California Photovoltaism

West
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
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A concept drawing of SCI-Arc/Caltech's CH:IP solar house, which will enter into the 2011 Solar Decathlon in Washington, DC..

A band of students from SCI-Arc and Caltech have been selected to compete in the DOE’s Solar Decathlon, to be held on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on October 2011. The team will go head to head with 20 other student groups from all over the world—including Canada, Belgium, China, and New Zeland—to determine once and for all, or at least for the next two years, who can build the most livable and sustainable sun-powered residence of 500 square feet or less. Read More

Spaceship, Sans Scaffolding

West
Monday, April 19, 2010
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The NY Times this weekend reported on the status of one of our favorite LA structures: LAX’s UFO-like Theme Building. It looks like the ugly scaffolding which has adorned the parabolic edifice for the past couple of years is finally  down, and the structural retrofit of the building (originally designed in 1961 by Paul Williams and Pereira & Luckman) is just about finished. The building underwent the procedure after a  1,000-pound chunk fell off one of the upper arches and landed on the roof of a restaurant. In addition to a sparkling new paint job, the Theme is now reinforced with a 1.2 million-pound tuned mass damper that sits on flexible bearings. The $12.3 million project was completed by Gin Wong Associates architects and Tower General Contractors. For those interested in unique LA experiences we recommend checking out the observation deck and the Encounter restaurant.

Brits Get Chummy in San Francisco

West
Monday, April 19, 2010
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RIBA launches chapter in San Francisco.

After the way Sir Norman Foster was ousted from a project  in San Francisco recently, we wondered whether there would be some mutterings at the kick-off party for the new chapter of the Royal Institute of British Architects (which is the sixth US chapter–there is also one in L.A.).   Read More

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The Coachella Crane

West
Thursday, April 15, 2010
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Courtesy Crimson Collective/ Michelle Cassel

Ever since Woodstock, music festivals have morphed into celebrations of eclectic hedonism and of course, all types of artistic expression. Indio, California’s Coachella, which starts tomorrow, is no exception.  In addition to three days of music, the festival offers dozens of art installations. This year the most prominent, right at the festival’s entrance, is called Ascension, The Crane. It’s just that: a giant white crane made of modular aluminum tubes and a mesh fabric called Textilene. It measures 45-feet-tall with a 150-foot wingspan, and the big bird’s multi-colored LED lighting is powered by two adjacent photovoltaic stations that also serve as benches and canopies. The 35,000 pound crane, which was put together on site (all of its components fit into a single shipping container), was designed by Crimson Collective,  a group of socially-oriented designers led by LA visionary Behn Samareh. The group works to “bridge the gap between art and architecture,” through interactive installations. Check out a fantastic video detailing the construction here. It should be noted that the crane is a symbol of grace, wisdom and peace. This explains why all origami seems to be crane-based, including, apparently, gargantuan origami. Read More

HOLLYWEIRD

West
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
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Hotel Hollywood (Courtesy LA Daily News)

So the iconic HOLLYWOOD sign was nearly turned into the backyard for a bunch of mansions, but fortunately the recession intervened—one of a surprising number of upsides to the downside, it seems. But that doesn’t mean those big white letters aren’t seeming a little tired, and so a Dutch designer has come up with a rather clever new use that Curbed tipped us off to: turn the sign into a giant hotel. As Christian Bay-Jorgensen explained it to the Daily News, “The ultimate goal would be to preserve an internationally recognized landmark while helping the city generate badly needed funding.” If that weren’t bad enough, our pal Alissa Walker points us to Jeffrey Inaba’s plan to uproot the individual letters, loaning them out to areas of town in need of cache. The design provocateur explains after the jump, plus images of both, uh, projects. Read More

Kill Beale

West
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
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Transbay Transit Center, rendering courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Turns out the vociferous opponents to a Beale Street station in San Francisco had it right. The California High Speed Rail Authority voted last week not to build an underground station at Beale Street to serve as the northern endpoint of the state’s future high-speed rail line. Instead, the bullet train will make its final stop in the Transbay Terminal that is already slated to be built in downtown San Francisco. Read More

Not So Fast

West
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
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SF's Planning Department holds up 555 Washington again, this time over over uncollected fees.

555 Washington, the proposed 38-story neighbor to SF’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid, has ridden a troubled road on its way though the city approval process. It seems that uneven path will continue. The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that the planning department recently put a hold on a vote on the project’s environmental impact statement, claiming that the developer still owes the city $102,000 in uncollected fees. Needless to say, the doodoo has hit the fan. Is the planning department trying to chisel the developer to fill its budget gap? Or was it simply incompetent in collecting the fees in the first place? Will the developer refuse to pay unless their project receives the green light? Or will it go along obediently while the city chases its tail? Stay tuned…

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Bedazzled Ws

West
Monday, April 12, 2010
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A couple of months ago we introduced you to the W Hotel in Hollywood, a collaboration of some of the leading design talent in LA. One of those firms, Sussman Prejza, just sent us a video that shows off their all-important fiery red and multi-colored “W” signs, seen throughout the building. In addition to the behemoth  35-foot-tall W on top of the hotel, the firm designed a slew of animated signs, which sparkle thanks to LED’s, red and/or crystalline filters, and faceted, laser-cut acrylic surfaces. The signs vary from 2.5 to 5.5 feet tall and are programmed with their own dedicated control computer, 10 network switches, 61 power supplies and over 24,000 LEDs. And you thought all that Hollywood sparkle was simple, didn’t you?

USC Says Fickett

West
Thursday, April 8, 2010
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A California home designed by Edward Fickett, circa 1966.

If you want to understand just how under-appreciated California architect Edward Fickett is just try finding a picture of any of his work online, and then compare that task with finding something by his contemporaries Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler. Fickett, who died in 1999 at the age of 83, was no slouch. To name a few of his accomplishments, he designed the passenger and cargo terminals at the Port of Los Angeles, Edward Air Force Base, Dodger Stadium, a bevy of hotels and restaurants, mansions for hollywood stars, and some 60,000 light and airy tract homes known as the “Fickett Houses.” Read More

Supporting Supportive Housing

West
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
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Lorcan O'Herlihy's supportive housing project with Skid Row, in downtown LA (Courtesy Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects)

Los Angeles’ Permanent Supportive Housing program got a much-needed emergency shot of funds this week: a $5.2 million pledge from the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) and Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

Though Los Angeles has more homeless people than any other city in the US, only in the last few years has it begun to catch up with other cities’ level of services. 2005 saw a city-wide push to build supportive housing, a model borrowed from New York that combines affordable housing with services to help residents deal with mental illness, drug abuse, and disabilities.

Top architecture firms helped fill out the new supportive housing landscape, with innovative projects such as Michael Maltzan’s 95-unit, radially-arranged New Carver Apartments, Pugh + Scarpa’s 46-unit Step Up on Fifth facility in Santa Monica, and Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects’ 82-unit Skid Row Housing in downtown Los Angeles.

Read More

LA Stars Are Born

West
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
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Emergent's proposed Garak Fish Market in Korea

Even though we already knew who had won ahead of time, we couldn’t help getting excited about  AIA/LA’s ARCH IS__ awards, crowning “two exceptional young architects” at SCI-Arc on Monday night. The winners: Oyler Wu Collaborative and Tom Wiscombe/ Emergent. Both are pushing the envelope in terms of design, materials, engineering, and program, and are even starting to (slowly) build things. Read More

TOD for Dummies

West
Friday, April 2, 2010
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Can LA truly embrace transit? (Courtesy CTOD)

Dear Angelenos: Would you like to save $10,000 this year? Move to a walkable neighborhood and leave your car at home. While this may be obvious—and unrealistic in many parts of our sprawling town—the Center for Transit Oriented Development (CTOD) is hoping to change the game with a new toolkit aimed at improving areas of Los Angeles in close proximity to transit stops. The CTOD, funded through a CalTrans grant and sponsored by Metro, has prepared evaluations of all 71 existing and proposed stations associated with heavy rail, light rail, and busways in the city. Utilizing the findings of those studies along with information gleaned from focus groups, the report offers strategies for expanding and creating new transit oriented districts around Los Angeles. Read More

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