The California AIA’s biennial Monterey Design Conference is on the next two days—September 27th and 28th—at Asilomar, the glorious Julia Morgan– and John Carl Warnecke–designed center on the Pacific Ocean in Pacific Grove. The conference will feature lectures by Thom Mayne, Marlon Blackwell, Thomas Phifer, Kengo Kuma, and AN board member Odile Decq.
But first up this morning was Greg Otto from Buro Happold who presented various Happold projects that were created using a multi-disciplinary approach and discussed design and legal issues around responsibility and how these “stress traditional design assumptions.” Otto also discussed his ongoing New York projects with Jeff Koons who wants to make large steel structures look “like marshmallows.”
California Senator Barbara Boxer has won many accolades over the years, to be sure. But none has been quite like the honor she was bestowed this month: National Asphalt Legislator of the Year, according to the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA). The group said it was particularly impressed with her role in the passage of MAP-21, the $105 billion 2012 Surface Transportation Funding Bill. NAPA Board of Directors Chairman John Keating pointed to Boxer’s ignoring of “naysayers who said a bill would never pass.”
To be fair the bill provided for billions in mass transit funding, but nonetheless Boxer has helped the state refurbish hundreds of miles of roads, and even build quite a few new ones. Not exactly a claim to fame in our transit-friendly design world. Ahem, don’t tell Elon Musk.
What’s in a name? It seems that every time we get used to an architect’s name they go ahead and change it. We’re still confused by the name Ennead Architects (formerly Polshek Partnership), and we can’t get our heads around monikers like Rogers Stirk Harbour (formerly Richard Rogers Partnership) and Populous (formerly HOK Sport). Not to mention the headaches when firms like AECOM swallow the likes of Ellerbe Becket and EDAW.
The latest on the new name train are some of LA’s brightest firms. Daly Genik Architects is now Kevin Daly Architects. And wHY Architecture is now why design. The former came as a result of shuffled leadership—partners Kevin Daly and Chris Genik parted ways amicably. The latter is a branding change to broaden the firm’s scope beyond architecture. Both have completely new web sites. And both, no doubt, will puzzle us all until we finally come to terms with the inevitability of change.
AB 630, a bill that ensures that no one can use an architect’s “instruments of service” (i.e. plans, drawings, schematics) without his or her written permission, recently passed the California legislature without a single no vote. The bill passed the Assembly 78-0 and the State Senate 37-0. But now architects are getting nervous, since governor Jerry Brown has not decided whether he will sign it.
While it’s received a warm reception, not everyone is excited about the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s new Otis Booth Pavilion. The problem with the 67-foot-tall glass cube, said geographer Travis Longcore, is that it presents a fatal obstacle to the birds that the museum’s new gardens are meant to attract. As Longcore, who is an associate professor at USC as well as science director of The Urban Wildlands Group, explains, birds don’t understand architecture the way humans do. We avoid glass by attending to architectural cues, including doorways and lintels. Birds mistake glass for open air or the habitat it reflects, and often try to fly through it.
Peter Zumthor’s design for a new central building at LACMA has some experts concerned with its environmental effects. Critics including John Harris, chief curator of the National History Museum’s Page Museum, worry that the project could disrupt the La Brea tar pits, the same ecological features that inspired the building’s blob-like shape. At a meeting last month the county Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to request a presentation from the Page Museum fleshing out the curator’s concerns. That presentation has not yet been scheduled, according to the Page Museum’s press office.
Are you afraid of taking Rover with you on your next flight because he might have to go potty in the airport? Well, pet-packing passengers flying through San Diego’s Lindbergh Field can rest easy. The airport’s recent $1 billion “Green Build” Terminal 2 expansion includes the nation’s first and only “pet relief” comfort station. Located between gates 46 and 47, the 75-square-foot rest room is decked out with features to get your four-legged friend in the mood to go, including ersatz grass and a fire hydrant. This may be the first, but it won’t be the last. Tom Rossbach, director of aviation architecture at HNTB, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the firm is offering the amenity to its other airport clients.
Located on the paradisiacal island of Hawaii, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) has been critically acclaimed by architectural experts and luxury aficionados for its modest yet stunning elegance. In celebration of its classic design and architectural beauty, the hotel has launched a microsite where tourists can read about the resort’s history, virtually explore its modernist look, and take a sneak peak at hotel founder Laurance S. Rockefeller’s private 1,600-piece art collection.
LAX finally opened its shiny new Tom Bradley terminal, designed by Fentress Architects, to quite a hullabaloo in July. The throngs who showed up for “Appreciation Days” got to enjoy shopping, music, and even free LAX keychains and knickknacks. But one of the most prominent elements was missing: the public art. Major pieces by Ball-Nogues, Pae White, and Mark Bradford were all delayed for what one participant called “a lack of sophistication on LAX’s part” in shepherding such work through. In other words, the officials didn’t get how to pull this kind of thing off. Well never fear, despite the bumps, contract disputes, and many miscues, the installations will begin opening in late September and continue through the end of the year. Better late than never.
In recent years several proposals have been floated for freeway cap parks in Los Angeles with barely any traction. Until now. On Friday LA City Council voted to have various city departments (including planning and engineering) partner with nonprofit Friends of Park 101 to raise funds for a park that would bridge the 101 Freeway, connecting Downtown’s Civic Center with Olvera Street and Union Station. Possible grants could come from local, state, and federal sources. It’s still a long way from happening, but this is a big deal. Friends of the Hollywood Central Park have created a function on their web site where users can design their own cap park, but if Park 101 gets some of these funds we could be building a park downtown for real.
Last week Los Angeles councilman, Jose Huizar, announced the formation of a 21-member task force to help re-imagine Pershing Square, the beleaguered central park in the middle of downtown. The group includes local residents, design and architecture experts, business people, and government officials. Huizar said he hoped they could bring “a wide-range of ideas and perspectives to the discussion.” They’ll also have to develop an agenda and a timeline, and figure out how to fund the project.