San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has seen some success in his time in office. But one element still remains a thorn in his side: MUNI, the city’s transit agency. In his State of the City address the other day (watch full speech below) Lee vowed to improve the notoriously late and overcrowded system, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. “We need to modernize our system…to better match up with 21st century patterns of where people live, work, and shop,” said Lee.
A few remedies that Lee has suggested: the formation of a task force to help develop a plan for modernizing the system and dealing with the city’s growing population; expansion of BART, the Bay Area’s regional transit system; new work rule reforms; and a bevy of new technologies. “Truly great cities have great transportation systems—Paris, New York, London, Tokyo,” Lee said. “I say San Francisco is pretty great, too, and deserves one as well.” The city is in fact adding a new transit line, the downtown T-Central, to help alleviate congestion problems. It’s slated to open in 2019. Check out images of the city’s upcoming line below.
Starting Wednesday, January 30, LA’s MAK Center and arts promoter ForYourArt will begin hosting Dialogues: Art/Architecture, Paris/Los Angeles, a series of events bringing together architects and artists from those two cities. Events include four discussions at the Schindler House in West Hollywood, an exhibition of drawings and models at ForYourArt in Miracle Mile, and the launch of a publication compiling participants’ work and discussion.
We’ve known for some time that SOM will be designing the new US Courthouse in Downtown Los Angeles. We’ve even gotten some glimpses of their scheme. But the firm has just unveiled new images of the project, filling out the picture of this new landmark for the city on the corner of 1st Street and Broadway.
The familiar image of a cube-like, 550,000-square-foot structure in the middle of the city is now accompanied by a closer view of a folded glass façade imbedded with a United States seal. The building, which floats above a central core, appears to cantilever outward on all sides, with ramps and a small park leading the way to the entry. Inside we get a peek at a large central atrium rising several stories, and walls made of some kind of blond stone. Exposed central stairs appear to make climbing upward a public process. SOM is still unable to comment on their scheme, but we’ll let you know when that changes.
If you have ever seen the film To Live and Die in L.A. then you know the Gerald Desmond Bridge. It has a starring role in the opening sequence, when Treasury agent Richard Chance (played by William Peterson) bungee jumps off of it. You probably haven’t bungeed off it yourself, but If you’ve ever driven across it, you might get why it needs replacing. The original bridge, according to the project website, “is nearing the end of its intended lifespan.” In fact, the old bridge, while considered safe, is a little scary. Netting has been suspended beneath it to catch pieces of falling concrete. Additionally, its approaches are too steep, it’s too narrow, and perhaps most importantly, the newest container ships can’t fit under it.
Los Angeles-based Synthesis Design & Architecture (SDA) in association with Shenzhen General Institute of Architectural Design and Research have won an invited competition to design the 1.9 million-square-foot, mixed-use Shanghai Wuzhou International Plaza in Shanghai.
Their slick “Urban Canyon” concept summons images of a magnificent gorge cutting through the city with its two nested cliff-like structures that have been carved from the landscape by staggered, pebble-looking buildings. The facades’ and roofs’ grooved titanium-zinc cladding adds to the metaphor while mimicking the energy and vibrancy of the city.
Divided into two blocks, the northern area houses luxury retail shops and developer Hong Kong Wuzhou International Group’s corporate offices. The southern section is a retail, lifestyle and entertainment complex anchored by two office towers. Sky bridges connect the buildings and outside, plazas, landscaping, seating areas, and dynamic lighting are integrated. Practical details are still being finalized.
We’ve always known that Rem Koolhaas has a special relationship with textiles and those who make them. But watch out Petra Blaisse, someone else may be hoping to knit his way into Rem’s heart. According to the blog Knitting Daily, artist Jared Flood has created the wool “Koolhaas Hat,” a toboggan whose diamond-shaped pattern is inspired by the facade of OMA’s Seattle Public Library. We hope Flood will send a sample directly to Rotterdam. Watching a recent video of Rem accepting the annual Charles Jencks Award at RIBA in London, the formidable noggin looked particularly windswept.
Some recent tweeting by Paul Goldberger revealed that the Vanity Fair contributing editor had set sail off the coast of L.A. with architects/ seamen Frank Gehry and Greg Lynn. Broadcasting from FOGGY, Gehry’s Beneteau First 44.7 fiberglass sailboat, Goldberger sent out a rakish pic of Gehry at the wheel. (The name “FOGGY,” in case you couldn’t guess, it based on F.O.G., the maestro’s initials; the “O” stands for “Owen”). We hope to hear more about the voyage in an upcoming VF article and that the story involves pirates and lost treasure.
Well, it happened. After years of strife over the project, the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved the $2 billion, 1.5 million square foot redevelopment of the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. Back in 2009 the developer, Next Century Associates, threatened to tear down Minoru Yamasaki’s curving midcentury Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel to make way for the project. But a parade of preservationists, including the LA Conservancy and Diane Keaton, stood in their way. The result: a compromise in which the hotel would be preserved by Marmol Radziner and surrounded by two three-sided, 46-story residential towers by Pei Cobb Freed as well as a 100,000-square-foot retail plaza and over two acres of public open space by Rios Clementi Hale. The executive architect is Gensler. City Council certified the scheme’s Environmental Impact Report and approved a 15-year development agreement. Let the construction begin on another major Los Angeles development. Momentum is building.
In front of a packed room inside the Capitol Records building in Hollywood yesterday, the Getty announced details of the next installment of Pacific Standard Time, the popular series of art and architecture exhibitions that helped reframe Los Angeles’ position on the map of worldwide arts and culture. Sporting a new moniker, Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. will be smaller in scope than the previous iteration, with eleven exhibitions and accompanying programs in and around Los Angeles scheduled for April through July 2013.
While Los Angeles is getting most of the attention in California for its rapidly expanding light rail system, it appears that Sacramento is well on its way to a major overhaul of its own. Earlier this month the US Department of Transporation announced $135 million in federal matching money for the Sacramento Regional Transit District’s light rail system. Much of that will go toward the 4.3 mile Blue Line extension linking downtown Sacramento with the city’s emerging South County corridor. To see a list of current Federal Transit Administration projects go here. And for a look at all the emerging rail lines on the west coast take another look at AN‘s feature documenting rail expansion from San Diego up to Seattle.