Top 10 L.A. Architecture Stories of 2012
|Parking garage at the UCLA Outpatient Surgery and Medical Building|
No doubt the new UCLA Outpatient Surgery and Medical Building on 16th street in Santa Monica is a beautiful building. Its evenly-balanced concrete volumes envelope the light glass atrium at its heart that brings a warm, transparent glow after sunset and a sunny, serene setting by day. But what's more significant than its elegant composition is the compassion with which Michael W. Folonis Architects considered the succession of movement through the building by patients who visit sometimes up to two times a week for chemotherapy and other cancer-related outpatient treatments. An innovative, 380-space automated underground parking system was developed by the design team with Criterion manufacturing solutions exclusively for the outpatient center with the intention of reducing stress on patients (no searching for a parking place or remembering where it was), and to save on energy and space. The result is a badass parking structure like an enormous automat vending machine for cars, nestled neatly within a comfortable gem of a building.
6. Southern California Institute of Architecture's Design School Ranking
Whether there's any credence whatsoever to Design Intelligence's yearly U.S. Architecture & Design schools ranking list (the subjectivity of the list has been debated at length), it's a victory for L.A. architecture academia that this year's second place spot went to SCI-Arc, the scrappy, non-pedigreed institution on the edge of downtown that seems to be churning out more and more students every year despite the depressing trends for employment after graduation. What's most telling about this year's ranking is that while eastern schools like Harvard and Columbia had a choke hold on the top spots traditionally, the list is finally beginning to boost L.A. schools. (Only in the last decade the list began to include a few select midwestern schools like Cincinnati and Michigan, and Southern schools like Rice and the University of Texas). It's arguable that UCLA has just as fine a program, if not better, and that USC's and Woodbury's programs are on the not-too-distant hunt with better facilities and younger, cooler faculty. But, with L.A. finally on the map now, those that do the ranking are finally giving credit where credit is due.
5. Crenshaw-LAX line launch and a chance for better station design
With the unofficial groundbreaking for the new light rail and subway line in June of this year (when contractors began relocating utilities for the project), Metro will have the chance to redeem itself from the abysmal design of the Exposition line stations (which opened this past spring). Reamed by critics and users alike, the Expo stations' bad designs were the second biggest Metro story, aside from the light rail's highly-publicized safety concerns. The Crenshaw-LAX line will link the existing Expo and Green Lines, and service six stations (Metro planners are also working actively to secure funding for a seventh stop in Leimert Park Village). Even though it won't be operational until 2018, these six-to-seven Crenshaw-LAX stations will be designed in 2013, and this time Metro needs to take a stand for good architecture. They owe it to the larger city and to the residents of the Crenshaw corridor.