November 1st, 2011
By Steve Parker, AIA, LEED AP
Last January, I was perusing the shelves of William Stout Architectural Books when I discovered School Architecture, Principles and Practices by John J. Donovan and others. John Donovan was an architect who practiced in Oakland during the first half of the last century. He came to Oakland to oversee the construction of Oakland City Hall for Henry Hornbostel, the great Pittsburgh master architect. Finding Oakland to his liking, Donovan decided to stay and open his own practice. Among his many collaborations were Oakland Technical High School, the Oakland Auditorium, and coincidentally, two beautiful elementary schools near my home in San Leandro—a wonderful discovery for me.
October 20th, 2011
By Gene Ely, AIA, LEED AP
Tom Kundig, principal in the firm of Olson Kundig in Seattle, Washington, and winner of national and international design awards too numerous to mention, led off the recent biennial Monterey Design Conference with a provocative talk about his work and the influences that inform it. Those influences include everything from physics to rock climbing to hot rod cars, but perhaps his most interesting statement came in his characterization of the nature of architects. He described them as being “professional voyeurs,” but far from being negative, he sees this as being one of their strongest assets. Kundig characterized architects as being voyeurs of time, culture, fashion, and landscape just to mention a few. He went on to say that the more outside our realm of architectural design that we are able to draw inspiration from, the better our work can be.
August 23rd, 2011
By Lisa Sawin
We recently lost a champion in the sustainable movement. Ray Anderson, founder and Chairman of Interface, passed away last week from cancer at the young age of 77. Ray Anderson’s clear mission and approach to sustainable business established Interface as the worldwide leader in design, production, and sales of environmentally responsible modular carpet, and will continue to inspire us beyond his lifetime and 2020 goal to summit the metaphorical Mount Sustainability.
“In 1994 founder Ray Anderson received a dramatic wake-up call—something he described as a spear in the chest. He realized there was an urgent need to set a new direction for Interface. He challenged us to pursue a bold new vision: To be the first company that, by its deeds, shows the entire industrial world what sustainability is in all its dimensions: people, process, product, place and profits—and in doing so, become restorative through the power of influence.” (from Interface’s website www.interfaceglobal.com)
June 7th, 2011
By Mitchell De Jarnett, Senior Project Designer
The Architect’s Brother by Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison
May 20th, 2011
By John Nichols, Pre-K–12 Practice Leader
Are we spending too much on education for the return we are receiving on our investment? There are 6.6 billion square feet of school buildings in America, sitting on more than 1 million acres of land. We spend billions of dollars each year to build new school facilities and most schools are only utilized from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the week, going unused the rest of the time. Students are failing at increasing rates and we are falling behind as a nation compared to other developed countries. Should architects encourage partnerships for both financial and academic efficiency as we take on the challenge of designing future educational environments?
Partnerships are no longer an option for schools and school districts—as state funding for both facilities and operations diminishes due to significant budget challenges, local school districts and charter school organizations are finding it more important than ever to reach out for partners to help share costs. Several schools in Southern California have realized the financial benefits of creative partnering: Innovative Learning Center, Los Angeles High School for the Arts, and the California Academy of Math and Science. In addition to the financial aspect, there are compelling academic benefits to partnering, resulting in enhanced learning opportunities that wouldn’t be possible in a stand-alone traditional school.
School districts, and taxpayers as well, save money when public or private partners unite to share facilities and operational costs. This is especially true when circumstances exist where partners’ needs are mutually beneficial from multiple perspectives. The Innovative Learning Center in Riverside, Calif. is a prime example of partnering. Both the facility development and the collaborative operational management were initiated by Alvord Unified School District and Riverside Community College District. Additionally, a private pre-school, County Health Department, County Special Education, City Library, Parks and Recreation, Museum, and Senior Center are part of the student-centered partnership. The school district’s hard costs were significantly offset by land acquisition and facilities support from the college, and operational costs were supplemented by all of the partners. Additionally, the community received a huge benefit by gaining a one-stop-shop for many of their needs.
Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) is the result of a partnership between Cal State University, Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), and the Arts High Foundation. The primary proponent, LACOE, saved significant costs by leasing a small parcel of land from the state university, and through continued use of many university facilities to supplement their program. The Arts High Foundation partnered to contribute several million dollars toward the amphitheater and career tech scene shop construction. If LACOE had built this facility as a stand-alone program, it would have cost approximately $30 million more, and as such, would never have happened.
The California Academy of Math and Science at Cal State Dominguez Hills is a public/private partnership. Similar to LACHSA, the university offers up land and supplemental facilities to the high school program operated by the Long Beach Unified School District. Half of the facilities and operational funding comes from industry partnership support through companies like Hewlett Packard, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and other foundations.
Students that attend high schools on college campuses are more likely to go to college. This fact has been demonstrated at middle college high schools throughout the state, and is especially true for students in families where there is no history of college attendance. Most collocated high schools on college campuses allow 11th and 12th grade students to concurrently enroll in college level classes. High school students are able to experience and get comfortable with the college environment, relieving any preconceived insecurities they may have about college. It is not unusual to see 95% or more of the graduating seniors in schools like these continue on to four-year universities. This compares to less than 35% in many other traditional high schools.
High school students can benefit from the high quality programs and resources at college campuses. This is especially true at LACHSA, where high school students have access to visual and performing arts environments. In addition, the science labs, recreational facilities, and library resources are well beyond what most high school students have access to in traditional high schools.
The elementary students at the Innovative Learning Center take advantage of the multi-layered partnership between the school district and nearby universities. The latest research in teaching methodology is applied to the curriculum delivery at the school, with four surrounding university teacher-training programs affiliated with the school. The teacher-training programs lower the adult to student ratio in the classroom. An on-campus family center supports and enlists parents in the educational process with their children, and senior citizens at the on-site senior center volunteer their time to assist with reading and mentoring programs for the students. A secure, web-based distance learning program allows audio-visual access to each classroom for remote observation.
Young children at the Innovative Learning Center are initiated in the privately operated preschool program where English language (EL) immersion is emphasized. EL students are brought up to speed by the time they start kindergarten, so that they can compete with other students. Preschool students are guaranteed a spot in the elementary school so that the continuity of the program is assured.
Elementary school students at the Innovative Learning Center also have access to a well-appointed science lab, museum and library. The performing arts theater on the campus is a unique resource that serves both the elementary and college level students.
This article is a continuation of my presentation from the Innovative Schools for the New Millennium Symposium held at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo May 20, 2011. View the entire presentation here.
May 10th, 2011
By Olivia Graf, Designer II
Time to make a Starbucks run and settle into your ‘comfy’ Aeron chair for this week’s Rant & Rave design editorial on the Metropol Parasol in Sevilla, Spain.
When I came across the competition renderings and early construction photos of this project, by Jürgen Mayer Architects, I was immediately hooked—mainly because Sevilla is one of my favorite cities. The laid back attitude of the inhabitants, the walkability of the city, and the beauty of its many historic buildings all hold a special place in my heart. Integrating this imposing structure into the historic core of the city would truly be a challenge. Now that it has opened in March of this year, it’s time to see if the redevelopment of this plaza is inspirational or just another crazy form for form’s sake, á la Zaha mode?
Jürgen Mayer Architects
April 25th, 2011
By Olivia Graf, Designer II
Today marks the launch of my blogging column, A Little R & R (Rants and Raves). Every week I check out new projects and explore what’s going on in architecture around the world. I may spout my very opinionated opinion, but please feel free to share your own thoughts. That’s the exciting thing about architecture. It’s what gets us out of bed each morning and fired up throughout the week: our subjective likes and dislikes, design philosophies, effects on technical know-how, and collaboration!
So grab your coffee for this week’s design review and check out Coop Himmelblau’s design for the Open Parliament in Albania.
All images by Coop Himmelblau
April 20th, 2011
By Ryan McGarraugh, Project Coordinator
In light of the recent announcement that the latest Lego Architecture set is a reproduction of Mies Van de Rohe’s Farnsworth house, I was reminded of the long standing argument between Mies and Philip Johnson about how the columns ought to be arranged in order to make a proper glass house. Mies of course, in the Farnsworth house, held the last column back from the corner creating a cantilever (1/3 the span, + or -) while his then acolyte, Johnson, elected to place it at the corner when he designed his own “Glass” house. As the story goes, the master was so irritated by Johnson’s structural blunder that he stomped out of Johnson’s home in a legendary fit of Germanic temper, saying that he “….could not stand to stay in this house another minute!” So I had to ask myself, is Lego, by releasing the Farnsworth house first, taking the side of Mies in this famous dispute?
March 28th, 2011
By Mitchell De Jarnett, Senior Project Designer
Today, Archinect shows us (posted by that intrepid reporter, Orhan Ayyüce ) a Google translated letter written by Francois Roche to SCI-Arc, in which he:
1) Cancels an upcoming exhibition and lecture and
2) Levels accusations against the staff of “arrogances and ignorances.” Thanks to Orhan, and Archinect, for allowing us to enjoy this communiqué Française, which does have some broader relevance to the discussions of the “crisis” that some commentators claim is currently raging in the halls architectural academia. (Which Roche, with particular Gallic aplomb, refers to as, “Beaux Arts Syndrome.”)
The letter follows here: