Symposium tackles “A Grand Project”
Cornell's Case Studies in Urban Development (CSUD) 2013, the latest in a series of symposia examining the interdisciplinary nature of complex urban projects, was held on campus on April 12. This year’s installment — “A Grand Project” — focused on the latest effort to complete the 133-acre Bunker Hill Redevelopment in downtown Los Angeles. Known as the Grand Avenue Project, and originally conceived of in the 1930s, this massive overhaul aims to create business, civic, and cultural venues for L.A.
CSUD 2013 investigated the historic conditions and motivations that led to the razing of the original Victorian structures and landform of Bunker Hill; the evolution of the public-private enterprise to develop the site; the economic pressures that led to revisions to the original plans; and the individual contributions by the developers, landscape architects, architects, governmental agencies, and urban planners.
Ed Dimendberg, professor of film and media studies, visual studies, and German at University of California–Irvine, opened the symposium with a multi-media presentation “Imagining Bunker Hill.” Greg Hise, professor of history at University of Nevada–Las Vegas and Don Spivack, formerly deputy chief of operations and policy at the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, provided additional background. Associate Professor Jeffrey Chusid, CRP, moderated these background sessions.
Several architectural, landscape architecture, and urban planning leaders participated, including Dana Cuff, professor of architecture, urban design, and urban planning at UCLA; Liz Diller, founding partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro; and Mark Rios, founding principal of Rios, Clementi Hal Studios. Wrapping up the symposium with presentations and commentary on recent and current development activity were Simon Pastucha, director of the Urban Design Studio in the Los Angeles Department of City Planning; and Bill Witte, president of Related California. Mark Foerster, the C. Bradley Olson Real Estate Faculty Fellow, moderated this concluding session.
Complementing the symposium was a photography exhibit in John Hartell Gallery that drew upon the thousands of images that southern California photographer William Reagh took from the 1930s to 1991. AAP students curated and mounted the exhibit and conducted additional background research for CSUD 2013. The students involved were Alex Choe (M.P.S. RE ’14), Molly Messersmith (B.F.A. ’13), Martin Romo (M.R.P. ’13) and Apexa Subhashchandra Patel (M.Arch. ’16).
CSUD 2013 was the sixth in the series of symposia supported by Matthew Witte (B.Arch. ’79) examining economic and political catalysts for development; the dynamic processes of land use regulation; the cultural and social contexts and frictions of urban transformation; and the architectural, landscape, and infrastructure design aspects that attend any large-scale urban project.