Archinect Sessions
'Next Up: The LA River' Mini-Session #8: Mia Lehrer

It's here: our final interview from 'Next Up: The LA River', featuring Mia Lehrer of Mia Lehrer + Associates. Lehrer was a major driving force in the 2007 Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan, and has worked for nearly 20 years on projects related to the River—undeniably preceding any involvement from Frank Gehry.

Paul Petrunia sits down with Lehrer to speak about her history with the river and its redevelopment, as well as her thoughts for how the project must proceed.

Direct download: Next_Up_November_2016_PANEL_8_Mia_Lehrer.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 10:03am PST

'Next Up: The LA River' Mini-Session #7: Renee Dake Wilson (LA City Planning Commission) and Alexander Robinson (Office of Outdoor Research)

Our penultimate Mini-Session interview from 'Next Up: The LA River' pairs Renee Dake Wilson with Alexander Robinson. Dake Wilson, principal at Dake Wilson Architects, was appointed by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti to serve as Vice President on the city's volunteer-based Planning Commission—an array of professionals who make recommendations between communities and the city on planning projects. On the commission, she's worked particularly with proposals to change the height and density limits on development in Elysian Valley, aka Frogtown—the neighborhood along the LA River that has become a major node in the city's ongoing gentrification discussion.

Robinson, while teaching at USC as an assistant professor, runs the Office of Outdoor Research and just recently completed a term as a Rome Prize recipient, researching the Tiber River as it relates to LA's and other cities' river infrastructures. He has also previously worked with Mia Lehrer's office on LA River projects.

Direct download: 7_Renee_Dake_Wilson__Alexander_Robinson_V2.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 10:10am PST

'Next Up: The LA River' Mini-Session #6 with Julia Meltzer (Clockshop) and Elizabeth Timme (LA-Más)

For this Mini-Session from our Next Up: The LA River event, Nicholas Korody spoke with Julia Meltzer, director and founder of non-profit arts organization, Clockshop, and Elizabeth Timme, co-director of the urban design and architecture non-profit LA-Más.

Both Clockshop and LA-Más are located within Elysian Valley, aka Frogtown—a sliver of a neighborhood bordered by the LA River, the 5 and the 2 freeways. In recent years, Frogtown (predominantly a low-density neighborhood of single-family homes) has become a major focus in LA conversations about gentrification and development, and both Timme's and Meltzer's work is heavily invested in their context. Clockshop (in collaboration with California State Parks) has its HQ in Frogtown and hosts art events in the Bowtie, an undeveloped plot of land along the river. In 2015, LA-Más led a community "co-visioning process" (the 'Futuro de Frogtown') to determine the kind of development decisions residents were concerned about.

Nicholas Korody spoke with both Timme and Meltzer about issues of equitable-design and place-making along the river, and the role of art within a master redevelopment plan.

Direct download: 6_Julia_Meltzer__Elizabeth_Timme_V2.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 11:30am PST

'Next Up: The LA River' Mini-Session #5: Lou Pesce of Metabolic Studio

Los Angeles' Metabolic Studio, run by architect and visual artist Lauren Bon, creates site-specific, temporary "devices of wonder" that interpret landscape in new ways, shifting public perception of land and waterways. One of their most recent projects, "Bending the River Back Into the City", is a three-part intervention that literally diverts water from the LA River back into LA, distributing it via "the city's first water commons, to allow the currency of water to create social capital."

Lou Pesce, an artist with Metabolic Studio, joined us at Next Up to discuss. As concerns about gentrification, public access and the drought raise issues of ownership and equity along the LA River, I wanted to ask about the economic ideas behind "Bending the River" and how the project relates to the river's specific role in LA history.

 

Direct download: Next_Up_November_2016_PANEL_5_Lou_Pesce.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 2:19pm PST

'Next Up: The LA River' Mini-Session #4: Deborah Weintraub, LA Chief Architect and Chief Deputy City Engineer

As Chief Architect and Chief Deputy City Engineer presiding over a group of 800+ architects and engineers, Deborah Weintraub has a big picture of LA infrastructure in mind when it comes to the river. She also has a fair amount of historical perspective, having overseen the implementation of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan after it first issued RFPs in December of 2004.

Additionally, she oversaw the design and construction of the river's new 6th Street Viaduct by Michael Maltzan's office, which recently broke ground.

Nicholas Korody spoke with Deborah about her role as the most senior architect in the Bureau of Engineering, the river's urbanistic potential (and pitfalls) as a gigantic piece of infrastructure, and Gehry's role beyond hydrology.

Direct download: Next_Up_November_2016_PANEL_4_NK__Deborah_Weintraub.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 9:00am PST

'Next Up: The LA River' Mini-Session #3 with Steven Appleton and Catherine Gudis

Steven Appleton and Catherine Gudis are some of Next Up's most active participants when it comes to physically being in the LA River. Appleton co-founded LA River Kayak Safari, which has lead over 6000 people on kayaking tours down the river. He's also a public artist, and has made work that engages with the river for more than 15 years—his "50 Clean Bottles of LA River Water" used a bespoke water wheel to pump the river's water into bottles, and clean it to potable levels.

 

Gudis, while her core role is directing UC Riverside's Public History Program, also co-founded Project 51's 'Play the LA River'—a game that invited Angelenos to explore different areas along the river's entire 51-mile stretch. While nearly 80% of the river is paved, there are stretches of soft-bottom, green wetlands that host their own diverse, unique ecology.

Paul Petrunia spoke with Appleton and Gudis for Next Up about reframing Angelenos' expectations of the river by helping them get their feet wet.

 


AIAWOL

This week we're devoting our entire episode to the debacle that was AIA CEO Robert Ivy's statement in support of President-elect Donald Trump, and the ensuing fallout among AIA members and others within the architecture community. Joining us is Katherine Darnstadt, founder and principal at Chicago-based Latent Design, and the originator of the dissenting #NotMyAIA hashtag, tweeted in response to to Ivy's initial letter.

To get the full background to the whole controversy, read our feature: Architects Respond to the AIA’s Statement in Support of President-Elect Donald Trump

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-89.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 2:10pm PST

Our second conversation from 'Next Up: The LA River' is with Marissa Christiansen, Senior Policy Director of Friends of the Los Angeles River. FOLAR, as the non-profit is known, turned 30 this year, and was founded on the mission to "protect and restore the natural and historic heritage of the Los Angeles river and its riparian habitat through inclusive planning, education and wise stewardship." Its role in much of the river's discourse has often included reminding all parties involved that the river is indeed a natural river, and host to a diverse ecosystem—despite its characterization as the "world's largest storm drain" ever since the Army Corps of Engineers paved most of it for flood control in the 1930s.

Christiansen trained as an urban planner before joining FOLAR this year, and spoke with Archinect's Nicholas Korody about the organization's history within the river's redevelopment, its focus on reconnecting people with the river's immense natural resources, and the delicate balance between conservation, revitalization and gentrification.

Direct download: Next_Up_November_2016_PANEL_2_NK__Marissa_Christiansen.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 9:43am PST

'Next Up: The LA River' Mini-Session #1: Frances Anderton and Christopher Hawthorne

When Frank Gehry's office was first attached to the L.A. River's master plan and redevelopment, the river began attracting fresh attention over a project that had already been evolving for decades. This October, in an attempt to do justice to the river's complexity and history (and the accompanying urbanist discourse), Archinect hosted 'Next Up: The LA River'—a live podcasting interview series with an array of architects, planners, artists, and journalists with varying perspectives on the subject.

We're now eager to share those conversations with everyone as eight Mini-Sessions, released as part of our Archinect Sessions podcast. Amelia Taylor-Hochberg, Paul Petrunia and Nicholas Korody moderated the conversations, which took place at the Los Angeles Architecture + Design Museum on October 29, 2016. While we reached out to them, unfortunately no representatives from Gehry's office were able to take part.

Our first Mini-Session was moderated by myself, with Frances Anderton (host of KCRW's 'Design and Architecture'), and Christopher Hawthorne (architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times). We cover their journalistic approaches to the river, and their own personal take on its role in the city.


Disruption

Recorded in the wake of Tuesday's election results, this episode got a bit emotional. Fred Scharmen—designer, researcher, and assistant professor at Morgan State University's School of Architecture and Planning in Baltimore—joins us to discuss the potentials and pitfalls of a technocratic urbanism, and whether the former king of cat memes can really offer anything to cities. Our conversation is largely in response to Fred's recent piece for Archinect, "Architects: If You Don't Start Disrupting Urbanism, Silicon Valley Will Do It for You.", with reflections on how technology and media are responsible for our current political climate.

 

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-88.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 12:20pm PST