Transient Sweatshop: The Spatial Trajectories of a Downtown Los Angeles Midrise
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This thesis sets out to investigate the concept of spatial agency in architecture as a means of expression, occupation, and production at a downtown midrise in Los Angeles. Nestled at the juncture of the Fashion and Flower Districts, this marginalized site embodies the idiosyncratic complexities of the city. In utilitarian sites such as 808 South Wall Street, urban development agendas often simply perpetuate new spatial orders without much awareness of the tensions inherent to living and working within complex industrial networks. Can the occupants within and outside of this downtown midrise - transients, sweatshop workers, flower vendors, fashion designers, and the building owner - become agents of spatial change through the narratives of social process? This project undertakes the task of integrating alternate modes of occupation into the architectural design process by tracing spatial change through the medium of the graphic novel. Interweaving process and product, this architectural graphic novel integrates conventional modes of architectural representation within the structure of the narrative. The architect takes on the role of the author who writes the narrative and renders building representations simultaneously, substantiating each in the other. Through this methodology the characters become spatial proxies for the midrise and its evolution. This narrative language challenges that of architecture to carefully consider the scale of intervention and the temporality of project phasing when designing within a polyvocal, peripheral urban site. Site-congruent design practices can engender the nuance necessary for wide-ranging access to the production and expression of space.
- Architecture