Pedal to the metal at Los Angeles’ Union Station

Development, Urbanism, West
Thursday, September 18, 2014
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Proposed new east entrance to Union Station (Grimshaw/Gruen/Metro)

Proposed new east portal to Union Station (Grimshaw/Gruen/Metro)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Los Angeles Convention Center releases competition shortlist

Aerial View of LA's Convention Center and Staples Center (LA Convention Center)

Aerial View of LA’s Convention Center and Staples Center (LA Convention Center)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

AECOM’s Merger Mania: Los Angeles–based firm doubles in size

Architecture, National, News, West
Thursday, September 11, 2014
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Both AECOM and URS have been active on the World Trade Center site in New York (AECOM)

Both AECOM and URS have been active on the World Trade Center site in New York (AECOM)

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.

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Could Olmsted & Bartholomew’s 100-year-old parks plan finally happen in Los Angeles?

Emerald Necklace Expanded Vision Plan (The Conservation Fund)

Emerald Necklace Expanded Vision Plan (The Conservation Fund)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Hollywood’s Freeway Cap Park Begins Environmental Review Process

4b-la-freeway-park4a-la-freeway-park

 

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Urbana’s Shape-Shifting Parking Garage Facade

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Urbana Studio designed an interactive aluminum facade for an existing parking structure at Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis. (Serge Hoeltschi)

Urbana Studio designed an interactive aluminum facade for an existing parking structure at Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis. (Serge Hoeltschi)

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.
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Eavesdrop Grab Bag> The latest gossip from the west coast

Eavesdroplet, West
Friday, August 15, 2014
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The Jacobs Engineering Building in Pasadena. (Courtesy Google)

The Jacobs Engineering Building in Pasadena. (Courtesy Google)

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?

Los Angeles’ grand Spring Arcade coming back to life

View of the Spring Arcade's cleaned up three-level arcade (BRC Advisors)

View of the Spring Arcade’s cleaned up three-level arcade (BRC Advisors)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Gehry and (fer) Making Their Mark In Watts

Architecture, News, West
Friday, August 8, 2014
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Frank Gehry (Bustler)

Frank Gehry (Bustler)

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.

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Parklet Down! Motorist Rams Downtown Los Angeles’ First Parklet

la-parklet-destroyed

The scene. (oneironaut11 / Instagram via LAist)

It seems like just yesterday that Los Angeles opened its first downtown Parklet, a sparkling new design on Spring Street by architects utopiad.org, designers Berry and Linné, and builders Hensel Phelps. But a few weeks ago that design (already getting a little shabby from weather and use) was rammed and badly compromised by an errant motorist, leaving it closed, and leaving downtown without a parklet to speak of more than two years after the city’s parklet program began.

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Gensler Goes Hollywood with “Vertical Campus”

The 14-story Icon at Sunset Boulevard will house office space for creative and entertainment professionals. (Courtesy Gensler)

The 14-story Icon at Sunset Boulevard will house office space for creative and entertainment professionals. (Courtesy Gensler)

Hudson Pacific Properties is banking on the continued appeal of Hollywood office space with its Icon at Sunset Bronson Studios, a 14-story tower designed by Gensler. Targeting creative professionals, Icon reconfigured the suburban campus typology for an urban setting. Gensler associate Amy Pokawatana called the development a “vertical campus,” blending “work, relaxation, and recreation.” Part of a $150 million studio expansion, the project takes its cue from a six-story building the developer finished on the Sunset Gower Studios lot in 2008.  Read More

Beverly Hills Loses Another Mid-Century Modern Icon

The Beverly Hilton-adjacent Robinsons-May department store has been demolished. (Kimberly Reiss)

The Beverly Hilton-adjacent Robinsons-May department store has been demolished. (Kimberly Reiss)

Beverly Hills gained a vacant lot this week as crews demolished the former Robinsons-May department store at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard. The four-story, marble-clad building, designed by Charles O. Matcham, Charles Luckman, and William Pereira in 1952 with interiors by Raymond Loewy and Associates, was retailer J.W. Robinson’s first store in suburban Los Angeles.

Continue reading after the jump.

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