Renzo Piano-inspired Skyhouse nestles into Hollywood Hills

September 16, 2021 by  
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Inspired by Renzo Piano’s Fondation Beyeler museum in Switzerland, Skyhouse by XTEN Architecture is a multi-award-winning home in the Hollywood Hills. The 12,000-square-foot house consists of five bedrooms and seven bathrooms with amenities including an infinity pool, home gym, theater and eight-car garage. Located on a cul-de-sac in the Bird Streets of Los Angeles , the site has a 15-foot difference in elevation. The house is nestled into the hillside, maximizing the thermal qualities of the earth. The property also incorporates endemic drought-resistant plants, which are irrigated via stormwater collection tanks. Related : Luxury timber home mimics a rocky outcropping for minimal site impact The project’s walls juxtapose with the seemingly weightless grid of truncated skylights that float above. This concept stems from the Beyeler Museum, which adopts a full ceiling of skylights to filter sunlight into the galleries. Skyhouse’s ceiling grid is inspired by the urban fabric of L.A. and produces a soft, diffused quality of light that floods the interiors. The skylights are tinted and contain a diffuse PVC membrane to reduce solar intake, keeping the temperatures comfortable while minimizing artificial daylighting. Four solid volumes form the private bedroom suites, while the area between them creates the shared living spaces, including the kitchen, dining and family area. This living area extends from the center of the house and opens fully to a terrace and infinity pool overlooking the landscape. Passive cooling and cross ventilation are optimized through the floor-to-ceiling glass pocket doors that slide away. These create a blur between the interiors and exteriors, which is reinforced through the white terrazzo that spans from the indoors to the terrace. Due to the combination of an elegant minimalist aesthetic and passive design, XTEN has been awarded several awards for this luxurious project. These awards include the Residential Awards’ “Large Single Family Merit Winner,” an American Architecture Award (AAA) by Chicago Athenaeum, and the “Design Awards Residential Merit,” by the American Institute of Architects’ L.A. chapter. + XTEN Architecture Photography by Steve King

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Renzo Piano-inspired Skyhouse nestles into Hollywood Hills

Explore Minetta Lane, a green townhouse with a climbing wall

September 16, 2021 by  
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Kushner Studios has completed a major renovation of a century-old townhouse in Minetta Lane, Greenwich Village. Glorious expansive living spaces look out onto New York’s skyline through a woven steel and foliage facade. The towering home even has its own  climbing wall! With over 4,800 square feet of interior space and 1,200 square feet of outdoor and roof space, this extensive home at Minetta Lane in Manhattan offers five bedrooms, multiple living spaces, four bathrooms, a jacuzzi, and a gym. Its 83-foot tall rock climbing wall is the tallest east of Reno, Nevada. Related: Extraordinary treehouse is a climber’s dream with its own indoor climbing wall Kushner Studios took on the $2.7 million renovation intending to leave the historical shell intact and create a new interior and vertical extension. The original streetscape was preserved. “The crossing tree limbs forming Gothic archways fronting the Minetta Street, inspired the defining narrative structure played out in the building’s newly inserted facade. The playful steel facade is covered in Ivy adding a green wall terminus to the street as an homage to the past and a vision of public good will,” a project statement explains. Interior designer Robert Isabell previously owned the townhouse and created as much streetside greenery as possible, lending the building its name as the Salad House. Evoking rural landscapes, the huge stacked chord woodpile in the triple-height living room has been harvested by hand from the owner’s property upstate and can keep the inhabitants warm via a total of nine woodburning fireplaces. This alternative heat source is in addition to the incorporation of solar panels.  Natural finishes and materials are abundant throughout the five-story home, from the floorings in wood and rope to the rustic stairs and built-in storage in naturally varied timbers . The home’s smaller service areas work to serve the adjacent larger served spaces. The bedrooms, for example, have secondary work or office spaces alongside them. A mid-level convertible open space demarcates the original home from the additional floors added.  The roof features cooking and entertaining space plus thrilling views of the city. The rock climbing wall is situated in the rear courtyard and provides a surreal urban sports experience.  Construction took a total of seven years, from May 2012 to January 2020. + Kushner Studios Images via Kushner Studios

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Explore Minetta Lane, a green townhouse with a climbing wall

Indeed Tower in Austin earns LEED Platinum for green features

September 10, 2021 by  
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A new office tower stands tall in Austin , and its sustainability features are breaking records. Indeed Tower, a recently completed AA office tower, earned 82 points toward a LEED v4 Core & Shell (CS) Platinum Certification. Awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council, this certification makes Indeed Tower the second-largest LEED v4 CS project in the U.S. and the fifth-largest in the world, according to a press release. The building spans 730,000 square feet and rises to 36 stories tall. About 35,000 square feet of this project includes the adaptive reuse of the historic Claudia Taylor Johnson post office. Campbell Landscape Architecture and Ten Eyck Landscape Architects contributed to the project’s 17,000 square feet of urban green space. Developed by Trammell Crow Company and Principal Real Estate Investors and helmed by architecture firm Page, this massive project took four years to complete. Related: See how this Austin home enjoys green views without windows “Trammell Crow Company set out more than three years ago to develop an office tower that was designed for the future. Indeed Tower was designed to meet and exceed even the highest standards of sustainability and accommodate the needs of current and future office tenants that demand a modern and evolved workplace,” said Brad Maples, Principal of Trammell Crow Company’s Austin office. Indeed Tower’s sustainable features begin with incorporating open, green spaces. Open space covers 46% of the site with the help of terraces and the large urban plaza. These spaces include plenty of vegetation, 75% of which is native and 25% is drought-tolerant. Water concerns are addressed through on-site rainwater management, low flow plumbing fixtures and EnergyStar appliances. These features help the building save 1.5 million gallons of water annually. The reuse of the existing structure also helps the project reduce 20% of its embodied carbon . In addition to the tower’s LEED Platinum certification, the project also earned Austin Energy Green Building 4-Star certification. A Fitwel 1-Star certification is pending. + Indeed Tower Images courtesy of Albert Vecerka ESTO Photographics and Page

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Explore this award-winning design for a self-sustaining town

September 9, 2021 by  
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Located in Norway , Powered by Ulsteinvik by Kaleidoscope Nordic looks like it could be a science fiction movie set. But this is no story. This is what the future of design may look like. Over a hundred nominations worldwide were submitted, but this design is the winner of the 2021 Architizer A+Awards. It’s creative, modern and self-sufficient. This project is a strategy for a small Norwegian town. The idea is to work with and harness the natural cycles and energy flow of the area, while still providing a pretty place to live, work and spend time. Related: Akersbakken Bicycle Hotel design blends into the landscape The design will create meeting spaces, open up connections to the water and increase accessibility for pedestrians . The design includes a town center with a multi-purpose square, a cultural heritage building and gathering space for all to use. Autonomous electric buses will keep everyone connected. A smart-grid with plug-in modules will power the town with renewable energy. The grid is fed with the “SmartPergola” system, in which city roofs, businesses and meeting places have photovoltaic modules to help power the energy grid. Everything is interconnected. This power system is why the project is known as Powered by Ulsteinvik.If you follow the complex’s blue path, you’ll make your way to a seafront promenade. The inner part of this marina area will become an activity center with autonomous boats and automated fishing rods for digital learning. Three main concepts will combine to create this amazing space: the central SMARTHUB, the Generation Gardens in Ulshaugen and the Circular Neighborhoods in Holsekerdalen. SMARTHUB includes a town hall, business center, cafe and innovation lab for public use. The exterior is built with photovoltaic panels that provide electricity to feed the grid. The Generation Gardens have several facilities, including a kindergarten, a young club and health services offices. There are sheltered courtyards here where children can play. The Circular Neighborhoods in Holsekerdalen are a new housing concept. These buildings harvest rainwater, which is transferred to the balcony plant beds. This allows residents to grow their own food . There’s also a growhouse, a common greenhouse with a kitchen. Here, everyone can cook and eat together after harvesting ingredients for the meal. + Kaleidoscope Nordic Images via Kvant-1

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Explore this award-winning design for a self-sustaining town

Upper Los Angeles River Plan wins award for inclusive, sustainable design

August 4, 2021 by  
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The influential Upper Los Angeles River and Tributaries Revitalization Plan (ULART) has earned the prestigious global 2021 AZ Award from Azure Magazine for its plan to “recalibrate natural urban waterways by deploying nature-based solutions to create new community space and help rectify decades of neglect.” In an international competition commissioned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA), the ULART plan by Studio-MLA stood out for its comprehensive vision for 300-plus project site opportunities for the Upper Los Angeles River and its tributaries, taking the win in the Urban Design Visions category of the competition. The competition received over 1,200 project entries from 57 countries in the 10 designated categories. Related: Jiangyin urban development by BAU honors humans, history and the planet The design addresses the needs of underprivileged populations up and down the L.A. waterways and aims to reverse trends of paving natural spaces, instead planning for green beltways. “This integrated response to climate change via new green infrastructure , as well as the social infrastructure for renewed equity in cities, is urgently needed,” said AZ Award juror Marc Ryan of Toronto-based design firm Public Work. The ULART Plan is led by Los Angeles Councilmember Monica Rodriguez, Sarah Rascon of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority on behalf of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and Mía Lehrer from landscape architecture firm Studio-MLA. This combination of interests and skills culminated into a plan that supports local communities and the environment. “It was a privilege to lead this effort that begins to address environmental justice issues in communities that have historically suffered from underinvestment. The plan identifies over 300 opportunity sites for open-space amenities accessible to over 625,000 residents who live within a half mile of the river tributaries,” said Councilmember Rodriguez, the ULART Chair.  Rascon, environmental equity officer for MRCA, said the team relied on input from a variety of local representatives of municipalities, community leaders, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and elected officials from throughout the Upper Los Angeles River watershed area. Delegates represented six cities throughout Los Angeles County, as well as dozens of Los Angeles city neighborhoods in the Upper Los Angeles River watershed . In addition to the contributions for human recreation, the plan works in conjunction with natural systems to address the historic droughts in the area. It includes the potential capture of 8,695 acre-feet of stormwater per year. Jan Dyer, principal and director of the Infrastructure Division at Studio-MLA said, “The ULART plan also provides over 1,000 miles of shaded green streets and trails, while preserving and enhancing over 6,000 acres of urban wildlife ecology.” + Studio-MLA Images by Studio-MLA and MRCA via v2com

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Upper Los Angeles River Plan wins award for inclusive, sustainable design

Upper Los Angeles River Plan wins award for inclusive, sustainable design

August 4, 2021 by  
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The influential Upper Los Angeles River and Tributaries Revitalization Plan (ULART) has earned the prestigious global 2021 AZ Award from Azure Magazine for its plan to “recalibrate natural urban waterways by deploying nature-based solutions to create new community space and help rectify decades of neglect.” In an international competition commissioned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA), the ULART plan by Studio-MLA stood out for its comprehensive vision for 300-plus project site opportunities for the Upper Los Angeles River and its tributaries, taking the win in the Urban Design Visions category of the competition. The competition received over 1,200 project entries from 57 countries in the 10 designated categories. Related: Jiangyin urban development by BAU honors humans, history and the planet The design addresses the needs of underprivileged populations up and down the L.A. waterways and aims to reverse trends of paving natural spaces, instead planning for green beltways. “This integrated response to climate change via new green infrastructure , as well as the social infrastructure for renewed equity in cities, is urgently needed,” said AZ Award juror Marc Ryan of Toronto-based design firm Public Work. The ULART Plan is led by Los Angeles Councilmember Monica Rodriguez, Sarah Rascon of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority on behalf of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and Mía Lehrer from landscape architecture firm Studio-MLA. This combination of interests and skills culminated into a plan that supports local communities and the environment. “It was a privilege to lead this effort that begins to address environmental justice issues in communities that have historically suffered from underinvestment. The plan identifies over 300 opportunity sites for open-space amenities accessible to over 625,000 residents who live within a half mile of the river tributaries,” said Councilmember Rodriguez, the ULART Chair.  Rascon, environmental equity officer for MRCA, said the team relied on input from a variety of local representatives of municipalities, community leaders, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and elected officials from throughout the Upper Los Angeles River watershed area. Delegates represented six cities throughout Los Angeles County, as well as dozens of Los Angeles city neighborhoods in the Upper Los Angeles River watershed . In addition to the contributions for human recreation, the plan works in conjunction with natural systems to address the historic droughts in the area. It includes the potential capture of 8,695 acre-feet of stormwater per year. Jan Dyer, principal and director of the Infrastructure Division at Studio-MLA said, “The ULART plan also provides over 1,000 miles of shaded green streets and trails, while preserving and enhancing over 6,000 acres of urban wildlife ecology.” + Studio-MLA Images by Studio-MLA and MRCA via v2com

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Upper Los Angeles River Plan wins award for inclusive, sustainable design

Minimalist House in Minohshinmachi focuses on nature

August 3, 2021 by  
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The clients for this home in the northernmost part of Minoh City, Osaka Prefecture, wanted the architecture to represent local history and culture while also developing a modern aesthetic in a space that closes the gap between indoors and outdoors. Architect Yasuyuki Kitamura honored the clients’ wishes for a sustainable home that spoke to nature with thin beams on the interior and large windows to invite in natural light and open up the views of the nearby Mount Aogai. Known as the House in Minohshinmachi, the home was situated with the south side facing the road, east and west sides meeting other residential homes and the north side opening up to a buffer zone for the landslide disaster warning area. Related: Cloudy Courtyard is crystal clear in its historical inspiration The one-story house was kept low-lying in order to merge into the landscape without being obtrusive as well as to keep material and construction costs low. Builders used conventional construction methods, relying on wood and structural metals, which came together quickly for a short building period. House in Minohshinmachi was designed to ensure high seismic performance, resulting in the achievement of earthquake-resistance grade three standards. The designer brought elements of nature into the interior design with large pillars that resemble trees standing in the forest. Natural light floods the space with the entire center of the roof acting as skylights. Modern and minimalistic , the home also achieves excellent insulation performance standards while adhering to a modest budget. The project won the prestigious AZ Award and has been selected as the 2021 Architizer A+ Awards Finalist for Architecture + Living Small/Low Cost Design. “We have been searching for the future of environmental architecture, and our goal was to reconstruct the forgotten relationship between local character and the surrounding natural environment,” the architect explained. “The result is a new type of building that, in addition to its high residential performance, feels more like a part of nature than a landscape.” + Yasuyuki Kitamura Photography by Masashige Akeda via v2com

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Minimalist House in Minohshinmachi focuses on nature

Invasive lanternflies want to take over the U.S.

August 3, 2021 by  
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Spotted lanternflies are extremely cool-looking bugs, with polka-dotted wings in shades of red, black and beige that make them resemble paper lanterns. But people should be very worried about this invasive  insect , according to entomologist Frank Hale. The spotted lanternfly hales from India, Vietnam and China. It probably immigrated to the U.S. as a stowaway in a cut stone or wood product shipment circa 2012. The initial U.S. sighting in 2014 was, fittingly enough, on a common  invasive  tree of heaven in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Since then, spotted lanternflies have spread to at least 26 counties in  Pennsylvania  and been spotted in several other eastern states. Related: More than half of Europe’s native trees face extinction The problem is, this is one destructive little bug. Lanternflies feed by piercing  tree  bark and vines, biting right into the plant’s vascular system and sucking out the sap. At an inch long, they’re pretty big for a sucking insect and can remove an awful lot of sap, jeopardizing the lives of their hosts. Then they excrete large amounts of the euphemistically called “honeydew,” which coats the tree. “The heavy flow of honeydew and the resulting sooty mold makes a mess of the landscape,” said Hale, as reported in Ecowatch. Woe to those who park beneath a tree infested with lanternflies. These invasive bugs also have a yen for grapevines. It takes a lot of  insecticide  to kill them, driving up production costs and making vintners kiss their organic status goodbye. Eastern wine-producing areas, including Long Island and Finger Lakes in New York, Newport, Rhode Island and parts of Virginia all face the threat of lanternflies ruining their vineyards. How have these little bugs spread so far in just a few years? In late summer and autumn, lanternflies lay egg masses. Any smooth surface is fair game. Including  cars , trains and trucks. The unborn lanternflies can hitch a ride anywhere, leading to future infestations. Scientists are trying to figure out the best way to stop these bugs from continuing their west and southward trajectory. “Two naturally occurring fungal pathogens of spotted lanternflies have been identified in the U.S.,” Hale told Ecowatch. “Also, U.S. labs are testing two parasitoid insects – insects that grow by feeding on lanternflies and killing them in the process – that have been brought from  China  for testing and possible future release.” Wait, haven’t we seen that in a sci-fi movie? In the meantime, if you see spotted lanternflies in your area, contact your local county extension office for suggestions on how to control the bugs. And if you’re the unlucky first sighter of the bugs in your area, contact your state department of  agriculture .  “ If the infestation is caught early before it can become established in your area, hopefully it can be eradicated there,” said Hale. “Eventually, it will spread to many parts of the country. We can slow the spread by identifying and eradicating new infestations wherever they arise.” Via Ecowatch , USDA Lead image via F Delventhal

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Invasive lanternflies want to take over the U.S.

Invasive lanternflies want to take over the U.S.

August 3, 2021 by  
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Spotted lanternflies are extremely cool-looking bugs, with polka-dotted wings in shades of red, black and beige that make them resemble paper lanterns. But people should be very worried about this invasive  insect , according to entomologist Frank Hale. The spotted lanternfly hales from India, Vietnam and China. It probably immigrated to the U.S. as a stowaway in a cut stone or wood product shipment circa 2012. The initial U.S. sighting in 2014 was, fittingly enough, on a common  invasive  tree of heaven in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Since then, spotted lanternflies have spread to at least 26 counties in  Pennsylvania  and been spotted in several other eastern states. Related: More than half of Europe’s native trees face extinction The problem is, this is one destructive little bug. Lanternflies feed by piercing  tree  bark and vines, biting right into the plant’s vascular system and sucking out the sap. At an inch long, they’re pretty big for a sucking insect and can remove an awful lot of sap, jeopardizing the lives of their hosts. Then they excrete large amounts of the euphemistically called “honeydew,” which coats the tree. “The heavy flow of honeydew and the resulting sooty mold makes a mess of the landscape,” said Hale, as reported in Ecowatch. Woe to those who park beneath a tree infested with lanternflies. These invasive bugs also have a yen for grapevines. It takes a lot of  insecticide  to kill them, driving up production costs and making vintners kiss their organic status goodbye. Eastern wine-producing areas, including Long Island and Finger Lakes in New York, Newport, Rhode Island and parts of Virginia all face the threat of lanternflies ruining their vineyards. How have these little bugs spread so far in just a few years? In late summer and autumn, lanternflies lay egg masses. Any smooth surface is fair game. Including  cars , trains and trucks. The unborn lanternflies can hitch a ride anywhere, leading to future infestations. Scientists are trying to figure out the best way to stop these bugs from continuing their west and southward trajectory. “Two naturally occurring fungal pathogens of spotted lanternflies have been identified in the U.S.,” Hale told Ecowatch. “Also, U.S. labs are testing two parasitoid insects – insects that grow by feeding on lanternflies and killing them in the process – that have been brought from  China  for testing and possible future release.” Wait, haven’t we seen that in a sci-fi movie? In the meantime, if you see spotted lanternflies in your area, contact your local county extension office for suggestions on how to control the bugs. And if you’re the unlucky first sighter of the bugs in your area, contact your state department of  agriculture .  “ If the infestation is caught early before it can become established in your area, hopefully it can be eradicated there,” said Hale. “Eventually, it will spread to many parts of the country. We can slow the spread by identifying and eradicating new infestations wherever they arise.” Via Ecowatch , USDA Lead image via F Delventhal

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Invasive lanternflies want to take over the U.S.

New Oakville North additions put pedestrians first

July 27, 2021 by  
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Most master-planned communities take into account things like location to central services and inclusion of a gym, but North Oak at Oakvillage, a multiphase condominium development in Oakville, Canada, builds housing units while incorporating sustainable building practices, too.  Oakvillage is a pedestrian-first community with a focus on connecting to the nearby natural elements of the area. A scenic, 1.5 kilometer multipurpose trail is woven throughout the community. Moreover, onsite trails lead to 300 kilometers of additional trails as well as pristine forests and meadows surrounding Oakvillage. Residents can hit the Sixteen Mile Creek, Bronte Creek Natural Park and Lions Valley Park. In the future, the complex will connect to a planned restaurant and retail complex via a pedestrian-only trail. The master plan presented four phases of construction. With the first three phrases well received and sold out, Minto Communities, the building company behind the project, has launched North Oak Phase 4.  Related: A sustainable campus is built from 22 recycled shipping containers The project is exploring ways to build human and environmental health considerations into a multi-unit complex. This initial tower will debut the developer’s first multi-residential geoexchange energy system. Geoexchange is an energy-efficient way of tapping into Earth’s naturally stable underground temperatures. While it’s not new technology, in Canada and other areas, it has mostly been used for single-family residences. With a geoexchange system, there’s no need for extreme variations in order to heat or cool the air because it’s already temperature-controlled year-round. These systems have been shown to reduce carbon emissions as much as 70%, a particularly big environmental win for a multi-family space. “We’re thrilled to launch North Oak’s second tower, 4B, after the tremendous success of our launch of tower 4A earlier this year. North Oak is our first project to offer community energy through a geoexchange system and the response from purchasers so far has been positive,” said Roya Khaleeli, Director of Sustainability and Innovation for Minto Communities GTA. “Not only will residents benefit from this leading-edge technology, we know they’ll also benefit greatly from the wellness-inspired approach that’s seen through every touch point — from the walking paths and pedestrian prioritization to the beautiful gardens with native plantings and the bright interiors with natural materials and biophilic design incorporated throughout.” With the recent pandemic fresh in the minds of developers, they created a concept they call the “Neighbourhood Nest,” which is a centralized space with eye-catching architecture that will connect North Oak to the future tower next door. This area is designed for social gatherings and also serves as an emergency response center with back-up power, a communications system and refrigeration. Large glass walls provide natural light and further encourage the connection between inside and outside. At the lobby entrance, an expansive planter filled with native species greets residents. Just outside the building, green spaces and a pond are nestled into the landscape. Suites at North Oak are offered in one-bedroom, loft, two-bedroom and two-bedroom plus den options, with suites starting in the mid-$400s. + Minto Communities GTA Images via Minto Communities GTA

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New Oakville North additions put pedestrians first

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