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Architects Vie For 18th Street Project:

On October 12, 18th Street Arts Center opened an exhibit showcasing the works of four architectural firms that will be competing for the opportunity to redevelop 18th Street into an expanded and modern arts complex.

The four firms – Mack Architects, Pugh + Scarpa, Daly Genik and Koning Eizenberg – were not exhibiting potential design schemes for the 18th Street project, but instead were showcasing examples of other projects to give the public a glimpse of their respective styles. Each of the firms showcased examples of past projects in the form of models, floor plans, architect’s renderings and mountings of building materials.

Pugh + Scarpa is the firm that designed Bergamot Station. They offered a miniature model of their design for the Mills Center For The Arts in Hendersonville, N.C., a one-story building surrounding a courtyard, with copper screens and gently sloping roofs.

Angie Brooks of Pugh + Scarpa pointed out some examples of her firm’s building materials – a screen made from recycled ping-pong balls and a screen made from broom bristles which is used for wall material.  Pugh + Scarpa is experimenting with recycled materials and is looking to build sustainable structures.

The Daly Genik display featured a model of the Tahiti Housing complex planned for a site near the 10 Freeway in Santa Monica. The 36-unit building consists of box-like structures joined vertically by stairways and catwalks intertwined with bamboo plants (represented, amusingly, by green plastic soda straws). Kevin Daly of Daly Genik explained that the complex is designed to have a jungle tree house feeling. The buildings will also make use of natural light and ventilation.

Mack Architects are known locally for the Abbot Kinney Artists Lofts in Venice. They’ve designed similar lofts in various European cities. Their two-story lofts, viewed in photographs at the exhibit, feature bright color palettes with red, yellow and orange predominating, and translucent window panels made from Paneltec, a plastic honeycomb material.

Koning Eizenberg, whose designs include the Virginia Avenue Park expansion, displayed postcard pictures of projects that make use of glass and metal siding. A model of their design for a museum featured a combination of traditional Venetian arches and modern geometric shapes. Koning Eizenberg had the formidable task of remodeling the Farmers Market in Los Angeles and did so by incorporating elements of the old buildings, such as the clock tower, with new structures that, while modern, contain “market associations.”

Jan Williamson, 18th Street’s executive director, says the four firms were chosen from a field of over 15 applicants. “Our selection committee narrowed the pool down to these four firms on the basis of their innovative design, past affordable housing experience and sustainable building experience,” she says. “Judging from these finalists, our Board has a range of strong architects to choose from for this important project.”

The selection committee consists of Williamson; Clayton Campbell, 18th Street’s artistic director; Susanna Dakin, 18th Street’s Board president; Joan Ling of Community Corporation (the project’s developer); James Mount, architect and Board member; Rich Erickson, president of W.E. O’Neill Construction; and Jessica Cusick, general manager of cultural affairs for the City of Santa Monica.

The 18th Street Arts Center was founded in 1988 and is Southern California’s largest contemporary arts and artist residency center. The 1.2-acre site it occupies was formerly the site of several industrial buildings constructed from the 1930s through the 1950s. The new center is envisioned to be three times the size of the current facility and will include up to 50 live-in studios for artists as well as space for nonprofit arts organizations.

Click here to learn more about the 18th Street Arts Center.

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