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Long Beach’s Architecture Should Inspire

Urban planning is comparable to a meal, with the ingredients being its architecture.

Great architecture is synonymous with great food, with the quality of a place never rising above the quality of its ingredients. A city, therefore, is only as good as its ingredients. 

With the announced release of a cache’ of over 300 former redevelopment properties in Long Beach, California, the city has a great opportunity to inspire change for the better. This all starts with procuring better ingredients.

In days of old proud civic companies would invest in architecture that branded them, and lifted the built environment. Today, in Long Beach, we are seeing both that and unfortunately much more pure profiteering. An example of responsible civic investment, from a private company, is the Famers and Merchants Company. While they always had a choice on how to design, or restore, their properties, they have always taken the highest road. Its branches, on Second Street and Bellflower Boulevard, represent some of the finest examples of quality architecture built in Long Beach. 

Landmarks, such as these, make up the fabric of a vibrant community respectful of its past and excited for its future. We have a choice. As a designer, I know that highest choice involves placing people first. People need open space, fresh air, and safe and healthy buildings in which to inhabit. 

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View of Paris and of the Eiffel Tower from above. Courtesy of Press-Telegram.

I see a place where urban centers are teeming with proud, patrons of art and architecture. Reinvigorating underutilized and vacant properties, and creating real value. 

The days of fossil fuel morals and disposable cities have past. Nothing is disposable, everything needs to be recycled. Long Beach has pure potential. The city is very approachable. Its populace is friendly and property is still affordable. The city remains a place with, arguably, the most beautiful natural beach in Southern California, a beach which once hosted the World Surfing Championships. And it is a warm and sunny place with 340 days of sunshine and ocean breezes.

Architecture is about people. Architecture is not boxes that hold people, places or things. Architecture is the physical manifestation of humanity. It represents our highest potential and our loftiest dreams. It has the power to raise communities and lower them. 

Long Beach could easily be the next Brooklyn, or Oakland. Both places are rebranding as diverse, vibrant and socially responsible homes of architecture, and its people. 

Long Beach should focus on: hyper-sustainability, architecture incubation, and community redevelopment. With hyper-sustainability I am speaking of a “living building challenge,' the first of what could be many, as defined by the International Living Future Institute, and their list of 20 specific imperatives.

Architectural incubation is defined as creating a city that encourages new and avant-garde approaches to urban architecture, taking the lid off the box, and creating a ‘tech hub’ for architecture.

Finally, lets look at ways to focus developers back to cities, where the infrastructure already exists, and where water can be conserved.

Eric Wynkoop is a designer. 

 

"Long Beach’s Architecture Should Inspire: Guest Commentary" by Eric Wynkoop was originally published by the Press-Telegram: http://www.presstelegram.com/opinion/20150624/long-beachs-architecture-should-inspire-guest-commentary