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 (USC) campus site in Los Angeles.

Walnut Residence / Modal Design

© Benny Chan for Fotoworks

Architects: Modal Design
Location: Venice, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Architect In Charge: Daniel Monti
Area: 2727.0 ft2
Year: 2010
Photographs: Benny Chan for Fotoworks

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 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.

Adaptable Sneaker Boutique / UP

Architects: UP
Location: , CA,
Concept, Architecture, Design & Motion Graphics : UP
Area: 1860.0 ft2
Year: 2014
Photographs: Carlton Beener

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.

“The Broad 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 , has been selected to receive the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2015 . 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.

AIA|LA Honors Los Angeles’ Best with Design Awards

Emerson College / Morphosis Architects; , CA . Image © Iwan Baan

Los Angeles (|LA) has announced the recipients of the 2014 Design Awards. Twenty-one Los Angeles firms and 14 presidential honorees have been honored for excellence in both built (Design Awards) and unbuilt works (Next LA Awards). 

Among the recipients include Brooks + Scarpa’s Pico Place and Johnston Marklee’s Vault House. View all the winners, after the break. 

Grimshaw and Gruen’s LA Union Station Masterplan Gains Approval from Planning Board

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

Update: The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors has approved approved the proposed masterplan by Grimshaw and Gruen; the scheme will now go ahead, subject to the availability of funding. The below article is from 22 September 2014.

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.

Michael Rotondi to Receive Richard J. Neutra Medal for Professional Excellence

Michael Rotondi

Michael Rotondi, principle of Los Angeles-based RoTo Architecture and former student of Cal Poly Pomona, has been selected to receive the from the College of Environmental Design at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Co-founder of SCI-Arc and long-time architectural educator at Arizona State University, Rotondi was selected for his “commitment to architectural education, for the concern he shows in his work for society and the environment, and for the inventiveness of his architecture,” says Cal Poly Pomona professor Sarah Lorenzen.

​In Residence: Ray Kappe

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As part of NOWNESS’ latest In Residence series, American architect Ray Kappe takes you on a tour through his glass and redwood “treehouse” on Los Angeles’ Rustic Canyon hillside. Built some 50 years ago, the house is considered to be one of the greatest modern residences in Southern

“The house works so well you don’t even notice its age,” says director Matthew Donaldson. “It’s the real deal; not a piece of furniture has changed, and the house is used every day and has brought up a family. It’s like they got it right and didn’t need to change a thing—surely that’s a sign of great architecture?”

Cloverdale749 / Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects

© Lawrence Anderson

Architects: Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects
Location: , CA,
Architect In Charge: Lorcan O’Herlihy
Area: 10500.0 ft2
Year: 2014
Photographs: Lawrence Anderson

Interactive Infographic Tracks the Growth of the World’s Megacities

Tokyo remains the world’s largest city, but is beginning to see competition from the world’s other megacities. Image © Flickr CC User Les Taylor

With more than 7 billion people now alive, the greatest population growth over the last century has occurred in urban areas. Now, a new series of interactive maps entitled “The Age of Megacities” and developed by software company ESRI allows us to visualize these dramatic effects and see just how this growth has shaped the geography of 10 of the world’s 28 megacities. Defined as areas with continuous urban development of over 10 million people, the number of megacities in the world is expected to increase, and while Tokyo still tops the list as the world’s largest megacity, other cities throughout Asia are quickly catching . Find out more after the break.

Renzo Piano Comments on the Difficulties of Designing LA’s Motion Picture Academy

2013 Visualization. Image © Building Workshop, Studio Pali Fekete architects, AMPAS

In discussion with Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times, Renzo Piano has taken his comments of modesty – verging on “self-deprecation” – to a new level. In response to questions about the design of the proposed Motion Picture Academy in Los Angeles he has said: “I don’t think it will be that bad. [...] Actually, I’m struggling to do something good.” Although Piano’s design has previously been met with criticisms from Hawthorne, the Italian architect notes in this latest interview that ”everything we’ve made at has been extremely complicated.” The project, which has already seen a major alteration in the core design team, remains set to complete in 2015.

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

Lopez House / Martin Fenlon Architecture

© Eric Staudenmaier

Architects: Martin Fenlon Architecture
Location: Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, CA,
Area: 2200.0 ft2
Year: 2013
Photographs: Eric Staudenmaier