Posts tagged Los Angeles

Photo by Steve Boland(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

While distances may vary, the average walk most people will comfortably travel to public transit falls somewhere around one-quarter mile. My own comfort zone falls a little further, somewhere between a half and a three-quarter mile, or a 10-15-minute walk. But the quarter mile rule of thumb exists for a reason, a distance promoted by TOD, or Transit-oriented development, stipulating urban development focuses upon land uses around a transit station or transit corridor “within one-quarter mile, or a five to seven minute walk”.

However, not everyone lives or works near a public transit service within a quarter mile, or even a full mile. This is probably part of the reason why nearly 80% of Angelenos commute to work by car (not including out-of-county commuters).

Assuming participation in public transit would increase if there was a method of closing the gap between the first and final mile between commute destinations, what would be the best and most feasible solution to increase public transportation use?

Here’s one idea: Bird.

Following the models of ride-sharing services and bike sharing rentals now readily available across the city, users can now tap their smartphone to call up the service of a Bird – an electric scooter that does not require a dock, keys, rental booth, or even a drop-off location. You simply find your scooter after making a reservation by app, hop on, and go! Their website provides some basic rules:

  • Do: Wear a helmet, as required by law. Keep both feet on the footboard while riding. Ride in bike lanes when available. Park adjacent to
    bike racks when available. End your ride by locking the Bird with the app.
  • Do Not: Ride on sidewalks. Block public pathways or driveways. That’s about it.

Good morning little Italy! #lovebird #enjoytheride

A post shared by Bird (@bird) on

As soon as the scooter is unlocked, the vehicle becomes the responsibility of its user. But considering how prevalent GPS is today, the scooters are tracked in real time, no matter how far they wander, almost guaranteeing they can be found before, during, and after use.

Every evening the fleet of scooters are picked up and taken back to the mothership to recharge. And like clockwork, between 5 am and 6 am the next morning, the electric scooters begin to reappear throughout the city, ready for a new day of use. Initially I harbored some of the same concerns as when ride-sharing apps began proliferating. “Are there really going to be enough supply to meet a demand?” I wondered. Fortunately, anyone can log into the Bird app to check on the availability of scooters throughout the day.

As population of cities grow, density increases, and dependency upon personal automobiles decline, the availability of public transportation will increasingly become a topic of public discussion. But considering it’s much easier to bring riders to an existing station than it is to build a new rail station to riders, the proposition of adding an element of fun to public transportation by way of electric scooters seems a strategy I can support.

Image: AHBE Landscape Architects

Graphic: AHBE Landscape Architects

This month Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Los Angeles will be joining the 100 Resilient Cities initiative, revealing our first citywide Resilience Strategy. In addition, the mayor signed an executive directive to create Chief Resilience Officers, new positions for leading the way in taking steps to make Los Angeles a more resilient and stronger city. The Rockefeller Foundation has been taking charge in supporting governments, residents, agencies and designers to reimagine solutions to the complex problems facing our cities today.

By joining the 100 Resilient Cities initiative, the city of Los Angeles taps into the momentum of other places sharing common problems and solutions. After Hurricane Katrina, a strong partnership was forged between engineers, designers, and policy makers from the Netherlands to address water disaster issues and to plan in Louisiana. Similarly, The Bay Area Resilient By Design is forging new knowledge and solutions to strengthen the region’s resilience to sea level rise, severe storms, flooding and earthquakes. AHBE submitted a proposal with Tetra Tech, Restoration Design Group, and Professor Barry Lehrman of Cal Poly Pomona (view our video here), working together to create small-scale implementable, testable, and scalable strategies for sea level rise.

A still from Resilient By Design Bay Area Challenge by Evan Mather for AHBE Landscape Architects.

Southern California can learn from the research and site-specific design proposal generated by the Bay Area Resilient By Design initiative. These privately funded efforts and partnerships with local research universities are a force in creating a vision for mitigation and adaptation challenges facing our communities. We hope to see similar collaborations between the scientific and design communities addressing the issues specific to Los Angeles and Southern California coastal cities.

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One of my first goals after moving to Downtown Los Angeles was to memorize the lattice of streets traveling west to east (alongside several cross streets stretching north to south). Figueroa. Flower. Hope. Grand. Olive. Hill. Broadway. Spring. Main. Los Angeles. These ten streets downtown are its most prominent, in sum making up the majority of the city’s historic core.

Photo: Brett Miller

With perpendicular streets numbered, wayfinding across Downtown is fairly simple, with each street reflecting its own particular and unique vibe. But of those numerous streets connecting Downtown Los Angeles, it’s the theater-lined Broadway I remember best.

Photo: Brett Miller

During the roaring 1920’s, vaudeville venues were being constructed almost annually along Broadway. And when I say “theater”, I don’t mean a movie theater, or a simple unimaginative entertainment center. Think exorbitant, ornate exteriors with equally grandiose interiors: Parisian tier fixtures, artisan stone/plaster work, vaulted decorated ceilings, and thick red curtain theaters to greet patrons for the evening. Bestowed majestic names like The Palace, The Orpheum, The Rialto, The Tower, and my favorite, the Los Angeles Theater (not to mention the numerous theaters demolished over the years), these gilded auditoriums hosted a roaring entertainment landscape, their illuminated signs glowing across Downtown Los Angeles for decades.

The Rialto Theater along Broadway back in 2008, before its conversion into a gentrified retail space in 2013. Creative Commons photo credit.

While some theaters dropped off the map sooner than others, many of these masterpieces of architecture began to close their doors to the public during the 80s and 90s. The momentum of development across Los Angeles had moved westward away from Downtown, and thus the lights across Broadway eventually dimmed, their audiences long gone, their grandeur somehow forgotten. Being new to Los Angeles, I previously did not recognize a connection between Los Angeles and Broadway at all. The association was a connection typically reserved for New York, or perhaps Chicago.

Photos: Brett Miller

But Downtown has gone through a vigorous rebirth over the past 10 years. Some credit belongs to Councilmember Jose Huizar, whose initiative, Bringing Back Broadway has helped bring economic and cultural revitalization to the diminished landscape of Broadway. This past January, Downtown LA’s theaters reemerged to host artists, musicians, food, drink, and even roller derby and dodge ball as pop-up installations, bringing tens of thousands of people down to the evening event. What began in 2014 with just 3,000 visitors, the 2018 event now known as Night on Broadway reportedly brought over 80,000 visitors downtown.

In September I investigated the impact temporary installations can have upon a landscape, alongside how these installations could be used in response to community needs, problems, or simply the public’s desire for communal space. Night on Broadway meets all of these goals. By creatively reusing our city’s existing resources, Los Angeles was able to fill one of its most historic corridors with color, music, and energy, breathing new life into an evolving and storied community. The event was temporary, its effects more permanent.

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Cartwheel Tours: “Underground LA” – DTLA
Explore the city’s “underground” past ranging from famous prohibition-era murders to the famous speakeasy haunts that the Hollywood elite would frequent. This experience includes a few stops, under the busy streets of Los Angeles, to discover century-old tunnels and speakeasies, alongside more modern interpretations of the city’s hidden watering holes.
When: January 20th, 3:00 PM – 5:30 PM PST
Where: Begins at Cole’s, 118 East 6th Street, Los Angeles, 90014

Design Dialogues No. 41
For the inaugural Japan House Los Angeles exhibition, we introduce works from the fashion label ANREALAGE and designer Kunihiko Morinaga, one of a vanguard of next generation Japanese innovators. Morinaga engages mindful observation, attention to detail, and advanced technologies, to create strikingly high concept collections that awaken awareness of the extraordinary within the everyday. The exhibition, A LIGHT UN LIGHT, features ANREALAGE designs on the theme of light, inviting new ways of seeing and integrating materials and techniques from illusions of light and perspective to photosensitive fabrics. Hosted by Japan House, featuring Kunihiko Morinaga, designer of ANREALAGE, in conversation with Surface Editor-in-Chief, Spencer Bailey.
When: January 19th, 7:00pm
Where: Hollywood & Highland, Vantage Room, Level 5, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 90028

Santa Monica LivingHomes Tour
Another weekly, scheduled tours at the first LivingHome in Santa Monica, California. This LivingHome, designed by Ray Kappe, FAIA, was the first home in the nation to be certified LEED Platinum and the only residence in the country to win the AIA’s top sustainable award in 2008. It is comprised of eleven modules and it was assembled in 8.5 hours.
When: January 19th, 1:00 PM
Where: Santa Monica LivingHome, 2914 Highland Avenue, Santa Monica, 90405

Rock the Garden
Get your body moving and grooving with our musical garden installation. This week: Bluegrass with The Get Down Boys. A selection of trails will host a special “mix-tape” to mix up your post-holiday walk. After you’ve experienced our woodland dance party, follow your map to create and listen to the sounds that nature makes at highlighted locations throughout our 87 acres. Free with Garden admission.
When: Thru January 31st
Where: South Coast Botanic Garden Rose Garden

Focus on Female Directors 2018
This annual shorts program celebrates the directorial work of Academy Award winners, cinema pioneers, actresses turned directors, animators, documentarians, music video directors and the brightest stars emerging from film schools and the film festival circuits. Films include Autumn de Wilde’s “I Love L.A.”, Robin Wright’s “The Dark of Night”, and Gina Kamentsky & Julie Zammarchi’s “Traffic Stop”.
When: January 17th, 7:30pm
Where: Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, 90028

A traditional two-step altar with a modern touch.Creative Commons Photo:Luis Rojas (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Tomorrow, November 2nd, marks Dia de los Muertos – the Day of the Dead – a long observed Mesoamerican tradition born from a marriage of indigenous folklore and the pre-existing All Soul’s Day Catholic festivities. The holiday began as syncretic practice, later evolving into a clear example of enculturation. Its celebration has long been a recognizable part of the Mexican-American experience and woven into the Los Angeles cultural landscape.

Traditional altars are set up during Dia de los Muertos to honor and prayer for the souls of the dead, each equipped with an arrangement of necessary spiritual and physical accessories to aid the deads’ transition to the afterlife. Below is a list of the most common components of a Dia de los Muertos altar.

Photo by Lemad.resaeva (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Fragrances, plants and flowers

The infusion of some flowers and herbs like bay leaf, thymus vulgaris, rosemary, and chamomile in a pot covered by a prickly-pear cactus leaf is said to produce a pleasing fragrance that helps guide souls back to Earth. Other aromas like copal resin and incense are also used.

The key component of a Day of the Dead altar is the floristic color, prominently characterized by the Mexican/Aztec Marigold (Targetes erecta). Their colors may vary, ranging from white, pink, yellow, or orange. Its flowers are used to form shapes and platters to make the altar more attractive; the flowers are often combined with other plants like the Chenille Plant (Acalypha hispida) and Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila paniculata). Other flowers not native to Mexico, like birds of paradise and tulips are also used to add to the color themes of the altar arrangements.

Another element is the inclusion of an ‘arched portal’ at the top level made out of vegetation using reeds, ferns or ferns. The portal symbolizes the entrance or gateway to the netherworld.

Here is the Targes erecta, the characteristic flower that surrounds all ‘Dia de Muertos’ representations of altars. Creative Commons photo: Ana Rodriguez Carrington (CC BY 2.0)

Sugar skulls
With the importation of sugar into the New World, the indigenous people of Mexico began sculpting sugar in the shape of skulls to portray their beloved departed.

Steps or Levels
Steps are used to represent the dualist perspective of the physical world, both sky and ground. When three levels are used, each level represents a plane of the spiritual world: Heaven, Earth & Purgatory (or the netherworld = Hades or Sheol in Hebrew [שְׁאוֹל]). Seven levels references the Seven Deadly Sins faced and overcome during a lifetime.

Papel Picado
The Aztecs used amate bark paper for carving or painting figures, deities, and sceneries as a codex. With the introduction of other paper types by the Spaniards, the indigenous population began using other colors and patterns. Yellow and purple symbolize purity and grief respectively, but other colors are used commonly as well.

Fire
The element of fire is represented using candles, their flame believed to be essential to guide the souls toward their afterlife journey. Some people arrange candles in the shape of the cross or to point out the four cardinal directions.

Water
A glass of water is meant to satiate the thirst of the souls. Mayans believed cenotes (sinkholes) were sacred entries to the netherworld, therefore some altars include a larger receptacle of water symbolizing cenotes.

Earth
The earthly plane is represened with fruits, seeds, spices, and other objects extracted from nature. Usually, corn kernel and cocoa beans are used to form artistic patterns at the foot of the altar. The arrangement also connotates a connection with the Book of Genesis/Bereshit (בְּרֵאשִׁית) and its devotion, “for you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.

Food
Since the journey of the dead is deemed long and difficult, the family of the deceased usually cooks his/her favorite meal, offering it as pleasing sustenance for their journey. Traditional food like mole, pozole, tacos, and tamales are often depicted, representative of Mexican cuisine. Pan de muertos (“bread of the dead”) is another important and characteristic component on its own, representing the bones and the tears of those souls seeking rest.

Some candles, sugar skulls, pottery and food are placed surrounded by flowers. Creative Commons photo: Angelica Portales (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Other elements
Families may also place personal items of the deceased like clothing, favorite objects, etc. at the altar. Some even quietly play the deceased’s favorite music while the altar is up.

Religious items may include imagery, rosaries, crucifixes, etc. while others add sculptures like the traditional black Itzcuintli Dog believed to guide souls across the Itzcuintlan River in the netherworld. For the same reason, coins supposedly made out of gold are placed at the altar – the fee to pay the boatman Caronte to sail his/her soul to the other side of the river.

Want to know more? The Chicago Tribune just shared a great post about the Anatomy of a Day of the Dead altar we highly recommend checking out.