Sketching A Civic Center

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.

Villa Riviera
Villa Riviera

 

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.

Printed out the area and began drawing over it with ideas.
Printed out the area and began drawing over it with ideas.
Removing concrete would in theory reveal the metal underneath - covered with glass the building is reborn.
Removing concrete would in theory reveal the metal underneath – covered with glass the building is reborn.
I also worked to envision a compatriot tower for the Port of Long Beach, something grand and tall enough to be a landmark.
I also worked to envision a compatriot tower for the Port of Long Beach, something grand and tall enough to be a landmark.
General concept of the City Hall tower.
General concept of the City Hall tower.

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.

I started with something very Po-Mo, intending to have yellowish brick spandrels and copper roof panels that would patina to echo the Villa Rivera. This is a first pass.
I started with something very Po-Mo, intending to have yellowish brick spandrels and copper roof panels that would patina to echo the Villa Rivera. This is a first pass.
This second pass shows an expanded tower with room of general office leasing, echoing color-schema in the surrounding buildings.
This second pass shows an expanded tower with room of general office leasing, echoing color-schema in the surrounding buildings.
By the third iteration, I decided to make this building "fit" better in the mold of the preserved City Hall.
By the third iteration, I decided to make this building “fit” better in the mold of the preserved City Hall.
This is the comparison with the City Hall structure and their connectors.
This is the comparison with the City Hall structure and their connectors.

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.

I was envisioning a three building solution for the library, obsessing over red brick and copper which I decided was totally out of character for the area.
I was envisioning a three building solution for the library, obsessing over red brick and copper which I decided was totally out of character for the area.
Initial library spacing, including the first version of the three-tower solution I ended up with for my final City Hall layout.
Initial library spacing, including the first version of the three-tower solution I ended up with for my final City Hall layout.
Yep, it would have been better suited to a different area.
Yep, it would have been better suited to a different area.
My next idea was a Roman brick, quasi-Art Deco structure that I kept working on over and over!
My next idea was a Roman brick, quasi-Art Deco structure that I kept working on over and over!
Drawing over my print-out.
Drawing over my print-out.
Trying to work out spacing and perhaps a curved series of bays.
Trying to work out spacing and perhaps a curved series of bays.
Four bays!
Four bays!
From the side.
From the side.

TEASING OUT A THEME The Three Body Solution

Eventually I went with a three tower City Hall and a large, wave inspired Port Tower.

Puzzling out three towers over one plot of land.
Puzzling out three towers over one plot of land.

This was the end result as seen in my prior post:

2ndpass

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!

 

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