Page N1.1 . 01 May 2002                     
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    Livable Places Project

    by ArchitectureWeek

    The problem of homelessness in the United States remains intractable. A growing population, rising housing prices, and an uneasy economy all contribute to a scarcity of housing affordable for working class Americans. For decades, inner-city conditions of poverty, crime, and under-funded schools have encouraged those who can afford to leave to escape to the sprawling suburbs while the city centers have grown increasingly unlivable.

    Unwilling to accept the hopelessness of the situation, a new group has formed to tackle some of these problems.

    Architects Lawrence Scarpa, AIA and Angela Brooks, AIA of the Los Angeles firm Pugh + Scarpa have joined forces with local planners, developers, contractors, and low-income housing advocates. Their new nonprofit development organization, "Livable Places," aims to provide more sustainable and affordable housing on problematic urban sites in Southern California.

    They will develop exemplary infill projects to showcase green space, pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, new housing models, efficient land use, a balance between cars and public transit, and innovative, energy-efficient design. The developments will target a mix of income levels and provide rental and owner-occupied housing as well as commercial components.

    Located in the urban core and first-ring suburbs, the projects will demonstrate the feasibility of land recycling and economic reinvestment, and spark further revitalization efforts by other private sector and nonprofit developers. Livable Places will collaborate with low-wage families and communities to recover a sense of place in these neglected areas while accommodating intelligent and ecologically sensitive economic growth.

    Livable Places will also work to persuade policy makers to adopt new codes and ordinances that will encourage for-profit builders to redevelop communities more compactly and to use more environmentally benign building materials and methods.

    Already, the new venture has received $1,000,000 in grants. Additional funding is expected from community development financial intermediaries, direct lenders, and equity investors.

    Livable Places's business plan calls for site control to be obtained for the first two projects during 2002, each in Los Angeles County. The organization hopes to produce successful models of sustainable development that can be replicated regionally.

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...


    ArchWeek Image

    Colorado Court, developed by Pugh Scarpa Kodama, features photovoltaic panel/ screens.
    Image: Pugh Scarpa Kodama

    ArchWeek Image

    A planning study for Carson Site.
    Image: Ted Smith and others

    ArchWeek Image

    A display at the Livable Places design studio at Sci-Arc, Taught by Eric Kahn.
    Photo: Sci-Arc


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