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Johnson & Favaro and Guthrie+Buresh called for a Since the boom of the early 19505 the response to Two Issues were considered of primary i~portance , First Increased demand for housing has been to build Qut- was the need for Increased urban density or, as the redislribution of space , transferring unused privat e space the singl e family Mme dweller to maintain th e status wards. With Los Angeles and Its adjoining counties Central Office of Architecture declared, "DENSIFY OR to the public domain. Ingeniously expanding on Ihis quo. Revolutionary change runs COunter 10 the oulmoded ~ Synonymous with Ihe nolion of suburbia is the deSire of spanning hundreds of square miles, planners have been DIE: Second was the acknowledgement of the single techniqu e, Mary-Ann Ray's designs used alleys and fantasies of the average suburbanit e. Whether these virtually powerless to control the growth on any but a family residence as the icon of American capitalism, the other voids between shuctures as the fool prints for her radical redefinitions would be embraced within their strictly regional level. From the taxing of resources to thfl American Dream. buildings, fold ing them into the crevices of the urban alloted con texts remains the crucial question, In a panel mesh , discussion on the final weekend of the exh ibition the dilemma of transporiatiOfl, developers, too, have long architects themselves agreed that the most effective recognized Ihe disadvantages of expansion Into the vast Satisfying urban demands and suburban desires, efforts desert bul have resp<lnded to consumer demand by which beller lend themselves to juidaposition than mar- As if in response to the tract housing of the post-War continuing to build centrifugally. riage, required In most schemesa radical reinterpretation era, most of Ihe projects includ ed several building types of a suburban aesthetic. All of Ihe projects re<:ognized. 'with in their respective schemes. Unlike the Central Of" Redefining the American Dream, although a seemingly the need for re-evaluating existing zoning laws which fice of Architecture 's uni-dimensional Love-II-or-Leav e- Orwellian proposal, is presented with such grace and In recent years development of tract houses in some test would be to build them and let reality be the judge. communities has given way to multi-story units. How- impose set-back requirements and restrict building It approach, designs such as Ray 's designated housing clarity In Ihese projects that It is difficult to believe thai ever, these seemingly obvious ,clutions do not accom - heights. types with spe<:ilic occupants in mind, These Included somewhere, at some time, their precepts couldn't be housing for Ihe homeless, transients, singles and fami- successfully appli ed. Still open to question, however, is modate Ihe desire of many home owners, that of Ihe private space afforded by the single family residence. The main focus of the designers was to take advantage lies, and Ihose who work both in and away from Ihe whether a Los Ang ele s nearing th e millennium Is the of avai lable space. Janek B ielski and Roger Sherman home, proper provin-g ground, But, then, whr!l"e beller? These architects have called allention to the obsolescence of a In an exhibit that recently closed at the LA Municipal Art both approached Ihls task by providing a range of op- Gallery Roger Sherman assembled several architectural tions for residents, eliminating set-backs and creating Guthrie+Buresh also recognized the need to build above desire to keep population densities low. One realizes firms to address the iss ue of housing in response to courtyard spaces. Uke their Medltefla nean counter- and around existing structures to Increase the occu- looking allhes e elegant and Inventive schemes the need population growth In Southern California, Challenging paris, these designs did not require the strict designa- pancy of single lois. Their strateg ies included construct- to awake f rom our reverie,to awake 10 the reality of the standard building types accepted since World War II and tion of interior and exterior space. Ing studios over garages and adding commercial space Dream. admonishing the f_ recent attempts by deYelopers to In lieu of front lawns in order 10 take fu ll advantage of meet the demands of urban dwelling, Ihe archit ects usable land, Alison Lynn altered environ ment. (Residents might as well be told p.esented projects that acknowledge not only the basic demands of the maturing city but also the intangible deSires of Its inhabitants. To this end was proposed RE; American Dream. Dream on Architects and city planners don't always see eye to eye Los Angeles views Itself as a series of small towns and show that advocate measures such as losing paris of with the public about the desirability of Increasing the neighborhoods, Densiflcation represents the death of backyards for an alley would undoubtedly pmYOke open thai they density of existing urban nelghoomoods. A case in polnl these neighborhoods as their residents know them - warfare. Why, I wondered as I looked althe show, would and stop watching TV because it rols their minds,) New witness the ferocity with which Southern California resi- any homeowner who likes the way hislher neighborhood high density housing might be more appropriately intro- the L.A. Municipal Arl Gallery. The architects whose dents band logether in protective homeowners groups. I looks now, be willing to watch It be completely trans· duced in some olher loning cstegory such as commercial conceptual projects were on display made little, if any, found the show's assumption that lower density neigh- formed? land use, acknowledgement that density is the great Bogeyman borhoods would inevitably become outmoded by some In short, the show had the vices and virtu es of a paper for many Los Angeles residents. This fundamental flaw kind of mutually agreeable environmental agenda and go Districts where these proposals would stand the great- in Ihe schemes' premis es renders them formalist exer- the way of leaded gas and styrofoam fast-food contain- est chance of being adopted would be where more project. Its idealized program allowed architects to de- cises rather than real possibi1i\ies for improving the ers naive and wildly optimistic. This is not a politically transient rental populalions and noncon forming hou sing velop ideas that push back the boundaries of existing possibililles , but Ihese ideas were weakened as actual suburban landscape andlor community. People in plausible premise, given that most homeowners groups already exist. In economically deprived sections of the Southern California generally will do anything possible have fought tooth and nail to get Iheir neighborhoods city, smaller allowable lot sizes and great er density cou ld solullons by the fact that they ignored some very real to have a physical buffer of space between them and downzoned to prolect Ihem from the threat of greater act as a de-facto urban opportunity lOne, (Although soclo- political considerations. their neighbors even if that means gelling up at 4;00 density. Some of the proposals in the show call for some low-incom e neighborhoods may be just as A,M. to commule from the Moreno Valley to downtown mandatory reconflguration of property lines, a process adamantly opposed to the measures as any other L.A. Lois of human beings in the street are scary to which would ultimately requ ire government condemna- single-family neighborhoods,) Some of th e ideas in the residents of Southern Californ ia. People on the street tion of privately owned property. The pr~osals In the Jo hn Cha se show seem more applicable to the development of raw represent crime, danger, and the suspect condition of land in Palmdale than well eS lablished nei ghborhoods being an automobile-less pedestrian, In Los Angeles; Instituting these proposals there does not require an existing population to accept a totally fOI' Architecture and Urblrn D. ... n W Hotlywood, C. llfoml • · 21;8127141 stop driving cars because they pollule Is the show "RE; American Dream ", recently on view at • ..... SMU~ Forum

Newsletter, September 1991

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