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A Love Letter to DTLA

15 places reimagined by CallisonRTKL to explore and envision possibilities for DTLA’s future cityscape.

In early 2020, the Downtown Center Business Improvement District hired CRTKL to be part of a collaborative effort to conduct a Placemaking Audit of the District. Together with designers and all-around creative thinkers, Jimenez Lai & Bureau Spectacular, CRTKL conducted a study that assessed existing conditions and identified key placemaking opportunities and locations. This document is the result of that effort and is intended to offer a range of potential urban tactics to help build on DTLA’s ongoing renaissance.

For over 30 years, CRTKL has called Downtown Los Angeles home and our firm has always chosen to see the possible in our city. We were excited to work alongside our partners at the DCBID to locate spaces that could become future placemaking opportunities. We were inspired by our collaborator Bureau Spectacular's Manifesto of Big Ideas for Downtown, an artful vision of our city that gave new meaning to the project.

When our audit journey began, we had planned to canvas the streets of DTLA in force, but COVID-19 quickly changed that. Instead, we explored the streets virtually, from the safety of our work-from-home offices, with the Manifesto’s themes as our philosophical guide. We searched for places that were left behind, under-utilized or simply unseen. Working in ArcGIS, we catalogued over 300 unique placemaking locations, from hidden alleys to forgotten pedways, from blank hillsides to underground avenues.

From this broad urban canvas, we selected 15 ideas that felt especially relevant for our city and for our unique time. From the aspirational Avenues of Grand Culture to shovel-ready Parking Lot Possibilities, we share them with an invitation to join the conversation about what comes next.

Our partners at DCBID have described this effort as "A Love Letter to DTLA," a fitting moniker, as this has been, for our team, an undeniable labor of love.

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