LA Plaza De Cultura: Documentation, Design, Construction

Historic rehabilitation projects typically begin with assessments, documentation, and assembling baseline conditions as part of a pre-design project process. These can run from outline feasibility studies to full-blown EIR's. Altogether these reports create an anticipatory landscape that can lead to a greater project understanding, and alternatively, propagate misconceptions and confusion. As construction documentation process commences, the level of data increases in depth, detail and scope. Specific restoration design case-study examples will showcase different preservation design issues, drawing from the workshop venue at LA Plaza de Cultura. These include placing La Plaza's two 19th century Victorian Italianate buildings in the context of the surrounding 18th century district of El Pueblo (the founding settlement of Los Angeles) and its classic plaza designed in accordance with the Spanish colonial Laws of the Indies; and subsequent 20th century planning for the vast Los Angeles Civic Center district, which threatened to subsume the buildings. The challenge of building within changing historic landscapes over time will be evaluated, along with the reconstruction of exterior façade elements of the historic buildings, proposed designs for additions to historical structures, and required façade alterations and structural interventions. A panel will provide assessments of proposed solutions, and after-completion commencement of post-construction modifications. The day's presentations conclude with an area walking tour, including a related project for a proposed "Historical City Walk" of the La Plaza area.


Learning Objectives

  1. Documentation as a first step in uncovering data in support of the historical construction process
  2. Greater awareness of breadth of potential preservation design solutions
  3. Identify character defining features in a complex and how to integrate this into a successful adaptive reuse / infill design
  4. Exposure to intricacies of project implementation, for staging a project, addressing required mitigations, and incorporating state of the art infrastructure
  5. Greater awareness of special trades and skills required to successfully plan and implement rehabilitation projects
  6. Examples of what makes a compatible design, compatible, and when to rehabilitate and when to replace-in-kind
  7. Better understanding of the needs for continuing research and survey work in the development of the Construction Documents


  • Doug Suisman, FAIA, Principal, Suisman Urban Design
  • Taylor Louden, Historical Architect, GTL Architecture
  • Claire Robinson, Managing Director, Amigos de Los Rios
  • Michael Matteucci, Associate Principal,  Chu + Gooding Architects
  • John Dietler, Program Director, Cultural Resources, SWCA Environmental Consultants

Continuing Education

  • AIA - HSW
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