Remember the nursery rhyme?
Jack Sprat could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean
And so betwixt them both, you see
They licked the platter clean.
The last two houses on this first day of the AIA SF’s Home Tours were rather like Jack Sprat and his wife. In Glen Park, the Roanoke St. house was a skinny 12 1/2 feet wide. Not too far away, the Bosworth St. house was only 42 feet deep. Each was an inspiring example of how to get out of a tight squeeze. And on this rainy day, where fall seemed to have arrived overnight, modern architecture’s ability to grab whatever sunlight there was to be had was particularly welcome.
“I hadn’t even heard about it,” Ray Kappe told us when we called him to find out about an item in Curbed the other day noting that the Santa Monica City Council had overturned a ruling by the Landmarks Commission that would have designated SCI-Arc’s original home as a historical icon worthy of preservation. Kappe, who founded the school in 1972 at a 1950s industrial building at 3030-3060 Nebraska Avenue [map], actually sided with the council in its decision, calling the building “messed up completely.” He said it used to sport “a pretty good 30s modern look. It had good character, but now it’s got dumb character.” That’s because at one point the landlord replaced the ribbon windows with generics, among other changes. Read More
When Boston’s Emerson College chose to open a satellite “campus” for students studying and interning in LA (it’s really just one building), the school would have been hard pressed to find a more suitable architect than Thom Mayne. After all, Morphosis has had a string of academic successes of late, including the new 41 Cooper Square in New York and the Cahill Center for Astronomy at Caltech. Indeed, some of the firm’s earliest successes were two high schools in Southern California. Now, Curbed alerts us to this latest project, complete with the above rendering. The details are kind of sketchy, though we do know there will be 224 residences in that La Defense-like box with classrooms in the inner blob, which is, like, so Thom Mayne.
Architecture for Humanity just announced the winner for the 2009 Open Architecture Challenge: Classroom. The global competition involved 1,000 registered design teams from 65 different countries. The challenge for the architecture, design, and engineering community was simple–partner with actual students and their schools to create real solutions for a classroom of the future. The winner, Teton Valley Community School in Victor, Idaho, was designed by local firm Section Eight. The concept is centered around the idea of place-based education in the school, a mode of learning that gives more importance to cultural and environmental sustainability than technology and consumerism. Read More
Among other scary lessons, the latest L.A. fire reminds us why it’s important to stick to a small footprint. As of this writing, the Station Fire in Los Angeles County has destroyed 64 homes, three commercial buildings, and 27 outbuildings, and has burned through at least 145,000 acres of land. In the midst of the blaze stands the historical Mt. Wilson Observatory, which was in danger from the nearby flames, but now appears to be safe. Read More
Sixty-eight degrees happens to be the best angle for the streets in San Francisco’s Treasure Island project, a utopian vision of green, pedestrian-centric living. The planners have realized that nobody will walk if they’re buffeted by blasts of wind that sweep the island from the southwest, so they came up with a compromise that blocks wind while giving cars enough clearance to turn.
It was just one of the interesting factoids that came up during yesterday’s tour, organized by the AIA SF for their Architecture + the City Festival, going on right now (still time to catch one of the other tours and get in on the learning and schmoozing!). Read More
While the recession has put a damper on development along San Francisco’s Octavia Boulevard, the mayor’s office has reached out to Douglas Burnham of Envelope A+D to come up with something cool to temporarily fill the two vacant lots that front Hayes Green at the intersection of Octavia and Fell.
Burnham’s plan sounds like a lot of fun. He plans to transform the space into a mini-shopping, dining, and entertainment destination called PROXY–using a series of modular units that will be recyclable in two or three years when things ratchet up again. The vision includes a group of pop-up stores, a food court served by “slow food” carts, an art gallery, and a courtyard for projecting outdoor movies. Design-wise, the spaces will make their transient nature apparent, revealing their infrastructure (e.g., wiring, water storage) and their modular assembly.
AN contributor Christina Chan sends this wee report from Irvine:
Pretend City is populated entirely by kids–this mini replica of a city is Irvine’s newest children’s museum. The 28,000-square-foot facility, which just opened its doors to visitors, has taken over a decade to come to fruition. Philanthropists Alexandra Airth and Sandra Peffer are behind the new mini-metropolis. The museum includes interactive learning exhibits geared for kids up to eight years of age.The city includes a farm where little ones can learn about the food they consume, a ATM for financial learning, a café with mock ovens and menus, and a beach that will teach about the effects of pollution. And for budding architects, there is even a construction site where kids (and perhaps grown-ups, too) can build structures with wooden planks.
Just a reminder that everyone has until Tuesday, September 1, to make their submissions to the Redesign Your Farmers Market competition launched earlier this month by us, GOOD, The Urban & Enviromental Policy Institute at Occidental College, and the LA Good Food Network. They’ve updated the submission guidelines, so be sure to check ‘em out, as well as three proposals that have already gotten the thumbs up.
He may have lost Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and Grand Avenue in Downtown LA, but at least Frank Gehry won’t have to forfeit half the proceeds from his jewelry line designed for Tiffany & Co. Yesterday, a judge threw out a case from Culver City-based Circa charging it was owed a fee for a 2003 agreement it struck with the Santa Monica designer for half the profits from any jewelry deal, though it was apparently rescinded a year later, though the two sides differ on this point. Gehry later entered into a direct deal with Tiffany, excluding Circa and its proprietors, Fred and Anthony Nicholas, though people at the company claim to have introduced the architect to New York jeweler. “I couldn’t understand why he wanted so much money for doing nothing,” Gehry told NBC LA outside the courthouse following LA Superior Court judge Jane Johnson’s decision not to hear the case. Maybe this explains the tagline for Gehry’s Tiffany line: “Beauty Without Rules.”
TV program developer William Wiegman is looking for a sexy architect (yes, that does exist) to host a new reality show he’s pitching that “takes viewers on an exploration of the world’s most famous rooftops.” Details on the show are still vague (the producers don’t want anyone stealing their ideas…), but according Wiegman, the “architect must be photogenic, male, 30-45, adventurous, and have an engaging personality on-camera. He must possess the physical agility of a rock climber and the intellectual prowess of an architectural historian.” Good idea, because this architect needs to be filmed standing on building roofs, among other things. Send resume and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline for submissions is September 20.
After a recent visit we saw that Las Vegas’ 18 million square-foot City Center project, with buildings by Daniel Libeskind, Norman Foster, Cesar Pelli, Helmut Jahn, Rafael Vinoly, and KPF, among others, is well underway. In fact despite delays (remedied by foreign investors), the project’s web site still claims it will be done by this year. We also noticed that Libeskind’s new building is sporting a conspicuous Louis Vuitton logo. Only in Vegas.