Perched atop the bluffs of LA’s exclusive Pacific Palisades, the Vicino House is more than just a home; it’s an experience. Designer Timothy McCarthy of the Forma Design Group and Owner / Developer Michael Gottlieb made it their mission to create a home that would evoke the feeling of being in a high-end spa. They succeeded. Visiting the Vicino House, I almost expected to be handed a white fluffy robe and some cucumber water.
The epitome of sustainable living and luxury design, the Vicino House was recently awarded LEED Platinum certification. A modern marvel of steel, glass and wood — one of the homes most striking features is the 180-degree view of the Pacific Ocean — which can be enjoyed from almost every room in the house and many of the sun soaked outdoor decks.
Interesting development closer to home: Sander Architects, the architecture firm we co-live (share office space) with and whose beautiful Canal House we use as our Studio for G Living Live, has taken their G building ideas and entered into the Leed Residential program. One of the firm’s residences, The Fin House, yet another Venice Canal house, was accepted into the pilot LEED program for residential architecture. This is the program by which LEED will develop their list of criteria for residential projects.
Greg Reitz, Green Building Advisor to the City of Santa Monica, is the consultant on the project.
If living in an apartment is your excuse for not having a garden, you can always move to China and take up residence in Knafo Klimer’s Agro-Housing. It’s about as sustainable as a building concept can be, from the construction materials to the design. Plus each unit has its own greenhouse.
Your own personal greenhouse. In an apartment.
Designed to make multi-complex living more enjoyable and self-reliant, even in crowded cities, Agro-Housing was among the winners of the 2nd International Architecture Competition for Sustainable Housing. It’s basically a high-rise apartment building with plenty of personal space for the growing of food — which is good news for the Chinese, since a UN report estimates that 50 percent of their population will be fighting for city space by 2010.
“If people are going to change their lifestyles to be more green, I think the alternatives have to be exciting and fun,” says artist and designer Michael Jantzen when asked about the frequent use of wind in his work. It’s a comment that immediately jumps out, and then later strikes me as an apt thesis of sorts for his vast body of intriguing work, whether wind-utilizing or not.
Jantzen’s designs have gained national attention for their exploration of alternative energy as a standard architectural feature; his projects have graced the pages of Newsweek, Wired, Architectural Digest, House Beautiful and other publications. While all environmentally beneficial, forward-thinking concepts merit mass public attention in my mind, something about Jantzen’s projects always manage to stand out.
If it comes to living in the country or the city, for me the choice is a no-brainer. I mean, as beautiful as the countryside is, it’s great to visit — not so great to live. Shall we talk about isolation? I couldn’t bear it. The city is really where it’s at for me. Cities are exciting cultural hubs that offer an alluring mix of art, film, theatre, music, restaurants, shops and — if you happen to live in a city other than Los Angeles — public transport.
The one thing cities don’t have are… farms. And I don’t mean the scarecrow-combine harvester-herds of Black Angus-type farms, I’m talking about a genuine urban farm.
The one pictured here comes from New York based Work Architecture, and is the winner of the ninth annual MoMA/P.S.1 Young Architect Program. Called Public Farm 1 (or PF1), this will become a living installation when it goes up in P.S.1’s outdoor courtyard on June 20th.
Man-made reservoirs don’t exactly bring a soft, fuzzy image to my mind, so when I heard what’s happening in Southern California in the hills between L.A. and San Diego, my skeptical side kicked in.
Metropolitan Water District (MWD) is the top dog in securing water for L.A. and its suburbs. They don’t have a great track record in terms of being kind to the environment, draining natural lakes and damming rivers to create man-made reservoirs to help quench the thirst of millions of people living in the desert. One area targeted for a reservoir was Diamond Valley, just outside of Hemet, CA, and construction of the 4,500 acre site began in 1995. Almost immediately, crews began unearthing prehistoric creatures and American Indian artifacts. There was no place to put the over 1 million pieces until recently when the Western Center for Archaeology and Paleontology opened its doors.
Well, I’ve never been to Spain, but I kinda like the… green design that seems to abound there. The latest in Spain’s seemingly endless parade of green architecture is definitely a place I would like to call home. It’s called the Casa OS (don’t ask me what OS stands for) and it was designed by Madrid-based Nolaster Architects.
The design is totally green – the basics of which include reduced energy and smart water use. To reduce energy, the home is built over a dug-out cavern, taking advantage of thermal massing and reducing the wind profile. It also has a sod roof, perhaps the coolest (literally and figuratively) of all green home features. The construction materials are green, too, using modular zinc panels which last longer in the salty air and can be easily disassembled, reused, or replaced. Finally, the home has in-floor radiant heating that can be controlled room by room, making it über-efficient.
>The Hudson Yards, a large former rail yard next to midtown Manhattan’s Hudson River, is getting a redo. While it was inevitable that this long undeveloped site would eventually be given the designer treatment, what’s unexpected are the masterful plans proposed by Steve Holl, one of five designers invited to submit their designs Continue Reading / See Additional Photos
Blue is my favorite color and I’ve often been criticized for the lack of diversity in my wardrobe, so when I saw this building I was immediately intrigued. The Blue Tower by Bernard Tschumi opened in New York City late last year, housing 32 apartments and a 3rd floor commercial space. If you’re an architectural traditionalist, don’t read any further.
It sticks out like a sore thumb in the neighborhood of old, brick buildings and it rises high above the current landscape. I’m not convinced that the shape is really what people want either; it looks like an unfinished headquarters for Planet Hollywood.
Since Chicago has taken great strides toward becoming a greener city, it seems a good place to find architects to design headquarters for the world’s greenest city.
I’m referring to Masdar, the $22 billion development in Abu Dhabi, which is the world’s first ever zero-carbon, zero-waste and zero car city. The Chicago architecture firm of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill has been chosen to design “the world’s first positive energy, mixed-use building”, which promises to be “the first building in history to generate power for its own assembly, through development of its solar roof pier before the underlying complex.” Continue Reading / See Additional Photos
Close your eyes and think of Moscow, Russia. The image that comes to mind is a series of funky-colored domes, large open squares, and even a gigantic banner of Stalin – or Lenin (depending on when you grew up). Now picture a giant, volcano-shaped glass and steel structure that rises gradually out of a large park to dominate the city’s skyline.
The world’s largest green building is coming to Moscow. Dubbed Crystal Island, the structure (designed by London’s Foster + Partners) will boast over 2.5 million square meters of usable space, also making it the world’s largest single building. It will house theaters, offices, residences, performance centers and even an international school.
For almost two decades, I’ve been a victim of L.A.’s various pollutants. From the smog to the endless rows of uninspired strip malls that seem to pop up overnight, this otherwise terrific city has for too long been harmful to both the lungs and the eyes. What we need is more visual appeal combined with auto-sufficiency – something that not only looks incredible but contributes to a cleaner, healthier existence.
Leave it to the French to make my fantasy a reality. Vincent Callebaut’s Anti-Smog: An Innovation Centre in Sustainable Development accomplishes all this and more, using green building techniques and green technology to create a visually stunning center comprised of two structures that feature public spaces like meeting rooms, galleries, a cafeteria and a courtyard.