Colin Marshall sits down in Silver Lake with Alissa Walker, writer on urban design, architecture, and the cityscape — especially Los Angeles’ — for publications like GOOD, Dwell, the LA Weekly, and more. She also associate-produces KCRW’s DnA: Design and Architecture. They discuss Sunset Triangle Plaza, the area of reclaimed street where they sit, and what it says about the Angeleno “mind shift” toward getting out of the car; how many small, cheap improvements can alter the urban experience in the same way as a few large, expensive ones; her friends’ lingering fear of getting “all sweaty” while riding bicycles, buses, and trains; the complacency Los Angeles instilled in its residents in the seventies, eighties, and even nineties; increasing the “stumble upon” factor in a large, spread-out city; her experience building a more accurate narrative of Los Angeles, a city that hasn’t done much to brand itself lately, than the ones in the New York Times; the urban projects that work in this city and the ones, like a “living wall” being torn down right behind them, that don’t; Los Angeles’ tendency to create spaces in which to compress and imitate itself; the lack of markers, literally and figuratively, to show you “where the stuff is”; learning and showing Los Angeles through its architecture, and other works of public design more interesting than the artisanal chairs so popular last decade; her part in the GOOD Ideas for Cities project, especially when it went to her native St. Louis, and how it got her thinking about the possibilities of American cities; and her recommendations on how best to keep your eyes on the streets in Los Angeles.
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