Los Angeles is currently “reaching a saturation point,” says Sam Lubell, who with fellow curator Danielle Rago created Shelter: Rethinking How We Live in Los Angeles, the inaugural exhibition for the Architecture + Design (A+D) Museum’s new home in the city’s Downtown Arts District (on view now through November 6). Decades of migration to L.A.'s sunny skies have led to unprecedented strain: The Los Angeles County population hovers around 10 million and the city is entering year five of a debilitating drought. Meanwhile, housing prices have soared.
With expansion into the desert no longer an environmentally or logically feasible solution, the two curators commissioned six local firms—Bureau Spectacular, LA-Más, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA), MAD Architects, PAR, and wHY—to explore housing solutions that would address urgent needs of density, affordability, and sustainability. The exhibition focuses on two sites currently undergoing major changes: the L.A. River—where a vast concrete drainpipe is currently being overhauled by Frank Gehry—and the Wilshire corridor—the site of the Metro’s forthcoming Purple Line extension and whatever subsequent effects it may bring. (One of them being the A+D Museum’s move to a new location: its former building on Miracle Mile is set to be demolished to make way for a new train station.) Left to their own devices, the firms have put together an architectural version of a science fair: presentation boards and scale models display their hypotheses in the museum’s new downtown space.