01/2010_05/2010_gsd>> la-ca
GSD_ fourth semester independent thesis proposal

Alternative Public Spheres
Broadway’s Theater District, Downtown Los Angeles, California
Thesis proposed for the Master of Architecture in Urban Design

Thesis Advisor: Felipe Correa
Thesis Preparation Course: Susan Fainstein

Alternative reflections for the city

The premise of the thesis questions how the built environment can provide opportunities of spatial transformation departing from the user as an urban enabler. It explores the convergence point of actions and devices, being this point, where the apparent use and physicality become an “event”, a moment.

Michel De Certeau explored this tension between a provided structuralized space and its manipulation by the user, stating, that the first is a framework that can never predict what the user would derive from it. The thesis observes the point in which the user becomes the producer of space, and thus a manipulation of its environment by re-interpreting its physical properties.

It is believed, in the premise of the thesis, that in the experience of city environments, there exists “framing moments”, snapshots of the particularities involved in the formation of spatial identity. These moments in the experiential sequence represent either a conjunction of the overall narrative of place or pauses that denote the existence of a rhythm.

Therefore, how can the urban project emerge from the premises related to the dynamics of spatial appropriation of place without restricting its emergence and ability of change? How can the urban project be introduced and co-relate in the routines of users and their built environment without imposing a deterministic agenda and over its constituencies?

As an attempt to develop the possibilities of urban design within these cycles of everyday life, the project collects and describes the value of context in Downtown Los Angeles. The proposal tries at first to recalibrate its character towards a more inclusive and adaptive public domain.

By restating the values of use (schedules, program, market tendencies and historic identity) upon the availability of the street and its extension over alternative spaces for intervention (empty lots, terrain vague, interstitial and in-between spaces) the project suggests a staged insertion of events. These moments are meant to reinforce the current dynamics of the place and also provides open infrastructure for indeterminacy in the contemporary city.

Thesis Advisor: Felipe Correa
Thesis Preparation Course: Susan Fainstein