Page N1.1 . 02 September 2009                     
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People and Places
                                                    . . . THIS WEEK

A new elementary school designed by Gonzalez Goodale Architects is set to open on the site of the demolished Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Photo: Tim Street-Porter Extra Large Image

Coral Gables · 2009.0902
Architectural design and development consulting company OBM International, based in Coral Gables, Florida, has appointed Tim M.E. Peck as chairman. Peck has a 30-year career with the firm. He will lead OBMI's business portfolio and will oversee the company's seven offices, most of which are located in Bermuda and the Caribbean. Peck was previously the firm's CEO for the Caribbean region, and was responsible for managing expansion into sub-Saharan Africa.

Los Angeles · 2009.0901
A new public elementary school (pictured above)is set to open on the site of the demolished Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. The K-5 building is the first of three school buildings at the 24-acre (9.7-hectare) Central LA Learning Center No. 1 campus. Gonzalez Goodale Architects of Pasadena designed the $571 million campus for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The two-story K-5 building is approximately 92,000 square feet (8,500 square meters) and contains 44 classrooms. The middle school and high school buildings are under construction. In designing the collection of buildings and open spaces, the architects employed a recurring vocabulary of transparency, along with zinc roofs, perforated metal, and open flanking stairs. Shared library and recreational facilities will also be open to members of the surrounding community, and the campus includes a new public park.

Gonzalez Goodale incorporated several elements of the Ambassador Hotel into the new design. The hotel's legendary Cocoanut Grove nightclub is slated to become a 574-seat auditorium and lecture hall, and the hotel's 1940s-era coffee shop designed by Paul R. Williams will serve as a teachers' lounge. The intricate vaulted ceiling of the hotel's Embassy Ballroom was reconstructed for a 12,700-square-foot (1,180-square-meter) library for the middle school and high school. The hotel's iconic facade facing Wilshire Boulevard is echoed in the look of a new classroom tower and in the use of the original sign pylon of the hotel that anchors the northwest corner of the site.

The Ambassador Hotel complex (1921), designed by Myron Hunt in a Spanish-Mediterranean style, is best known as the place where U.S. senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968. The hotel was demolished in 2006. Kennedy is honored in several public art pieces on the school campus.

Washington, D.C. · 2009.0831
The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., has chosen Christopher Alexander as the recipient of the Vincent Scully Prize for 2009. The prize recognizes exemplary practice, scholarship, or criticism in architecture, historic preservation, and urban design. Alexander is being recognized for his seminal books, such as A Pattern Language and The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe, as well as his efforts in inspiring students to be more thoughtful design practitioners.

For nearly 40 years, Alexander has challenged the architectural establishment to pay more attention to the human element of design. He became a professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley in 1963, taught there for 38 years, and became an emeritus professor in 2001. He founded the Center for Environmental Structure, and invented many new building methods. Alexander has published hundreds of papers and several dozen books, and built more than 300 buildings around the world. Widely recognized as the father of the pattern language movement in computer science, his work has led to important innovations such as Wiki, new kinds of Object-Oriented Programming, and SimCity. The award will be presented on November 5, 2009, at the National Building Museum.

Hong Kong · 2009.0828
A renovation has been completed for the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) in Hong Kong. One Space Ltd of Hong Kong designed the renovation of the 1,450-square-meter (15,600-square-foot) regional executive floor. The designers have opened city views in all four directions, framing views of Victoria Harbor and the old French Mission, and admitting ample daylight.

The executives' offices are largely transparent. A "veil" embedded into the continuous floor-to-ceiling glass office fronts is achieved with two layers of crisply scored glass illuminated by LED lighting concealed with the assembly, providing semi-obscurity and a luminous internal facade that changes with the daylight throughout the day. The office interiors are predominantly white, grey, charcoal, and red.

San Marcos · 2009.0826
Construction of the San Elijo Hills Town Center in San Marcos, California, has been completed. Architects BP Associates of San Diego designed the 33,000-square-foot (3,100-square-meter) mixed-use project, located within the master-planned community of San Elijo Hills.

The town center consists of three separate three-story buildings with residential space over retail. Composed of wood-framed stucco on post-tensioned reinforced concrete deck, each building has unique exterior features, with stucco and stone finishes. One building's facade combines three distinct looks colonial, Italianate and loft-style to make it appear as though it were three separate structures constructed with common walls. The San Diego office of Ledcor provided full construction services for the project.

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