[a] Compact Megalopolis

Towards a Compact Megalopolis


Based on a contextual and formal analysis of the existing site located in downtown Los Angeles, this project formulates a compact megalopolis, a self contained community that negotiates industrial, commercial and residential needs. It is a city inside an architecture for modern men and women.



AUD 123 Studio III

Instructed by Wil Carson


Casey Jones


Rhinoceros, illustrator, fabrication




architecture, city, residential, urban planning

This project aims to develop a self-contained city with industrial, commercial and residential elements that provide housing, jobs and amenities to the growing population of East LA. The amphitheater shaped plinth is proposed as a formal strategy to maintain the horizontal context of the industrial district while providing views of the city.


The existing site is connected to different municipal transportation systems such as the railroad, 10 freeway, LA river, and public road grid and this project attempts to engage with all of them. The industrial center is connected to a main road that runs parallel to the train tracks and connects to the i10 freeway located north of the site. The LA river informs the design of the structure and is connected to the terraced landscaping that surrounds the site. The existing terrain is uniform, cluttered with horizontal masses that makeup some of LA’s industrial district. A prime view of LA is situated north-west of the site and requires a sloped form to provide views, while also being copacetic with the existing horizontal skyline. 



        The site exists at a moment of intersection between industrial and residential areas so the context of the building is informed by the programmatic meshing of these disparate entities. A main avenue used to delineate these two major programs. Similar to the formation of oxbow lake, the mass is developed as if the LA river eroded in on itself. The resulting form is self-referential, reinforcing the idea of self-circulation and containment while still considering the city beyond. Arc geometry that makes up the dish shaped plinth functions as an iconography of movement, referring to the constantly bustling urban fabric of Los Angeles. The arcs sculpt a form that looks in on itself to communicate its self-referentiality, but it also provides views of the city, connecting it to its context. 



        The form of the different buildings are based on regulating arcs generated by contextual circles that were drawn during the initial site analysis. Exterior lines connect to relate the site to relevant contextual businesses (b.01), infrastructure (i.10) and residential areas (r.01) in the parti above. 

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Residential Circulation

The circulation of the residential area includes ramps and stairs that lead to hallways which run behind each apartment. Each hallway is developed by the space between the stacked apartments which allows for natural light to reach each corridor. The distribution of apartments includes programs that are stacked at half-delta and pivot towards to the centroid of distribution as they are arrayed along the base curve of the residential programmatic arc. 

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Site Section

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Unit Types

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Site Plan


        The program is based on a contextual and formal analysis of the existing site. The industrial area is attached to the site by a road on the periphery of the mass which allows for fluid truck access to the fulfillment center without disturbing pedestrian and vehicular traffic. The prolate spheroid shaped park that punctures the industrial roof provides an outdoor space for truck drivers and office workers. A grocery store and 8 retail spaces are situated in between the industrial and residential areas. The triangular form mediates between the two major programs, providing amenity access to workers and residents as well as parking for shoppers.  

        The stadium apartment distribution originated as a stair stepped, shingle typology that maintained a low profile while providing views of the city. As we worked through circulation strategies, we decided the most efficient and fluid approach would be bi-axial corridors that were developed by the spaces between apartments. The three apartments types have phalanges that bridge over each lateral corridor and provide each unit with access to large patios and views of the city. The east facade of the plinth provided a 6 story face for single unit apartments to be stacked. Diagonal lines propagate the window shape and placement which are informed by the diagonal geometry of the circular ramp for the parking structure that is exposed on the north-eastern tip of the plinth. The bottom floor of the plinth  

The park is centered around residential-amenities such as the pool, gym, arts center, retail stores, and a reception area, allowing natural light to enter each space and providing a communal outdoor area for residents and visitors.

Exploded Axon

        Radial column grids are arrayed along the curve of each building. The lenticular form of the industrial complex is bifurcated at radial data to develop clerestory lighting and expose the truss system that designates an industrial vernacular. The remaining perimeters of the site are landscaped with radial terraces that follow the arc of the building, tying the form back into the site and providing geometric outdoor spaces.

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Program Analysis & Exploded Axon



        The circulation reinforces  the self-contained system by connecting three major zones through vehicular and pedestrian thoroughfares and avoiding unnecessary cross traffic between industrial and residential/commercial movement. The circulation hub is located at the heart of the plinth where all major programs intersect and the road bifurcates. 


        The roof is ostensibly one continuous surface representing the self-contained narrative. Each roof indicates the program below through varying texture as it gradients from residential to commercial. The translucent overhang above the park is perforated to provide a large shaded outdoor space for residents. 


        Parking is available at each major complex, avoiding unnecessary cross traffic and providing easy access to anywhere in the facility. The two story industrial area provides easy-access parking for office and fulfillment center workers. The massive void under the terraced apartments provides sufficient parking for amenity and residential spaces as well overflow parking for public events, referring to the tripartite arrangement of precedent studies.