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Zooming Between Myths

10 Big Ideas from Jimenez Lai and Bureau Spectacular illuminate and illustrate a reimagined DTLA.

In late 2019, Jimenez Lai and Bureau Spectacular were approached by the Downtown Center Business Improvement District to help produce a placemaking strategy for the Downtown Center that would help define – and redefine – Downtown LA’s unique urban landscape. Out of that endeavor, Lai developed a Manifesto of 10 Big Ideas. With distinctive and detailed perspectives on what makes our city special, these big ideas converge in a collage-like  portrait of DTLA. Big ideas like Cities Within the City, The Ultimate Secret Menu, and a City of Screens  reveal the city layer by layer, exploring new ways to imagine – and reimagine – its urban landscape, and the future of DTLA.

Downtown Los Angeles is a city of unseen myths. Above, beneath, within, and between the densely populated buildings, there are unspoken gems hidden in plain sight everywhere. In this speculative re-reading of DTLA, we zoom between the myths and present a series of visions to highlight and reveal the architectural and urbanistic undercurrents of DTLA through the format of diagrams and drawings.

As a love letter to Downtown Los Angeles, this project exhibits a collection of seemingly impossible ideas that already exist amongst us. From a Flying Fleet of  Social Zones hovering above DTLA to an archipelago of Buildings Within Buildings or a 2.5-D City terrain that intersects infrastructural layers of structures, these unlikely myths are all present in our Downtown. With this project, we provide a lens to relook at our city’s special urban conditions.

This project is by no means a definitive endpoint of a story. Instead, we propose it as a start to open many new ways of understanding our city differently. In time, further studies into each category would allow us to become more knowledgeable of just how marvelous DTLA already is and of the myriad paths of untapped potential still burgeoning within.

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