Title: Chain Reaction: Using Networks to Affect Change
Driving through the city, drawing water from the tap, turning on the lights, catching up with friends on Facebook, pumping blood through our bodies— these actions all depend on networks, the interrelated connections either physical or digital, technological or biological, localized or global, that taken together produce an effect that is greater than the disparate parts would suggest. Connections form the heart of any network and extend beyond a defined site or source. Like an internet meme or a signal malfunction on the New York City subway — sometimes even the slightest alteration to an existing system can cascade to create real change or real chaos.
Landscape architects are trained in systems thinking; how systems work within themselves and integrate with others to perform necessary functions is a fundamental service we provide. The challenge of this studio will be to develop this skill—to understand how the pieces fit together, and, more importantly, develop strategies for improving those connections when things don’t quite fit. The site will be Los Angeles and the networks that most acutely influence the way Angelenos live and how the city functions.
By the end of the semester, students will have identified a specific integration of networks and targets for intervention that will either allow the network to work better or, perhaps, re-appropriate it to transform the network’s purpose. The intervention you derive may be a specific site, a detail to be replicated over the whole network, or even a change in policy. Regardless, it will have an identified physical expression.
Directed Design Research (DDR) is the title given to the independent design exploration that is the final studio-based requirement for the MLA degree. Students are required to identify and explore transcendent issues and principles through the discipline of landscape architecture design.