Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Discussions on Huntington Beach AES Generating Station

I have some different feelings about the Huntington Beach AES Generating Station, and it seems I am not the only one. This building is very close to Downtown Huntington Beach, with all its new architectural developments and worst of all it is located next to a park of mobile homes and in front of the beach.
Whoever sees it, could think this is not a nice area and residents from the mobile homes park, complain that the value of the land is diminished by the presence of the industrial building.
Besides, it is pretty impressive to see the white smoke puffing from the chimneys and I must correct myself: it is vapor not smoke, but it looks like smoke and discussions have arisen in consequence: this is pollution (?), while the defenders of the plant say no, or just a little.

But it wasn´t until I have seen the wonderful exhibition on line Form and Landscape that I paid attention again to the beauty of the engineer design of AES Generating Station.
Looking at it as an isolated building, and considering it is a landmark for many surfers, I´ve changed my mind.
And, without knowing it would be demolished in the coming years, I had this feeling of losing it for ever. So, last week, while my husband was driving West in Pacific Coast Highway, I told him to slow down, I had to take some pictures for my archive, even from the car.
Today, I´ve learnt about its replacement. I´m copying an excerpt from OC Register:

HUNTINGTON BEACH – The towering stacks on Pacific Coast Highway that have served as a Huntington Beach landmark for decades are expected to be leveled to make way for what is being touted as a more environmentally friendly power plant.
It will be a bittersweet farewell when the stacks, called electricity generating units, are pulled down more than five years from now as part of a revamp for the AES Huntington Beach Generating Station. On one hand, they are a familiar sight for boaters, surfers and motorists along the coast; on the other, their destruction will mean cleaner energy production in Huntington Beach.
New state requirements have prompted AES Huntington Beach to come up with a plan to reduce the impact on the environment by changing the way it uses natural gas to provide energy to the community.
"We're not changing the fuel, we're changing the technology," said AES project manager Jennifer Didlo.
The Huntington Beach Energy Project will replace the Huntington Beach Generating Station, which has been running on Pacific Coast Highway and Newland Street since 1958. Changes will include using air to cool generators instead of sea water and using new technology that will allow the proposed plant to power up and be shut off quickly, Didlo said.
The plant will also have lower-profile buildings and give up the industrial look the facility has had for decades.
Roger Johnson, deputy director of siting for the California Energy Commission, said AES is the first company to submit an application to build a new facility but several companies across the state have met with state officials and talked about starting work to revamp their power plants.
"This is pretty good news for California to get these new modern projects replacing the older ones," he said. "When I look at (AES's) application those benefits they describe are expected to occur."
But before Surf City can see this new forward-thinking power plant, the plans have to go through the licensing and approval process. AES will also have to secure long-term contracts with an energy company.
Keep on reading the article with the readers´ comments. You´ll see the different opinions.

What my architect husband and me expect is that the new building will not be ¨more of the same.¨ As I´ve stated many times, Southern California, and specially Huntington Beach planners, defend the same style and design for everything. The pharmacy is like a house, a house like a market, the new complex of houses and shops at Bella Terra is the same as every condominium in Southern CA. Boring, absolutely boring and with lack of creativity.
If the new plant is located on the same land, we really expect that it won´t be ¨to match existing¨ commercial and residential buildings.
What will happen to the mobile home park? Rumor has it that it will be removed. I don´t have any information on it, for now.

The previous pictures are all from my personal archives. Let´s see some old pictures from the Huntington Library:  

Who would think the city would grow that much along the years in 1957? Of course, now the urban and environmental conditions are different.

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