Breaking New Ground: Designing Affordable Housing for the Coachella Valley Workforce

Breaking New Ground is an international design and ideas competition addressing the urgent affordable housing needs for farmworker and service worker families in the Valley, where efforts to improve living conditions suffers from a lack of funding and coordination. Going beyond design, the competition seeks to envision new precedents, mechanisms, and policies for affordable housing implementation and development, with implications for and the nation.

At the competition’s conclusion, The California Endowment and County of Riverside will work together to build an affordable housing project based on the winning entries. The winning team may also be selected to participate in the design and construction of the new project.

Los Angeles Rids Itself of Helipad Requirement, Opens City to “Bolder” Skyline

, California. Image © Wikimedia Commons / Pintaric

Helicopter landing pads will no longer be required atop new buildings in Los Angeles, California. The rule’s elimination, which was announced yesterday by the city’s mayor and fire chief, allows architects the freedom to break away from LA’s “boxy” skyline. “I want to see innovative design,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “I want to see good design, but we’re going to take the handcuffs off of you when we ask you to do that. I want neighborhoods to look good, and I want our buildings to look iconic.” You can read more about the change, here.

Five Practices Compete to Design Los Angeles LGBT Center

Habitat 15 - a Hollywood housing project by competing practice (Click image for more). Image ©

Michael Maltzan, Frederick Fisher, Predock Frane, MAD and Leong Leong have been shortlisted in a limited competition to design a new LGBT Center (formerly called LA Gay and Lesbian Center). Each have received a stipend of $20,000 to develop proposals for the new campus, which will include arts, educational and affordable housing programs on more than an entire city block in Hollywood. Once complete, the center hopes to serve LGBT community members of all ages by providing access to multigenerational affordable housing, healthcare, senior care and family services. You can learn more on KCRW here

Master Plan Phase Nears Completion for LA Union Station

Open Space View in Forecourt. Image © Grimshaw / , Courtesy of the County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro)

The New York office of Grimshaw and LA based Gruen Associates were officially awarded the Los Angeles Union Station master plan in July of 2012 after six initial proposals for the project. Now the Metro Board has begun to finalize plans and move towards implementation, with their Planning Committee scheduled to discuss the proposals in early November. Read on to learn more about how the plan has developed over the past two years and the next steps towards its implementation.

SCI-Arc Appoints Hernan Diaz Alonso as New Director

“Pitch Black” – Joint-winner in the AR+D Awards for Emerging Architecture. Image © , Courtesy of

The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) has appointed Hernan Diaz Alonso as the Los Angeles architecture school’s new Director beginning September 2015. Alonso, principal of Xefirotarch and educator widely credited for spearheading the transition of SCI-Arc to digital technologies, will succeed architect Eric Owen Moss who has served as the school’s director since 2002. Continue after the break to watch Alonso’s “New Director Presentation” and preview a selection of his work.

SFMOMA Tops Out

© Henrik Kam

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has topped out its Snøhetta-designed extension, marking the halfway point in the museum’s transformation. Rising behind ’s existing Mario Botta-designed building, the 10-story addition will add more than triple the amount of gallery space, 130,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor galleries, flexible performance art spaces and a dramatically expanded education program for students and teachers upon completion in 2016.

More images after the break…

Competition Challenges Architects and Students to Design Zero Net Energy Housing in California

Citation Award: NZ + Beyond Net Zero Energy / Drew Adams, Joseph Yau and Mark Alocilja. Image Courtesy of

Architecture at Zero, now in its fourth year, is challenging all students, architects and designers worldwide to envision two mixed-use, zero net energy (ZNE) housing proposals for adjacent parcel sites in , California. The competition is a response to the ZNE targets set out by the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) which aims for all new residential construction in the state to be ZNE by 2020. Entrants are eligible for winning up to $25,000. Early bird registration ends September 12. All projects must be submitted by October 31 at 1PM PST. Learn more on the competition website and review last year’s winners.

Video: A Drone’s-Eye View of Apple’s New Campus Under Construction

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At the moment it may be little more than a colossal, doughnut-shaped hole in the ground, but this video is in fact the first glimpse of Apple‘s new Norman Foster-designed Campus in Cupertino. The video, shot using a GoPro camera mounted on a drone, shows that construction of the building’s huge underground parking garage has begun, with concrete poured in a section of the trench. And, as we’ve come to expect from Apple, the fact that it’s a construction site is no excuse for messiness, meaning that elements of the design are already starting to be legible, such as a wider trench marking the main entrance close to the drone’s position. Watch the video above to see the huge campus under construction, and read on after the break for more information about the building’s design.

Getty Conservation Institute to Help Conserve Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute

© Liao Yusheng

The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) is partnering with the Salk Institute to help develop techniques for conserving one of Louis Kahn’s finest works. Overlooking the Pacific coast in La Jolla, California, Kahn took advantage of the peaceful surroundings and natural light when he designed the site. However, these same marine elements also provide unique conservation challenges for the concrete and wood structure, particularly for its window walls, the Getty Trust reports.

Part of the GCI’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative, the project will determine the condition of the teak and develop recommendations for its treatment and long-term conservation. “Partnering with the Salk Institute on this conservation challenge will assist in developing new approaches for practitioners in conserving other icons of modern architecture, which makes it a terrific project for us,” said Susan Macdonald, Head of Field Projects at the GCI.

Read on after the break to learn more about the conservation initiative.

2014 ANFA Conference

The Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture () will have their 2nd international conference between September 18 and September 20 in , California.

The ANFA Conference will explore, from a scientific basis, the range of human experiences with elements of architecture, through collaboration between architects and neuroscientists.  The goal is to inspire ideas and new collaborations that will ignite change and unlock the potential of Neuroscience for Architecture.

Juhani Pallasmaa, Finnish architect and architectural theorist, author of The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses, will be the keynote speaker. For more information, please visit the event’s official website.

Title: 2014 ANFA Conference
Website: http://www.anfarch.org/2014-conference/
From: Thu, 18 Sep 2014
Until: Sat, 20 Sep 2014
Venue: Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Address: 10010 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA

2014 Los Angeles Architectural Awards Announced

Red Building © Jeff Goldberg/Esto

Hosted by the  Business Council, the 44th Annual Los Angeles Architectural Awards has recognized three dozen of the year’s best architecture and design projects in Greater Los Angeles. From Morphosis’ Emerson College to the Los Angeles River project, each recipient has been awarded for their excellence in design, sustainability and community impact.

The 2013 Los Angeles Architectural Award Winners are…

Renzo Piano Returns to Bay Area, Designs “Plaza District” for City Center

© RPBW

Renzo Piano has been commissioned to return to the Bay Area, this time to design a 350,000 square foot “Plaza District” for a mixed-used City Center development in San Ramon. Similar to his prized California Academy of Sciences building in ’s Golden Gate Park, the new multi-use district will feature expansive glass walls and a lush living roof.

Competing Utopias: An Experimental Installation of Cold War Modern Design from East and West in One Context

Poster Design: David Hartwell, 2014

Competing Utopias is a design collision that should never happen. But somehow, in , in 2014, twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it will.

This installation is a ‘mash-up’ in the most provocative sense of that word. Its force comes from the collision of two design cultures that have been kept apart but have been visually connected in ways yet unexamined. What’s proposed is an experimental installation that presents Cold War modern design from East and West in one context.

Competing Utopias is organized by two Los Angeles institutions: the Neutra VDL Studio and Residences and the Wende Museum and Archive of the Cold War, each a different type of museum. The Neutra House is an iconic Los Angeles mid-century modern house museum, designed by Austrian born American architect Richard Neutra. The Wende Museum is the largest archive of Cold War artifacts in the world. Both ‘institutions’ originated in German speaking Europe, both subsequently landed in Los Angeles. Their collections embody two forks of a Cold War history.

Title: Competing Utopias: An Experimental Installation of Cold War Modern Design from East and West in One Context
Website: http://neutra-vdl.org/site/competing_utopias.asp?514201404423
From: Fri, 11 Jul 2014 
Until: Sun, 14 Sep 2014
Venue: Neutra VDL Research House
Address: 2300 Silver Lake Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039,

New Video (and Images) Reveal Original Intent Behind Apple Campus 2

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UPDATE: Did you know that Apple Campus 2 will be solely powered by renewable energy? Also, 80 percent of its 176-acre campus will be entirely dedicated to green space. Watch the newly released Norman Foster interview (above) to learn more about the project’s sustainable features, as well as details about Steve Job’s original inspiration. The following news was originally published as “New Images Released of Apple’s Recently Approved Campus” on November 13, 2013. 

Shortly after the approval of Apple’s new corporate headquarters in Cupertino, never-before-seen images have emerged to reveal a glimpse into the campus’ massive, 2.8 million square foot “mothership” and its surrounding facilities.

Provided by the City of Cupertino and released by Wired, the images depict just what Steve Job’s hoped for: a world-class, state-of-the-art office campus that promotes innovation through vibrant communal spaces and healthy employee amenities. From the net-positive main building to a private, subterranean auditorium placed within a forested, -native landscape by OLIN, the Foster + Partners-designed Apple Campus 2 has the potential to be, as Job’s believed, “the best office building in the world.”

A collection of the newly released renderings, after the break…

Exhibition: Bowlarama: California Bowling Architecture, 1954-1964

Holiday Bowl / © Jack Laxer

Text by Isaac Wilhelm:

“Patrons of the A+D Architecture and Design Museum Los Angeles may want to consider wearing comfortable socks to view the new exhibit Bowlarama: California Bowling Architecture 1954-1964, on display from April 11, 2014, through May 11, 2014. Providing a deeper appreciation for the family heirloom bowling trophy on the fire mantle, the exhibit showcases the architecture of bowling in the 1950s. The retro design style and obsession with the sport of bowling at this time generated a desire for architecturally intriguing bowling centers. 

Commonly open 24 hours a day in the 1950s, bowling centers incorporated features such as fine restaurants, cocktail lounges, and live entertainment. The projects of this exhibit are not about the sport of bowling or the centers, but rather the culture that emerged. Do not contemplate how many lanes are in the exhibit’s bowling centers, but instead imagine the blonde beauty sitting at the cocktail bar sipping on a martini during the local men’s league championship tournament.”

Title: Exhibition: Bowlarama: Bowling Architecture, 1954-1964
Website: https://aplusd.org/exhibitions-future/bowlarama
From: Fri, 11 Apr 2014 
Until: Sun, 11 May 2014 
Venue: Architecture and Design Museum
Address: 6032 Wilshire Boulevard, , CA 90036, USA

Exhibition: In Between Projects / PRODUCTORA

The architectural firm PRODUCTORA, based in Mexico City, is presenting 9 unbuilt projects that have a clear relation to geometry and mathematical composition. Large-scale models, made in collaboration with students at Woodbury University are presented together with black and white CAD drawing that clarify the main conceptual aspect of the building. 

The simple positioning of the framed drawings, renderings and wooden models on the exhibition floor, avoids all museographic rhetoric and presents the work as autonomous objects in space. The title ‘In Between Projects’ relates to the ongoing development of a common formal vocabulary that underlies the circumstantial aspects of each individual project. This exploration is presented through an image loop of preliminary study models of the projects presented. Ultimately, the exhibition underscores the studio’s belief that strong geometric compositions and clearly legible buildings allow architecture to maintain its value through unpredictable shifts in context and program over time.

Title: Exhibition: In Between Projects /
Website: http://architecture.woodbury.edu/in-between-projects-opening/
Organizers: Woodbury School of Architecture
From: Tue, 08 Apr 2014 
Until: Fri, 25 Apr 2014
Venue: WEDGE Gallery
Address: 7500 North Glenoaks Boulevard, Woodbury University, Burbank, CA 91504, USA

ACADIA 2014 Call for Submissions

UPDATE: Deadline for submissions extended to April 14, 2014!

Submissions are invited for the 2014 ACADIA ‘DESIGN AGENCY’ conference at University of Southern California, , California on October 20-25, 2014. Architects, designers, fabricators, engineers, media artists, technologists, software developers, hackers, researchers, students and educators and others in related fields of inquiry are invited to submit proposals.

The conference theme is intended to highlight experimental research and projects that exhibit and explore new paradigms of computing in architecture. The theme is a purposeful instigation of work that looks at re-defining the term “Agency” through the lens of computational design strategies such as simulation, fabrication, robotics, and novel integrations from science and the media arts.

For more information, including the specific themes and topics, please go to the event’s official website.

Foster to Design “First and Mission” Towers in San Francisco

© Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners, with Heller Manus Architects, has been commissioned to design a two tower, two million square foot mixed-use development in . The expansive “First and Mission” will be marked by a 605-foot “world class condominium” tower – which will be the tallest residential project on the West Coast – and a 850-foot “large floor plate office tower.” Together they will add more than a million square feet of flexible office and commercial space, as well as 650,000 square feet of residential units to the Transbay Area.