LA’s Grand Avenue Project Gets One Final Chance

West
Friday, October 4, 2013
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Rendering of the Grand Avenue Development (Grand Ave L.A.)

Rendering of the Grand Avenue Development (Grand Ave L.A.)

Back in 2004 it seemed like Downtown Los Angeles would be getting one of the largest developments in the city’s history: the $1.8 billion, 3.8 million square foot Grand Avenue Project. Overseen by a city/county entity called the Grand Avenue Authority and developed by the Related Companies, the project would insert residential, retail, hotel, and park spaces into the city’s long-struggling core. Just a week ago it seemed like that dream was dead, when the Grand Avenue Authority voted unanimously to reject new architectural plans by Related, which included a sharply reduced scope, and a whole new team of designers. (Gone is Frank Gehry, in for the master plan is Gensler.) But on September 30 the Authority voted to give the developer a four month extension to adjust the plans. Whether the authority will move ahead after is still very much in doubt.  The only sure things at this point are the 16-acre Grand Park, across from The Music Center, and Arquitectonica’s 19-story residential tower, just south of The Broad, which broke ground several months ago.

Solar Decathlon Goes So Cal

West
Friday, October 4, 2013
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Solar Decathlon Village in Assembly (U.S. Department of Energy)

Solar Decathlon Village in Assembly (U.S. Department of Energy)

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon has officially moved west. The bi-annual event, in which college teams vie against each other to build top-tier solar powered homes, opened yesterday at the Orange County Great Park. After a decade in Washington D.C. the competition had overstayed its welcome on the National Mall, and was looking for a new place to get the word out about sustainability, said event founder Richard King. The Great Park beat out sites in 20 cities around the country.  Read More

Eavesdrop> Never Built, the VIP Party

Eavesdroplet, West
Thursday, October 3, 2013
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A line forms at the Never Built: Los Angeles opening. (Courtesy Guy Horton / KCRW)

A line forms at the Never Built: Los Angeles opening. (Courtesy Guy Horton / KCRW)

We at Eavesdrop don’t like to toot our own horn, but sometimes we can’t help ourselves. So we have to point out the scene for the late July opening of Never Built Los Angeles, co-curated by our very own Sam Lubell. The event looked more like a Hollywood club opening than an exhibition opening, with a line that snaked around the corner and angry would-be partygoers trying to convince the bouncer (a.k.a. the fire marshal) to let them in. We especially love the description by AN contributor Guy Horton, here writing for KCRW’s blog: “The line of black clothing wrapped around the corner and kept going, reaching all the way down to a stretch of houses where local residents nervously peeked out to see what was going on. Cars were pulling all sorts of questionable maneuvers on Wilshire and adjacent streets as distracted, anxious architects hustled for parking. People were walking in from blocks away as if drawn from some invisible force. At any moment I was expecting police helicopters to appear overhead. That would have made my night complete.”

Pictorial> Amazon Domes 2.0 in Seattle by NBBJ

Pictorial, West
Thursday, October 3, 2013
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(Courtesy NBBJ)

(Courtesy NBBJ)

As AN reported in our latest West Coast issue, designs for the Amazon headquarters in downtown Seattle have gone through another revision since this past May. Though still channeling greenhouses and conservatories, renderings reveal an update to the three interconnected domes on Block 19 that architecture firm NBBJ has dubbed “conjoined Catalan spheres.” With a skin of white painted steel, the new design has moved beyond more traditional cross-hatching, and now nods to the pentagons of a soccer ball. But these forms are expanded and pushed to create an irregular pattern that exerts a more organic geometry. Read more about the project in AN‘s article or check out an expanded gallery of renderings below.

View a gallery of renderings after the jump.

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Friday> Join AN at the West Edge Design Fair in Santa Monica

West
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
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photo

Have you ever wondered why our buildings are not as digitally smart as our phones? Well that’s changing fast, and AN West Coast editor Sam Lubell will be moderating a panel on the topic this Friday at the West Edge Design Fair in Santa Monica. The panel is entitled “Embracing Technology: The Client Wants it, Are you Prepared?

It will include Santa Monica architect Peter Grueneisen, who has developed a speciality working for music companies and tech-savvy clients, as well as several technology experts from around the city. A major focus will be on home technologies, but the panel will also explore technology in the hospitality and commercial realms. We bet you didn’t realize how much work goes into making home tech systems seem simple and seamless? How much coordination must take place between tech experts and architects? How much security is becoming an issue? And how our homes will in fact quickly merge with, yes, our phones.

Monterey Design Conference Kicks Off This Weekend at Scenic Asilomar

West
Friday, September 27, 2013
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Asilomar is hosting the 2013 Monterey Design Conference in California. (William Menking / AN)

Asilomar is hosting the 2013 Monterey Design Conference in California. (William Menking / AN)

The California AIA’s biennial Monterey Design Conference is on the next two days—September 27th and 28th—at Asilomar, the glorious Julia Morgan– and John Carl Warnecke–designed center on the Pacific Ocean in Pacific Grove. The conference will feature lectures by Thom Mayne, Marlon Blackwell, Thomas Phifer, Kengo Kuma, and AN board member Odile Decq.

But first up this morning was Greg Otto from Buro Happold who presented various Happold projects that were created using a multi-disciplinary approach and discussed design and legal issues around responsibility and how these “stress traditional design assumptions.” Otto also discussed his ongoing New York projects with Jeff Koons who wants to make large steel structures look “like marshmallows.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Who Needs an Oscar? California Senator Boxer Named National Asphalt Legislator of the Year

Eavesdroplet, West
Thursday, September 26, 2013
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Senator Barbara Boxer. (Street photo by Isma Monfort Vialcanet / Montage by AN)

Senator Barbara Boxer. (Street photo by Isma Monfort Vialcanet/Flickr; Montage by AN)

California Senator Barbara Boxer has won many accolades over the years, to be sure. But none has been quite like the honor she was bestowed this month: National Asphalt Legislator of the Year, according to the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA). The group said it was particularly impressed with her role in the passage of MAP-21, the $105 billion 2012 Surface Transportation Funding Bill. NAPA Board of Directors Chairman John Keating pointed to Boxer’s ignoring of “naysayers who said a bill would never pass.”

To be fair the bill provided for billions in mass transit funding, but nonetheless Boxer has helped the state refurbish hundreds of miles of roads, and even build quite a few new ones. Not exactly a claim to fame in our transit-friendly design world. Ahem, don’t tell Elon Musk.

Name Changers: Los Angeles Architects Get New Identities

West
Thursday, September 26, 2013
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why design's new home page. (Courtesy why design)

why design’s new home page. (Courtesy why design)

What’s in a name? It seems that every time we get used to an architect’s name they go ahead and change it. We’re still confused by the name Ennead Architects (formerly Polshek Partnership), and we can’t get our heads around monikers like Rogers Stirk Harbour (formerly Richard Rogers Partnership) and Populous (formerly HOK Sport). Not to mention the headaches when firms like AECOM swallow the likes of Ellerbe Becket and EDAW.

The latest on the new name train are some of LA’s brightest firms. Daly Genik Architects is now Kevin Daly Architects. And wHY Architecture is now why design. The former came as a result of shuffled leadership—partners Kevin Daly and Chris Genik parted ways amicably. The latter is a branding change to broaden the firm’s scope beyond architecture. Both have completely new web sites. And both, no doubt, will puzzle us all until we finally come to terms with the inevitability of change.

California Governor Mulling Bill Helping Architects Keep Control of Their Plans

West
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
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California Governor Jerry Brown (James Joyner)

California Governor Jerry Brown. (James Joyner)

AB 630, a bill that ensures that no one can use an architect’s “instruments of service” (i.e. plans, drawings, schematics) without his or her written permission, recently passed the California legislature without a single no vote. The bill passed the Assembly 78-0 and the State Senate 37-0. But now architects are getting nervous, since governor Jerry Brown has not decided whether he will sign it.

Continue reading after the jump.

LA’s Natural History Museum Addition Not For The Birds

West
Monday, September 23, 2013
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Natural History Museum's Otis Booth Pavilion (Art Gray)

Natural History Museum’s Otis Booth Pavilion (Art Gray)

While it’s received a warm reception, not everyone is excited about the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s new Otis Booth Pavilion.  The problem with the 67-foot-tall glass cube, said geographer Travis Longcore, is that it presents a fatal obstacle to the birds that the museum’s new gardens are meant to attract. As Longcore, who is an associate professor at USC as well as science director of The Urban Wildlands Group, explains, birds don’t understand architecture the way humans do. We avoid glass by attending to architectural cues, including doorways and lintels. Birds mistake glass for open air or the habitat it reflects, and often try to fly through it.

Continue reading after the jump.

LACMA Controversy Stirs Up Memories of LA’s Past Environmental Disasters

West
Friday, September 20, 2013
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lacma_zumthor_01

Zumthor’s design could disrupt the La Brea Tar Pits (Museum Associates)

Peter Zumthor’s design for a new central building at LACMA has some experts concerned with its environmental effects. Critics including John Harris, chief curator of the National History Museum’s Page Museum, worry that the project could disrupt the La Brea tar pits, the same ecological features that inspired the building’s blob-like shape. At a meeting last month the county Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to request a presentation from the Page Museum fleshing out the curator’s concerns. That presentation has not yet been scheduled, according to the Page Museum’s press office.

Continue reading after the jump.

Renovation Team Announced for Philip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral in Anaheim

Newsletter, West
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
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Philip Johnson's Crystal Cathedral (left), Richard Neutra's Tower of Hope (center), and Richard Meier's Center for Possibility Thinking (right). (Diocese of Orange)

Philip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral (left), Richard Neutra’s Tower of Hope (center), and Richard Meier’s Center for Possibility Thinking (right). (Courtesy Diocese of Orange)

Anaheim’s Crystal Cathedral, designed by Philip Johnson in 1980, and containing more than 10,000 panes of mirrored glass, is one of Orange County’s rare architectural treasures. Today the Roman Catholic Diocese, which purchased the church last year, announced that Johnson Fain and Rios Clementi Hale will be leading its $29 million renovation. The exterior of the building will be essentially unchanged outside of cleaning and replacing damaged glass, but the interior will be heavily remodeled to upgrade access, sight lines, finishes, and environmental comfort. The renovation will also add significant new elements to adapt to the church’s new Catholic focus (it had once been an evangelical church), including a new altar, a baptismal font, and new cathedral doors. “It’s an open palette inside,” said Diocese spokesperson Ryan Lilyengren, who likened the iconic exterior to a shell.

Continue reading after the jump.

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