Arts & Cultural Vitality / 2013

Making LA

Making LA

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by design east of La Brea

Design East of La Brea (de LaB) is seeking programming support for a year-long ten-event series entitled “Making LA,” which will take place between June 2013 and June 2014. The special event series would feature ten important and inspiring projects located across the east side of Los Angeles, where attendees will have the opportunity to learn from the designers, architects, and artists who completed and/or fostered these projects. The series will culminate in 2014 with the “Making LA Conference,” a one-day conference hosted on the east side of L.A., that features local creatives instructing attendees on the elusive act of implementation for socially focused design ideas. The “Making LA Conference” will also significantly highlight each of the creatives featured within the year-long “Making LA” event series, in addition to effectively educating hundreds of local creatives on how to move forward on their own projects for Los Angeles.

The “Making LA” programming series will consist of ten de LaB events that take place at significant sites across the east side of Los Angeles. These events will last anywhere from two to three hours and will feature a tour, talk, or workshop about the project by the designer, followed by questions and a reception. Attendees will get to hear first-hand from the designers and architects of these ten influential projects for Los Angeles, and begin to learn how such projects became reality. Each event will be free and open to the public.

The “Making LA” programming series will be based on the past success of de LaB’s regular programming activities. Since 2008, de LaB has hosted close to 100 events that encourage audiences to see Los Angeles in a new light. This series will be no different. Events may be modelled after past successful events, where attendees were encouraged to see and experience a new neighborhood or a new important architecturally significant building, or a temporary structure that promises to bring important aesthetic and urbanistic qualities to a largely underserved community. Examples might include tours of the restoration of iconic and historic hollywood buildings, such as the historic Hollywood Tower and the renovation of the Best Western Hollywood Hills, which shows how developers are working together to improve a city block.

Other possible events could include a new twist on some of de LaB’s most popular annual events, including:
-The City Listening forum, which invites local writers, designers, and design celebrities to perform readings on Los Angeles urbanism in front of an audience of over 200 people.
-The annual Design-n-Dim Sum bike tours which has encouraged attendees to travel from Highland Park to Chinatown, visiting design and art studios along the way.
-The annual PARK[ing] Day intervention, held in partnership with the restaurant Local, which features pocket parks created on Sunset Boulevard to raise awareness for the lack of green space in the neighborhood.
-The Obscura Day tour, which visits the Tile House, an incredible architectural marvel designed by folk artist George Ehling and is not open to the public.

The “Making LA” conference, to be held in spring of 2014, will be attended by up to 500 local creatives and will focus on teaching the specifics of how to move from the idea to the implementation phase. Speakers will address issues ranging from funding to fabrication, with a focus on Los Angeles resources and support. Workshops will give hands-on experience and practical, real life advice. Possible venues include the new Ace Hotel in downtown L.A., located within the renovated United Artists Theater, or Atwater Crossing, a large creative venue in Atwater Village.

What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

We’ve built a community of committed design enthusiasts in Los Angeles in about 4 four years. We currently have over 1,000 followers on Facebook, nearly 700 followers on Twitter and 3,000+ email subscribers.

Our events consistently reach capacity within hours of announcing them, and typically have waitlists. We plan, program and host about 2 events per month, and expose new audiences to innovation and creativity in LA. We also aim to bring people into spaces and neighborhoods they may not visit otherwise. We’ve experienced consistent growth for our recurring events, such as the design-n-dim sum bike tour and Palm Springs Modernism Week.

In 2012, we hosted our first home tour, bringing people into four outstanding examples of urban infill and sustainability in Echo Park, all within walking distance of one another. Two of the homes on the tour were then included in Dwell’s home tour two months later.

In December 2012, we also received our non-profit status and are currently applying for grants for the first time.

Highlights from de LaB’s 2011-2012 programming year include: A tour of the Subway Terminal Building in Downtown L.A. featuring the abandoned subway platform and tunnels that housed L.A.’s first subway system; A tour with the designers and public health officials behind L.A.’s first street-to-plaza conversion, Sunset Triangle, a new public space for the Silver Lake neighborhood; A private tour of the BWP EcoCampus in Burbank, a reclaimed substation which has been transformed into community green space by AHBE landscape architects; A presentation by FER Studio featuring their master plan for Inglewood’s downtown revitalization; A walking tour and published map of 31 locations in West Hollywood to honor de LaB’s late friend, urban designer John Chase, who was responsible for much of that city’s great urban design; A tour of HOLA’s brand-new community center in Lafayette Park designed by Steven Kanner, which provides arts and athletic programming for underserved youth; A tour and fundraiser for Richland Farms, an agricultural community in the middle of Compton, where cowboys and horses co-exist with programs to bring farming to urban youth; A walking house tour featuring four Echo Park residences that use small footprints and sustainable design to create community-minded residences in a dense neighborhood; A bike tour of Long Beach, one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the country, and its rapidly transforming infrastructure of parklets and roundabouts, with advocate Charlie Gandy.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Below is a list of designers, architects and artists de LaB would plan to feature as inspirational projects or speakers. We’ve worked with many of the people and organizations listed in the past:

Michael Maltzan, Emily Jagoda, Ball Nogues, FER Studio, Geoff McFetridge, Bunch Design, Knowhow Shop, Karen Mack, Christine Outram, Mia Lehrer, Frank Clementi, Anonymous Architects, Barbara Bestor, Krista Kline, KCRW, LA Forum, A+D Museum, Peter Zellner, Skid Row Housing Trust, Vincent Price Museum, DLANC, MTA and others.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

de LaB targets a diverse audience that includes members of the architecture and design community, city planners, urbanists, design enthusiasts, students, activists and many more. Currently, the organization’s reaches more than 3000 interested individuals and regularly reaches maximum capacity for programming.

Since its inception in 2008, de LaB has consistently recapped each and every program for the benefit of individuals unable to attend a particular event. This project will be no different. In-depth recaps of the events will be covered at length on de LaB’s website. Additionally, de LaB will work to create a large-scale publicity campaign, reaching out to local public radio, blogs and social media to alert the community at large about the programming.

de LaB will closely monitor both the number of people attending events and also the demographic of participants to better understand which communities are being directly affected by the programs. Following each program, participants will be surveyed on their interest in the program, what they learned, and how it better helped them understand the way in which architecture and design can transform cities for the better.

The series will be free and open to all members of the public, except for the conference, where we will offer three need-based scholarships to students or lower-income attendees. de LaB will seek to make all program sites fully ADA accessible so that all members of the community can fully benefit from the program’s impact.

de LaB’s “Making L.A.” project connects to a vision of LA2050 because we believe that it’s no longer up to the corporations, administrators, and elected officials to create change in our urban communities. The unique combination of creative energy, a commitment to knowledge-sharing, and technology allows any citizen with a great idea for her city to move it forward. We want to enable and empower all creatives and help them to implement their vision for the city of the future.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

de LaB anticipates that our audience will be thrilled to support a yearlong “Making LA” series, in which each person has the chance to meet and interact with the creative individuals–architects, designers and artists–who are shaping and in some cases, reshaping, the future of Los Angeles. Measurements of success will based upon de LaB’s ability to reach new and diverse audiences at rapid speed, which we have done in the past.

In spring 2012, de LaB’s Subway Terminal Tour spiked the organization’s number of email subscribers by one third in a single month due to the overwhelming desire by Angelenos to understand our city’s great past. de LaB anticipates that new programming that has the impact to affect the way people feel about their city will foster the same enthusiasm. Additionally, de LaB’s goal, as always, will be to reach more and more diverse communities of Angelenos who attend our events, not because of a particular affiliation with the design community, but purely because they love the city in which they live and they want it to be a healthy, sustainable and dynamic place well into the future.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

Our mission is to celebrate and support local creatives in their efforts to enlighten, improve and engage the city. Through events that are educational, inspirational and hands-on, de LaB brings attention to the unique way that architects and designers are transforming the city and unites an enthusiastic community of local residents who are invested in the future of L.A.

We’ve already seen a great deal of enthusiasm for any of our transit-related events, including a tour of the abandoned subway tunnels, a food and design tour of the Gold Line extension, and a tour of the public art at Expo Line stations. Additionally, our design-n-dim-sum bike tour has grown exponentially each year.

If we can continue to bring creatives together to not just support these types of projects (e.g. transit and street design) but also to participate in the creation, design, building and usage of these projects, we would consider that a success.

The one thing we’ve learned from our community of over 3000 creative Angelenos is that they’re hungry to bring change to their city. But there is a definite disconnect between having great ideas for L.A. and knowing how to best implement them. Our events serve as informal, highly personal workshops where the architects, designers and architects who are getting things done in L.A. can help other professionals to take their bold dreams for Los Angeles and turn them into reality. The case studies that will come out of our events can be shared with creatives in any city, to help them make that same leap for their socially-focused urban projects.

Last, LA is already recognized as a center for artistic production globally. We would like to broaden that definition beyond the fine arts into infrastructure, architecture, product and industrial design and have local artisans/designers recognized not just in their home city but elsewhere in the world.