Los Angeles is infamous in both advocacy and development circles as the hardest place in the US to build new housing. Whatever “should” happen, the city’s vast tracts of single-family home ownership have locked it into a stance hostile to construction at any scale, no matter how much it’s needed. The de facto response has been low-rise densification scattered across areas of least resistance. As an urbanistically (and maybe politically) plausible alternative, this project considers intense housing development right at transit nodes — sudden spikes in density that leave the surrounding areas much as they are.
The specific study area comprises two large parcels near the Heritage Square Metro station, forming a bow-tie knotted where the Arroyo Seco Parkway crosses under surface streets. The situation as it stands is indicative of Los Angeles’ urban conundrum: the station’s catchment area is absurdly low-density, but the surrounding residential neighborhoods aren’t going to be rebuilt any time soon. The only available approach is concentration right at the transit node.
To this end, both parcels are given an exclamatory residential tower mediated by additional podium-construction housing. Commercial spaces are located on main paths of travel and structured parking and services buffer the edge of the depressed parkway. All together, the project provides 440 apartments, roughly tripling the number of residents within 10-minute’s walk of the Metro station.
The built imagery embraces the brash discontinuities of Los Angeles in general and the wildly varying conditions around the site in particular. The dual towers’ super-scale relationship to the parkway and the hills bracketing the Arroyo marks a regional gateway between downtown LA and the communities to the northeast.