See all the winners of the 2020 Studio Prize.

Studio Brief | The design of a mixed-use mid-rise development incorporating housing, media, and creative office space, and occupying an entire city block in Downtown Los Angeles’s fashion district, became this studio’s canvas for exploring questions of private versus public space, circulation, programmatic blending, adjacency, and sectional relationships.

Investigation | The Los Angeles Metropolitan Program is an annual 20-week-long course that places students from the Department of Architecture at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in L.A.—160 miles south of the school’s campus. Students hold internships at local offices while tackling a project that addresses issues specific to the city’s particular urbanism.

The Spring 2020 edition was affected by COVID-19. A field trip to New York had to be canceled and students, faculty, and L.A.-area participants suddenly became figures on computer screens rather than in-person collaborators. But the group thrived nonetheless. “People needed something that we could do together, to go online and engage intellectually as a group,” professor Stephen Phillips, AIA, says. One unexpected benefit: Convening in virtual space allowed Phillips to expand the roster of lecturers to include far-flung professionals whose participation would ordinarily have been precluded by transportation and lodging costs.

The semester-long project addresses a very complex site and program—with an agenda. “It’s about the spaces in-between,” Phillips says. The brief stipulated that the students design a 12-story, mixed-use mid-rise with 50% porosity, which required students to develop spaces that leverage the links between forms, and to take into consideration the programmatic, spatial, and circulatory implications of them. “I’ve always taught that social politics matter, and that buildings matter, too,” Phillips says. “How do they correlate? We shouldn’t abandon architecture, but we should use it for strong social and political agendas.”

The schemes were drawn in great detail to prove feasibility, and, Phillips says, the result is that “there is a formal lyricism embedded in these projects.”

Victor Body-Lawson lauded the students and their brief for considering systemic issues of equity in access to housing as the projects were developed, and found the Associate and Dissociate scheme one of the most compelling of all the entries. “It represents architecture that continues to push form to create beautiful buildings,” he said.

Student Work |

Many Villages, Sometimes | Violeta Smart’s proposal addresses L.A.’s legacy of segregation and injustice by investigating how to create a meaningful sense of inclusion at the intersection of its varied programs.

Wave [x] Grid | Liam Lautze’s mixed-use, mass-timber structure takes advantages of adjacencies, such as a flower garden and market, and housing for the formerly homeless, to envision job training programs and other services.

Associate and Dissociate | In order to draw the necessary associations and dissociations between programmatic elements, Curt Budd developed the massing of his proposal with a focus on strategic segmentation.

Studio Credits
Course: Flatlanders: Multi-Income, Mixed-Use, Mid-Rise Housing for Downtown Los Angeles
School: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Department of Architecture; The Cal Poly
Los Angeles Metropolitan Program in Architecture and Urban Design
Level: Fourth-year undergraduate
Duration: Spring 2020
Instructors: Stephen Phillips, AIA (professor); Pavel Getov, Teddy Slowik, Ismael Soto, Fabio Zangoli, Sarah Hearne, Alex Maymind (lecturers)
Students: Curt Budd, Liam Lautze, Violeta Smart (submitted work); Alan Maedo, Amy Oh, Ariel Adhidevara, Arthur Monteiro Dos Santos, Christy Luong, Daniel Weaver, Eric Lopez, Erin Bailey, Evon Chang, Ezra Zuidema, François Rucki, Inno Yoro, Ivan Singh Parihar, Jake Hamilton, Jin Watanabe, Jordyn Voss, Kaye Lao, Kevin Wu, Michael Laberinto, Nadthachai Kongkhajornkidsuk, Rafael Gali, Reann Dela Cruz, Rex Lawrence, Roger Yap, Ryan Lau, Trevor Allen, Zack Pasma, Zane Ellis-Rector