Jack Skelley and JSPR thank colleagues, clients and cohorts for another inspiring year. For a 20-second highlight reel click below...
Blog: Updates on Urbanology
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
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
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.
ULI Los Angeles' Urban Marketplace makes excitement again Thursday, April 2 in DTLA. Please, don't call it a "real estate conference!" Urban Marketplace is the interactive happening where high-level overviews of the development scene balance with grass-roots responses by people making deals and making a difference.
These occur at Urban Marketplace’s famous roundtable sessions: face-to-face conversations on L.A.’s hottest issues. Among the topics this year: Reinvestment and Placemaking Along the L.A. River; the Bioscience Corridor; Sustainable Urban Farming; Solving the First-Mile/Last Mile Transportation Conundrum; Federal Resources for Local Challenges; California’s Cap and Trade Engine for Growth; and several more.
The keynote speakers, however, refuse to be overshadowed. They are urban developers and finance experts, including Tom Gilmore of Gilmore Associates, and Michael Banner of Los Angeles LDC.
The setting this year is at The Reef, the unusual new event and office space at 1933 S Broadway Ave. Register online at ULI Los Angeles.
Jack Skelley and JSPR thank colleagues, clients and cohorts for another inspiring year. May 2015 be even more awesome! This super-speed video grabs just some of the highlights of the year.
ULI Los Angeles also hosts a site tour of Runway at Playa Vista, November 20. The retail/office/residence experience opening early next year includes a Whole Foods market and Cinemark theaters. Among the presenters at the case study event will be Alison Banks, Director of Marketing, Brookfield Residential. She will contextualize Runway within the dramatic scope of Playa Vista. One of the largest construction projects in California, Playa Vista is building 2,800 residential units – yes, 2,800 — for West L.A., including for the many Silicon Beach, creative-space workers currently commuting from other parts of the city.
Ehrlich Architects Reinvent the Work Environment: A recent site tour by Urban Land Institute unveiled new office-space solutions. ULI Los Angeles’ case study was held at the under-construction elevon at Campus el Segundo. Attending were community leaders, top brokers and design professionals. elevon allows businesses to purchase their office building – unique in the L.A. area. The design also sets it apart: “There is a feeling of being in your own house, including private outdoor areas,” said Architect Steven Ehrlich of Ehrlich Architects, famous for custom homes around the world. “And they are set within an overall neighborhood context.” Natural light and natural materials are everywhere. Ehrlich’s residential-inspired elevon design has been profiled from Globe Street and L.A. Business Journal to Form magazine. Above is a photo from the ULI event and below an interior rendering. Here is a report from the ULI tour.
UCLA’s Alarming Rent Report: When it comes to rent, Los Angeles is the most unaffordable market in the country – worse than even San Francisco and New York. This dire situation has been growing for decades, as affordable housing dwindled and wages stagnated. UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate published a paper summarizing the data on this crisis. The news has been covered in Los Angeles Business Journal, Curbed LA, KPCC, and major financial media.
Creative Cooperation: There is a natural synergy between good PR and good branding. However, many marketing firms are missing in-house PR. JSPR is filling the gap. Since launching just over a year ago, JSPR has collaborated with SoCal’s best marketing teams in the realm of placemaking. These alliances are propelling high-profile developments in the region: With HEXA (L.A.’s top Asian media agency), JSPR helped make The Ritz-Carlton Residences at L.A. LIVE the best-selling highrise in Southern California. InterCommunicationsInc and JSPR are highlighting the innovative Elevon office masterplan in El Segundo. With Greenhaus and Sandra Kulli, JSPR is establishing a strong identity for the revitalization of downtown Anaheim. And with Gunn Jerkens we are building a whole new level of buzz for Playa Vista. Other collaborators are Urbana and Looking.
Elevon: Be honest. Are you excited about going to work? Maybe more people would be if their offices were – you know – exciting. That’s the concept underlying Elevon at Campus El Segundo: SoCal’s only new work environment allowing businesses to own their space. (A huge financial advantage, at today’s interest rates.). The innovative design is by Steven Ehrlich, the renowned residential architect. It translates how people love to live to how they want to work. The for-sale spaces of Elevon are moving quickly.
Transit-Oriented L.A.: JSPR continues its affiliation with Urban Land Institute Los Angeles and its ToLA events – Transit-Oriented Los Angeles. Last year ToLA made news when Mayor Eric Garcetti announced his Great Streets initiative: transforming city boulevards through creativity and economic power. Here is a video from the event. ToLA will host world-famous names in transportation design, November 12, at Japanese American National Museum in Downtown L.A. The event is themed: The Art of Go: Active Transportation for Healthy Cities. Here is a quick preview.
Huffington Post: In New York, biking is a contact sport. That’s the takeaway from a recent NYC visit comparing bike infrastructure in Manhattan and L.A. Both cities are lacking and that’s dangerous for all of us. You can read my monthly HuffPo column here.
At the recent forum I produced with ULI Los Angeles, we had an all-star panel. “Can L.A.’s Streets Be Great?” was hosted at Gensler in its jewel-box space on Figueroa Street. An ideal quasi-public setting for a discussion on how smartly designed civic space can boost livability.
The below honchos and experts addressed a full house of urbanologists, bike-eratti, transit geeks and enlightened policy wonks (and I use those terms with utmost respect!)
José Huizar, Los Angeles 14th District Councilman, discussed the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan which recently got underway. Doane Liu, Deputy Mayor, City Services, City of Los Angeles, offered an update on Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative. Rick Cole, Deputy Mayor, Budget & Innovation, City of Los Angeles, former mayor and/or city manager of Azusa, Pasadena, Ventura – spoke on the wider context of investment, neighborhood ownership of the street, events, marketing, pop ups, art programs and more. Laura Nelson, Los Angeles Times transportation reporter overviewed neighborhood mobility planning in the context of the region’s wider transportation system. Brigham Yen, Publisher and Editor of DTLA Rising, and Downtown real estate broker gave his impassioned critique of the plague of jaywalking tickets afflicting Downtown L.A.; and Melani Smith principal of Melendrez, updated everyone on the crucial but presently stalled My Figueroa project.
This week, Rick Cole went the extra mile by offering his presentation to The Planning Report, the influential policy journal published by David Abel. Here it is.