Public Space in LA?
by Leigh Christy
Public urban open space. In the course of one L.A. day, those four little words inspired comparisons to a dining room table, descriptions of a "third revolution," arguments for spatial justice, historical tales of the search for an R-1 residential paradise, and an examination of what being "green" means in a desert.
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The history of Los Angeles is rife with private decisions and missed opportunities, resulting in a dearth of successful public urban open areas. Just ask any of the panelists at Public Space LA!, the first AIA Los Angeles Urban Open Space Summit, held in October 2007.
Deciding that enough is enough, the Los Angeles AIA chapter sponsored this one-day conference in order to discuss the questions: How can greater Los Angeles create and sustain excellent parks and public places? And what can we learn from other cities?
Over 200 people attended an intense day that included four moderated panel discussions, several political and historical lectures, and astute closing remarks by architectural critic Robert Campbell. Using Los Angeles as a springboard, an array of sharp presenters engaged in a dialogue that extended to include more general trends and possibilities for public spaces.
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Griffith Park Observatory is located in one of comparatively few natural public spaces in Los Angeles. The recent building renovation and expansion, designed by Pfeiffer Partners Architects, earned a 2008 AIA honor award.
Photo: Jean-Pierre Louis
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Echo Park Lake, located near downtown Los Angeles, literally served as the poster child for the Public Space LA summit.
Image: AIA Los Angeles
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