These are some comparative images of the AECOM and Herzog and de Meuron masterplans from 2015 and 2016 for the 6AM project, side by side.
Seen together, they map out two different futures for the Arts District site, like scenes from two different future cities.
One city will be made, whole cloth, out of monolithic buildings containing small cities within themselves.
This vision of a future Los Angeles expresses a will to organize and order LA, straighten it out, and privatize it.
The other, an unruly city, will be messily assembled from clashing urban patterns, textures, and unique buildings. This ethos celebrates LA’s happy disorder; it keeps it loose and open.
There are two very different ideas about how LA should grow, and they're worth discussing and not because of their artistic differences or because the former approach tends to cancel the latter.
Next month, I will wrap this up with some final thoughts about the 6AM project and urban design in LA, more generally.
I will address my concerns that developers’ hands are often tied on projects from their inception by regulatory and entitlement processes and, therefore, conservative financing models that prevent urban innovation.
This in turn strait-jackets architects and urban designers and leaves them without a way to propose viable alternatives.
Without incentives and a well-led public process to procure and deliver a more nuanced approach to urban redevelopment, we are left with an unfortunate role for the architect: less a public advocate than a decorator of big commercial boxes.
You can read the earlier first post here and the second post here.