Ghosts of Downtown Los Angeles was an inhabitation-centered survey of neighborhoods in the heart of Los Angeles by students of a course entitled Design Communication 3, taught by Donatella Cusmá and Bojána Bányász at the Woodbury University School of Architecture, Department of Interior Architecture. The project was presented at the Downtown Artwalk on April 10, 2014 in the MALDEF Building’s Lounge on 634 S. Spring Street in Los Angeles, CA.
Students presented their personal impressions, research and ideas in the form of several hand-made, silkscreened and laser-etched postcard series that characterize Los Angeles’ urban fabric in five distinct ways. The series and participating students are as follow:
“Re-Seeing” is a postcard series that highlights the irreverent relationship between the rapidly changing demographic in the Downtown theatre district and the iconic facades of the historic buildings on Broadway.
“Provisional Occupation” draws parallels between public space – historically “fringe-space” – in Los Angeles, and the reclamation of this space through moments of domestication by individuals, many of them on the fringes of society themselves.
“LA Tribes: Chinatown, a case study” is interested in how different currents of cultural identity mix, get reinforced or subdued through public ritual and public architecture.
“Melting Pot of Fashion” investigates a variety of commercial relationships observable on the streets and in the alleys of the Fashion District, some of which are exploitative, others contributing to the diversity and vibrancy of the neighborhood.
“Oil & Water Don’t Mix, except in LA” looks at parallel and similar histories of two natural resources that have shaped Los Angeles’ urban form, as well as the lifestyles of its inhabitants.
Some 300-350 postcards were be available free of charge to the visitors of the Downtown Artwalk on April 10th to mail to any location they chose to. The purpose of presenting the postcard series as a mailing event was to engage visitors in a conversation with emerging designers about the use and aesthetics of urban public space in LA.
The project was supported by a Maxine Frankel Faculty Award from Woodbury University, and was conceived, curated and organized by adjunct faculty Bojána Bányász and Donatella Cusmá.