Installation of the first community rooftop garden in the United States—UpGarden—is almost complete. Located in the shadow of Seattle’s Space Needle, the project will convert close to 30,000 square feet on the top of the Mercer parking garage into an organic, edible, herb and flower garden with 100 plots for lower Queen Anne neighborhood residents. Landscape architecture firm Kistler Higbee Cahoot is leading the design, organizing community workshops and construction of the garden with a volunteer crew.
Angelenos might soon see a “silvery orb” roving around their neighborhood. Don’t worry, it’s not an alien visitation, it is radio station KCRW’s newest portable sound booth for Sonic Trace, a new media and radio series project that charts the Mexican and Central American immigrant experience in Los Angeles. After a few weeks of deliberation, KCRW chose California-based Mat-ter Design+ Build Studio’s La Burbuja as the winning entry. Translated as “the bubble,” the design is a highly reflective orb that encloses its subjects in “a non-space that is elegant but not intrusive,” said Hugo Martinez, who co-founded the studio with Christin To.
Artists X Architects
1023 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice
Through July 31
As technology progresses and information expands, the line between art and architecture blurs. LA journalist Tibby Rothman knew this well when she put together the new exhibition Artists X Architects, presented by arts group V-SCAPE at Joe’s Restaurant in Venice. The event paired 11 local architects with 11 local artists. The conceit was simple: the designers met and selected existing work that revealed the similarities in their approaches. The result is more powerful than you might think, exposing two professions that have a lot to learn from each other. Some similarities are uncanny, revealing the fields’ parallels in research, material, form, and feeling. Kulapat Yantrasast’s building blocks for a bridge over the LA River, embedded with debris (including scrunched underwear), evoke the raw loneliness of Laddie John Dill’s excavated carvings out of textured stone. A resin-coated block of soda cans made for a Santa Monica housing project by architect Lawrence Scarpa was accompanied by a woven artwork (above) of soda cans by Alexis Smith. Smith’s artwork looks like mosaic tile while the block looks like a piece of sculpture. The three-dimensional sketches of architect Duane Oyler look like art while the precise graphite sketches of a cut diamond by artist Jennifer Wolf look like architecture. Pieces of Mark Mack’s sketches appear to be extracted from the colorful, amorphous art of Huguette Caland.
Downturn? What downturn? It looks like Downtown Los Angeles will get its first mixed-use development in some time when construction begins on the Eighth and Grand project on the south edge of downtown. Developer Sonny Astani recently sold the land to limited liability corporation CPIVG8, who the LA Times says will probably start work “in the next couple months.” The $300 million building is set to have 700 residential units, a rooftop pool, 36,000 square feet of retail and nearly an acre of open space (and perhaps too many parking spaces: 737). Renderings show a wavy glass, steel and concrete facade, but that design appears to still be schematic. In fact no architect has been mentioned in any story on the project and calls to the developer about an architect have not been returned. We’ll keep you posted when a design and an architect are confirmed.
For months rumors have swirled that developer Madison Square Garden Co. (MSG) would buy the midcentury modern LA Forum arena in Inglewood, former home of the LA Lakers and LA Kings. (Its architect, Charles Luckman, also designed Madison Square Garden.) That deal is now official, according to Crain’s New York, who said the company just paid $23 million for the property. MSG will begin a “comprehensive renovation” of the arena later this year, and details of that job will be released this fall. The company is currently working on an $850 million renovation of Madison Square Garden, itself a taxing job that is set to be done by next year.
While the Bullitt Center was the first built project to follow the rigorous sustainable guidelines of Seattle’s “Eco-District,” a second “living building” is coming to the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, and will incorporate commercial space in addition to offices. Clocking in with a total of 120,000 square feet, the building will include a new headquarters for Brooks Sports.
Dubbed Stone34, the building will be right off the the Burke-Gilman Trail, the 27-mile rail-to-trail walking and biking path that snakes through northern portions of Seattle. LMN Architects is helming the design of the five-story building that will recycle most of its water and includes a fresh air ventilation system, natural lighting, and thermal energy storage. Pushing sustainability even further, visitors, customers, and staff will be able to eat the lanscaping: greening by Swift Company will include edible plants.
Completion is expected fall of 2013.
AN‘s first-ever studio tour at our new West Coast digs in the American Cement Building was a rousing success, with hordes of visitors streaming through the concrete-veiled structure’s eight architecture offices, including DRDS, Kelly Architects, Platform For Architecture + Research, Stayner Architects, Studio Bonner, Synthesis Design + Architecture, WROAD, and VA Design. In addition to beautiful displays of work (and beautiful views of the city) architects also rolled out a taco truck and multiple DJs.
“We’ve always been interested in the tools used in architecture and have always tried to be critical of these tools,” stated the partners of Aranda/Lasch after being named finalists in MoMA PS 1′s Young Architect Program (YAP) in 2005. “At a certain point we began making our own computational tools and realized that we could make structures that organize space and put forth a way to practice architecture.” Fast forward seven years, and Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch continue to pioneer new forms through innovative scripting.
On July 27, Chris Lasch will lead Scripted Facades, a special workshop that is part of AN‘s upcoming conference Collaboration: the Art and Science of Building Facades, taking place July 26-27 in San Francisco.
Video rendering of the Bay Lights (courtesy TBL)
“What if the West Span [of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge] wasn’t a bridge and instead were a canvas?” asked Ben Davis, founder of creative agency Words Pictures Ideas and man behind the The Bay Lights (TBL) some time ago. That question soon became the foundation for San Francisco’s latest high-tech public art project that’s got even Silicon Valley abuzz. With the support of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and major Silicon Valley bigwigs, TBL is planning to put up an ethereal light show 1.5 miles wide and 230 feet high covering the west span of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge.
Yesterday will be remembered as a historic day for Los Angeles planning wonks. First, city council approved the Hollywood Community Plan, which, among other things, paves the way for increased density near transit, more mixed-use development, and more integrated transit plans in the ever-improving entertainment center of LA. Right afterward, we learned from Curbed LA that the council also approved the Comprehensive Zoning Code Revision Ordinance, which will help the city—through a new trust fund—overhaul its zoning code for the first time since 1946. According to LA City Planning, the new code, when completed, will “include clear and predictable language that will offer a wider variety of zoning options to more effectively implement the goals and objectives of the General Plan and accommodate the City’s future needs and development opportunities.” In other words, simpler, streamlined zoning tailored to individual neighborhoods and needs. Also in the mix, the new codes will include a dynamic, web-based zoning code, a layperson’s guide to zoning, and a unified downtown development code. Hallelujah!