the National Gallery’s high profile assistance on programming, exhibitions, research, curation, and staffing. Oh, and guess who approached the National Gallery, according to the story: MOCA board chair Eli Broad, who has made it clear he doesn’t want to be swallowed by LACMA. Stay tuned as this saga plays out.
In recent weeks we’ve seen a number of important developments in Downtown Los Angeles, like the groundbreaking of the Arquitectonica-designed apartments on Grand Avenue, and the topping out of The Broad next door. The red-hot area continues to make headlines, from the advancement of its upcoming streetcar to the murkiness of its proposed football stadium.
SCI-Arc is hosting a competition—called 40/40—open to all graduates for the design and construction of an installation capable of digitally presenting the work of the school’s alumni. The installation will celebrate the school’s upcoming 40th anniversary. To tie into the April 11 Downtown Art Walk, the exhibition will first be installed—or rather the winner of the competition has to figure out how it will be installed—in the lobby space of the monumental downtown Farmers and Merchants Bank. It will subsequently move to SCI-Arc for the 40th Anniversary Celebration Weekend of April 19-21, 2013.
From the top of San Diego’s soaring 200-foot-tall Coronado Bay Bridge, architect Lew Dominy says you can see Mexico, but outside of special events when the bridge is closed to automobile traffic, pedestrians and bicyclists who might stop to admire the view are prohibited. Dominy, principal at San Diego-based domusstudio architecture, has a plan to build a tube through the distinctive archways of the Coronado’s support piers that would bring multi-modal access to the bridge.