Wednesday, June 9, 2021

On The Schedule: June, 2021

June 19 -- July 1

Low Rise, Mid Rise, High Rise: Housing in LA Today, at Helms Bakery District

How will we live tomorrow in LA?

Find out at Low Rise, Mid Rise, High Rise: Housing in LA Today, an in-person, pop-up, eye-popping exhibition of housing projects in the pipeline that advance the idea of home in Los Angeles. It takes place at Helms Design Center at Helms Bakery District.

30+ teams will show renderings and models of multi-unit housing, at multiple scales, that are pending or under construction in the Southland. They represent a range of approaches as eclectic as Los Angeles itself, including: the Reese Davidson Community, (below) affordable housing in Venice designed by the Hayden Tract renegade Eric Owen Moss; the Grand Panorama (above), a proposed high-rise variant on inside-outside living above the Regional Connector in DTLA by "critical regionalist" Farooq Ameen, Pariya Mohammaditabar and the team at City Design Studio; and the Whoop-de-Do ADU (below), by Ben Warwas, of Byben design firm and the "Rad, Bad and Sad" YouTube show.

The pop-up opens Saturday, June 19, with a public conversation about the work. It will be on view after that through July 1.

Why this Pop-Up now?

Many of us have been out of circulation for more than a year, and the state opens June 15. This is a chance to reconnect and see what people have been working on, and get a taste of what might be coming to your neighborhood before too long.

What is the thinking behind it?

Currently there is a lot of public debate about the politics of housing and the crisis of homelessness. While this conversation takes place, housing construction continues apace, much of it ever higher and denser. And people will live in these buildings. This pop-up explores how designers are envisioning that lived experience.

After all, LA is famous for its innovation in the design of home. But today designers must navigate a web of constraints (including costs, zoning, parking, competing development and neighborhood pressures) and the buildings that result are sometimes sadly mundane. However, design teams and developers with imagination are creating buildings that are livable, sociable, have character, are sometimes affordable -- and add to the canon of residential design in LA.

How they do that is the through line to the show and the talks. 

Visitors will see transit-oriented, mid rise, multi-unit housing with apartments filled with natural light, flowing space and a taste of the outside. Projects will demonstrate planning for sociability, as well as new material and structural solutions to housing affordability. They will also show how buildings from the ADU to the very high rise can express the distinct and eclectic Los Angeles character. Finally, visitors will see how the pandemic may have altered planning priorities in the homes of tomorrow. 

I should add that this pop-up results from work around housing design by Stephen Phillips and his CalPoly LA Metro students; and research I've been doing for a book entitled "Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles," to be published by Angel City Press. I have learned so much from designers and residents about what makes the best possible multifamily dwelling spaces, past and present.

Saturday, June 19 

Join the Conversation

At the public opening and conversation on Saturday, June 19, participating architects including Barbara Bestor, Ben Warwas, Angela Brooks, Elizabeth Timme, Eric Owen Moss, Farooq Ameen, Li Wen, Lorcan O'Herlihy and Pariya Mohammaditabar will talk about their approaches to Low, Mid and High Rise housing. Stephen Sharp, editor of Urbanize LA, will offer his thoughts too. The talks will take place between 2 and 4pm, and we will ponder practical and aesthetic questions, such as:

What does our patchwork of low, mid and high rise housing tell us about Socal living today? 

Much of the new housing today -- both marketrate and affordable is dense, with sometimes hundreds of units. This can be bland or unpleasant, especially when the solution is a double-loaded corridor giving onto dwellings with windows on only one wall. What can designers do to alleviate that experience?

Is it possible to sustain Southern California's desirable inside-outside living many floors off the ground?

Low Rise, Mid Rise, High Rise: Housing in LA Today is presented by Helms Bakery District in partnership with CalPoly, San Luis Obispo LA Metro Program, helmed by Stephen Phillips. Speculative housing designs by the CalPoly LA Metro students will also be on show.  

June 24

Treehouse and the Building of Community in Los Angeles

On the evening of June 24, developer Prophet Walker (above, right) and brand consultant Jason E.C. Wright (above, left) will come to Helms for an in-person conversation about Treehouse (Treehouse Hollywood, below) and creating community in new housing. 

Treehouse is the coliving building co-developed by Walker; Wright, founder of the Burntsienna Research Society, is a resident there. It was designed by The California Office with creative direction by Sean Knibb. The next Treehouse, under construction in Koreatown, will be on display at Low Rise, Mid Rise, High Rise: Housing in LA Today.

Seeding The City: Nature in LA in the 21st Century

Coming next month... After the Pop-Up closes, Helms’ programming will turn to the theme of landscape in LA and how to keep alive a connection to nature in a region that increasingly builds over it. Top landscape designers, artists and thinkers will take on “Seeding The City: Nature in LA in the 21st Century,” a day of tours, talks and installations, taking place Saturday, July 24. 

Expect Sean Knibb, creative director at Treehouse and designer of its landscaping, to be there, among other talents.  Watch this space for more details.

Helms X Frances Anderton

The events listed above are the first of many talks and installations involving LA designers, artists and architects that I am co-organizing with Angela Anthony for the Design Center at Helms Bakery District.

During the years I hosted KCRW's DnA: Design and Architecture, Helms and Angela were very supportive of the show. Angela and I share a commitment to the Los Angeles design community and to facilitating public dialogue around art, design, architecture and the urban realm.

Now we are working together on programming in-person events that will unfold over the coming year. The Low Rise, Mid Rise, High Rise pop-up is just the start. It represents a slice of the housing in design and development. We will turn the spotlight on work by many other designers in the coming months.

The collaboration is called Helms X Frances Anderton. Stay tuned!

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On The Schedule: June, 2021

June 19 -- July 1 Low Rise, Mid Rise, High Rise: Housing in LA Today, at Helms Bakery District How will we live tomorrow in LA? Find out at ...