North Hollywood Field Study: Suburban Transit-Oriented Towncenter Development

North Hollywood is representative of suburban transit nodes in many cities; it is in an area that is changing demographically with an increasing Hispanic population, and benefits from being within a mile of most of the major Hollywood studios. Still, its future is by no means certain, and the site currently suffers from typical suburban sprawl with a mixture of strip retail, non-pedestrian-friendly roads, single family homes, small apartment buildings, and automobile-oriented uses. It represents an ideal laboratory for students to examine how to densify inner- ring suburban nodes that are ripe for redevelopment.

This report presents the course work of three teams of students. The course is part of a series of courses entitled “Field Studies in Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design.” It is an interdisciplinary course with students who come from Urban Planning, Architecture, and Master of Design Studies (MDES) in Real Estate and MDES in History and Philosophy of Design. Field Studies differ from typical design school studios in several respects: while they emphasize physical planning and urban design strategies, they focus on real-world problems that must meet the demands of the market place and financial success. Strategies such as placing all parking underground to give the site plan more green space, for example, must demonstrate that revenues from the project will cover the additional costs associated with underground parking. The objective is not to maximize the profitability of the ultimate development but to maximize the livability from all perspectives and for all stakeholders. The best proposals serve social needs as well as address affordable housing, and cultural excitement.

The students’ work provides a range of visions for the future of downtown North Hollywood. The proposals focus not only on new shopping centers and apartment buildings but also on traffic calming and other measures that have proven successful in other suburban town centers. Central to every vision is a vision for public space both on the MTA site and on surrounding parcels.
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Andrea Raynal (MDes), Felix Luong (MArch II), Holly Masek (MUP), Sahjabin Kabir (MDes), Ramya Sankara Raman (MDes), Susie Chung Criscimagna (MUP), Thomas Schneider (MDes). Instructors: Rick Peiser, Lynn Richards.

Spring 2013