Yesterday, Gensler unveiled its newest plans for Farmers Field, Downtown LA’s proposed football stadium, which, of course, is still awaiting a team to play in it (as are several other proposed stadiums in California). The biggest changes to the design involve the roof, which will now have large projecting wings (likely made of ETFE, said one Gensler architect). The roof will no longer be retractable, but “deployable,” meaning the roof can be taken off, but not instantaneously, which will bring the structure’s cost down significantly, Gensler pointed out. The new roof design, which will open up views to the city, was likened to “shoulder pads” by Curbed LA, perhaps a fitting design for a football stadium?
So that the stadium doesn’t dwarf the rest of the adjacent LA Live, it will be partially sunken into the ground, noted Curbed. Meanwhile two levels of stadium meeting and suite space will connect directly to the new convention center that developer AEG is also planning for the site. AEG hopes to have the stadium ready by the 2016 football season.
Form follows People. According to the NY Times, there might be a significant mismatch between “the housing New Yorkers need” and “the housing that gets built.” That’s why last monday, various NY architects gathered together to pitch their proposals to city commissioners for artist, musician, and other creative-type housing.
Surrounded by Superfunds. Four of the most polluted water-ways in the country—all declared Superfund sites—are located in the Tri-State area around New York City. WNET’s Metro Focus breaks down of each waterway’s problematic histories and the difficult task of cleaning them up.
3-D Printed. Wired reports that we could be only 2 years away from building circuit boards with 3-D printers. Implications? Printed out PCs, printed printers (if a part breaks, that part can be printed out), inventory-less virtual stores, and easier work collaboration across the country or the globe.
Costco Bonito. While it might be difficult to call a big-box store beautiful, designers at Costco are certainly trying to punch up the retailer’s design in Los Angeles The LA Times has more on the proposed beautification efforts which include adding dark, woodlike metal-slats to the facade.
You may have heard that the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is being replaced. (Technically the west span is being retrofitted and the east span is being replaced.) But the $6.3 billion project, which has been underway since 2002, has hit a snag: We learn via the Sacramento Bee that the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has fired two employees after a Bee investigation showed that the technician responsible for testing the new bridge foundation’s structural integrity falsified and fabricated test results on other projects. The two fired were: Duane Wiles,who tested foundations for bridges and other freeway structures and Brian Liebich, who supervised Wiles as chief of the agency’s Foundation Testing Branch. The Bee‘s investigation examined about 50,000 internal Caltrans reports and test data documents and reported that Caltrans officials knew about the problems for years, but never conducted a serious investigation. Oops. The new bridge is expected to open to the public by 2013. Hopefully.
[ The AN editorial team is on hand for Zoning the City conference, now in progress at the McGraw-Hill Conference Center in Manhattan. We'll be live blogging and tweeting @archpaper with hashtag #zoningthecity throughout the day, so check back and follow us on twitter for updates! ]
In a wrap-up conversation moderated by Kayden, a panel brought together Thom Mayne, A.M. Stern, and Mary Ann Tighe to investigate a few non-planning factors, though of course it rounded back to planning within moments. The exchange was peppered with A.M. Stern wit, Mayne theory, and Tighe pragmatism.
Remarking on the more than 4 billion square feet of undeveloped FAR in New York City, Stern remarked, “That’s a lot of development–even for Related!”
Tighe said that zoning remained necessary, at the very least, for developers’ peace of mind. “I think we need some boundaries,” she said. “Things that will allow capital an amount of comfort that it’ll need to move foreword.” Tighe, who heads up New York’s real estate board, provide an audience full of zoning wonks and architects an investors voice, “What we keep forgetting after the vision is that the money has to come, the as-of-right things are needed.”
Stern replied no spoon full of sugar was needed to let this medicine go down. “Architects complain, they always complain,” he said “But they do their best work with difficult clients, financial constraints.”
Mayne broke through the realm of brick and mortar. “New York is inseparable from its intellectual capital, that’s it’s certainty and predictability.”
Matthew Carmona of University College London played to a re-caffeinated crowd, using humor to diffuse a very complex approval process for zoning London’s 32 different boroughs. With each borough weighing in with their own distinct processes and opinions, plus the mayor putting his two pence in, and even the secretary of state having a say, its amazing London plans as well as it does. The process looks more nightmarish than a West Village community board debating a university expansion. One intriguing aspect was the specificity of the Views Management Framework, which include river views, linear views, townscape views, and panoramas. But it was left to Loeb Fellow Peter Park, paraphrasing Goldberger, to best describe London’s beautiful mess. “Some of the greatest places in the world were built before zoning,” he said. “There’s an element of serendipity.”
Just when we were getting used to Behnisch Architekten having an office in Venice we learn that leader Christof Jantzen is leaving and the office is closing. Stuttgart-based Behnisch opened the outpost back in 1999 and the location has worked on projects ranging from a lab at Yale, student housing at UC Berkeley, and an upcoming parking garage in Santa Monica. Now Behnisch’s only U.S. office is in Boston.
“It’s an evolution,” described Jantzen. “We had a successful story together.”
Here comes the good news: Jantzen is starting his own firm, Christof Jantzen Architecture, just down the street, and he hopes to take some of Behnisch’s eight Los Angeles employees with him. Jantzen described the venture as on the “smaller scale” to begin but noted, “we’ll see how it develops.” The web site isn’t yet live, but it will be www.cjantzen.com.
Brooklyn’s grandest public space at the top of Prospect Park has always been a work in progress. Grand Army Plaza, an oval-shaped public space composed of monuments ringed by an inner and an outer roadway, was built as the main entrance to the park in 1866, serving as a buffer between nature and city and happened to be the confluence of some of Brooklyn’s busiest avenues. Over the years, a monumental archway was added, fountains came and went, and eventually the roads were widened until the lush plaza was effectively cut off from the surrounding Prospect Heights and Park Slope neighborhoods. Last week, however, after months of construction to tame the out-of-control roadways, a group of civic leaders and officials gathered in what was once a busy street to celebrate the newly reclaimed plaza.
Last week, The New York World, a website produced by Columbia’s Journalism School, along with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show completed a crowd-sourced survey of New York City’s privately owned public spaces (POPS). The World consulted Jerold Kayden’s 2000 tome, Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience, as a guide to gauge whether the private entities were keeping the public parks truly public and user-friendly. Kayden, who is co-chairing tomorrow’s Zoning the City conference with Commissioner Amanda Burden, has been the go-to expert on subject since Occupy Wall Streeters took over the world’s most famous POPS, Zuccotti Park. All told, nearly 150 sites out of 391 around New York City were visited and commented on for the survey.
Still riding the wave of publicity following her recent MacArthur genius grant win, Jeanne Gang gets the full star treatment from Chicago’s public TV station WTTW. This documentary, “Jeanne Gang: The Sky’s the Limit,” is all praise. Blair Kamin and Stanley Tigerman figure as her head cheerleaders. It would have been nice to have someone puncture the bubble a bit, possibly interrogating Gang about architect’s limits, rather than merely presenting the discipline (and Gang as one of its leading lights) as a environmental and societal savior. The documentary does show some engaging glimpses of Studio Gang’s working methods and office style, so there’s plenty to enjoy, even for the (mild) skeptics.
Noting the rivalry between his new home, Los Angeles, and New York while visiting the Big Apple last week, Conan O’Brien launched a new segment , the Fight to the Death Building Battle to settle the cities’ differences once and for all. Curbed spotted these epic architectural fights posted online at Team Coco’s blog, and we couldn’t help but share on this Friday afternoon, 11/11/11. While in New York, Conan pitted the Empire State Building (“weighing in at 365,000 tons of limestone”) against LA’s Scientology Book Store (“the best building they could come up with.”) Of course, the Empire State soundly won. Back in LA, he revoked his New York show as “playing to the New York crowd,” and held another match between the Empire and a trio of LA buildings: the Capitol Records Building, a Lady Foot Locker from a Venice Boulevard strip mall, and later Randy’s Donuts. Remember, whatever side you choose, as Conan pointed out, “You’re booing a building.”