The West Coast edition of AN’s 2012 Facades Conference, “The Art and Science of Building Facades,” held at the UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center on July 26 examined the state of the art in building envelope design. The common thread: collaboration. The first speaker, Phil Williams, VP of Webcor Builders, set the tone by emphasizing early team integration in developing innovative design. Dennis Sheldon, CTO of Gehry Technologies, spoke on how their software facilitates a deeper and more integrated collaborative process between architects, contractors, and fabricating teams.
Take a minute to imagine what you would do if you had to cram your life into 270 square feet. In a typical ranch-style home, 270 could be a master bedroom, or a small living room, or a one-car garage. Now how about 220 square feet? It might make a shed or a bedroom. Now imagine this 15 by 18 foot or 15 by 15 foot space as your home.
Though it might sound more like another Ikea advertisement, two high-rent cities—New York and San Francisco—have been playing with the concept of permitting very small “micro-apartments” to alleviate high rents. By creating smaller housing, the idea goes, prospective renters will have a less expensive option and the city will be able to increase the density of residential units without increasing building size, always a contested point in neighborhood planning.
On Friday we revealed Francois Perrin’s precariously-situated house, a sleek stack of glass boxes embedded into the Hollywood Hills on a concrete base. Terrain aside, the project is stunning for its views of the city, for its glassy connection between indoor and outdoor space, and for its minimal lines. Perhaps even more amazing, though, is how the house was built in the first place, requiring crews to literally move mountains and dangle from cables off the side of a ravine. To reveal the process beneath the building, AN compiled a slideshow of the work in action.
New federal solar incentives should be bringing a lot more solar energy to the west. Unveiled yesterday, the government’s strategy calls for solar projects on 285,000 acres of federal land in six western states, and the opening of 19 million acres of California’s Mojave Desert for power plants that could generate up to 24,000 megawatts by 2030.
The 17 “solar zones” were chosen because they avoided major environmental, cultural, or other conflicts, a move that has been praised by several environmental groups. Incentives include lower land lease payments and reduced bond costs, and the plan is expected to be finalized in about a month. “It’s hard to overstate what a significant milestone this is for our administration,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the LA Times.
If all goes well, Venice Beach’s latest attraction could be you, screaming in delight across a 600-foot long zipline. In consideration since May, a proposal to build a temporary zipline by the beach has been slowly making its way through the public process.
As proposed, the zipline would be in place for a three-month trial period. Operated by Canada-based Greenheart Conservation Company, the zipline could potentially generate revenue for the city. Part of the profits would go toward improving maintenance in public restrooms and trash clean up along the boardwalk.
One of the biggest casualties since the death of California Redevelopment has been the Orange County Great Park. The 1,360-acre expanse on the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station near Irvine has seen more than $1 billion in funds redirected to other state priorities, putting its future in severe jeopardy.
One (very) partial solution just emerged, according to the LA Times: developer Fivepoint Communities would more than double the number of residences surrounding the park in exchange for chipping in $200 million to the city of Irvine to aid with park construction.
Of course that’s just a small fraction of what’s needed, leaving many wondering if the park, which is not even one-tenth complete, will ever be finished. But City Council member Larry Agran disagrees: “The fact of the matter is, the Great Park will be built. It may take longer than 20, 25 years, maybe 30 or 40 years. We’re making progress, and major construction is underway right now at the Great Park.”
We learn from our friends at Curbed that Los Angeles’ Sixth Street Viaduct Competition, replacing one of the most famous—and fragile—landmarks in LA, has a shortlist. The 3,500-foot-long, art deco span was recently deemed beyond repair, and the winner will build a $401 million, cable-stayed bridge in its place. The teams, all present at an LA Bureau of Engineering meeting last night, are AECOM, ARUP, HNTB, Parsons, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and SOM. Three of those teams will present their plans in September, with a winner chosen in October.
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.