Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles
Over the course of the last 200 million years, friction between the North American and Pacific tectonic plates along the San Andreas Fault have slowly compressed continental crust upwards, giving rise to the Santa Monica mountains and the area known today as the Hollywood Hills.
Laurel Canyon is nestled among these hills and mountains, which, along with more than a dozen other ranges, make up the Transverse Ranges of southern California that thrust up to 11,500 feet above sea level.
Nature flows through these canyons in the form of blue-belly lizards, myriad colored snakes, and the elusive mountain lion. Oak trees, morning glory flowers, and wild sagebrush perfume the air.
Some 13,000 years ago, people first settled this area where a temperate climate, widespread flora, and and ample water supply offered sustenance. Over 1,000 Tongva and Chumash sites have been found by archeologists more broadly in the Santa Monica Mountains.
With the arrival of the Spanish in the late 1700s, Tongva and Chumash lands were distributed to settlers for use as ranches. Sheep then grazed the hillsides for over a hundred years while Laurel Canyon remained sparsely populated. Then in the early 1900s, when the entertainment industry became established in nearby Hollywood, Laurel Canyon became subdivided and developed as a residential neighborhood.
Harry Houdini lived at an estate in Laurel Canyon while he tried to break into the film industry. He owned an early model of airplane that he often used for stunts and tricks. Other famous residents have included Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Frank Zappa.
Datura, our Laurel Canyon house, is an intervention of a 1925 cabin, where an exploration of the endogenous expresses itself through materiality and an assemblage of steel, wood, clay, and charcoal. The social history of the place is given continuity through spaces that are designed for living, creating, and eventually returning to the earth.
Tijuana, Baja California.
Design and Construction Management in collaboration with Sebastian Mariscal Studio.
Tucked deep in the folds of the urban fabric is a space designed for respite from the tumult of the city. The construction was a labor of love. Wood reclaimed from a barn in Ensenada lines the floors and walls. Steel from a local scrap yard was used for the railings. Native species are planted throughout, creating a garden for reflection and introspection.
Griffith Park, Los Angeles.
Construction Management Advising.
A grade restoration that required careful coordination among soils engineer, structural engineer, civil engineer, City inspectors, contractors, and suppliers performed within a narrow schedule.
Baja California Sur.
Community Planning - Case Study.
A community of 300 uses sustainable fishing methods to drive their cooperative economy. When rising sea temperatures caused increased red tides, killing off the local abalone population, the community implemented abalone aquaculture on land in order to keep supplying their clients in the global market. Collectively pooling their resources, the community developed a desalination plant that provides fresh water to meet their needs.
Rosarito Beach, Baja California.
Beach house for a young professional woman whose desire was to provide a gathering space for her intimate community. At once private and yet open to gardens on all sides, the indoor spaces are ancillary to outdoor living: guitar and song surround a bonfire, a secluded garden at the rear allows for those moments of private relaxation. An exterior stairway to the master bedroom at the second floor frames the night sky above and exacts a connection with the Moon.
Mount Washington, Los Angeles.
Design and Construction Management.
A young couple sought to enclose an existing courtyard and preserve a sense of openness and serenity. Beginning with the courtyard garden as metaphor for paradise and taking inspiration from hand-carved wood screen walls, every component of the abstract finish was designed and worked out in advance in order to streamline the installation.
Community Planning Research and Advocacy.
At the turn of the 20th century, an eccentric developer offered Southern California his vision for a utopian bastion of culture, academia, and the performing arts. In time, Venice came to be a sort of heterotopia, at once mythic and real; conceptualized by many in myriad ways, like the Invisible Cities of Calvino, yet constantly a microcosm of all Los Angeles, Venice has the potential to be the vanguard of social, economic, and environmental sustainability if public policies are implemented to such and end.
Planning for competitively priced housing is at the nexus among these issues.
Construction Management Advising.
A sort of synergetic community develops on a construction site. Everyone shares a goal and contributes their respective skills to arrive at that end; problems are approached collectively and successes are enjoyed by all.
La Habana, Cuba.
Community Economic Development-Case Study
Presented at the 2013 American Planning Association-National Conference, Chicago
Community resiliency includes access to a sustainable supply of healthy foods. In the face of increasing costs of fossil fuels and the environmental deterioration that results from over-use of petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides, organic urban farming offers a decentralized, community driven approach to these issues.
The Cuban system of urban agriculture is an example from which varied communities may draw practical answers to common questions: what are the necessary inputs for a successful urban ag. system? at minimum, what are the components of a typical urban farm? and, when working with limited resources, what construction specifications ought to be observed?
Museum Design Competition in collaboration with Sebastian Mariscal.
Celebrating Mexico's Bicentennial, the National Institute of Fine Arts in conjunction with the National Institute of Anthropology and History held a competition for the remodel design of this museum commemorating muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros.
Study prepared for Maryland Department of the Environment-Science Services Administration.
235 stream segments in Maryland are identified as having water quality that exceeds the criteria established by the federal Clean Water Act. Notwithstanding regulation of point-source discharges, urban stormwater runoff leads to a deterioration of the water quality at these locations.
Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), overlap of sensitive watershed areas with future urban development are identifying by overlaying planned sewer coverage areas within the boundaries of the above mentioned watersheds.
Low Impact Development (LID) protections are codified at the county level via Overlay Zones at these critical locations.
Multiple Regression Analysis presented at the 2013 American Planning Association National Conference, Chicago.
Planning for the management of violent crime is important since it has the potential to undermine the economic sustainability of communities. Recent explorations into the emotional motives underlying violent crime show that self-conscious feelings of humiliation, shame, and low self-esteem are causal factors explaining violence.
This study explores the effects of deteriorated neighborhood quality, operationalized as percentage of vacant units, as a predictor for victim-based-crime, and tests effect of classical criminological variables on crime rates.
Results show that percentage of young adult population has the highest value in predicting victim-based-crime. This presents some opportunities for crime-reduction interventions, in particular those that focus on strengthening community sense of self-worth and neighborhood resiliency.
Contact us for further information or discussions on this topic.
Community Economic Development - Case Study
Published at the 2013 American Planning Association National Conference, Chicago.
This case examines the industrial land development in the City of Baltimore with a particular focus on related planning policies, which may be coordinated to promote or inhibit industrial development. Opportunities for nurturance, preservation, and regeneration of industrial land are offered.
Contact us for additional information on this and related topics.