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UCLA’s cityLAB at the School of Architecture and Urban Design

Backyard Homes Conceptual Rendering, image courtesy Daly Genik Architects
Backyard Homes Conceptual Rendering, image courtesy Daly Genik Architects

What makes an architecture school worth consideration are its special programs and initiatives. These programs, often run by a few faculty members, vary from addressing human rights and legal issues to working with local communities to remedy social and economic issues.

UCLA's Architecture and Urban Design (AUD) school has just such a program. Called cityLAB (not to be confused with the student-run, science-based UCLA CityLab), it is in many ways unique to a university setting. Run by founder/director Professor Dana Cuff and co-directed by Professor Roger Sherman. It’s name is well-suited: a laboratory to test ideas and address issues arising from city conditions in ways that cannot be done by profit-driven firms. These issues include housing, commercial revitalization, and community and municipal collaboration. These projects have operated successfully on grants that support not just the work being done by the professors, but by staff and Graduate Student Researchers who are paid to work in all aspects of the projects.

Predictions from the Past: New York 2012 and LA 2013

New York in 1962, Mayor Robert Wagner's Predictions; and LA's predictions from 1988 for 2013
New York in 1962, Mayor Robert Wagner's Predictions; and LA's predictions from 1988 for 2013

Throughout history, people have spent a great deal of time pondering what the future holds.  Scientific discovery, technological innovation - along with rebellious androids, zombies, flying cars, hover crafts, visiting aliens - have been consistently used as stereotypes that emerge in predictions for our imagined future.  And while Hollywood was busy exploring dystopian scenarios of this near-future, architects were composing utopian images of an optimistic vision for cities. Architects have built careers upon predicting what cities can potentially become - developing forms, functions, plans and visions of possibilities in the social, political, economic and cultural realms through architecture.  In 1962, Mayor Robert Wagner of NYC predicted a culturally diverse, economically viable, global city for New York in 2012.  In 1988, Los Angeles Times Magazine gave its 25-year forecast for Los Angeles in 2013, predicting what a life for a family would be like, filled with robots, electric cars, smart houses and an abundance of video-conferencing.  Find out how their predictions fared after the break.

A Conversation on Firm Culture with Carole Wedge and Jessica Lane

As part of AIA San Francisco's continuous effort to highlight women in architecture and better understand the imbalance of gender in the profession, they are hosting two great women for a conversation on firm culture, leadership and mentorship which will take place March 19th from 6:00pm-8:00pm PST. Carole Wedge, FAIA - Shepley Bulfinch's first female President in its 130 year history- will talk with emerging designer Jessica Lane of EHDD to discuss Carole's start at Shepley Bulfinch, in 1986, working in the mailroom as a co-op architecture student at the Boston Architectural Center, as well as her appointment, in 2004, as president. For more information, please visit here.

Gehry Designs Mixed-Use Tower for Downtown Santa Monica

Developers M. David Paul Associates and the Worthe Real Estate Group have commissioned Frank Gehry to design a mixed-use hotel and residential tower in his hometown of Santa Monica, California. The 22-story “Ocean Avenue Project” aims to stimulate the coastal city’s economy with street-level restaurant and retail space below a 125-room hotel and 22-unit condominium tower topped with a rooftop observation deck. As for accommodating the car-centric lifestyle of the West Coast, resident and visitor parking will be available in a three-story subterranean garage beneath the tower. In addition, the developers plan to integrate a 36,000 square foot museum campus that will add a cultural perk to the development just North of its two-acre site. 

Although this project looks promising, the 244-foot, Gehry-esque tower is currently pending approval from the City. A vote by the end of March will decide its fate.

More images of the “Ocean Avenue Project” after the break...

The West Coast's Tallest: Wilshire Grand / AC Martin Partners

Developer Korean Air has recently unveiled the designs for the new 73-story Wilshire Grand tower in the financial district of Los Angeles, California. AC Martin Partners designed the plans for the $1 billion mixed-use office and hotel tower that will reach 1,100 feet, making it the tallest tower west of Chicago once completed. 

Read more after the break...

Google Collaborates with NBBJ to Expand California Headquarters

One thing Google has become known for is their spectacular work environments. From playful employee lounges to environmentally sensitive design, the multifaceted internet giant has successfully transformed hundreds of existing spaces from around the globe into casual work environments that spawn innovation, optimizes efficiency, and boasts employee satisfaction. Much like many other California-based corporations, Google has been toying with the idea of building their own office space from scratch. Well, this dream will soon be realized, as the company has teamed up with Seattle-based NBBJ to expand their current, 65-building “Googleplex” in Mountain View, California, by adding a 1.1-million-square-foot complex known as “Bay View” on a neighboring 42-acre site. 

More on Bay View after the break...

Gensler Designs New Silicon Valley Headquarters for Nvidia

Silicon Valley visual-computing pioneer Nvidia has joined the expanding list of tech moguls seeking to transform their work environment into the physical manifestation of their innovative business model. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has released the first schematic renderings - designed by Gensler’s San Francisco office - that depict a pair of 250,000 square foot triangular motherships centered around collaboration - a complete contrast to the typical, dated office building commonly found throughout Silicon Valley’s “oddly banal” landscape.

More after the break...

Iwan Baan: 'The Way We Live' Exhibition

Opening tonight, February 20, at 6:00pm PST at the Perry Rubenstein Gallery in Los AngelesIwan Baan's 'The Way We Live' exhibition features captivating large-scale images of urban, architectural, and home environments that capture Baan’s singular vision. Baan’s artistic practice examines how we live and interact with architecture, focusing on the human element, which brings buildings, intersections, and public gathering places to life. Running until April 13, this is Baan's first solo exhibition at the gallery. More information after the break.

Winy Maas to Deliver Lecture on “What’s Next?” at NSAD

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV / © Jiri Havran
DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV / © Jiri Havran

Taking place this coming Wednesday, February 20th, Winy Maas, a Netherlands-based architect, urbanist and co-founder of the internationally-recognized firm MVRDV, is scheduled to speak at NewSchool of Architecture and Design (NSAD) at 9:00am PST on the topic of “What’s Next?”. The free lecture includes a discussion on the recent works of MVRDV and the research institute The Why Factory, a think tank directed by Maas in collaboration with Delft University of Technology that develops scenarios and models of the city of the future. For more information, please visit here.

LA Architecture School Boasts Stimulating Post-professional Programs

Two dynamic post-graduate programs offered by the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles have been charged with examining core contemporary issues facing architecture today. Spanning topics from advanced manufacturing methodologies and new building systems, to urban planning and design challenges faced globally, these post-professional tracks allow students to rethink architecture and design through the creative lens of the SCI-Arc community. 

The architecture school’s Emerging Systems, Technologies & Media (ESTm) and Future Initiatives (SCIFI) programs are conceived as intensive one-year (three semesters) post-professional degrees in architecture, functioning as think tanks and research engines within the larger framework of the school. 

Update: SFMOMA Expansion / Snøhetta

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) has announced further details of its 235,000-square-foot building expansion that will support the museum's increasing role in city life and the international art community. Designed by Norway-based practice Snøhetta, in collaboration with local firm EHDDthe 10-story concrete structure will compliment SFMOMA's original, Mario Botta-designed, red-brick museum by offering more free-to-the-public space, expanded education programs and an abundance of flexible performance-based gallery space.

Mexican Architect Fernando Romero to Speak at NewSchool of Architecture and Design

Courtesy of Fernando Romero
Courtesy of Fernando Romero

Mexican architect Fernando Romero will be speaking tomorrow evening, January 16, at NewSchool of Architecture and Design in San Diego on the topic of “You are the Context” as part of the school’s lecture series. Free and open to the public, the event focuses on how we must reconsider the definition of context as it pertains to architecture as the global reach of projects increases through digital communication. Named to Fast Company’s Co.Design “Designers Shaping the Future” 2012, his recent Soumaya Museum in Mexico City is described by CNN’s Great Buildings series as “jaw-dropping.” For more information, please visit here.

Our Ideal City? Seen through the eyes of the Pacific West Coast.

View of Silicon Valley via Flickr user Shootyoureyeout
View of Silicon Valley via Flickr user Shootyoureyeout

As most New Yorkers know, people are willing to shell out a hefty sum to live in a place where work and play are right around the corner from each other.  But as the article by Ken Layne in The Awl  points out, the west coast is a somewhat different place.  UNLIKE New York City, which is crowded with restaurants, bars, and entertainment, as well as offices, design firms and businesses; Silicon Valley, which caters to programmers and tech companies that hire at $100k a year, offers few of the amenities that a nearby town like San Francisco does.  So, Layne concludes, residents are willing to spend hours of their day  making their way into the fortressed office parks of Silicon Valley, flanked by parking lots and boulevards, just to have a cultural reprieve to call home.  

New United States Courthouse Competition Entry / Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design

Courtesy of  Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design
Courtesy of Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design

Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design and Gruen Associates have shared with us their second place proposal for the highly anticipated design-build competition for the new United States courthouse in Los Angeles, California. Envisioned as an icon within the city skyline, the triangular monolith provides a sustainable, 21st century courthouse that embodies the democratic qualities of dignity, stature, transparency, openness and accessibility.

Located at a pivotal node connecting the Los Angeles Civic Center, the Broadway Historic District and Bunker Hill, the 550,000 square foot courthouse is surrounded by a lush civic space that plays an important role in the existing cityscape.

Read the architect’s description after the break…

SOM Wins Bid to Design Los Angeles Federal Courthouse

The GSA has announced that Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill have been selected as the architects of the new Los Angeles Federal Courthouse, which will house the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, and the U.S. Marshals Service. The architects beat out 3 other shortlisted teams to win the $318 million project.

According to the GSA, "The new 550,000-square-foot building will be a sustainable, cost-effective, state-of-the-art court facility that includes security upgrades that are not available in the current 312 North Spring Street courthouse."

The site, located at 107 South Broadway (down the street from Morphosis’ Caltrans building, LA’s City Hall, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall) has been dormant since 2007; although a $1.1 billion design by Perkins + Will was selected soon after, it was abandoned when Congress slashed the GSA's construction budget. The GSA considers the approval of the new redevelopment plan a "major milestone."

More info and images, after the break...

'Live Share Grow' Farm Tower Proposal / Brandon Martella

Courtesy of Brandon Martella
Courtesy of Brandon Martella

With produce coming from the Imperial Valley, Central California Valley, neighboring states and other countries the 30,000 plus residents of San Diego’s central urban context consume 21,231,000 pounds of produce each year. Where will we get our food? Transparency in the food industry needs to occur and enlighten blinded consumers. Our city needs to handle this critical issue with an architecture that responds. A new type of residential tower needs to come forth. Utilizing vertical farming, Brandon Martella’s “Live Share Grow’ proposal is a new model of living can be tested and resolved in a dense vertical community. More images and architects’ description after the break.

WorkAC, SO - IL, and Henning Larsen Architects To Compete For UC Davis Art Museum

Viborg Town Hall, by Henning Larsen Architects, one of 4 architectural firms competing to design UC Davis' next Art Museum. © Thorbjoern Hansen Kontraframe
Viborg Town Hall, by Henning Larsen Architects, one of 4 architectural firms competing to design UC Davis' next Art Museum. © Thorbjoern Hansen Kontraframe

The University of California Davis (UCD) has selected three pairings of architects and contractors to compete to design a $30-million art museum, expected to be completed in 2016. The university has decided against a traditional competition in favor of a design-build competition, requesting that each of the prospective architects - WorkACSO-IL (working with Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, of Apple store fame), and Henning Larsen Architects - work with specific contractors in order to develop holistically conceived museum schemes. More information after the break.

Golden State Warriors Stadium / Snøhetta + AECOM


The Golden State Warriors recently announced that Snøhetta and AECOM have been selected as the architecture team to design the Warriors’ new sports and entertainment complex on the San Francisco waterfront. Currently in the final stages of the agreement, the new stadium will be a true centerpiece in hosting the Bay Area’s NBA basketball team, as well as provide a great venue concerts, cultural events and conventions, which are all prominent events the city currently cannot accommodate. More images of the architects’ design can be viewed after the break.