Developments of Interest

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Identity? Title? Themes?

I only recently started this blog, and a few others so I could share about the many different things I come across and find interesting. Much of what I stumble across are lesser-known ideas or real projects that could use more public support.

I started three blogs - but very quickly realized I needed to focus my efforts on only one, but that that ONE had to have content about ALL of my different interests. Which, over time, I'm sure you'll see, extend far beyond just the urban design and transportation issues I've been linking to on here so far.

There are some common themes though that I hope will emerge. Some of them I considered as names for the blog. "Genius Loci" was of them. It's a recurring theme in my thoughts that I'm sure will become apparent over time with my posts.

The "Genius Loci" translates to mean "Spirit of the Place." It's an ancient concept that goes back beyond the Romans from whom we get the term. The term featured prominently in my Architecture, Design and Landscape studies at my university. Each of my instructors (or "critics" as they're called in Architecture) was heavily influenced by the work and writings of Aldo Rossi, Robert Venturi and Lou Kahn. Each of these greats often spoke or wrote about finding something about the innate nature of the places or forms with which they worked. Those ideas really stuck with me, and 20+ years later - I still recall the words of and assignments by my instructors, and with each of my own new life experiences there is new light shed upon what I remember learning way back then.

What seemed like a quaint or cute concept back then is blossoming into something very real, very spiritual, awesome and more tangible with every day I combine my own experience, strength and hope with what the Genius Loci of each place has to reveal or inspire for me. The lessons of the Genius Loci can be easily lost in noise, ego or fear. It requires an inner peace, a quietude and patience to get to know a place and hear what the Spirit of the Place has to say.

I've lived in West Hollywood and Los Angeles for almost two years now. It's only very recently that I've been able to hear what this Genius Loci has to say. Why and how I came here, and why only now do I have the quietude, the presence and the stillness to listen will be the topics for future writings here. ...but for right now though, I'm content to feel and deeply understand why The Spirit of this place calls it the "The City of Angels."

Curbed LA: CurbedWire: Hollywood Park Looks So Very Nice and Green


Curbed LA: CurbedWire: Hollywood Park Looks So Very Nice and Green: ""

(Via Curbed LA.)

This is a brilliant Idea!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Uh-Oh! I hope this essential project doesn't get sidetracked by NIMBYism

L.A. City Council wants bullet train officials to weigh two options for Union Station
December 2, 2009 | 2:39 pm
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously urged officials at the California High Speed Rail Authority today to consider two proposed alternatives for the bullet train stop at Union Station downtown.

Councilman Ed Reyes said the alternatives were crucial to protecting the residents in East Los Angeles as planners determine the route for the 800-mile bullet train between Northern California and San Diego. Proponents say the train would carry passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about 2½ hours.

The two alternatives are:
An aerial stop at Union Station where the bullet train would be stacked above Metrolink tracks, or
A stop on the east side of Patsaouras Transit Plaza, along Vignes Street.
A city planner said the second option could minimize intrusions into communities north and south.

Voters approved a $10-billion bond measure for the bullet train in 2008 and the state is seeking additional federal money in the hope of beginning construction on a first phase between Anaheim and L.A. as early as 2011. Reyes is concerned that the likely route north from Union Station along the Los Angeles River would destroy the city’s plans to rehabilitate the river as well as disrupt the lives of residents in communities including Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park and Elysian Valley.

Reyes cited Chicago’s Millennium Park, which was built above railroad tracks and parking, as an example of the opportunities that lie ahead for Los Angeles as the project advances.

“We should be opening our eyes to what could be,” Reyes said. “…In your hands lies a unique opportunity to create a facility that should last the next 100 years. But let’s do it with the understanding that we can create relief and improvements.”

He said the project “can create a grand Union Station for the state of California without having the communities [have] to bear the burdens on their backs.”

Reyes demanded a public commitment that rail authority officials would consider both options, which he said could determine the path of the train as it heads north from the station.

Valerie Martinez, Southern California communications director for the High Speed Rail Authority, assured Reyes that the draft environmental impact report would include a second alternative. “There will be two options that your community will be able to look at and determine how each of those impacts the communities,” she said.

-- Maeve Reston at L.A. City Hall