Highlights From Three Projects for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Over the course of the past three years I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work closely with one of the most well-recognized architectural firms in the world—Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM). Now, I’m thrilled to share some gallery images from three shoots I’ve done for SOM in and around Los Angeles.

Sunset La Cienega Residences

SLC VideoYou may know this sprawling mixed-use residential development as AKA West Hollywood, but at the time of the shoot it was still known as the SLC Residences at the corner of Sunset and La Cienega boulevards. In addition to capturing a series of still images of the building’s eye-catching façade, this project also constituted my first foray into drone videography. With the help of the aerial cinematography specialists at Drone Dudes, we were able to record an aerial montage of the 388,000 square-foot complex’s exterior that showcases its best features against the backdrop of a stunning sunrise over Los Angeles.

This expansive residential development is characterized by a folded façade that casts dramatic shifting shadows as the Southern California sun traverses its surface. Meanwhile, residents of the development’s two eight-story towers can enjoy breathtaking views of the Los Angeles Basin and surrounding area. This project was completed in a joint effort between SOM and Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA).

United States Federal Courthouse   

U.S. Federal CourthouseLocated in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, this structure is instantly recognizable thanks to its innovative “floating cube” design. From street level, the monolithic glass building seems to defy gravity as it hovers over its concrete foundation. SOM’s architects describe the structure as “both modern in spirt and rooted in classic principles of federal architecture.”

Notable features of the courthouse include a rooftop photovoltaic array and pleated window panes that are designed to facilitate airflow and reduce the structure’s annual solar radiation load by as much as 47 percent. These environmentally-friendly design features allowed the U.S. Federal Courthouse to achieve LEED® Platinum certification and meet the General Services Administration’s 2020 energy objective.

UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine

David Geffen SchoolNot only was the clean, contemporary design of Geffen Hall captured during this shoot, I was also graced with some wonderful candid moments from members of the student body. The interior shots had the benefit of ample natural light from the building’s windows, while the exterior shots showcase the structure’s uniquely Californian setting.

With its generous use of open space and lush foliage, the David Geffen School of Medicine is able to foster a relaxed, inviting environment that supports the most current technologies and teaching styles. The overall effect simply seems to make students want to learn. It’s a welcome departure from some of the more sterile academic buildings on other college campuses. Through these images, you can catch glimpses of the lively educational atmosphere that typifies this gorgeous campus.

UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP



Located at the southeastern corner of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus between the Center for Health Sciences and the neighboring Westwood community, Geffen Hall serves as a gateway for the David Geffen School of Medicine and the UCLA campus as a whole.

The 88,000 square foot, six-story teaching and learning facility incorporates planning and design that supports the most current technologies, innovative teaching styles, and greater connections between students, faculty, and the broader community. Geffen Hall is designed to provide sustainable environments and functional spaces for education, administration, socializing, and relaxation.

The Verizon Flagship Store Video


The Verizon Flagship Destination store is full of the newest technology that adds fun and functionality to your mobile devices, your home or apartment, and everyday life.  It’s designed to inspire and enjoy as much as it provides solutions.  This time-lapse video was crafted with the same theme of entertainment that comes with how Verizon presents this technology in a vibrant and interactive way. The visuals are well complemented by the uplifting sound track, Candyman by Zedd & Aloe Blacc.

There are several lifestyle zones throughout the store. First stop is “Customize It.” This is where you can create a high quality custom case for your mobile device professionally created on site thats shot down a pneumatic tube through the store when completed. 1440 custom cases make up the gigantic, one of a kind, Santa Monica mural on entry. The floor itself is made up of wood that pays homage to the iconic Santa Monica pier. The path through the store takes you by two additional lifestyle zones: “Home and On the Go” and “Have Fun.” “Home and on the Go” is loaded with the latest and greatest products to make your home or apartment truly “smart”. You can control your lights, unlock your door, and access affordable home monitoring technology, all from your Smartphone. Kids and teenagers especially love the “Have Fun” zone, which is loaded with Drones, Race Cars, Go Pro’s and accessories that turn your Smartphone into a gamer’s dream come true.

As you arrive at the Verizon monolith display at the back of the store, you will see a huge area where various workshops are hosted on how to maximize all the technology solutions offered. All the smart phones and tablets are live and operating so you can truly get hands on. They have a gigantic interactive connect wall that allows you to play really fun games while you visit the store.

As you travel up the staircase to the second level, or take the elevator, you are greeted by even more incredible technology. The Small Business zone shows business owners how Verizon can power their point of sale system, monitor their vehicle fleet, improve their productivity and increase their profitability. To your left there is a fully functioning conference room that can hold 50 people. It is open to local businesses to use while they are in town, and their is plenty of room.

A crowd favorite is the NFL experience where Samsung virtual reality takes you into a real NFL game! There is a wide variety of devices upstairs as part of two more exclusive lifestyle zones: “Get Fit” and “Amplify It.” “Get Fit” has every wearable technology out there to track your heart rate, calories burned, sleep at night and diet habits. Jump on a stationary bicycle while Google maps takes you down any street in the world, and you can try this wearable technology for yourself! The second level also boasts “Amplify It”, a huge wall of sound composed of several top of the line Bluetooth speakers. Test out your favorite songs, or make one of your own in the DJ booth. You can pick up to 10 instruments and mix them together, live tweet from our store, and enter a chance to win $100!

The Verizon Flagship Destination store is about educating the community, locally and globally, about the amazing technology that’s offered. Come on in and see for yourself!

Medley Reborn!

17925 Medley by Laura Jamet and Shawn Kuhne


At its inception in the early 1970s, the Medley home was featured in distinguished Architectural publications including the acclaimed architectural photographer Julius Shulman’s Coffee Table Book.  But, unfortunately, years of past alterations had resulted in an inconsistent, fragmented home, barely recognizable to the original look done by architect Stephen Gassman.

Upon acquiring the property, Vision&Form by Laura Jamét set out to harmoniously blend the original linear structure of this home, while adding fresh contemporary elements, and reconfiguring each space to maximize the exceptional views.  As a result, this residence was transformed into one of the most sought-after homes in the marketplace.

At the core of this transformation, Laura Jamét dramatically opened the center of the home by elevating the ceilings and adding expansive windows throughout to create an exceptionally inviting living/kitchen/dining great room flooded with natural sunlight and views from every angle.   Every detail in the house reflects style, inspiration and functionality, including the centrally located open kitchen, a creative space that truly defines the heart of this home.

The lavish master suite upstairs was reinvented from a storage room into an elegantly appointed large master bathroom with soaking tub overlooking incredible views and a large attached balcony offering a private sanctuary. The master bedroom location was configured specifically to take full advantage of the views with 2 massive window walls. High-end finishes were selected to exude a light airy feel throughout the 4 additional large bedrooms including a second master suite downstairs, 6 bathrooms, laundry and mudroom.

The backyard was transformed into an incredibly expansive yet secluded backyard where the sleek unobstructed design magnifies its extraordinary jetliner views, and offers multiple patios, grassy lawn and a spectacular pool to create the perfect backdrop for entertaining intimate gatherings and full-scale formal events.

The results of this sophisticated and exclusive residence were extremely well received and accolades came from real estate, architecture and media professionals alike.  In addition to providing a wonderful home for the new owners, it was also selected out of hundreds of top properties as the new location for Food Network’s latest television show.

Vision&Form by Laura Jamét has been dedicated to the development of quality homes and designing stunning spaces since 2003. Each home exudes contemporary sensibilities and functionality while combining elements of Southern California’s most characteristic architectural styles (ranging from Cape Cod to Modern to Mediterranean) resulting in warm, inviting, and livable homes that are each aesthetically distinctive.  To learn more about Vision&Form by Laura Jamét, please call (310) 899-0085 or email info@vision-and-form.com.

iPhone HDR for Still Life Photography

The Renaissance Club Sport Hotel Lobby

The Renaissance Club Sport Hotel Lobby

When you open your iPhone Photo App you will see on the top left the lightning bolt for flash and to its right is the HDR function. HDR is the acronym for High Dynamic Range and is one of Apple’s super cool functions that intelligently extends the range of detail in the shadows and highlights by combining a normal exposure, a bright exposure, and a dark exposure. If you are into shooting still life, whether it be architecture, interiors, food or anything that doesn’t move, the HDR function is the best way to go. Above is an example of what you can get out of an HDR image verses a normal exposure using the Renaissance Club Sport Hotel Lobby in Aliso Viejo as a subject. The lobby is colorful, but look at how the ceiling on the left in the NORMAL photo is white hot and without detail and the restaurant in the back is quite dark, while the HDR image is bright, colorful, and has an intact ceiling with plenty of detail in the back restaurant area. In the event your HDR image is too light or dark, you can always use the iPhone Edit tool to enhance it further. And don’t worry about losing your master photo. The iPhone Edit tool is non-destructive and you can reset it anytime to the original photo. As a rule, HDR is great for still life, but not a reliable tool for action photography. Because there are 3 exposures being married in HDR, a moving subject may break up in the processing. Be sure to check your work at 100% before sending it off. Enjoy!

The Field School – Bathed in Natural Light

The Field School


Jonathan Levi of JLA Architects called me up last October and asked if I could make it out to Boston to capture the new Field School in Weston, Massachusetts while the trees were still full in their fall color. Two mornings later, we were walking through the school taking note of all the primary spaces and discussing the objective to show students utilizing their new school. He wouldn’t give me specifics other than to say that he felt I did my best work on my own. One of the shots was of a classroom with a rear, whiteboard wall that opened up to a breakout room for small groups, beyond which was another full size classroom. The shot included approximately 40 people, most of which were 10 and 11 year old students. To add to that, the room had direct sun blazing in from the second tier of windows that brought in enough ambient daylight to fill every room of the school. My solution was to shoot the spaces with motion picture lights and use the shades to capture the students in soft light, then layer that with a version with the shades up to reveal the sunlight patterns on the walls. It was a 3 day process of exploration and execution with 2 assistants capturing over 40 views where 20 were selected for processing. Both the students and the teachers were remarkably helpful, accommodating and easily directed making for a highly successful shoot.

Forming the building’s public “core”, the study center, cafetorium, gymnasium and administration form a compact functional unit with ease of flexible access between them. Similar to many higher education campuses, the classroom wings flow out from the study center on rows which are punctuated by break-out spaces and access points to the academic courtyard with pedestrian walkway and amphitheater.

Long Beach Airport by HOK

Long Beach Airport by HOK


The first thing that struck me when walking into the Long Beach Airport’s new concourses, was the open spaces and the transparency that allowed the beauty of the afternoon light to cross the entire width of each. Our shoot began by juxtaposing the historic terminal and control tower with the new secure outdoor space at a height that revealed as much of the original tower as possible with palm trees on either side. Once capturing the afternoon light, camera positions were marked in advance to allow us to photograph several dusk shots under a sky displaying streaks of orange towering above. Our last set-up, out on the walkway toward a boarding JetBlue plane, was shot in darkness. A sky was later dropped in around the plane and also in the window reflections. A library of proprietary sky plates made this possible. Something I add to every time a stunning sky presents itself.

See the article in Architectural Record.

You may also drop me an email with any questions at info@davidlena.com. Isn’t it time to tell your story?

George Deukmejian Courthouse As Transcendent Design

George Deukmejian Courthouse Entry


At first view, the design achievement of the Long Beach Courthouse is extraordinary.  It transcends form and function with modern versions of worldwide iconic architectural themes that connote stature, the infinite, power, beauty and order.  The facade of the building is formed by a series of vertical rectangles of glass framed in aluminum that stand out from the surface, as in relief, creating a three dimensional topography.  This topography is made that much more compelling by how portions extend away from the building and others are cavities that draw into the building.  The reflections in these cavities, give pause for the beauty of the infinite that they represent layered with the design of the interior.  The most dramatic of which is the main entry above.  This image expresses the designer’s sensitivity to the beauty of warm and cool colors that are ever-present at dawn and dusk and, to which, we are forever drawn.  The pillars are built of cables strung to discs that do not reach the canopy above.  Each cable has reflective aluminum rectangles attached to them which reflect the sky light.  The classical form of the columns represent tradition and power and the fact that they do not support the canopy, brings a sense of modern magic that elevates that sense of power.  The voluminous size of the 5 story lobby expresses stature as well as providing passage for hundreds of people at a time with ease. Law is a complex and intricate practice that threads through all walks of life.  The design of this building well reflects the fabric for which it stands. 

Here are links with more details on the project:

AECOM: New courthouse for Long Beach offers new potential for U.S. civic buildings

AECOM: Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse and Awards List

The Wolff House by John Lautner, FAIA 1961



The house, as was often stated by Lautner, was his only homage to his mentor Frank Lloyd Wright. This residence demonstrates Lautner’s use of expressive engineering and design to seamlessly integrate the residence into it’s natural environment with essential geometric forms and creating an organic flow between the interior and exterior. The main residence and adjoining guest house share a copper-lined roof and sit high above the city. While only minutes from Sunset Boulevard, the park-like grounds offer a peaceful and quiet refuge from urban life. Inside a large eucalyptus tree grows in between the dramatic bouquet canyon stone supporting wall and the living room’s 16 foot floor-to-ceiling windows and doors which open to views across Los Angeles and beyond. There is a contrast of warm and cool light, like that at dawn and dusk, that fills the house through most of the day. The main residence also includes a Bulthaup stainless steel kitchen and a master bedroom leading to its own private pool and balconies. The Guest house is a second structure with a flexible floor plan offering 3 additional bedrooms and/or an office or media room. The result is the ultimate expression of timeless modernism. The main residence is listed as a California State Monument, is subject to Mills Act tax benefits, and is represented by Private Client Services Realty.

GSA Office Building Prototype



As part of its Design Excellence Program through the Office of the Chief Architect of the United States, the General Services Administration (GSA), the new Federal Office Building in Andover, Massachusetts, is a prototypical workspace serving as a model for future US government office buildings. For this modernization project, Jonathan Levi Architects transformed an existing 400,000 square foot building from a maze of dark workspaces into a dynamic and artful workspace infused with natural light.

Designed for 2,000 occupants, the new Northeast Headquarters campus optimizes phone and computer based customer services realized with environmental features that support individual livability, promote team building and help to create a larger sense of community and belonging. A new monumental primary entry pavilion was created to welcome the arrival of employees from the main parking area with a dignified space and seating area. Thereafter, suspended in the south lobby, is a glass sculpture that wraps an oculus skylight within a spiraling dome adjacent to the cafe. A new secondary entrance at the street side serves pedestrian arrivals. The feeling of an urban environment is experienced with interior, way finding pathways, parks and courtyards open to the sky like that above with reflecting pools and terraces, interior and exterior landscape, restaurant, canteens and cafe, exercise facility, assembly center, conference nodes and training complex. All is embedded in an open 300,000sf raised access work floor.

This LEED-Gold project has continuous, self-illuminated open cloud ceilings that allows for screening of mechanicals while taking advantage of the high structural bay to increase the sense of height. Working together with the low ambient ceiling light, computer-monitored and occupancy-sensored task light dramatically reduces electrical consumption. Heating and cooling is provided exclusively by a 300-well geothermal field located below the parking – one of the largest fields in the country. A 1,800 space parking zone is constructed with permeable pavement for reduced stormwater run off.