Los Angeles has long captured the imaginations of designers and urbanists and theorists for its embodiment of everything characteristic of the twentieth-century metropolis, and for its unrivalled, enigmatic qualities—including sun, surf, lifestyle and surreal conglomerations of single-purpose transportation and utility infrastructure. There is much to love here, and yet much work to do.
Homelessness and affordable housing, climate adaptation, mobility, social equity and environmental justice are all critical issues begging to be addressed. LA is beginning a process of transformation, in some ways building itself as a model for how twentieth-century cities might evolve to better address questions of the social and the environmental while not losing the distinct qualities that separate it from other global cities built on 19th-, 18th-, or earlier foundations.
This studio asks: What is the state of the twentieth-century metropolis as embodied by Los Angeles? What are its essential characteristics and challenges? How do we re-think it (and re-tool it)—in an era of significant climate change, of considerable social and economic inequities, of cultural dissonance? And what of this in a disciplinary age where conversations on urbanism are likely to be better informed by ideas of indeterminacy, dynamism, operational ecologies and landscape, and emergence over time? Banham, Varnelis, and many others write of LA as a city whose assessment cannot begin—or end—with buildings, but rather with the ecologies, infrastructures, and systems at its core.
The studio will identify issues and potential projects that could form starting points for re-tooling LA over a number of years to come. We will speculate broadly and wildly, on a number of different sites and locations across the LA Basin. Water and transportation infrastructures, airport and seaport conversions, food systems, climate-adapted urbanisms, housing and mobility are all potential pathways for exploration.
This will be a research-heavy studio, with instruction in dynamic modeling techniques. We will have opportunity to interact with some of the players at work in re-thinking and re-imagining LA, including leading designers, planners, and city/client-types.