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, USA
Area: 2200.0 ft2
Year: 2013
Photographs: Eric Staudenmaier

Dual House / Dimster Architecture

© Eric Staudenmaier

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

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 © Hernan Diaz Alonso, Courtesy of SCI-Arc

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

YouTube Preview Image

BLOCK is a video 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

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

’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: Los Angeles, 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!

The Solution To Pollution Is…The Rooftops?

Titanium Dioxide, used to keep Richard Meier’s Jubilee Church a crisp white, is now being looked at for pollution reduction at The University of California – Riverside. Image © Flickr User Rory MacLeod

The potential solution to smog and pollution may be hovering right over our heads, now that Students at the University of California – Riverside have designed a pollution reducing rooftop tile. According to their calculations, cladding one million rooftops with the tiles could remove 21 tons of nitrogen oxides — daily. Currently the Los Angeles area spits out 500 tons of nitrogen oxides a day, so the tiles are just one piece of the puzzle in reducing pollution – however the students are imagining their nitrogen-oxide-eating Titanium Dioxide compound in exterior paints, concrete and more. To see all the possibilities, read the full article here.

Los Angeles: The River City?

The industrial corridor of the Los Angeles River at the Seventh Street bridge in downtown L.A., as photographed by Lane Barden for his Linear City Portfolio. Image Courtesy of Lane Barden

Did you know a 51-mile river runs through the city of Los Angeles? It might not be immediately recognizable as a river, but it’s there. In a drastic attempt to prevent flooding in the early 1900s, the Army Corps of Engineers essentially turned the entire river into a giant drainage channel by encasing it in concrete. This article, originally posted on Metropolis Magazine, investigates landscape architect ’s vision to remedy the situation by transforming the desolate space into a public greenway, and a celebrated feature of Los Angeles.

From the offices of Los Angeles–based landscape architect Mia Lehrer, located near the western edge of Koreatown, you might not even know that Los Angeles has a river. It’s not visible from here — instead we can see other things L.A. is known for: the Hollywood sign, traffic, billboards, a dense urban grid that runs forever. In fact, unless you are right up against it, you may not see the river at all. In its current form, it sits as the abandoned, Brutalist evidence of the city’s past battles with seasonal flooding, an expedient way to move water quickly to the sea. To many, it’s more like an urban-design crime scene of missed opportunities and missteps, begging to be corrected. If Lehrer has her way, it will be corrected so that Los Angeles, the city with the huge drainage channel, becomes Los Angeles, river city.

Gehry to Design Campus for Non-Profit in Los Angeles Neighborhood

Watts Tower. Image via Wikimedia

Frank Gehry, renowned for his often enormous public works projects, is turning his attention to something on a smaller scale: a campus for the non-profit organization CII (Children’s Institute Inc.) in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. Perhaps best known for Watts tower, the architecture of Watts is shaped by limited income and the need to deter vandalism. according to the LA Times Gehry’s intervention will hopefully be a tipping point for a neighborhood desperate to change not just its aesthetic but its future. Read the full article about the project here.

Video: Los Angeles from Above

This time-lapse video, entitled “Above LA,” is Chris Pritchard’s love letter to Los Angeles. Filmed over the course of two years, Pritchard sought out locations to showcase the city in a way people rarely get to see  from above. Some of the views were easy to seek out, while others involved some exploratory hiking and trespassing. He encourages “everyone – lifelong Angelenos, transplants, visitors – to hit the trails, drive the mountain roads, find a reason to get on top of a high-rise. From the basin to the valley, this city offers so many opportunities to rise above and look down. Never stop exploring.”

Peter Zumthor & LACMA Unveil Revised Museum Design

Model of the new design. Image © Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner

Peter Zumthor and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) have revealed a revised design for the museum’s $650 million new home on Museum Row in Los Angeles. The new design still features the sinuous glass and grey concrete slab raised a full story off the ground, but under the new proposal part of the museum would bridge Wilshire Boulevard to touch down on what is currently a car park opposite.

The change comes in response to criticisms that the previous design would put the neighboring La Brea Tar Pits at risk, threatening their status as an active paleontological research site and a popular tourist destination. The shape of the new design removes this risk by withdrawing from the boundary with the adjacent tar pits, without compromising on floor space in the museum.

More on the revised design after the break