LOS ANGELES III: AN URBAN RESPONSE
Cities, towns, villages, neighborhoods they're all puzzles. Too often we focus more on the pieces -specific buildings- and not the whole picture; and sometimes in the case of the Los Angeles, the picture is more problematic than the fit of the pieces. Thankfully, that picture is changing as our city transforms from a city planned for cars, back into a city made for people.
When it comes to the puzzle of our built environment, what the pieces look like is less important, than how they fit together. My goal in Los Angeles is to place the pieces of our future city.
The foundation for making enjoyable places is creating places for people, a design intent long absent from the mindset of architects and planners in Los Angeles.
Wasted space is ugly space, parcels that currently serve as underutilized parking, low FAR development, single-use etc, are placing financial burdens on neighboring properties, exacerbating the issues that make Los Angeles the least affordable city in the United States.
Simplicity is key, the era of decorative motifs and facade embellishments is, unfortunately, long gone. It's time to embrace a refined sensibility, minimizing unnecessary protrusions, bold color accents and superfluous exterior elements that have come to define modern architecture in Los Angeles.
101 years ago, modernist pioneer Irving Gill said it best:
If we, the architects of the West, wish to do great and lasting work we must dare to be simple, we must have courage to fling aside every device that distracts the eye from structural beauty, must break through convention and get down to fundamental truths …. We should build our house simple, plain and substantial as a boulder, then leave the ornamentation of it to Nature, who will tone it with lichens, chisel it with storms, make it gracious and friendly with vines and flower shadows as she does the stone in the meadow.
Reduce car dependency in a city (and nation) that are dreadfully car dependent, by implemented mixture of uses in creative ways and balancing the distribution zoned uses within an area to create a comprehensive appropriately scaled setting.
Promote socially hospitable, financially prudent, environmentally responsible and efficiently operated environs by creating walkable, sustainable and healthy places.
Contribute to affordable housing stock, not by subsidies, but by design in implementing simple structures that maximize buildable area with livable space rather than parking space.
IDEAS (eventually these can be further developed and explored through individual blog posts)
- Startup mentality - design first, fund later
- Green Streets / Garden Districts paying homage to Los Angeles' history as agricultural powerhouse
- Develop public underutilized land, in which property can be leveraged to subsidize the operation or where space can be sold where leases could be exchanged for tax credits
- Convert school blacktops into parks (multi-use, school during day, community after hours, weekends, and summers)
- Air-rights over single story commercial (ie Fairfax, Melrose, Echo Park) In this typology, new residents above can share the cost of long term retail tenants below. This could be used to combat gentrification and displacement.
- Work with SCRRA to maximize TOD space
- Parking Lot Pact - future designation for parking as parks or residential depending on distance from major thoroughfare and size of parking lot.
- Urbanize Suburbia commercial corridors with two-sided developments residential/retail or retail/commercial in residential form (ie: S Marengo Pasadena, Glassell Orange, Larchmont Blvd)
- Infrastructural Mixed Use to take advantage of transit adjacency, or bridge and tunnel uniqueness
- Vertical tract (suburban exchange) Vertical Park
- MdR Mixed Use District - restored beachfront habitat
- Dingbat Multifamily central parking reuse
- Village Green central parking reuse
- Ivy facade / mural only facade (5 ptz)
- mixed use courtyard apartments, exterior perimeter- retail F&B & interior perimeter-live/work (art walk community)
ADDITIONAL CAUSES / FOCUS: SUBURBIA REBRANDING (I think that this topic should be saved for a later date, but I do think there is a lot of potential in this idea of branding for towns. I'm sure you detected I have strong feelings for how suburbia has negatively affected California, but truly, I'm not anti-suburbia, I just think there's tremendous room for improvement. I can appreciate quaint, charming and characterful suburbia, unfortunately that doesn't really exist in California like it does in other states. There are examples of successful suburbs than can be used as models for the countless suburbs across the region that have very little redeeming qualities, where I think locals would be welcoming of conscientious and contextually appropriate improvements)
Suburbia epitomizes the shortfalls of planning in modern American cities in promoting "Generica" the environment, built for cars prioritizes cheap and fast environs. These uninspired places, often regarded as "cookie cutter" stamp out the same shopping centers and tract homes that continue to replace otherwise pristine countrysides with cheap development, that places extra burdens and pressure on the urbans which they depend on.
The need for a revised master plan. Master replanner / Master Responder
Identify a unique characteristic or singular identity with which to build a cohesive vision of a city or town. Allow for experimentation while employing a unifying motif to connect the city. Enhance and showcase history of place as its identity and platform for future growth. Branding for Cities
Stopping "Generica" ending parkitecture and bringing back the splendors of charming, livable and inspiring suburban towns.
Infill development, concentrating development within cities lessens the burden on exurbs and rural environs, to preserve the natural beauty and the truly wonderful landscape of the greater California.
Aerial comparison images
Density comparison / land use distribution comparison
Low designed people places are equally if not more successful in placemaking