Blog: Updates on Urbanology

A Year in Urbanology, 2016

Jack Skelley and JSPR thank colleagues, clients and cohorts for another inspiring year. For a 20-second highlight reel click below...

Farm Charm for Urban Homesteads

The Los Angeles Times Home & Design section published this story including our friends at Brookfield Residential:

At Ontario Ranch, a planned community that will eventually include 47,000 homes, homebuilders have incorporated modern farm décor into many of the single-family dwellings, town homes and condominiums. The community of New Haven, for example, features reclaimed wood walls, optional barn-style closet doors, and upcycled farm tools (tractor gears used as mirror frames in the community’s clubhouse, for example), in a blend of rustic and chic. “The farm motif honors the area’s legacy, but we made sure that it accompanies the most up-to-date amenities,” says Mercedes Meserve, vice president of marketing for Brookfield Residential, which is building several neighborhoods in the area.

How the Future Gets Built

Mayor Eric Garcetti's keynote to FutureBuild / VerdeXchange heralded the coming restoration of the L.A. River. photo by Dlugolecki Photography

Mayor Eric Garcetti's keynote to FutureBuild / VerdeXchange heralded the coming restoration of the L.A. River. photo by Dlugolecki Photography

Urban Explorations from FutureBuild / VerdeXchange

 By Jack Skelley

Los Angeles Major Eric Garcetti joined international change-makers of the built envirornment at the recent FutureBuild Sessions produced by ULI Los Angeles with VerdeXchange. The annual event, which attracts designers, developers, civic leaders, and environmental stakeholders, explored urgent urban issues, including: transforming the Los Angeles River; the world’s greenest buildings; how transportation tech is transforming cities; places built to withstand quakes, droughts and climate change, and more.

Garcetti’s keynote address trumpeted ambitious efforts to restore the Los Angeles River. A recent agreement with Army Corps of Engineers allocatoes $1.3 billion for the effort – which Garcetti deemed “the largest urban ecosystem restoration the Army Corps has ever seen.” Stakeholders have not yet approved plans, which include a proposal by architect Frank Gehry. Garcetti nonetheless was upbeat, saying, “I look forward to hearing the music of the River.”

 

Made to Last: Getting to Resiliency

Resiliency panel, left to right: Rick Cole, Frank Bush, Marissa Aho and Ann Gray. photo by Dlugolecki Photography

Resiliency panel, left to right: Rick Cole, Frank Bush, Marissa Aho and Ann Gray. photo by Dlugolecki Photography

Made to Last, a panel on resiliency (including seismic and infrastructure challenges) was moderated by Ann Gray, Principal of GRAY Real Estate Advisors. Contributors were Marissa Aho, Chief Resiliency Officer, City of Los Angeles, Frank Bush, Executive Officer, Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, and Rick Cole, Santa Monica City Manager. Gray launched the discussion with a compelling video, “Our Changing World,” produced by RICS and dramatizing trends reshaping the planet.

 The conversation quickly got local. Saying, “There is simply not enough money to go around,” Cole noted that before Los Angeles can address drastic resilience issues, the city faces approximately $100 billion in infrastructure needs. Bush cited the approximately 13,000 buildings in the city that require seismic retrofits. Aho offered some solace, reporting that L.A. is among the 100 Resilient Cities funded by Rockefeller Foundation, and that the city is implementing 18 recommendations of seimologist Dr. Lucy Jones, the influential “earthquake lady.”

 Challenges remain huge. Cole blasted the “immature poltical culture” that fixates on the click-bait of fear and hysteria, rather than on real solutions.

 “We have to get back to the basics” of fixing the city, he said. “Otherwise we willhave a third-world infrastructure trying to govern a first-world economy.”

 Cole had the ear-catching quote of the day: “The best cities in Italy are run by communists. The best cities in the Southern California are run by renters,” (namely, Santa Monica and West Hollywood).

 

The Evolution of Energy

Panel on the most sustainable buildings in the world, left to right: David Kramer, Harlan Kelly, Frances Anderton and David Martin. photo by Dlugolecki photography

Panel on the most sustainable buildings in the world, left to right: David Kramer, Harlan Kelly, Frances Anderton and David Martin. photo by Dlugolecki photography

 Another compelling panel was The Most Sustainable Buildings in the World, with moderator Frances Anderton, host of  "DnA: Design and Architecture," KCRW; joined by David Martin, FAIA, Design Principal, AC Martin, who is designing the the 73-story Wilshire Grand tower;  David Kramer, President, Hudson Companies, creating Manhattan’s Riverwalk on Roosevelt Island, considered one of the most energy-efficient developments in the world; and Harlan Kelly, General Manager, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

 The Riverwalk technologies are advanced, responding to New York’s extremes of heat, cold, and even inundating storm surges. In some ways, the mission for Los Angeles buildings is simpler: to unlearn unnecessary design habits. Martin says his team will “fine-tune” the Wilshire Grand to Downtown L.A.’s micro-climate.

 Approaches include breathable skin, and smaller and smarter air-conditioning, so that the building’s HVAC system is not working overtime. The skyscraper will include hundreds of openable windows, which, for some reason, are still rare in L.A. high-rises.

 “In New York City you want to insulate the client from the climate,” Martin said. “ In L.A. we want to connect with the outside where it’s beautiful outside right now!”

 

Hyperloop and Healthy Communities

 With panels jointly produced by ULI Los Angeles and VerdeXchange, the cross-polination was fertile. Next Generation Sustainable Development had moderator Richard Katz, Founder, Katz Consulting, Inc. asking questions of Randall Lewis, Owner, Lewis Group of Companies; Quay Hays, CEO, GROW Holdings; and Michael Dieden, Founder, Creative Housing Associates. These are three of California’s most visionary developers.

 Hays is creating Quay Valley, a sustainable town planned in Central California that will also house the first test-track for the revolutionary hyperloop transportation technology. Dieden is a pioneer of transit-oriented developments who is passionate about creating human-scaled environments. And Lewis is a constant innovator whose latest communities – many on Ontario Ranch in California’s Inland Empire – include emerging concepts

 He listed them in rapid-fire: healthy design (in coordination with ULI’s Building Healthy Places initiative); education-centered communities with schools and joint-use facilities at the center; “Harvest” branded developments with edible landscaping and outdoor dining; and, with heathcare a growing industry in the Inland Empire, an ambitious coordination with local colleges and medical educators.

 Many of them fall under the Healthy Ontario banner, which emphasizes prevention and wellness, access to healthcare, education and lifelong learning, and safe and complete neighborhoods.

 

A Year in Urbanology: In 2015 Our Friends Set the Trends

The Toast of Bunker Hill: JSPR partnered with The Related Group on The Emerson, DTLA’s finest for-lease residences. Just a year after launching, The Emerson was filled with “cultural creatives" -- entertainers, gallery owners, entrepreneurs who are the essence of urban vibrancy. A host of sommeliers makes The Emerson their home. At the center of this cool clique is Elizabeth Heuttinger of friendly-chic Otium restaurant, between the Emerson tower and the new Broad museum.The

 

Home Sweet Work: Ehrlich Architects was firm of the year. American Institute of Architects said so, noting Ehrlich’s approach to “classic California Modernist style.” Its latest design is a creative office environment that looks and feels like a residence. At elevon at Campus El Segundo, there are lofty studios, rooftop conferences, outdoor fireplace/TV rooms. Bring your dog. The office condominium project is nearly 100% sold out. Retail too. Next door to the new L.A. Lakers Practice Facility.

 

Preservation Development:40 years in the making, Marblehead is finally a thing. Sea Summit at Marblehead in San Clemente opened in November. “These inspiring homes, trails and nature preserve reflect decades of careful planning – one of the longest development periods for a coastal project in California,” said Taylor Morrison Division President Phil Bodem. The Wall Street Journal depicted Sea Summit’s 116 acres of protected habitat, preserving views and creating public trails.

 

China and Climate Change: Climate breakthroughs included the Paris treaty and U.S. and China agreeing to lower carbon emissions. The design world was ahead of them with an historic commitment among 52 design firms working in China to design to low carbon standards. Cuningham Group Architecture has long been a leader here, organizing the Themed Entertainment Sustainability Summit among the top theme park developers working in China.
 

Largest New Community, Fastest Internet:Ontario unveiled SoCal’s first masterplan with ultra-high bandwidth data. As with the Google Fiber cities outside of Cali, gigabit living means lightning-fast downloads and future-proofed homes. Homeowners pay directly through their HOA (at reduced rates). The L.A.Times wrote about it. CBS2 broadcast it. Ontario Ranch is built by some of the country’s best homebuilders, including Brookfield Residential.

 

 

    

 

 

Silicon Beach Waves: Urban coolness inundated Playa Vista: Mayor Garcetti trumpeted the new Runway retail. Yahoo moved into its new HQ. Google planned its own move. Maltzan Architecture designed the new Brickyard creative space. Gensler hacked an older building, which nabbed new tenants (including Jessica Alba’s Honest Company). Culver City expanded transit service and connected with Expo Rail. And Brookfield Residential opened two stunning, vertically sleek neighborhoods

 

Props to Pardee Properties: Tami Pardee is #1 in Los Angeles, selling over $2 billion of residential and commercial properties. And #17 in the U.S., says Real Trends/Wall Street Journal. But forget the haughty stereotype of celebri-brokers. Tami is about community commitment. Pardee Properties’ Giving Back program directs 10% net sale proceeds to essential charities: Over $750,000 has gone primarily to needy neighborhoods. JSPR worked with CBS2 on two stories “Tami’s Tips” for renters, and "When is the Right Time to Buy?"

 

Huge Explosion in the Arts District: Investor’s Business Daily covered it: $2 billion of institutional funds blowing-up the east end of DTLA. The boom included “curated” retail (as in ABC7’s Eye on L.A.) at the Michael Maltzan-designed One Santa Fe community. The Arts District became L.A.’s art and architecture center: Hennessey & Ingalls bookstore moves to OSF from Santa Monica. Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel museum opens in March a block away. Did we mention One Santa Fe took top honors in AIA-LA’s 2015 Design Awards, and launched L.A.'s largest private bike share program

 

Foodie Districts: Anaheim now claims the world stage for more than Disney. The delicious urbanism of the Packing House food hall and nearby Center Street and their creators – City of Anaheim and LAB Holding – transformed the city’s downtown and were huge hits in the Wall Street Journal and at Urban Land Institute's international Fall Meeting. 

 

At the Center of Real Estate Trends: Led by Director Stuart Gabriel, UCLA Ziman for Real Estate is the voice of knowledge in scores of media stories per year. Through its Economic Letter, the Ziman Center released groundbreaking research and analysi. Most recently, “Will Airbnb Go the Way of Napster?” detailed how the home-rental company can shift from a “disruptor” to a partner. Meanwhile, CBS2 featured Gabriel discussing when is the best time to refinance.

 

KFA: The Next 40 Years: Killefer Flammang Architects' adaptive-reuse work reshaped Los Angeles, including historic landmarks Eastern Columbia building and Ace HotelAnd yet, 75% of KFA’s work is new-construction, including in the fast-moving worlds of hospitality, residential, transit-oriented development and creative office. The firm celebrated its 40th anniversary and will soon announce bold 2016 news.

 

JSPR is grateful to its friends for an abundantly exciting year. We have the joy of working with the best creative partners in SoCal, including Urban Land Institute, InterCommunications, Greenhaus, Air Condition, Polaris Pacific, Hayes Martin & Associates, Hexa, Alexandria Abramian, Gunn Jerkins, Kulli Marketing, Salt&PR, Downtown Breakfast Club, White Oak Communications, Casey & Sayre, Mike Hoye Public Relations, Rachel Forman, Urbana, Balcony Press, Michelle Moreno and many more. Forgive us if we neglected any of you. But thank you all!