Finding Public Space in the Margins

Dec 31, 2002



“Give and Take” fills in chain-link fences at property lines, transforming the structure intended to divide properties into a gathering place. Rubber tubes slipped into the fence openings can be pushed or pulled to create topographic furniture.

LocationHollywood, California, USA
ClientYucca Corridor Coalition
Design CenterCenter for Community Research and Design, Woodbury University
Design TeamJeanine Centuori, Russell Rock, Sonny Ward, Jesie Kelly, and Woodbury University students
ConsultantKim Shkapich
Major FundingNational Endowment for the Arts; Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts; American Institute of Architects, California Council and California Architectural Foundation, William Turnbull, Jr., FAIA Environmental Education Grant; Woodbury University

Many community design centers are eager to engage in design/build projects in their cities, but often land is either too costly or too far from the population the center is mandated to reach.

Such was the case in Los Angeles, home to some of the most expensive real estate in the world. However, a studio hosted by the Center for Community Research and Design at Woodbury University in Los Angeles found a novel solution. Rather than competing with developers for prime lots, they focused on finding what they called “public spaces in the margins.”

The studio was taught by Jeanine Centuori, the center’s director, and Russell Rock, her partner at the firm UrbanRock Design, who challenged their students to design public amenities in the disregarded recesses of the city. In this new view of the urban landscape, grass-trimmed edges of parking lots became incubators for business, blank walls become hosts for public showers and water fountains, and chain-link fences intended to mark property lines became spontaneous sites for “congregation and conversation.” Although the project began as a theoretical exploration, the group is working with the Yucca Corridor Coalition to implement one of its ideas: to turn parking meters into markers of historic sites and other points of interest.

A street marker highlighting the Capitol Records Building. “Site Portals” turn ordinary parking meters, street lights, and tree guards into ocular guides to historic sites and other neighborhood landmarks.

“Water Bar” provides a consolidated set of public amenities: showers, restrooms, drinking fountains, and a car wash cantilevered off blank walls along sidewalks. Plumbing is contained within a bar attached to the wall. All renderings UrbanRock Design


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *