Designers With an Eye to the Future Get Awards


Each year, the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects bestows awards for innovative local projects. This year a new category was unveiled--"Next L.A."--for unbuilt, theoretical or student projects with ideas for the future.

The new category, co-sponsored by AIA and the Design Council of the Museum of Contemporary Art, excludes non-building designs such as furniture or graphics.

An innovative design singled out for a special citation was a "Shower-Truck" designed by SPACE SPEED FORM Architecture and Design.

The inspiration for the project grew out of a recognition of the need for homeless people to have access to daily cleaning and the ability to bring those facilities to them, said architect Li Wen, who designed the project.

Fourteen solar-powered shower stalls on the back of an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer rig, each equipped with soap dispensers, washboards and a clothes dryer, are powered by battery banks. Water is supplied from fire hydrants.

Acknowledging that the design is largely theoretical, the decision to use an 18-wheeler rather than less conspicuous transport was deliberate, Wen said.

"Putting the showers on an 18-wheeler is an attempt to create a moving monument to our urban ills and address them. It makes a more compelling image, makes the issue more compelling," he said.

Another design, a plan for Long Beach International Elementary School by Morphosis Architects and RTA Blurock, based in Venice, received an honor award.

The project features a rooftop playground with an aluminum shade that provides a secure place for children to play and a building with offices and classrooms around a central courtyard.

Other winners in the Next L.A. category included:

Honor Award

Hodgetts + Fung Design Associates--The American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood.

Merit Award

Antoine Predock Architect--Atlantis Hotel, Las Vegas.

Student Award

Peter Louis, USC--MTA Station at Crenshaw and Pico boulevards.

The winning designs are part of a traveling exhibition on display at Hennessey & Ingallsbookstore on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica through Jan. 2. It will then move to the UCLA Extension On the Third Street Promenadegallery from Jan. 16 to Feb. 13 and the USC School of Architecture from Feb. 15 to March 30.

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