Posts tagged DTLA

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All photos: Jennifer Salazar

What are the requirements for a city’s public transit system to operate successfully? We want connections between the city’s main train station and the local sports stadiums, lines between residential cores into areas of entertainment, and connections between different modes of transportation such as main stations for rail, air, and bus travel. But we also benefit from smaller, smart connections too – ones of shorter length offering more direct routes on existing transit systems to shopping and places of work. (more…)

Everywhere I walk in Downtown Los Angeles, there is construction. Whether it’s a renovation of a historic building or new mixed use retail-residential buildings, it’s always fascinating to see the construction process during my daily commute to work.

The rooftop gardens of the Brooklyn Grange Navy Yard. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 photo by Gonzlaught.The rooftop gardens of the Brooklyn Grange Navy Yard. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 photo by Gonzlaught.

The busy atmosphere of Downtown inspired another idea: Wouldn’t it be great if these new developments planned for the inclusion of pollinator gardens on their rooftops? Lately I been noticing articles about businesses planning and integrating pollinator gardens and bee hotels onto their rooftops. Imagine colonies of worker bees living and working in Downtown!

Creative Commons photo by Susovit

Creative Commons photo by Susovit

Across rooftops in Manhattan, Portland, and San Francisco business have established bee hives to pollinate green roofs and produce honey for restaurants below. Green roofs are installed in many new and existing buildings as a means to reduce the urban heat island effect, treat storm-water roof run-off, and help with the cooling and heating of the building. Various species of sedums are commonly planted in green roof trays; they can take months to establish and fill out the trays. The bees can be a cost-effective way to quicken the process though pollination. Also, the term “locally sourced” takes on a whole new meaning when honey is harvested directly from the roof (excellent for honey-infused cocktails, in my opinion).

CC BY-SA 3.0, photo by TonyTheTiger

CC BY-SA 3.0, photo by TonyTheTiger

In school, my fellow classmates and I proposed pollinator and habitat gardens for our local butterflies, fruit flies, and bees. But plan to introduce the idea of bee hotels for my next rooftop gardens project. Maybe I’ll make an elevator pitch to our building management. It can’t hurt to ask and spread the awareness about the wonderful benefits of bees!

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Creative Commons photo: Kat+Sam

Creative Commons photo: Kat+Sam

Every year hundreds, sometimes thousands, of Vaux’s swifts make a nightly stay a few blocks from our Downtown Los Angeles office. The migrating birds bed down for the night on their way from the Pacific Northwest to Central America for the winter. The birds are known for roosting communally in hollowed-out trees, but in Downtown LA they roost in old, brick-lined chimneys—the brick offers a secure grip for the birds while clinging onto the walls (see photo).

If they return in late September this year – and we hope they will – you might spot them around nightfall as they swirl around in the air and then descend, all at once in spiral, into the chimney-bird-hotel for the night.

For more information on Los Angeles wildlife check out SoCal Wild where you can learn more about the Vaux’s swifts, or learn how to volunteer and help survey the local population of bighorn sheep in the San Gabriel Mountains. Also coming up is Bird LA Day on May 7, 2016, when the Ace Hotel hosts Birds & Beer, a 21 and older event on their rooftop bar, when attendees are invited to speak with National Park Service bird experts, perched with a bird’s eye view of the city.

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In this excerpt from my 2012 short film, Olympic & Western: A Primer on the Typographic Order and an Argument for its Proper Usage in the Built Environment, I wonder about the color chosen by Metro for the then-recently-completed Expo Line, spanning from Downtown Los Angeles to Culver City.

The color in question – Pantone 2985 – seemed to be way too close in hue to the established color used for the Blue LinePantone 285. Imagine the confusion of winding up in Long Beach instead of Culver City. Someone finally noticed the absurdity of the similarity of colors between the two lines. Metro solved the issue by adding a distinct “E” to all Expo Line signage in mid-2015. However, with Phase 2 of the Expo Line opening up early this year, the train will go to the beach in Santa Monica, perhaps deserving a new name.

The solution should be obvious: the train to the beach should be color coded and called the Tan Line.

Photo by Heejae Lee

Photo by Heejae Lee

Whether it’s unexpected plants blooming across the city or new art pieces and murals popping up across building corners, Los Angeles provides never-ending opportunities for discovering a new perspective. In the search for the unseen and overlooked, I find creative inspirations that directly translate into my work as a designer.

Photo: Heejae Lee

Photo: Heejae Lee

For example, I recently came across an unexpected act of urban intervention, a crosswalk signal altered into a wholly new experience. Although I use crosswalks daily, I admit I barely take notice of crosswalk signal buttons. But Spanish designer Alfredo Adan saw an opportunity to reconnect pedestrians with infrastructure: Adan is altering Los Angeles city crosswalks into “Walk Bumps”, a “Fist Bump to Cross” experience that turns the mundane into a humorous physical interaction.

Map via CicLAvia

Map via CicLAvia

Over the weekend I attended CicLAvia, the citywide community bicycling event advertised as the “Heart of LA” ride. And as I traveled along Spring and 1st Street by bicycle, I began noticing and appreciating the same streets I pass by every day by car with a whole new perspective. Citywide coalitions/events like CicLAvia are valuable because it gives people an opportunity to interact with LA’s urban landscape in a way you’d never notice when traveling by car. And just like the Walk Bump installations, CicLAvia shakes our expectations and perspectives, reminding us even in the known and recognizable lies opportunity for the novel if we only take the time and effort to look with fresh eyes.