Frank Gehry to Redesign the “Gateway to Sunset Strip”

AD Classics: Walt Disney Concert Hall / . Image © Gehry Partners, LLP

An overlooked strip mall at the corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights boulevards will soon be replaced by a mixed-use, walkable community designed by Frank Gehry. Known to be the “gateway to the Sunset Strip,” the West site will be comprised of 249 apartments, restaurants, retail storefronts and a central plaza – all within “an environmentally sensitive building that complements and contributes to the historic architecture in the neighborhood.”

“Frank Gehry’s deep understanding of the property, its history and the context will elevate the project to the iconic and timeless status that it deserves,” said Townscape partner and project developer Tyler Siegel.

See BIG & Heatherwick’s Design for Google’s California Headquarters

© / BIG / Heatherwick Studio

Images have been unveiled of BIG and Heatherwick Studio’s design for Google’s Mountain View headquarters. The plan, submitted to city council today, proposes to redevelop and expand the company’s home office with a series of lightweight canopy-like structures organized within a flexible landscape of bicycle paths and commercial opportunities for local companies. 

“It’s the first time we’ll design and build offices from scratch and we hope these plans by Bjarke Ingels at BIG and Thomas Heatherwick at Heatherwick Studio will lead to a better way of working,” says Google. “The idea is simple. Instead of constructing immoveable concrete buildings, we’ll create lightweight block-like structures which can be moved around easily as we invest in new product areas… Large translucent canopies will cover each site, controlling the climate inside yet letting in light and air. With trees, landscaping, cafes, and bike paths weaving through these structures, we aim to blur the distinction between our buildings and nature.”

A video about the design and a statement from Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick, after the break. 

Google Taps BIG and Heatherwick to Design New California Headquarters

Image: Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick

The City of is expected to receive a massive proposal from the city’s largest employer; reports confirm that Google has enlisted Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Heatherwick Studio to design its new California headquarters. With the few details released, it is unclear if the proposal plans to update the company’s existing 3.1 million-square-foot Googleplex or replace it. However, as the New York Times reports, the proposal will boast a “series of canopy-like buildings” on a campus organized around bicycle and pedestrian paths.

This means Google is now joining a list of powerful corporations who have enlisted world-renowned architects to design their headquarters, including Apple’s Foster + Partners-designed “spaceship” and Facebook’s Gehry-Esque 10-acre “room.” If approved, Google will shift its focus on new housing, ensuring there is enough living space within Mountain View to accommodate its growing workforce (a topic of concern for many residents).

The proposal will be submitted to the city this Friday. Take a look at the company’s existing Mountain View headquarters, after the break.

“A Kit of Parts”: Mobile Classrooms by Studio Jantzen

Courtesy of

In partnership with VS Furniture,  Los Angeles-based Studio Jantzen have released images and concept material of their reconceptualization of the mobile classroom.

“A Kit of Parts” addresses what Studio Jantzen identifies as the four main shortcomings of mobile classrooms currently on the market: flexibility, sustainability, cost effectiveness, and creative construction. Read more about the project and view selected images after the break.

Video: The Northparker / Jonathan Segal

“The beauty of [architecture] is the payoff. That building has created a better place for people to live and a better lifestyle for people.” A mixed use building that brings together craft beer, street tacos and modern housing,  developer Jonathan Segal‘s “The Northparker” has helped transform the once blighted area Northpark into one of San Diego‘s most up-and-coming neighborhoods. Breadtruck Films shares just how a single building created community and changed a city in the video above.

Jon Jerde, California Architect Known for Reinventing the Shopping Center, Dies at 75

Universal CityWalk. Image © Casey Sayre

Jon Jerde, FAIA, founder of The Jerde Partnership, has died at 75. The -based American architect has left his mark in more than 100 urban places worldwide, many of which embody Jerde’s signature ideas of the multi-level mall. Placing high priority on outdoor walking and gathering areas, Jerde’s reimagining of the shopping mall experience in the 1970s put him on the map. “He blew open the shopping mall and transformed it into a lively urban environment which attracts people, lots of people,” Richard Weinstein, the former dean of UCLA’s school architecture and urban planning, once said.

Jerde’s best known projects include Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles, Horton Plaza in San Diego and Canal City Hakata, located in Fukuoka, Japan, as well as his work behind the 1984 Olympic Games. Read Jerde’s complete obituary, here.

Redesigning Los Angeles For Long-Term Drought

River (2013). Image © Flickr CC User Steve Lyon

With many of the world’s cities combating drought, it is apparent that channeling water away from populated areas with no intended use is not sustainable. Cities are depending on their “precious rain water” more than ever and, as Arid Lands Institute co-founder Hadley Arnold says, “the ace in our species pocket is the ability to innovate.” We need to “build cities like sponges,” starting with permeable hardscape, drought-tolerant landscaping and smarter plumbing. See what NPR has to say about issue of water treatment and Los Angeles, here.

George Lucas May Reconsider Los Angeles as Potential Home of Self-Titled Museum

Courtesy of Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts

Concerns regarding the environmental sensitivity of George Lucas’ proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago has caused the project to halt, and may even prevent it from being realized. According to a suit filed against the museum by the Friends of the Parks, environmentalists believe that the “mountainous” lakefront proposal, designed by MAD Architects, will disrupt the site’s ecosystem.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Lucas’ hasn’t given up on yet. However, considering that Lucas wants to see the museum built within his lifetime, the 70-year-old Star Wars director is starting to reconsider a University of Southern California (USC) campus site in Los Angeles.

Hélène Binet: Fragments of Light

Firminy C, architecture by Le Corbusier, 2007, digital b-w silver gelatin print. Courtesy of ammann gallery. Image © Hélène Binet

In the wake of her selection as the recipient of the Julius Shulman Institute Excellence in Photography Award for 2015, Hélène Binet‘s work will be exhibited at the Woodbury University Hollywood (WUHO) Gallery in , California. The exhibition, entitled Hélène Binet: Fragments of Light, will be open from February 28, 2015 to March 29, 2015, showcasing the highlights of the artist’s career as a renowned architectural photographer. The exhibition will be initiated with an opening reception and award ceremony on February 28, 2015 to honor Binet for her achievements. 

64North to Construct “Sparkling” Palo Alto Pedestrian Bridge Over Highway 101

Courtesy of the City of Palo Alto

64 North, HNTB Engineering, Bionic Landscape Architecture and sculptor Ned Kahn have been chosen by the City of Palo Alto to realized a new bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the 14-lane Highway 101 at Adobe Creek. Their winning proposal, “Confluence” will connect residential and commercial areas in south Palo Alto to the Baylands Nature Preserve and the regional Bay Trail network.

Read on for more information and a video about the design. 

California Breaks Ground on America’s First High Speed Rail

Proposed Statewide Alignment Map. Image Courtesy of Rail LA

California has broke ground on America’s first line in Fresno, six years after voters first approved an almost $10 billion bond act to fund the project. However, along with celebrations comes skepticism; according to an NPR report, fears of the project’s failure have risen due to the rail line only having a fifth of its funding and that its nearly three-hour journey will still take longer than a flight connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco. Despite this, supporters are optimistic that the line will be up and running by 2030. The state will be relying on private investment and revenue from the state’s greenhouse-gas fees to secure the remaining $55 billion needed to complete the $68 billion project.

How a Le Corbusier Design Helped Define the Architecture of Southern California

© Elizabeth Daniels

We all know that in architecture, few things are truly original. Architects take inspiration from all around them, often taking ideas from the designs of others to reinterpret them in their own work. However, it’s more rare that a single architectural element can be borrowed to define the style of an entire region. As uncovered in this article, originally published by Curbed as “Le Corbusier’s Forgotten Design: SoCal’s Iconic Butterfly Roof,” this is exactly what happened to Le Corbusier, who – despite only completing one building in the US - still had a significant impact on the appearance of the West Coast.

Atop thousands of homes in the warm western regions of the United States are roofs that turn the traditional housetop silhouette on its head. Two panels meet in the middle of the roofline and slope upward and outward, like butterfly wings in mid-flap. This similarity gave the “butterfly roof” its name, and it is a distinct feature of post-war American residential and commercial architecture. In Hawaii, Southern California, and other sun-drenched places, the butterfly roofs made way for high windows that let in natural light. Homes topped with butterfly roofs seemed larger and more inviting.

Credit for the butterfly roof design often goes to architect . He began building single-family homes with butterfly rooflines for the Alexander Construction Company, a father-son development team, in Palm Springs, California, in 1957. The Alexander Construction Company, mostly using Krisel’s designs, built over 2,500 tract homes in the desert. These homes, and their roofs, shaped the desert community, and soon other architects and developers began building them, too—the popularity of Krisel’s Palm Springs work led to commissions building over 30,000 homes in the Southland from San Diego to the San Fernando Valley.

The Broad Reveals Its Honeycomb “Veil”

© Gary Leonard

The final exterior scaffolding has been removed from Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s “The Broad” in downtown Los Angeles, revealing its distinctive honeycomb-like “veil.” Comprised of 2,500 fiberglass reinforced concrete panels and 650 tons of steel, the structural exoskeleton “drapes” over the building’s interior “vault,” lifting at its south and north corners to provide two street-level entrances. At its side, the veil is torn by a central “oculus” that provides a direct visual connection between the museum and Grand Avenue.

will be porous and absorptive, channeling light into its public spaces and galleries. The veil will play a role in the urbanization of Grand Avenue by activating two-way views that connect the museum and the street,” described Liz Diller.

Artist Uses Gehry’s Concert Hall as Canvas in LA Philharmonic Concert Series

The first week of December marked the beginning of the LA Philharmonic’s concert series. The multimedia series will incorporate video images playing in sync with the performance, creating an immersive new way to experience the music for concert-goers. The first of these performances was the collaborative work of conductor Esa-pekka Salonen and artist Refik Anadol in an audio-visual rendition of Edgard Varèse’s Amériques. Using audio analysis and Kinect motion capture software to record Salonen’s movements while conducting, Anadol has created a stunning set of moving images that capture the very spirit of Varèse’s work. Learn more about this fascinating project, after the break.

Ehrlich Architects Win 2015 AIA Architecture Firm Award

Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication / Ehrlich Architects © Bill Timmerman

Ehrlich Architects, a Los Angeles-based practice dedicated to the philosophy of Multicultural , has been selected to receive the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2015 AIA Architecture Firm Award. The award celebrates Ehrlich Architects’ 35 years of practice, which, as the AIA notes, has become renowned for “fluidly melding classic California Modernist style with multicultural and vernacular design elements by including marginalized design languages and traditions.”

The firm, originally founded by Steven Ehrlich in 1979 after working with the Peace Corps in Africa, is now led by four diverse partners: Ehrlich, alongside Takashi Yanai, Patricia Rhee, and Mathew Chaney. You can preview some of their most notable projects and watch an interview with Ehrlich, after the break.

Emerging Objects Invents Earthquake-Proof 3D Printed Column

Courtesy of Emerging Objects

A team of California-based designers have invented an earthquake-proof column built of 3D printed sand, assembled without bricks and mortar to withstand the harshest seismic activity. The ‘Quake Column‘ is comprised of a pre-determined formation of stackable hollow bricks which combine to create a twisting structure, optimized for intense vibrations in zones of earthquake activity. Created by design firm Emerging Objects, the column’s sand-based composition is one of many in a series of experimental structures devised by the team using new materials for , including salt, nylon, and chocolate. The column can be easily assembled and disassembled for use in temporary and permanent structures, and was designed purposefully with a simple assembly procedure for novice builders.

Find out how the Quake Column works after the break

Engineers at Stanford Develop Cost-Effective Earthquake-Resistant House

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In 1989, California‘s central coast was rocked by a 6.9 magnitude earthquake, destroying infrastructure and buildings in San Francisco, Oakland, and a host of coastal . The Loma Prieta Earthquake caused an estimated $6 trillion in damage, prompting researchers to develop techniques for management of severe seismic activity in urban centres. Twenty five years later, a team of engineers at Stanford University have invented a cost-effective foundation for residential buildings capable of withstanding three times the magnitude of the catastrophic 1989 earthquake.

Find out more on Stanford’s earthquake-resistant technology after the break 

The Berlage Archive: Julius Shulman (2000)

In this 2000 Berlage Institute lecture, titled “Neutra’s Architecture and in California,” American architectural photographer Julius Shulman outlines a twofold mission: to introduce his two new books, Modernism Rediscovered, and Neutra: Complete Works, and to speak to architectural students and educators who are responsible for the future of the field. Highly jovial and personable, Shulman starts off on a playful tone, inviting audience members to sit on the floor next to him and insisting on the informality of his lecture; he begins by describing how he met Richard Neutra, purely by chance, and made history with the iconic photograph of the Kaufman House, solely through a rebellious desire to pursue a beautiful sunset.

Shulman speaks of Neutra both affectionately and critically. He advises, “Those of you who hope to be architects, please be human about how people live in your house. Don’t wipe it clean and empty the way Neutra used to do it, because he was more interested in the image of a house – pure architecture, without furniture.” The lecture introduces Shulman’s photographs of Modernist homes in California, including Frank Gehry‘s first house, Shulman’s own house and studio by Raphael Soriano, and works by Frank Lloyd Wright and Buckminster Fuller, before moving on to briefly introduce projects from his vast archives. Pierluigi Serraino joins him halfway through the lecture to discuss the process of writing their publication, Modernism Rediscovered, and the responsibilities of an architectural photographer.

The lecture demonstrates the incredible breadth of Shulman’s portfolio, his fascinating thought process, and an indefatigable spirit. When describing the moment when he broke away from Neutra’s admonishment in order to photograph the exquisite sky above the Kaufman House, the iconic photographer enthuses,”Don’t ever hesitate. If you want to do something, whether it’s to design a house or kiss a beautiful woman, or whatever you want to do, do it! No one’s going to stop you.”