Until the mid-2000s, the South Park neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles had exactly one high-rise tower: the looming, vaguely Stalinist Transamerica Building (now the AT&T Center). It most famously supplied the rooftop where Guns 'n Roses shot the video for "Don't Cry." The area—which occupies the southern portion of downtown Los Angeles, between the Financial District and Interstate 10—otherwise consisted of dilapidated retail, low-rent residential buildings and acres of surface parking lots.
The area was avoided by businesses, developers, and rock stars alike.
Today, the AT&T Center is but the tallest tree in a rapidly growing forest. No fewer than 20 high-rise and medium-rise projects are under construction or in development in the roughly 40 square-block area. At least that many projects are in earlier stages of development.
It is, say planners, the next phase in the resurgence of downtown Los Angeles.
… And that's the end of the fairy tale: Prince Nokia came to Princess Downtown Sunnyvale, providing the city with new jobs, plus helping complete the long-unfinished office building that had annoyed Sunnyvale for years. And the prince and princess lived happily ever after ….
Oh, Gramps, I love that story! Tell it to me again.
It's past your bedtime, swee' pea, and it's even getting late for me….
Don't be fooled by the peaceful, pastoral look of West Village, a proposed housing development on the campus of UC Davis.
"Shucks," the conceptual site plan seems to say, "I'm just a little old country town. See my bib overalls?"
I'm not falling for it. West Village may be bucolic and all, but this 220-acre project, intended to provide rental housing for students and for-sale housing to faculty, shows an uncompromising commitment to sustainability. Although pastoralism is not always the same thing as environmentalism, in this case it comes with some hard-minded environmentalism.
This is a message to all California cities: Take your hats off to Chula Vista. This city of 210,000 people between San Diego and the Mexican border has adopted a plan for an all-new downtown in the Otay Ranch district that makes most other downtown plans seem tentative and incomplete. Perhaps another California community has the political will to approve something equally forward-looking; for the time being, the Otay Ranch Eastern Urban Center is among the plans that are raising the proverbial bar in city planning.
Can 12 million fish be wrong? Virtually no finned critters were to be found in the San Dieguito Lagoon as recently as 2007, when bulldozers began to push tons of earth to create berms along the banks of the coastal waterway. Seven months later, in January 2008, marine biologists were astonished to find millions of baby fish – far in excess of their expectations – squiggling in the newly irrigated lagoon in San Diego County.
NBC Universal has unveiled a master plan for buildout of its 391-acre property in the hills between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley. Morris Newman offers his analysis by way of a dramatic monologue.
Planners, architects and developers think they make stuff that lasts forever, or at least for a very long time. For them, empty lots are merely temporary conditions. However, empty lots can be interesting and even useful, especially during economic down times. In San Francisco, a number of architects and landscape designers have created temporary uses for cleared construction sites or abandoned construction pits.
Something seems to be missing from the site plan for Quarry Village, a 42-acre proposed housing development in Hayward. Here are orderly rows of streets, a scattering of small parks and a "village center" for neighborhood-scale retail. The 950 housing units are made up entirely of three-story townhouses, arranged in rows of four and six units. What's missing? Garages.
The broad, concrete shoulders of Interstate 5 divide the Docks development parcel from the rest of Sacramento. Until recently, this 43-acre triangle of land remained almost entirely out of sight and out of mind. Now, the city is weighing several plans for large-scale homebuilding plans and parks on the riverfront.