Architecture Students Reimagine Watts in New Exhibit

Engaging the Urban Landscape: WLCAC and Woodbury Reimagine Watts features the work of Woodbury School of Architecture students in collaboration with the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC), a non-profit, community-based, human social services organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for South Los Angeles residents. Over the course of the semester, the students met with members of the WLCAC and developed a series of urban and architectural projects that include aviary towers, artists housing, and urban farming. Dispersed throughout the city and anchored in the culturally rich urban environment of Watts, these projects employ a range of design concepts to explore ideas of “urban ecology” at various scales. The work aims to engage the residents of Watts in reimagining the urban landscape as a sustainable neighborhood in the near future.

Engaging the Urban Landscape: WLCAC and Woodbury Reimagine Watts will open with a reception from 2 - 6 p.m. on May 5. Exhibition dates are Sunday, May 5 - Friday, May 31 at 10950 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90059.

“WLCAC is proud to host the Woodbury School of Architecture as it ponders design concepts that fortify the urban environment and foster compelling, new cultural experiences for the residents of Watts,” says Timothy Watkins, CEO of WLCAC. “WLCAC’s history is filled with many rich experiences shared with students from around the world. Like seeds, ideas and plans sprout new growth wherever they touch down and are essential to growth and resiliency. In a well-nourished community the ideas and plans of hopeful people are the evidence of resiliency in Watts. The students of Woodbury created examples from which communities across America may learn.”

On view to the public at the WLCAC gallery throughout May, Engaging the Urban Landscape represents three bodies of work produced by Woodbury students: Birds and Cities, Disordered Spaces, and Fiber.

Birds and Cities, led by instructors Berenika Boberska and Jason King, explores airborne ecologies and proposes a series of urban aviary towers that double as a gathering spaces for local community and cultural events. Students collected research data for their projects using aerial cartography. A 5-foot-diameter helium balloon contraption was used to map the neighborhood.

Disordered Spaces: Live/Work/Exhibit, led by instructor Anthony Fontenot, reimagines the role that artist housing can play in developing a new urban vision for Watts. Each student was asked to develop high-density housing solutions that address questions of living, working and exhibiting in close proximity. The spaces of home, studio, and gallery are reimagined as a new type of “neighborhood” evolving from the contemporary culture along Central Avenue in the heart of Watts.

Fiber, led by instructors Michael Pinto and Matthew Milton, takes Mudtown Farms, an urban farm park and community center in Watts, as a site of investigation. Students were asked to design a fence that acts as a connector rather than a barrier. Their proposals link farm initiatives to other geographies and community aspirations. Projects consider food production on the fence, potential energy generating initiatives, green streets initiatives, community mobility, and tourism.