Creating Vernacular Modern in Rural China

West
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
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One of the Bay Area’s venerable firms, EHDD (founded in 1972 by Joseph Esherick, George Homsey, Peter Dodge and Chuck Davis, the last of which is still active in the office), joins the list of firms that have been working in China. However, its new project is not a speculative skyscraper in Shanghai or some other bigger-than-thou marquee building.  It is an architectural triumph of another sort: a much-needed rural school that incorporates modern methodologies for sustainable design. It also manages to evoke Chinese vernacular architecture in a modest, graceful way–an aesthetic coup that seems to be a rarity in modern China. Read More

LA Will Not Be the Same Without John Chase

West
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
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Lean On Me: John Chase (center) and friends

The accolades keep pouring in for former West Hollywood Urban Designer John Chase. Frances Anderton is busy writing the obituary for us (and her blog for KCRW’s Design and Architecture is full of Chase memories). Here’s a lovely tribute from Marissa Gluck and Josh Williams at Curbed LA. And one from AN contributor Alissa Walker. And below is a moving piece from AN contributor Tibby Rothman:

In Memory of John Chase, Formidable Friend, Daring Dresser, Urban Enthusiast

LA planner James Rojas just posted this: “LA has lost its greatest urban planner. John Chase has passed away.”

But John Leighton Chase was also a writer. And, he was better than the rest of us at it. I remember reading his stuff for the first time, and knowing very clearly that I’d never be that good. Read More

Another Sad Day For LA Architecture

West
Friday, August 13, 2010
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John Chase, at left, with Frances Anderton, Clive Wilkinson, and friend

We’re still reeling from the tragic death of Stephen Kanner, and now we have learned that two more of LA’s brightest lights, Elaine Jones and John Chase, have also died. Jones was A. Quincy Jones’ widow, and Chase was the urban designer for the City of West Hollywood. Both were valuable advocates for architecture and good friends. We’re still gathering information and will get it to you as soon as we can.

Thoughts From That Other Biennial, in California

West
Thursday, August 12, 2010
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The Eco Center at Heron's Head Park, Toby Long Design

The California Design Biennial includes a well thought out spectrum of designers from the practical to the extraordinary.  Held this year at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, the fourth running of the event (which continues through October 31) has five categories: Fashion Design, Transportation Design, Graphic Design, Product Design and, for the first time, Architecture. Bravo to each curator for making every category work together. Frances Anderton, host of KCRW’s DnA: Design and Architecture radio series, was curator for the Architecture category.  Her selections address the social and community roles of building, like the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.  The large public facility, completed in 2009 by Safdie Rabines Architects, is open to hikers needing respite. Read More

Michelle Kaufmann Goes Net Zero

West
Monday, August 9, 2010
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One of three new models from Michelle Kaufmann, the Ridge is designed to withstand cold climates and still meet net-zero energy goals.

Now that LEED is old-hat, architects are starting to talk about net-zero buildings: ones that produce as much energy that they consume. Prefab pioneer Michelle Kaufmann just announced three new prefab designs that are net-zero, offering them through a partnership with Bay Area company Studio 101 Designs. The models start at 422 square feet at a cost of $66,500 ($158 per square foot). Read More

Floating Creatures Descend on LA

West
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
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Back in April we took a sneak peak at CO Architects’ $107 million renovation of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s 1913 building. The project is finally done, and includes major seismic and structural upgrades, new exhibit installation, as well as the uncovering of original details like the ceramic-tiled exterior dome; an original stained glass skylight; and original marble walls. The museum re-opened a couple weeks ago, but only now released a whole batch of great pictures (courtesy of Tom Bonner). And they’re worth looking at. We especially appreciate the floating dinosaurs animals hung from the ceiling via carefully placed wires just below large skylights. Enjoy! Read More

Moss on the Market

West
Monday, July 26, 2010
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Cool and convivial: Moss' Lawson-Westen House was designed with warmth and friendship in mind. (Tom Bonner)

Deep-pocketed house-hunters on the prowl for an architectural icon this summer are in luck: The critically acclaimed Lawson-Westen House, designed by Los Angeles architect Eric Owen Moss, is on the market for the first time. The 5,100-square-foot Brentwood home remains the architect’s largest residential project and is an oft-cited example of the spatial subdivisions and geometric shifts that characterize much of LA’s modern architecture. Read More

LA Breaking Ground on New Front Lawn

West
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
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(courtesy Rios Clementi Hale)

A ceremonial groundbreaking for a $56 million downtown LA Civic Center park will be held on Thursday, July 15 at 9 a.m. Designed by Rios Clementi Hale, the 12-acre park is located between the LA County Music Center and City Hall and is set to be completed in 2012. Tomorrow’s festivities will include cooking demonstrations, yoga, music, art, storytelling and education on drought-tolerant plants–activities which demonstrate ways the park will be used by the community in two years. Read More

Police Architecture Out In Force At LA Awards

West
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
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AC Martin's Hollenbeck Police Station, one of six stations that picked up awards

The Los Angeles Business Council (LABC) last week hosted the 40th annual Los Angeles Architectural Awards. A local ten-person jury consisting of city officials, contractors and developers recognized 31 projects in 20 categories. The verdict: It appears the city’s design professionals value sustainability, re-tooling dilapidated or ill-used buildings, economic rejuvenation and buildings that spur community involvement. Perhaps the biggest winners were police stations, a major design priority in the city lately, producing open, airy facilities meant to interact with their communities and even become community hubs. Six stations won awards, with the grand prize of this year’s awards going to the LAPD Administration building and its amenities like a nearly one-acre public park, a 400-seat auditorium and a rooftop garden. Other winners included the Hollenbeck Station in Boyle Heights by AC Martin, and the Olympic Police Station by Gruen and Associates. Read More

Steven Kanner Dies At 54

West
Monday, July 5, 2010
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Unfortunately we have to share the tragic news that our good friend, the excellent architect Stephen Kanner, has passed away. Kanner, principal at Kanner Architects and founder of the A+D Museum, died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. We plan to publish an obituary shortly, but until then we thought we’d share this wonderful tribute by Frances Anderton. Kanner really left us too soon. We wish his family our most heartfelt condolences.

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Journey to the Center of the Bay Bridge

West
Thursday, July 1, 2010
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Access to the inside of the new Bay Bridge skyway is via catwalks suspended over the water.

Action-movie directors: Consider shooting your next film in the innards of one of the biggest projects going up in the Bay Area: the new, $6 billion eastern span of the Bay Bridge.  There’s the evident glamour of a self-anchored suspension bridge–the Calatrava-esque part with the tower and cables holding everything up, which is still yet to be built. But already in place is the 1.2-mile  “skyway” portion, and inside the concrete monolith are whole rooms, including an electrical substation, and a tunnel that runs the length of the skyway.  Only maintenance crews are typically allowed in this secret warren, but a media tour led by a Caltrans representative provided a close-up of some of its more unusual features. Read More

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Moving Past Dingbats

West
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
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Professional Winner: Microparcelization

The LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design just announced the winners of its Dingbat 2.0 competition, developing new designs to replace one of the most prevalent types of post-war LA apartment blocks. An exhibition of the winners went on display last Thursday, and will run through July 24 at LA Forum Events @ Woodbury Hollywood, 6518 Hollywood Boulevard. The winning professional scheme was “Microparcelization,” by the team of Carmen C. Cham, James Black, and Tyler Gross. The scheme replaces multi-family Dingbats with a new neighborhood made up of diverse, very small single family lots. The winning student team, from the Universidad Nacional del litoral in Argentina, transformed service streets into green spaces and deconstructed Dingbat boxes into diverse and original array of compositions. Incidentally, the third student prize went to Columbia University’s Ryan Lovett. We couldn’t help but notice that his entry, Substantiating Surface, looked exactly like his entry for the AN/SCI-ARC New Infrastructure competition last year (see bottom two pix after the jump). Hmm.. The idea—self sustaining communities within a tight urban grid—is strikingly similar as well. That’s not good.. Read More

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