Dingbat 2.0 Competition

With Erika Benson, Scott Nusinow, and David Villela

The LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design held Dingbat 2.0, a design competition that reconsiders Los Angeles’ ubiquitous dingbat apartment building for the 21st century. The competition addressed both the the urban scale of an entire city block within a Dingbat neighborhood and the typology of the Dingbat at the scale of the individual building.

Canal 6.5 re-imagines a dingbat apartment block as a denser, mixed-used community connected by a series of canals. The canals are fed by a gray-water system, which provides water for roof gardens that serve as both public recreation space and community vegetable gardens. The canal system connects to the LA Metro Purple Line at Wilshire Boulevard, allowing for residents to commute throughout the city without automobile ownership.

Dingbats begin their transition to mixed-use through the conversion of street-side covered parking into office and retail space. As the canal & metro systems reduce auto traffic, existing streets are narrowed, creating a larger front-yard setback. This allows for the construction of tall, narrow, mixed-use towers in the original setback. These towers can be up to six stories tall, and contain flexible space that can be used as offices or as small affordable housing units. The towers' skin is compromised of a grid of operable doors that allow light and air to enter as appropriate for use and weather conditions. This is both climatically sensitive and reflective of the initial culture of garage conversion.

The street-sides of each block become denser and more commercially-oriented, while the canal side becomes more focused on residential life. What was once alley-side car parking becomes boat parking for canal commuters. Since a canal view is likely to be desirable, canal-facing housing units are converted to walk/boat-up luxury townhouses that also have easy access to the community gardens above. Allowing one luxury unit per lot reduces market pressure to completely tear-down existing buildings and creates a community that is not only mixed-use, but mixed-income as well.

Project Details

CLIENT : LA Forum

DATE: May 21, 2010

TAGS : Academic, Competition

WEBSITE : http://www.laforum.org/content/competitions/dingbats