Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Common Ground: The Conversation Continues

Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles was published in fall 2022 by Angel City Press.

This book, which makes the case for LA's admirable legacy of multifamily housing centered on shared social space (and, sometimes, ownership), is my most personal statement and deeply felt passion project to date. It arrived just as housing has become Topic A for many people, for many reasons. 

These include concerns over: how to create quality affordable housing, affordably; rising density in Los Angeles and the often generic buildings now appearing on our arterial routes; the impact of, and whether to build, ADUs; how and where to live as we age; options for young people in the face of outsize house prices; and desire for greater sense of community in a culture and economy that privileges single family homes.

By no means did Common Ground close the book on the topic. Rather it opened the door to learning much more (that will be developed in future writings). Since publication I've participated in many public conversations about housing in Los Angeles, at which I have met residents, designers and developers with new questions and perspectives. It has been an exhilarating education, if at times perplexing as I learn ever more about the complexity of realizing multifamily housing that feels and looks great, for a decent and stable cost to builder and resident.

Common Ground has also been covered in several publications, including:

Carolina Miranda wrote about Common Ground in the context of parking, and how much it dominates land use in America, in this essay in the LA Times, which also discussed Henry Grabar’s clever, tragi-comic book, Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World.

 Capital & Main, in which author Kelly Candaele focused on the "radicals and other visionaries" who "challenged the real estate industry by pushing bold public housing projects and alternative forms of ownership." 

The New York Times' Julie Lasky amplified the book's coverage of the great "examples of affordable multifamily buildings that look like anything but." 

I showed Oliver Wainwright some of the under-appreciated, classic Modern multifamily buildings by Irving Gill, Richard Neutra and others for The Guardian.  

I went on a tour of prime examples of socially centered living with Steve Chiotakis for his KCRW show, Greater LA

I talked with Larry Mantle on his show, Air Talk. about about his own childhood living in an apartment building in Baldwin Hills.

The book has also been covered in Metropolis, LA Daily News, and Forbes, as well as by many readers.

Finally, it was one of 15 books selected for The Architects Newspaper holiday gift guide, and garned a Foreword Reviews Book Gold award.

I am grateful to all who have shown interest in the book, and hope that it has contributed in a small way to current efforts to built shelter for the needs of people in the 21st century megalopolis that is Los Angeles.

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