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Designs With Sites in Mind


A house on Ocean Front Walk in Venice, a beaux - arts- style library near downtown Los Angeles, and a 1940's laundry-turned-design studio in Culver City are among five winners in the 15th annual design awards program of the Los Angeles chapter, American Institute of Architects.

The winners were announced Thursday evening at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank.

This year, 153 entries were submitted by 80 architectural firms, including Frank O. Gehry & Associates of Santa Monica, which won the top award for a furniture manufacturing facility in Germany.

Merit awards went to the other winners: the house, the North Range of UCLA's William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, the Paramount Laundry and two out-of-state Politix menswear stores.

"The jury's focus seemed to be how the buildings related to their environmental sites," said Los Angeles architect Michael Franklin Ross, chairman of the Design Awards Committee.

The Venice house, a prime example, was designed by architect Antoine Predock's Albuquerque firm for a long, narrow lot on the beach. The owner, builder Robert Douroux, wanted a home that would take advantage of the view while maintaining privacy.

The result is a three-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot house on a 28-by-90-foot lot, with balconies, terraces, a rooftop deck, basement parking and a 24-foot wide, 5 1/2-foot tall, 5-foot deep block of black granite separating the house from the public walk along the beach 5 feet below.

A thin film of water that recirculates over the face and sides of the monolith often generates curiosity. "It's so thin, you can hardly tell that there's water there, so people stick their hands in it all the time," said a spokeswoman for Predock.

Another feature of the white stucco house is a 9-by-13-foot red-framed window, which pivots horizontally and faces the beach.

Far from the beach, on a walled city block in the once-grand West Adams neighborhood, the North Range, a building addition to UCLA's existing William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, was also recognized for a design in keeping with its environment.

The existing, 14,140-square-foot library building is a beaux-arts pavilion designed in 1926. The new, 6,400-square-foot building was designed by Barton Phelps & Associates of Los Angeles to complement the pavilion.

The brick color of the new two-story structure matches the Victorian red of the 65-year-old wall around the nearly five-acre property, and the conference room/commons resembles a 17th-Century baronial hall with a massive fireplace and coffered ceiling.

The new building also has three guest apartments, dining room, kitchen, offices and storage for a collection of rare books.

Paramount Laundry, in Culver City, now has a lobby, lounge, kitchen/dining room, design/drafting area, computer room and shop.

The building, constructed about 50 years ago as a laundry but used most recently as a warehouse, was renovated and expanded, from 20,000 to 27,000 square feet, to fit the needs of a major graphics design firm. The building is in a neighborhood of studio production facilities.

Culver City architect Eric Owen Moss added a canopy to the entrance and a lobby with a segmented, vaulted roof covered with galvanized sheets of steel. A bridge under the vaulted roof connects two sections of a new third floor.

An expansion of the second floor is supported by columns, which also support the bridge. One of the columns is set on an angle for a jaunty effect.

A whimsical effect was also created by Morphosis Architects of Santa Monica for two Politix menswear stores in Portland, Ore., and Cleveland, Ohio, where looms and other weaving devices and materials are being used as frameworks for displaying clothes.

A merit award recognized the architectural firm's efforts to make the tenant improvements practical while standing apart from commercial aspects of their mall environments.

The top award winner, Frank O. Gehry & Associates of Santa Monica, designed the 90,000-square-foot International Furniture Manufacturing Facility and its 8,000-square-foot furniture museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, using skylights, large windows, entrance ramps and canopies to create a lively look, according to the awards jury.

The jury included James Ingo Freed of I. M. Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, New York; architect Steven Holl, a professor of architecture at Columbia University, and writer/critic Mildred F. Schmertz, former editor of Architectural Record.

The Los Angeles chapter, American Institute of Architects, also named journalist Dick Turpin, urban design critic Sam Hall Kaplan and art consultant Merry Norris, a former president of the Los Angeles Board of Cultural Affairs Commissioners, as honorary members.

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