The developers behind a recently-proposed project that would bring a 1,020-foot-tall, Handel Architects-designed skyscraper complex to Downtown Los Angeles have officially submitted their project plans with the City of L.A. Urbanize.la reports that developers MacFarlane Partners, Peebles Corporation, and Claridge Partners submitted updated plans for a 1.26 million-square-foot proposal last week that would bring 120 condominiums, 450 apartments, 480 hotel rooms, and 50,000-square-feet of commercial uses to the hillside site formerly known as Angels Knoll park. The $1.2 billion project will also include a 45,000-square-foot charter school and is being designed to hug the rugged terrain via a complex of porous edges that connect to the adjacent Angels Flight funicular and an associated staircase. Site and landscape design for the project is being performed by OLIN and will feature a complex set of outdoor terraces, amphitheaters, and gardens. At least 50 percent of the project site will be left open under the current scheme, with a pair of towers and a stepped podium occupying improved areas. Glenn Rescalvo, partner at Handel Architects, told The Los Angeles Times, “We want to make the site as permeable as possible. You could enter from different points and reach all the other locations." Renderings for the project depict a tapered 88-story tower filled with condominiums, apartments, and 192 hotel rooms. A second, 27-story tower will house the remaining hotel rooms and the charter school. Don Peebles of Peebles Corporation told The Los Angeles Times, "It's basically a neighborhood within a building," adding, “It's the wave of the future for urban living." The Handel Architects proposal was selected by the city’s Chief Legislative Analyst earlier this year from among three other bids that included proposals by Natoma Architects and Gensler. The development site was originally envisioned as the location for a third tower planned for the California Plaza complex in the 1980s and 1990s, but the plan never materialized. Instead, disused site eventually became Angels Knoll park in early 2000s and was immortalized in the 2009 film 500 Days of Summer. The park closed in 2013 and its grounds have sat fenced-off and vacant ever since. The project will soon be joining the long-stalled, Frank Gehry-designed Grand Avenue Project, which is slated to contain 436 housing units, a 314-room hotel and 209,000 square feet of commercial space in a pair of 20- and 39-story towers. The Handel Architects project is estimated to take at least 41 months to build; the development team behind the project has announced a projected completion date of December 31, 2024.
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Frank Gehry has been selected to design a new expansion to the Colburn School performing arts center in Downtown Los Angeles, marking the architect’s third high-profile project in the area following the Disney Concert Hall and the long-forthcoming Grand Avenue mixed-use project. For this latest project, Gehry Partners will add a 200,000-square-foot structure containing three new performance venues, including an 1,100-seat, full-scale, orchestra-caliber concert hall, a 700-seat flexible studio theater for dance and vocal performances, and a 100-seat “cabaret-style” space, according to a press release. Gehry will be joined on the project by Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics—the same acoustician who worked on the Disney Concert Hall—and Michael Ferguson, principal of TheatreDNA, whose former office—Theater Projects—consulted on Gehry’s New World Center in Miami, Florida. The project comes as the second expansion to the Colburn School, following the addition of a 326,000-square-foot facility designed by Pfeiffer Partners Architects in 2007. The school’s original 102,000-square-foot home was designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates in 1998. The Colburn expansion will further boost Grand Avenue’s status as a premiere cultural district in the city, with the project joining the Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Music Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Broad among other cultural venues and institutions In the area. Now that the project team has been announced, the designers will move into the conceptual design phase of the project. A detailed timeline or estimated completion date for the project has not been unveiled.
New York–based architects ODA and Miami-based developer Crescent Heights have revealed new renderings for a 70-story apartment tower slated for Downtown Los Angeles. The mixed-use development will be located at the intersection of 11th Street and Olive Street; it aims to bring 794 apartments and 12,504 square feet of ground floor commercial space to downtown’s South Park district. The midcentury modern–inspired tower has been dubbed 1045 Olive and is being shepherded by the city through an expedited permitting process thanks to California’s ELDP program, a measure that guarantees sped-up approval for projects that invest over $100 million in the state’s economy. Renderings for the building depict a rectangular, flat-topped tower resting on a parking podium. The tower’s midsection is interrupted by a multistory amenity complex that features large corner openings several stories in height. One of the large cutouts along this area contains an outdoor pool and deck overlooked by glass-clad amenity spaces that include an indoor gym. The building’s conventional floors are wrapped in protruding wood-clad balconies in an effort to bring the outside indoors and challenge the standard thinking on residential tower designs in the downtown area, Curbed reports. The architects took an unusual approach with regard to the design of the parking podium, which is wrapped in apartment units that overlook the street. The tower, if completed to a height of 810 feet as currently designed, would become one of the tallest residential structures in the region, though it would fall roughly 165 feet below the recently proposed 925 S. Figueroa tower designed by CallisonRTKL. Developer Crescent heights is also working on a pair of other high-rise developments in the area, including the controversial Palladium Residences designed by Natoma Architects in Hollywood and the Handel Architects–designed Ten Thousand tower in Beverly Hills. An official timeline for 1045 Olive has not been released; see the project website for more information.
Historic Foreman & Clark in Downtown Los Angeles to become apartments
OKB Architecture has released renderings that depict planned renovations to the historic Foreman & Clark building in Downtown Los Angeles. The L.A.-based firm will convert the former department store and office building into a mixed-use apartment complex containing 125 units and 8,500 square feet of ground level retail. The building dates to 1928 and is organized along a series of double-loaded internal corridors, which, along with many of the building’s original decorative elements, will be retained through the conversion. The proposed apartments will ring the building’s exterior facades, with one set of units looking out over a large fifth floor courtyard and the others along the perimeter of the structure. The building will contain a collection of one- and two-bedroom units. New additions to the structure include renovations to the fifth floor terrace overlooking the street and the addition of a new rooftop penthouse level. The shared terrace will contain building amenities like integrated seating areas, shade pavilions, and modest plantings. Renderings for the project depict updated ground floor retail areas with double-height glass-clad storefronts buttressed by low walls. The renderings also depict a new, more prominent residential lobby entrance along 7th Street marked by an oversized awning. The project joins a growing number of new developments within and around Downtown Los Angeles’s historic Broadway Theatre District, including a forthcoming 450-unit condominium tower inspired by the surrounding historic mercantile structures by architects Hanson LA. Because many of the area’s structures are historically significant, many of the new developments in the district consist of interior renovations and condominium and office conversions. A timeline for the Foreman & Clark project has not been announced.
Big and Tall
66-story tower proposed for Downtown Los Angeles
Global architecture firm Callison RTKL and Newport Beach, California–based MJS Landscape Architecture have released a rendering of a new 66-story tall mixed-use residential tower proposed for the bustling entertainment district in Downtown Los Angeles. According to documents submitted to the Los Angeles Planning Department, the project would bring 200 condominium units and a 220-room hotel to 925 S. Figueroa, Urbanize.LA reports. The project would also include 94,000 square feet of retail spaces and parking for 617 automobiles. The project is one of a handful of towers Callison RTKL is currently working on in the Downtown L.A. area, including a 57-story tall, Jenga-shaped tower proposed for a lot adjacent to Pershing Square. That tower features projecting, cantilevered swimming pools and a sky-lobby. Callison RTKL is also working on the three-towered Oceanwide Plaza, also on Figueroa Street. The new, rectangular tower is set to rise out of a large parking and retail podium. That podium will be topped with recreational uses for hotel guests and condominium residents. The rendering released for the project indicates that like many of the historic high-rise towers across downtown, the monolith will be capped by a flat-topped roof. The arrangement used to be inscribed in local fire code as a safety measure to be utilized in the event tall buildings had to be evacuated via helicopter, but the rule was recently overturned. The project at 925 S. Figueroa marks the 19th high-rise tower proposed or under construction along Figueroa Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Architects Gensler recently revealed plans for an eccentric, 52-story tall tower at the southern edge of this new district. Gensler is also responsible for the Metropolis, 1020 South Figueroa, and Fig+Pico projects along Figueroa. Meanwhile, SOM and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S are behind the Olympia development, while Harley Ellis Devereaux and Hanson LA are deep into construction on the twin Circa towers. The developments—which track along the Blue and Expo light rail lines and surround the L.A. Live, Staples Center, and Los Angeles Convention Center complexes—are sure to continue to grow in their ranks as the city moves toward building 8,000 new hotel rooms near the Convention Center by 2020.
The architects and developers behind the new 2-million-square-foot Circa complex have revealed new renderings for their partially-completed project in Downtown Los Angeles’s South Park neighborhood. The project, designed by architects Harley Ellis Devereaux with interiors by Hanson LA, will bring 648 apartments to the neighborhood in a pair of 35-story high rounded, twin towers. Those units—located above a 48,000-square foot, five-story retail and parking podium—will be arranged in one-, two-, and three-bedroom configurations and will range in size from 700 to 3,800 square feet. The towers will be connected by a landscaped pool patio and cabana areas located atop the podium. Additionally, according to the new renderings released by the developer, the towers will also feature streamlined floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall exteriors. The buildings’ eastern and western facades also contain protruding exterior balconies. A construction camera overlooking the site shows the podium level and towers’ structural components partially completed, with the towers rising out of the ground and nearly reaching their apex. The complex is located along a booming strip of development that includes a collection of at least 15 other new high-rise housing towers that are either undergoing approval or under construction, including Metropolis (four towers), Oceanwide Plaza (three towers), 1020 South Figueroa (three towers), Fig+Pico (two towers), and Olympia (three towers). These towers, funded predominantly by foreign capital and located directly across from the Staples Center, L.A. Live complex, and Los Angeles Convention Center are due to change not only the character of the areas immediately surrounding these venues—many of the proposed projects feature large-scale, electronic signs for advertisements and art—but also the city as a whole by introducing a large collection of luxury and market-rate apartments, condominiums, and hotels. Circa is due to open in early 2018. For more information on the project, see the Circa website.
New details are emerging for a striking tower designed by Buffalo, New York—based Adam Sokol Architecture Practice (asap) for Downtown Los Angeles’s Historic Core. The proposed 28-story Spring Street Hotel will replace an existing parking lot sandwiched between 19th-century skyscrapers and will feature a 170-key hotel. The tower, developed by New York—based Lizard Capital, will rise to 338 feet in height and will feature an automated parking garage that will contain 63 stalls. The project was originally expected to rely on existing parking structures in the surrounding neighborhood for guest parking, but a draft environmental impact report for the project details three levels of subterranean parking with two floors of automated stalls. The report also indicates that the mixed-use project will contain ground-floor retail, including a 7,050-square-foot restaurant and a 3,780-square-foot “gallery bar.” The project will make ample use of rooftop amenities further up the height of the tower, including a 3,780-square-foot rooftop bar and lounge, as well as a 2,770-square-foot pool deck. The inside of the building is set to contain a large conference and movie screening room as well as a 1,000-square-foot gym and 1,000 square feet of office space. The tower’s unconventional, faceted upper floors cap a more traditional and contextual, gridded base that's designed to match the surrounding structures in terms of scale and proportion. This lower section also matches at the cornice line with the surrounding 12- to 13-story early skyscraper towers along Spring Street. The remaining height of the tower not only changes geometry and texture, but also steps back as it rises further. The upper section of the tower features a regular array of punched openings that turn irregular toward the sharply faceted crown. There, renderings released by the architects showcase a series of larger, square-shaped openings and loggia spaces, presumably the lounge and restaurant spaces. HLW International will act as Executive Architect and Architect of Record for the project. The project is expected to start construction later this year and is due to be completed by mid-2019.
Plans to begin construction have been filed by architects Johnson Fain and developers Mitsui Fudosan America for the newest proposed high-rise tower set to rise in downtown Los Angeles. The so-called 8th & Fig tower is to be located at the heart of the city’s downtown financial district, an area that has seen a boom in high-rise construction over the last few years, including the Wilshire Grand Hotel tower, now the city’s tallest tower and highest building west of the Mississippi River, as well as several other adaptive reuse projects and the addition of a new Whole Foods market. The 42-story tower is set to contain 436 residential units that will rise out of a four-story podium containing 10,000-square feet of commercial space along the ground floor as well as an eight-level, 479-stall parking garage with four subterranean parking decks. Renderings depicting the glass-clad tower feature striated facades on all sides with each level’s floor plate protruding slightly from the building’s envelope. The podium level will feature amenities like a pool deck as well as what appears to be a series of landscaped, park-like areas. The project comes as Johnson Fain breaks ground on work across the region, with a new mixed-use, 355-unit, mixed-income pedestrian housing complex moving forward in the nearby Chinatown area and the firm’s ongoing renovations to Phillip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral also moving forward this year. Plans filed with the city detail a March 2018 construction start date, with the project team aiming to open for occupancy the building sometime in 2020.
For transit boosters and urbanists in Los Angeles, last weekend’s opening of the 6.6 mile extension to the city’s Expo Line linking Downtown Los Angeles with Santa Monica represents a capstone over a quarter century of hard-fought rail construction in a city notorious for its auto-dependent populace. Los Angeles systematically dismantled its pre-World War II Red Car system in the post-war era and did not begin rebuilding its rail transit infrastructure until in the late 1980s. Metro opened the Blue line in 1990, a 22-mile light rail route linking Downtown Los Angeles with Long Beach. Since then, the system has grown exponentially, with two subway routes, four light rail lines, and two rapid bus lines completed since. Much of the recent expansion has been funded with money collected via sales tax increases. The Metro has another such initiative, Measure R2, on the November ballot this year aiming to help the agency continue its vigorous growth. A first phase of the Expo Line opened in 2012 linking downtown to Culver City. The now-completed 15.2 mile route reestablishes rail transportation between the beach-adjacent westside communities and the region’s symbolic heart downtown by essentially reviving the route taken by the Pacific Electric Red Car service’s Air Line service that ran along the former Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe right of way between 1908 to 1953. The new line is expected to take around an hour end to end, about the same amount of time it takes to drive in good traffic. The Expo Phase II project was constructed via a design-build partnership between Skanska USA and Rados Construction Inc. and was administered by Expo Authority, the independent agency created by Metro to build the line. Skanska USA tapped Parsons Brinckerhoff to design the route’s tracks, stations, and bicycle facilities. Parsons Brinckerhoff also designed 24 at-grade and above-grade intersections for the line. Celebrations took place at each of the seven new stations last weekend and Metro offered free fares on Friday and Saturday to commemorate the completion of the new line. The much-hyped weekend saw so many Angelenos flock to stops along the route that service got backed up as enthusiasts and skeptics alike rode rail transit to the beach for the first time in sixty years. But in perhaps a sign the difficulty Metro faces in changing L.A.’s car-dependent culture, service ground to a halt for nearly two hours Monday morning when a drunk driver drove onto the Expo Line’s tracks along an at-grade run of the line near downtown, snarling the line’s first weekday morning commute.
AC Martin is one step closer to completing L.A.’s newest and tallest tower. As workers and business executives in hardhats scribbled optimistic phrases like “we did it!” and “one year left to go” onto a massive wide flange beam, Wilshire Grand Tower, LA's soon-to-be tallest spire, topped out Tuesday afternoon at a gregarious ceremony hosted by Turner Construction and AC Martin, the tower’s chief contractor and architect, respectively, and Korean Air, developer of the project. Crew members cheered as cranes lifted the final beam into place, 892 feet up, completing the structure’s core and leaving only the tower’s top floors and spire to be constructed. The ceremony, attended by many of the 800 workers rapidly assembling the west coast’s newest homage to high strength concrete and glass, included a barbecue lunch prepared on site that filled the surrounding business district with the wafting scent of mesquite. The event was celebratory in nature, with team members, executives, and elected officials posing for photos as journalists surveyed the cavernous rib cage of the building’s future shopping plaza along Figueroa Street. According to Turner Construction’s website, when completed, Wilshire Grand will host 20 floors of Class A office (400,000 square feet) and a 42 story hotel consisting of 900 suites. The aforementioned 400,000 square feet of podium along Figueroa is set to include ballrooms, meeting halls, pedestrian-oriented retail, and a 1,250-spot parking garage. The structure is the first building to rise since L.A.’s City Council overturned a 40 year fire safety rule mandating flat-topped skyscrapers in the city. Wilshire Grand Tower, rising to 1,099 feet in height, will also the first to employ a concrete core instead of a prototypical steel frame. This novel (for Los Angeles) roof shape will contain a sky lobby, observatory, sky pool deck, and restaurants. The building, set to rank as the second tallest building west of the Mississippi River upon completion (taller than San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower, but shorter than Seattle’s 4/C Tower), is due to finish construction in early 2017.
After a bitter fight at Bergamot Art Station, the Santa Monica Museum of Art is decamping to Downtown Los Angeles. Reports of an eastward move come with hints of a necessary name change as well a shortlist for its new space in the Arts District. Players are tightlipped, but AN’s sources say Gensler, Zellner Naecker Architects, and wHY (a longtime museum collaborator) have been invited to submit design proposals.
First there was the Grand Park, then Pershing Square decided to spruce things up with a design competition, and now four competing schemes for a third Downtown Los Angeles park were presented to the city in a public meeting this week. The proposals were from teams lead by AECOM, Brooks + Scarpa, Eric Owen Moss Architects, and Mia Lehrer + Associates with OMA and IDEO. The two-acre First & Broadway Civic Park will take over a full block in the heart of the L.A.’s Civic Center near City Hall and the Gordon Kaufmann’s Art Deco Los Angeles Times building. The overall greening of Downtown Los Angeles is consistent with its ongoing renewal. As such, each of the teams provided ample amenities in the park—canopies, cafes, music venues, movie screens—in addition to the standard fare of gardens, trees, and benches. AECOM’s proposal takes iconic modernist landscape architect Garrett Eckbo’s 1946 Landscape for Living as a starting point, and then updates his California dream to be a collective experience. Hints of fifties modernism show themselves in the irregularly shaped lawn, which is framed by “The Wingnut,” which houses a gallery, and a 200-seat restaurant “The Paper Plane.” Undulating ribbons—green space above, amenities underneath—define Brooks + Scarpa's plan. The team suggests that the scheme is ecological with drought-minded plantings and integrated terraces and cisterns that lead to an expansive dry well. Hidden within the proposal is some programming sure to excite the design community: the Architecture and Urbanism Festival, a possible 3-month long curated event that would include temporary installations and public programs. Eric Owen Moss Architects, never a firm to shy away from odd forms, proposed a large cocoon-like structure dominates a rolling and grassy green space. Ready to compete with the nearby crowning towers of City Hall and the Times, EOM’s event pavilion seems equipped to screen films and host events. Mia Lehrer + Associates powerhouse team also includes OMA, IDEO, and Arup, among others. Their proposal takes food as its design driver. While the scheme shows a central paved plaza and side gardens lush with alien-ish shade canopies and mature trees, the main emphasis is on a multi-use pavilion building that includes a beer garden, a test kitchen, a restaurant, and an amphitheater. Presentation boards and models of the designs are on public display at the Department of Building and Safety at 201 North Figueroa.