Daly, Hodgetts, Sherman_413 Major Building Design Studio

Fall Final Review

This quarter focuses on the disciplinary issues, techniques & organizations of the city—more specifically at the scale of infrastructure (both visible and invisible), fabric and public spaces. We will approach the city as a complex hybrid of landscape and building—as an opportunity for experimentation with and invention of new models of and analogs for the relation between architecture and urbanism. We will be concerned not with the architecture of the individual iconic building, which assumes the city as a deferential background, but rather with the architecture of the prototypical—the invention of new prototypes (in this case, of urban living) whose potency lies not in their rarity, but repetition. This quarter we shall look at architecture’s extensive power and possibilities—the more of it there is, the better your proposal should get. 


The above issues shall be explored at the scale of a large (+/-5 acre) urban site, through the design of a medium density residential community. In Los Angeles, this is often synonymous with what Reyner Banham (in Los Angeles: Architecture of Four Ecologies) coined the enclave—of which the gated communities of L.A.’s outlying and usually more affluent areas are preeminent examples (see also Mike Davis’ Fortress LA). A 150-unit project will challenge each student to explore the complex question of what constitutes the notion of community today, as well as more fundamentally what characterizes, defines and qualifies the urban in Los Angeles. It will unavoidably demand that you decide upon what values you wish to ascribe to the project,  as an expression of who its intended occupants or audience are assumed to be, and why they would choose to live there, as a member of the kind/idea of neighborhood it represents.

This is not a problem about optimization—one size does not fit all. Nor is it a field of dreams: the success of your project will in large part depend on how well you are able to reconcile the management and organization of the occupants and their material requirements (housing as type) with the management and organization of the site as partly an extension of, and partly as it distinguishes itself from the larger city (housing as urban fabric). Your response will be defined by: a) the synergies (or lack thereof) between individual units; b) how they are aggregated; c) the network of interior and exterior spaces that communicate between them; and d) the larger spatial, social and ecological relationships of your new community to the city at large. Factors such as property ownership, transit access, and site utilities will figure strongly as modifiers, if not tools of organization. 
Course Objectives
• To explore the synergistic relation between the discourse, logics and practice of architecture and that of urbanism, through the combined mediums of landscape and urban fabric-making, both reciprocally and terms of cumulative effect; 
• To introduce the disciplinary issues, techniques & organizations of cities, and explore the generative capacity of these for an architectural proposal at both the building and planning scale
• To study, understand, develop the material and temporal logics of cities as they affect the individual architectural interventions within them
•  To introduce issues of environmental but also social and economic sustainability, as not simply problems to be solved but as aspects of design strategy