Best Architecture, Bold-Faced Names of 2009

And on the Year in Review posts roll....architecture and architects, you're up.

Notable Home: Standard LA's Jeffrey Allsbrook and Silvia Kuhler converted an existing two-bedroom in Mt Washington into the Hidden House, which featured several sustainable materials, including fabulous flooring made out of reclaimed end grain block wood. They also completed this solar Tree House.

Best Residential Building: You know Kanner Architects did a great job when the photographer shooting the project for Curbed asked for leasing information (and she's been inside every new development). A renovation of a former office building, CIM Groups’s new Sunset Vine Tower feels modern and appropriate for the neighborhood. (But we still loathe the four billboards.)

Best New Public building: Thank you, Wallis! A rehabilitation of the historic Marion Davies Guest House and pool, Santa Monica's Annenberg Beach House--and all the future summer fun you'll have--comes courtesy of Frederick Fisher Partners, with landscaping by the always impressive Mia Lehrer & Associates.

Architecture firms/people/trends that stood out in 2009:

1. Commune: Not purely an architectural practice, per se, Commune is closer to a design collective incorporating architects, graphic designers, and interior designers. Most of their work has been in residential interiors, retail and restaurants although this year Commune designed the "hippie-campground" at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. They also recently opened a pop-up retail shop at their office, where the only rule is everything must be made by hand.

2. SCI-Arc's Buenos Aires Brigade. They're young, they're charming, they're handsome, and they're both from Argentina. As two of SCI-Arc's more intriguing faculty members, Alexis Rochas and Juan Azulay are working on upcoming exhibits this spring there, both featuring robots. This year Rochas built an urban rooftop garden on top of downtown apartment building The Flat, while Azulay has been working on an essay film and documentary on land art while developing his architecture practice, Matter Management.

3. MASS Architecture and Design: Chances are if you're a twenty- or thirtysomething Bobo living in Los Angeles, you're hanging out somewhere that principals Ana Henton and Gregory Williams have designed. Intelligentsia Venice, Breadbar in Century City, Cork Bar downtown, Silverlake Wine - they designed them all. Additionally, they were behind Auburn 7, their first multi-unit residential .

4. Ball-Nogues Studio: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues design site specific installations out of unusual materials, including twine, fluorescent tubing, and cardboard. In 2010, the firm will be included in shows at the Seeline Gallery in West Hollywood, at the Guggenheim in New York, and at Cité de l'architecture et du Patrimoine in Paris. Additionally, they're currently showing an installation made of American Apparel clothing at the Biennale in Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

And the most alarming architectural trend: We fear castle architecture may the new AssHat. From the Westside to Koreatown, a crop of turrets and balconies emerged in the last year and half.

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