The LA Forum sends news of a competition ready to change the plucked, powdered, and withering face of LA housing: Dingbat 2.0. I'm happy to spread the word, not only because a piece I wrote for ReadyMade magazine years ago is cited as source material, but because there's a terrific jury ready to cull through forward thinking proposals for Los Angeles' future.
Dingbat 2.0:The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design proposes DINGBAT 2.0, an open, single-stage, international design competition, reconsidering Los Angeles’ ubiquitous dingbat apartment building for the 21st century. All designers, architects, artists, engineers, students, and other interested parties are fully eligible for participation in this competition.
Barbara Bestor (Principal, Bestor Architecture)
John Chase (Author / Urban Designer, City of West hollywood)
Dana Cuff (Director, cityLAB -UCLA/AUD, Los Angeles)
Teddy Cruz (Principal, Estudio Teddy Cruz, San Diego)
Neil Denari (Principal, NMDA, Los Angeles)
Joshua Prince-Ramus (Principal, REX, New York)
The Dingbat grew out of Los Angeles’ rapid postwar expansion period and defined a pervasive vernacular that still weaves through the space of the city’s neighborhoods and the decades of their development. For more than half a century, this idiosyncratic typology has been vilified, praised, studied, and often misunderstood – as much for being ugly and ordinary as for being innovative, iconoclastic, and distinctly “L.A.” As a housing type, the Dingbat has aided the sprawl for which L.A. is infamous while simultaneously creating a consistency of urban density achieved by few other cities. Beyond its role as an alternative to L.A.’s traditionally single-family planning focus, the Dingbat allowed millions of immigrants to arrive in Los Angeles and find their shared piece of paradise. The Dingbat offered the tropes of the singly family house minus the mortgage – a consolation prize to the American Dream.
Yet despite its dominance for over 50 years, the original Dingbat no longer fulfills the changing needs of a new Los Angeles. The majority of new immigrants to L.A. no longer arrive from Middle America and instead they carry with them different traditions of individuality and family life. The car (and the development patterns it demands) is no longer sustainable in a metropolis whose very identity is synonymous with “car culture.” Today is an opportune time to revisit the Dingbat, its relationship to the identity of the city, and the unexploited possibilities it may yet offer the discipline of architecture.Dingbat 2.0 asks designers to re-envision the Dingbat, and, in so doing, offer a revised vision for L.A. itself. In order to redefine the Dingbat, it is essential to understand what has made it so successful (or at least ubiquitous) and determine what form of Dingbat-ness will best define a new identity for an emerging 21st Century Los Angeles. In short, this is not Banham’s Dingbat. Instead, Dingbat 2.0 is a complete re-invention of the typology, one that could allude to L.A.’s residential future, rather than simply glorifying one of the many pop-cultural icons of its past.For me it’s the sad, faded dignity of the apartment buildings that makes this plasticky City of Angels seem like a livable place. A place where names are no longer placeholders for a better tomorrow, but first editions of the American dream, executed in shades of turquoise and dusty rose.Design Challenge:-Mimi Zeiger, Dingbat Culture
The competition calls for the consideration of two design issues regarding the Dingbat and it’s impact on the urban fabric of Los Angeles. Two boards (digital-only submittal) will be required for the competition. One board will address the typology of the Dingbat at the scale of the individual building (are they to be retrofitted? replaced?), and the second board will consider the larger urban scale of an entire city block within a ‘Dingbat neighborhood’. Three separate sites in three distinct Los Angeles neighborhoods will be considered for the competition.
April 1: Competition announcement
April 12: Complete Competition Brief available
May 31: Registration period ends
June 4: Submission deadline
June 12: Jury
June 19: Winners announced + Exhibition
Prizes and Entry Fees:
A total of $9,000 USD in prize money will be awarded in the following categories:
1st place $4000
2nd place $2000
3rd place $750
1st place $1500
2nd place $500
3rd place $250
Professional entry fee: $75 USD
Student entry fee: $25 USD (must provide copy of Student ID)
Click here for registration and payment information.