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By Dana Cuff

The provisional urban is considered one of consistent erasure and eruption. via what Dana Cuff calls a ''convulsive city act,'' builders either private and non-private demolish an city web site and disband its population, changing it with a few imaginative and prescient of a higher lifestyles that leaves no hint of the previous constitution. Architects carry their very own utopian desires to the method. during this booklet Cuff examines these convulsions via underestimated dimensions of architectural and concrete shape: scale and the politics of estate. Scale is in detail tied to measure of disruption: the bigger a project's scale, the higher the upheaval. As either tradition and geography, actual property performs an both major function in city formation. concentrating on l. a., Cuff seems at city transformation during the structure and land improvement of large-scale residential tasks. She demonstrates the inherent instability of very huge websites. Having created perverse renditions of the very difficulties they sought to resolve, for instance, public housing tasks that underwent upheaval within the Forties and Fifties are doing so back. Cuff explores 5 situations that span the interval from the Thirties, while federal help for slum clearance and public housing triggered convulsions close to downtown, to a massive Nineties' mixed-use improvement on one in all Los Angeles's final ultimate wetlands. the tale takes us from the sophisticated modernist structure of Richard Neutra to the self-conscious populism of the recent Urbanism. The circumstances light up the connection of housing structure to problems with race, category, city layout, geography, and political ideology.

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Extra info for The Provisional City: Los Angeles Stories of Architecture and Urbanism

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With the demographic shifts sparked by the Depression, the wartime defense industry, and the postwar economy, low-wage workers of color coming to the city crossed paths with the white middle class fleeing to the suburbs. Blighted properties became lucrative for slumlords willing to break land or buildings into many small pieces, each assigned its own rent. If the public sector was to address the emergency of expanding slums, it would have to acquire the property and redevelop it. But how could “fair market value” for such property be established if it were not to be based on the exploitative acts of its owners?

For the most part, Los Angeles’s slums were neither physically dense nor consistently substandard. Still, entire districts were deemed not worth saving, and large solutions, “planned communities,” were conjured by teams of architects to rehouse those who would be displaced. Under the Wagner Act, for every low-rent unit to be built, a unit of slum housing had to be demolished, if not on the exact site of the new housing then through “equivalent elimination” in some other part of the city. The design theorist and methodologist Horst Rittel defined design as future plans that are “deontic” propositions: every design is a statement about transforming what is into what ought to be (Rittel and Webber, 1973).

The piecemeal, powerful structure of real property sustains a fragmented urban process that is reinforced by the focus of current urban politics on specific sites, issues, and constituencies. The American emphasis on property rights, coupled with the perceived failure of planning, particularly in Los Angeles, produces ironies of urban politics and urban form: preservation groups battle for environmental or architectural causes, without much regard for large-scale planning issues; neighborhood organizations try to prevent a particular development in their vicinity but are not concerned that it is pushed into someone else’s domain; activist organizations work to shape a proposed project to generate less local traffic but ignore regional transportation planning.

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