Posts from the Editorial Category

Architecture & Design Film Festival: Los Angeles
The Architecture & Design Film Festival, celebrates the unique creative spirit that drives architecture and design. With a curated selection of films, events and panel discussions, ADFF creates an opportunity to entertain, engage and educate all types of people who are excited about architecture and design. With well-attended screenings, legendary panelists, vibrant discussions and events in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, it has grown into the nation’s largest film festival devoted to the subject. The ADFF also programs for international film festivals as well as cultural institutions and private venues.
When: March 15-18th; various show times
Where: The Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Forest Bathing
“Slow Down. Awaken your senses. Bear witness to yourself and all beings. Inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku, Forest Bathing has been scientifically proven to boost immune strength, reduce stress, and improve cognitive functioning. But beyond these physiological changes, Forest Bathing also offers us the opportunity to deepen our relationship with the natural world. By slowing down and carefully observing with all our senses, we may begin to notice incredible things that may have eluded us for our whole lives. In escaping the rapid pace of our daily routines, we may find unparalleled beauty in the moment and in doing so, relax into the beauty all around us.” $25 per session Arboretum members / $35 non-members (Includes Arboretum Admission)
When: March 17th, 8:00AM-10:00AM
Where: Meets @ Main Entrance of the Los Angeles County Arboretum

The Other Art Fair Los Angeles
The Other Art Fair is a leading artist fair presented by Saatchi Art, showcasing the work of the very best in emerging art to art lovers from all backgrounds. On March 15-18, 2018 the Fair makes its West Coast debut at Los Angeles’ historic The Majestic Downtown, presenting 100 talented emerging artists alongside a unique and immersive features program.
When: Thursday, March 15 at 6 PM – 10 PM
Where: The Majestic Downtown, 650 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, California 90014

Highland Park Heritage Trust 35th Anniversary Celebration
Join us for a day of lively activities! Timed tours of the historic Abbey San Encino plus a Local Artisan Fair and Live Music in the gardens from 10 to 3pm. A special closing Anniversary Reception with Wine, Cheese and a Silent Auction will be held from 3pm to 5pm.
When: March 18th, 10am – 5pm
Where: The Abbey San Encino, 6211 Arroyo Glen Street in historic Highland Park

Huntington Beach Cherry Blossom Festival
The Sister City organization is a volunteer group dedicated to maintaining the tradition of friendship and cultural exchange with Huntington Beach’s Sister City in Anjo, Japan. Historic Wintersburg—a National Treasure goldfish farm and mission property representing over 100 years of Japanese American pioneer history in Huntington Beach—proudly supports our Sister City organization and the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
When: March 18 at 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Where: Huntington Beach Central Park Amphitheater, 7111 Talbert Ave, Huntington Beach, California 92648

Camera trapper hits jackpot with stunning video of 4 mountain lions near L.A.
“What you’re seeing is Limpy and her 10-month-old kittens returning to an area where I hadn’t seen them since November. So when she showed up on my video, and the sun was setting, I was really excited! I was waiting for her eventual return with her new litter.”

6 Cities That Have Transformed Their Highways Into Urban Parks
“Building a highway in a city is often thought of as a solution to traffic congestion. However, the induced demand theory has shown that when drivers have more routes, they choose to continue using this medium instead of using public transport or a bicycle, and as a result, congestion doesn’t decrease. As a result, some cities have chosen to remove spaces designated for cars and turn what was once a highway into urban parks and less congested streets.”

Requiem for a bookstore: Caravan writes its final chapter
“DTLA’s Caravan’s closing is more than the loss of another bookstore. It is the loss of a rare opportunity to get lost, to ignore the signposts of popular culture and discover something new. It helped that Bernstein was always nearby, happy to answer questions, scatter breadcrumbs along the way. The store’s absence — for those inclined to ask — now raises an important philosophical question: How will we learn about something if we never knew it existed?”

Market-Based Solutions Cannot Forge Transformative and Inclusive Urban Futures
“Herein lies a fundamental problem as we look to the future. We know that unless urbanization of the future is very different from current trajectories—especially for a region such as Asia, which is urbanizing rapidly—that our chances of meeting the objectives set out in Paris are extremely limited. We also know that current patterns of urbanization are likely to intensify inequalities and social differentiation. And yet, the “new urban agenda” is not even on the agenda.”

Untapped potential: Increasing diversity in landscape architecture
“Not to make generalizations, but unfortunately, landscape architecture isn’t well-known in the African American community,” she said. “I grew up in the African American middle class. I knew what an architect was, and I actually thought about being an architect. But instead, my undergraduate degree is in painting because I never knew what landscape architecture was.”

The visual preference survey (VPS) was originally developed as a public consultation tool by urban visionary, Anton Nelessen in the 70s. They’ve remained a ubiquitous tool used within the planning and design fields for evaluating individual components of future built environments. Though originated as an appraisal planning instrument for decision-making, VPS continues today as a participatory design and research tool with valuable applications, with some caveats.

Photo manipulation based survey comparing planting alternatives for a pocket park, conventional vegetation (left side) against xeriscaping (right side). All images:  Cristhian Barajas

We have all seen some form or derivation of these surveys. They use distinct photographs to illustrate and present different proposals, illustrating the options a project can take, while specifying individual design or program elements. Traditionally, there has been a distinction between the conventional approach using non-uniform sets of photographs and photo-manipulated VPS – academically, the latter receiving more praise for their more accurate representations.

Photo manipulation-based VPS are more suitable for academic research exercises, and for projects presenting a narrower spectrum of possibilities. The level of skill they take and the fee-consuming time associated with their production renders them not viable for ordinary practice. But when utilized using common photographs easily collected online, VPS remains a flexible tool offering endless applications, invaluable for projects requiring a component of public engagement.

A photograph-based visual preference survey comparing different types of benches using wood slats in many ways.

How VPS Benefit Projects and the Public

VPS is most valuable when establishing a system of criteria to filter the public’s likes and preferences, and also to shape design decisions operating under a common language between project participants. Factors evaluated may include: materials, colors, shapes, sizes, layouts, styles and functions. Theoretically, the surveys are meant to democratically represent what the stakeholders and users want. However, there are some inherent flaws capable of jeopardizing the public’s objective perception.

Criticisms associated with VPS include their ability to be used as a manipulation tool, alongside their use in engaging in disinformation. Manipulation refers to designers and/or developers who purposely enhance or position design preferences from a favored vantage point over and above the rest of other options. Disinformation refers to biased activity shaped by inaccurately presented options or through the use of higher-quality images to promote favored results.

All photographs are subject to factors like lighting, weather, composition, context, angle, zoom and resolution – each a powerful determinant with the potential to shift the viewer’s reaction toward either a negative or positive rating.

The visual preference survey above does not present consistently sized photographs, strongly favoring those with a higher hierarchy. Similarly, images of some water features may be deemed less appealing due to the captured angle, lighting, or context present.

In the second part of What Are Visual Preference Surveys and Why They Matter, I’ll explore another pitfall related to the use of visual preference surveys, and recommend several do’s and don’ts when utilizing this valuable public assessment tool.


The orthogonal layout of plants showcases their individual beauty accompanied by adjoining reflecting basins designed to show the water as a still reflecting pool. The resulting soft waterfall sound is a soothing, meditative accompaniment to the view. All photos: Amanda Flores

As the weather begins to warm up (somewhat) across SoCal, I’ve begun taking note of the numerous outdoor destinations on my “to visit” list. While winter’s on and off rainy, foggy, icy weather is welcome, it’s California’s warmer and sunnier summer days I most long for – weather ideal for appreciating the beauty of our state’s landscape, best enjoyed with a hat on and an ice-cold pink lemonade in hand.

One particular place to appreciate the many varieties of resilient Californian plants native to the desert landscape resides nearby in Riverside County’s Rancho Mirage. I visited Sunnylands Center and Gardens for the first time two years ago and I still remember being awestruck by the artful arrangements of drought-tolerant landscape across the 9 acres of desert gardens. With over 53,000 drought tolerant specimens and over 50 plant species on display as living sculptures, Sunnylands is an unforgettable experience for anyone working within the landscape architecture profession.

Some examples of plants with different forms and textures, displaying the variety of plants preadapted to thrive in arid desert climates with ease across Southern California.

Walking through Sunnylands is like walking through a museum of sorts, or like meandering through a live 3D painting populated with fauna preadapted to thrive amongst arid plants of the desert.

While Sunnylands also features a lawn, its size is dwarfed in comparison to the rest of the grounds, serving as a functional platform for viewing the sculptural, artfully designed arid landscape in all directions.

Amongst Sunnyland’s layout of desert plants I find great inspiration in observing the variety of forms, textures, and colors on display. Plants appropriate for arid climates are often described as dry, dull, boring, or even ugly by a public used to equating stretches of lawns as the garden standard of beauty (thankfully this viewpoint is rapidly changing). The Sunnylands Center and Gardens stands as an inspiring counterpoint to the misinformed and outdated preference for lawn, showcasing the inherent beauty of a resilient landscape artfully arranged.

Which summer destinations are you looking forward to visiting this year?

Quiet Mornings: Art x Mindfulness at MOCA
Quiet Mornings is a one-of-a-kind event, pairing a guided meditation exercise with the opportunity to experience a truly unique, immersive artwork. After an acclaimed run at MoMA in NYC, our partner Flavorpill is bringing the inspiration to LA. Join us for Quiet Mornings LA on Saturday, March 10 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Little Tokyo. Enjoy The Theater of Disappearance, Adrián Villar Rojas’ powerful site-specific work, and a group meditation session led by artist Noberto Rodriguez.
When: March 10 at 9:30am
Where: The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, 152 N Central Ave, Los Angeles, California CA 90012

History of Coffee in Southern California Panel Discussion
A lively panel of Southern California coffee experts discuss important developments in the region’s coffee landscape, beginning with early settlers who packed green coffee in their covered wagons and roasted the beans over a nightly campfire to sustain their difficult cross-country journeys. Topics include the rise of local commercial and specialty roasters and coffee houses spanning the 20th century. Finally, the panelists explore the arrival of coffee’s Third Wave and highlight the proliferation of espresso bars and cafés that dot the map of Southern California today.
When: March 10, 2018, 10:30am
Where: Los Angeles Public Library, 630 W 5th St, Los Angeles, California 90071

Eastside Babylon
On the Eastside Babylon tour you’ll discover fascinating, little-known neighborhoods and the grim memories they hold. Come visit Boyle Heights, where the Night Stalker was captured. Roam the hallowed lawns of Evergreen, L.A.’s oldest cemetery and home of some most unusual burials. Visit East Los Angeles, where a deranged radio shop employee made mince meat of his boss and bride–and you can get your hair done in a building shaped like a giant tamale. Explore the ghastly streets of Commerce, where one small neighborhood’s myriad crimes will shock and surprise. Visit Montebello, to get your heart broken by a horrifying case of mother love gone haywire. All this, and so much more on Eastside Babylon, Esotouric’s exploration of L.A.’s most horrifying forgotten crimes.
When: March 10, 2018, 11:30am
Where:The Daily Dose Cafe, 1820 Industrial Street, Los Angeles 90021

Huell Howser’s Lost California’s Gold Episode: The Ghost Mountain…
In 2010, the late, great television personality Huell Howser telephoned filmmaker John McDonald to make an unprecedented request. Howser had seen McDonald’s documentary, The Ghost Mountain Experiment, a story about a family who lived off the grid for seventeen years in San Diego County’s Anza-Borrego Desert, considered this story to be quintessential California’s gold and wanted to make an episode based both on the Souths and on McDonald’s fine documentary. Due to Howser’s unexpected illness and untimely death as well as the cancellation of California’s Gold, Howser instead gave McDonald the unedited video master of this episode. McDonald completed the editing of Huell’s work and he will screen share with us this last nugget of California’s Gold!
When: March 7th, 2018, 7pm
Where: Arts & Culture Downtown Central Library, 222 East Harvard St, Glendale CA

Union Station Art & Architecture Tour
Discover art, architecture and spaces not generally open to the public in an exclusive free tour of Union Station Los Angeles. Begins at the information booth inside the Alameda Street entrance to historic Union Station. The tours are free. No reservations required.Led by Metro Art Los Angeles Docents, the tour covers Union Station art, architecture and spaces not generally open to the public, including the Historic Ticketing Hall. Additionally, the tours explore artworks located in the Gold Line Portal, Union Station East and inside the Metro Headquarters Building.
When: March 11th, 2018, 10:30 am -12:30 pm
Where: Union Station Los Angeles, 800 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, California 90012