activateLA: Crafting an Aquatic Urban Identity Network
207mil g/day flow through the LA River over 48 miles, yet few Angelenos even realize it exists. What was once an anomalous aqueduct of storms and stories is now a straight of concrete ditches and division. Leveraging the legacy of the zanja system and the shifting forms of this historic braided alluvial plane, this project will establish an adaptive framework for city evolution, enmeshing New Downtown in an evolving network of canals that transform and activate disparate public places and interstitial spaces. This system will be the phenomenological foundation of a tighter grain for New Downtown that catalyzes vibrant life throughout the public realm and invigorates a new residential interest in the area. We will further position LA for evolution through retrofitting post-industrial building stock into hubs for novel recreation and commerce. It is through this increased density and activity, not through band-aid technologies, that this area will achieve higher performance, reduce emissions, and grow a more resilient community.
with: Erika Mendez, Arch Chelsea Morris Woodard, Arch Garrett Reger, L Arch Jonathon Stalvey, L Arch
What isn’t nature? Every year, trees burst and bloom in technicolor. Sometimes we notice. Hawks perch on lampposts in the morning sun. Mountain goats scale freeway overpasses. Bears forage in city dumpsters. Coyotes turn up in street cars. The wild and sublime. What isn’t nature?
River Central seeks to craft an identity for a dilapidated and largely vacant corner of San Bernardino through focusing on local ecology, novel commerce, and pedestrian community. By eschewing traditional zoning ideologies and leveraging what is endemic and existing, we can enmesh the lines between seemingly disperate living conditions to manifest a neighborhood without edges.
Ecology The River Central neighborhood is situated within two latent ecological amenities, the Santa Ana River and the San Bernardino Golf Club course, already home to 43 species of birds. This new district builds on these ecological conditions to grow extended corridors of open spaces to facilitate habitat for regionally sensitive species. These corridors are the organizing feature of River Central, upon which a pedestrian oriented neighborhood was designed. More wild than a suburb, but also more organized than a wilderness, this move into a naturalized urbanism physically and aesthetically roots San Bernardino into its enveloping ecology without uprooting its existing light industry.
Commerce Though retail-centric mixed use neighborhoods have shown to be successful in urban redevelopment projects, this is not a viable solution for all communities. River Central plans for mixed use retail developments, but how many retail destinations can a city support before there are more stores than customers? As the creative/maker community continues to expand, it is imperative that cities organize desirable places to live that provide the necessary amenities, spaces, tools, and inspiration to attract and keep entrepreneurs that design and build products within their communities. River Central explores the potentially symbiotic relationship between light commercial manufacturing and high density urban development to create desirable and affordable live/work spaces.
Community Through growing an environment that delivers accesible urban wilderness, novel live/work developments, and multi-modal transit options, we have designed a neighborhood plan that brings the community members onto the street to interface and engage. This framework can facilitate the fostering of an involved and interconnected community that is active, safe, and productive.
Though it looks “natural,” Prado Basin is a constructed wetland. It is the result of human engineering for the purpose of water remediation, distribution, and flood control. But this infrastructual wilderness is also home to multiple sensitive and endangered species, most notably the Least Bell’s Vireo, a small indigenous songbird. SPRAWLING DIVERSITY is a collection of performative frameworks for expanding this unique ecosystem beyond the existing edge of the basin out to the surrounding suburbs. This process will transform the suburban monoculture into a more environmentally resilient polyculture, better poised to provide livable and adaptable habitats for all local species, including humans, for years to come. In order to achieve this goal, existing ideologies, mythologies, values, and typologies must be confronted, overcome, and reborn. To survive our future we must transcend industrial development methodologies and, with moderate controls, embrace the wild entropy of life.
The primary intervention of this project is to harvest the abundance of invasive Arundo donax to form paper impregnated with native seeds. This paper will be used to form mailers to send out into the surrounding suburbs for homeowners to plant in their yards. Thus, the invasive plant becomes functional as the carrier for the proliferation of endemic ecologies. This is an opportunity to establish a participatory ritual that connects the community to their environment.
SPRAWLING DIVERSITY is about expanding the biodiversity within the Prado Wetlands into the surrounding suburbs for the extension of limited but vital habitat. From Prado will emanate large swaths of semi-indigenous habitat, similar to the kind that has formed behind the dam and that opportunistic plants and animals with limited and shrinking habitats have come to call home. The goal of the project is also to engender a deeper connection between communities and their environment/ecology through participatory action. The riparian condition in the wetlands is increasingly unique, as our development practices have quickly encroached on and choked out these ecologies.
As populations rise in this area and land becomes more valuable, the local dairies will finish their emigration out of the region and subsequent strip malls and suburbs will proliferate. What is the future potential of these antiquated development typologies? This project is partially a reaction to these faceless, nameless, unfulfilling conditions, fueled by the position and resources of the wetlands. By entwining the Prado Wetlands with the surrounding suburbs, this project seeks to grow homes and habitats for organisms all throughout the food web. Ultimately, “SPRAWLING DIVERSITY” is poised at the intersection of domesticity and wilderness, or maybe even wildness.
A physical occupation speaks louder than any graphic or piece of propaganda, but the Occupy Wall St. movement is restricted to a limited occupation of space. The movement has also become complicated with/enriched by other movements being imposed on to what once was a simple and strong demand. We are now proposing a framework for further spatial occupation, one that has the ability to bridge the physical gap between the elite and the rest of the world.
“Occupy the Sky” is a push to exemplify the 99% movement with an installation piece that embodies the phsyical spirit of the movement. “Occupy the Sky” is the megaphone, elevator, and symbol of a community that seeks change in the world.
A SITE FOR THE UNDERSERVED RESTORING PERSONAL TERRITORIES FOR HOMELESS VETERANS Landscape Architecture as Social Critique, Activism, and Advocacy.
8,000 veterans are homeless on the streets of Los Angeles, mostly concentrated into the area of Downtown known as Skid Row. With that population on the rise, there is an increasing demand for facilities tailored to veterans’ needs. We worked with Skid Row’s Weingart Center, a leading transitional housing and support services organization, to develop a plan for a new facility that leverages site design to facilitate personal rehabilitation and social engagement.
with Braden Patterson
Deborah Villar, Vice President of Development and External Affairs, said of our work: "The projects that the students delivered captured the heart and soul of the work we do at the Weingart Center."
Paul Freese, Vice President of Public Counsel, a leading veterans advocacy group, said of our work: “Simply transformative and breath-taking. Visually it is both stunning and marvelous. Ergonomically it is brilliant in how it utilizes space efficiently, creatively and proactively in ways best calculated to not merely provide a humane habitat for those Weingart serves, but also an enriching environment that promotes social activity and productive interaction while being in harmony with and gracing its surroundings. Finally, it is ecologically sensitive and smart. I believe this innovative and visionary design has the potential to become a national model worthy of replication.”
An examination of Occupy Los Angeles through the eyes of Ian Rash, a 19-year-old computer and networking technician. Ian volunteered two weeks of his time to help set up and maintain a wireless network at Camp Solidarity, the Occupation at Los Angeles City Hall. Ian discusses the importance of digital revolution and the relationship of the movement’s operations to the built environment.
Promotional video for the Center for Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona. The piece features onsite events and public outreach in the local community, expressing the value of interpersonal and neighborhood relationships as a component of regenerative processes.