On April 21st I took part in CicLAvia for my Los Angeles experience. This was an opportunity to participate in an event that allowed me to engage in an experience that reflected my love of the outdoors. This love of outdoor adventures is a trait that has been ever-present since my childhood and was the main reason I was drawn to this event, hoping it would bring that same undertaking.
The day began early. Seth and I had planned to meet several of our other classmates and friends at the Pomona Metro Station early that morning, however those plans quickly changed. Arriving at the station we purchased our tickets and were greeted by dozens of other cyclists, all participants in the event. To us this foreshadowed the rest of our journey. As the train pulled to the station we could see the vast number of bicycles pilled and stacked on one another and when the doors opened I forced my way through the crowded car only to look back and see I was the only one who made it on. It was then that the plan was changed. The others chose to drive to the event but I continued on. Once I had arrived, I looked out among the open streets to find a journey to take part in. Riding along the streets and passing many of the buildings and sites I was able to see these places in a new light, which added a new form of excitement to my journey. The venture continued as the group and I began what we believed to be a 15-mile round trip excursion. I came to find the task daunting once I understood the pathway was a 30-mile route, yet it came to add to the experience. The streets were crowded with an array of thousands of unique bicycles and bicyclists. Multi-level bikes and lively side street attractions and performers created this communal environment that I found myself truly becoming immersed in along with this community of cyclists. Reaching our destination, I found myself wanting to continue. Walking through Venice to a local sub shop I found the atmosphere heightened and it became a drive to continue on the road home. It was our plan to ride to the Gold Line Metro and then to Union station, yet we chose to continue on and complete the full route that was the highlight of my trip. The streets however were now closed and forced our collective group to actively be a part of the crowed vehicular streets that, for me, was a new exciting experience. This was a true adventure.
This event publicized the positive effect of creating a communal event and the effect it has on the number of participants and the surrounding cities. To me, CicLAvia brought an atmosphere and a journey that aided my adventure.
Kathryn Gustafson is a distinguished landscape architect who first began her practice in 1980 in Paris, France. A diverse and open-minded designer, Kathryn prides herself in collaborating amongst a variety of different professionals including architects, engineers and artists. The designer’s background was originally in fashion design, but eventually she found her way towards landscape architecture and moved to France to study at Ecole Nationale Superieure du Paysage. In 1980 she graduated and began her private practice, where she individually received many of the higher profile landscape projects for large corporate companies including Shell. Her private office has now merged and developed into two more notable firms: Gustafson Porter based in London and Gustafson Guthrie Nichol in Seattle.
A key aspect found in many of the designer’s works is the use of water. Gustafson uses thin sheets of water believing these features “to be magical because of their adaptability,” as well as the calming and reflective nature that the water gives the space without the need for a fountain or larger piece. One Mrs. Gustafson’s project, the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial, embodies this use of water. The site features an oval-shaped fountain in Hyde Park that was created as a way to memorialize Princess Diana’s spirit and love of children. The fountain features 545 individual pieces of cut granite that had a gentle flow of water that follows the natural sloping topography of the site. Each side of the fountain represents different aspects of Diana’s life. On one side of the fountain the bed is smooth and has a gentle flow of water that represents the happy times of the Princess’ life, and on the other the stream bed contains sharp features and curves that causes the water to move in a more infrequent manner. The two sides come together to meet at one common tranquil pool and the base of the fountain. Gustafson’s love of the use of water is used in such a way that it reveals a story of a prominent royal figures journey.
Parenthèse by Justin Dube-Fahmy & Huber Pelletier, 2006
Source: Urban Landscape Architecture, Loft Publications
The structure is constructed to reflect its surroundings by mirroring the broken crosswalk pattern as well as the urban architecture found around the site, which would commonly be images that go unnoticed by passers by.
Xurret System and Prep by Abalos & Herreros in collaboration with Escofet, 2004
Source: Urban Landscape Architecture, Loft Publications
Unlike a typical bench that focuses the user’s attention towards a specific view, usually in front of him or her, this particular bench does not have a designated focal point allowing for a more personal interaction with the space.
Punta Pite, 2005 by Destudio del Paisaje Teresa Moller & Asociados, 2005
Source: Photo taken by Chloe Brown, <http://www.plataformaarquitectura.cl/2012/06/29/punta-pite-estudio-del-paisaje-teresa-moller-asociados/tt/>
This path was constructed as a way for the users to become more connected with the surroundings and develop an appreciation for a landscape that otherwise would not have been accessible.
Revisiting past places and experiences reveals new discoveries that one would argue most times leads to further enhanced understanding of a space. An important part however is returning to these places with an open mind and to truly relive and embrace the experience. My visit to UCLA echoes this statement and became an influential characteristic of how I viewed and experienced the grounds.
Prior to my most recent visit, the campus to me seemed it was a space that did not contribute towards producing student activity and liveliness. The buildings and pathways were structured with a very open feel, which to me felt as though a disconnection between the students and the university itself existed. However reemerging myself into the space showed the flaws in my preceding judgment. By experiencing the estate with a more active environment I was able to see the true dynamic qualities of the school and the true central areas of that produced an energy that was experienced throughout my journey. Observing students, as they were actively engaging in seemingly unnoticed spaces either studying, playing sports other social activities further proved this quality to me.
Knowing that the university is very much connected to the active Westwood and Los Angles area, I first believed that the crowded buildings and streets would seem to surround the school grounds themselves. Yet I came to realize that this was not seen or even noticed as I walked throughout the campus. Many moments along the journey I found myself lost more in the surrounding of the school and not even realizing the fact that I was in a central area of a lively city.
Not allowing the surrounding environment or previous opinions to crowd my understanding of a space is a key lesson that was learned. Reentering the space allowed me to view and experience new aspects of the site itself.
Blog 3 Rewrite
A vast, yet hidden, estate lay in the center of this small portion of a seemingly endless county. Walking along a digressed path I found myself slowly moving towards the heart of this campus. Stepping over the outer boundary of the property I was exposed to the first signs of student life. Within a large, depressed sports arena I found cries of school spirit that resonated throughout the facility, which drew myself and other passers by further in. Venturing further the campus began to reveal its true identity. Unlike my previous encounter, masses of students and limited paths of travel among the crowds forced me towards areas of commonly unnoticed objects and structures. Winding my way through these crowds of students I was able to come across a view that I captured my attention. A community center framed by a continuous stairway guided my eye line towards the top the building and further towards the background. In a complex and urban city one would expect skyline congestion and competition from a variety of structures for the attention of the viewer. However this was not the case. Nowhere in my line of sight existed any opposing or distracting structures; the only image that I could focus on was the sky and the landscape of the campus. From this I was able to truly focus on the campus itself and not the surroundings. This experience is an aspect that the university is looking to achieve by providing its students a real sense of place and familiarity even within a crowded city. Slowly the campus began to darken and making my way back along the central path I exited the campus back onto the busy streets. It was a campus hidden away in the center of one of the most urbanized cities yet feels a place separate from it all.
A vast, yet hidden, estate lay in the center of a small portion of a seemingly endless county. Walking along a digressed path I found myself slowly moving towards the heart of this property. Unlike previous encounters, large groups became to emerge. Sports teams displaying the immense spirit in an arena captured my attention. Venturing further the campus began to reveal its true identity that was different than my previous encounter. Masses of students and limited paths of travel through the crowds forced me towards areas of commonly unnoticed objects and structures. Winding my way through these crowds of students I was able to come across a structure that I kept my attention. A community center framed by a continuous stairway guided your eye line towards the top the building and further on towards the background. In a complex and urban city one would expect congestion and competition of a variety of structures for the attention of the viewer, however it was not the case. Nowhere in my line of sight were there any opposing or distracting structures; the only image that I could focus on was the sky and the landscape of the campus. This allowed me to truly focus on the campus itself and not the surroundings. The university achieves a purpose of giving to its students a sense of place and a sense of familiarity. Aged, brick buildings and clean pathways that guided me along the different routes surrounded as I continued through the campus. Slowly the campus began to darken and making my way back along the same path I exited the campus back into the busy streets. It was a campus hidden away in the center of one of the most urbanized cities yet feels a place separate from it all.
A bike rack located between the bookstore and the John Wooden Center on the UCLA campus
Axial is defined as forming or relating to an axis. An axis is a straight line that connects two points and also serves as a sightline for the observer.