USC SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE STUDENTS AND ALUMNI AWARDED PRIZES IN SMALL LOTS, SMART DESIGNS: LOS ANGELES SMALL LOT SUBDIVISION DESIGN COMPETITION
City Hopes New Ordinance Will Fuel the Redevelopment of Thousands of Vacant Lots into Affordable, Green Homes
May 2, 2006, Los Angeles Four University of Southern California (USC) architecture students, Jesse Ottinger, Dinh Huynh, Shinju Shimizu and Jun Tanaka were awarded prizes in the student division of the Small Lots, Smart Designs: Los Angeles Small Lot Subdivision Design Competition on April 24 at a City Hall awards ceremony. Alumnus David Balian (2005) received an Honorable Mention as First Runner Up in the professional division. All 54 contest submissions will be displayed at the 2006 Enterprise Network Conference, October 25-27 at the Renaissance Hotel, Hollywood. Design renderings also will appear in a forthcoming brochure from non-profit sponsor Enterprise Community Partners.
The competition, developed by a committee comprised of members from the Mayor’s Office, The Enterprise Foundation, the Departments of Planning, Housing, and Building and Safety and the Community Redevelopment Agency, was prompted by a new ordinance adopted by the City of Los Angeles. The Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance provides a new housing option which will allow individuals or developers to purchase a lot zoned for commercial or multi-family residential use and subdivide into much smaller lots than previously required. The City hopes the ordinance will fuel the re- development of thousands of vacant and underutilized lots into affordable, green homes in Los Angeles. The Grand Prize winner’s design will be built on a lot owned by the Enterprise Home Ownership Partners. Select designs may be plan-checked and developed into a set of “off the shelf” standard plans that could be used on typical small lot subdivisions throughout the City and made available, for a fee, to builders and developers seeking well-designed and expedited designs.
“Even though we entered as students, the ideas are real, and we believe that we can have a positive impact on how these projects are thought of in the future.” says graduating Master of Architecture student Jesse Ottinger. With partner Dinh Huynh, Ottinger submitted a project entitled A Reinvention of Urban Living. The jury commented that these students, “[have] a complete understanding of the small lot subdivision ordinance and city codes.” Planners on the jury called the design, “an effective prototype for higher density home ownership opportunities. Replicable and buildable, but more on point, livable.”
In another winning entry, The Cube, 5th Year Design Studio students Shinju Shimizu and Jun Tanaka set out to capture elements common to the urban landscape in their native Japan. "We wanted to improve urban quality of life standards and create exciting outdoor spaces by removing the traditional courtyard and replacing it with private outdoor spaces on the homes' second level," noted Tanaka. The jury praised the simplicity of their design and the modernist approach.
2005 School of Architecture alumnus David Balian received an Honorable Mention for his project, Densification Prototype. Balian has 10 residential remodels to his credit plus high-rise builds in Los Angeles and San Diego. "My objective was to create space where you are able to differentiate your house from another and maintain a good indoor-outdoor feel for the homeowner,” says Balian
Judging criteria in both the student and professional categories included innovative physical design, potential for replicability, responsiveness to neighborhood context and environmental sensitivity. Entrants were given an actual lot in South L.A., on which they designed single-family workforce housing. Enterprise will break ground on the 1st place professional design later this year.
The Final judging panel consisted of City Council members Eric Garcetti (District 13) and Ed Reyes (District 1); Deborah Weintraub, Assistant City Engineer and City Architect, City of Los Angeles; Richard Bruckner, Director of Planning and Development, City of Pasadena; Keith Coleman, Member, Community Redevelopment Agency CD 9 Project Community Advisory Committee; Wade Killefer, Principal, Killefer, Flamming Architects; Sandra Kulli, Urban Land Institute; Allyne Winderman, Director of Housing and Redevelopment Department, City of West Hollywood; and Steven Ehrlich, Principal, Steven Ehrlich Architects.
The USC School of Architecture is located in the heart of Los Angeles, a singular laboratory in which to study and understand urban conditions and their architectural implications. Under the leadership of the late Dean Robert H. Timme, FAIA, the School has been committed to “shaping students’ experiences so they perform well in the profession and lead the discipline in new directions - sensing, responding to and helping create positive societal change.” Established in 1919, USC School of Architecture was the first of its kind in Southern California. Educational offerings include architecture, landscape architecture, building science, and historic preservation at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Among its notable graduates are Conrad Buff III, Donald H. Hensman, Pierre Koenig, and two Pritzker Prize Laureates: Frank O. Gehry (1989) and Thom Mayne (2005).