Welton Becket’s 1958 Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, once a beacon of midcentury optimism, this weekend shuttered its doors. The bending, intricately ornamented auditorium hosted several Academy Awards in the 1960s, as well as concerts by the likes of Eric Clapton, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Prince, and Bob Dylan.
But the facility recently fell on hard times, as bands gravitated to larger venues (leaving it mostly hosting trade fairs), and as a planned $52 million renovation was recently cancelled when California abolished its Community Redevelopment Agencies.
Santa Monica Civic, a working group strategizing the venue’s future, told the LA Times that it will take several months to develop a new plan for the landmarked structure, including film screenings, live theater, or even restaurants.
In 2005, San Francisco officials rezoned Rincon Hill, a neighborhood close to the Financial District, to allow for high-density housing. Since then, residential developments have popped up, including The Infinity, One Rincon Hill, and the under construction 45 Lansing Street, in an area that was once a maritime and industrial hub.
The newest, Tishman Speyer and China Vanke’s LUMINA, at 201 Folsom Street, broke ground this Wednesday. The Arquitectonica-designed development will add 655 condos to the Rincon Hill neighborhood, with views of the city and bay. The residence—two towers (the tallest at 42 stories) and two mid-rise buildings arranged along a courtyard—will have luxury amenities like floor-to-celing windows, a full service sky terrace, and a three-story clubhouse with a pool. Expected completion for the project is spring 2015.
At a DeLab (Design East of La Brea) Tour this Saturday, Los Angeles-based firm Lettuce Office shared the epic story of its new solar array for LA’s Occidental College. The 1 megawatt installation, made up of 4,886-panels, follows the contours of its hilly site, with its angled panels raised just two or three feet off the ground. To guard against sliding, each set of panels had to be imbedded into the earth via concrete-supported columns.
The perforated aluminum skin would replace the previously proposed glass facade. (Courtesy TJPA)
It looks like Pelli Clarke Pelli’s Transbay Transit Center, which stretches about three blocks through the city’s Rincon Hill neighborhood, might go ahead with its first major piece of value engineering. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the architects have suggested that the building’s undulating glass skin become perforated aluminum. The move would meet federal safety guidelines and chop $17 million from the estimated $1.59 billion budget for the center’s first phase. The Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) board will be asked to approve the change at its March 25 meeting. The structure is not expected to be complete before 2017.
From the top of San Diego’s soaring 200-foot-tall Coronado Bay Bridge, architect Lew Dominy says you can see Mexico, but outside of special events when the bridge is closed to automobile traffic, pedestrians and bicyclists who might stop to admire the view are prohibited. Dominy, principal at San Diego-based domusstudio architecture, has a plan to build a tube through the distinctive archways of the Coronado’s support piers that would bring multi-modal access to the bridge.
Carpool lanes typically are meant to reduce congestion, not make political statements, but one Bay Area HOV lane finds itself at the center of a national controversy. NBC News reported that Jonathan Frieman has been trying to get pulled over for more than a decade, and now that he’s been slapped with a $481 minimum fine for driving alone, he’s hoping to challenge his case in court.
The twist? Frieman claims he did have another person riding with him, brandishing his incorporation papers. According to California vehicle law and long-established U.S. federal law, corporations legally represent a person. More recently, in 2010, the Supreme Court issued its contested Citizens United decision, stating that corporate funding of political campaigns is protected under the First Amendment. Frieman, who opposes the concept, hopes to take the case to court in an attempt to overturn corporate personhood.
Three design-build teams have been shortlisted to design the $30 million Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at the University of California, Davis. They are: WORKac and Westlake Reed Leskosky with Kitchell; Henning Larsen Architects and Gould Evans with Oliver and Co; and SO–IL and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson with Whiting-Turner. Each team had four months to prepare a bid for the museum. The museum will be named after Jan Shrem, operator of Clos Pegase winery in the Napa Valley, and his wife Maria Manetti Shrem.
While it was never topped with a highway like its San Francisco cousin, San Diego’s Embarcadero has long been a car-dominated no-man’s land of wasted opportunity along the city’s stunning bay. No more! Earlier this year the city broke ground on a redevelopment of the area, including new pavilions, plazas, a 105-foot-wide esplanade, and bike and walking paths. The area will be planted with hundreds of new trees and set with new street furniture and decorative lighting.
Phase one, encompassing 1.2 miles, should be done by next summer. The project, guided by the North Embarcadero Vision Plan, is being paid for by the Port of San Diego and the city of San Diego, acting through the Centre City Development Corporation.
Everybody seems to be opening up new offices these days. One of our favorite firms, Barton Myers Associates, is moving from Westwood all the way to Santa Barbara, which doesn’t sound promising. Cunningham Group has opened new digs in Culver City’s Hayden Tract, the collection of arts offices made famous by the wild constructs of Eric Owen Moss. And UCLA Architecture will remain in Westwood. But it’s ready to open a new robotics lab inside the old Playa Vista research facilities of Howard Hughes.