Shelter is a basic human need. This is the concept behind Architecture and Design Museum’s latest exhibition, fittingly titled, Shelter, for which six Los Angeles design practices imagined the future of that vast city’s housing. The exhibit also features recently constructed or in-progress housing solutions by various other design firms.
A+D’s Danielle Rago tells The Creators Project that Los Angeles’ housing needs have shifted, and that Shelter addresses these needs through six proposals for single- and multi-family designs. One of the most interesting futurist housing designs come from PAR in the form of conceptual skyscraper called 6030 Wilshire.
Like the other design practices, PAR had to conceptually battle Los Angeles’ increasing density, decreasing buildable land, new transit offerings, growing diversity, ballooning costs and environmental challenges.
“I was interested in reimagining the skyscraper for a future, denser Los Angeles,” PAR’s Jennifer Marmon tells The Creators Project. “We explored how individuality and nature, two qualities emblematic of Los Angeles living could be created vertically in the sky.”
Marmon says that nature and architecture are fundamental themes in her work. She likes to find a balance between the two, something that is quite difficult in a city like Los Angeles, with its endless arteries of circuit board-like streets and buildings. 6030 Wilshire provides that balance with individual houses stacked atop one another to a great vertical height, each outfitted with ample green space.
“With this project the terraces themselves became the in-between space, between private living and the city,” Marmon explains. “From a distance, the building boundary begins to blur as the green spaces seem to flow into the city, it’s a form of super-artificial.”
An aerial view of 6030 Wilshire facing east, courtesy of PAR.
By stacking and offsetting single floor plates on each level of the skyscraper, Marmon was able to give each dwelling its own spatial quality. The larger plates are positioned toward the bottom of the tower to give it stability against earthquakes. The units range in size from 500 to 5,000 square feet, which would allow the developer to accommodate a socioeconomically diverse group of residents.
Marmon explains that these floor plate shifts create a direct connection to nature for residents through oversized terraces. The south and west terraces would feature dense vegetation that would naturally buffer the environment, while the north and east terraces would provide leisure zones that could be a mix of private and common spaces. Large, common green spaces also occur at the three structural intervals on levels 27-28, 54-55 and 78-79.
Marmon also decided to locate PAR’s future skyscraper on LACMA’s proposed hotel, condo and museum tower site, which sits on a future Purple Line subway station. Marmon had been following Los Angeles Times reports on the LACMA’s proposal, which Frank Gehry might design, and saw an opportunity to bring some social justice awareness to the story.
“After discussion with the curators, we selected the site as it enabled us to explore, among other things, interests in density and resource reciprocity that enables the tower to share water and energy with LACMA—which BuroHappold developed,” Marmon says. “[And], as Los Angeles develops into the future, connecting buildings to the metro will make it easier for people to move through the city without cars. This simple shift can have a big impact.”
BuroHappold Engineering, which has worked on both the LACMA museum and Academy of Motion Pictures Museum, tells The Creators Project that it assisted PAR on mapping a Resilience Framework (a map of the city’s strengths and weaknesses) across the district “to develop the design process from the ‘abstract’ issues such as occupant wellbeing to the detailed energy, water, and environmental systems.” BuroHappold also helped PAR design the tower to withstand earthquakes.
While 6030 Wilshire is conceptual, this is the type of architecture that Marmon and PAR hope to see in the future.
“I see a future Los Angeles with some districts growing more vertical and connected by horizontal sprawl in-between,” Marmon says. “Our metropolis is polynodal, with multiple centers and I imagine these centers will continue to grow vertical and that new centers will also emerge around metro nodes.”
See PAR’s 6030 Wilshire concept and other future housing designs at A+D Museum’s Shelter exhibition, on view until November 6th.