Los Angeles


An Opera House for a Show on Wheels

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November 12, 2015
The 80-foot-wide temporary pavilion was designed to stream video and host a live finale of a "mobile opera."

In the parking lot of the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles, an 80-foot-wide donut-like structure recently appeared. With a cylindrical opening to the sky, the temporary structure is a viewing pavilion for Hopscotch, a "mobile opera" set in 24 limousines driving around L.A. Though the ticketed audience is riding around with the singers and musicians inside the limos, the viewing pavilion is an auxiliary space where non-ticketed audience members can experience the spectacle.

From Theaster Gates to Assemble: Is There an Art to Urban Regeneration?

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November 3, 2015
The Chicago planner-turned-artist’s transformation of Stony Island bank is the latest high-profile example of how the arts can drive a city’s redevelopment. But is this always a good thing?

A pair of octogenarian siblings were two of the first visitors to the recent opening of the former Stony Island State Savings Bank on Chicago’s South Side. They were last inside the building nearly 70 years ago, when their Greek father ran a small food stand in one of its alcoves, back when it was still a bank. Today, the building has awoken from a decades-long slumber of dereliction and abandonment as the Stony Island Arts Bank, an art gallery, community arts space and archival library.

How LA's School District is Turning Disused Land into Low-Cost Housing

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October 1, 2015
In a city where affordable rents are in short supply, Los Angeles schools are partnering with developers to build low-cost housing targeted at substitute teachers, bus drivers and maintenance workers

In a freeway-lined corner of the Los Angeles suburb of Gardena, where modest ranch-style homes and shopping malls dominate, the sleek modern architecture of Sage Park Apartments bursts through the drabness. The jutting rooflines and stylish grey, red and rust-orange panelling make the 90-unit complex seem more like a misplaced version of the luxury condos of downtown LA, 15 miles to the north, than what it really is: subsidised, affordable housing.

A Mobile Opera Cruises Downtown LA

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October 1, 2015
Hopscotch, an opera set in 24 limousines and SUVs driving around downtown LA

To experience Hopscotch, an opera set in 24 limousines and SUVs driving around downtown LA, the audience will sit knee-to-knee with singers and musicians. Over the course of the show’s run in October and November, the cars will drive three routes, tracking a story of the search for a lost love. Actors and dancers with wireless mics will perform on the sidewalk and in cars passing by, mixing with the ballet of everyday city life. ...

Why Buses Are the Saviors of Our Most Car-Crazy Cities

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August 17, 2015
Under a new plan, more than a million people are within a half-mile walk of a high-frequency bus stop in Houston. Is this a blueprint for other car-reliant cities like L.A.?

One of the most radical experiments in American public transportation is being conducted right now in Houston.

Yes, Houston—the sprawling oiltown where life without a car seems almost unlivable. But if the experiment works as planned, a carfree lifestyle will be a real possibility for hundreds of thousands of Houstonians.

Lessons Learned

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July 27, 2015
After a disastrous technology rollout in Los Angeles, schools reassess their priorities.

In schools across the United States, chalk and textbooks are disappearing. In their place are tablets and laptops. This technological transformation is only just beginning, but it stands to reshape the ways teachers teach and students learn. In 2015, school systems will spend an estimated $522 million on tablets and readers, and $4.7 billion on IT overall. “Districts are trying to be very, very thoughtful about how they do this,” says Scott Himelstein, executive director of the University of San Diego’s Institute for Entrepreneurship in Education.

The LA Street Artist Who Sees Beauty in the Cracks of Our Cities

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May 8, 2015
Paige Smith’s Urban Geode street-art project brings a hint of the magical to derelict corners of Los Angeles, and – with a network of fans worldwide – her crystalline forms are spreading

Down a narrow alley between two brick buildings in a Los Angeles warehouse district – now an expensive loft neighbourhood – in the small corner of a ground floor window filled in with concrete, a small plastic growth spreads out from the sill.

Like sculpted globs of clear ice, the crystalline shapes spill out from the window’s crevice, mixing with translucent blue mineral forms, forming a blossom of geometry.

Los Angeles's Four Level Interchange: A History of Cities in 50 Buildings

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April 13, 2015
Planned as ‘a landmark of beauty and pride for the entire city’, the Stack was the first of its kind, helping to create LA as a freeway metropolis and condemning its residents to largely car-dependent lives

The most famous – and most infamous – buildings in Los Angeles aren’t buildings. No one lives or works in them, but they have had an extraordinary impact on the city, its people, and the world as a whole. LA’s most important buildings are its freeways, and the most iconic piece of this vast network is the Four Level Interchange: an elegant vertical boating knot of freeways and ramps just outside downtown.

Could LA survive without its freeways? My six-hour vision of a carless future

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January 27, 2015
Nate Berg reports direct from the middle lane of Route 101, one of America’s busiest freeways, as it undergoes a rare session of ‘swarm maintenance’

Sitting on a Los Angeles freeway – not in a traffic jam but, literally, sitting cross-legged in the middle lane of one of the busiest freeways in the United States – is a contrary infrastructural experience.

This is a space passed over by more than 125,000 cars a day, most speeding through at 60, 70 or 80 miles an hour. At a speed of zero, there’s a cognitive dissonance created by the frozen freeway’s stillness. It feels like visiting the moon, a place you know is real but never thought you’d see firsthand.

The Port of the Future Is Arriving in Los Angeles

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October 27, 2014
Is Fighting Climate Change the Next Maritime Industry?

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the first and second busiest ports in the U.S., are a jigsawed infrascape of water channels and shipping terminals, a skyline built of cranes and steel containers. Together the neighboring ports cover more than 7,500 acres of land – about 12 square miles – and at least that much water. The metropolis of L.A. and Orange County and greater Southern California fans out around the ports, the grand industrial gash in the coastline, endlessly swallowing up and spitting out the commercial goods of the global economy.