Redesigning Infrastructure – Baldwin Hills Park/Oil FieldA new life for a 1400-acre urban oil field in the Los Angeles basin

The precipitous upward curve of oil prices signals the end of an era– the petroleum epoch. Ironically, this price fluctuation causes long dormant oil wells to sputter to life again in response to the supply-side dynamics of scarcity. Against the backdrop of this geopolitical petroleum-based tableau sits a hopelessly scarred but totally precious 1400-acre oil rich landscape in southwest Los Angeles County, Baldwin Hills. The rhythmic arc of the iconic horsehead oil pump forms a picture of the beating heart of LA\’s lifeblood and its most enduring myth- The automobile. \”The Baldwin Hills are the last, large undeveloped area of open space in urban Los Angeles County, covering over two square miles of dramatic ridgelines and steep canyons. Close to both downtown Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean, the Baldwin Hills are easily accessible to millions of residents, and provide unparalleled opportunities for outdoor recreation in a natural setting. Home to hundreds of species of native plants and animals, the Baldwin Hills provide important natural habitats, an example of the vast system of swamps, grasslands and riparian areas that once made up this area. Part of the Ballona Creek Watershed drains into adjacent Ballona and Centinela creeks which join the Pacific Ocean four miles downstream.Of the total 1400 acres, there are 450 acres of protected parkland, including the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, the Ladera Ball Fields, the Vista Pacifica Scenic Site, Culver City Park and Norman O. Houston Park. The Baldwin Hills have been used for oil and gas development since the early 1900s, so the remaining 950 acres is covered by oil wells, numerous roads, and other oil and gas processing infrastructure. These operations will remain as long as oil production is economically feasible, but it is anticipated that the land in the Baldwin Hills will become available for park acquisition and development over time.\”-Baldwin Hills Master Plan, 2002Mia Lehrer + Associates, Hood Design, Community Conservancy InternationalThis studio will address the urban oil interface and the way historic oil drilling and processing operations will coexist with parklands, habitat, and surrounding neighborhoods. The relative perversity of a park on this productive landscape betrays its potential as a harbinger of emergent urban life through landscape program and the mutant ecologies that lurk in and around this site. Command of the two major constructive tropes of landscape, section (the pierced geologic layer-cake) and field are required to apprehend and direct a spatial/material tectonic strategy for multiple occupations and phases of transformation. The city has been driven by people\’s private aspirations; access to public infrastructure has been focused on cars. Social and environmental justice issues will be addressed as a necessary part of building consensus and directing the open-space opportunities as well as the ecological ethos that must emerge to heal both the land and long-standing social divisions. As a city-wide film stage, Los Angeles is a window to the world. This studio will inform the long term economic and environmental planning of the Los Angeles basin and support the goal of making Los Angeles a more liveable metropolis.STUDIO STRUCTUREThere will be a site visit to Los Angeles to meet local experts including petroleum engineers, soil remediation consultants, economic advisors, film producers, city planning officials, park managers, elected officials and the local community. This studio will examine the urban brownfield development process; however, students must address strategies that allow the functioning oil and film industries to remain operational while allowing public access. Projective scenarios addressing attitudes about the future of petroleum pumping here and globally will lead inevitably to complex phasing schema and propositions about th