Lauren Elachi

Adjunct Lecturer


Master of Landscape Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design Bachelor of Arts, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University

Lauren is a landscape architect and community advocate. She uses design to create equitable access, improve public health outcomes, and envision spaces of joy and justice through her work. As Design Principal at Kounkuey Design Initiative's Los Angeles office, she has managed projects ranging from recreational spaces in South Philadelphia, to indigenous planning documents in Juneau, to environmental justice advocacy campaigns in the Eastern Coachella Valley. She is a partner in USC's Landscape Justice Initiative and is currently developing projects around design's role in mitigating Los Angeles' housing and homelessness crisis.

Prior to joining Kounkuey Design Initiative, Lauren worked at SCAPE Landscape Architecture in New York City, where she was involved in projects at the intersection of infrastructure, ecology, and community resiliency. She has previously taught at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs and at the Rhode Island School of Design. She received her Master of Landscape Architecture degree from Harvard University Graduate School of design and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University.

Currently Teaching
  • 571
    Community-Based Design, Conservation and Planning
    Community-Based Design, Conservation and Planning

    This course will focus on meaningful, ethical and effective methods for designing and planning the physical environment with communities rather than for them, with the term project specifically focused on working with a historically disinvested community local to USC. The intention is: (1) to provide theoretical footing for why and how methods of community codesign and other community-based methods of engagement and involvement are effective at achieving more equitable, meaningful, vibrant and resilient neighborhoods; and (2) to develop a toolbox of techniques that can be deployed across communities and projects to reach, engage and involve particular audiences and community members in evaluating, planning and designing their physical environments. The term will be dedicated to a particular community through a partnership with a key organization focused on that community’s built landscape through the lens of equitable access, public health and wellness, cultural memory and place attachment, and climate resilience. The term project will be an exhibition featuring the outcomes of this engagement process – cultural asset mapping, oral histories, visual and textual output of ongoing engagement and some propositions for how these might inform the design, planning and/or conservation of the community of focus. Means of ensuring reciprocity so that students give back to the community in some form will be essential to the project.

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