Community core running through the building grafts residential, commercial, and industrial uses
Residential units on upper levels have a view of the shared community spaces and recreation areas which strengthen the bond between residents and help foster trust in the community. The vegetation compensates for the hardness of downtown Los Angeles.
West Elevation
Floor Plans Levels 1 through 9
Section perspective of the vertical farm, restaurant, and atrium showing daylight penetrating the building. Entrance facade on South Hope St. uses reclaimed brickwork of the existing building.
Section perspective of West Pico Blvd entrance showing the market on the street level, business area on the second level, and vertical farms on the third and fourth levels.
People gathering in the seating area of the market with a view to an open staircase that leads to the second level as a strategy to graft programs together.
Solar chimney, shown in green, connects spaces vertically throughout the building. Stair circulation reinforces the vertical connection.
Section highlighting community zones with scale figures conveying program activities that include market, restaurant, and vertical farm.
Floor Plan Level 6
Prevailing wind from the south passively cools the building during warm summer months. Vegetated areas are oriented towards the south.
View from the corner of West Pico and South Hope streets show how the stepped building massing breaks up the scale of the building in contrast to the cost-efficient monolithic towers in this site area.
Form finding study models exploring the concept of grafting as expressed through building form and spatial experiences.
Grafting Diversity

Grafting Diversity

Advocating for equity and dignity for the unseen homeless citizens in Los Angeles

Bachelor of Architecture Thesis Project

Philip Ra, AIA
Mini Chu
B.Arch Thesis Equity through Research & Integrated Design Award

There have always been groups of people experiencing homelessness. Cities across the globe continue to collect congregations of street residents that exist in plain sight but remain ignored by the general population. Years of exposure to this scene has hardened the hearts of many, giving us the ability to walk past the suffering of our fellow man lying on the cold concrete – a display of disregard that only exemplifies where our society puts its resources when building a city.

This thesis project began as an attempt to understand and relieve some of the pressures that surround the homeless community. The research revealed that there is not much separating a lot of us from experiencing a similar fall from our economic standing; a debilitating accident, family emergency, or inability to earn an income have the potential to break most of us financially and place us in a position of dependence. Considering this frailty of our economic standing, as well as the global pandemic which has just brought the world to its knees, we must now completely rethink the ways we are accustomed to living. A newfound prioritization of self-reliance and sustainability has emerged, which may help to facilitate innovative thinking and the grafting together of program and social adjacencies that were previously foreign.

The project grafts the fringes of the Los Angeles homeless into one of the most prominent neighborhoods in the nation in the spirit of reverse gentrification. The technique of grafting instructs the design process with the common goals of improving the perception of the residents while simultaneously providing them with opportunity. The operation of a vertical farm, market area, and carbon free distribution method adds a fresh produce source to the increasing density of downtown Los Angeles.

Architecture has the responsibility to provide the tangible shell for program, but it must also enhance the spirit of belonging within the local community. My thesis targets the stigma that street residents have nothing to offer the rest of society and therefore lack value. The economic status of an individual does not determine their value and this truth needs to be exposed and celebrated. Architecture plays a guiding role in social behavior, and I believe that it has the power to realize this truth.

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