How Autonomous Driving Vehicles Will Reshape Los Angeles

An interesting possibility: because of the economy and convenience of self-driving cars, owners might actually choose to keep their cars perpetually driving until needed instead of parking them to avoid costs. That would be horrific for traffic and the environment.


When autonomous vehicles become the rule rather than the exception, what we’ll witness across Los Angeles and the rest of the nation will be the greatest change in transportation infrastructure and habits since horses and carriages gave way to the automobile. We’ll turn from a nation of primarily single occupant drivers into a society of passive passengers left to our own devices (literally). The question is whether self-driving vehicles will evolve into an affordable communal resource easing traffic or become an ever present hindrance related to the economics of driving vs. parking, as explained below:

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From Fancy Funicular to (500) Days of Summer: Bunker Hill’s Angels Flight

Though the movie (500) Days of Summer made this section of Downtown Los Angeles and a bench famous – again – Bunker Hill’s history and the funicular go way back. Perhaps equally interesting is the second hillside rail known as Court Flight that was a significantly steeper ascent.


You may be familiar with this scene from 500 Days of Summer: a young couple sitting at a bench at the top of Angels Knoll Park and looking upon the city below.You may be familiar with this scene from 500 Days of Summer: a young couple sitting at a bench at the top of Angels Knoll Park, looking upon the city below.

I recently attended a meeting where city representatives updated a local business group about planning efforts for Downtown L.A. development. One of the topics of discussion was the sale of a parcel of land which includes the historic Angels Flight funicular, a grassy hillside known as Angels Knoll Park, and Angels Knoll Plaza located directly below the park.

During the meeting, a city staffer made a passing remark about citizens’ inquiries regarding the fate of a particular park bench made famous by the 2009 romantic film, “(500) Days of Summer”. Most of us in the room knew the reference.

Angel’s Flight by Millard SheetsAngel’s Flight by Millard Sheets

Angels Knoll Park is now closed to the public. If you…

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10 Things You Should Know About El Niño

Everything you wanted to know about El Niño…but were afraid to ask.


What is El Niño, and why does it happen?
El Niño refers to the fluctuations in temperature between the ocean and atmosphere in the east-central Equatorial Pacific, resulting in a series of climate anomalies every few years. It is the warm part of the whole ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) cycle, with La Niña as its cold counterpart. The video above explains the process.

Why should you care about El Niño?
El Niño is part of the global climate system, thus influences not only regional, but also worldwide climate and weather. Due to the climate anomalies that come with its arrival, there are higher chances of extreme climate and weather occurrences, including floods, droughts, forest fires, and landslides during an El Niño season. There are also global environment and economics repercussions, alongside effects upon the marine biology of the Pacific Ocean, during El Niño.

What are the climate anomalies related to El Niño?
The major anomaly connected to El Niño is the higher than…

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The Rhythm and Sounds of Montana De Oro

If you live in California and you’ve never visited this stretch of San Luis Obispo coastline, I beg you to schedule a trip.
Montana de Oro is like seeing our state with virgin eyes; it is easy to imagine the first people living there before European settlers made their way westward, and each time I’m overwhelmed by the splendor of California’s gold [said in a Huell voice].


All Photos by Roxana Marashi All Photos by Roxana Marashi

Last weekend I visited Montana De Oro State Park. Spanish for “Mountain of Gold,” this section of Central California coastline earned its name because of all of the golden wildflowers that bloom across the park during springtime. It is one of California’s rare gems located in the county of San Luis Obispo.

Click photo for a full size panoramic view, Click photo for a full size panoramic view.

As I walked down a serene path along the coast, I came across some tilted rock formations that were so intriguing, I found it incredibly difficult to look away. The sea would crash in and out of the coves, creating an amazing rhythm of sound and movement which complemented the landscape. This 8,000 acre State Park was full of life along its rocky cliffs, eucalyptus forests, sandy beaches, coastal plains, streams, canyons, and hills. It was a place of wonder and exploration that…

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AHBE Lab / Friday Five for September 4, 2015

The numbers remaining look big, but human activities have led to the loss of nearly half the world’s trees (45.8%) in short time.


LA gets its first look at proposed bridge for mountain lions, wildlife: Project planners released the first details of a proposed wildlife bridge that would cross over 10 lanes of traffic along the 101-Freeway in Agoura Hills. Actor Rainn Wilson makes his case for helping the right type of cougars of Los Angeles cross neighborhoods…

Structural Fabric Weaves Tent Shelters into Communities: A Lexus Design Award recipient, this lightweight, mobile, structural fabric could potentially close the gap between need and desire as people metaphorically weave their lives back together, physically weaving their built environment into a place both new and familiar, transient and rooted, private and connected.

Scientists reveal there are 3tn trees in the world in latest count: Most accurate count to date is over seven times as many as the last estimate – but almost half have been cut down since the start of civilisation, say scientists


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In Search of a Beautiful City

Los Angeles isn’t beautiful in any traditional sense. It’s missing many of the characteristics outlined by Alain de Botton’s treatise, “How to Make an Attractive City”. But the city is inching forward, rethinking how to add back beauty through both architecture and native nature.



I’ve just returned back from the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, where I left the recognizable landscape of the city for one wholly different. Lush, wild, somehow both chaotic and orderly, the coastal rain forest in the southern end of Costa Rica is where some of the world’s first skyscrapers arose, trees towering so high a whole ecosystem of birds, insects, primates, and even sunbathing iguanas can be seen, albeit sometimes only with the aid of a telescope. My eyes were stimulated by the sheer amount of data and detail to process, yet not overwhelmed. Instead, there was an undeniable sense of awe felt within this landscape encompassed within the womb of a forest. It’s not too often I feel this sense of experiential joy within a city. Why?

A landscapes beauty can be an immediate emotional and intellectual experience. I felt many moments of this in Costa Rica. Photo: Gregory Han A landscape can be an immediate emotional and intellectual experience. In Costa Rica these opportunities are many, while back in Los…

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Sunset Boulevard: A Storyteller’s Street

The most famous street in all of Los Angeles is rich with history, both real and imagined.


Sunset Blvd on a Friday night. Creative Commons photo by: Steven Bevacqua. Sunset Blvd on a Friday night. Creative Commons photo by: Steven Bevacqua.

I recently discovered Environmental Detectives, a teaching tool which educates young kids to appreciate the sciences through the joys of exploration. I like this phrase – “Environmental Detectives” – and believe it is applicable to the research we do as a studio. Our process is perhaps less scientific (though not exclusive of science), more pragmatic, and heuristic driven in comparison to the teaching tool. But both approach problem solving using a similar inquiry-based process.

In our case our design process begins with site research. And from there, design inspiration emerges from multiple influences: site, people, environment, history, and much more. Ultimately, landscape architects want to create a design that tells the intrinsic story of a place and engages people through use and stewardship, so it is important for us as designers to understand a place to narrate…

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