A Call to Protect Cultural Institutions from Urban Renewal

While considering plans for a large urban renewal project in Hollywood, Los Angeles struggles to avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater—that is, saving a place for small cultural institutions when redeveloping neighborhoods.
September 29, 2014, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"The Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID) has plans to tear down the block of Hollywood Boulevard and Wilcox Avenue in Hollywood containing Woodbury University’s WUHO Gallery, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibits (LACE) Gallery, and the Cupcake Theater in favor of a mixed-use housing development," reports Sam Lubell.

According to Lubell, the news reflects a common theme of Los Angeles failing to protects cultural institutions during redevelopment and infrastructure projects. For instance, the county transportation agency, Metro, plans to raze a "stretch of Wilshire Boulevard that contains the A+D Architecture and Design Museum, Edward Cella Art and Architecture, cultural incubator For Your Art, and gallery Steve Turner Contemporary" to make way for the forthcoming Purple Line extension (also known by the misnomer "Subway to the Sea").

Lubell acknowledges that the HCID has done a better job of providing a possible place for those Hollywood Boulevard institutions to return to their homes after the redevelopment, but a larger point about responsible urban renewal still remains to be made for Los Angeles: "Urban renewal can be a tool for wanton destruction, but sometimes it’s ok to tear down sites in the name of progress. But in so doing small cultural players should not be discarded, even if they don’t have the same pull as the more powerful ones."

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Published on Monday, September 29, 2014 in The Architect's Newspaper
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