In a city that's perhaps best known for a certain awards show that rolls around every spring, the definition of "creativity" can often be lost in a sea of sequinned cleavage and sobby acceptance speeches. But the Urban Land Institute's brand-new L.A. awards show is a direct response to that—it's called the Los Angeles Real Creativity Awards.
The LARCs, as they are known, honor Los Angeles achievements of the other creatives in town, those in design, architecture, art, culture, and business. The winners in four categories—design, place, enterprise and idea—will be announced at an event Saturday night in Los Angeles presided over by L.A. luminaries like architect Frank Gehry. Here's a look at the finalists and who should win.
In the Design category, the most visionary and game-changing concept is the Hollywood Freeway Cap Park (above), a proposal for a 44-acre park to cover the 101 freeway through one of the most park-deprived communities in the city. Another finalist is also a concept for Hollywood, the East Cahuenga Corridor Alley, which transforms a drab Hollywood alley into a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly entertainment and shopping strip. The third finalist, the Flower Street BioReactor, is a concept by Emergent that uses algae to produce oil in a downtown storefront.
For Place, there has been no bigger impact to any community in the city than the Downtown Art Walk, founded by Bert Green Fine Art gallery five years ago. The monthly event has brought thousands of people to once-darkened streets and has revitalized blocks of formerly economically-depressed inner city neighborhoods. Other finalists include the Academy of Entertainment Technology at Santa Monica College, which has leveraged a powerful relationship with powerhouse public radio station KCRW to train its students; the Maltman Bungalows, a high-density residential development, and the New Carver Apartments, a revolutionary low-income building for the Skid Row Housing Trust.
The Enterprise nod should go to the community of Mar Vista, possibly one of the most progressive in the city, with initiatives like Open Mar Vista, an ambitious social network and community Web site that includes information for programs like a neighborhood-wide solar roll-out. Other finalists include Wilson Meany Sullivan, neighborhood-friendly developers responsible for the Hollywood Park Mixed Use Project in Inglewood, and YOLA, a youth orchestra initiative headed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic's energetic new conductor, Gustavo Dudamel.
Finally, the Idea award. While the thinking behind the concept Thinking Out of the Big Box to reimagine our Targets and Walmarts is admirable, the Imagine Mars program conceived by JPL and NASA is a real game-changer in its far-reaching ability to bridge two disparate concepts—a recovering Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina and a colony on Mars—while asking kids to design their own ideal communities.
[Art walk photo by View from a Loft]