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Taylor Olson

Created as a reaction to "atrocious architecture routinely commissioned for government offices," the San Francisco Federal building stands 18-stories tall as a unique divider between the civic center and financial district. The building was finished in the year 2007, and it was designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis, an LA-based firm founded by Mayne. In his design, Mayne used both stainless steel and green glass façades to highlight the contrast between the dense towers of the city in the north and the more rugged industrial buildings to the south. Integrated canopies and screens allow the building to change appearance through the day, and give it a sense of transparency. In an effort to continue that sense of openness, there are several areas of the screen that open and close to regulate light. Mayne also tried to create as much public space as possible, using the lobby to house a gym, meeting rooms, and day care center. To further encourage public interaction, there is a large urban park and plaza on the south side of the building that also doubles as office space. Like all of Mayne's designs, the Federal Building is sustainable, using features such as the natural ventilation for all office spaces, energy efficient elevators, no air conditioning on the upper 13 floors, sensor controlled natural lighting and other shading devices. Thom Mayne always tries to integrate new ways of energy saving design into his buildings, that defy what is expected and don’t obviously advertise the fact that they are sustainable. 

It was one thing to see the streets overtaken with cyclists, the people becoming cars and traffic. It was quite another to see the side streets, empty, void of bicycles, skaters, and most significantly, cars. The concentration of people in a single line left plenty of room for a pedestrian like me. I walked freely through the streets, reveling in the switched roles that took place that day. My progress was only halted at a few intersections where two worlds collided, stopping traffic frequently to allow a trickle of vehicles to interrupt the steady line of cyclist traffic. I suspect that my slower pace offered a more relaxing experience as I felt like I was constantly on the move and not very often stopped by such cross traffic. Plus, I never had to stop and fix a flat tire. I enjoyed the freedom of right of way on the sidewalks as well as periodic ventures into the line of bicycles. Despite the general lack of vehicular traffic, Venice Boulevard was by no means quiet; music blared from speakers and sometimes from live performers on the sidewalks. The usual homeless crowd lined the sidewalks, either shouting or just watching, on the periphery. This noise was reminiscent of the usual city sounds, but with a thousand voices replacing the distant rumbles of traffic. In this new Los Angeles, even as a young student walking alone, I felt safe. The constant stream of cyclists and the many bystanders lingering on the sidewalks transformed the atmosphere of the usually fast-paced city. Talking to the occasional lingering cyclist, I got the impression that this was a real treat not only for out-of-towners like me, but for those who drive these streets every day. One such cyclist commented on how quickly the downtown area has grown in the past 20 years, and how enjoyable it was to take back the streets, even if only for one day.

Although the mirrored materials used in this installation may seem out of place, they reflect the surrounding landscape while simultaneously creating a journey for the viewer to see the rose garden contained inside. Topotek 1

The day began quickly; a piece of toast, a gathering of friends. The drive was more than it needed to be, but the hour passes in minutes when we talk. A parking pass and a short tram ride later, I saw the familiar marble that is the Getty Museum. We walked through the main entrance, a sweeping staircase with larger than life statues. We couldn't reach the gardens soon enough. The view is breathtaking, a sloping lawn, cut by a long river fed by a vase-shaped fountain and a path zig-zagging past thousands of varieties of plants. Time passed slowly but luxuriously as we made our way down the hillside. We stopped to take photos and notice the delicate succulents. Sticks on fire, agave, Artemisia, and variegated society garlic, all make an appearance here. At the bottom of the slope we were greeted by three magnificent trellises, more than 15 feet high, trailing bougainvillea from their heads. They were made out of rebar that curved out at the top to create the illusion of a bouquet. Following the river to its end, we came across the large pool separated by a 2 foot high hedge maze. Again, one must take the long way, following a pathway lined with Crape Myrtle trees and society garlic, halfway around the circle, only to double back around a seamless switchback, lined with gravel. From there you are as close as you can be to the magnificent focal point. We traveled yet two more pathways that similarly switchback around the pond, extending our viewing time of the planters, that make an interrupted crescent shape around the water. We walked under u-shaped trellises, symmetrically placed along the paths that were filled with people moving to and fro. Before we regressed back to the museum, I was able to sit and sketch the beautiful landscape.

BLOG #4 Rewrite The path winds back and forth, cutting zig-zags through the hillside that looks out onto the Los Angeles skyline. The stairs led from the Getty Museum, to the gardens that spread out below. The vegetation is a welcome relief to the overabundance of marble in the surrounding architecture. Leaving the sea of cream colored buildings behind me, the twisting pathway, interrupting the grassy slope, is surrounded by thousands of varieties of plants. Sticks on fire, agave, Artemisia, and variegated society garlic, all make an appearance here. A long flowing river, fed by a vase-shaped fountain, carves a straight path down to a pond below. We make our way down to the labyrinth of hedges that break up the surface of the water. Three trellises rest at the bottom of the slope, more than 15 feet high, trailing bougainvillea from their vase-like tops. Crape Myrtle trees dominate the skyline when viewed from the bottom of the slope. The circular pathway created by gravel and the surrounding Crape Myrtle and society garlic, switches back along the water, creating a crescent shape. From there you are as close as you can be to the focal point. Trellises lined with wisteria symmetrically separate the crescent path that looks out on the watery maze. The closer we get to the water, the deeper we sink to the edge of the pool, and the trees appear to tower above us along with the surrounding shrubbery.