Gentrification by Design 1

Case Study 1:
Los Angeles

Workshop Series

Saturday October 15 2016

GENTRIFICATION BY DESIGN – Shaping Neighborhood Change

Case Study 1: LOS ANGELES

In what ways can designers seek to influence trajectories of gentrification in American neighborhoods, and on behalf of whom?

This workshop—taking place over two Saturdays in October 2016—will bring together graduate students with leading practitioners from three case study cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh. Through lectures and break-out discussions, students will be invited to examine and question current strategies being developed in these cities and to interact directly with practitioners from a range of disciplines. The speakers from each case study city will present a specific design challenge they are confronting in their own work. During the break-out discussions, participating students will develop responses to these challenges, and present their proposals and findings at the conclusion of the workshop.

What, if any, benefits can come to existing tenants and communities in American cities that are feeling the creep of gentrification? How can designers discern the diverse forms of gentrification in differing localities? If gentrification creates volatility for business-owners and residents in areas with increasing real estate values, what concrete tools are emerging in the design field to address displacement, shape the public realm, and re-direct investments in American neighborhoods? Who stands to gain from these new tools—the old-timers or new-comers? And are these categories of urban citizenship even relevant to the dynamics induced by increasing real estate values?

The first part of this two-part event takes Los Angeles as a case study.

After an opening talkby Oscar Perry Abello that lays out some of the main aspects of gentrification in America today, Yuval Bar-Zemer of Linear City Development will give the context and a precent by providing an overview of the Arts District and how it has evolved with changes in industry. Specifically, he will discuss the relationships between land use policy, economic development, and physical and cultural displacement.

Elizabeth Timme and Helen Leung of LA Más will share their work in the Los Angeles neighborhoods Frogtown and Wilmington. In addition, they will discuss their efforts to address issues related to housing affordability and the small business economy.

The questions we will raise include:

How should policy and long-term planning address renters versus owners?

In what ways can we plan for inevitable changes in industry and technology and their implications for the built environment?

The workshop is moderated by Daniel D’Oca.


Oscar Perry Abello
Oscar is a journalist. His writings concern themes of equity and justice in cities, communities, finance, and the economy in publications like Fast Company, Next City, and NextBillion. Oscar holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Villanova University.

Yuval Bar-Zemer
As co-founder of Linear City Development LLC, Yuval supports the revitalization of downtown Los Angeles and the creation of vital neighborhoods through high density, mixed used projects. He is founder of the Institute for Field Research (IFR), a member of the Planning Committee of theNew Cities Foundation (NCF), and serves on the Board of theLos Angeles River Artists and Business Association (LARABA). Yuval holds a degree in Music from the Music Academy of Jerusalem.

Helen Leung
As co-executive director of LA Más—a Los Angeles-based non-profit urban design organization—, Helen leads and creates projects that are grounded in community need and policy potential. With a particular interest towards redefining the intersection of community development and social equity, Helen has explored opportunities for inclusive development through the Futuro de Frogtown and Elysian Valley Knowledge Hub projects. She serves on the Police Commission’s Permit Review Panel, the Community Advisory Board of Genesis LA, and the board of the Elysian Valley Arts Collective. Helen holds a master’s degree in Public Policy and Urban Planning from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communication from the University of Pennsylvania.

Daniel D’Oca
Daniel is an urban planner. He is Principal and co-founder of the New York City-based architecture, planning, and research firm Interboro Partners, and Associate Professor in Practice of Urban Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. At Harvard, Daniel has taught interdisciplinary US-based studios about age-friendly design and planning, suburban poverty and segregation, and other contemporary problems in the United States. Daniel holds a Master in Urban Planning from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Elizabeth Timme
As co-executive director of LA Más—a Los Angeles-based non-profit urban design organization—, Elizabeth critically engages systemic problems through a design perspective. She teaches at Woodbury University’s Agency for Civic Engagement Center (ACE) and serves on the Zoning Advisory Committee of Re:Code LA, a city-led effort to transform Los Angeles’s outdated zoning code. Elizabeth holds a Master in Architecture II degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor in Architecture degree from the University of Southern California.

Harvard Graduate School of Design Map