Shubin + Donaldson Architects designed the conversion of two Hollywood warehouse buildings into the headquarters of Biscuit Filmworks. Photo: © Tom Bonner/ Courtesy ORO editions
SHUBIN + DONALDSON — FROM FUEL TO BISCUIT
by Joseph Giovannini with Russell Shubin and Robin Donaldson
The apparent placelessness of Los Angeles, where one
community bleeds into another with little visible
distinction, can partially be attributed to its major
industries - advertising, television, movies, the web -
because these businesses live placelessly, mostly in
periodicals, or on screens in the theater, in the
family room, and at the desk.
Their buildings have no need to manifest public presence
or exhibit civic responsibility via architecture: the
mission of the structures is not to shape or mark public
space because the cultures they support are dispersive.
Unlike a newspaper building, their headquarters are not
charged with a responsibility to a constituency that
lives within driving distance. L.A.'s local industries
instead are national and global, and few studios and
networks have looked to architects to create a sense of
place with structures that build the civic and urban
character of the place. They do not put a "there" there.
Only recently have entrepreneurs of L.A.'s entertainment
and advertising industries understood that there is a
physical site appropriate for talent as well as the
virtual site on the screen and in periodicals.
Entertainment and its corollary industries are endemic
to Southern California, and over the past decade
entrepreneurs of L.A.'s creativity factories have
started to commission architects to create physical
settings appropriate for their function as think tanks,
talent banks, and petri dishes to encourage and incite
Many of these entrepreneurs have abandoned the
conventional pin-striped corporate offices along
Wilshire, in Century City, and downtown, in favor of
adaptively reusing cavernous, bow-trussed warehouses in
which the mind seems to expand to the space allowed.
Found buildings have been transformed from working
structures into spirited antechambers of creativity.
Talent is as talent does.
Conventional architectural programs usually specify
functional requirements, but these commissions require a
certain quality of spirit, or what hipper talents call
"juice." These are high-energy, high-IQ environments
that encourage their occupants to be and to think
The Gregory Farmhouse by William Wurtser, designed and built from 1927 to 1929 in the coastal mountains of Santa Cruz, California, continues to be a luminous icon of gracious simplicity for the Bay Regional style.
Photo: Kevin Matthews
William Wurster — Houses
by Donlyn Lyndon
Thinking back, an image that most endures in my mind is
the white tower and compound of William Wurster's
Gregory House (1929) in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The Gregory Farmhouse, as it's usually referenced, is a
misnomer: it is a country retreat designed and built
between 1927 and 1929, a place of the soul, no doubt,
for a very sophisticated San Francisco family.
The Gregory Farmhouse, as it's usually referenced, is a misnomer: it is a country retreat designed and built between 1927 and 1929, a place of the soul, no doubt, for a very sophisticated San Francisco family.
The tower, slim and upright like a beacon, suggests a reincarnation of the water towers still occasionally visible on Northern California farms. The tower anchors one corner of a beautifully simple, embracing composition, with two wings perpendicular to each other bracketing the opposite side of a tree-filled court. These wings are joined by a porch tucked under their eaves.
The uppermost, semi-enclosed patio of the Grover House in San Francisco provides a substantive outdoor area in a dense urban context.
Photo: Roger Sturtevant
The structures are beguilingly direct — yes, farmhouse direct — and narrow. They are mostly one room wide, the roofs low and unprepossessing, the interiors made with very wide whitewashed boards. Paned windows pace steadily across their sides and doors align strategically.
Photographs of the house made a singularly enchanting impression of the site, which I now realize was steeped in the most effective ways of forming memorable places: claiming place with a marker set upon the land, surrounding and giving shape to a calibrated set of rooms, both indoors and out, and investing them with thought and traces of a consistent sensibility applied to the ways in which things are made.
A new public library designed by CZWG Architects has opened at the edge of London's Canada Water basin. Photo: © Tim Crocker
People and Places
by Nancy Novitski
CZWG Architects in London, England, United Kingdom Moshe Safdie in Anandpur Sahib, India Mitchell/ Giurgola Architects in New York, New York BIG and OFF Architecture in Paris, France...
London — 2011.1128
A new public library has opened at the edge of the Canada Water basin in the Southwark borough of London, England, United Kingdom. Piers Gough, a partner at CZWG Architects of London, designed the £14.1 million, 2,900-square-meter (31,000-square-foot) Canada Water Library, which extends over the water in an inverted pyramid shape. Located at the center of a new town plaza, the library is a key early building in a major regeneration project.
The building's shape addresses several challenges. The limited footprint is constrained by the London Underground rail station box to the north, under the plaza; clearance for a London Underground access hatch adjacent to the road; the strong pedestrian east-west desire line across the south side of the plaza; and the waterside walkway. The constraint to the east is to allow views of the basin from the plaza.
In addition, the client sought to avoid dividing main library spaces across multiple levels, which could have reduced interaction among users and would have demanded higher staffing levels.
In response, the ground floor contains a cafe, while the upwardly expanding shape above it enables the main library space to be contained within a single, galleried, skylit double volume. The building is clad in aluminum sheets that are anodized in a light bronze with sequined perforations.
The library is currently achieving a very high "Very Good" BREEAM rating and striving for "Excellent." Sustainable features include a ground-source heat pump, graywater harvesting, and a green roof planted with sedum.
Hardware and Systems for Architecture by FSB
The FSB acronym is a global byword for good looks and phenomenal functionality. Wherever hardware solutions for outstanding building projects are required, the world of architecture defers to our 130 years of experience as well as to our holistic view of the demands made by ambitious public projects.
It's fast, easy, private, and secure.
Competition Extended and Revised
Sebastopol's "Core Project" Adds Architectural Challenge to Competition and Extends Deadlines
The Core Project today announces the addition of an architectural site-specific challenge to the competition. The Core Project is an international design competition to generate innovative ideas for renewing the city center of Sebastopol, a small town in Northern California. The competition is hosted by The City of Sebastopol, together with The Redwood Empire Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and a group of local business sponsors.
The Core Project has added a site-specific component by challenging entrants to envision the best use for certain strategic sites in downtown Sebastopol currently used as surface parking lots. The Core Project website has been expanded to provide additional information and resources for entrants. Organizers have also extended the registration and submission deadlines.
Tools and Downloads
Glass Specification Tool
Walker Glass is proud to introduce the first three-part
specifications on acid-etched glass, mirror, and anti-slip
glass. These editable documents provide architects and designers
with a great tool for specifying acid-etched products in a more
Vectorworks Architect 2012
With Vectorworks(R) Architect 2012 software, you can create
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you're used to. Whether you're looking to streamline costs,
analyze materials, increase your energy efficiency, or just
create world-class designs, with the Vectorworks Architect
solution, BIM just works. Enjoy the robust and flexible
capabilities of BIM with the ease of design, great
documentation, and intelligent tools that the software is known
for - right from the start.
The New Digital Divide - New York Times, 2011.1204
Autodesk Buys Horizontal Systems for Cloud Program - Wall Street Journal, 2011.1130
Product News - Single-Blade Ceiling Fan
The Marea™ is a contemporary single-blade ceiling
fan from Fanimation. With a 25-degree blade pitch and
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See our comprehensive new visual catalog of architectural products, powered by DesignGuide!
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If you combine two sound sources, each at 50 decibels
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Classic Home 069 — House with a sheltering roof by George H. Schwan
"The most interesting point about this house is the manner in which the main roof slope is continued down over the porch. The effect gained thereby is quite pleasing and gives an opportunity for a larger room on the second floor. The living room has two features; the fireplace in the front end and the open stairway in the rear...
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