Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Glimpse into the Future of LA

Cutting-edge architecture firms were approached this year to consider what the sprawling West Coast metropolis of LA will look like in the year 2030. Michael Maltzan Architecture, Gensler and cityLAB-UCLA, have all taken a hard look at their urban environment and unveiled remarkable futuristic plans for a denser and more interconnected city.

Each firm envisions a future where the city is more interconnected, residential areas are denser, work is more flexible and there are more green spaces for recreation. The following are the visions from the three architectural firms.

LA is a large sprawling metropolis, but the city has expanded to its limits and must grow denser and expand vertically rather than expand horizontally. As a way to add density, Maltzan proposes to build a new street level on top of existing buildings, creating a new ground plane, green space and residential areas a couple stories up.
In the future, the boundary lines between home, work, and play will blur, and part of that blurring will affect the urban fabric or work life. New offices must be more open and interactive, providing more opportunities for spur-of-the-moment meetings and encounters along with easy access to green space and other amenities.
A traditional transportation system is not appropriate for LA, which has many different centers. Gensler proposes a GPS-enhanced mobility center that incorporates all modes of transportation (bus, rail, shared cars, bikes, etc) and is accessible via your smart phone. In this system user demand directs the transportation modes, rather than the transportation routes dictating where people can travel.

cityLAB-UCLA suggests that over time single family tract homes will begin building backyard homes on their extra land to make use of the space while providing extra income to their families. This additional residential space can also create a richer and more diverse community.

cityLAB envisions that big box retailers will shift their focus from just selling products to selling experiences. Big box stores will become interactive destinations, and the future of retail work will center on relationships and public service.
LA has a large network of roads as well as a large network of water distribution pipes and channels. cityLAB proposes to connect the two to create dynamic water-based landscapes like mist platforms, solar-encased water tanks, aquatic parking lots, and urban beaches.
Overall, the three firms believe in a much more sustainable, interconnected, and denser city where buildings serve multiple purposes and public transportation is the norm. Density, common spaces, more green space, and multi-purpose office facilities are expected to be the norm. New developments will expand vertically rather than horizontally, and open public spaces will become a top priority.
Particularly interesting to me is the 'blurring of the lines between work, home and play'. I feel that ideally, the line between home and play could be blurred somewhat, but that work should still have an element of separation between the other two.

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