Southern California-based HMC has announced its merger with Phoenix firm Substance Design Consortium. The move not only strengthens HMC’s presence in the southwest (the firm already has an office in Tempe), but it’s a homecoming for its CEO Randy Peterson, who started his career in Phoenix. The new Phoenix firm will be known as HMC+Substance Design. HMC has been busy lately gobbling up smaller firms. Earlier this year they merged with San Francisco firm Beverly Prior Architects, forming HMC+Beverly Prior Architects. At least HMC preserves some semblance of the merged firm’s previous identity with the resulting shared firm names, unlike AECOM which has erased the names of legendary firms like Ellerbe Becket, DMJM, and EDAW.
The city of St. Petersburg, Florida has chosen a blockbuster group made up of Michael Maltzan Architecture, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Design) and West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture as the three finalists to redesign its famous pier. Taking a leap of faith, in 2010 the city voted to demolish the current iteration, a 1970’s inverted pyramid structure and 1980’s “festival market” that St. Petersburg’s web site refers to as “the most visible landmark in the history of the city.” But the pier’s market has fallen on hard times and the city was ready to redefine both the pier itself and the city at large. As their proposals show, any one of these three architects will give St. Pete a sculptural design that will become a new landmark, to say the least. The winner will be chosen in late January.
Los Angeles firm tec Architecture and Dutch interior designer Marcel Wanders are partnering to create Kameha Bay Portals, a luxury resort and spa in Mallorca, Spain set to open early in 2013. Located on the island’s posh south coast, the building will take shape out of a nondescript 1960’s concrete building, but according to tec Architecture the 55,000 square foot project is more a reinvention than a renovation.
Everybody’s favorite ice cream sandwich comes from the Coolhaus ice cream truck, where you can stuff your face with cleverly-named creations like Mies Vanilla Roe and ponder how Rem Koolhaas’ name ever got made into a dessert brand. Now Coolhaus’ owners, architects Freya Estreller and Natasha Case, who are opening Coolhaus trucks across the country and have even helped design a dog treat truck, have set up a permanent store in Culver City. The storefront abstractly references their trucks, from corrugated rubber that wraps around the service area to a windshield/menu to chrome detailing throughout. If you’re really ambitious you can buy make-at-home Coolhaus kits including hand-packaged dough and pints of ice cream, but you probably won’t be able to wait that long.
With all the news coming out of Gensler lately we’ve officially declared November Gensler Month. The latest is the firm’s new offices inside the Jewel Box building in Downtown LA, a glassy former bank branch located between huge towers at City National Plaza.
Yesterday, Gensler unveiled its newest plans for Farmers Field, Downtown LA’s proposed football stadium, which, of course, is still awaiting a team to play in it (as are several other proposed stadiums in California). The biggest changes to the design involve the roof, which will now have large projecting wings (likely made of ETFE, said one Gensler architect). The roof will no longer be retractable, but “deployable,” meaning the roof can be taken off, but not instantaneously, which will bring the structure’s cost down significantly, Gensler pointed out. The new roof design, which will open up views to the city, was likened to “shoulder pads” by Curbed LA, perhaps a fitting design for a football stadium?
So that the stadium doesn’t dwarf the rest of the adjacent LA Live, it will be partially sunken into the ground, noted Curbed. Meanwhile two levels of stadium meeting and suite space will connect directly to the new convention center that developer AEG is also planning for the site. AEG hopes to have the stadium ready by the 2016 football season.
You may have heard that the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is being replaced. (Technically the west span is being retrofitted and the east span is being replaced.) But the $6.3 billion project, which has been underway since 2002, has hit a snag: We learn via the Sacramento Bee that the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has fired two employees after a Bee investigation showed that the technician responsible for testing the new bridge foundation’s structural integrity falsified and fabricated test results on other projects. The two fired were: Duane Wiles,who tested foundations for bridges and other freeway structures and Brian Liebich, who supervised Wiles as chief of the agency’s Foundation Testing Branch. The Bee‘s investigation examined about 50,000 internal Caltrans reports and test data documents and reported that Caltrans officials knew about the problems for years, but never conducted a serious investigation. Oops. The new bridge is expected to open to the public by 2013. Hopefully.
Just when we were getting used to Behnisch Architekten having an office in Venice we learn that leader Christof Jantzen is leaving and the office is closing. Stuttgart-based Behnisch opened the outpost back in 1999 and the location has worked on projects ranging from a lab at Yale, student housing at UC Berkeley, and an upcoming parking garage in Santa Monica. Now Behnisch’s only U.S. office is in Boston.
“It’s an evolution,” described Jantzen. “We had a successful story together.”
Here comes the good news: Jantzen is starting his own firm, Christof Jantzen Architecture, just down the street, and he hopes to take some of Behnisch’s eight Los Angeles employees with him. Jantzen described the venture as on the “smaller scale” to begin but noted, “we’ll see how it develops.” The web site isn’t yet live, but it will be www.cjantzen.com.
Noting the rivalry between his new home, Los Angeles, and New York while visiting the Big Apple last week, Conan O’Brien launched a new segment , the Fight to the Death Building Battle to settle the cities’ differences once and for all. Curbed spotted these epic architectural fights posted online at Team Coco’s blog, and we couldn’t help but share on this Friday afternoon, 11/11/11. While in New York, Conan pitted the Empire State Building (“weighing in at 365,000 tons of limestone”) against LA’s Scientology Book Store (“the best building they could come up with.”) Of course, the Empire State soundly won. Back in LA, he revoked his New York show as “playing to the New York crowd,” and held another match between the Empire and a trio of LA buildings: the Capitol Records Building, a Lady Foot Locker from a Venice Boulevard strip mall, and later Randy’s Donuts. Remember, whatever side you choose, as Conan pointed out, “You’re booing a building.”