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

Trade Show Wandering

West
Monday, June 28, 2010
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The poker table at Har-Bro's booth. The company specializes in property damage restoration.

After having rolled through the AIA Convention in Miami and Dwell on Design in Los Angeles, we just can’t get enough of the weirdness of American trade shows. Finally we’ve found a show that tops them all: The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Conference in Long Beach. The convention, which runs through tomorrow, is a delight for those looking to find those unsexy items that really make buildings run and last, like security systems, anti-mold measures, insurance, parking systems, janitorial services, outdoor lighting, and so on. And the exhibitors have outdone themselves with creative ways to get people to look at things that at first blush might not be too enticing. Start with the prospect of ipods, iphones, ipads, and flip video cameras, and move into interactive fare like a candy booth, a poker table, monogrammed golf balls, several golf putting greens, fresh-baked cookies, a wii station, a dart board, a wheel of fortune, and a good old fashioned raffle, to name just a few. Read More

SFMOMA Architects: Meet the Public

West
Friday, June 25, 2010
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On Wednesday, SFMOMA held a press preview of its new exhibit, “Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection,” which takes up the top two floors and features whole entire rooms of Calders, Ellsworth Kellys, Chuck Closes, Agnes Martins—a smorgasboard of modern masters, each a few steps from the next. Downstairs in the main lobby, however, there was the opportunity to get to know a different group of artists—the four candidates that are up for the job of designing the SFMOMA’s new extension. Read More

Swooping Into the Newest LACMA Wing

West
Monday, June 21, 2010
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LACMA’s new Resnick Pavilion by Renzo Piano doesn’t open until October, but the museum has given visitors a few chances to look inside. The results, which we took advantage of last week, are impressive. The single story, open-plan space feels raw, exposed, and much more comfortable in its skin than its neighbor, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (also by Piano, by the way). Here are some of my snaps of the new building, which is fitted with an installation by Walter De Maria (called The 2000 Sculpture) made up of hundreds of repetitive plaster shapes that make up a mesmerizing grid, really bringing out the best in this new building. Read More

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