I love architecture. The envisioning, design, and construction of buildings fascinates and excites me. I am a student of the form though I have no official education in it. I remember that my love affair started as a child looking at the buildings in my hometown of Long Beach, California…especially the French-Gothic wonder that is the Villa Riviera. Tall, sleek, crowned with a patina-ed copper roof and leering gargoyles just visible from the street, it was inspiring to see it everyday.
I wanted to learn more about how such buildings were built, which got me interested in engineering and books about construction. But I found a survey of world architecture at the library and knew that it was what I really wanted to learn about. From early mud huts and clay fired bricks to stainless steel and iron girders, the way people created structures to live and work-in consumed me. I learned about classical Greek and Roman buidlings, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Meso-American, Beaux Arts, Bauhaus, Organic, Modern, Post-Modern, Brutalist, Deconstructivism, so many -isms!
My true loves turned out to be unlikely bedfellows: the Beaux Arts school and Frank Lloyd Wright. Two very different approaches to design, one “mired” in traditionalism and the other a rebellion against. I however can not break away from my interest in classically inspired architecture and have worked to combine Wright’s organic approach with more traditional forms (to varied success).
Last year the city of Long Beach announced it was going to upgrade and redefine its old, 1970s era Civic Center with something more open and engaging with the residents of the city. I did my own plans which worked to incorporate a new City Hall, park, main library, and offices for the Port of Long Beach. It was a thought/design experiment and it was fun to do. https://thenuminouscosmos.com/2013/12/28/a-new-long-beach-civic-center/
I thought it would be interesting to show my sketches, alternate layouts, and discarded ideas from this whole experiment. I am actually surprised at the large number of sketches and ideas I played with. So here they are, the alternate Civic Center concepts:
FIRST CONCEPTS Preserving City Hall
My first ideas began with preserving the existing circa 1976 City Hall tower, as it is a landmark of the Long Beach skyline. I thought about breaking the civic center into squares and stripping the concrete off of the tower and revealing the structure with in.
PORT OF LONG BEACH A New and Vibrant Home
Part of the design parameters were that a new building be built to house the Port of Long Beach’s administrative offices. I wanted this building to be the centerpiece of the new Civic Center as I originally envisioned keeping the old City Hall.
LIBRARY AND PARK A Space to Read and Live
The city wanted a new main library and an expanded Lincoln Park. I love libraries, so different ideas were played with more than the other buildings. For Lincoln Park, I saw larger green spaces and outdoor concert/performance spaces including “public baths” for the homeless.
TEASING OUT A THEME The Three Body Solution
Eventually I went with a three tower City Hall and a large, wave inspired Port Tower.
This was the end result as seen in my prior post:
There are probably more sketches hiding in my files, especially regarding a museum for the historical society, but I felt this was a relatively more concise presentation. Architecture allows us to invent the environments we want to be in, isn’t it amazing!