It’s no AECOM and URS, but NAC Architecture, which has offices in Spokane, WA, Seattle, Denver, and Los Angeles has merged with Southern California firm Osborn, and are moving their LA operations into new offices in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood. NAC’s 13,000 square foot LA office, to be located on the third floor of a historic building at 837 North Spring Street, will consist of 40 people, including all of Osborn and NAC’s current LA staffs.
In one of the more surprising analyses of his tenure as architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, Christopher Hawthorne recently came out with breathless praise for The Vermont, a green glass residential tower by Jerde Partnership on Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. According to Hawthorne, the building’s “sleek steel-and-glass profile is a reminder that new apartment buildings in Los Angeles can be something other than bland, stucco-covered, stick-built neo-dingbats.” Eavesdrop is no architecture critic, but let’s just say we do not totally agree.
After refining their master plan over the last several months, Metro, Grimshaw, and Gruen are ready, as Metro Deputy Executive Officer for Countywide Planning Jenna Hornstock put it, to “put the pedal to the metal.” They’re asking the Metro Planning and Programming Committee to approve several recommendations (PDF) to begin the implementation of their Union Station Master Plan, including the development of a Program Environmental Impact Report. Yesterday they presented to the committee, and a vote is expected at the next gathering on October 15.
The Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering’s competition for a $350 million expansion and renovation of the LA Convention Center has been narrowed down to three final teams. And they are: AC Martin/LMN, Gensler/Lehrer Architects, and HMC/Populous. According to the project’s Task Order Solicitation (PDF), the teams will each receive $200,000 to “develop and present conceptual designs,” including models, renderings, plans, cost estimates, phasing plans, etc. Designs are due on December 8.
As the economy continues to hum along, it’s time once again for merger mania. By far the most significant example is Los Angeles–based construction giant, AECOM, which in the span of just a couple of months has more than doubled its size. In past years the company has bought firms like DMJM, EDAW, Ellerbe Becket, and Tishman, but it’s been nothing like this year’s spree.
One of the highlights of this author’s recent exhibition, Never Built Los Angeles, was a comprehensive, and interconnected, parks plan for Los Angeles assembled by the landscape firm Olmsted and Bartholomew in 1930. That old plan is seeing some new life in the Los Angeles community. If the proposed Emerald Necklace Expanded Vision Plan is realized, that idea would come to life almost a century after it was proposed.
We’ve been following Los Angeles’ several proposed Freeway Cap Parks (in Downtown LA, Hollywood, and Santa Monica among other places) for years now, with a healthy amount of skepticism. But the first of these is (really? really!) moving toward reality. Friends of the Hollywood Central Park, a non-profit organizing a cap park over the 101 Freeway near the center of Hollywood, along with LA’s Department of Recreation and Parks have begun the environmental review process for the transformative 38-acre space.
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Folded aluminum panels deliver the illusion of movement to passersby.
During their recent expansion, Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis approached Urbana Studio with an unusual request. The hospital wanted the Los Angeles-based art and architecture firm to design an interactive facade for a recently completed parking structure. “With Indianapolis’ really extreme weather patterns, we gave a lot of thought to: how can we make something that’s interactive but won’t be broken in a year?” said Urbana principal Rob Ley. “Unfortunately, the history of kinetic facades teaches us that that they can become a maintenance nightmare.” Urbana’s solution was to turn the relationship between movement and the object on its head. Though the aluminum facade, titled May September, is itself static, it appears to morph and change color as the viewer walks or drives by.
Word has it that Art Center, which seems to already own all of Downtown Pasadena, has just bought the area’s massive Jacobs Engineering Building. Also on the move, USC Dean Qingyun Ma has relocated his firm’s offices to none other than Downtown LA’s Bradbury Building. How’s that for pressure? And we’ve learned of the initiation beverage of our favorite architecture-related women’s drinking and discussion group: Denise Scotch Brown. What group would Venturi inspire? We shudder to think… Something about Vermouth?
Another symbol of downtown Los Angeles’ transformation is the ongoing renovation and rebranding of the Spring Arcade Building. Modeled after the great Beaux Arts arcades of Europe, the space has long been a grubby home for non-distinct shops. The Arcade—actually two 12-story towers connected by the skylit, glass roofed, three-level arcade—was built in 1924 by architects Kenneth McDonald and Maurice Couchot. With its Spanish Baroque entryway, it originally contained 61 shops, and later added a Venetian-style bridge across its center. It now contains space for 21 shops and restaurants and still contains the landmark KRKD radio towers on its roof.
We like to give Frank Gehry a hard time for his foibles, but he has actually undertaken a lot of pro bono work, including a Make It Right home in New Orleans and the Pasadena Playhouse and Jazz Bakery Theater in Los Angeles. His latest effort is in one of the most troubled neighborhoods in Los Angeles: Watts. Gehry Partners has agreed to design a new campus for the Childrens Institute (CII), a social services non-profit. They’re collaborating with Inglewood firm (fer) Studio, who will be Executive Architect.