For Your Viewing Pleasure

Through an investigation into the varying scales and formal properties of commercial signage in Los Angeles’s Chinatown neighborhood, the first part of this project was able to establish a baseline for the presence of sign typologies in the greater Los Angeles context against which the signage of Bunker Hill could be evaluated.

The area of Bunker Hill expresses a range of signs that vary from complete absence to something so dominant that it can be considered iconic. The notion of iconicity that is generated from buildings such as the Broad, Walt Disney, and the Bonaventure is not one grounded in the location and experience of viewing the building, but instead it is dispersed across a much larger context. Visual recognition of the buildings and the construction of their own mythologies are tied to larger systems of distribution. Images are circulated on mass-media platforms at a scale proportionate to the power of its associated institution. What is then rendered to be the “iconic view” is one  that is impossible or difficult to achieve simply in route to the building itself.

In the case of bunker hill, the network of streets, proportions of the grid, and incompatibility of surrounding buildings produce a miscalibration between the scale of the icon and the proximity of the viewer. Thus areas of iconicity failure are designated where the iconic view is no longer able to be fulfilled. In fact the icons themselves adopt a secondary system of signage in the form of banners and text to communicate to pedestrians who are unable to view the complete form.

The Proposed Plan:

The 2018 Bunker Hill Redevelopment Council’s proposed plan titled “For Your Viewing Pleasure” attempts to resurrect the icon through its visibility. An elevated, pedestrian walkway wraps across Bunker hill framing the icon against its banal context reproducing the view most associated with the building’s iconicity. The path refrains from entering the areas of iconicity failure in order to preserve these views. The effect is something comparable to that of a zoo: the viewer is removed from the contained habitat as the animals effectively pose in front of their backdrops. Similar to the zoo, the proposed walkway does not allow the viewer contact with the subject in front of them: you can look at the zebras but you can’t touch, you can look at the Broad, but you can’t enter the infinity room. Essentially the icons are viewed in an abstracted state. They are objectified by elevating their ability to be viewed (literally and figuratively) while undermining their programs.The continuous line of the walkway requires the visitor to enter and exit beyond the boundaries of Bunker hill, forcing the pedestrian to make a decision of how to view the area upon entering. Do you want to view the icon or do you want to forfeit the view for an alternate experience?

The proposed pathway would adopt a modular structure (like scaffolding) that can mold around existing buildings and topography effectively preserving the Bunker Hill that gets trapped underneath. Mimicking the lighting of bunker hill that heavily favors icons over the “typical," which recede into blackness, the walkway adopts bordering walls that are only removed for views that contain an icon. Not only does the redevelopment project fulfill the fantasy that images of the district have tried to produce, but it also supports a reinvigoration of the development of iconic architecture. The Bunker Hill Redevelopment Council incentivizes the production of new icons by recognizing their presence along the path through the removal of walls that would otherwise block their ability to be viewed.

While new icons that wish to be recognized by the path must direct their iconicity toward the viewing platform, spatial consequences at the ground level produce occupiable areas between the icon and the scaffolding. Through a new generation of icons in Bunker Hill, a production of interstitial space at the ground level supports a more pedestrian friendly district.

At long last Bunker Hill is able to fulfill the fantasy that its images have tried to produce, while benefiting its own cultural and economic wellbeing.

Spring 2018

Instructor: Alfie Koetter

Team Members: Chase Galis, Dania Ghuneim, Anastassiya Saraikina

Final Presentation

Final Promotional Video