2 Foreword Richard Koshalek & Dana Hutt 4 Introduction Thom Mayne 6 Project Descriptions 20 Site Map 22 Los Angeles PLAY Park Mario Cipresso 38 L.A. River Park Patrick McEneany & Susan Wong 54 HS[aRt] Network Joe Baldwin 70 Re:LAX Ed Hatcher 86 Red Line School District Peter Kimmelman, Jae Kwon, Nishant Lall & Andrew Scott 102 Urban Housing Paul Andersen & Maia Johnson 118 UniverCity Martin Summers 134 UCLA Architectural Jury Transcript
Volume Two Shaping a New Vision for Downtown Los Angeles Seven Proposals
Los Angeles faces rapid, continuous growth in the new century. Already, the estimated population of the city’s five-county area— 16.15 million—is second in the United States only to the New York City region. During the past century, the population of the Los Angeles area grew by an average of two million people per decade, or over 500 people every day for the past 100 years. Even as today’s vital infrastructure appears to be pushed beyond capacity, the greater metropolis will receive an additional two million people by 2005. Los Angeles must prepare now for this growth by retooling current planning strategies and designing and implementing new solutions for the city. Since the urban center serves as the connective tissue for the entire city, we believe the revitalization of Los Angeles must begin in its historic urban core. By applying original thought and creativity to the challenges of the downtown area, we can begin to plan now for the real consequences of Los Angeles’s future growth. Through this book, Art Center College of Design—as part of its “wallless classroom” initiative to bring new thinking to current issues in architecture, design, art, and culture outside of the classroom— presents proposals by UCLA architecture students, with the participation of fellow students at SCI-Arc, under the studio leadership of Thom Mayne. These projects directly evolved from the larger urban analysis displayed in the first volume of L.A. Now. While these initiatives focus on downtown, they have been developed in response to an understanding of the greater metropolis. Designed to anticipate the future needs of downtown Los Angeles, the proposals include a large-scale public sports park; a development of parklands, basins, and research and warehouse facilities located along the fifty-one miles of the Los Angeles River; a new convention center located along a high-speed rail line; a satellite LAX terminal; a school district that integrates the Metro Red Line; an extensive upper-level housing and mixed-use development with rooftop gardens; and a satellite university/night-school campus. These proposals operate on a middle ground between idealized visions for the city and the fiscal, infrastructural, and socio-political realities of urban planning. The students bridge these seemingly opposing concerns with rigorous analysis of the city’s existing conditions and anticipated growth; specific flows of population, commuters, resources, and capital; feasibility studies and projected revenues; and careful consideration of precedents. As a result, we believe these proposals are achievable and well worth considering in light of the profound growth and change projected for Los Angeles by 2020.
As a series of next steps to these proposals, we strongly recommend the formation of a unique task force of thinkers and civic and community leaders to develop discrete programs of urban ideas that can be implemented in the near future. We propose, as one of many such programs, the following twelve ideas (with thanks to Dan Rosenfeld for providing the first draft): (1) implement the plans for Civic Center Mall—Los Angeles’s “Central Park”—and Grand Avenue from the new cathedral to the Central Public Library with additional cultural and entertainment activities; (2) create a parkway along the Los Angeles River and rescue Taylor Yard, the largest parcel of land currently threatened by unsympathetic development; (3) restore El Pueblo as a vibrant cultural and commercial center; (4) extend the subway down Wilshire Boulevard to the ocean and down Ventura Boulevard to Woodland Hills through the San Fernando Valley, connect LAX to downtown via rail, and implement the continuation of the El Monte bus line to LAX via the I-110 and I-105 high-occupancy vehicle lanes; (5) develop 10,000 new residential units downtown; (6) plant trees that provide shade for downtown sidewalks; (7) cover the Hollywood/Santa Ana Freeway from Hill Street to Alameda, linking El Pueblo with downtown Los Angeles; (8) develop the Staples Center/Figueroa Corridor entertainment zone; (9) install historic street lamps throughout downtown; (10) develop the Central Avenue Art Park around The Museum of Contemporary Art at The Geffen Contemporary, Japanese American National Museum, and the proposed Children’s Museum; (11) develop a new Justice Center to replace our outdated police headquarters; and (12) resurrect the Red Car surface trolley and its route from Chinatown through downtown to Exposition Park. It is our great hope that the architectural proposals presented here and in the L.A. Now presentation events will stimulate a citywide debate on large-scale urban design initiatives. The encouragement of such discussions will provide the means for civic and government leaders, developers, planners, architects, students, and citizens to consider long-range solutions for the next twenty years.
But there is also a culture…that, in the moment of fluidity and decomposition leading toward chaos, is capable of generating instants of energy that from certain chaotic elements construct—out of the present and toward the future—a new fold in multiple reality. That which was many folds over on itself, manifesting an any than can arrive at a one…. a conjunction whereby the lines of a limitless itinerary cross with others to create nodal points of outstanding intensity. Ignasi de Solà-Morales, Differences: Topographies of Contemporary Architecture (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1997), 102.
Jean Baudrillard once observed that Los Angeles is but a collection of points connected by a series of freeways. Although downtown is the heart of Los Angeles in many respects—both by its infrastructure and by virtue of the political and economic interests headquartered there—targeting it as a site of research should not be construed as an effort to privilege or prioritize. L.A. is a city of multiple centers, and one center cannot be addressed in isolation from this larger network. So although we were commissioned to develop urban designs for downtown, we found that proposals could not be effectively formulated without first considering the city’s interconnected nodes of intensity. The dynamics of urban phenomena, the emergence of complex orders, and the notion of permanent change as a kind of new constant carry within them the need for the nature of urban planning to evolve. If we acknowledge that the very models on which urbanism is organized are vulnerable to being outmoded, then we understand that conventional tools of planning have also lost their primacy. Rather than force process, formal determinations, or legislation, urban design might turn to continually reappraising the contemporary city’s transactions, interactions, and exchanges. The result of these reassessments would be the evolution from ideal geometry to multidimensional systems. These burgeoning systems defy, fragment, and interrupt Euclidean projections, yielding new organizational frameworks that supercede plan-oriented strategies which privilege order over contingency. Programmatic and spatial adjacencies, and the hybrids they engender, call for a more three-dimensional organizational matrix that promotes interconnectivity and allows the manifold logics of the city to advance, recede, and cohere. These were our premises as we developed urban proposals for downtown Los Angeles. In a two-quarter-long studio at UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design, we undertook the project of understanding Los Angeles and developing urban proposals for its downtown. From the research and analysis compiled in volume one of L.A. Now, we designed interpretive strategies that would accommodate the city’s fragmentation, heterogeneity, emergent orders, and non-linearity. The resulting projects have optimistic and ambitious aspirations, but they are not utopian in ideology. Operating with found logics, they engage tactics that promote fluidity, flexibility, and interaction of economic, social, and financial forces.
Piggybacking the bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games, Los Angeles PLAY Park procures urban recreational spaces for local downtown communities. Subsidized by professional organizations both in land and capital, recreational parks are inserted downtown on land owned by stadiums and professional leagues. PLAY Park and the city have symbiotic goals in this respect: the bid mobilizes capital to initiate a flagship PLAY Park, and PLAY Park creates the appearance of L.A. as a socially responsible candidate since the proceeds from the games will stimulate the social welfare of downtown’s inhabitants. In L.A. River Park, an open space the size of Central Park is grafted onto downtown, its transplanted configuration inflected by the local conditions of Los Angeles. The resulting park links existing parks through a green spine that follows a “liberated” Los Angeles River. By excavating the concrete lining and re-greening the paved basin, risk of flooding is drastically reduced and the now-barren river becomes a vital, green public-recreation corridor. Taking the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s mandate for public art and radically expanding it, HS[aRt] Network inserts cultural institutions such as museums and galleries into transit stations. Comprising three tiers of transportation—high-speed monorail, Metrolink, and Metro Rail—this system democratizes access to art and culture and stimulates the use of public transportation in the Los Angeles agglomeration. A proposed convention center located downtown is the hub for these systems, stimulating economic growth and making downtown a vital point of cultural and geographical interchange. Re:LAX takes up Baudrillard’s observation of L.A. as a city of points connected by a network of freeways. This project assesses the points and lines that comprise contemporary Los Angeles and strengthens the connection between two points that, in an era of radical sprawl, risks falling out of the perceived constellation. A monorail between downtown and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)—with the attendant relief of infrastructural responsibilities on LAX—links two Los Angeles centers and asserts the primacy of their relationship to the welfare of the city. Red Line School District takes as its premise a potential for symbiosis between the MTA and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Subway stations become educational gateways, housing more stable components (such as homerooms and faculty offices) while the rest of the curriculum and associated resources are navigated through sites along the subway line. This proposal radically consolidates the distribution of space, resources, and programming of the LAUSD, making the requisite expansion a more effective and manageable prospect. L.A.’s metro system benefits from greater use—and increased safety—while the school system becomes a more integrated network of learning centers. Urban Housing challenges two issues of contemporary urban planning—sprawl and an unfeasible preoccupation with order— in a proposal that takes advantage of low-occupancy buildings and inserts housing into their upper, abandoned floors. By implementing vertical fill rather than horizontal expansion, the project provides
enough residential units to house a town the size of Hermosa Beach, California. Imagining additional elevated floor plates of program, to be developed within a system of contingency and indeterminate development, the project surrenders structured order to the itinerant nature of urban growth. In the UniverCity project, downtown becomes home to a University of California (UC) campus to meet a burgeoning student population, stimulate local exchange and investment, and reap the windfall of the social and educational programs that typically extend into a university’s vicinity. Reversing the flow of people, investment, and cultural capital away from sprawl mode and back toward downtown, the project examines the contemporary UC landscape in order to strategize and extrapolate a series of social, educational, and economic permutations in downtown. Each of these projects works within the broader context of Los Angeles. They draw connections to the city at large and should be received in light of their interpretive abilities: taking information from the L.A. Now research and formulating strategies for downtown to draw latent potentials and connections. The academic context of the studio allowed for the emergence of urban proposals inconceivable within the logic of conventional planning and development. In the initial research phase, programmatic and spatial adjacencies were unearthed and revealed. The Red Line School project is a perfect example: how might the needs of the local transit authority (MTA) and school district (LAUSD) be found to coincide and overlap with the desires of urban planners or developers, thereby producing a mutually beneficial and symbiotic relationship? With the age of large-scale urban master planning behind us— the requisite land mass swallowed up by prolific development, and the socio-political support too contingent and contentious anyway—urban strategies must take current conditions as its starting point. Challenging urban practices of contextualism and utopianism, which both operate under the misguided convictions of fixity and stability, our studio favored the metamorphosis of existing realities, accepting fluidity, complexity, and discontinuity as possible points of departure. These exigencies are the genesis of urban design. Gauging and schematizing rather than inventing and imposing, these proposals work with the unfolding trajectories of the city. Schools of architecture are necessary to the production of muchneeded innovation and inspiration in the planning of our cities. The intent of the L.A. Now proposals is to invigorate interest in Los Angeles as a project project, promoting downtown as a territory for investigation. We are concerned with projects that instill this interest, from which other ideas will follow.
Los Angeles PLAY Park
>>see pages 22–37
MARIO CIPRESSO Downtown Los Angeles currently has the least amount of public open space of all major American urban centers. This condition contributes to a shortage of quality playing fields for youth and adult sports at both competitive and recreational levels. The situation is further aggravated by the increased “privatization” of public parks: private teams and organizations pay premiums for field rights at public parks, depriving the general public of adequate facilities. By mandating that professional sports clubs “adopt” their local community, quality playing fields for the public could be subsidized. This would require an expansion of the way arenas are currently programmed to allow their fields and courts to be used beyond the limited seasonal hours of professional play, and to fund additional parks on existing clubowned and operated land.
Los Angeles PLAY Park is a working model for a subsidized hybrid park. Integrated with professional, privately owned arenas, PLAY Park systematically knits public fields with professional facilities. Utilizing a weave technique, the project creates an interplay between green and hardscape that more effectively binds the sports arena to its downtown surroundings. Further incentive to implement this project is the city’s bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. The Olympic selection committee considers a city’s existing infrastructure and its potential for accommodating the projected demands of the games. More importantly, it considers how the resulting flow of subsidies and revenues could benefit the community. Los Angeles PLAY Park and the bid for the summer games have symbiotic goals in this respect: PLAY Park could be an exemplary project in the eyes of the Olympic committee, and the city’s mobilization of resources for the bid makes PLAY Park economically feasible. PLAY Park initially targets as its flagship site the Los Angeles Convention Center and the Staples Center, located at the juncture of several freeways and major public transportation routes. The Convention Center’s 800,000 square footage is inadequate by current standards, and the tight site adjacencies preclude any further expansion. The Staples Center is only active the few hours during which professional events are conducted. PLAY Park proposes to demolish the convention center and replace it with a National Football League stadium, a professional soccer arena, commercial development, and, most importantly, a park for public recreation. The flagship site capitalizes on close proximity to the intersection of several freeways and public transportation lines. The site is directly accessible via the upper deck of the Harbor Freeway, known as the Harbor Transit Way. This artery is restricted to high-occupancy vehicles and currently terminates just south of the downtown area. The Metro Blue Line, located just east of the site, offers direct access to existing parking infrastructure located
in the financial district to the north. Once these projects find a suitable venue, PLAY Park will quickly be self-sufficient, even profit generating. Local tournaments can generate considerable amounts of revenue and attract spectators from all regions of California. While a small tournament may bring in $200,000 over the course of a weekend, more significant tournaments create an even greater financial impact. For example, the city of San Diego organizes two annual youth soccer tournaments that recently earned $700,000 in team fees, attracting 468 teams and 100,000 spectators. An economic-impact study found that the tournaments poured $10.5 million into the local economy, the equivalent of a regional NCAA basketball tournament. The myriad youth clubs and state and national sports leagues in Southern California have already proven to be lucrative, revenue-generating enterprises, garnering both profits and corporate sponsorship. PLAY Park provides downtown leagues with quality local venues, allowing them to generate profits for their communities and local businesses. The playing fields are not exclusive to leagues and tournaments, but are also made available for public recreation. The realization of PLAY Park dovetails with L.A.’s bid for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games. The bid for the Olympics presents a genuine opportunity to ignite development and interest in downtown. The Olympic Village would require housing and associated amenities in the South Park area of downtown, a district already identified by the Community Redevelopment Agency as needing subsidized housing. One can look to Barcelona’s Olympic Park, built for the 1992 Olympics, as a model of housing and parks developed in tandem with hosting the games. PLAY Park and the Olympic bid could symbiotically benefit the local communities in downtown and the city at large. Having hosted the 1984 Summer Games, Los Angeles has proven its professional and financial acumen by being the first city to earn profits from hosting the games. Mobilizing parks and housing, and further maximizing the resources that have been made available for the bid, would only strengthen L.A.’s prospects on the merits of the social improvements and community welfare that hosting the event would produce. Ultimately PLAY Park fills downtown’s large deficit of green space for its residents. On a bigger scale, it provides infrastructure on a regional level for sports organizations without the resources to adequately support their constituencies. And finally, Los Angeles PLAY Park engages in economic feasibility as it piggybacks the Staples Center and situates its initial venture within the 2012 Olympic Bid.
L.A. River Park
>>see pages 38–53
PATRICK MCENEANY & SUSAN WONG Compared to other major cities, Los Angeles has a paltry amount of open space: ten percent of the city compared to New York’s twenty-seven and San Francisco’s twenty-five. As a means of testing how more open space would transform the city, this project begins by grafting New York’s Central Park onto downtown Los Angeles. The transplanted L.A. River Park is programmed with three major components: open landscapes, drainage basins for the Los Angeles River, and industrial roofscapes. The resulting 900-acre project reclaims abandoned industrial areas and links two of L.A.’s largest parks, Elysian Park and Griffith Park, via the landscaped and expanded banks of the Los Angeles River. The L.A. River is a fifty-one-mile-long concrete channel that ends at the Pacific Ocean. most of the year the river is dry and unsightly, resembling a barren freeway. In contrast, during the wet season 183,000 cubic feet of water rush into the Pacific every second, fourteen times the flow rate of New York’s Hudson River. Because the riverbed is surfaced in concrete, and because sixty-percent of the city is paved, water cannot percolate to the ground, exacerbating the threat of floods during heavy rain. Unfortunately, the historic response has been to raise the river walls with more concrete. Before floodprevention measures were taken, 215,000 acres in Los Angeles were at risk of flooding. However, as a result of flood prevention and the subsequent paving of river walls, 325,000 acres of the city and ten million residents are now at risk. The next flood of the 100-year flood cycle is now overdue, and porous surfaces, not paved ones, will be more effective in mitigating the hazards of these rains.
Installing drainage basins can improve the efficiency of the river, and the resulting channel could be transformed into an iconic green spine connecting all of Los Angeles and its open spaces. This project proposes to widen the L.A. River, remove parts of its concrete bottom and walls, and create more drainage basins along the riverbanks. The basins would fill and filter into aquifers during the cyclical rainfalls, and serve as open landscapes during other times of the year. The river and its adjacent recreational paths would connect Elysian Park with Griffith Park, allowing cyclists and joggers to navigate the city and its parks along a corridor of greenery.
In March 2000, voters approved Proposition 12 ($2.1 billion) and Proposition 13 ($2 billion) in support of parks and clean-water bonds. Of these funds, $83.5 million was allocated to redevelop the L.A. River. With this money, L.A. River Park could be implemented. While one million square feet of existing industrial space would be displaced to provide room for the basins and open park space, three million square feet could be relocated to adjacent industrial-park zones, giving these areas a healthy density that doubles as substructure for a roofscape park. The money for this portion of the project could be privately funded by industries and through tax incentives for environmental preservation. The new landscapes go vertical to green existing office buildings and rooftops and to cover structures erected to promote inter-building connectivity. Roof meadows, roof gardens, vegetated roofs, and eco-roofs capture and store rainwater in cisterns and dry wells built where pavement has been removed. The system is designed to absorb water quickly and release it slowly, producing multiple beneficial effects. Planted with native grasses and plants that absorb, filter, and store rainfall, the rooftops double as an acoustic buffer. The heat emitted from the asphalt is cooled by the evapo-transpiration of the planted foliage. Once this system is implemented in twenty percent of the urban district, passive cooling would have a substantial impact on the urban heat-island effect characteristic to cities packed with dark rooftops and pavement. By grafting New Yorkâ€™s Central Park onto downtown Los Angeles and intervening against the paved banks of the L.A. River, downtown becomes a vital connection in a newly realized Los Angeles park system system. Additional benefits of this strategic transplant include the commercial districtâ€™s consolidation and interconnection, natural cooling, and the virtual elimination of flooding due to overflowing riverbanks.
>>see pages 54–69
JOE BALDWIN Taking the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s mandate for integrating public art and radically expanding it, HS[aRt] Network inserts cultural institutions such as museums and galleries into transit stations. Comprising three scales of transportation—high-speed monorail, Metrolink, and Metro Rail—this system democratizes access to art and culture and stimulates the use of public transportation in the greater Los Angeles agglomeration. At the heart of this project is a new convention center for downtown Los Angeles. Compensating for the limitations in the size and scope of Union Station and the city’s current convention center, a new convention center would create a cultural, financial, and transportation hub. The thesis of this proposal stems from two observations about Los Angeles. The first is that facilities such as museums and galleries are largely inaccessible to certain economic classes in the city, particularly those who rely on public transportation. The second observation is that Los Angeles has increasingly become a decentralized city, which also makes cultural engagement an unlikely and inconvenient prospect to those who live within the city’s sprawling edges.
In an effort to rethink how the Los Angeles public can enjoy greater exposure to the arts, this project proposes locating galleries, museums, and other cultural institutions within transit stations. The introduction of a high-speed monorail connecting Los Angeles to convention centers, cultural institutions, and parks in San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Diego would establish a great economic and cultural web. The local Metrolink would then connect galleries, recreation centers, theaters, and parks within the Los Angeles agglomeration. Similarly, the Metro Rail would link “boutique” galleries, installations, and small parks.
The hub for these systems would be a new downtown convention center. By locating the transfer system here, downtown’s cultural, recreational, and entertainment resources gain increased exposure and use. A 2.5 million-square-foot convention center replaces the smaller and outmoded one. Recent expansions have exhausted the old center’s realestate potential while its size remains grossly inferior to other regional and national centers. Meanwhile, historic Union Station is unable to accommodate a broadened transportation network. Located just a few blocks away, the new convention center is designed to receive and connect these new transit systems. With its competitive size, amenities, and convenient access, the new convention center would attract big business and revenue to downtown. Straddling the Los Angeles River, the convention center also connects the downtown core with the residential and industrial neighborhoods of East L.A. The transportation stations, convention center, cultural centers, museums, galleries, housing, bicycle and pedestrian paths, and parks transform the new convention center into a hub for the confluence of people, transportation, and cultural forces in downtown Los Angeles. Both as an attraction itself and as a key access point to local infrastructure, HS(aRt) Network orchestrates downtown as a central node of culture, commerce, and transportation in Los Angeles. The art network is especially effective in this respect—by exhibiting art within transit stations, the public enjoys greater exposure to the arts and is inspired to expand upon its engagement with both mass transit and the city’s cultural institutions.
>>see pages 70–85
ED HATCHER Jean Baudrillard once observed that Los Angeles is a city of points points, connected only by a network of freeways. Should we accept Baudrillard’s view, then our task as architects and urban designers might be to insert additional, strategic connections between the few critical points. Yet as Los Angeles continues the trend of sprawl as its principal form of growth, the condition of a field with many centers expands and intensifies. As a result, crucial junctions between certain centers are all but erased in the flurry of rapid development. L.A. Now research identifies two key points in need of stronger affiliation: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and L.A.’s downtown urban core. Re:LAX promotes a practical and conspicuous transportation connection between LAX and downtown in the form of a high-speed monorail.
In a field of generally non-hierarchical centers, the monorail asserts the primacy of the downtown/airport relationship. A monorail between these two significant but isolated centers would fortify an otherwise dim connection. Re:LAX challenges conventional notions of adjacency and proximity. By giving these disparate nodes the ease and speed of access, distances are collapsed and isolation is undermined. As a result, the performance of the city is recalibrated. Rather than perpetuating the necessity for all traffic to converge at LAX for departures and arrivals, the monorail offers multiple points for boardings, easing infrastructural burdens on LAX such as parking, shuttle service, and traffic enforcement. Re:LAX decentralizes and diverts these space-consuming requirements to local points of connection along the monorail route.
The basic diagram of the monorail strategy can be understood through two Los Angeles icons: the Encounter bar and restaurant—a converted air-traffic control tower with 360-degree views of LAX and its environs—and the revolving penthouse lounge of the Bonaventure Hotel, a downtown landmark. Both establishments are centers of a kind, offering panoramic views from privileged vantage points. They are emblematic of a city with multiple centers—thematic nodes whose linkage further obfuscates the center-periphery conventions common to traditional European city paradigms. The Encounter and the Bonaventure are centers within centers, a vivid riff on Baudrillard’s characterization of L.A. A secondary concern of this project is suturing the bifurcated downtown area. This split is largely perpetuated by the grain of the 110 freeway, a wide swath of fast-moving bodies through an intermittently dense fabric. The freeway has made social and economic cleavages more pronounced: the west side is financially heartier than the failing industrial sector to the east. Two interventions have been developed to address this condition. First, a series of pedestrian paths weave around and wrap the 110 freeway between 1st and 7th Streets. These routes mitigate the strong north-south grain established by the freeway and promote slower, local movement across the fast-moving commuter traffic. The second is an architectural intervention that functions as a gateway to downtown. This gateway is a loose constituency of programs that hover above the freeway between 1st and 7th Streets, its building mass inflected by the existing vehicular access ramps and proposed pedestrian walkways. Thematically, Re:LAX proposes to weave, suture, and rein downtown into the constellation of centers that comprise Los Angeles. The high-speed monorail linking LAX and downtown re-figures the identity of metropolitan Los Angeles. As downtown is reunited with the metropolitan field of multiple centers, LAX is relieved of infrastructural burdens. No longer bypassed, downtown will become a vital stopping point for travelers into and out of the city.
Red Line School District
>>see pages 86–101
PETER KIMMELMAN, JAE KWON, NISHANT LALL & ANDREW SCOTT Historically, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s response to overcrowding has been to bus students to increasingly far-flung city campuses. By contrast, the subway system in Los Angeles suffers from severe under-use, alienating potential riders with empty cars and a perceived lack of safety. Red Line School District takes as its premise a potential symbiotic relationship between the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). In this proposal, subway stations double as “educational gateways,” housing the more stationary components of a school system (such as homerooms and faculty offices) while the rest of the curriculum and associated resources are distributed among sites along the Red Line. This proposal consolidates and maximizes the utilization of space, resources, and programs for the LAUSD, making the requisite expansion a more Project Descriptions effective and manageable prospect. In tandem, Red Line School District activates L.A.’s metro system during off-peak hours and integrates it with a network of learning centers.
Challenging the LAUSD are the limited ways it can respond to shortages of land and resources in districts where student populations are swelling. Predicated upon traditional organizational models of geographic proximity and zoning, the LAUSD typically buses students in response to overcrowding—a solution that merely transfers the burden to another school district. Ultimately busing never resolves the problem, as LAUSD wastes energy chasing shifting populations. As a result, schools no longer offer a distinct community presence, eroding the relationship between the student body and the local neighborhood school. This proposal enables the LAUSD to have the Red Line do the chasing for them. The Red Line currently runs through the B, D, E, F, G, and H school districts. By treating these discrete districts as one large campus and having students “commute” from core nodes to specialized subject-based schools, shortages are essentially eradicated as the total student population is uniformly distributed through a series of metro stations and local campuses. The school district capitalizes on infrastructure, mobility, and access rather than geography. New districts are formed based on their proximity to a subway station entrance, which serves as an “educational gateway” for the school system. The gateways contain the non-mobile portions of the program: the core-subject schools, homerooms, faculty offices, and storage. These stationary outposts reinstate the neighborhood-outreach aspect of schools—a traditional means for a school to establish its presence in the neighborhood—while simultaneously providing a portal to the underground school network. Operating both conventionally and virtually, these portals lead to an extended field of classrooms along the Red Line.
Each high-school campus offers core subjects—math, science, English, and social studies— and one or two immersion-elective subjects. Students commute three times a day on the Red Line, which shuttles them to resource-center labs, library research, recreation, and electives. By consolidating its student body, the LAUSD also maximizes its resources. Individually, each node begins to integrate the attributes of its local civic identity. For example, the gateway located in Little Tokyo not only offers a core curriculum for its students, but also specializes in Japanese studies, which is available to any student in the Red Line District. Inversing the idea of the magnet school, this formulation essentially “de-magnetizes” special programs, making them available to all enrolled students. On a district-wide level, students have access to more learning opportunities (languages, topics, resources) than one isolated traditional school could ever hope to offer. In another way, major infrastructural needs such as fields, sports facilities, and libraries that are not uniformly maintained from district to district can draw from the financial resources of a much larger population, making the district less susceptible to issues of land values (in the case of playing fields) or imbalanced taxation levels. While the Red Line School District promotes a regional and civic identity, the educational gateways expand its presence on a local level. Potentially offering healthcare, vocational training, and evening classes for neighborhood parents and constituents, the gateway sites strengthen relations between the school and the community, parents and teachers. Both a unified metropolitan system and a more localized presence, the LAUSD operates in conjunction with the community along two seemingly exclusive strategies. New facilities can develop without being dictated by local intensifications in population. Instead, the attention can be focused on the needs of the LAUSD at large, advancing academic and extra-curricular agendas that benefit the entire system. By redirecting and collapsing certain programs, the overhaul considers specific curricular agendas and local urban conditions. Ultimately, the LAUSD can strategically distribute resources based on real-estate prices, institutional adjacencies, and existing infrastructure. Reorganizing the LAUSD along the Red Line will radically intensify the use of the city’s Metro system, making it safer for all riders and increasing awareness of its routes and features. By pairing two unlikely city and state agencies, both organizations—and the city—benefit.
>>see pages 102–117
PAUL ANDERSEN & MAIA JOHNSON During a time when the global rate of urbanization is on the increase, strategies dedicated to cope with rapid expansion are conspicuously absent. Cities currently contain nearly half the world’s population, compared to sixteen percent of the population in 1950 and a projected eighty percent in 2025. Of the few strategies circulating in the urban scene, many are preoccupied with order in an inherently volatile, provisional, and disorderly world. These fascinations are out of phase with the sporadic and often haphazard fits of growth by which cities actually develop. Among issues most alarming to urban planners and concerned citizens alike, sprawl is paramount. The trend toward a seemingly endless development of ever-widening Project Descriptionsoutskirts of land—suburbia, exurbia, and beyond—has a negative impact on natural resources, infrastructure, quality of life, energy consumption, and ecology. As the fact that fifty-four American cities doubled in population during the 1990s demonstrates, sprawl is a persistent threat.
This urban housing proposal seeks to remedy these two pitfalls of urban planning— sprawl and an unfeasible preoccupation with order—through a vertical thrust of development at a flexible and adaptive pace in the center of downtown Los Angeles. Operating between pragmatism and utopianism, the scheme imagines new programs and methods for the development of abandoned and low-occupancy buildings. Through our research we identified forty-eight, largely empty masonry high-rises built during the 1920s as ideal candidates for downtown housing. Their proximity to one another, similarity in construction, and near-uniformity in height make them strategic targets for redevelopment. An early Native American footpath and the locus of downtown’s first commercial and cultural development, the site has both topological and historical distinction as well. The top stories of these structures are largely unoccupied, while the lower floors and sidewalks remain active through commercial activity. By inserting housing into these upper stories, the forty-eight buildings would provide enough residential units to house a community the size of Hermosa Beach, California.
As a result of this programmatic graft, housing “sprawls” in an upward direction, thus maintaining much-needed pockets of open space and provoking further sectional investigation. Having inserted housing in the upper levels, the project introduces support programs— necessary for a successful residential environment—through additional floor plates that are built along the housing levels. The development of this space can respond to local conditions and is not forced to comply or cohere with a larger urban vision. Soft commercial zones, landscape, and circulation paths throughout the vertical grain of the project engender a connective tissue of new textures, integrating these discrete towers into a more cohesive urbanism and procuring the critical mass of density and diversity necessary for a healthy social ecology. The elevated floors are developed by the constituent parties that occupy them. The top surface is programmed according to emerging exchanges and forces, such as the desire for daycare in lieu of a convenience store, while the underside is exploited with graphic treatments and ambient/tectonic devices. The eventual extension and linking of plates blurs the formerly distinct boundaries between interior and exterior, public and private, occupation and circulation. A rich mix of uses and the emergence of new programmatic and spatial typologies result, calibrated to the specific desires percolating on each site. Departing from conventional hard-planning methods, this strategy pursues smooth transitions in downtown’s development that resist specific programs in favor of zones of indeterminate development. Free program—the result—is more inclined to address the city’s use and growth over time. The soft organization of the built areas breeds a hybridization of activities and events that are compartmentalized in typical urban-planning methods. Sprawl in this scenario is not simply a radical densification along a vertical axis, but a tactical insertion of vertical layers around which local constituents can cluster, organize, and develop.
>>see pages 118â€“133
MARTIN SUMMERS Los Angeles, like many American cities, faces the need to redefine its decaying downtown during this post-industrial time. As the information age eclipses an era of industrial production, many of those who have historically lived and worked downtown are unequipped to succeed in the new economy. As a result, the downtown core has developed a split personality: a daytime population of nine-to-five commuters and a professionally, educationally, and economically disadvantaged resident base. The void left in downtown by the loss of industrial jobs and wages, declining infrastructure, and decreased land values has generated a mood of abandonment and despair. Without a lifeline, this condition will only worsen as more new immigrants and low-income families continue to concentrate and converge in downtown Los Angeles.
This project addresses one deficiency by inserting a University of California campus in downtown Los Angeles. As California anticipates sizable population growth in the next twenty-five years, one can expect the University of California to expand accordingly. A university campus would be a catalyst to transform the latent diversity of downtown into a knowledge base, attracting the investment of cultural and fiscal capital and reversing the one-way flow of resources out of downtown. A university would suture the educational and economic divisions in downtown, allowing it to cohere as a more balanced and equitable community.
Introducing a university to downtown L.A. would counteract many of the entropic, even repelling, forces currently in effect. UC-Downtown would attract the very white-collar class that migrates out of the city at the end of each workday, recapturing the attendant resources, capital flows, and social and cultural exchanges in the process. Interaction between the night and day populations is thus facilitated, collapsing distinctions as the local base becomes better educated and educated people are more attracted to downtown. Growing alongside the traditional university would be a series of continuing education and evening programs, local outreach chapters, and clinics for language and computer skills. The result would transform the cultural, financial, and civic fabric of downtown. One can begin to imagine a condition in which a university population forms the critical mass necessary to retain a skilled, educated class of people in the downtown community while raising the standards by which the local, formerly industrial labor class lives and works. Recently, major American cities have been identified as locales for study-abroad programs that redirect studentsâ€™ time, energy, and creativity to the political and socio-cultural polemics of urban design and planning. A critical aspect of this proposal would be the designation of downtown L.A. as a destination for students studying â€œabroad.â€? In this context, downtown becomes an interdisciplinary studio for the study of transactions within recently blighted areas; solutions for stimulating exchange and activity; and the reversal of the urban-sprawl trend. With a greater metropolitan area population of 13.1 million and a pattern of growth common to many post-industrial American cities, Los Angeles is an exemplary case for this kind of projective research, the results of which have potential national, and even global, ramifications.
Project Site Map Red Line School District >>see 14, 86-101 Peter Kimmelman, Jae Kwon, Nishant Lall & Andrew Scott Re:LAX >>see 12, 70-85 Ed Hatcher L.A. River Park >>see 8, 38-53 Patrick McEneany & Susan Wong
Los Angeles PLAY Park Mario Cipresso >>see 6, 22-37
Urban Housing >>see 16, 102-117 Paul Andersen & Maia Johnson
HS[aRt] Network >>see 10, 54-69 Joe Baldwin
UniverCity >>see 18, 118-133 Martin Summers
Los Angeles PLAY Park
Los Angeles PLAY Park
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L.A. River Park
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Red Line School District
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Red Line School District
Excerpts from the transcript of the final UCLA Architectural Jury 22â€“23 March 2001 22 March 2001
Jury Members Joseph Giovannini, critic and architect John Kaliski, architect Rick Keating, architect Sylvia Lavin, chair, School of Architecture, UCLA Greg Lynn, architect and professor, UCLA Eric Owen Moss, architect and professor, SCI-Arc Merry Norris, art consultant Wolf Prix, architect and professor, UCLA Richard Weinstein, professor, UCLA Moderator
Thom Mayne, architect and professor, UCLA
Introductory Remarks Thom Mayne: For the few of you who haven’t been here before, let me give you an idea of what we’ve been doing. This is a twoquarter class, in which we spent a large percentage of the first half gathering and analyzing information about the city. There have been a series of bridges between a professional staff and the class. Julianna Morais is here today from the professional group. She has been working with me and directing the effort to quantify, evaluate, and get her arms around this thing we call L.A. Behind you are bits and pieces of a study in progress which, at this point, evaluates the city within four parameters: people, capital, infrastructure, and habitat. The goal was for the students, as they began their urban work, to identify a broad agglomeration problem that was confined to what we call downtown, which all of us accepted from the get-go as one of the centers of a multi-centered megalopolis. This work will become part of the data that they’re using, and you’ll see it showing up in all of the work. There is also a series of case studies that serves as an appendix. We looked at large-scale projects around the world. The smaller end of the scale would have included the World Trade Towers as large architecture, and the upper end of the scale would be Brasília or the urban work in Barcelona for the Olympics. Then the middle might be Battery Park or Lille, France. We’ve taken those and quantified them. We talk about their economic structure and a basis of understanding the nature of the project in terms of scale and construction and its relationship to uses, etc. We were doing this specifically to bring in some sort of reality. Because while we’re not interested in ability or reality at that level, we are interested in what Richard [Weinstein] came up with— plausibility. It seemed like a reasonable idea that the projects be plausible, and it’s also a grounding mechanism for the students.
Los Angeles PLAY Park MARIO CIPRESSO Sylvia Lavin: I’m trying to get a sense of what your sensibility about this is. When you describe something that’s got 6.5 million square feet as a humanizing element, you should at least be ironic. Even though it’s not vertical, which we associate with bigness, it’s still big. Your ambiguous treatment of scale relates to a perhaps more perplexing issue. Despite the fact that your project is in downtown, it operates on a suburban model, expansive parking where you dump your car and unarticulated mall-structures where you move as a pedestrian. It does not yet have the density and complexity of an urban condition. John Kaliski: I don’t have any problems with the idea, and I don’t have any problems with the bigness of it. I think that Mario Cipresso is having a real struggle figuring out how to do something this big and still relate it to what you call “humanizing” elements, such as the size of the population, the size of activities that occur in downtown, etc. In any case, 7.8 million square feet of commercial space, that’s mostly retail is extreme and to humanize it is a challenge. Mario Cipresso: It’s retail, hotel, a mixture of everything, and office space as well. Kaliski: I think that’s about twice the size of South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, which is the largest shopping mall on the west coast. You must have a better sense of the scale of the operation you’re dealing with. If you look at Costa Mesa and you look at it as a footprint, it’s spread out. Your scheme is vertical. Vertical retail experiences are very difficult to design successfully. Because it is vertical, it’s very internalized. That’s where the logic starts breaking down for me. All of these events that you are suggesting should be aligned and programmed so that they begin to create some type of public experience of space that’s absolutely unique. I think there is a space that can be the generator of this in your scheme and it is underdeveloped: Figueroa Street.
As I see the scheme right now, a lot of it is an environment that centers on itself, as opposed to finding a civic locale that is activated. My suggestion would be to go back to each of your elements and relate it to the site and surrounding streets in a more effective manner. The diffuser bar for example would have to really be a diffuser. That boomerang would somehow have to dump out on the street and should in plan and section be designed in a much more amazing way. The soccer fields and the health club could be related to Figueroa Street. I do really love your bringing the Harbor Transit Way right into the project, which I think is a zoomy and public idea. I think that would be fun, a great e-ticket ride.
I’m not so convinced about the need to remove the convention center, though I understand from a practical standpoint, you probably thought, “How can I possibly put all these soccer fields here?” I suspect you could just basically drive the structure right through the convention center and put the platform over it. Richard Weinstein: Do you feel any responsibility, when you’re building something that is basically the size of the existing downtown, to think about what would happen to downtown if you did this? Have you thought about that as an issue, or have you just said from the beginning that you’re going to focus on a programmatic intervention of this kind without regard to its influence and impact on the territory surrounding it? Cipresso: I definitely considered that. The idea was that this area right now is only alive for about two to three hours at any given time when there’s a sporting event at Staples Center, and Staples Center is basketball and hockey, which is seasonal during one part of the year. Football runs at a different time and soccer runs during the summer. The idea for Los Angeles PLAY Park is that the activities that happen here would activate the area year-round. I know for a fact that the fields at Balboa Park are running until late at night every day, and the only reason why activity stops is because they’re not lit. If the facilities were lit, they’d be active till midnight. This area here is already zoned for housing. The CRA redevelopment association is already looking at this as housing, and I look at this as the catalyst to begin this development, looking out this way. Weinstein: But everything you’ve said has to do with what you’re doing. It doesn’t have to do with what’s happening adjacent to you, including the point that the CRA has zoned that for housing. Anyone who has the nerve to put an intervention of this size in there also has the obligation, I would claim, to say, “Is that the best use of the area to the east?” Why don’t you question it and decide yes, that
should be housing, or maybe it should be something else. In other words, I don’t see any effort to assess the influence that this could have on a big piece of L.A. I think all of your thinking is basically confined to the enclave that you’ve created. If you did something this big, it would have enormous consequences for everything within miles, and an understanding of what those consequences might be would, in turn, influence what you would do. There would be a kind of reciprocal relationship between what you’re doing and the influence it would have, and then you might say, I don’t want to have that kind of an influence, and that might change the way you would program the space and even make the shapes. Mayne: That’s interesting. The basic strategy from early on was to use two broad formal or conceptual devices to deal with the problem of connection. The line and the idea of blurring the infrastructure of movement with the infrastructure of buildings was one, and it was about a radical connectivity, and with that there was a kind of porosity that worked against the grain because of the linear nature of it. The second one was the plane, and the dealing with the layering of both these things had to do with the suppression of the freeway and its singularity as a first growth or primitive early development of the city, and to attack the boundary condition and the singularity of the freeway and to make it much more secondary as a condition. Greg Lynn: I think Mario’s analysis has taken him to discover the fact that parking is the thing that drives every sports stadium. Every team owner only comes in on the construction of a stadium if they get the parking concession. It’s the thing the city always has to pay for, not the stadium. They build the parking and it drives the whole thing. It’s also where you spend most of your game. I always spend two hours in the parking lot tailgating. One spends an hour and a half in the game, and usually leaves early to go back to the parking lot again. So parking is the thing, not the stadium. In terms of urban design, you’re really close to a lot of experiments like Paul Rudolph’s in the 1970s, in which New Haven was thought of primarily as a problem of getting off the freeway, through a parking garage, to filter into the city. So I think all that is very good. I think your parking garage is big enough now that it could start to contain a lot of your sporting fields, a lot of your functions. I think everybody’s pointed to the fact that it’s probably too big from a development standpoint, but from a massing and urbanistic standpoint, it’s got some good things going for it.
So I would say that instead of thinking of this like Berlin, where you make space through building mass and that the interior of the building just gets filled up with malls or retail spaces or parking, that you really should think of this thing as a landscape surface and think of parking as not just a building mass but as a surface you occupy. You’re going to have to work out—which Rudolph never did— how you get from the ten-story parking garage down to the city, which is why New Haven didn’t work. But I’m sure, if you came up with techniques like you’re doing with some of your ramps and shoots circulating from that big, hulking mass through sporting fields down into the city, it’s going to work. Also, as far as I know about downtown, the big problem is parking. You can rent a space on the 20th floor of a tower for a dollar per square foot, but then you end up paying $300 in parking fees for everybody that works for you. So there’s no economy in being downtown till there is more parking. The Staples Center parking doesn’t work for offices because of the overlap of the games. So clearly, downtown needs parking facilities on this scale. The freeway needs an address, and you’ve got a lot of techniques for developing open urban space. But I think all your pieces need to be one piece. Like your stadium, your garage, and the boomerang need to be one system rather than three figures that frame an urban public plaza. Lavin: Don’t you think it would be fair to say that he actually needs a landscape strategy? The least developed part of the project is the distribution of playing fields that are not designed but abandoned to a grid. Without being activated, the landscape, as a kind of design factor, isn’t working productively. The project needs a range of intermediary scales, like a secondary transportation system to get you from where you park to where you play. A landscape strategy doesn’t preclude operating on a big scale, but can activate all of the other scales that would work together to support the big one. Weinstein: But the big scale isn’t working well enough. I don’t complain about the big scale. If you took the parking garage and integrated it with the freeway, which is the big-scale element in L.A., you could double the capacity of the freeway for the length of the parking garage by simply having a turnoff into the garage. Kaliski: It’s true that if you built 6.5 million square feet of retail space and all of this other stuff in one place, you’re just simply delaying the revitalization of the rest of downtown because you’ve sucked all the development energy into your little corner of the city.
Maybe the project should not be quite as big as you put it—maybe it’s only 2 million square feet of retail space instead of 8 million. Mayne: I think the idea of it, the strategy, has to be flexible and elastic enough to absolutely challenge the uses, because I don’t agree at all with the uses. I think the uses should be flexible, and they have to be in terms of the way cities develop today. This isn’t linked to a particular use. I didn’t mention this, and I have to say it, at least in a general way. The initial idea had to do with a condition that’s taking place today, one that’s coupled with the demise of urban studies as a discipline and the reality of the increase in scale of projects. What I was interested in was finding a space between the analytical, information-laden approach of the planner and that rationale, and the more spatial, intuitive, and qualitative sensibility of an architect and finding a seam between those sensibilities. Lynn: I think if the parking deck and recreation deck and slab worked flexibly, we would just say this is great. It’s a street, it’s a parking garage, it’s a playing field, and it’s a place to tailgate. It does all these things in a flexible way where we could redevelop it through a kind of hybrid strategy. Lavin: That’s the problem with having so much green space and having no landscape strategy. If you’re going to mention Lille, for example, you have to recognize that when going from the train station to the shopping mall or from here to there, you can’t differentiate when you’re on a street from when you’re on a public plaza, and when you’re in a parking lot from when you’re on a playing field. All of those things exist simultaneously. Lille develops a design strategy that deals with the multiple programs and events that can happen on thick horizontal surface.
L.A. River Park PATRICK MCENEANY & SUSAN WONG Kaliski: I’m looking for the image of this project to become more plausible, in the sense of seeing more variety in the type of strategies of keeping old things and introducing new things. For instance, another strategy within certain portions of the flood plain might be that you’re not allowed to build unless you build up on stilts. Vegetal roofing might be another strategy. There might be strategies that allow existing buildings to basically stay right there where they are within the flood plain. For instance, berms could be built around buildings instead of the river. When the flood comes, the water moves around the buildings.
I can also imagine, as opposed to doing this project all at once, completely reinventing that landscape over twenty, thirty, or forty years with a series of architectural and landscape strategies that are quite incremental in nature which, when added up, would actually be quite significant. And then the last thing I can imagine is that if you are approaching this project incrementally, you could become more discriminating about, as you put it, the point at which the scraping occurs, because I have no doubt that you would want to do some of that. But right now the proposal seems indiscriminate. I think that you’re introducing a concept of amenity into an industrial zone that doesn’t typically exist but is becoming more and more important. And I think that’s what I’m curious about in your scheme, when amenity becomes overarching design strategy versus incremental design tactics. Mayne: I think they were able to find three layered problems that Jury had to do with very different scales. One had to do with the infraTranscript structure of the river, and the fact of exploring a potentiality that already had a funding source of $1.5 billion. Another had to do with the immediate issue of use and the revitalization of an essentially nineteenth-century kind of ad hoc structure that would then be moved into some sort of a modern condition.
The third one was the park and the idea of actually returning, of scraping and subtracting and finding open space there. This production of a park has micro-environmental implications and, although it is somewhat tertiary here, it is an important local issue. But it’s absolutely strategic and it’s tactical and it’s organizational for sure. The development has some sort of coherent idea that deals with complex problems. Lynn: I think there’s something sinister and provocative about the urban-renewal aspect of your scheme, which says that the way you do development—which everybody knows is the way to do development but nobody admits it—is you go in and you demolish a lot. You introduce schools like SCI-Arc or whatever to gentrify the demolished areas, and then it develops. It’s a cycle of running neighborhoods down then investing in in them while their value is diminished to make a profit in redeveloping them. I think if you thought of this in terms of cycles, there are a lot of very provocative things about your scheme. Starting off with the fact that your design does not address development but demolition. We’re going to target an area of the city. We’re going to start to demolish it. We’re going to do it in a way that plugs into master narratives of ecology and green space so that that image is an arresting image, to see this big sweep of green and water flowing through the city. It makes demolition and urban renewal seem really friendly and good. S. Latty
It’s fabulous. And if you look at Detroit, the major industry in Detroit for five years was brick recycling because they were demolishing buildings, cleaning and dusting off bricks, and reselling them for new construction and shipping them to other places in the U.S. I think that your agenda of transforming buildings into sewage treatment, chemical reclaiming, and other detoxifying uses is a mistake, as probably every one of these buildings is so toxic and polluted already that you have to abate every section of soil ten feet below them before you put a house on it. Say this is part of a thirtyyear cycle and it’s going to be sensitive and progressive in certain aspects. But it’s an urban-renewal recycling preparation for a development scheme rather than saying, well, we’re going to put two million square feet of industry here. I find that actually naïve. I think that if you just took the kind of urban-renewal track you’re on and said, well, this is part of a pattern, and it’s going to generate development in other places, it’s going to generate jobs, it’s going to generate ten years of work demolishing the city: that’s an interesting proposal. Like what do we do downtown? Let’s make fifty million dollars tearing down and recycling an area. And it actually plugs into plausibility lausibility and reality in a way that we already know. This is the way cities develop. Weinstein: It also creates the basis for housing downtown because without a move of this magnitude, you’ll never get the kind of housing development in the downtown area that, at least from one point of view, is desirable. The other thing that would strengthen the project would be to run the green space from the Music Center all the way down. It practically touches the boundary that you now have. This is the biggest unused green space in L.A., all of this. All the way down to here is basically green, mostly green and mostly unused. So just one more block and you’re in your park.
HS[aRt] Network JOE BALDWIN Wolf Prix: I’m intrigued that you guys are so against density. For me, urban projects entail dealing with density, basically. Maybe it’s because I’m a European architect. In Europe now, train stations are the most valuable areas you can build on. Everyone at every train station is building big shopping and commercial centers. They mean to densify on a minimum amount of space a lot of buildings. Never would we do a convention center in this valuable area. So I’m asking why. Where does this come from? Joe Baldwin: The strategy is to take advantage of the potential for bringing people from San Diego to San Francisco to meet in this area,
where literally they don’t have to get on a bus to go to a convention center. They’re in the convention center once they get off the train, and it’s an efficient way for business transactions to happen at the convention center. It’s a connection for the agglomeration. It becomes a way to bring it all together. Lynn: What made you put all these pieces together? I’m sorry that I keep trying to move your project so many miles away, but you could make this project denser at LAX than you could in downtown, and that’s why I would move it there. If you put this thing at LAX, you could put hotels, convention center, shopping, big-box warehouse sales.… Kaliski: You mean in LAX? Eric Owen Moss: The premise of the project is completely different. The premise of the project has to do with building up downtown and sustaining and adding to what downtown is. Lynn: I just think this keeps slipping out. Prix: You can bring LAX to downtown. Lynn: In London you check your bag downtown at Victoria Station then get on the train, and your bag gets on the airplane mysteriously, which is how a lot of the airports do it.
may be a terrible or at least nostalgic idea, but it’s nevertheless an idea in which much of downtown urban design in this city has been invested. Moss: So for whom is it desirable? Who is pushing it? Who wants the development of downtown and downtown as a center? Kaliski: While I agree that part of this is political will—“because it’s there, you have to make it there”—part of it is also the fact that the entire transportation system of the region literally dumps into downtown. I think that you can make the argument to take better advantage of this situation. What I would argue is that you were correct in noticing on a gross basis where the infrastructure was going and using the high-speed rail to reinforce the opportunity of this centrality and density. However, I think understanding where to maximize its impact once you are downtown is not resolved. I think it’s somewhat odd that you slipped the project down river from where Union Station is. I think that if you are going to do this, part of the justification for doing it is to create the type of dense experience or hyper-density that doesn’t exist in downtown. I also think your effort is an opportunity to create a type of destination that’s a California/ Nevada/Arizona-type of destination that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the west coast.
Rick Keating: Why would you set up something with such extreme programmatic centrality over on an edge? Lynn: Because the edge is denser than the center. Kaliski: No, it’s not. Lynn: In L.A. it is.
Re:LAX ED HATCHER Lynn: How much cargo goes through LAX? Ed Hatcher: $207 billion.
Moss: The answer may be the center, and that’s the point. The question is whether there’s a center here and whether you ought to sustain it.
Lynn: And in terms of volume in numbers, how many takeoffs and landings? What percentage—it’s big, right? It’s not half, but it’s big.
Lynn: The whole premise of this studio is how do we make the center behave like a center with density?
Hatcher: It’s in the belly of the plane itself. Something like sixty-five percent of the cargo through LAX is carried in the cargo holds of passenger planes.
Moss: In other words, how to make this a conventional city, which it isn’t. It’s essentially composed of multiple centers. Lavin: Except you can’t deny the fact that downtown, even if you say it’s one of many centers, is uniquely determined by the desire to be the symbolic center. Moreover, it is important to acknowledge that the desire for centeredness frequently intrudes on discussions about Los Angeles. It seems to me that one of the reasons you’ve placed this here is you want it on the river in order to produce the visual centrality provided by a skyline. This project is driven by the effort to give a formal identity, a skyline-type identity, to downtown L.A. That
Lynn: One tends to see airports near things like shipping-container ports and rail lines. So wouldn’t downtown be the perfect place, where goods are moving in and around, to put them on something like a monorail that would move it out to LAX? Wouldn’t this be a way to revitalize existing cargo capacities downtown? Mayne: The issue was that by anticipating the doubling of passengers to and from LAX, the problem as a delivery system had to do with parking or accessibility. The requirement was the redistribution or decentralization of that problem. It’s exacerbated by the airport being on an edge and that you’re only getting half the radii, and then by any number of topographical conditions causing infrastructure
problems in terms of automobiles.
which you may have some negative feeling about.
The idea was to distribute the parking link. One link was moved to the midpoint between LAX and downtown, creating a twofold solution that decentralizes the parking problem while creating an increased linkage to the downtown area. So downtown became an obvious hub for the development of commercial hotels, etc. One was able to locate exactly how far one was from the hub, say in terms of minutes away as opposed to miles away. The idea becomes an extension of the light-rail systems used in places like Atlanta, except it extends the connective tissue from a mile or two miles to seven or eight miles.
Kaliski: There is always going to be a captive audience at LAX or any airport that will demand care and consideration.
Lynn: It’s clear that an architect could intuit a new kind of typology that connects cargo containers, train lines, air traffic, hotels, convention centers, housing—any number of things. It’s so in the air air. Every architect in the world is trying to put his or her finger on what this typology is. Jury You go to every city and you find, next to the port, next to the airTranscript port, a big Ikea with a hotel, with a sports complex, with all these things, and they’re all sitting in a kind of suburban stew, and L.A. seems like the perfect place to put one of these hybrids downtown.
The thing I’ve been trying to grasp on every project is where does somebody make the architectural proposal that says by putting all these things together in a low-density urban core you get this new kind of architectural type. Lavin: I have a question about the growing nodes that combine all of those multiple functions and programs. It seems to me that they operate on the following logic: they captivate me because I’m captive at the airport. I’ve got a four-hour layover or a one-day layover. They don’t seem to be about getting from here to there or about travel or even about mobility. They are about stasis, and the question for architecture is how can stasis be generative. These emerging typologies are borne from pressures that are already producing an audience, but this audience has not yet been captured by architecture. The question is, how do you make it into an audience for architecture. How do you turn waiters into architectural consumers? That’s why I’m thinking I’m not sure this is being articulated in the right way, one that makes it interesting to architecture. Somehow, those typologies have a lot to do with other pressures that are already producing this audience that has never been captured. It’s sitting there with nothing to do. You’re turning waiters into consumers,
There’s also another type of traveler who goes on a trip that doesn’t necessarily need or want to spend time at the airport. If you think about all the different functions that you do at the airport that could be decentralized in some way—check-in, ticketing, luggage handling, security, etc.—it’s possible that one could begin to shift these functions off the airport property and distribute them throughout the region—almost an emptying out of the airport. I could also imagine that many people want to get the optimum flight in terms of time, cost, etc., and that within a region with many airports like Los Angeles, there might be some demand for a type of centralized airport hub that isn’t necessarily at any one airport but is an adjunct to all of the area’s airports. This might also be a justification for this kind of program. Lavin: To try to think about it in the terms that Greg was describing, as a fundamentally new kind of typology that operates on a scale that is unprecedented, that produces this hybrid, heterogeneous condition which has to deal with the fluid movement of people and goods and commerce and entertainment and so forth; that seems to me already an enormously rich and provocative problem. Even if LAX is not located in the ideal place, it’s already a really interesting thing to try to solve. Lynn: There is something that happens when you analyze things on a typological level. HOK Sport was asked to do their first convention center, along with a stadium. By looking at the typology of the convention center and the stadium and combining it with the problem that you can’t have natural grass in an air-conditioned stadium, they came up with the idea of rolling the grass on a concrete pad on oil rollers out into the landscape and using a subsurface for the convention center, so that by building one building instead of two and solving the problem of the grass, they could double the use of space. But that’s a thing you would never come up with through regional planning or statistical analysis. You’d only do it by looking at the typologies and saying we need to move goods in this end, we need to move athletes in that end, we need to seat here, we need to circulate there. Now there’s a hybrid type that could do both convention center and football stadium with a new technological initiative and a new real-estate and economic plan.
Joe Giovannini: I think Sylvia’s notion of stasis is an interesting one that would enable you to move toward an architectural solution. There seem to be a number of constituencies in the airport. You might have the twelve-hour guest, but you might also have the conventioneer who’s going to be here for five days. So you can capitalize on these constituencies that want to stay in place—perhaps at the airport because that is, after all, a port. It’s a place of arrival.
one off the tracks. So I think there’s one other ingredient you could add, and that is that the architect, often without power but with vision, needs to latch onto those with power to control the inevitability of what will happen. That’s the premise that’s also hidden in this, and it’s really a good one.
Kaliski: I was struck with the notion of bridging. How do you bridge or create metaphors for information that end up being architecture? And conversely, how do you take architectural forms and understand how to endow them in some way within a dialogue about information? I think that’s what all the projects struggled with, and I think it’s what architects increasingly have to do.
Mayne: Last comments? Closing comments? Lavin: I have to say I’ve been really surprised and impressed. You began by describing how urban design as a profession was disintegrating, but the students have actually done a great deal of the labor associated with traditional urban-design professionals. Quantities, sociologies, logistics, and statistics have been front and center. That’s a little bit worrisome in some ways. It’s enticing to produce provocative statistics, but hard to translate them into something that’s compelling. I would encourage this project to step back from its techniques of implementation and establish a stronger theoretical perspective on this new urban center that has been produced collectively. The discussions have been really specific and focused on particular moments of, for example, the intersection between this street and that street. And while those locations may well be where design techniques are most effective, it is equally important to conceptualize what motivates your collective vision of the new possibilities for the city—what makes it different from other visions of metropolitan culture that have existed before. Keating: I would add that I think the projects break into a couple of categories. There are those that I think will happen inevitably, one way or another. The L.A. River somehow, some way, will be different from what it is today, because I don’t believe the Corps of Engineers can continue to build concrete walls. And eventually, because of the centrality of downtown, we will have more and more urbanization that focuses on potential residential spaces. So it’s a matter for the architect to get in the way and try to make it better, to take that inevitability and really transform it. I think that’s a big deal. I think that’s absolutely true also of the high-speed rail. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s going to happen. But it’s different for the Olympic proposal, and it’s different for this
But there is a slight difference between those that are going to happen anyway in some form, for us to get in and channel it towards a greater success, and those that are somewhat dreamy or vagary.
In all of the projects, the information all of a sudden makes a leap into form, and this is always a leap of faith. That leap of faith, I think, is the architectural act. I think you’ve done a very unusual and good urban architecture studio, and I’m impressed. Weinstein: Political influences, community politics versus institutionalized political policy issues, issues of implementation, are necessarily connected to the economics that Sylvia mentioned, and all of those things, when understood, if we can ever understand them, will affect the way form is made. The way you implement a project of this scale and understand plausible ways to implement it will then feed back into certain formal decisions and strategies. Mayne: It has also made me extremely aware of the degree of intuition by which one works. I’ve always hovered between operations, being somewhere in the middle. I don’t belong in either camp because I can’t go even close to somebody like Frank O. Gehry in terms of his intuition. I’m much closer to Peter Eisenman or somebody in terms of an interest in operational strategies. But finally, when you work, you realize you’re just who you are, and I realize how intuitive I am and that that intuition starts failing you on this scale because you no longer can bring a group of people along collectively nor can you solve necessarily the types of problems you have to solve at this scale which still seem operational, even for large architecture. Lynn: For me, with some of these projects I would have drifted for a minute into big-scale topologies—like looking at a nineteenthcentury train station, a twentieth-century train station, and an airport—and asked where is the typology going and what are its
strategies. In this project, a kind of regional urban planning, which is sensible, for me falls down when it loses its statistical information and pattern. The minute there are no patterns, a plan has stopped. It suddenly loses a certain kind of force it could have had if it had a typology. So for me, I wouldn’t actually say it’s intuition versus strategy but mostly just where you discover a typological diagram and where you can modify and reinvent a topology topology. Because urbanistically speaking, all these are questions of spatial adjacency, distance, corridor, access—it’s all there. But then, when you get on a site, they suddenly just turn into empty boxes. Kaliski: Forget the form for a second, because you can always do it in different ways. For me the point is that I don’t think twenty years ago anyone would have understood how to successfully design a large infrastructure in the middle of L.A. Yet, twenty years later— whether you agree with the details of the design that’s there or not—the systems, checks, balances, and will exist to successfully Jury Transcript digest huge chunks the city. That absolutely did not exist twenty years ago.
I think that dealing with the design of giant infrastructure is now a type of architectural challenge. The type of conversation that we’re having here about how you bridge these incredibly complex systems of statistics and information is no longer about singular engineering concepts or land development schemes but architectural ideas, metaphors, and concepts. Mayne: I spent the morning making a first presentation to a client of a fairly complicated project, and I’m finding that in all of our work, there has to be a consistent idea towards multivalence, that no one today can produce work that deals with singular ideas. It has to have overlapping, parallel possibilities that expand investment, expand energy, etc. The proof of one’s intelligence as an architect, one’s viability, has to do with that. So if I want to construct this and make it real, I have to do it within cultural terms, political terms, economic terms, tectonic terms, grammatical terms… All it’s doing is using an intelligence that I think we’re prepared to bear as architects/planners/urban designers/thinkers, and to bring that intelligence to uproot opportunity, to make use of latent possibilities, and to broaden those possibilities within humanistic terms. Kaliski: I think that there is a type of new information-knowledge
base that exists. When this knowledge is brought to bear early enough within the context of a project it will likely shift what the ultimate form agenda is going to be. I would further argue that sophisticated cities, corporations, publics, and developers understand more and more clearly, earlier and earlier, the need to formulate and explore this knowledge base at the very beginning of the design process and want to include the contributions of architects in this work. Mayne: Okay. Thank you very much for your time.
Excerpts from the transcript of the final UCLA Architectural Jury 22–23 March 2001 23 March 2001 Jury Members Frances Anderton, “Which Way, L.A.?,” KCRW Dana Cuff, professor, UCLA Phil Ganezer, Metropolitan Transit Authority, Los Angeles Tom Gilmore, real-estate developer Joe Giovannini, architect and critic Con Howe, director, Los Angeles City Planning Department Marta Male, visiting professor, UCLA Nicolai Ouroussoff, critic Dan Rosenfeld, real-estate developer Robert Somol, professor, UCLA Anthony Vidler, professor, UCLA Richard Weinstein, professor, UCLA
Moderator Thom Mayne, architect and professor, UCLA
Red Line School District PETER KIMMELMAN, JAE KWON, NISHANT LALL & ANDREW SCOTT Thom Mayne: The system essentially overlays an existing infrastructure with multiple layers of education programming and, in doing so, more than doubles the capacity of the infrastructure. The idea was that each school would be directly linked to the subway. The rule is that there had to be an exit from the subway that led directly to the school campus. There was no middle ground. And what they’re showing you, as the second part of the study, are three specific sites and how you would approach the idiosyncrasies and the contingencies of these different sites. Nicolai Ouroussoff: But is the basic idea that this is one school in four pieces, or is it four different schools? How often does a student travel, for example, between schools if they take English classes at one and social studies at another every day? Andrew Scott: There can essentially be three or four major movements in a day. Students could specifically go to each core-subject school, because there’s enough transition time in between each class for them to go in and access the system. The largest distance being to an athletic field, say, out in North Hollywood, at a maximum travel time of twenty-nine minutes. Ouroussoff: All these schools use the same athletic field in North Hollywood? Scott: Well, it’s not limited to North Hollywood. We have athletic facilities at North Hollywood, Universal City, and MacArthur Park, those being with the largest fields. Each school in itself will still provide an enclosed athletic program, such as a gymnasium harboring volleyball and basketball and exercise or weight-lifting programs. Joe Giovannini: At what age do the students start coming? Scott: They can start between grades six and eight with more of the special elective programs. But the core movement doesn’t really begin until high school. Dana Cuff: So you don’t imagine that you’re running special cars on the Metro system as if they were school busses? The high-school kids are going to get on the Metro with everybody else? Scott: Right. Robert Somol: You said that the sports are somewhat broken up over the remaining sites, but are different subjects taught at each site? Scott: The main difference between the schools would be the workroom itself, where you get immersed in a subject-specific area. All schools would generally provide all the subject matter, but we would require that at least once a day, the students would go V. Stump
to this workroom immersion, where they’d either access some programs in the surrounding vicinity or they would get it within the school itself. Somol: Like magnet schools. Richard Weinstein: What is the workroom? Does it belong to a place, or is it anywhere on the net? Ouroussoff: It’s a freestanding resource center. One of the most important parts of it is that it attaches to existing institutions. The workroom is the kind of magnet. Weinstein: I think what we’re unclear on is what some of us perceive as a conflict between taking classes in three or four geographically separated places. And then when we ask you that, you say, “Well, no, everything is available in each of the locations.” And then you say, “Well, we’re going to require them to take a certain number of classes so that they have to ride on the subway.” So the question is why is it on the subway? What advantage is it to force upon a student the necessity of traveling in the subway? What is the advantage that the subway offers that you wouldn’t otherwise have? And if the only way you can take advantage of it is by forcing the kids to take a subject they could take in their own building ten minutes away—either I’m not understanding something, or there’s a problem with the idea. Jae Kwon: Each of the high schools have the basic requirements for a typical, generalized high school. But for advanced-placement classes, for example, or a student who wants to specialize in athletics, one can get on the Metro and take the class at wherever it is on the Metro Line without spending two hours trying to get to the North Hollywood site from the downtown area. Cuff: I think this idea is working in many of the ways you’re saying, but you could take it a step further programmatically. Imagine a slightly different kind of education system where there’s no reason a student would go to the social-studies center when they’re thirteen and stay there until they’re eighteen. Why should they? That only happens at magnet schools because there’s no fluidity between institutions. But in your Red Line School District, you could specialize one year in social sciences and another year in sciences and each time be immersed in a cultural or a civic institution that would give you exposure to that form of education that you couldn’t have otherwise. Then the possibilities of moving through this all the time seem much more possible and the returns seem greater. Mayne: The big idea, though, that hasn’t been clarified is the idea of the relationship of the school district programmatically to the infrastructure of the Red Line. It gives an elastic solution S. Latty
for the demographic shift in population, and the difference of one high school to the other is now more or less negligible, given the time on the subway. And it also immensely increases access to more sophisticated programs at the exact time they’re diminishing in an area where over twenty-five different languages are spoken and that represents an immense heterogeneity. And the idea wasn’t that you go from school to school. It was about augmentation. And after that, we don’t have to solve it. We’re limited in solving. We’re looking at broader issues, but the key is the elasticity that’s given to the system. Somol: I think it’s a smart idea, this form of “demagnetized school.” Giovannini: I have much less resistance to the project if I think of the age shifting from late high school to college, junior college. Then I think of the Latin Quarter in Paris, where the schools are really integrated into the city as opposed to a campus of a higher education, on which most of our schools are predicated.
Jury Transcript And then when I think of this as an education infrastructure where adults are sort of scooting around between classes and they come and go as they wanted, it makes more sense to me. Then I think you needn’t confine this to an educational infrastructure. It can become a sports infrastructure and ultimately a civic infrastructure that you’re essentially dispersing to stretch along the Red Line, and it shouldn’t only be that but wherever the Red Line is going to be going.
And then it’s a way of densifying and urbanizing the urban fabric instead of the suburban fabric. I think the brilliance of your idea is using the infrastructure as a magnet for civic programs, but it shouldn’t only be an educational program. It should serve diversified, educational, civic things, or collective entities that require transportation and aggregates of people.
Urban Housing PAUL ANDERSEN & MAIA JOHNSON Mayne: The whole basis of this is to absolutely challenge singularity The first thing they do is they tell you that the latent ability of ity. unused space in downtown is the size of the city of Hermosa Beach, and it has to do with the critical mass of 20,000, and the discussion starts “What happens when you can energize a city, a city within a city, Hermosa, with 20,000 people?” What are the consequences of that? It has to do with some sort of a connecting fabric, and what does the connecting fabric have to do with human use, which has to do with some sort of activity to the exterior. Ouroussoff: But I think the point is that there is a quality of the roof-
scape, and it’s kind of unique. I think the problem is you went a few steps too far, and so you get a basically uniform space and inevitably it becomes kind of archaic. Tony Vidler: I also think there has to be much more attention to the connectivity. The street is an incredibly important zone, and if all the attention, where you want to get to, is always to the top, I think the problem is how you get between the two and what happens between the two. Mayne: I would have gone much further. Not as a solution. I do that as a part of the process, because I think one has to push to the extremes and then one works back. To find the extreme, it defines an issue that allows you to talk about it in a certain way. Tom Gilmore: But I think there’s something important about not going much further—at a certain point in this, the plan becomes a lot less about the city and a lot more about an alternative to the city, and having four schemes is starting to illustrate that. Scheme four is showing that, at a certain point, we are leaving the city behind and saying, all right, screw the city, what are we going to do up here now that we’ve pretty much abandoned the fact that this city works on ground level? Somol: I think you’ve got to turn away from the pragmatics for a second. Let’s table pragmatics and talk about polemics, and you need to turn up the polemics. I don’t know whether that means going to three or four other schemes, but you need to say that your project is a challenge to the premise of this competition, which says that the downtown is the place to fix. In other words, your project uses downtown as a way to undermine the ideology of saying that downtown is where the vision needs to be, and that’s what I like about it. Also, it says the problem with L.A. isn’t that it’s not urban enough, but that it’s not suburban enough. In other words, it takes something like L.A. and says some form of sprawl constitutes its genetic code, and to hell with Manhattan. We’re not a wannabe Manhattan. L.A. ideology is completely different, and to extend it, you need to do this. I think those are the two things. Then I would get away from preservationism, because in any case, it’s going to be a Jon Jerde-Fremont street, and maybe that’s okay, but don’t pretend that it’s historic preservation. It’s going to be a themed façade street under lights, and that could be okay. It could be a great experience. But it’s not this goody-two-shoes project. You need to make it much more polemical or political about the radical suburb.
Gilmore: I actually buy in to what Bob’s saying. I prefer that more radical theory and that concept to the middle road. I think the middle road is truly the most unacceptable road in all of this, and you are either going to do something that is inherently urban and inherently urbane, or you are going to do something that is entirely anti-urban within an urban context. I can live with those two ends. It’s the middle part I hate the most. What I do love about this—and I hate to keep making this point— is the fact that you are treating the urbanism of downtown with a certain respect by saying that there has to be a one and a four and everything in between, and maybe something beyond four, to be able to have this discussion rationally without downtown simply being another pallet to overlay some idea on. If downtown is simply another pallet and it is neither better nor worse than any other pallet, then you’ve fundamentally missed the idea of what downtown and urbanism is. This gets you a little bit of all of it. I think that your effort towards it is a very rational effort that brings you an extremely, in my opinion, irrational end, but that’s what I love about it. You get to a point where it’s absurd to me, but it’s a rational path to that absurdity, and I like it. Cuff: To make that polemic clear, though, we should take the underlying ideas of suburbs more seriously, in the way Bob’s talking about. Moreover, you could avoid this whole question of “How dark is it—is it like Grand Avenue?” by showing that it’s actually Universal City Walk under there or something else that would be another urban possibility. Ouroussoff: I think that’s where the polemical argument comes in. You have to decide what you want it to be. Maybe you want it to be Blade Runner. I still think that the idea of accessibility is kind of key in this. As soon as you make this kind of tapestry and lay it over downtown and say this is accessible to the people who live in these buildings, I think that’s maybe a weird way to go and also isn’t particularly original. On a certain level, the kind of roofscape that’s always been accessible to people who live in high rises and places like that is the same here. I think it might be more interesting if you’re trying to set up an argument that says maybe we give it all over to the public, that the roofs are no longer part of the real estate. They’re public space. We’re giving it to the public because that’s the most beautiful suburban urban space downtown, and not only that, we’re going to start to link it together. Vidler: I think the question is how you design the link. It’s actually very, very important. It seems to me it would have equal, if not more, interesting validity if you didn’t upset the old housing in the modern
metropolis, which is that high, and if you did not accept the datum, that that was just a middle ground, and then there were other opportunities which allowed this to be a visual landscape for those above ground, so that you would pop up above this thing. Cuff: Now, the real estate around this project would rise so high in value that you would end up with towers all around the residential units and their open spaces, as happens around Central Park. That’s an interesting set of narratives to go through. For instance, would you reproduce this scheme elsewhere? If so, then Nicolai’s question about access becomes critical. It could easily become a totally privatized park because it would be so attractive in the downtown area that they would feel the need to restrict access. Gilmore: You’re at the end of this sort of odd second level of a Corbusian urbanism where the roof level becomes the flat space between large towers now growing on the four corners of it. Then it starts to get really odd, because now you’ve got the worst of urbanism and the worst of suburbanism all wrapped up into one. So this could actually be a formula for disaster if you really work it. Mayne: That’s an excellent way to move on.
UniverCity MARTIN SUMMERS Ouroussoff: Since the site is critical to this, because it’s a dense program, why did you pick that site and what are you trying to stitch together in terms of what’s around it, as opposed to having put the UniverCity in East L.A.? Summers: What I’m trying to do is to bring the communities that are around downtown into downtown. What is interesting about all these communities that exist around here is that though this is an extremely diverse area, it’s in fact one of the least diverse areas in the city because communities are isolated. Vidler: What gave you the sense that a university, as a stitch, will cause East L.A. to want to walk to West L.A. through a university? It’s usually conceived of as a rather exclusive domain. Summers: The idea is to layer it so that UniverCity becomes a place for research around these ideas of community. But then on top of that, to have another system that’s generated out of that, one that is more related to continuing education that would provide opportunities for people to come back and get their high-school education and, if they decide to continue on, to get an education that would allow them to either advance in their existing jobs or switch careers….
Giovannini: There’s a vector that’s happening here in terms of your situating it looking east. Everything on the Gold Coast is toward the Harbor Freeway and toward the west. There’s a huge magnetism toward the Westside, and this is a gesture to the Eastside that I think is very welcomed.
Because only the big, radical gesture that cuts through under, through and above, through and out of that little loop is going to give you a downtown L.A. That’s what’s so exciting about the river, which in your scheme potentially does not become a cut. But as Joseph talks about it, it goes the other way too….
I do think that what all of L.A. has in common is downtown, because there’s the old surface-road network that actually converges there. There’s the bus network as well. Downtown has much more in common to many communities than most people on the Westside think. This orientation, I think, is appropriate because you don’t want to be on the other side of the river because it becomes ghetto-ized. It starts bringing in the Eastside.
Weinstein: So one could imagine that under a different governor, like Pat Brown, who initially built up this university, it’s conceivable that somebody could convince him that the thing to do is to put one of the new campuses right where you put it. So that meets a plausibility test.
Con Howe: Another interesting thing is that this is actually a community that is kind of isolated because of the highway here. This is Mariachi Plaza, right?
Summers: Yeah. There’s a beautiful little area right through here that’s alive. Howe: At least it’s trying to link it. Ouroussoff: Yeah. It’s really a shame, because it’s got kind of a megastructure scale to it, but basically, this project relates so completely to its immediate context, and it really would be great to be able to see where [The Geffen Contemporary] is. If there’s a public-housing project going up there already, that seems pretty key. What you’ve done in terms of the stitching is you’ve packed it with a program that’s meant to make that happen. So you’ve got every kind of social condenser you could possible imagine. You’ve got a park, you’ve got community projects, you’ve got public housing— everything that’s supposed to bring these people together. Giovannini: It seems that the locus of invention for downtown is on the east side of downtown, and this project brings to mind the cornfields that are also a comparable area. The river has so divided the city that the idea for Westsiders to go to East L.A. is so unthinkable. I like these gestures to the Eastside because it takes the ghetto out of the Eastside in a very positive gesture by relating MOCA and Little Tokyo and the art district to East L.A. There’s a blur starting, which I think is really laudable. Vidler: It’s the only one that escapes the barrier of the freeways. It seems to me that one of the problems that Thom mentioned in the very beginning is that we’re stuck with downtown. It would be nice if the studio just crept a little bit outside those freeways in order to “define” downtown a little bit differently from the maps that define it now.
Also, if you wanted to look at two things that would make the downtown work financially and economically, I would say it would be the river and this scheme. Because as I’ve said a thousand times in this room, the average American has two careers and six jobs. So it means that we’re becoming a knowledge-based society where the problem of the polarity of income levels can only be addressed with “up-skilling” those who come in uneducated so that they can have a chance at a decent job. But on the upper end, it also means that people keep going back to school—doctors, architects, lawyers. In the case of some of those professions, they’re required to take an exam ten years after they took their last exam. So I think if I were one of the smart people downtown, I would support these two projects because they both involve the investment of public money, not private money, and what that does is make all the private land valuable. You plunk a university down next to me, it’s a $4 billion proposition, and the river is a $10 billion proposition, and in the real-estate business, people are always hoping that someone’s going to invest in the plot next to theirs. Ourossoff: I would say that’s the strongest aspect of the project— the care you took in siting it. When you actually look at the park’s relationship to Boyle Heights and then the commercial buildings, and then all of a sudden there’s a jump—and you even have a line there where it changes from black to white—and then you’ve got the university buildings and the housing on that side, you can see it actually not accomplishing what it’s meant to accomplish, which is bridging that gap—that actually, the parks and the commercial part become part of this world, and the UniverCity stays part of that world, and the connection between the two, because of the way you distributed the program, is actually very tenuous. Weinstein: How about the fact that there are no buildings in Boyle Heights? Wouldn’t I, as someone living in Boyle Heights, find that problematic? You would be forced by political reality to put some of the good stuff on the other side of the river, but more importantly, it would seem to me that the idealism behind the project would ly
require you to think about what you could do for Boyle Heights as part of this. Giovannini: This is a paternalistic siting, actually. Weinstein: So that’s a problem. Summers: I fought with that issue for a long time because I was trying to scale the project back at a certain point while still trying to extend it. Ouroussoff: Then the third issue is the issue of scale, which you started to bring up, in terms of big buildings in Boyle Heights. But I think that is powerful, in the sense that the way downtown is laid out now you have the much looser, more small-scale fabric as you go further and further east. Then you’ve got Grand Avenue with the monumental buildings at the top of the hill. To suddenly say, “I’m going to build on that kind of scale”—and, obviously, with that kind of investment and a different kind of program in another part of the city—is pretty straightforward and very idealistic. Vidler: You don’t have to worry about that mountainous idealistic thing, because if you see the way the financing of universities works now, it doesn’t work like it used to in terms of huge injections of public funds. It’s policy to shift the number of students in a number of institutions to a particular site. But the actual building of the university doesn’t happen unless it’s the Ronald Reagan Hospital or it’s the Eli Broad Art Center. This university gets, what, twenty-one percent of its funding from the state? It’s hugely private. Both Berkeley and UCLA could walk away and be private tomorrow and not really suffer economically. So in terms of what you’re talking about, this kind of thing is no more idealistic than any development plan put forward in order to inspire. It’s the population that the developers are looking at—the shift and injection of a lot of different and concentrated users, consumers, and classes. That’s what’s happening.
Concluding Remarks Weinstein: If you were looking for “grand grand projets,” projets you’ve got two here, I think, and possibly three by the freeway. Somol: “Grand Grand projet” projet in the Burnham model, as you identified, right? The late nineteenth-century City Beautiful model of parks, civic centers? I think that there may be projets here, but there are no projects. And what I’m looking for today is a project. In other words, let’s put aside the Mr. Fix-it problem of here’s a problem, and it needs to be solved. Thinking more broadly and ambitiously seems to me to be what S. Latty
speculative ideas, competitions, exhibitions, and vision plans should bring up. How are these proposals different or similar to other sorts of interventions around the city? What’s specific about L.A., what can you say very polemically? What’s at stake for the discipline? Vidler: It’s what would urbanism be if it were today? And if it’s not Townscape, if it’s not Burnham, if it’s not Radiant City, if it’s not projects, and if it’s not free-for-all development, where is urbanism? Not urban planning so much, but urbanism, thinking about the city and how do you think about it? Mayne: From the beginning—and I don’t think I mentioned this in the introduction—I was interested in trying to find a seam between a spatial, architectonic, more intuitive and qualitative approach to the architect and a more analytical, quantitative approach to the planner. And I was looking for this middle ground. On one hand, I’m working with spatial ideas. For instance, in the housing proposal, I would have taken that much further into an architectural solution because I was not interested in it just as an idea but its implication as a large-scale, spatial, organizational mechanism of developing a new typology for the city. I was interested in weighing the analytical, the social, the political criterion with its architectural potentiality. Ouroussoff: But part of it, I think, is actually at the other end too, which is the analytical side, where the analysis is so broad instead of having a clear point of view and then work from there. For example, to listen to ten, fifteen minutes of analysis on the immigrant population in the city and how it’s growing and all of that, you completely in a way miss the point, which is that, if you paid attention to the census that just came out, the idea that L.A. and New York are the centers where immigrant populations are going is totally wrong. That’s a very dated idea. Mayne: But the analysis was required to ground and locate the problem, because no one was allowed to proceed. There was a litmus test of being able to articulate the value within your work in political, economic, urban terms before you could proceed, and they had to fight for something. If they had nothing to fight for, they couldn’t be pursued. And it required information, and it required an understanding of that data, and it required it on somewhat multiple levels in the case of, say, the school. Somol: I think you need the research and that empirical side. I would certainly endorse the methodology. I just think that then if the statistics are leading to “A,” your proposition almost demands you to say the conclusion is “B.” Weinstein: Why is that? Somol: Because I think the job of design is not to simply reproduce I. Berengut
the world and that’s one way you can make it propositional. To say, for example, “I was looking for the most specific thing in L.A. and what I discovered is that it its most generic aspect, its ability to be a cinematic backdrop for anywhere.” Or, “I was looking for the most metropolitan thing, and I realized that actually L.A. is not suburban enough.” In other words, that’s what makes it propositional at the level of urbanism for me. That would be my technique. Ouroussoff: But that’s just an easy trick, though, in terms of setting up an argument. Somol: But what we do is to come up with tricks. In an age of endless information we need techniques to channel and make that significant, to produce an argument, an identity, a vision—whatever—within and against the noise. Weinstein: A woman is a man and a man is a woman and hate is love and love is hate. Ouroussoff: But it immediately implies a certain kind of project, Jury Transcript a certain kind of outcome in a way.
Weinstein: A certain test. VIdler: It’s testing ideas against other ideas, and they’re both— Bob and Thom are quite close in the sense that they want to push things to an extreme as a kind of testing of where they get to and what happens to them. Weinstein: But the only way to push to an extreme is not to do the opposite. That’s only one way of pushing to the extreme. Somol: It’s not necessarily the opposite of A. I just think it’s other than A. Mayne: But I don’t even see it in those terms. I don’t see left/right radical/conservative in operational terms today. That’s 1920s, 1930s maybe. I see it much more objectively in that you’re looking for solutions. And I agree with you totally that your methodological operation is useful precisely because you don’t have an a priori solution, and that the solution emerges out of both a strategy and an understanding of the multiple problems that are in front of you. And the problems seem to be rich enough and complex enough that certainly one could anticipate solutions that one has never seen before if that’s interesting to you. I particularly don’t care if it’s historic or not. Whether it looks like something or it’s been done before in some other way or it hasn’t to me is irrelevant. Maybe sometimes, maybe sometimes not. I think there are many ideas in architecture that are transcendental and will keep reappearing, and I could frankly care less. I’m interested in the specificity of the problem as it’s been stated and a clarity to that problem
and a general coherency and approach that leads to something that would be of your ilk. Just personally I’m interested in things I haven’t seen before, of course. Somol: How do you overcome the dichotomy of cold planning and hot design and not simply reproduce cold planning and hot design? That means the research needs to be more designed and the design needs to be cooler and more bureaucratic in a certain way.-You can’t simply do both things serially, because that keeps both intact, but you have to use each as a way to transform the other. Mayne: You intuit the research and you rationalize… Ouroussoff: But my point is not to abandon the research. The research has to be more specific, focused on something. Mayne: This is interpretive because the whole notion is your ability to expand upon data, because data is nothing. It’s your ability to somehow make leaps, linkages, etc., that’s valuable. Weinstein: I would agree with the last thing that Bob said, and the conclusion I would draw from that is that an enterprise like this needs other kinds of people involved so that the formal vision affects the data collection. Somol: You mean in the beginning? Weinstein: You have an impulse to do something, and then you talk to the data cruncher, and you say, “Look, the data of the census suggests that the flow of immigration is not going to New York and L.A.,” which I, by the way, doubt very much. But let’s just say that. And what could justify trying to bring these communities together? And there’s another way to cut the data that probably would suggest rationalizations, and those rationalizations might kick the hot intuitive part of the brain to work. Vidler: But it’s the other way around too, Richard. The data is sometimes formal. When you mentioned Reyner Banham—what Reyner Banham did with the Four Ecologies book in 1970 is come to L.A. as a traditional architectural historian. That’s basically what he was. Trained by [Nikolaus] Pevsner, “Buildings of England,” and stuff like that. And he saw everybody going out from downtown, looked at the downtown buildings, the historic center of L.A., and then walked a little bit or drove a little bit out and found horrible suburbia. And he looked, but it wasn’t that, right? The formal structure of L.A. had nothing to do with downtown. So it’s polemically reduced to a “note”, right? But that reconceptualized L.A. for generations, for all of us actually, as an ecological network of basins and developments and over-developments and as a spread, right? And that’s a different kind of city.
Now, the question here, when you now focus back on downtown— and it’s very interesting that this group was criticized because it was bringing suburbia back into downtown, so to speak, or turning downtown into suburbia. But according to the Banham analysis, that’s the only thing left to do. So at least that’s the kind of thing, as a formal analysis, that can reconceptualize the data in order to make the data sharper in order to say, in fact, whether that is the only thing to do. Is there something that is a middle ground between suburbia and not suburbia? What do you do with these old buildings that are, in fact, becoming backdrops for Blade Runner Runner, and so on and so forth? What do you do with the city at night? And these kinds of questions. Is that a form of suburbia? This is the data, right, that is both formal and statistical. And I think that’s very important. Weinstein: And an instance of that would be the fact that Banham regarded the freeway isolating a community into a ghetto as a plus because it permitted ethnic subcultures to concentrate and be what they are. He actually liked that fact. Vidler: But he also said it’s also a way for ethnic cultures to get out of the ghetto and go to work because, in fact, it’s a way out. Weinstein: But as a critical position, he did not want to homogenize and have French-Chinese food and Korean-Italian cuisine. He was clearly against that, and he said the freeways are protecting… I’m just saying that that was one of Banham’s observations about the freeway. Instead of saying the freeway is terrible, he looked at the freeway and said it’s preserving cultural identity, which is a value that I have. Somol: So there, Jane Jacobs.
Weinstein: No. That’s a B response to an A inquiry, right? Ouroussoff: Jane Jacobs actually says the same thing—you’re wrong on that—in Boston, the freeway basically is what preserved the north end. Somol: She didn’t seem to like it in New York. Ouroussoff: No. But the argument you made is closely tied to her other point. Somol: It’s important for the journalist to call the academic wrong now and then, and vice versa. Mayne: I thank you all for your time. S. Latty