THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
Post office redevelopment includes tower
Pacific Equity Partners is proposing a 20-story, 360-apartment tower to be built above San Diego’s historic E Street post office. Roger Showley reports that the $60 million, Davy Architecture–designed project would maintain the existing building’s Art Deco front façade and lobby. The fate of the historic structure’s side and rear facades remains to be determined. “Typically, in this case, it's probably cheaper to leave them and shore them up instead of building them back,” says historic preservation architect Richard Bundy. “If there's something historic, you're required to keep it and work with it rather than tear it down and rebuild. That will be part of the debate and discussion with the Historic Resources Board.” The developers plan, pending approvals, to start construction next fall.


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THE OREGONIAN
New apartment building for Portland
Developer Astor Pacific is proposing a six-story, 177-apartment building in Portland, Ore.’s Pearl District. Elliot Njus reports that the new building, called the Parker, responds to the neighborhood’s low vacancy rate—2.4 percent, according to the Metro Multifamily Housing Association. The LEED Platinum building will have a large courtyard and individual storage, with car and bike parking for each apartment.

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LOS ANGELES DOWNTOWN NEWS
Two seven-story towers planned for LA
Century West Partners, a joint venture between Chicago-based Fifield Companies and locally based Cypress Equity Investments, is proposing two seven-story, 247-rental-unit apartment towers for a site in downtown Los Angeles that was to have a 43-story Daniel Libeskind–designed building. Richard Guzmán reports that the $95 million GMP Architects–designed complex is expected to break ground in April 2012. “I think the buyer's market is difficult and still shrinking,” says Colliers executive vice president Mark Tarczynski. “The rental market is what's growing.”

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THE SACRAMENTO BEE
California’s new state architect
California Gov. Jerry Brown has selected Los Angeles architect Chester “Chet” Widom, FAIA, to be state architect. David Siders reports that the former Widom Wein Cohen O'Leary Terasawa partner most recently advised the Los Angeles Community College District and was AIA president in 1995. “I look forward to working closely with my staff at the Division of the State Architect, the Department of General Services, the legislature and other local leaders to make our state even more innovative, sustainable and efficient,” Widom says.

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TRIB LOCAL (OAK PARK/RIVER FOREST, IL)
High-rise proposed for Oak Park

Oak Park, Ill., village trustees postponed voting on a 20-story rental apartment building that would be the tallest project in downtown. Bridget Doyle reports that $91 million, Gensler-designed tower must be approved by the village trustees since the plan commission failed to approve the project when it deadlocked in a 4-4 vote last month. The commission was stymied by the density of the project, which is zoned for only 97 apartments. “Most of the retailers in the area will tell you this is a welcome addition to the downtown population,” says the developer’s representative, Michael Glazier. “As census data has shown, Oak Park has seen a decline in population … Adding new housing is important to keep the population above 50,000.”

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SAVANNAH MORNING NEWS (GA)
SCAD’s new dean

The Savannah Morning News reports that Christian Sottile will be Savannah College of Art and Design’s new dean of the School of Building Arts. Sottile, who heads a locally based urban design firm, has been a professor at SCAD since 1999. His new position will oversee undergraduate and graduate programs in architectural history, architecture, furniture design, historic preservation, interior design and urban design.

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THE LOOKOUT NEWS (SANTA MONICA, CA)
Boards without architects

The Santa Monica, Calif.’s planning and architectural review boards have lost three architects from their ranks in recent months—a situation that’s not likely to change according to Jason Islas. Hank Koning and Gwynn Pugh left the planning commission while architectural review board chair Michael Folonis resigned when the state began enforcing Government Code Section 1090, which states, “city officers or employees shall not be financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by any board or commission they serve on.” All three intend to submit proposals for work with the city. “It's a shame that the tremendously talented people we have in Santa Monica have to choose between serving on commissions and being free to pursue their careers, but we can do nothing about California Code 1090 except help our volunteers avoid violations,” says council member Kevin McKeown.

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UNBEIGE
The City 2.0 awarded TED Prize
The latest $100,000 TED Prize has been awarded not to a person but a concept, the City 2.0. Stephanie Murg reports that City 2.0 is “forward-looking, sustainable, effective encouraging of innovation, education, culture, and economic opportunity,” but not “a sterile utopian dream.” The money will be spent by “visionary individuals around the world who are advocating on its behalf,” according to TED’s Chris Anderson and Amy Novogratz. “This group has been invited to collectively craft a wish that is capable of jumpstarting a massive collaborative project among members of the TED community,” Murg writes.

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SOCIAL TECH
Gehry Technology gets $10 million in funding

Gehry Technologies, the Frank Gehry–founded software company, has raised $10 million in Series B financing, according to Social Tech. Autodesk and Dessault Systemes are among the investors. The funding will be used for the firm’s consulting services and technology development, which are meant for use by owners, developers, architects, engineers, general contractors, and fabricators. Overall funding for the firm now totals $15 million.

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GIZMAG
BIG blurs roads

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)’s “Urban Future” concept was shown at this year’s Design Miami/international design show. Darren Quick reports that the installation showed “how a road of the future would sense and take into account the needs of various road users—motorized, pedal powered and pedestrian—and adapt to accommodate all, essentially blurring the line between roads, sidewalks and public spaces, such as city squares and allowing the road to change its function throughout the day.”

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