Los Angeles


The Aesthetic Design of Freeways

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March 1, 2015
A Reading List

A collection of resources exploring the physical design of freeway and highway infrastructure — from the shapes of interchanges to the cinderblock patterns on freeway sound walls. It’s about the way freeways look, the way they appear (or don’t) to the driver and passenger, how they use the land, and how their concrete forms have been sculpted and grafted onto the landscape.

Through a Glass Darkly

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July 18, 2013
The Museum of Jurassic Technology views reality through a special lens.

This article was originally published in The Magazine, Issue #21, July 18, 2013.

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It is easy to become disoriented in the Museum of Jurassic Technology. This small museum in Culver City, California, is full of dark hallways, dim nooks, and secluded corners. Its exhibits elicit a sense of dislocation as well. Their meaning can be as hard to discern as the veracity of the objects on display.

Are L.A.'s Transit Plans Too Big for Eric Garcetti?

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November 4, 2013
A New Mayor Inherits the Ambitious Task of Kicking a City’s Car Habit

Here are a few things you probably think you know about Los Angeles: It is a freeway-riddled, car-dependent traffic jam where nobody walks past their driveway. This is the cartoon version of L.A., a cheap shorthand of stereotypes and decades-old perceptions that the city has struggled to shake.

L.A. Confidential

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March 4, 2013
How a City Got Its River Back

There was something both amusing and disheartening to George Wolfe about the fact that the Los Angeles River was not, according to the federal government, technically a river. As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers saw it, the L.A. River was “non-navigable,” meaning the waterway would never float a boat or host swimmers. This meant that it didn’t have to be kept clean like a “real” river, and would be held to a lower standard of environmental protection.

The Convoluted Path to Ending Los Angeles's Mural Ban

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March 22, 2012
How the city is working with artists to revise its rules about murals, art and advertising.

Once regarded as the mural capital of the world, Los Angeles in recent years has lost a good deal of its street art cred. Decades of loose regulation on signs and murals led to some creative law-skirting by outdoor advertising firms, bringing about a string of lawsuits and rule changes – and more lawsuits and more rule changes. The eventual result was an all-out moratorium on new murals.

City officials are now trying to welcome mural artists back with a proposed new ordinance. But this regulation battle still has to deal with the particularly pesky monkey on its back.

L.A.'s Unofficial Late Night Bike Marathon

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March 19, 2012
Bicyclists take advantage of empty streets closed ahead of the L.A. Marathon for a late night ride.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, March 18, Los Angeles was preparing itself for flooded streets. Rains were expected this night and the morning to come, but the city was more concerned with the 23,000 people who would soon be competing in the 27th annual L.A. Marathon. Five hours before the official start of the race, parking enforcement trucks trolled the city streets to tow away the last remaining cars in the race path.

Creating ‘The Most Bicycle Friendly City in America’ ... In Southern California

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January 26, 2012
Long Beach, CA, makes a big investment in bicycle infrastructure.

There have been numerous studies that show how adding a new lane to a freeway or road has the opposite effect than what was intended. Rather than easing congestion (which it does only briefly), the new lane merely creates more room for more cars, and quickily induces even more congestion. This same principle applies to bicycle traffic, though in a slightly different way. Few cities – and even fewer American cities – struggle with bike traffic congestion. Rather, what more and more cities find themselves struggling with is a lack of bike traffic. They want more bicyclists on their streets.

The New Urbanscape

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January 1, 2018
UCLA’s cityLAB is working with campus partners to engineer changes in how we use physical spaces during a digital era.

For a few weeks in the spring of 2015, in a patio behind UCLA’s Broad Art Center in the northeast corner of campus, stood a new building. It wasn’t a classroom or a lecture hall. It was a house.

Fan Favorite

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October 20, 2017
How Studio-MLA learned to embrace the potential of the sports stadium

Among Southern California landscape architecture firms, Los Angeles-based Studio-MLA (formerly Mia Lehrer + Associates) is arguably highbrow. Known for public spaces like the 1,300-acre Orange County Great Park and Vista Hermosa Park in an underserved section of Los Angeles, and transformative master plans for infrastructuralized landscapes like the Los Angeles River and the Silver Lake Reservoir, the firm has a serious approach to the needs of Southern California and the services landscape architecture can provide.

The Radical Plan to Cool Down LA as the World Heats Up

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August 10, 2017
How trees and white streets could reduce L.A.'s urban heat island effect.

It’s barely 10 a.m. on an August day in Hollywood, and the heat is already becoming oppressive. The temperature’s only in the mid-80s, but in the direct sun it feels hotter—and it’s getting worse by the minute. Part of the reason is the ground. The black asphalt of this side street off Sunset Boulevard is sucking up the sun and radiating its heat back out. An infrared thermometer shows the surface temperature to be 112 degrees. By mid-day, it’ll rise above 150.