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LOS ANGELES STRANGER THAN FICTION

LOS ANGELES STRANGER THAN FICTION


Los Angeles Stranger than fiction

L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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Research Report Credits This Berlage Institute Research Report was created through the collective effort of studio participants, tutors, and staff. It is intended for use by the Berlage Institute. It was printed and bound at the Berlage Institute. Š 2010, Berlage Institute, Rotterdam First Edition August 2010 Berlage Institute Staff Director: Rob Docter, Director of Studies: Vedran Mimica, Head of Projective Theory: Roemer van Toorn, Head of Associative Design Program: Peter Trummer, Head of Capital Cities Program: Pier Vittorio Aureli, Head of Card: Joachim DeClerck, Head of Architectural Broadcasting: Salomon Frausto, Program Manager: Marja van der Burgh, Project Manager: Francoise Vos, Financial Assistant: Betty Tan, Graphic Design: Mick Morssink, Documentalist and Technical Support: Danny Bosten, Office Manager: Liselotte de Haan, System Manager: Giel van Arkel Board of Governors The Berlage Institute is a foundation under Netherlands law. Jßrgen Rosemann (Chairman), Ton Meijer, Kees Rijnboutt, Siward Kolthek, Jan Jessurun (Special Advisor)

The Berlage institute is an international post graduate laboratory for education, research and development in the fields of architecture, urban planning and landscape design.

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Los Angeles Stranger than fiction

wINTER 2009/2010 Berlage Institute Research Report NO.33 L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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Postal address: PO Box 21592 3001 AN Rotterdam The Netherlands

Visiting address: Botersloot 25 3011 HE Rotterdam The Netherlands

t + 31 10 403 03 99 f + 31 10 403 03 90 e info@berlage-institute.nl i www.berlage-institute. nl


L.A. Stranger than fiction PROJECT Christophe Cornubert Assistants Konstantinos Chrysos Caroline Dahl STUDIO PARTICIPANTS Raquel Drummond de Carvalho Andreas Faoro Samia Henni DonGWoo KIM SangBo Park Wannes PeEters Giorgio Ponzo Davide Sacconi Jung Hyun WOO Shuang Zhang Editors christophe cornubert Samia henni giorgio ponzo


CONTENTS 54 from the getty centre archive 58 REYNER BANHAM 78 JULIUS SHULMAN 100 from reyner banham ecologies 106 PROJECT brief 118 Surfurbia urban Fiction: 134 go west 184 AN INCONVENIENT OPPORTUNITY, AFTER THE FLOOD 202 foothills 210 urban fiction: escape from l.a. 240 Plains of ID 268 urban fiction: stimulus package


294 Autopia urban fiction: 332 Paracity 360 interchange 388 from the interviews Joe Day John Kaliski Wim de Wit Caltrans: Elhami Nasr

Cra/LA, Hollywood: Kip Rudd and

Alison Becker

Bruce Stahl

422 LA: BROADCAST YOURSELF


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the Getty Research Institute

About the Research Institute Mission Statement “The Getty Research Institute is dedicated to furthering knowledge and advancing understanding of the visual arts. Its Research Library with special collections of rare materials and digital resources serves an international community of scholars and the interested public. The Research Institute creates and disseminates new knowledge through its expertise, its active collecting program, public programs, institutional collaborations, exhibitions, publications, digital services and residential scholars program. The activities and scholarly resources of the Institute guide and sustain each other and, together, provide a unique environment for research, critical inquiry, and debate.�

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Case Study House n.22, Stahl House, designed by Pierre Koenig, photo by Julius Shulman, 1959.

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from the getty center archive During our field work in Los Angeles we had the opportunity to access to the Research Library with its special collections of rare materials, focusing in particular in the Architecture and Design Collection. Thanks to the avaliability of Wim de Wit, head of the Department of Architecture and Contemporary Art, we had an extraordianry overview of the main architecture collections preserved in the Research Library and the unique opportunity to examine original drawings and photographs of the John Lautner Archive, Pierre Koenig Archive. In particular we focused our attention on two sections of the vast collection of the Research Library: the Renyer Banham Archive and the Julius Shulman Archive. The Reyner Banham Archive include papers, photographs, correspondence, draft manuscripts, printed material and research notes for eight of Banham’s published books, unpublished projects, and many articles and reviews related to the history of architecture and design. The Julius Shulman Archive provide a complete collection of the Los Angeles photographer, showing the famous Case Study Houses projects, but also images taken for Los Angeles Heritage Board that testify to the intense changes of the Los Angeles urban environment in the last decades.

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Watts towers “Nuestro Pueblo”, Simon Rodia 1921 - 1954, 1761-1765 East 107th Street, Los Angeles. Original sketch by Reyner Banham, 1970.

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reyner banham archive

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The original map used by Reyner Banham in his explorations through Los Angeles’ “four ecologies” in 1970.

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Map indicating Spanish and Mexican ranchos published in the book by Anton Wagner, Los Angeles: The Development, Life, and Form of the Southern California Metropolis, photocopied by Reyner Banham.

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Sketch and notes by Banham.

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Geologic map of Los Angeles from, Los Angeles: The Development, Life, and Form of the Southern California Metropolis, photocopied by Reyner Banham.

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Map and list of cities in Los Angeles region.

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Notes by Reyner Banham related to the foothill ecology.

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Checklist of the different neighborhoods he visited along the coastline.

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Notes by Reyner Banham defining different paths through the ecologies.

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Notes by Reyner Banham defining different possible arrangement for the book: Los Angeles the architecture of four ecologies.

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Typed notes for the map of mexican and spanish ranchos edited for the book Los Angeles the architecture of four ecologies.

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List defining the maps that are included in the book Los Angeles the architecture of four ecologies, with different signs referring to the legends.

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Staff member card of the University of California, Social Security card and Driver License of Reyner Banham.

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United States Visa card and memorandum of call from the University of California of Reyner Banham. We can notice that his first name is Peter.

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julius shulman archive

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Case Study House n.9, view from south west, 1950.

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Case Study House n.9, view from north east, 1950.

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Case Study House n.9, view of the east facade, 1950.

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Case Study House n.9, view of the steel framed porch of the main entrance in the west facade, 1950.

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Case Study House n.9, view of the garden. In the foreground the Case Study House n.8. We can notice that, differently from nowdays, there are no fences between two different properties, 1950.

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Case didascalia Study House n.9, nightshot, 1950.

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Los Angeles City Hall designed by John Parkinson, John C. Austin, and Albert C. Martin, Sr., completed in 1928. With its 454 feet hight, it was tallest building in California until 1964.

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A black and white photograph of the Los Angeles City Hall, 1978.

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Black and white photograph (1969) of the luxury department store Bullock’s Wilshire, designed by John and Donald Parkinson (1928). with its 241 feets tower.

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The Union Bank Square building takes shape above Bunker Hill Victorians in a 1969 photo.

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View of the Watts Towers from the entrance of the house of Simon Rodia, 1966.

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Color photographs of the two tallest structures of the Watts Towers, reaching a height of 84 feets, 1966.

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Starting point of the funicular railway, entirely financed by colonel James Ward Eddy in 1901.

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Black and white photo of the funicular railway from the ending point on the top of Bunker Hill, 1964.

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The Funicolar railway “Angels Flight” from Bunker Hill, 1964.

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View of the entire path of the “Angels Flight� in 1964 from Hill Street. We can notice the sign Shulman on the track: is this a sicret signature?

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Black and white photograph of the carriage climbing Bunker Hill, 1964. On the background Hall of Records, Richard Neutra and Robert E. Alexande, built in 1958.

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View of the starting point of the “Angels Flight� funicular Bunker Hill, 1968. A moltitude of people is waiting for the next ride and the parking lot is full.

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View of the path of the railway funicular from Hill Street, 1968.

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from reyner banham ecologies

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Breathless urban spra Rampant pollution. S Economic freefall. Breakdown of pu rolling blackouts. Corroding infra Welcome to Los Angeles


awl. Paralyzing traffic. Social polarization. ublic services. Water rationing and astructure. Real estate meltdown. s, supercity of the future.


PROJECT brief

The epitome of the California Dream and a counter-utopia on the precipice of catastrophe, Los Angeles remains the most over-exposed city in popular consciousness yet doggedly enigmatic in the critical pantheon of global cities. Despite-or due to- Los Angeles’s resistance to the cure of orthodox city planning and sober policy approaches, the region endures as an unfinished script for a new form of self-organizing metropolis based on individual mobility and market based development. The undisputed champion for the production and export of mass culture- lifestyle - Los Angeles complicates any attempt to correlate urban form with urban culture. Fast forward to today. For Los Angeles, protagonist in the sub-prime drama, the inertia of privately driven urban development has collapsed. PostKatrina and Post-Crisis the Stimulus Package has further unleashed a new popular consciousness and media focus on urban investment policies and planning strategies - or lack thereof. In the context of the crisis, the United States is witnessing a reassertion of state-sponsored initiatives and oversight on a mammoth scale - a reformulation of the limits of capitalism. In this unfolding reversal of fortune, what alternative delivery channels should be considered? European traditions of sober public planning? Asian approaches of largescale implementation? Could they survive the heat of southern California? Would it kill Los Angeles? Would anyone notice? What if the design of urban environments-the architectural narrative of urban studies - was approached like writing a script and shooting a film? What would determine the best treatment ?

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In a road movie the destination is not so much the climax and final aim of the drama than a means to structure the encounter with a series of places and events. Similarly this research studio provided the setting for an accelerated derive circa 2010 in search of clues about LA and hints of possible vectors for the contemporary city. Tanking-up for the trip involved liberal use of data-mining research techniques to stockpile a wealth of raw and half-cooked materiel in preparation for unknown eventualities, the studio embarked with the ambition to develop a real-time snapshot of LA and via conceptual dodging and burning produce a series of fictional images “of the immediate future.” LA circa 1970 served as the hstorical benchmark for the identification and classification of development trends and forces that explain the present environment. About this time the city had reached a certain critical apogee, Fortune magazine devoted an entire issue to LA billing it the “supercity of the future;” the fires of the Watts riots were still smoldering; Antonioni was shooting “Zabriskie Point” with its images of exploding modernism; the last major segment of the never to be completed LA Freeway system is built; Reyner Banham is finishing work on his book. Los Angeles: the Architecture of Four Ecologies provided an initial common ground and rallying point for the participants of the studio as well as a dynamic template and sourcebook for structuring new methods and media for experiencing, documenting, and presenting ideas about the city. Christophe Cornubert

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111 Photo by Paul Kroese


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113 Photo by Paul Kroese


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115 Photo by Paul Kroese


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117 Photo by Paul Kroese


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Surfurbia

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“The beach is the only place in Los Angeles where men are all equal and on common ground...One way or another, the beach is what life is all about in Los Angeles.�

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L.A. beach communities

Ventura County

Ventura County

L.A. County

1

L.A. City

2 3

San Bernardino County

4

5

6

Orange County

8 7 9

10

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1. Malibu

6. Palos Verdes

2. Santa Monica

7. LA Harbor

3. Venice pier

8. Long Beach

4. Marina del Rey

10. Balboa

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COAST LINE

10KM

PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY

COAST LINE

10KM

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PCH is the common thread for the string of pearls of Socal beach communities. Organized and developed separately from the inland cities they represent a distinct, separate,contiguous coastal urbanisation and identity. Running along the PCH you can pass from the civic atmosphere of Santa Monica and Venice to the rich settlements of Malibu and Pacific Palisades, passing through the industrial settlement of El Segundo and the LAX International Airport and enjoy to the surf hotspots of Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo Beach. The gated communities up on the hill will probably bounce you to the amazing views of San Pedro and Long Beach Harbor and you could finally reach the surf suburb paradises of Seal Beach, Huntington, Newport and Balboa.

.

MALIBU

PACIFIC PALISADES SANTA MONICA PLAYA DEL REY VENICE BEACH EL SEGUNDO MANHATTAN BEACH HERMOSA BEACH REDONDO BEACH LONG BEACH PALOS VERDES SAN PEDRO SEAL BEACH

AREA (sqkm) 10.517,0

HUNTINGTON BEACH NEWPORT BEACH

1.214,9 Los Angeles County

Los Angeles City

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465,1

10KM

SURFURBIA

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POPULATION 9.519.388

3.694.820

1.066.157 10KM Los Angeles County

Los Angeles City

SURFURBIA

DENSITY (p/sqkm) 905,0 3.041,3

2.292,3

10KM Los Angeles County

Los Angeles City

SURFURBIA

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INCOME PRO CAPITA

$48.338

$ 20.683

$ 20.671

10KM Los Angeles County

Los Angeles City

SURFURBIA

HOUSING VALUE

$ 1.013,2 $ 550,0

$ 594,0

Los Angeles County

Los Angeles City

10KM

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SURFURBIA

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EL SEGUNDO industry

LONG BEACH harbour

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coastal Infrastructure

UCLA Campus

LAX Airport EL SEGUNDO

LONG BEACH

Long Beach 10KM

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HUNTINGTON BEACH

NEWPORT BEACH

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BEACH cities

PLAYA DEL REY MANHATTAN BEACH HERMOSA BEACH REDONDO BEACH

SAN PEDRO

SEAL BEACH HUNTINGTON BEACH NEWPORT BEACH

ManhattanBeach 10KM

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SANTA MONICA

VENICE BEACH

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civic cities

SANTA MONICA VENICE BEACH

SANTA MONICA 10KM

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MALIBU

PALOS VERDES

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BEACH ENCLAVES

MALIBU

PACIFIC PALISADES

PALOS VERDES MALIBU

10KM

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SURF freedom culture customizing ecologism open communities The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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GLOBAL FORCES

Influences on the delicate equilibrium of forces of the SURFURBIA ecology.

Consumerism the rise of a global economic system with multinational enterprises gobbling up local economies but also cultures and identities. During the last 50 years we can clearly notice that the subculture of surf became a main stream product with an increasing turnover. Mass Tourism the growth of the tourism and entertainment industry had a remarkable impact on the coastline economy. On one side this tendency brought economical benefits to the entire city but on the other side caused a standardization of the offered services and facilities therefore a loss of some peculiar characteristics of the shoreline settlements. Economic Polarization the increasing socioeconomic divide between the very rich and the rest of the people, with the skyrocketing of price houses as a main expression of this tendency. The unbelievable increase of the houses along the coastline changed the peculiar identity of a large part of these areas, largely flattening the social diversity and the possible interactions between different lifestyles.

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Hybridization Sustainability

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emerging forces

Some other forces are potentially acting in the opposite direction and could be used to restore the balance in the ecology system. Hybridization the mixing of racial and ethnic groups and traditions brought by the shrinking of distances, the ubiquitous media, and large-scale domestic and international migrations can offer new opportunities to reinforce open and diverse communities. This variety in race, census, lifestyle, time of permanence, interests, etc. can also create new economic opportunities, improving different kind of tourisms, services, and promoting extraordinary cultural exchanges. Sustainability the emergence of a global consensus regarding the finitude of resources, habitat, flora, and fauna, and the consequent threat to planetary survival trigger new opportunities to drive change in the future of the city’s development.

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SURFURBIA urban fiction: go west


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Santa Monica is a city in western Los Angeles County, California, USA. Situated on Santa Monica Bay, it is surrounded on three sides by the city of Los Angeles — Pacific Palisades on the northwest, Brentwood on the north, West Los Angeles on the northeast, Mar Vista on the east, and Venice on the southeast. Santa Monica is named for Saint Monica of Hippo because the area on which the city is now located was first visited by Spaniards on her feast day. In the skateboard and surfing communities, Santa Monica’s Ocean Park neighborhood (and the neighboring section of Venice) is referred to as Dogtown. Because of its agreeable climate, Santa Monica had become a famed resort town by the early 20th century. The city has experienced a boom since the late 1980s through the revitalization of its downtown core with significant job growth and increased tourism.

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History 1870’s The northern sections of the City of Santa Monica once belonged to Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica and Rancho Boca de Santa Monica. Jose del Carmen Sepulveda of the prominent Sepulveda family sold 38,409 acres (155 km2) of the land for $54,000 in 1872 to Colonel Robert S. Baker and his wife, Arcadia Bandini de Stearns Baker. Bandini was the daughter of Juan Bandini, a prominent and wealthy early Californian, and was the widow of Abel Stearns, once the richest man in Los Angeles. Nevada Senator John P. Jones bought a half interest in Baker’s property in 1874. Jones and Baker subdivide part of their joint holdings in 1875 and create the town of Santa Monica. The town site is fronted on the ocean and bounded on the northwest by Montana Avenue, on the southeast by Colorado Avenue and on the northeast by 26th Street. The avenues are all named after the States of the Pacific Coast, the streets being simply numbered. The first lots in Santa Monica were sold on July 15, 1875. Jones built the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad, which connected Santa Monica and Los Angeles, and a wharf out into the bay. The first town hall was a modest 1873 brick building, later a beer hall, and now part of the Santa Monica Hostel. It is Santa Monica’s oldest extant structure. The southwestern section of the city originally belonged to the Rancho La Ballona of the Machado and Talamantes families. Mrs. Nancy A. Lucas purchased 861 acres (3.48 km2) from the rancho in 1874 for $11,000. The property was farmed by her sons, and a parcel of 100 acres (0.40 km2) was sold to Williamson Dunn Vawter for subdivision in 1884.

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Advertisement for first land sale in Santa Monica, 1875.

Sketch of Santa Monica, 1875..

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1900’s Amusement piers became enormously popular in the first decades of the 20th century. The extensive Pacific Electric Railroad easily transported to the beaches people from across the Greater Los Angeles Area. Competing pier owners commissioned ever larger roller coaster rides. Wooden piers turned out to be readily flammable, but even destroyed piers were soon replaced. There were five piers in Santa Monica alone, with several more down the coast. The earliest part of the current Santa Monica Pier, which is now the last remaining amusement pier, was built in 1909 on what was referred to as the North Bay. The second half, an amusement park pier, was built later and the two rival piers were merged.

Ocean Park coast, 1900

At the turn of the century, a growing population of Asian Americans lived in or near Santa Monica and Venice. 1930’s The Great Depression hit Santa Monica deeply. One report gives citywide employment in 1933 of just 1,000. Hotels and office building owners went bankrupt. The pleasure piers were a cheap form of entertainment that got cheaper, attracting a coarser crowd. Muscle Beach, located just south of the Santa Monica Pier, started to attract gymnasts and body builders who put on free shows for the public, and continues till today. 1970’s During the 1970s a remarkable number of notable fitness- and health-related businesses started in the city. The Supergo bicycle shop (now a large chain) opened in 1971, and coincidentally work on the bicycle path along the beach was undertaken by the city. The Santa Monica Track Club, founded in 1972 by Joe Douglas, has helped the careers of many Olympians, such as Carl Lewis. Sensei James Field opened his dojo in 1974, which became one of the primary Shotokan karate schools in the US and is now called the Japan Karate Association (JKA) Santa Monica. Joe Gold, who had sold his chain of Gold’s Gyms years before, started the World Gym chain in 1977.

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Santa Monica, 1905

Santa Monica Piers, 1939 150


Image Santa Monica, 1971

Image Santa Monic Third Street Promenade, 2000

1980’s After the economic doldrums of the 1960s and early 1970s, the city’s economy began to recover in the 1980s. An early sign of that change was in the neighborhood of Ocean Park. Main Street, a quaint mile of sawdust bars and dilapidated stores selling old furniture, was upgraded by the concerted efforts of a new generation of owners. Soon it was attracting increasingly expensive boutiques and restaurants. Between burgeoning Main Street and the still declining Santa Monica Mall a city block was levelled in 1980 to build a new mall, Santa Monica Place designed by Frank Gehry. The 1984 Edgemar retail complex on Main

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Street (also designed by Frank Gehry) brought development with regretably little attention to parking. In 1989, Third Street Promenade opens, welcoming up to 7,000 visitors daily. While the Santa Monica Pier had been preserved from intentional destruction in 1973, it was nonetheless poorly maintained. By the 1980s it had become a blight. The area around the pier was filled with poorly built and maintained buildings that housed seedy biker bars and head shops. The pier itself had dilapidated bars, an odd plaster statue store, and creepy game arcades.

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Demographics

Population 48.2%

Male

Santa Monica’s population has grown from 417 in 1880 to 87,664 in 2008.

51.8%

Female 0

10000

20000

30000

40000

Races

50000

80 70 60 50 40 30 20

White Non-Hispanic Hispanic Other race Two or more races Black Chinese Japanese American Indian Korean Asian Indian Filipino Other Asian

10 0 (%)

Total can be greater than 100% because Hispanics could be counted in other races

Age Median resident age

39.3 yr

California median age

33.3 yr 0

5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

Income Santa Monica $ California $ 0

61,959 28,678 10000 20000 30000 40000 50000 60000 70000 80000

Santa Monica

$ 71,796

California

$ 59,948 0

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The population density is 3,930.4/km² (10,178.7/ mi²). There are 47,863 housing units at an average density of 2,237.3/km² (5,794.0/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 78.29% White, 7.25% Asian, 3.78% African American, 0.47% Native American, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 5.97% from other races, and 4.13% from two or more races. 13.44% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. There are 44,497 households, out of which 15.8% have children under the age of 18, 27.5% are married couples living together, 7.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 62.3% are nonfamilies. 51.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 1.83 and the average family size is 2.80. The population is diverse in age, with 14.6% under 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 40.1% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.4% 65 years or older. The median age is 39 years. For every 100 females, there are 93.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.3 males. According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city is $71,796, and the median income for a family is $100,657. Males have a median income of $55,689 versus $42,948 for females. The per capita income for the city is $42,874. 10.4% of the population and 5.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 9.9% of those under the age of 18 and 10.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

10000 20000 30000 40000 50000 60000 70000 80000

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Broadway Mixed Use District

High Density Housing

Downtown Core

Medium Density Housing

General Commercial

Low Density Housing

General Commercial with Downtown Core

Single Family Housing

General Commercial with Service/Specialty

Industrial

Neighborhood Commercial

Special Office District

Service and Specialty Commercial

Parks

Institutional

Oceanfront Special District

Geography and Landuse Santa Monica is situated at 34°1’19” North, 118°28’53” West (34.022059, -118.481336). The city rests on a mostly flat slope that angles down towards Ocean Avenue and towards the south. High bluffs separate the north side of the city from the beaches. The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 41.2 km² (15.9 mi²); 21.4 km² (8.3 mi²) of land. Its borders extend three nautical miles (5.6 km) out to sea, and so 19.8 km² (7.7 mi²) of it is water for a total area that is 48.08% water.

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pedestrian

Subway + Light Rail ( ~ 2040)

Transportation The Santa Monica Freeway (Interstate 10) begins in Santa Monica near the Pacific Ocean and heads east. The Santa Monica Freeway between Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles has the distinction of being one of the busiest highways in all of North America. Santa Monica is also the western (Pacific) terminus of historic U.S. Route 66. Close to the eastern boundary of Santa Monica, Sepulveda Boulevard The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

Bike

Blue Bus Line

reaches from Long Beach at the south, to the northern end of the San Fernando Valley. Just east of Santa Monica is Interstate 405, the “San Diego Freeway�, a major north-south route in Los Angeles County and Orange County, California. Bus & Subway The city of Santa Monica runs its own bus service, the Big Blue Bus, which also serves much of West Los Angeles and the University of California at 156


Santa Monica in 2040

21 ST S

N TO NG HI AS W

B RE HI ILS W

T

A NT SA

E AV

D LV

A IC ON M

VD BL

N BLV SITIO EXPO

AY DW OA R B

OB PIC

Y

A FW

ONIC

TA M SAN

D

LVD

D

3R OM

PR

VD

ST

C PI YM OL

BL

O PIC

Los Angeles (UCLA). A Big Blue Bus was featured prominently in the action movie Speed. The city of Santa Monica is also served by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s bus lines. Metro also complements Big Blue service, as when Big Blue routes are not operational overnight, Metro buses make many Big Blue Bus stops, in addition to MTA stops. It currently has no rail service but Metro is working on bringing light rail to Santa Monica in the form of L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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the Exposition Line. Since the mid-1980s, various proposals have been made to extend the Purple Line subway to Santa Monica under Wilshire Boulevard. However, to this day, no plans to complete the “subway to the sea” are imminent, owing to the difficulty of funding the estimated $5 billion project. In the past, Santa Monica had rail service operated by the Pacific Electric Railway, until it was dismantled in the 1960s.

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public space

“ The reputation of the piers are understandably functional, rather than architectural, but the whole class of piers must be saluted here as the most characteristic structures in Surfurbia.�

Pier (11) Surfing Spot (12)


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Pier Locations

Malibu Canyon

UCLA Campus

SUNSET BLVD PACIFIC COAST HWY

CHAUTAUQUA BLVD

Malibu Beach and Pier Santa Monica Palisades Santa Monica Pier

(Santa Monica Canyon)

Venice and Pier Marina del Rey Playa del Rey El Segundo

Hermosa Beach and Pier King Harbor > Beryl Harbor Redondo Beach and Pier

Lunada Bay

PALOS VERDES MT.

Portuguese Point


PACIFIC COAST HWY Wilmington

Long Beach Rainbow Pier Belmont Pier

Naples Seal Beach

Seal Beach Pier San Pedro

Newport Beach and Harbor Newport Pier Balboa Pier

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Corona del Mar

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Typologies = Pier + Parking + Road

Malibu Beach Pier

Manhattan Beach Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Hermosa Beach Pier

Venice Pier

Belmont Pier

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Seal Beach Pier

Huntington Beach Pier

Newport Pier L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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Santa Monica Pier

1920’s

1950’s

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Comparison Santa Monica vs Brighton

Santa Monica Pier

LA Downtown

30-45 mn/car

Location Country. United States State. Californica County. Los Angeles City. Santa Monica City Area Total 41.2 km²

Santa Monica City

Population Total 88,050 Density 3,930/km²

Brighton Pier Location Status. Unitary authority, City Region. South East England City. Brighton and Hove City Area Total 87.54 km²

London

20-30 mn/car

Population Total 256,600 Density 3,040 /km²

City of Brighton and Hove The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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Population. Total

Population. Density

88,050 256,600

3,930/ km² 3,040/ km²

City Area. Total

41.20/ km² 87.54/ km²

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Pier Size. Length

0.51 km 0.53 km

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Comparison Santa Monica vs Brighton

Santa Monica Pier

Existing Beaches and dunes

Brighton Pier

Existing Beaches and dunes

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Coastal Highway & Main Road

Bottlenecks

Coastal Highway & Main Road

Bottlenecks

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Land

Water

Image Oceanfront Special District

Image Housing

Image Commercial

Image Institutional District

Image Parking The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 41.2 km². Land area is 21.4 km² and water area is 19.8 km². The land use of Santa Monica is roughly divided in four parts such as Oceanfront special district, commercial, housing, office and institutional district. Percentage of housing area is the biggest part in Santa Monica. And the Pier is included in oceanfront special district.

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Santa Monica pier has developed with transport infrastructures. When the extensive Pacific Electric Railroad easily transported to the beach, people from across the Los Angeles Area, amusement pier became enormously popular in the railway age. The completion of the Santa Monica Freeway in 1966 brought the promise of new prosperity in Santa Monica and also in the pier. And the entrance to Santa Monica pier became a main circulation node to connect between PCH and Santa Monica Freeway. During the 2000s, the MTA has developed plans to extend light rail into Santa Monica. It is estimated that if it is successful, rail lines will bring many possibilities into the pier.

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0.12km x 0.65km

Image Integrate into Urban

Image

Extension

Image Stretch to Sea

Image

15x15x15(m) units

Hybrid Unit of Pier

For Scale

The proposed circulation system can make a new pier of typology in Santa Monica. New circulation nodes bring access between pier and city. And it can provide space as lively when people and transportation move in a cheerful way in circulation system. Also in 15x15x15(m) units various hybrid types may occur along the pier.

The current Santa Monica Pier is a part of city. And the scale is approximately 0.12km x 0.65km. The more Santa Monica Pier develops with new infrastructure and circulation nodes, the more invades into the city. And it will become integrated as one body of city in the next pier.

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New Nodes

New Circulation

Image Commercial

Image Housing

Image Station

Mixed use

For Program

also kept the LA’s particular urban grid. The light rail station, commercial facilities and parking lots will become new nodes for Santa Monica urban growth. The Platform can be the open public space for entertainment. New Santa Monica Pier can be the active and hybrid space for the future.

The rate of population has been increasing every year. On the contrary historical housing units have decreased since early 2000s because of foreclosures and economic crisis. But the city’s economy will began to recover in the 2020s and Santa Monica city will need more housing for the future. Making a plan for residential buildings on the pier L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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The rise of land values, the termination of strict rent-control laws (“Socialism by the Sea”) coupled with NIMBYism that petrifies the low-rise character of Santa Monica informs this scenario of intensifying the use of space over the Pacific Ocean that lies within the limits of Santa Monica’s jurisdiction.


The city is projected westward, overturning the maxim “they ain’t making any more real estate.”


SURFURBIA urban fiction: AN INCONVENIENT OPPORTUNITY, AFTER THE FLOOD

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After the flood coastlines and climate change

Stabilization of climate could reduce the risks of

Coastal system vulnerability

ice sheet breakdown, and reduce but not stop sea-

Coasts are highly vulnerable to extreme events

level rise due to thermal expansion.

related to climate change and sea level rise such as storms, tropical and extra-tropical cyclones,

Adaptive capacity and costs

larger extreme waves and storm surges, altered

While physical exposure can significantly influence

precipitation/run-off etc. Through the 20th century,

vulnerability for both human populations and

global rise of sea level contributed to increased

natural systems, a lack of adaptive capacity is

coastal inundation, erosion and ecosystem losses.

often the most important factor that creates a

These events impose substantial costs on coastal

hotspot of human vulnerability. Adaptive capacity

societies in both social, economical and ecological

is largely dependent upon (urban) development

terms, seriously threatening the human habitat.

status. Adaptation costs for climate change are much lower than damage costs without adaptation

Coastal system development trend

for most developed coasts, even considering only

Utilization of the coast increased dramatically

property losses and human deaths. As post-event

during the 20th century and this trend is virtually

impacts on coastal businesses, people, housing,

certain to continue through the 21st century.

public and private social institutions, natural

Increasing numbers of people living along the

resources, and the environment generally go

coastline will impose additional stresses to the

unrecognized in disaster cost accounting, the full

ecologic coast system, due to intensive land-use,

benefits of adaptation are even larger.

hydrological changes and geo-morphological changes. Climate change therefore reinforces the desirability of managing coasts in an integrated manner. Sea level rise and urban development inertia Sea-level rise has substantial inertia and will continue beyond 2100 for many centuries. Irreversible breakdown of the West Antarctica and/or Greenland ice sheets, if triggered by rising temperatures, would make this long-term rise significantly larger. Settlement patterns also have substantial inertia, and this issue presents a challenge for long-term coastal spatial planning.


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effects of a 100 year flooding on los angeles coastline According to the studies of the Pacific Institute accomplished in 2009, “sea level rise will be among the most significant impacts of climate change to California�. As a result of thermal expansion of the oceans and an increase in ocean volume as land ice melts and runs off, the rising of see level will increase the distructive impact of all the coastline vulnerability related phenomena like storms, tropical and extratropical cyclones, larger extreme waves and storm surges, altered precipitation/run-off etc The studies of the Pacific Institute show how devastating could be the impact of a 100 year flooding on the California coastline considering a possible increase of the sea leve of 1.4 meters in the same period, due to the current medium greenhouse gas emission scenario. A 100 year flooding is an event that has 1% of possibilities of happening every year, 25% in the next 30 years and 65% in the next 100 years. A considerable amount of people and a wide range of critical infrastructure, such as roads, hospitals, schools, emergency facilities, wastewater treatment plants, power plants, and wetlands could be involved in such a possible adramatic event.

14 of the world’s 17 largest cities are located along coasts.


124.000 inhabitants 40.000 buildings

13 POWErplants

500 HIghwaymiles 21$ billiondamages

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Venice Beach/MDR: possible impact of a 100 year flooding, considering a rising of a sea level of 1.4 meters.


Venice Beach/MDR: threedimensional simulation of the impact of a 100 year flooding.

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new venice a strategy for an adaptive development Is it possible to imagine an adaptive development for the Los Angeles coastline turning the environment vulnerability in a chance of sustainable development? Can this development provide a fertile ground for a contemporary “open community�? These are the two issues that this project aim to tackle. The proposed strategy is to partly accept the flooding in order to activate a new dynamic balance between nature and human settlements. The project intend to bring back the role of the landscape, even the artificial one, as a key element of any further urban development. Landscape as infrastructure. The idea is on one hand to build a levee to protect part of the city and the biggest marina of Los Angeles, and on the other hand to create a buffer landscape area that will be crucial to absorb the impact of climate change related events. The levee path is traced following the existing empty spaces and likely the beach, is conceived as a public open space. This new element in the city will host a public transportation system directly connected to the LAX airport and metro station toward south and to the light railway line in Santa Monica. The key element of the project is the movement. One one side the fast flux of people, goods and informations along the new landscape infrastructure, on the other side the slow cyclic movement of the nature forces. This new moving landscape will be a fertile ground for a future sustainable development where the public founded transportation and landscape structure will provide a base for a private driven development. The fundamental mechanism of land subdivision provided by the Los Angeles plots grid will be rearranged in a three-dimensional modular structure. The low cost and high flexibility of this structure will preserve the wild pioneer freedom on which is based the Californian spirit.


Creation of a levee to protect part of the urbanized area, and of a buffer landscape area to absorb the impact of a possible see leve rise related event.

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The public founded transportation and landscape structure will provide a base for a private driven development based on a threedimensional grid built through a prefabricated structure.

vulnerable city

safe city

new city

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Scheme of the new transportation system hosted in the levee and of the possible further developments.

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Sequence of the decolonization strategy in the existing urban fabric

1 urban fabric

2 creation of a levee as a protective public space

5 urban decolonization, replacement and new landscape phase1

6 urban decolonization, replacement and new landscape phase2

9 new landscape for sustainable development


3 vulnerable and safe areas

4 threedimensional grid

7 urban decolonization, eplacement and new landscape phase 3

8 urban decolonization, replacement and new landscape phase4

10 new development structure L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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The levee as a new protective public space in the urban fabric.

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Possible developments of the threedimensional grid on the landscape structure.

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Foothills

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As if sprung straight from the feverish nightmare’s of Mike Davis, 2009 saw Angelinos glued to their TV’s mesmerized by the non-stop live scenes of apocalypse generated by the Station Fire. The fire consumed the equivalent of more than half the area of Los Angeles itself. The real cost of the cheap real estate of these fringe developments – the discount version of the American dream – exposed in the harsh light of the new economy.

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foothills urban fiction: escape from l.a.

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Lancaster

Palmdale

Santa Clarita Station fire 2009

L.A. City

2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000

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S t at i on Fi r e 649. 83 sq K m L. A . C i t y 1290. 6 sq K m

BURNED AREAS IN THE LAST TEN YEARS L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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Already from the end of the last decade it is the landscape that defines the contemporary American experience: there are more Americans living in peripheral “para-urban� zones than in the country and cities put together. The estate industry, financed by the state has co-opted the mythical themes of the national narrative - independence, individuality, and frontier - arriving at producing a tangible map of the free market, an urbanization of capitalist speculation that has superseded the city. The ecology of fire opens the possibility to reflect on questions such as: suburb areas, edge cities, instant cities ... and at the same time to rethink the development of Los Angeles.

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median income over $ 250.000

burned areas

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There has always been a cycle of natuiral renewal, the big difference is that now , among the nature, there are homes, hundreds of thousands. Next to the ecology of fire a geography of consumism has grown. .”The fatal encounter of the ecosystem of fire” with this “geography of hyper-development” which with the natural fires of the region makes a periodic and predictable “suburban holocaust”

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In natural disasters nature counts only as a system stressed by the suburban sprawl Los Angeles at more than ten days from beginning of the fires, which burnt 1000 sq.km of California, the meteorological bulletins still advise “caution” for the elderly and children, warning asthma suffere rs to stay at home. The oppressive cloak which has enveloped a region of 300 by 100 km (in which 15 million people live) comprised between Ventura and the Mexican border, has caused the closure of many schools, others have cancelled the recreation and gymnastics hour because of the air quality. But while the smoke finally begins to dissipate the fires have left a trail of familiar controversy. In the natural hierarchy of Californian psychosis, the fires are those that perhaps have the greatest psychological impact precisely because they interest one of the most metaphorical landscapes of the state: suburbia, a tangible manifestation of that constant growth which is sacredly rooted in the frontier mentality, especially in the west. Earthquakes are democratic in the unpredictability of their epice ntres and expiry, fires however, are a certainty which occur with mathematical regularity being an integral part and necessary for this ecosystem of Mediterranean stamp. A zone in which an exceptionally high number of plants are adapted to cause periodic fires by developing a consequent reflowering and distribution of seeds over the territory, as well as for the natural fertilization of the land; a phenomenon so integrated in the natural cycles that the University of Riverside, east of Los Angeles, even offers a course in “fire ecology”. Analysis of the geological stratification confi rms that the warm desert winds which blow every year, above all in the autumn months, have always ca used natural forest fires in the canyons and in the spot * parched by drought. There has always been a cycle of natural renewal, the big difference is that now, among the nature, there are homes, hundreds of thousands. Next to the ecology of fire geography of consu nism has grown. Fordism construction Suburban growth constitutes the constant data of American urban development of the last 60 years with its roots in the post-war period when, to accommodate those left from the economic and demographic boom, a new phenomenon of “fordism construction” emerges with the construction of mega territories applying the system of the mountain chain. Instant peripheries like Lakewood in California and Levittown in New York, “planned” communities made up of tens of thousands of mono-family homes, serially planned thanks to the standardization of methods and materials. They are the sitcom suburbs, which also act as modular containers for an ephemeral consumer conformism. Thus emerges a new landscape, an unpublished geography of cohabitation that can no longer define itself urban but suburban. Peripheries become the hub of the new development simultaneously with the decline of the city. This dynamic accelerates with the superimposing of social tensions caused by the civil rights movement: from the 60s onwards internal transmigration towards the periph eries is that of the white population escaping from the crumbling city centres left in the hands of the blacks (the inner cities). The flight of the whites is the predo minant social dynamic in the horizontal development of the American cities for 50 years, a phenomenon which in California, the country of sprawl, is accentuated by the strong demographic and economic growth capable o f creating entire new “suburbanized” regions like San Fernando Valley where 2 million people live, mostly ethnically homogeneous. “It is a phenomenon inextricably linked to the emergence of a construction-industrial complex”, a lobby of strong economic interests which perpetuate a scarcely sustainable model (but highly marketable, above all thanks to governmental contributions in bank mortgages which since the 50s is a subsidy for the private gain of the constructors). Interests in estate make a home a consumable object and a status symbol lead ing to the new post-urban geography which now is the prevailing American landscape: peripheries deprived of a centre where The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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individual homes cover vast areas of low density around decentralized workplaces, reachable o nly by car along vehicle highways. A “regional” suburbanization where social life coagulates around fast food franchises, multi -room cinemas, highways and shopping malls. Already from the end of the last decade it is the la ndscape that defines the contemporary American experience: there are more Americans living in peripheral “para-urban” zones than in the country and cities put together. The estate industry, financed by the state has co-opted the mythical themes of the national narrative - independence, individuality, and frontier - arriving at producing a tangible map of the free market, an urbanization of capitalist speculation that has superseded the city. Infinite expansion A phenomenon which in California is absolutely prevalent and today pushes suburban development ever more inside an agricultural and “wild” territory under the impulse of irresistible demographic growth which bear witness to around 600,000 new inhabitants every year: the forecast is that in 50 years the Californian population will pass form the present 35 to 60 million. The fatal encounter of the ecosystem of fire with this “geography of hyper-development” which with the natural fires of the region makes a periodic and predictable “suburban holocaust”. Every year the fire season returns to threaten the more recent and extreme offshoots of suburbia - that exurbia which climbs through the canyons and in the stain of the Californian hills, towards the desert and in the mountains of the hinterland - San Gabriel, San Bernardino, Palomar - nature which delimits a basin where 17 million people live. Some of these “edge cities”, like those in the counties of San Bernardino and Riverside are inhabited mainly by people who cannot afford the exhorbitant cost of the more desirable quarters near the Pacific. This is a “lumpen suburbia” in which a white proletariat live (recently also hispanic), often in accommmodation of minimum cost like mobile homes, non-permanent homes, purchased as prefabricated homes and “placed” on a rented lot, But much of exurbia is inhabited instead by a wealthy, white middle-class, the consumer target of territories which, at an amazing rhythm, re-cover the countryside between Los Angeles and San Diego with terraced houses with an average cost which has reached half a million dollars. Seeing that in the American model the public services are financed largely by taxes on the home, these fenced-off communities enjoy good schools and services that appeal to a wealthy, white demography, the so-called “McMansions”, the serial villas, baked like the identical, bread rolls of McDonald’s. With their average six rooms (in 1945 the average was 3), 300 sq.m. , double garage and statuary garden they are the present incarnation of the status symbol, the inexorable American dream: one’s own house. So it is these places, the epicentre of the cataclysmic fires which every other year devastate California. Well the fires have always been there: if twenty years ago the epidemic of last week had also burned the dry brushwood of the canyon, now the same areas would be full of homes. And there is nothing that gives the idea of “impermanence” like the smoking ruins of a McMansion devoured by fire. The materials of mass construction, wood and plasterboard, are wiped out by the L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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flames. All that remains of the megatowns burnt at Rancho Bernardo or Santiago Canyon on the hills of Orange County are the brick chimneys, frid ges, barbecues and garden furniture in wrought iron around the blackened swimming pools. A “tableaux mort� of the suburban dream reminding one of a sculpture of Kienholz, an infernal archaeology of the post-industrial service industry today prevailing from Malibu to Silicon Valley. In the last twenty years the counties of San Diego, the hardest hit by the flames, has lost 60% of its countryside while the suburban areas have increased by 39%. In nearby Riverside the rate of growth has been even greater with 25,000 new homes constructed every year in bunches of terraced villettas which we catch a glimpse of from the highways and which rise up on the hills, freshly le velled out by bulldozers, proceeded by great signs advertising them for sale. A country side of alienating uniformity where a generation grows never having seen a pavement so that the concept o f public space, of a shop which is not one of a chain is incomprehensible. From New Orleans to Los Angeles The insatiable hunger for space in California pushes th is ex-urban countryside ever more into the territory subject to the periodic fires, where a flame blown by gusts of warm wind (Santa Ana of the desert) at 100 km and fuelled by the combustible resin of the native plants, can devour a canyon in a few minutes. This is the place of the disaster of the well-off where development persists in pushing on and where it is expected that the fire brigade with its anti-incendiary aircraft can stop the flames and prote ct the homes at an enormous cost borne by the contributors. For this George Bush dropped in to San Diego to promise reconstruction after abandoning the city of Katrina: New Orleans is poor and black but even more to its disadvantage, it is a real, old city and, as such, of scarce estate usefulness for the suburban industry. The latest fires are followed by the now usual debate on the necessity to modify the models of development towards more rational and sustainable crite ria: to stop, for example, constructing vil las of plastic on combustible hills. But the chance of the reforms a ctually being launched is minimal. The limits of g rowth are anathema to the sacrament of progress gripped by a construction industry of enormous financial interests ...so for the predictable future at least, California will continue to burn. A. Faoro The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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How much density Los Angeles will be able to support with its current infrastructural system?

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This exponential growth has modified the internal relationships of the territory. From the new tissue without cracks, the ancient urbanized surfaces have the same role as the villages and boroughs of once upon a time in a small state: even the irruption of skyscrapers has produced a change in the order of size, adding to the urban agglomerate a thickness which makes it change scale. Downtown (artificial hill) is repeated at different points and multiplies the poles of the immense whole which has become the megalopolis under the blanket of smog. The same is true for the infrastructural system: superimposing itself on the local network, the urban motorways and the fast rail system are the expression of great size. L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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“The ultimate irony is that in the L.A. architectural culture, where heterogeneity is valued over conformity, and creativity over propriety, the periphery is often the center�- Charles Jencks


ESCAPE FROM LA Postwar development of LA accelerated the propagation of the archipelago of neighborhoods, bedroom communities, business parks, and shopping centers attached to the highway infrastructure, only constrained by the psychological limits of bearable commuting time and the price of gas. The 1970 General Plan concept for LA envisaged the city as a network of urban nodes connected via asphalt based transit – mainly cars, also busses. In a back-to-the-future scenario the deployment of the California high speed rail may define a next scenario for development of greater LA beyond the scale of the automobile. Rise of telecommuting and the home office. High speed rail allows the diagram to be scaled-up exponentially. Proximity is no longer a matter of distance, but time and virtual connectivity. LA’s next nodes leapfrog fragile geographies and critical open space for more suitable, sustainable, buildable sites. The limit of the city is defined more by a sphere-ofinfluence than a line on the ground.


Mojav e Desert

San Gabriel Mountains

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The area suffers a deformation (space/time), the fast train line can travel long distances quickly and “cleanly�


“Modern communications have transformed the world into a single mechanism, where the global and the local intersect decisively and continuously.� L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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new global forces lead to new forms of urbanity (like the artificial island on the ocean), connected to the existing context. The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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“The imperatives of fragmentation have become the principal dynamic in contemporary cities; the 21st century’s emerging world cities are groundzero loci in a communications-driven globalizing political economy.�

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The Plains of Id

One of the strongest images of Los Angeles is of an endless plain endlessly gridded with endless streets, peppered endlessly with ticky-tacky houses. This suburban carpet is a fair picture of Los Angeles. But if one looks closer he will find something radically different. In the last forty years this ecology changed most drastic. Looking beyond this image of a private driven lust, resulting in an urban sprawl, one will find something different, more beautiful than expected. L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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Historical development From the historical point of view the colonization and the exploitation of the plains accelerated in the 19th century in the San Gabriel Valley, expanding more and more to the west in what is referred to today as “downtown”. In 1913 William Mulholland brought water into the San Fernando Valley, turning it into a big-speculator paradise. From this point on the city expanded rapidly, within an extremely regular grid, directed by the four compass points but vague in status and destination. The full pattern of subdivision required three things: land that could economically be improved, water to support men and agriculture, and transportation to take men in and bring products and resources out. Looking closer into the development of the plains, one can see that this subdivision of land happened “top-down”, from north to south, structured by the rigid grid of main roads, to secondary roads, subdivided down to the individual single lot.

The subdivision of the Spanish and Mexican Ranchoes in a sketch that Reyner Banham drew from Anton Wagner’s Los Angeles: Werden, Leben and Gestalt der Zweimillionenstadt in Sudenkalifornien (1935), translated as Los Angeles: The Development, Life, and Form of the Southern California Metropolis, Getty Research Istitute, Reyner Banham Archive. The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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Los Angeles & San Bernardino topography. Wm. H. Hall, State Engineer, Sacramento. (circa 1880). The red frame points out the zoom-ins shown on the next page. L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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Los Angeles & San Bernardino topography. Wm. H. Hall, State Engineer, Sacramento. (circa 1880), close up.

Los Angeles, U.S. Geological Survey, 19001902, close up.

Los Angeles County Historical topografic Map, 1928, close up.

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A different kind of place “The more you look into the layout of the city the more you see that it consists increasingly of long lines of tall business towers threaded through a sea of little houses. The classic is Wilshire Boulevard where only a line of parking lots separates the business street from the residential suburbia immediately behind it.”The Plains of Id is an urban form that changed strongly in the last forty years. The Los Angeles basin is not this vast suburban unity, but a diverse cluster of all kind of functions and uses. It is a carpet assembled by different kinds of fabric, stitched together by roads. More and more there is a rise of an in-between scale, exceptions to the endless single-family house layout, the bigger developments, the “enclaves”. This raises the question “Plains of Id, or of Super-Ego?”, as Joe Day titles his reading of the Plains of Id today (Joe Day, Foreword to the 2009 Edition of Reyner Banham Los Angeles The Architecture of Four Ecologies, University of California Press).

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Urban samples Discussing the plains there is an importance in talking in terms of scale. At the large scale, the grid and urban fabric form a strong unity. Zoomed in, diversity occurs, difference in density and building size. Zooming in more shows us that the infill of the grid is strongly determined by specific place and its context. The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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The Valley

Hollywood Freeway / Barn-

Plummer St / Balboa Blvd

ham Blvd

On a large scale the grid is comparable with the one in the basin. On a smaller scale the grid gets modified and is comparable to the development in the hills. The zoning is strong and rigid: commercial, residential and recreational functions are clearly separated.

When the rigid grid of the basin hits the foothills it solves instantly; the structure of the streets is determined by geographical facts. The size of the houses is at its maximum and occupies the greater part of the plots.

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Western Ave / Los Feliz Blvd

Western Ave / Wilshire Blvd

The grid blurs more and more while moving towards the foothills. Dense and strong developed building blocks between avenues and boulevards. Public and green space are rare.

Density and scale of the built fabric decrease while moving from important intersections, where the scale of the buildings is rather big and dense, towards less important roads. Also the commercial function changes into one family housing.

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Western Ave / 10th Freeway

Western Ave / Vernon Blvd

The freeway causes a violent cut in the grid breaking its continuity into dead end roads get created: these are resolved as “cul-de-sac”. Between the freeway and the grid there is often a gap and functions that need large spaces profit from this.

The grid is very dense and rigid. A kind of “suburban sea of housing” almost excludes every other function in this area. The building density is very high, open and green spaces are reduced to the minimum and even the typology of the apartment building totally exploits the lot. Tabula rasa seems to be a solution for the redevelopment of the congested urban fabric.

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Western Ave / Marine Ave

Del Amo Blvd/ Wilmington Ave

The fabric is made of a patchwork of different kind of functions and scales stitched together within a strong zoning: besides housing, commercial and recreation functions are present. Residential lots are dense, green spaces are limited. Commercial buildings are always situated on the main roads of the grid and are surrounded by parking lots, one of the few open spaces.

Different zoning juxtaposes very different funcions next to each other: housing areas contradict violently with industrial sites. Typology and scale of the built fabric contrast strongly. Buildings density shift when function shift, from wide open industrial areas to high dense residential areas.

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“What goes on in the windshield is cinema in the strict sense� Paul Virilio The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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Mobilized gaze “The city will never be fully understood by those who cannot move fluently through its diffuse urban texture”. Reyner Banham Driving through the Plains of Id today provides you a real feeling of crossing an “endless plain endlessly gridded with endless streets, peppered endlessly with ticky-tacky houses clustered in indistiguishable neighbourhoods”; but, on the other hand, gives an even stronger idea of the diversity - even juxtaposition - in terms of scale and functions, from suburban to industrial, from high-rise to parking lot.

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A detail pops-up quite a lot while driving through the plains. In the front yard of some houses sits a sign saying: “for sale”, “R.E.O.”, “foreclosed”. But what causes all these foreclosures? L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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Excursus: the Crisis of Credit (www.crisisofcredit.com) The credit crisis brings two groups of people together: homeowners and investors. Homeowners represent their moratages, investors represent their money; these mortgages represent houses while this money represents large economical institutions; these groups are brought together through the financial system - banks and brokers - commonly known as Wall Street that are then closely connected to the hoses on ... Main Street. A family wants a house, so they save for a down payment and contact a mortgage broker. The mortgage broker connects the family to a lender who gives them a mortgage. The broker makes a nice commission. The family buys a house and becomes homeowners. This is great for them because housing prices have been rising forever. The lender sells the morgage to an investimen banker that borrowes millions of dollars to buy thousands of mortages. Every month the investment banker receives the payments about the mortgages. He puts the mortgages into a “box� (a CDO, Collateralized Debt Obligation) and divides it into three slices according to the risk connected and sells them to other investors repaying his loans. The system works out fine since a large number of investors makes very good deals. More mortgages are needed to make more investments but it is not possible to find other families who qualifies for house mortgages. When homeowners default on their mortgage the lender gets the house and houses are always increasing in value; since this value covers from homeowners default, lender can add risk to new mortgages, not requiring down payement or proof of income. So instead of lending to responsible homeowners - called prime mortgages - they started to get some less responsible: these are sub-prime mortgages. The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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This is the turning point. So just like always, the mortgage broker connects the family with the lender and a mortgage, making his commission. The family buys a house. The lender sells the mortgage to an investment banker who turns it into a CDO and sells slices of it to the investors and others. This works out nicely for everyone and makes them all rich. No one was worried because as soon as they sold the mortgage to the next guy it was his problem. If the homeowners were to default they did not care: they were selling off their risk to the next guy making millions: it is like playing hot potato with a time bomb. Not surpisingly the homeowners default on their mortgages which in this moment is owned by the banker; this means that the banker forecloses and his monthly payments turn into houses (whose values are still increasing) that he puts up for sale. But more and more monthly payments turn into houses. Now there are so many houses for sale on the market, creating more supply then there is demand and housing prices aren’t rising anymore: in fact, they plumb. This creates an interesting problem for homeowners still paying their mortgages: as all the houses in their neighbourhood go up for sale, the value of their house goes down and they start to wonder why they are paying back a mortgage that is much higher than the value of the house. The fall rates sweep the Country and prices are plumbing. Now the investment banker is holding a box full of wothless houses. He cannot sell his CDO to investors as he used to do: nobody wants to buy it. He borrowed millions of dollars to buy the mortgages and he can’t pay it back. But the investors had already bought thousands of these “bombs”. The whole financial system is frozen. Everybody starts going bankrupt; but that is not all: the investors call up the homeowners and tell them that their investments are worthless. This is how the crisis flows in a cycle. L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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dresden effect: How the economic crisis affects the urban fabric Every red dot stands for a foreclosed house; they are mainly owned by banks - or other institutions - and they have lost, since the beginning of the crisis (mid 2006) almost 50% of their value. At a small scale single only single plots seem to be affected but at a large scale we recognize high concentrations of foreclosed properties: Los Angeles is having an economical fire. Or better, there are real estate voids in the congested grid.

Houses value in Los Angeles [www.zillow.com]

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plains of id urban fiction: stimulus package

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Four tools and a scenario How can we use the foreclosed houses as opportunity for further city development? Four basic tools can be used on the fabric of city: re-use, erase, increase, swap properties in order to open up possibilities of development.

Which economical scenario could drive the development in a post-crisis framework? What if the “stimulus package� could spend its resources and define its goals directly on the city fabric?

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Re-use existing structures to add new functions and increase diversity and social cohesion.

Erase existing structures to create new public, vivid and free space.

Increase urban activity density by replacing the existing structures

Swap(ping) properties to define redevelopment areas, connecting public and private interest.

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How can the urban tools cooperate and be mixed in different conditions and at different scales within the city?

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the Valley

Wilshire Boulevard

Watts

Carson

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Testing four conditions Four different areas - with their own specific context - have been selected to test the tools and turn this economic crisis into a strategy of voids. The four conditions differ very much from each other. A collection of data gives us a social, economical and structural reading by facts. Together with a close look into the urban fabric a redevelopment approach and a possible scenario of funding determine build form and program. From north to south we selected the Valley, Wilshire, Watts and Carson.

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# 1, the Valley

public funds

private investments

central authority

• free markets

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First area or condition is the San Fernando Valley, referred to as the Valley, situated north of the “Hills”. The Valley is often seen as an appendix of Los Angeles not really belonging to the city; and indeed it’s one of the best examples of the suburban lifestyle. The development of the Valley was deeply driven by real estate logic with no or very little role left to the public player in terms of physical and perceived presence within urban environment. Now the goal is to give the Valley it’s own positive identity, creating a more diverse carpet and bring guidance in the endless sea of houses by adding public form. The grid of the Valley is particular; it’s only present at a large scale. Inside this structure the infill changes according to different circumstances and conditions being often an island within the grid that is tangent to it. Enhancing this way of working we can define the module and scale of our intervention. The role of a public player – the city, the government – is crucial: in the new framework of development it sets the rules, defines the priorities and re-balances the power in play on the ground; the the city has to force the developer to integrate in the redevelopment areas certain functions that concern the whole neighborhood seen as cultural and social fabric. The greater part of the project will be financed by the private developer and partly by the city itself. A new idea of collectivity is needed in order to share spaces and facilities among different social groups, a new feeling of belonging to a common environment; the city, as wide common body made of private and public interests, is the subject of the intervention. Even if the Valley is a rather wealthy neighborhood, foreclosures affect deeply the city fabric. In every square of the grid you can find foreclosed houses. Those blocks where foreclosures density is higher are redefined as redevelopment area. The homeowners of the houses that are not foreclosed have to be moved in the redevelopment process. The city manages and controls property 276


swapping from a redevelopment area to, empty, foreclosed housing, in the next block. This procedure is applied instead of the eminent domain in a more careful way of dealing with property issues and people’s displacement. This action re-balances “offer and demand� on the real estate market and opens new possibilities for intervention creating a patchwork of sites that are ready to be developed. Each patch will be developed step by step in a combination of public and private interventions. In a first phase buildings that serve the community, shared facilities, educational institutions, will increase social cohesion and identity; the public space will start up the redevelopment process. Then, other kinds of structures and programs can be added: offices, to decrease the unemployment and the time to commute to work, commercial space, to create an attractor, private housing with a meaningful percentage of affordable housing, for all the people who defaulted on there mortgage.

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# 2, Wilshire Boulevard Wilshire Boulevard is a very particular condition: “It’s a strip of high-rise buildings threaded trough a sea of little houses� [Reyner Banham loves Los Angeles, BBC documentary, 1972]. Together with Downtown, it is the place with the most intense metropolitan feel. But the voids between the towers, the huge parking plots and the palm trees betray that you are not in Manhattan. Behind the first block of buildings along the Wilshire strip, we can find blocks packed with apartment buildings. This creates a very dense fabric, without any meaningful open, public space. This makes this area one of the most densely populated in Los Angeles with rates that are comparable with the densest world metropolis In the residential foreclosure logic, there is no sufficient way to deal with foreclosed apartment buildings, one apartment turns foreclosed but the others live happily ever after. The whole building cannot be used as a key factor to activate the redevelopment.

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With this understanding we get pushed towards Wilshire Boulevard. Commercial building foreclosures is the second wave of foreclosures in Los Angeles, that is affecting the real estate market and the economy after the residential foreclosure crisis. Taking these larger-scale buildings into account opens new possibilities. In this case, acquiring the foreclosed buildings and the un-built lots – mainly used as parking lots, and setting up the tactic of the open strip should be city driven; the Stimulus Package of the Obama administration supports Transit Oriented Development and can be taken into account because of the subway stations on Wilshire Boulevard. Erasing the foreclosed commercial buildings and considering the large amount of parking lots as available space create voids in this strip, breeding space. This opens the opportunity for new ventures that will be privately developed with even higher, vertical, densities in exchange for a green public infrastructure. Both the Wilshire strip and the apartment area located behind it could profit and feed from this new urban strip of voids. Physical density will be increased but this area will be sensed as open, vivid and metropolitan.

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# 3, Watts

• •

free markets

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public funds

private investments

central authority

Watts, situated in “South Central”, is one of less privileged areas. Watts was the stage for the famous Watts riots in 1965 and in 1992. But is also the location where Simon Rodia constructed the Watts Towers. Expressing the need to create something beautiful, it sticks out of the basin and points towards the sky. There is a mix of anger and creative strength in the social fabric. The grid of the city is rigid and widespread. Very few exceptions, mainly for public institutions buildings break it. The infill is made of a huge number of single and double family houses, very close to each other, occupying the greater part of the plots. The fabric is dense and full in terms of buildings, but extremely fragmented in terms of property and social structure. The approach towards Watts is slightly different than other locations in Los Angeles. Interest in private development in this area is practically non-existing. Therefore the redevelopment strategy should be publicly funded at least in its early stages, later attracting private money. At the same time, the paternalistic approach that usually drives public interventions in this neighborhoods has to be avoided: it is not only the case to provide large scale solutions for social problems (e.g. providing schools) but the possible bottomup redevelopment has to find a fertile ground in terms of flexible regulations, small scale financing for business and public projects, fast reaction to rapidly changing conditions. This small-scaled development could happen overnight and be partly privately financed by the people of the neighborhood, giving them a change to create their own wealth and future. The starting point of the redevelopment strategy are – again – the residential foreclosures. Many houses were foreclosed and there is a great amount, although fragmented, available space made of empty plots and houses. The re-use of the existing buildings for community purposes and new functions, from commercial to workshops, from kindergarden to libraries, could be publicly or privately funded, thus 284


increasing mixed use inside the rigidly residential grid. The erasure of the existing structures will provide green, public space, pocket parks and playgrounds financed by the city. Finally, using the plots to increase the built volume in terms of affordable housing and new housing typologies (that will include, for example, shared and collective uses and spaces) could be realized in a public-private joint venture. All these interventions, deeply rooted in the existing grid structure, will affect the fabric creating a new layer of programs over it. The re-development is very flexible. It can stop and start whenever and wherever needed. It’s a medicinal response to the foreclosure disease, spreading through the city. This approach doesn’t exclude larger-scale development, for instance an educational institution. These islands will be seamlessly stitched into the new urban sprawl. This “men made”, “do it yourself”, urban network will grow piece by piece, spreading further and further.

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# 4, Carson The area of Carson is one of those areas in the Los Angeles basin where two radically different kinds of land use - housing and industrial sites are juxtaposed. Looking to the industrial sites the foreclosure logic could not work. It’s, instead, a story of going bankrupt or leaving the city to more efficient sites. Most of these industrial building are abandoned or not used to their maximum capacity. The scale of the industrial sites and how they spread throughout the city is immense. This imposes a new layer of possibilities on Los Angeles. If the foreclosures were punctual voids in the congested grid, shown by red dots, than the industrial areas would be chunks of land, free of any use, show by a bucket of red paint thrown over LA. The scale of the new layer demands a radical change and a serious effort from city and government. These industrial sites could be turned into a park that is in proportion with the enormous city of Los Angeles, and finally fulfilling the wish of so many Angelenos. Tabula rasa for the sake of the whole, concerning bigger issues as global warming and sustainability. public funds

•

private investments

central authority

•

This same strategy aims - in the long term - to the possible trasformation of many huge areas in Los Angeles and could result in a network of park througout the basin linked by the finally redeveloped L.A. River.

free markets

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The estimated growth of Los Angeles by 2030 is 20%, 2.1 million people. It is not an astonishing number, but the basin is poured full, Los Angeles has probably reached its possible larger extension, its limits of growth. The strategies outlined result in an archipelago of enclaves, spreading through the Plains of Id, magnifying the diversity and embracing the structure of the existing city.

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Autopia


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“Reyner Banham was as smart and sassy as any critic in the postwar period. What made him distinctive was his passion for the edgiest expressions of his technological age, not only in avant-garde architecture but in anything designed - Cadillacs and transistor radios, custom hot-rods and painted surfboards, gadgets and gizmos; all of which he discussed with great verve in 12 books and over 700 articles.” Hal Foster LOS ANGELES- No other city has so fascinated and reviled architecture critics and scholars of urban and cultural studies than L.A., that sprawling, self-referential territory of opaqueness. Reyner Banham was the first to love Los Angeles for what she was, her ugliness as well as her beauty. In the early 1970s he abandoned his academic preconceptions to revel in this city of freeways, foothills, beaches and suburbs, built on mobility and flux by a series of invaders. Along the way, he discovered extraordinary spaces in neighborhoods that were often overlooked for being too remote, too industrial, or simply occupying invisible “flyover country” beneath the great L.A. freeways. In this smoggy city on the edge of the western dream, nothing was like what came before. Social status was no longer communicated through stone palaces that looked like they fought every step of the journey over the Rocky Mountains, but by easy freeway access and wacky drive-thrus, light, ventilation, sensitivity to a built environment— commercial and architectural innovations which would have been unthinkable anywhere and anytime else. Banham saw that behind the urban sprawl was a pattern, almost a language, which could not be understood through old modes of architectural and urban criticism, but which required new ways of seeing and of thinking.


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“The Los Angeles freeways become a special way to being alive” “The city that has sold its soul to the motor car” “ he private car and the public freeway together provide an ideal -not to say idealized- version of democratic urban transportation” “The system works as well as it does because the Angelos believe in it as much as they do” “Forthe Freeway, quite as much as the Beach, is where the Angeleno is most himself, most integrally identified with his great city” “The automobile as a work of art and the freeway as a suitable gallery”

LOS ANGELES, The Architecture of Four Ecologies by Reyner Banham, 1971

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“The most iconic of Banham’s Ecologies is Autopia, his polemical celebration of LA’s interstate highways as well as its local byways: Indeed the freeways seem to have fixed Los Angeles in canonical and monumental form, much as the great streets of Sixtus V fixed Baroque Rome, or the Grands Travaux of Baron Haussmann fixed the Paris of la belle époque.”

“Banham’s intoxication with the automobile is palpable. But our freeway system, the 500 mile armature of his Autopia, one a wonder for its scope and scale, has stalled, with less that 30 miles of new interstate roadway built in the last 20 years.”

“By comparison with recent Asian, or even Canadian, infrastructural improvements, California’s one bold 8 lanes and cloverleaves look haggard and Lilliputian.”

Foreword to the 2009 edition After Ecologies by Joe Day LOS ANGELES, The Architecture of Four Ecologies by Reyner Banham, 1971

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los angeles, car oriented city historical timeline 1870

___ 6’000 inhabitants

1876

___ rail road line between San Francisco and Los Angeles

1881

___ direct route between L.A. and the East

1890

___ 50’000 inhabitants in L.A. 100’000 in L.A. County

1892

___ oil was discovered

1910

___ 320’000 inhabitants in L.A.

1914- 1918

1920

___ World War I ___ 577’000 inhabitants in L.A. 1’238’000 in L.A. County 141’000 automobiles registred in the county 1 automobile for 9 people

1930

___ 1’240’000 inhabitants in LA 2’200’000 in L.A. County, 20% was born in California 7700’000 automobiles registred in the county, 1 automobile for 3 people

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1939- 1945

___

1940

___

1947

___

1950

___

1953

___

1970

___

1993

___

2004

___

2009

___

World War II

Arroyo Seco Parkway, first freeway between L.A. and Pasadena new freeway plan based on the original locallyplanned 1930s system, drawn up by the California Department of Public Works now “Caltrans” construction had begun on much of the region’s freeway system the first stack interchange in the world, 4 levels interchange, it connects U.S. Route 101 to State Route 110 Caltrans had abandoned many planned freeways in the face of significant political opposition. Growing enthusiasm for mass transit. SCRTD and the LACTC were finally merged into the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority which constructed subway lines and which today continues to construct new light rail lines only 61% of the freeway miles proposed in the 1954 master plan had been built 4’065’585 inhabitants in L.A. city and 10’393’185 in L.A. County

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los angeles in 2010 some car oriented numbers 4’065’585 inhabitants in L.A. 10’393’185 in L.A. County

7’498’722 vehicles registred in L.A. County

5’978’101 driver licenses registred in LA County

83,6% workers commute to work by car

v

7,2% workers commute to work by public transportation

745 killed per year

86’582 injured per year

California Transportation Financing package budget for 2009- 2010 $12.9 billion

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los angeles freeways from the 40’s to today Southern California’s romance with the automobile owes in large part to resentment of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s tight control over the region’s commerce in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During his successful campaign for governor in 1910, anti-Southern Pacific candidate Hiram Johnson traveled the state by car. In the minds of Southlanders, this associated the automobile with clean, progressive government, in stark contrast to the railroads’ control over the corrupt governments of the Midwest and Northeast. While the Southern Pacific-owned Pacific Electric Railway’s famous “Red Car” streetcar lines were the axes of urbanization in Los Angeles during its period of spectacular growth in the 1910s and 1920s, they were unprofitable and increasingly unattractive compared to automobiles. As cars became cheaper and began to fill the region’s roads in the 1920s, the Pacific Electric both lost ridership and slowed to a crawl; traffic congestion soon threatened to choke off the region’s development altogether. At the same time, a number of influential urban planners were advocating the construction of a network of what one widely-read book dubbed “Magic Motorways”, as the backbone of suburban development. These “greenbelt” advocates called for decentralized, automobile-oriented development as a means of remedying both urban overcrowding and declining rates of home ownership.

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1942

1955

1965

1979

1986

2010 313


freeways system comparison Reyner Bahnham 1970’s and today “Come to Los Angeles! The sun shines bright, the beaches are wide and inviting, and the orange groves stretch as far as the eye can see. There are jobs a-plenty, and land is cheap. Every working man can have his own house, and inside every house, a happy, all-American family ... Life is good in Los Angeles ... It’s paradise on Earth.” Tabloid journalist Sid Hudgens in the film “L.A. Confidential” (1997) It was deemed that Los Angeles would become the anti-city. Angelenos would live not in cramped apartments close to their industrial jobs, but in airy bungalows with tidy yards. To allow for development in far-flung communities around the region, the original boosters covered the Los Angeles Basin using a far-reaching intra- and inter-urban street car system. This was of course controversially followed by the development of an expansive freeway system, with which the city is still closely associated. In short, the rest is history. The combination of affordable homes, decent jobs, and easy transportation proved enormously popular – so much so that the majority of urban development in the United States continues to follow this model. Yet by the 1960s, Los Angeles was starting to reach the limits of its original planning. With cheap land in increasingly short supply, freeways clogged with growing numbers of commuters, and smog becoming a major problem – urban planners realized they had a problem on their hands. If the city was going to try to preserve the region’s high quality of life, growth could no longer be business as usual. So, under the supervision of then-Planning Director Calvin Hamilton, the city’s planners set about developing a concept plan to deal with the city’s future growth. In 1970, after years of research and development, the city released “Concept Los Angeles: The Concept for the Los Angeles General Plan”.

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L.A city population

1970

2010

2.8M

4.1M

7.0M

L.A county population

59K mi 57K mi

DMT Road Mileage

10.0M

40%

185K mi 66K mi

L.A city

210% Number of License

11.6M

Number of Vehicle

11.6M

23.5M

190%

33.9M

100%

Rate of Fatalities per 100 mi VMT

3.35

60%

1.42 $91.5

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$3.6 1970

OIL PRICE

2’500% 315


freeways system comparison with other cities

Los Angeles

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New york

Seoul

London

Randstad

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freeways system comparison in u.s.a. Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States, and with a population of 3.8 million is the largest city in the state of California and the Western United States. Additionally the city spans over 498.3 square miles (1,290.6 km2) in Southern California and is anchored to the world’s 13th largest metropolitan area with 17.7 million people spread out over much of coastal Southern California

Chicago

Boston Detroit

New York Philadelpia Washington

Los Angeles

Atalanta

Dallas

Miami

Population L.A Population

0

200km

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Chicago

Boston Detroit

New York Philadelpia Washington

Los Angeles

Atalanta

Dallas

Area Miami

Area of Los Angeles

Area

Chicago

Boston Detroit

New York Philadelpia Washington

Los Angeles

Dallas

Atalanta

Miami

1 Hr

Average Commuting Time

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freeways system comparison in u.s.a. Despite the large number of freeways in Southern California, the area actually has fewer lane-miles per capita than most larger metropolitan areas in the United States, ranking 31st of the top 39. As of 1999, Greater Los Angeles had 0.419 lane-miles per 1,000 people, only slightly more than Greater New York City and fewer than Greater Boston, the Washington Metropolitan Area and the San Francisco Bay Area. (American metros average 0.613 lane-miles per thousand) San Diego ranked 17th in the same study, with 0.659 lane-miles per thousand, and the Inland Empire ranked 21st, with 0.626.

Chicago

Boston Detroit

New York Philadelpia Washington

Los Angeles

Dallas

Area Streets Mileage

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Miami

Freeways Mileage

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Chicago

Boston Detroit

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Atalanta

Dallas

Driving Mile of Travel per person(mi) Miami

DMT per person

Chicago

Detroit

Boston New York Philadelpia Washington

Los Angeles Number of Vehicles used in commuting Driving Car Carpool Public Transportation Other Means

Atalanta Dallas

Miami

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freeways system comparison world wide

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other means

walked

public transportation

car

Los Angeles New York

London

Shanghai

Sao Paolo

Mexico City

Johannesburg

Shanghai

Sao Paolo

Mexico City

Johannesburg

Sao Paolo

Bankok

Kolkata

Commuting to work

Los Angeles New York

London

Average travel time to work

Los Angeles New York

London

Shanghai

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metro rail system in los angeles The Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates 73.1 miles (117.6 km) of Metro Rail service. The system is composed of 62 stations, two at-grade light rail lines, one grade-separated light rail line, and two heavy rail subway lines with total estimated ridership of over 300,000 boardings per weekday. Beach and Norwalk. North Hollywood

Sierra Madre Villa

Union Station

Wilshire/ Western 7th street/ Metro Center

LAX Airport

Norwalk

Imperial /Wilmington

Redondo Beach

Long Beach

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Mean of Transportation in Commuting car carpooling working at home walking other means public transportation

Metro rail ridership Red line Blue line Green line Gold line

The Red Line (first leg to Westlake/MacArthur Park opened in 1993 and to Hollywood in 1999, and to North Hollywood in 2000), is a subway line running between Downtown and North Hollywood. The Blue Line (opened in 1990) is a light rail line running between Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Long Beach. The Green Line (opened in 1995, together with the Glenn Anderson Freeway) is a light rail line running between Redondo Beach and Norwalk. The Gold Line (opened in 2003) is a light rail line that runs between East L.A. and Pasadena via Downtown. The Purple Line is a subway line running betweenDowntown and the Mid-Wilshire district. L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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metro rail system comparison with other cities

Los Angeles

The Metro Rail is the mass transit rail system of Los Angeles County. It is the indirect descendant of the Pacific Electric Red Car system and Los Angeles Railway “Yellow Car� lines, which operated in the area from the early to middle twentieth century.

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New York

Seoul

London

Paris

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public transportation vs automobile commute comparisons in l.a.

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+43

LAX international airport- Venice Beach Distance: 13 km

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Time difference (mn) 328


24

+98

North Hollywood- Downtown L.A. Distance: 24 km

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Norwalk- Pasadena Distance: 44 km L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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Automobile/ public transportation (mn)

Time difference (mn) 329


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autopia urban fiction Paracity

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Introduction to paracity from a reading of l..a.

Downtown Arts District Bunker Hill Chinatown Civic Center Fashion District Financial District Flower District Furniture and Decorative Arts District Gallery Row Historic Core Jewelry District Little Tokyo Skid Row South Park Old Bank District Toy District Wholesale District East LA Boyle Heights El Sereno Elysian Valley University Hills Atwater Village Arroyo Seco Cypress Park Eagle Rock Garvanza Glassell Park Hermon Highland Park Lincoln Heights Montecito Heights Monterey Hills Mt. Washington

Los Angeles neighbourhoods display a degree of diversity well befitting the second-largest city in the United States. Much of this is an artefact of the city’s history of growth by annexation and horizontal development, which allowed distinct environments to arise in many areas; indeed, many Los Angeles neighbourhoods, such as Venice, Hancock Park, Silver Lake and Boyle Heights are fairly close-knit, culturally distinctive communities.

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Echo Park and Westlake Angelino Heights Byzantine-Latino Quarter Harvard Heights Echo Park Historic Filipinotown Lafayette Park Pico-Union Westlake MacArthur Park Temple-Beaudry Hollywood Beachwood Canyon Cahuenga Pass Hollywood Hills Hollywood Dell Whitley Heights Hollywood Heights Laurel Canyon 334


Mount Olympus Nichols Canyon Outpost Estates Sunset Hills East Hollywood Little Armenia Thai Town Virgil Village Koreatown Melrose District Melrose Hill Sierra Vista Spaulding Square Yucca Corridor Harbor City Harbor Pines Harbor Gateway San Pedro Palisades Port of LA Point Fermin South Shores Vista del Oro The Gardens Rolling Hills Highlands Vinegar Hill Terminal Island Wilmington Los Feliz Elysian Park Solano Canyon Elysian Heights Elysian Valley Los Feliz Franklin Hills Silver Lake Sunset Junction South Los Angeles Arlington Park Athens on the Hill Baldwin Hills Baldwin Hills Estates Baldwin Village Baldwin Vista Cameo Plaza Canterbury Knolls Century Palms Chesterfield Square Crenshaw Exposition Park Gramercy Park Green Meadows Hyde Park Jefferson Park L.A. Stranger than Fiction

King Estates Leimert Park Magnolia Square Manchester Square Morningside Circle South Los Angeles View Heights Vermont Knolls Vermont Park Vermont Square Village Green Watts West Adams Kinney Heights North University Park Figueroa Corridor Winnetka Woodland Hills University Park West Alameda West Park Terrace San Fernando Valley Arleta Balboa Park Canoga Park Chatsworth Encino Granada Hills Balboa Highlands Hansen Hills Knollwood Lake View Terrace Lake Balboa La Tuna Canyon Rancho La Tuna Canyon Mission Hills North Hills North Hollywood NoHo Arts District Northridge Pacoima Panorama City Porter Ranch Reseda Reseda Ranch Sepulveda Shadow Hills Stonehurst Sherman Oaks Sherman Village Studio City Sun Valley Sunland Sylmar Olive View Kagel Canyon Tarzana Melody Acres

Toluca Lake Toluca Woods West Toluca Tujunga Valley Village Van Nuys Valley Glen Cameron Woods Ventura Business District Warner Center West Hills West Los Angeles Bel-Air Roscomare Valley Beverly Glen Benedict Canyon Beverly Crest Beverlywood Brentwood Brentwood Circle Brentwood Glen Brentwood Hills Brentwood Park Bundy Canyon Kenter Canyon Crestwood Hills Mandeville Canyon Westridge Heights South Brentwood Westgate Century City Cheviot Hills Castle Heights Crestview Del Rey Ladera Heights Mar Vista Westdale Marina Peninsula Pacific Palisades Castellammare Marquez Knolls Huntington Palisades Palisades Highlands Santa Monica Canyon Rustic Canyon Palms Westside Village Playa del Rey Playa Vista Rancho Park Home Junction Regent Square South Robertson Reynier Village Venice Oakwood Venice Canals Westchester

LAX Airport Loyola Village Manchester Square West Los Angeles Sawtelle Westwood Holmby Hills Little Persia Westwood Village Wilshire Carthay Carthay Circle Carthay Square South Carthay Little Ethiopia Fairfax District Olympic Park West Pico Picfair Village Pico Del Mar Pico Park Wilshire Highlands Wilshire Vista Arlington Heights Western Heights Country Club Park Greater Hancock Park Brookside Park Fremont Place Hancock Park Larchmont Larchmont Village Windsor Square La Brea-Hancock Ridgewood-Wilton St. Andrews Square Wilshire Park Longwood Highlands Park Mile Windsor Village Harvard Heights Lafayette Square Wellington Square Miracle Mile Miracle Mile North Miracle Mile South Park La Brea Wilshire Center Koreatown

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L.a. HETEROPOLIS

Charles Jencks, the author of Heteropolis, Los Angeles, The Riots and the Strange Beauty of Hetero-Architecture, defines clearly heteropolis as a global city with a high concentration of multinational corporations and having a variety of economic sectors, multiplying lifestyles and a diversifying ethnic population heading towards full minoritisation – a place where heterogeneity is enjoyed. In this book published in 1993 Charles Jencks provides a new classification for the global city of the future, for its social and architectural structure and style: the heteropolis. He views Los Angeles as the world’s foremost heteropolis where all the contradictions come true. Multicultural, Third World, super rich, minoritorized, high-tech, sprawling with over 100 communities and now riot torn - it represents the future of the global city, and it has invented a new style of hetero-architecture which is both provocatively fresh and suitable to its pluralism. The hetero-architecture of Los Angeles suggests a way beyond the present impasse between the fundamentalists and the multiculturalists, a third position which diffuses confrontation with creative displacement and inclusive eclecticism. The strange beauty of hetero-architecture embraces variety, its informality allows marginalized groups to feel at home, and its unusual metaphors suggest our connection to the natural world. Frank Gehry, Eric Owen Moss, Morphosis, The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

Frank Israel and Charles Moore were its visible leaders, but there is also a vernacular and funk version of the genre as well as the populist versions of Jon Jerde and Disneyland. The philosophy of hetero-architecture accepts difference as a necessity and turns it into a virtue with an informal aesthetic at once polyglot, abstract and representational - that is radically eclectic and inclusive in an understated way. Concurrent with the time of Jencks’ observations, between 1991 and 1996 saw an increase in migrations from 20 million to 100 million around the world. With many world cities now undergoing increasing pluralization, the heteropolis is bound to become a major urban form of the future. For LA this reality means a postmetropolis of 18 urban cores, 140 incorporated cities, 13 major ethnic groups and 86 languages.

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L.a. LINEAR CITY

In addition to its communities and diverse centres, L.A. is miles and miles of Strips, Boulevards, Streets and Avenues. Who does not know Sunset Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood Blvd or Wilshire Boulevard which is one of the principal East-West arterial roads in L.A. It was named for Henry Gaylord Wilshire (1861–1927), an Ohio native who made and lost fortunes in real estate, farming, and gold mining. Running 16 miles (26 km) from Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles to Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, Wilshire Boulevard is densely developed throughout most of its span, connecting five of Los Angeles’s major business districts to each other, as well as Beverly Hills and Santa Monica downtown.

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Sunset Blvd.

Vermont Ave.

Wilshire Blvd.

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paracity from t.o.d. to t.o.c. Transit-oriented development (TOD) has gained popularity as a means of redressing a number of urban problems, including traffic congestion, affordable housing shortages, air pollution, and incessant sprawl. Several factors have heightened the public interest in TOD. One is a receptive policy environment, marked by recent legislation and grant funding—at all levels of government— committed to promoting “livable communities” and “smart growth.” Over the past few years, several federal initiatives have explicitly sought to leverage TOD: new transit joint development policies, including a more permissive interpretation of the federal common-grant rules; “new starts” criteria that explicitly weigh attention given to coordinated transit and land use in evaluating proposals for major capital investments in transit; and the location efficient mortgage program, that makes it easier to qualify for a loan to purchase a home situated near transit. A host of demographic factors have also worked in favor of TODs—e.g., increasing shares of childless couples, influxes of foreign immigrants (many of whom come from countries with a heritage of transit-oriented living), and growing numbers of emptynesters seeking to downsize their living quarters. These groups form ready-made consumer markets for housing situated near transit nodes. Steadily worsening traffic congestion has also spurred TOD initiatives. In many parts of the United States, traffic woes have created a cohort of The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

individuals who are drawn to the idea of living near transit and enjoying a less stressful commute to work. More and more businesses are also locating near rail stops, in part to open up more commuting and housing options for their work forces. Los Angeles has few inter/intra-city hubs and continues to rely on the outdated perception that everyone wants to go to/from Downtown. In contrast, Metropolitan Tokyo which is about the same size and seismic zone as LA County, has multiple inter/intra-city hubs like Shinjuku and Ueno which allow ease of commuting to various regions throughout its metropolitan area. The only major hub for Los Angeles is downtown and Union Station, while leaving the entire Westside, LAX, South Bay and the San Fernando Valley without any hubs of their own.

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Therefore L.A. has a serious Mass Transit Transportation problematic, in terms of time, connection and centralities. In order to propose a strategy able to challenge this issue we have to consider a parallel mobility, land use, scale and life style: a T.O.C. Transit Oriented City. This city will occupy and use the existing metro rail system, thus instead of changing the trajectories of metro rail lines we use the existing ones, furthermore we improve their efficiency and frequency by superimposing new parallels structures with several contents and programs which will serve the existing mono-functional neighbourhoods, it is a parallel city: PARACITY The public transportation will have not only a technical function but also be a powerful catalyst for new urban polarities.

Functional cities and a functioning economy rely on timely and efficient movement of people, information and goods. The economic prosperity of a region is directly proportional to this matrix of movement. Especially in the new age of an idea based economy, the quality and number of connections created by people to people and people to information is an essential factor of productivity(...) Since governmental agencies are run by politicians who typically think in office-term time spans and usually lack the funds and the power to decide over entire metro regions, there have been few innovations in the transportation sector despite the incredible growth of cities worldwide. And because of the scale of importance of transportation to the economic wellbeing of individuals and cities as a whole, huge numbers of people across the globe are making unreasonably high investments of time and money every day for their mobility. Beyond the Crisis: Towards New Urban Paradigm

Manuel Castels: Professor Emeritus of City Planning, University of California, Berkeley L.A. Stranger than Fiction

It is now urgent to make cities and urbanization part of the solution: we need to use and build upon those features of cities than can re-orient the material and organizational ecologies of cities towards positive interactions with nature’s ecologies. These interactions, and the diversity of domains they cover, are themselves an emergent socioeconomical system that bridges the city’s and nature ecologies. Part of the effort is to maximize the chances that it has positive environmental outcomes. Specific features of cities that help are economies of scale, density and the associated potential for greater efficiency in resource use, and, important bur often neglected, dense networks of communication that can serve as facilitators to institute environmentally sound practices in cities. Bridging the Ecologies of Cities and of Nature.

Saskia Sassen: Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology. Committee of Global Thought, Columbia University. 341


paracity principles and goals Superimposing over the existing metro rail line A lot of space is available along, around and above the metro rail lines. We consider this space to be used for new structures that include bicycles and pedestrians freeways, for non polluting modes of transportation with less noise and with privileged position. it brings the city into the metro rail transportation system.

Another option of transportation Bicycles and all possible similar non motorized means of transportation are considered. Mobility relies on individual choices and possibilities but also on what the context is offering, we propose direct connection between metro rail system and other individual non polluting means of transportation.

5km/h

7km/h 10km/h 15km/h

3Km/h 15Km/h 38Km/h 26km/h

65Km/h 45Km/h 45Km/h

65Km/h

38Km/h

15Km/h

4Km/h

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Another speed mobility This additional mobility has to be integrated with the existing transportation system, to not generate competition but increase the volume of ridership by manipulating the land use and structures program, it’s a door to door connection.

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Bicycles and pedestrians freeways The individual means of transportation will have their own pleasant, save and independent paths, routes and ways. This integrated and synergetic network will enable the additional speed and will effect the Micro and Macro mobility.

Volume of individual mobility Seeing that the metro lines run horizontally from North to South and East to West and PARACITY will be superimposed over these lines, we use vertical elements and connectors to join the existing and the artificial landscape. The individual mobility will take place in both platforms by creating an articulated networks which will enable a vital flexibility.

Proximity reducing distances The role of accessibility and proximity in urban form is crucial. The distance between housing, employment, social facilities and recreational activities has to be reduced. The individual transportation will help to save time and reach exactly the final point according to your estimated time. L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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historical references from the 20th century Le Corbusier, Plan Obus, Algiers, 1931-32 “People of Algiers! Here we are on the highway, elevated 100 meters, driving along at top speed, looking out over a landscape that is sublime (because we see it, having conquered it, having constructed it). I am not deluding myself; but I say to you, people of Algiers, citizens of Algiers that, having erected this city of Modern Times for all the world to see, you would be proud, and happy!”. Cited in Norma Evenson, Le Corbusier: The Machine and the Grand Design (New

Infrastrucutre Mobility Mixed use buildings

York: George Braziller, Inc., 1969), 62

Constant Nieuwenhuy, New Babylon, 1959-74 The question of knowing how one would live in a society that knows neither famine nor exploitation nor work, in a society in which, without exception, anyone could give free rein to his creativity. Constant’s megastructures would literally leave the bourgeois metropolis below and would be populated by homo ludens (man at play) where self-fulfillment and self-satisfaction were the social goals.

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Social model Ludic society Dynamic network Creativity and freedom

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Mobile architecture Flexible structure new society

Yona Friedman, La Ville spatiale, 1960 According to Friedman, architecture should only provide a framework, in which the inhabitants might construct their homes according to their needs and ideas, free from any paternalism by a master builder. Furthermore, he was convinced that the progressing automation of production and, resulting from that, the increasing amount of leisure time would fundamentally change society. The traditional structure of the city, it is not equipped for the new society. He suggested mobile, temporary and lightweight structures.

interaction of society and its architectural environment Commentary on existing social/ economic/esthetic division

Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis, Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture, 1972 At once an effect on city planning, architecture, satire, and social criticism, Koolhaas and Zenghelis take as inspiration the Berlin Wall, the superstructure that divides a city, and superimposes it on London. But this wall not only divides, it protects; it is an enclosure that separates an island of new architecture from the anarchic life of the city that surrounds it.

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paracity area of intervention Los Angeles has a large bus system with several categories, speeds and vehicles but its inconvenient is that this system relies directly and only on the streets and freeways system, exactly as the private cars. Therefore Los Angeles Metro Rail System could be the source of relive, especially with the gas prices on the rise, population increasing and the traffic conditions. In fact the Metro Rail lines are completely autonomous, the metro departs from one station and arrives to the other by respecting the estimated time. The Red line is more efficient than the Blue and the Green one, it is the true and only subway of LA, it connects North Hollywood and Union Station passing through Downtown, the denser part of the city with the highest parking fee. The total monthly ridership is almost 4 million, while the Blue line is 2 million and the Green line is only 970 thousand. The Red Line average commuting time is 30 minutes while in the Blue Line is double, we could reduce the commuting time by creating a new centers point, a higher density, a mixed zones and land use.

Blue Line North - South 18 miles/30 km Downtown Long Beach

Green Line East - West 16 miles/ 26 km Norwalk Redondo Beach

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As implementation of the previous principles we consider the North- South axe through the Blue line and the East- West axe through the Green light rail line. The Blue Line opened in 1990 and it connects Downtown Los Angeles to Downtown Long Beach. It is the region’s first rail line since the demise of the Pacific Electric Railway’s Red Car system in 1961. While the green line opened in1995 and it runs between Redondo Beach and Norwalk, where one the most important stop is LAX international airport. Despite LAX being one of the largest airports in the world by passenger volume, LAX lacks a direct rail connection to terminals.

Walking distance 1 mile/ 1.6 km 15 mn

Biking distance 3 miles/ 4.8 km 20 mn

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paracity existing sections through metro rail lines The sections show the huge empty and not used space that the existing metro rail is generating in several situations, where the rail lines are passing either on the same level of the urban fabric or not, dividing entire neighbourhoods, flying over the monotonous individual houses carpet, or radically suspended in the air as the cars interchanges. L.A. has required numerous infrastructures, financial investments, political and private agreements to create and support its car oriented system which has at this moment serious limitations . Therefore it is not utopian to think that L.A. is also capable to create a parallel system: a transit oriented city that exploits the vertical dimension of the valuable rights-of-way.

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P

P

Metro rail passing over the urban fabric

Transportation systems level situated in another level P

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Metro rail dividing the neighbourhoods

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paracity Plan Angelenos are making unreasonably high investments of time and money every day for their personal mobility, causing financial and personal depletion and corrosion of social structures. Furthermore the current flaws in transportation have been a core contributor to pollution and global warming, therefore this parallel drastic and radical intervention is needed, it is an attempt to repair the dysfunctionality of Metro lines system, decrease the traffic, pollution, furthermore the public transportation system will have not only a technical function but also be a powerful catalyst for new urban polarities. The proposed over ground solution has many advantages, it creates: Multiple modes of efficient transport solutions in a single approach and at the same time it reduces pollution; Bicycle paths and network as a public and green space; Land value will increase thanks to the parks, the density and the presence of many programs and facilities in the same area; Flexibility and freedom of choice of transportation: pedestrian, bicycle, light rail, bus or cars and maximizing the connectivity; Transforming monotonous suburbs into prosperous communities in a rich landscape and attractive “villages�, the competition between these communities will improve the life quality; The denser community with the most mixed use programs ensures that a good portion of its residents can also work in the same community; Sport practising make people working better, happier and more relaxed: commuting in traffic make many people anxious, nervous and angry; The implementation of these structures could occur autonomously and in any moment. To all those who say that the bicycle is not a practical means and is not very used in the cities, we say that it’s not used because, some cities have never seriously considered it, so there are no paths or they are too dangerous. Amsterdam: 35% commuters, despite the inclement climate. China: 80% commuters, despite the dangerous traffic conditions. The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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paracity z axe


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paracity superposition


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autopia urban fiction: interchange

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various typologies of freeway interchanges

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Stack interchange is a four-way interchange whereby left turns are handled by semi-directional flyover/under ramps. To go left (right in countries with left-hand drive), vehicles first turn slightly right (on a ‘right-turn’ off-ramp) to exit, then complete the turn via a ramp which crosses both highways, eventually merging with the ‘rightturn’ on-ramp traffic from the opposite quadrant of the interchange. A stack interchange, then, has two pairs of leftturning ramps, of which can be “stacked” in various configurations above or below the two interchanging highways.

Stacks do not suffer from the problem of weaving, but require massive construction work for their flyovers. A standard stack interchange includes roads on four levels. Large stacks with multiple levels are often colloquially described as “mixmasters” or “spaghetti Bowls” due to their complex appearance, being compared to boiled spaghetti. 405-10 Interchange site on north-west of los angeles, near by Santa Monica beach, developed from the prototype of stack interchange, the highest position is 25 meters above the ground, four layers.


Monday 1:30 pm

Monday 4:30 pm

Monday 5:30 pm

Monday 6:30 pm

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Bejing highway system.

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Nearly all dvelopments in Downtown benefit from significant taxpayer subsidies. L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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In this scenario the Downtown that has been on life-support for a halfcentury is unplugged and left to walk on its own, and LA is allowed to resume developing according to its own – and the markets – decentralized logic. Subsidies, financial incentives, political and planning efforts shift away from the utopian and towards the real, optimizing and enhancing the infrastructure that drives and defines the city.

freeway

Attractor

Attractor

ay

freewa

ew fre

ay

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Sites

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Function

Sites New Attractors

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Sites Projects

Function


The project is developed in response to the air and sound pollution related to the freeways that directly and significantly degrades the livability of habitation within 500 feet of proximity. Based on the planning and financial incentive of increased density and mixed-use zoning an enormous land-swap transforms these erased areas into open-space scaled for the city– a remix of the original Greenbelts associated with the highway system – dedicated to bio-remediation, informal parks and recreation, and urban farming. The architecture of the “Interchange” is effectively a gigantic shed, a performative skin responsive to sheltering the mutating interior spaces from the harsh environmental context


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renderings


sections

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November 18th, 2009 meeting at the SCIArc with

Joe DAy designer and architectural theorist in Los Angeles. Joe Days leads deegan-day design studio and serves on the design and history/theory faculty at SCI-Arc. Day’s teaching and writing has focused on the themes of exhibition, incarceration, urban studies and the nexus of contemporary art and architecture. Day recently contributed a forword to a new edition of Reyner Banham’s seminal study, Los Angeles: Architecture of the Four Ecologies (University of California Press, 2009). He currently is a member of the SCI-Arc board of trustees, and a director at the Keck Foundation. The Berlage Institute partipants met Joe Day in the gallery space at SCIArc building where the installation Blow by Blow was staged at the time.The following text records the interview. Cristophe Cornubert: To start I wanted to ask you a little bit about this installation you made … Joe Day: We are standing in the gallery at SCIArc this is a space that routinely hosts installations and works by architects operating in the gallery and at the architecture school. The installation is entitled “Blow By Blow”. Part of my interest in working in this space – and certainly in terms of the titling of the exhibition – have to do with with what I take as a kind of conflicted history or or a set of possibilities for architects working on a gallery space. So “Blow By Blow” leads to two previous works: Antonioni’s film Blow Up and, being more specifically and more sailiently in this setting, Blow Out, a work of Matta-Clark. In 1973 Matta-Clark, an artist who was actually trained as a architect, was invited to participate in a show at the Institute for Urban Studies in New York called Ideas Model. Matta-Clark, two days before the opening, went into the space and shot out all the windows of the gallery and in place of the glass pains, the glass window pains, put what he called “the pains of urban housing” in their stead, a whole series of photographs of failing modernist housing blocks from the South Bronx. In our installation we were very interested in the notion of staging a very different kind of vectorial play in gallery spaces: where Matta-Clark came into the building and fired – in not so random pattern – to set the stage for his stand towards high modern architecture, the basic structuring of “Blow By Blow” is based on two vector paths that rayed from one end of the gallery through the other and concede of the installation is that thirty years later the bullet no longer find its windows but ends up ricochet trough the space. In the aftermath, with thirty intervening years, it is no longer possible to simply transgress the gallery by violating its

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envelope but that, to some degree, you have to invite more possibilities into the gallery space to activate it. There is a kind of vectorial path that sets up one set of structures in the space and then the film is a corollary which goes back to Antonioni. […] CC: On this research tour we are trying to have a crash course on Los Angeles urbanism and urbanism in general; looking at L.A. in particular trying to understand what is unique about this place and, at the same time, what can it mean for the global cities in general. We have talked about how the idea of Los Angeles is communicated almost completely via media, via television, via movies, via kind of popular culture so that everyone has an image of L.A. even if they have never been here. How that is an export product potentially? How that transforms people’s ideas about what is the good life and what this city is about? JD: This all question of metropolitan mediation is something that Los Angeles played an incredible primary role in the 20th century, if there is a sense in which Los Angeles is still meaning for the prototypical; and I think a lot of the ways we thought it could be it has been surpassed by other cities, I think Los Angles still remains an incredible focal city in terms of how new media are executed, how the city is portrayed and made generic in terms of mass media and communication, in terms of film and television: L.A. is, L.A. has been for a lot of the last fifty years, every place. I feel not only a personal obligation but a real fascination with the city endanger with the projected image […]. And remarkably a few architects actually really pursue just the basic mechanics of projection as a driver for their projects in the world. CC: Which is the relationship between urban form and urban condition in terms of urban lifestyle? Part of our work is trying to understand if it is about urban design, if it is about planning cities or even architecture. Is it completely meaningless the relationship between the form and the content? JD: That polarity would have been much easier framing even thirty years ago – let’s say forty or fifty years ago - when L.A. was genuinely and consistently a low rise city except for Downtown and the exclusion of Wilshire Boulevard and the population would have been much more – within that generation – rural and midwesterners a kind of counterurban in a way. The polarity between Los Angeles and New York for a lot of the 20th century hinged as much on demographics as urban form; in New York you had a urban diaspora of the entire world, an incredibly cosmopolitan group of people migrating to that city; Mike Davis talks a bit about the intellectual critical mass of New York while L.A. was never really going to get that many people of that kind of cultural density in one place. Banham is a revolutionary figure for opening up a dialogue between a number of intellectual sub-cultures in the city. But beforehand, especially the German emigrates – Adorno and Thomas Mann – were coming here and simply complaining about how alone they are in this kind of vast open city that they did not really care to navigate. But in terms of urban form Los Angeles is a muddier condition literally in terms The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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of urban morphology: it is no longer so low rise; a lot of what is going on here, certainly has a lot of what Angelenos perceive to be groundbreaking urban possibility, has this kind of odd media scale – something like the Grove, the Americana or City Walk, this kind of retail experiences, and what is going on in Downtown – Los Angeles has all of a sudden jumped to a kind of five storeys norm in a lot of places that I believe is certainly not the city I imagined Los Angeles to be growing up. CC: Part of L.A. success is that this kind of generic almost nothingness that makes up the most of it literally has a freedom to it; the space is not a pressure space, it is almost the opposite, so that it can be completely transformed and used as needed at any given point in time and space. There is almost this idea of rapid prototyping in the city. Until fairly recently there has been a sort of lack of structure, lack of infrastructure, lack of rules, lack of history: that was really a relief for Los Angeles; but unfortunately even in L.A. we have discovered history, it is becoming a problem … JD: It is interesting to put it that way. What you have just described is an incredibly banhamy understanding of Los Angeles as a promise, as a kind of recursive city that can simply tear itself down and renew itself or when it is understood through the recursion of constant circulation of the freeways system and that is understood as built form in terms of a repurpusing and recycling but not collaging together the fixed elements that are going to survive forever. I think you are right but to a certain degree L.A. has hardened in some way; when you look at the contemporary urban discourse in Los Angeles a lot of it has to do with the pride of our institutions – the Getty, the LACMA and MOCA; Banham talked quite a bit about enclaves and I think that enclaving, the architecture of enclaves, is becoming an overpowering presence in the city, one that challenges the more free form, the cyclical logic that the city had for many years; now, in term of the logic you described, Houston might be a more convincing city for that model. CC: We decided to use Banham’s four ecologies as a seminal book, a kind of entry point for diving into the city of Los Angeles and as a template in the structure to try to make a first research an a first understanding of what is this thing called Los Angeles. Now that we are here – in 2009 – the question is: how much of what Banham described is still relevant? How much is the same? How much has changed? Can we still talk about these four ecologies? Or do we need to change the way of talking about L.A.? JD: There are at least two ways to tackle the question. One could look at the persistence of the ecologies – and I hope that my introduction to the book does that a little bit. I think that some have born up better proven more fruitful. The Plains of Id in particular have ended up the most generative of the form in many cases, where for The Foothills and the way the high end residential real estate has moved up in the mountains and then flattened down these Banham wasn’t mistaking but maybe that cycle has gone as for as it’s possible to go. The other way to look at it is in terms of the multiplication of the ecologies, and

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there are some arguments to be made; for example Martha Crawford’s The Ecology of Fantasy and certainly Mike Davis’ The Ecology of Fear argue for very different notions of networking and different orders of urban paranoias as drivers for the ongoing formation of Los Angeles. But to the degree that any of those are true you can still assess (or access?) the four ecologies or start adding onto them, Banham’s model has proven through history as a durable one that you really still can work from those four to develop a way of reading this city or a lot of, I think almost any, post war American city in a more fruitful way than you can with earlier working models. CC: If Banham was dropped into L.A. now, what would he perceive as radically different? His all ecstasy and liberation driving on the freeway has becomes almost a standard, a kind of modern revolution, the next stage: L.A. is the city of the future. On the other hand the city is radically different: it has become super dense and so there is an open question: has L.A. reached the extents of what it is, or what it has been, and necessarely, because of space has disappeared, there has to be a next layering and therefore a next direction, a next strategy of development … JD: The atrophy of our freeway infrastructure would break Banham’s heart at some levels. But your question touches a very interesting bifurcation in the way people come to love Reyner Banham. Architects tends to like Banham because Banham likes the speed: we like the fact that he might be in his car moving through the city and trying to matching how to come to terms with cities and buildings in a totally different way; for theorists and historians the majority of Banham’s worth is tied up in the legacy of pop and the celebration of the ephemeral of contemporary life and a kind of disposable culture – that is what makes Banham a controversial figure in terms of his green politics. I think Banham, in today’s L.A., would find things to love in any case even if the traffic was worse. But in terms of design, in terms of how you decide to move from his work, that bifurcation and the question of whether Banham is centrally preoccupied with how advanced consumer culture can play out – including the creation of better and faster and smoother automobile rides – or whether he is fundamentally about the traversing of cities, a more situationists’ reading of Banham that has more to do with how movement and urbanism are interrelated, is an important question. Personally I come down more comfortably on the latter but there is a lot to be said for the former. For a lot of his celebration for the transit infrastructure, I think at this point Banham would be more excited by the way some Asian cities move enormous numbers of people around than the way we decided to live with Autopia as he described the basic framework of our freeway system. CC: The beauty of L.A. has been the creation of a true city where personal mobility is taken to the extreme: that is one of the conditions of L.A. that makes it what it is. Now we have a huge amount of resources trying to create the so called mass transit. If the subway system, if the light rail system do succeed here, what would they do to L.A.? Would L.A. be more conventional like every other cities? The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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JD: I think the whole question of getting mass transit to work for the people of L.A. will almost certainly be eclipsed, it has already been eclipsed, by the way mass communications have made it possible for people to traverse the city without necessarily getting in the automobile all the time; to touch again [Banham’s] notion of encalving, a lot of people live in microcities in Los Angeles quite happily and I think they will continue to do so; though we will build this [mass transit] system, I am not sure that we have made the best move we could have made urbanistically, people have already found ways around the problem. CC: We have also been looking at current events here, and, of course, we can not talk about L.A. right now without talking about the subprime capital. When Banham talks about the Plains of Id he talks about this kind of very democratic space and this middle class accessibility. If you look at the condition now, what is the same? What is different? JD: In the question of The Plains of Id being a kind of space of desire often focused as middle class aspirations and the current mortgage crisis – where L.A. is the capital of a large region that has been catastrophically struck, I feel like I need to give the moment time, I have just begun to get my head over it. Statistically there is no question that L.A. is focal to this crisis, but on the experiential level I think that it is a city more accustomed to flux than most cities, in the degree that L.A. is a city that turns over it. CC: Let’s talk a little bit about architecture. Isn’t it possible to say that part of the strenght of L.A. is its relative lack of architecture? JD: That to me seems a kind of eternal truth. Frank Gehry makes that case, Schindler and Neutra arguably make the same case. I think it’s true an I wish it’s only more true at this point. It is actually very difficult to build small scale innovative architecture in L.A. Los Angeles was a city and still is related to the entertainment industry – every city has its kind of cultural patronage. I was working in an office where we have seen strains of different style of architecture. The entertainment industry divides first between talent and production sides. And on the production side major films producers tended to be incredibly anglophile historically – so you have these massive and incredibly english country houses standing in Beverly Hills and Bel Air. In contrast to that, television executives favour french chateaux; talents tend to go mediterranean – actors favour spanish and directors more italian. It is actually the trades in Hollywood that really supports contemporary architecture as major standard as they are interested in the technology and what buildings can do. All of that is to say we have better, richer pool of people that might be willing to take gambles on interesting work. And I think everybody that does small scale work in L.A. can almost always trace every project through only a couple of degrees of separation from the entertainment industry and what it makes possible. Wannes Peeters: Talking again about Banham in the seventies and L.A. 2009 and in particular The Plains of Id that is not that one layered unified plain

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anymore, it is not that endless flatland anymore but it has become much more congested, dense, much more layered: isn’t there in L.A. an unconscious need for structure? JD: Perhaps this is what I would say about The Plains of Id now is that they have become striated by a kind of extrusional urbanism. Los Angeles pioneered the notion of extrusional density in Wilshire Boulevard and in zoning a single boulevard up to twelve storeys through the flatlands of the city and across the entire width of the city; but now there are all a series of boulevards and avenues in L.A. that play different roles, often programmatically isolated roles. A boulevard like Ventura Boulevard – which became famous in American Graffiti for cruising – is now this kind of training ground and incredibly a kind of linear field of play for testing restaurants’ concepts; the same would be true, for people that live here overtime, for Beverly and Pico and Jefferson and Venice – especially the arterial roads through Los Angeles - in terms of how they kind cater in different ways. There is certainly a will to order, to a certain degree, but I think it is more a kind of compromise from that open field of play than an historically plausible extension of it. WP: The great thing about L.A. was the individually driven way of living, that kind of freedom, the totally californian dream; all of a sudden, because of the transformations of the last forty years, is it going to become more structured and losing that kind of freedom? JD: What is interesting to me is that you come from Rotterdam. A couple of years ago I was given a tour of Rotterdam and the whole question of polderization and the creation of more urban space. I left thinking that L.A. will not be able to grow in any meaningful way until, for example, we extend our airport; part of the problem of L.A. as a city of the future, unlike any other major and important world cities, we have not managed to fix our airport in twentyfive years and we can not without reclaiming land into the bay; and that kind of radical move to make a new kind of urbanism possible has yet to find a mode of expression here. You mentioned earlier about the all question of whether an infrastructure could mature and grow in a meaningful way in terms of mass transit; but certainly the driving issue for urbanists working in L.A. in the last few years has been the question of water: so you have the question of moving around the city but then there is the question that we have major water problems (even though there are arguments about the idea that L.A. was a city in the desert is a sort of mythic). But I also think, and this comes up in all the literature around Los Angeles, that L.A. has a rich history of supporting a kind of apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic notions of what could happen to this city – and everywhere else and America and Western civilization – could play out. I recently saw that David Fletcher, a landscape architect – really a sort of speculative urbanist – in the Bay Area, has done a whole study of Los Angeles as a city that shrinks by half over fifty or a hundred years period; if you think about it, it seems like a kind of modest agenda but any city having a depopulation – plague do that, terrible things have done that quickly – but a The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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notion on how that could happen gradually is actually a kind of revolutionary in some ways; but it is tied up in these questions of [mass] transit and water and how just the basic infrastructure logic will or will not be able to host the metropolitan ambitions. CC: I still have the feeling that some of the participants look at me and ask “why did you make us look at Banham? Why these four ecologies? Who cares? What does it mean?� Is there something about that book that is tied to L.A., to this kind of watershed moment in terms of modernization of the cities? Automobiles, technology, lifestyle ... JD: I have a lot of questions I would like to ask you, what is interesting to me is you wonder why you read Banham because from your perspective we may not need to read Banham anymore. I think there is a real argument to be made that Banham with Venturi was simply eclipsed by Koolhaas and the notion of how to read cities on a dutch model that with Delirious New York and everything that cascaded from that especially fifteen years after Delirious New York. The contribution that american urban theories made in the fifties, sixties and seventies has been eclipsed in a lot of important ways or maybe absorbed. To the degree that Koolhaas and Bahnam did not necessarily come from such different backgrounds, you may know what you need to know about Banham. For Angelenos, or for American architecture students, the rational I would give them for reading Banham would have more to do with a counterpoint to our domestic architectural discourse which really has its more powerful strains in a kind of work after Peter Eisenman and in a more kind of turbo-charged formalist and animation driven model of the architectural speculation against the whole notion of urbanism and architecture as a primary question.

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John Kaliski architect and urban designer in Los Angeles. Prior to private practice John Kaliski was principal architect of CRA/LA where he was responsible for urban design, historic preservation, and the design aspects of this agency’s housing and childcare programs. At present he is also working on the North Hollywood Vision Study for the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA). The Berlage Institute partipants met John Kaliski in his office, Urban Studio, on Wilshire Boulevard. The following text records parts of the talk of the meeting. I would describe it as “normative” the type of work that you see here; I do not make any claims for that other than that it is high level normative practice and as such is very reflective of community inputs. I have tried to make the argument in writing and conferences that this actually is the most radical form of design practice because it grows out of some type of acknowledgement of democracy as a force that shapes the urban environment. But there are philosophical dilemmas associated with any act of design: on the end the act of design is still a singular act and urban design is not. Urban design is a collective act and – as a consequence – in a democratic situation, has a tendency to flatten ideas; if you have a bell curve, and up here [at the top] there is whatever you think is the coolest idea that you had ever imagined that you should dump into the urban environment; we are completely aware of all those ideas, but we exist somewhere in [a lower level] when we are doing urban design. Q: You have been working on the Hollywood Boulevard Redevelopment Plan for a long time, first as principal architect of CRA/LA and then as private practitioner. Could you tell us how did the whole story go and what has changed in the course of time from the mid eighties to today? JK: In Hollywood the Redevelopment Project Area was declared in 1986; at that time people were already very very aware of what might be called the abuses of redevelopment, because redevelopment was used as urban renewal tool and was the tool that was used basically to tear down stuff and relocate people. A classic case in Los Angeles is Bunker Hill where the entire north western corner of Downtown – on top of Bunker Hill, where the Music Center is, where Disney Hall is, where all these tall buildings are – was a community, the first wealthy community in Los Angeles. They literally flattened the hill, they carved off the top of the hill and they torn every single building down; they relocated – or better – dislocated ten thousand people and they consolidated all this land; that was done in the 1950s and 1960s and was conThe Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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sidered to be pretty horrible. So a lot of people said: “You can do redevelopment in Hollywood but there are two or three things that are going to be critical; one is that you have got to recognize its historic environment; two is that you have got to build housing and not dislocate people from housing; three is that you have got to address the social issues that you have here” – social issues that are much less visible today than they were when I started to work on the redevelopment plan. So this particular redevelopment project more than any other redevelopment project in Los Angeles – I would argue even today – came with a whole load of what you could call public benefits written into it that had somehow to be addressed. About a year ago we were officially hired to restart the process [to amend and renew the redevelopment plan]. We went back and we looked at what Hollywood was today, and what we basically found out was that things were the same and things were different. There is still a tremendous commitment about historic preservation, more green, better street scape and stuff like that: we have heard that all over again – and all of that is fine. But there were two voices that were different: one is developers that we heard were far more sophisticated than they were fifteen years ago, and we heard compelling arguments for increased density and increased height particularly in the area around Vine street. Then there is a whole new constituency that was not there fifteen years ago – and that is basically people who are in their thirties and early forties; those people have very very different attitudes: they are not as afraid of height, they are not as afraid of density, they are committed to historic preservation in a different way: they see the value of it but they don’t see it as the number one absolute goal. Q: Which are some of the features that you recognized as peculiar for Hollywood and you decided to bring into the Redevelopment Plan? JK:The danger of that is that you end up disneyfying buildings: if you have a biproject that is 300 feet by 300 feet, and it is built on a logic that is 300 feet by 300 feet but then the facade is designed on logic that of 25 feet it can deteriorate very rapidly and look very fake. The whole idea of Disney is that you implode time; the thing that is amazing about that is that so far, this implosion of time has only been done in shopping centers, such as the Grove, and in new urbanist’s communities, such as Seaside. But it has never actually been done – I would argue – in a free market urban setting because it is harder: the developer wants to buy more and more land, the design guidelines want to have small increments of scale.

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November 6th, 2009 meeting at the Getty Research Institute with

Wim de Wit Head of the Department of Architecture & Contemporary Art The Berlage Institute partipants met Wim de Wit in the building of the Getty Research Institute at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. During the meeting, Wim de Wit showed some of the materials in the Getty Archives that are related to Rayner Banham’s research in Los Angeles: Reyner Banham Archive itself and parts of the collections in Julius Schulman’s, Pierre Koenig’s, John Lautner’s archives. The following quotes are extacted from that meeting.

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W. de Wit: What people think when they start thinking about the history of Los Angeles is the book of Reyner Banham, and the Getty Research Institute has Banham’s Archive. Q: Do you know what kind of method Banham had when he started to igate Los Angeles? Was it randomly or was he actually having plans on how to investigate the city? Wim de Wit: It looks like there was a lot of driving around and working with maps. That was the initial approach to becoming excited by the city; then there was a lot of readings, he has been into a lot of libraries of course but there is nothing in the archive that suggests that he had a plan: we have photocopies, he did go into libraries ‌ these is from the Anton Wagner book, for example.

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...related to Banham there are two famous Ed Ruscha books: one is “Every building on the Sunset Strip”; they are related because the way Banham is interested in pop culture is clearly what Ruscha is interested in, the everyday enviroment of the city, just going from building to building to building …

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[ ...] And then there is Julius Schulman whose archive we aquired five years ago, it is more than 250,000 objects. [...] These photographs are very beautiful but at the same time they are interesting because they were done in the sixties: the Department of Water and Power is ready, the Union Bank – one of the first Downtown highrise – is ready but for the rest is all bear around them: if you look at the other photos in this file you see parking lots all around; but they photographed this because the Central Redevelopment Agency used them in their brochures to show what Downtown was going to look like.

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[...] And then we have a set of material from John Lautner. And this is kind of exceptional because Lautner never did this colorful things on his drawings. I don’t like the word Googie Style at all, I think it is totally wrong. There is one building by John Lautner that is a coffee shop witha big sign and became very famous indeed; at that time there were many other architects, like Arnette&Davis for example, who designed a lot of those coffe shops, car wash buildings, gas stations and all those kind of things you just call “roadside architectures”; but Googie became so famous that people started to attach the name of a style to it. I have no idea what John Lautner himself though about it but I think … I think it is wrong. [...] There are many movies taken inside Lautner houses; but also there is a a section of a TV station [Current TV] that sits in the Chemosphere since they reconstructed half of the house and it looks like they are sitting in the house even if they are just in a studio. Lautner’s architecture in general has done very well in the whole entertainment industry, he is very popular in that part of the LA world.

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[...] There is of course the famous photo that Julius himself called “the girls”. They made the photo with the two women sitting there in the corner: there are photos with the same angle of the house, also at night, with the light of the city, but there is nobody sitting there and the photo is not intersting at all. These were the girlfriends of two assistants in Pierre Koenig’s office and they come along for the photoshoot and at a certain moment Julius said: “you, sit down there” [...] What always iterests me is that the photo suggest that there is an enormous cantilever hanght over Hollywood, but it is a very small part of the house that is actually cantilevered. The Stahl family owns a photo, found in the father’s box of photos, dated before the time they hired Pierre Koenig: Mr Stahl had made a model for the house, to show how it was going to look like: it had the cantilever and the other wing of the house followed the road. Now there is this contoversity: is it really real? This man was not an architect, he was working in the aviation industry, he was more like a business man, not even that he was an engineer there. I still find the whole thing very misterious and hard to really believe.

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November 19th, 2009 meeting with

Caltrans, Elhami Nasr Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) manages more than 50,000 miles of California’s highway and freeway lanes, provides inter-city rail services, permits more than 400 public-use airports and special-use hospital heliports, and works with local agencies. Caltrans carries out its mission of improving mobility across California with six primary programs: Aeronautics, Highway Transportation, Mass Transportation, Transportation Planning, Administration and the Equipment Service Center. District 7, which includes Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, has the second largest workforce of 12 Caltrans statewide districts. The Berlage Institute partipants visited the CALTRANS DISTRICT 7 Headquarters at 100 Main Street in Downtown Los Angeles. The following text records parts of the presentation that Elhami Nasr, Office Chief of the Office of Advance Planning, delivered to them and the questions that followed. Q: Could you tell us which are the key functions of the planning division at the CALTRANS and which is the process that projects follow? Elhami Nasr: We basically need to set the stage for future directions, for what is coming up in the next twenty years; we need to be ready when the time comes. What we have is the existing system, how is it today; then we look at the next five years and what we should be working on and then what is coming up in the next twenty years. We are always looking ahead: we have a twenty year plan – which is called the “Long Range Transportation Plan” – where we identify the key projects that we need to be working on. The process goes like this: we identify the projects, we work with our partners – cities, counties and other agencies, come to a consensus on what we think the projects are, find the money to do the projects and then the projects go to construction. And all this takes a little bit of time … Within my office we have a portion related to the system planning and the information system where we keep track of almost all the inventory of the existing system and its conditions. The hottest item that we have right now is between the system planning and forecasting or modeling: it is to identify existing projects and see what happens if we add these projects to the system. It is a kind of virtual reality simulation where you put new projects into the existing system and then you see how the system will behave. We have, for instance, fifty projects and a limited amount of money: for which project we go for? Which item do we need to focus on? Then, of course, there is a great component that is political: it has to be diversity in the way we distribute the money and the funds. It is not only us making the decision: there are a lot of other players that we have to convince and debate with. The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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We look at the existing system, we anticipate what is coming up, we identify the projects that are coming in and then see which one will give you the best benefit for the money that you spend. We have three components: we have a vision – and this vision is driven by what the demand on the system is; then we have to work with the locals to identify the money and the resources; finally we have to decide which project should be added – and which project should not be added – and the reason why. It is very important that we identify the way our system works. Long time ago we used to be the decision makers: it was system, we had the money, and we knew exactly what to do. In the last few years, things have changed: the money comes to the local agencies. Now we know what we need to improve in the system but we have to convince other players about what should be done and it is then a collective decision. Q: How do you face the constant increase in term of needs of transportation? EN: We have a model that says: “it does not matter what you do, you can keep building what you want, adding freeways, but you will never solve the transportation problem in L.A.”. Moreover, it is becoming too expensive in California to built new freeways not to mention many other issues such the environmental issues. What is going to solve the problems is the optimization of the system: what is the best way we can use the system we have? What can we do to maximize the number of cars in the system? Because the flow of the traffic is slow we are not getting a lot of people through the system in a consistent manner and that is why the people get delayed. When people get delayed they take more space on the freeway; but if we have a consistent speed we can accommodate more cars. Now we are always looking for the way to enhance the existing system.

Q: Are there any other possible solutions that work in this direction? EN: Since we do not have the maximum capacity on the freeways, we are adding capacity enhancements on the freeways that could consist, for example, of toll lanes where people pay not to get stuck in the traffic. This could optimize the system and create some income to be able to pay for the enhancements – that is a kind of short term solution. But you always have issues any time you introduce new ideas; some people say it is not fair for somebody who makes more money to have more, since this is a State system. We go through that a little bit. Some other ideas are more futuristic: we are looking at some type of magnetic freeway where you get your car in and then you are not actually driving anymore: there is something just pulling you at forty miles per hour; you are not spending gas and there are no emissions of gas. We have some of these projects on the table, right now.

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Cra/LA, Hollywood, Kip Rudd and Alison Becker The Community Redevelopment Agency has as a mission to make strategic investments to create economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for the people who live and work in the neighborhoods of the city. The CRA of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) is a public agency that serves as a catalyst for community growth and prosperity. CRA/LA lays the groundwork and provide the preconditions that enable private investors to revitalize neglected communities. CRA/LA projects include building affordable housing, creating living-wage jobs, developing commercial and industrial sites, making public improvements, and helping neighborhoods become greener and pedestrian friendly. Redevelopment is financed primarily through tax increment revenue — additional funds generated by the increased assessed value of properties in a redevelopment project area. Tax increment funds new projects and repays the bonds that funded redevelopment activities. CRA/LA sets aside 25 percent of tax increment revenue from each project area for affordable housing. To ensure that CRA/LA understands the needs and concerns of the areas it serves, CRA/LA stays in close contact with neighborhood and homeowner groups, business and labor organizations, and elected officials and City departments. CRA/LA fosters alliances with advocates for affordable housing, environmental issues and community and economic development. CRA/LA we hold forums and public meetings to attract the widest possible community input. The Berlage Institute partipants visited the CRA/LA in Hollywood meeting Kip Ruud, senior planner, and Alison Becker, associate planner. Ruud and Becker presented the historical development of Hollywood and the content or the Redevelopment Plan for the area of Hollywood Blvd. The following text records the discussion that happened after tis presentation. Q: European architects look at Los Angeles with a sort of awe in the sense that in historical cities becomes very difficult to build anything besides conform to the language that is in place already. What has always been part of the mythology of L.A. as well as partly of the reality is that in this “unregulated� environment you can have these beautiful moments of innovation that takes place. How do you allow that to happen since it seems that there is a new tendency towards historical preservation and control? Alison Becker: I do not know anyone that has figured out the magic formula. The problem is that our citizenry generally is not terribly educated in this

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kind of urban life; there is a new generation now, but a lot of people were attracted here by the weather and by the ability to buy a detached single family home that they could get to with their car. Just by virtue of that it is a different mindset than a population that understands what living in an urban environment is; so we have very emotional conflicts with communities over those issues and that’s why you see trends towards conformity within the built environment because that is the only way that you can find ways for people to agree on things; they all say: “We want a city like Pasadena”; Pasadena is lovely but I would not necessarily say it is innovative or that there is any sort of extraordinary expressions of architecture out there but for its beautiful civic center that was built a hundred years ago. It is very difficult … Kip Rudd: We are hoping to allow this sort of innovation the way we are structuring this urban design plan which is similar to Downtown: we talked about the intent we want to achieve and some of the standards that we have to have in the project and a whole grouping of guidelines. If you do not meet those guidelines you have to show us how you are meeting the intent that we are trying to achieve; and then come up with design panels, review panels and community and review the project: you have to sell us on that really great idea that you have got and how that innovative idea meets the intents of the plans and the goals of the community. It is going to be an interesting period. We think that we have a plan that has enough mandated standards that there is a consistency but there is some flexibility.

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Q: One aspect we are also looking at – as a kind of comparison whether is to Europe or to Asia – is the different relationship between public and private in how the projects are driven. In Europe you can talk about how the municipalities or the state have a more powerful role in bringing the developers with them; in Asia you have other kind of extreme ways in which the development is imposed or happens. Are you seeing in the States or in L.A. that scenario changing – if you would agree that it has been more privately driven? Could there be some different opportunities on how urban design or larger scale projects could be more planned directly and centrally? KR: I think that the urban design plan will inform developers in the future; there will be requirements and we will have to approve every project that occurs: they will have to conform to the goals and objectives of the agency. AB: In America, yes, it is privately driven. It is always about: “we want the least amount of regulations, the most amount of flexibility and we need it done as fast as possible”. And that is why we have such a difficult time with city building. We are trying to achieve a better balance between the private property rights and a larger context. I think there are opportunities in the 21st century that the development will be driven again – going back to why redevelopment started at the end of WWII – by the Federal Government pursuing an agenda. We have similar thing going on right now with the High Speed Rail, as an example. Nationally we are faced with these higher level social issues such as air quality, mobility, access to water, water conservation and so on. There will be a lot of money coming through the urban areas to facilitate those policies and there may be opportunities for this big creative next generation of urban form things. At the same time we have to find the way to be mindful of context while still bringing innovation into urban centers. Q: Could it be the next step that the city actually acts as a developer and guarantee the quality and the guidelines that has fixed? AB: We do that to a limited degree with public facilities. We have a new generation of beautiful libraries – for examples – that illustrates our national sustainability goals. In private developments, any time we out money in, we do not finance a hundred percent but we fill a gap. Our money comes with strains and those strains are typically related to coherence to the design guidelines, adherence to national standards and the social agenda we pursue. KR: And usually our finance assistance is critical – even though maybe it is small – to get the project going. And we are able to help to assemble the properties that were there, they could not do that by themselves. So we can have a huge influence on the project. Q: does the city own land to be developed or does the city plan to acquire land? KR: Bunker Hill was the first Redevelopment Project and it happened sixty years ago; the Agency bought every single piece of property and controlled the entire hillside. We did not do that so much in Hollywood. We do not have a lot of money The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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that is coming in: we have to wait development to occur before the property tax revenue increases. We did not have resources to go out and purchase properties. This would be the perfect time for the Agency ; the Agency had an acquisition program that would cool down money from various projects areas and then would go out and look for acquisition sites – this was about three years ago, we have stopped this program. Now, because of the economy, land prices are pretty affordable, we should be out and acquire land that we can either lend or sell or lease in the boom time and really have a great control on what we want them to do with our property. The trouble is that the State is in a terrific budget deficit, billions of dollars of deficit. And again we do not have the resources to buy these cheap properties. And it is really unfortunate because we have some interesting ideas for many sites. We would love to get into the real estate business but we just do not have the resources right now. Q: Talking about project like the L.A. River Redevelopment or the idea of capping the Hollywood Freeway, what would you say about these? Are they anomalies in the scheme of development in L.A. or do they represent a next vision that could eventually translate into some real projects? KR: The cap park was talked especially when the economy was boomed and there was a vision that could there be resources available in the future to be actually able to implement that; it would cost about a billion dollars to cap the freeway the way it has been propose for about a mile and it would create about forty acres of parkland; it was about five/six hundred dollars per square foot and, at that time, land prices were approaching that value. So if the city wanted to make the decision for a park to serve the community, forty acres of park, it had to buy the land plus the improvements for the same price. Because of the current economy there is much more pessimism on how you can assemble a billion dollars today or in the near future; but it is a great idea to explore that we could implement at some point in the future. AB: Most people tend to have a very short term perspective. A project like that is at a much different scale. The problem with Los Angeles is that we have a relatively of weak Mayor and a strong Council form of government, which means that unlike places like New York and Chicago – where the Mayor says: “this will be done” and everybody goes and does it because that is the vision for the future of the city – in this town we have fifteen Mayors of their own little places combined with a Mayor of the city who wants to corral all of the cats but has a very little ability to do that. And that is why a billion dollar becomes an obstacle for an area that has only one or two of those fifteen votes: that is the practical reality of it. There are cities across the country that are looking at cap parks as their strategy for providing open space and mitigation for transportation system. Dallas is doing one right now: if Dallas can do it, I can’t believe Los Angeles can’t do it. And look at Chicago Millennium Park. But Chicago has a very different political environment; they also have a different tradition of philanthropy: there are all sorts of civic issues that come into play when you are talking about making that level of a statement. L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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The L.A. River has a slightly different story. What is L.A. all about? L.A. is all about a struggle for water and about water policy and politics. A hundred years ago we started stealing water from northern California and a hundred years later all of a sudden we are freaking out because there is no more water; those people are getting restless up there and … look at our sprawling metropolis. The L.A. River has the strategic advantage that is actually helping us dealing with our water issue: but we have to think about it in a different way. There is all sort of money that is available – again on the Federal level – with local match to do water projects; and that’s why the L.A. River master plan and all the focus on naturalizing a natural resource which was engineered into a solution that worked for a period of time is so critical to the future of the city. And that is why there is an increase of attention and resources that can flow from the Federal level into a project like that. You have a wider likelihood of having that move forward in a significant way whereas capping mobility infrastructures is more parochial. KR: The River also flows through a number of communities that have not seen a lot of investments and that are why it is possible to use the river as a catalyst for economic development; and it is also an embarrassment for Los Angeles that people see what we have done to our river. Q: Why is most of the industry next to the L.A. River? They don’t even have the advantage in terms of transportation? AB: Not anymore. That is another obstacle for a city of our size. From a land planning perspective you have different needs that are reflected in the way you allocate your land: most went to residential, the second level is commercial, and the smallest percentage is industrial. And now, here you are – sixty years later – all your industrial is in places that are not very well connected to your mobility infrastructure and that create a big problem. The city has been looking at its industrial land policy for about five or six years now and we are trying to be much more focused on developing an approach for new industry, providing a place for that. funds. It is not only us making the decision: there are a lot of other players that we have to convince and debate with. Q: Talking about environmental issues, are there any big projects of energy infrastructures in the city of Los Angeles? KR: There is a lot of discussion and a lot of projects about solar energy, photovoltaic, for electrical generation. The trouble is the land area that is available in the amount that you need is out in the desert which also has the sun but getting the electricity that is generated there back to the demand, is proving to be an issue because the transmission lines should go through the Mojave National Park. But there is some effort to do these big infrastructure projects that will serve southern California. AB: We spend a lot of time thinking about solutions like that, very big interventions. But I think we are beginning to see a lot of interest and focus in Los Angeles – but I am sure across the world – about what you can do on a much smaller scale. You can address power, water, fresh food access sustainably within the metropolis. For example, people are really looking to figure out how to do urban gardening or urban farming.

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Bruce Stahl

Bruce Stahl is one of the three sons of C.H. “Buck” Stahl and his wife, Car lotta, the couple that made the spectacular Stahl House, also known as the Case Study House #22 by Pierre Koenig. The Berlage Institute partipants visited the Stahl House and the following text records the chat they had with Bruce Stahl. Q: One of the famous stories about the house is whether the original concept for the house was from your father and how much the collaboration with Pierre Koenig resulted in what we have now? Bruce Stahl: Once the house was built my father did not care who got the credit as long as he had his house and so he did not bother Pierre to call out the credit. Originally my father built a scale model of what he wanted and it was a little bit different from what you see here. The collaboration between my father and Pierre was extensive: Pierre had his ideas on how it should look like and my father had his ideas. Q: Do you know how did your parents find Pierre? BS: I do not know exactly. They heard of him and they had seen some of his works. They knew he worked with steel and glass. In order to achieve all this glass my dad needed someone who used to work with steel, there is no way the house could be done with wood because of the sheer spans of the windows. But back then, steel was used in commercial use – warehouses and stuff like that: the convention was that the women of the house would not like steel because it is cold. But … does this house feel cold to you?

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Q: What did your parents want from the house? BS: My father wanted the view from every room. If you look at the bedrooms you have to cross the master bedroom to get to second bedroom, he did not believe in hallways because they were a waste of space. Parents did not have much privacy because kids were constantly running through the room to get to their own room; mum and dad sacrificed a bit of their privacy to get what they wanted. Originally, in the model that is in the book, in the wing of the house that wraps around the road, the car park was going to be between the rooms; but mum did not like that idea: it was almost going to be a separate room; but the car park got pushed to one side, rooms got pushed together, that wing of the house got straighten out and roof got flat – because originally my father wanted a butterfly roof but it just turned out to be too costly, I think. My father wanted to be in the living room and turn is head from the ocean to the mountains and he did not wanted to walk from one side of the house to the other in order to see the views: he wanted just to turn his head in any direction and have the view. Q: How did the swimming pool come to part of the concept? BS: Originally it was not a part of concept. A lot of banks were not loaning money for people who wanted to build houses on the hills, it was a risk. Finally my father found a bank that was going to loan him money but in order for them to get the loan they said: “You have to put the pool in”. The budget was a little bit more blown, they spent more than they wanted and the pool came in. But originally there was going to be a courtyard. Can you imagine the house without the pool now? Q: Is there a certain point in time when you where growing up when you realized that there somehow there was something quite special about this place? BS: It was when the Studios started to come in more and more: “ok, there must be something special about this house”. When the house was built it was not famous; a lot of people ask me: “how was it like growing up there?” but this was what I knew, I did not knew anything different, when I was a kid it was just home. It is not a fun place to be during the earthquakes. And even in strong wind there are big shakes, the windows shake. If you push the windows they flex in and out. During the earthquakes we have lost some windows and we did have one really rough wind that blew a window in; then we replaced the plain glass with safety glass. All in all the structure – the mountain – is pretty solid. Q: When did you move from this house? And where did you move? BS: I moved out of here and I came back for a short time after college: you know, when you get older you do not want to live with your parents even if it is a famous house. Now I am married, I have three kids. I live just over in the San Fernando Valley in one of those typical A-frame houses, not that special at all.

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L.A.: BROADCAST YOURSELF …Los Angeles is everywhere. It is global in the fullest sense of the word. Nowhere is this more evident than in its cultural projection and ideological reach, its almost ubiquitous screening of itself as a rectangular dream machine for the world. Los Angeles broadcasts its self-imagery so widely that probably more people have seen this place than any other on the planet.” - Edward W. Soja, Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion Of Space in Critical Social Theory “To tell you the truth, whenever I’m here I can’t wait to leave. It’s too sprawled out, disconnected. ....This has got to be the fifth biggest economy in the world and nobody knows each other”- Vincent (Tom Cruise) Collateral

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Los Angeles Plays Itself

is a video essay by Thom Andersen, completed in 2003, about the representation of Los Angeles in movies. Andersen argues that “Los Angeles is the place where the relation between reality and representation gets muddled”. But “if we can appreciate documentaries for their dramatic qualities, perhaps we can appreciate fiction films for their documentary revelations”. The following pages show Los Angeles through its cinematic presence; the text quotes Andersen’s essay. …Los Angeles is everywhere. It is global in the fullest sense of the word. Nowhere is this more evident than in its cultural projection and ideological reach, its almost ubiquitous screening of itself as a rectangular dream machine for the world. Los Angeles broadcasts its self-imagery so widely that probably more people have seen this place than any other on the planet.” - Edward W. Soja, Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion Of Space in Critical Social Theory “Tell you the truth, whenever I’m here I can’t wait to leave. It’s too sprawled out, disconnected. ....This has got to be the fifth biggest economy in the world and nobody knows each other”- Vincent (Tom Cruise) Collateral

This is the city: Los Angeles, California. They make movies here, I live here. Sometimes I think that gives me the right to criticize the way the movies depict my city. I know it is not easy: the city is big, the image is small. Movies are vertical, at least when they are projected on the screen, the city is horizontal except for what we call “Downtown”. L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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zabriskie point Michelangelo Antonioni 1970

Chinatown Roman Polanski 1974

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In a city where only a few buildings are more than a hundred years old, where most traces of the city’s history have been effaced, a place can become a historic landmark because it was once a movie location. As it is for people so it is for places: getting into the movies becomes a substitute for achievement. Actors have headshots, buildings get architectural photographs.

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bladerunner Ridley Scott 1982

PULP FICTION Quentin Tarantino 1994

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to live and die in l.a. William Friedkin 1985

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The most venerable of Los Angeles’ landmarks is the Bradbury Building, at 3rd and Broadway, dating from 1893. It was discovered by an architectural historian, Esther McCoy, in 1953. She claimed that the architect George Herbert Wyman had been inspired by Edward Bellamy’s utopian vision of a socialist architecture in the year 2000: a vast hole full of light received not alone from the windows on all sides but from the dome. But the movies discovered the Bradbury Building before the architectural historians did. The first appearance I know came in 1943. In China Girl it played the Hotel Royale in Mandalay, Burma. The following year in The White Cliffs of Dover it played the London Military Hospital overflowing with wounded soldiers. Its first indelible role was in D.O.A., 1950. Fatally poisoned by aluminous toxins slipped into his drink at a jazz club, Frank Bigalow has one day before dying to track down his killer: and he finds him at the Phillips Import-Export Company, room 427. Screenwriter Hampton Fancher and director Ridley Scott disagreed about employing the Bradbury Building as a location for Bladerunner. Fancher argued that it was too familiar, overdone. Scott responded: “Not the way I will do it”. He gave the building a new more elaborate façade and turned the interior atrium into a picturesque ruin.

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SPEED Jan De Bont 1994

HEAT Michael Mann 1995

EScape from L.A. John Carpenter 1996 The Berlage Institute Research Report No. 33 2009/2010

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SAFE Todd Heynes 1995

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Of course movies lie about Los Angeles. Sometimes lies are annoying: to someone who knows Los Angeles only from movies it might appear that everyone who has a job lives in the hills or at the beach. This flatland in between is the province exclusively of the long been proletarian: and most of them live next to an oil refinery and in death they will rest next to an oil dirk.

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the end of violence Wim Wenders 1997

the big lebowski Joel & Ethan Cohen 1998

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L.A. Confidential Curtis Hanson 1997

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One of the glories of Los Angeles is its modernist residential architecture, but Hollywood movies have almost systematically denigrated this heritage like casting many of these houses as the residence of movie villains.

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the million dollar hotel Wim Wenders 2000

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training day Antoine Fuqua 2001

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There are few Los Angeles landmarks that almost always play themselves: City Hall, Grauman Chinese Theatre, Griffith Planetarium, the four level freeway interchange, the concrete channel of the Los Angeles River, the Eastern Columbia Building at 8th and Broadway, the Bonaventure Hotel at 5th and Figueroa, the Beverly Hills Hotel at Sunset and Rodeo, the Paradise Motel at Sunset and Bouldry, Clayton Plumber at Westwood and La Grange, the Circus Liquor at Burbank and Vineland, Pink’s Hot Dogs at La Brea and Melrose, the Memorial Coliseum in the Exposition Park; and of course there is the Hollywood sign. These are the landmarks that are destroyed in disaster movies.

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laurel canyon Lisa Cholodenko 2002 the italian job Gary Gray 2003

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collateral Michael Mann 2004

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“There is no more beautiful city in the world, provided it is seen by night and from a distance� From Los Angeles Plays Itself, video essay by Thom Andersen, 2003.

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Setting up the studio space in Hollywood L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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Final presentation at Hollywood Studio L.A. Stranger than Fiction

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Contributors

CHRISTOPHE CORNUBERT (USA) He graduated with honors from the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of California Los Angeles and was invited by Rem Koolhaas to join Office for Metropolitan Architecture, where he was lead designer for several influential projects, including the Zentrum fur Kunst und Medien building for the city of Karlsruhe, the Jussieu University Libraries in Paris, the Universal Studios Masterplan and Headquarters in Los Angeles, and as Partner-in-Charge of Design, his project for the Educatorium at Utrecht University received the prestigious Reitveld Architecture Prize. Since founding his firm in LA, Christophe has exhibited his work and lectured extensively, and has been a consultant to diverse clients, including the City of Rio de Janeiro Department of Housing and Urbanism, the Museum for Art and Environment in San Francisco, and the Hollywood Entertainment District. He has been invited to participate in numerous international competitions including the HotelProForma in Copenhagen, the New University in Busan, the New State Library in Guadalajara, and the CUBE project for the UN COP15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen. In addition to professional work he has been a visiting professor at leading architecture schools around the world, including the Berlage Institute in the Netherlands, USC and the Southern California Institute in Los Angeles, University of Hawaii, the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen.

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KONSTANTINOS CHRYSOS (Greece) He is the co-founder of Monored design studio. He holds a MArch from the post-graduate program Metropolitan Research + Design at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI_Arc ) (2004). He is a licensed architect (2002) and has received his professional architecture degree from the School of Architecture, Department of Engineering, Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece (2002), where he graduated with honors. Has had professional and educational experience in Los Angeles, Amsterdam and Athens. His work was presented in several exhibitions, including the Biennale of Young Greek Architects exhibition (2007&2009), the 6th Greek Exhibition of Architectural works (2009) and at the 100% Design Fair in London (2006). CAROLINE DAHL (Sweden) She was educated at Blekinge Institute of Technology (Master of Spatial Planning), and SCI-Arc, Southern California Institute of Architecture (Master of Architecture). She has worked for various public entities such as the City of Helsingborg and the City of Landskrona with responsibilities for comprehensive planning, urban renewal, and urban design. She has also been commissioned by the County Administrative Board in Sk책ne promoting local and regional initiative for sustainable urban development. At present she is the manager of the research programme, FUSE, at the School of Landscape Architecture, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. She is also the co-founder of smog studio, a research oriented design practice.

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RAQUEL DRUMMOND DE CARVALHO (Brazil) She graduated in architecture and urbanism at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais in 2006. In 2007 she obtained the Certification in Business Administration at IBMEC and in 2008 the BA in Furniture Design at UEMG. She worked for six years on architecture and interior design projects in various offices in Brazil. She is currently researching at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam focusing on landscape urbanism and the management of territory through relational design tools and parametric design. ANDREAS FAORO (Italy) He graduated at the IUAV in Venice with a research thesis on the contemporary metropolis. In 2007 he founded UNLAB (Urban Network Laboratory, www. unlab.net). Unlab is an international practice of architecture and urban design, dedicated to the exploration of contemporary urban conditions. At the same time he has worked as co-founder and scientific advisor on EU-ROMA project (a european cultural project financed by the European Union). In 2009 he took part at the Xe biennale de Lyon: “Le spectacle du quotidien�. SAMIA HENNI (Algeria, France, Switzerland) She won a Swiss scholarship to be educated at the Academy of Architecture in Mendrisio in Switzerland, where she obtained her Master degree magna cum laude in 2004. She won an international competition in 2004 in Switzerland where she established her practice in architecture, urban research and design focusing mainly on Africa and Europe. In 2010 she won the Berlage Institute scholarship where she is currently conducting an L.A. Stranger than Fiction

urban research and working as a research assistant for Platitudes project at the Berlage Institute. DONGWOO KIM (South Korea) He received his Bachelor in Architecture at Kookmin University in Seoul in 2005. He has worked as a project architect for Sagan Architects from 2005 until 2009. He is currently conducting research at the Berlage Institute. SANGBO PARK (South Korea) He studied architecture and construction engineering at Yonsei University in Seoul where he obtained his Bachelor degree in 2006. He has worked as a project architect at Kokiwoong Architecture office. He is currently conducting a research at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam, developing a project for the city of Istanbul, supported by the Rotterdam Biennale of 2012. WANNES PEETERS (Belgium) After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Henry Van de Velde Institute (Antwerp), in the degree of Master in Architecture in 2009 he attended the Berlage Institute. While conducting research at the Berlage Institute, he was selected to participate in the 2010 Meesterproef, a biennial competition for emerging voices in architecture organized by the Flemish Government State Architect. GIORGIO PONZO (Italy) He graduated cum laude in Architecture from the Politecnico di Torino. He worked as free lance and then established his own office entering many national and international competitions (honourable mention for Europan 7 in Riga). He taught at the 457


Architecture Faculty of Politecnico di Torino. He is currently conducting research at the Berlage Institute. DAVIDE SACCONI (Italy) He studied Architecture at the UniversitĂ degli Studi di Roma Tre where he graduated with honors in 2006. In 2004 he founded Tspoon, a research based office that has been awarded in several national and international competitions for architecture, landscape, urban design and editorial projects. He is currently studying and researching at the Berlage Institute of Rotterdam, focusing on territorial and large scale projects in different cultural and geographical context, such as Los Angeles, Beijing, Moscow and Athens. JUNG HYUN WOO (South Korea) She studied environmental and space design at Ewha Womans University in Seoul and received her Bachelor degree in 2008. She had worked for SIAPLAN Architects & Planners in Korea and New York. She is currently conducting a research at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam. SHUANG ZHANG (China) He studied architecture at Central Academy of Fina Arts University at Beijing and got Bachelor of architecture in 2009, he is curently participating to the Berlage Institute research studio.

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Projects Surfurbia Raquel Drummond de Carvalho, Davide Sacconi, Jung Hyun Woo go west: Jung Hyun Woo AN INCONVENIENT OPPORTUNITY, AFTER THE FLOOD: Davide Sacconi foothills Andreas Faoro, Dongwoo Kim escape from l.a.: Andreas Faoro Plains of ID Wannes Peeters, Giorgio Ponzo stimulus package: Wannes Peeters, Giorgio Ponzo Autopia Samia Henni, SangBo Park; Shuang Zhang Paracity: Samia Henni interchange: Shuang Zhang

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Profile for Christophe Cornubert

Los Angeles: Stranger Than Fiction  

A research based freefall into the contemporary state of LA and speculative scenarios of its urban future.

Los Angeles: Stranger Than Fiction  

A research based freefall into the contemporary state of LA and speculative scenarios of its urban future.

Profile for cornubert
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