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

Open Space View in Forecourt. Image © Grimshaw / , 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 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, principle of Los Angeles-based RoTo Architecture and former student of Cal Poly Pomona, has been selected to receive the Richard J. Neutra Medal for Professional Excellence 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


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

“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: Los Angeles, 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 up. Find out more after the break.

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

2013 Visualization. Image © , 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 LACMA 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

, . 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 Predock Frane Architects (Click image for more). Image © Predock Frane Architects

Michael Maltzan, Frederick Fisher, Predock Frane, MAD and Leong Leong have been shortlisted in a limited competition to design a new Los Angeles LGBT Center (formerly called 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 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, , CA, USA
Area: 2200.0 ft2
Year: 2013
Photographs: Eric Staudenmaier

Dual House / Dimster Architecture

© Eric Staudenmaier

Architects: Dimster Architecture
Location: Venice, Los Angeles, CA,
Year: 2012
Photographs: Eric Staudenmaier, Chibi Moku

SCI-Arc Appoints Hernan Diaz Alonso as New Director

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

The Southern 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.

Three-Team Shortlist Selected to Redevelop LA’s Convention Center

© Wikimedia CC User Cbl62

The Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering has selected three teams for the next phase of the competition to redevelop and expand the Los Angeles Convention Center. The teams, consisting of AC Martin + LMN; Gensler + Lehrer Architects; and HMC + Populous, will now receive $200,000 to develop detailed proposals to be submitted on December 8th.

However, according to The Architect’s Newspaper, the redevelopment of the Convention Center outlined by the brief is not yet guaranteed to happen; with the city under contract with AEG to build a football stadium on a portion of the site until October 18th, the Convention Center’s Executive Director Bud Ovrum confirmed that, if the city can secure an NFL team by then, the stadium is still the city’s first choice.

BLOCK: Envisioning Future Cities in a Video Game

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BLOCK is a video game that “will breach the digital with the physical” and allow anyone to become an active participant in the future of Los Angeles. Described by FAST Co.Exist as “Minecraft for real life” the gameplay, which also bears similarity to The Sims, is founded on understanding the interdependencies of city entities such as housing, shops, parks and infrastructure. The objective of the game is to both educate people and to generate user data for design patterns for the Los Angeles of 2050, producing the first database of a future city. BLOCK allows the player to understand the ecology of the urban realm (focusing on resources such as money, waste, and social capital) ultimately encouraging entrepreneurship “through the design of an ecological urbanism.” Fundamentally, it allows for new opportunities to be conceived in the city.

This Whimsical Cage Redefines Public Space

Courtesy of Warren Techentin Architecture

Folly is a word not often used in architecture. By definition, ‘folly’ is a lack of good sense, or foolishness. And in the realm of architecture, folly is used to describe an extravagantly ornamented structure with no practical purpose. Yet gathering their inspiration from this word, Warren Techentin Architecture (WTARCH) have created and mounted a functional folly, appropriately named La Cage aux Folles (The Cage of Follies). Constructed of painted, steel tubes and installed at Materials & Applications, an centre in Los Angeles, La Cage aux Folles played host to an array of musical performances and lectures. 

Explore La Cage aux Folles with more photos and info after the break. 

Heatherwick Exhibitions Set to Tour US and Asia

Heatherwick Studio’s 2010 Shanghai Expo pavilion. Image © Daniele Mattioli

Thomas Heatherwick is set to expand his international reputation in the coming year, thanks to two exhibitions that will tour the United States and East Asia, reports the Architects’ Journal. The US exhibition, titled “Provocations: The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studio” will tour Dallas, LA and New York from September 2014 to October 2015. The Asia exhibit is yet to be formally announced, although it is believed it will begin in Singapore in Spring 2015. Read on after the break for more details of the exhibitions.

Museum of Tolerance, Anne Frank Exhibit / Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design

© Benny Chan

Architects: Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design
Location: , CA, USA
Area: 3995.0 ft2
Year: 2013
Photographs: Benny Chan

Cedars-Sinai 360 Simulation Lab / Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design

© Benny Chan

Architects: Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design
Location: , CA, USA
Area: 23000.0 ft2
Year: 2013
Photographs: Benny Chan

PAR Awarded AIA LA’s Presidential Emerging Practice Award

Taichung Cultural Center- Park View. Image by Luxigon. Image Courtesy of

Design firm Platform for Architecture + Research (PAR) has been awarded AIA Los Angeles’ Presidential Emerging Practice Award. The award, which reflects “notable, innovative achievements in design and service to the profession,” is the highest honor given by LA each year. This year, in response to Los Angeles’s continued urban evolution, the award jury nominated those firms who “take leadership roles in advancing the profession and thus, the City.” PAR fit the bill, both for their research-based design approach, and their commitment to improving public life through design.  See some of their latest work, after the break!