John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects
1461 E 4th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90033
213 253 4740
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c. JFAK, 2020
One can argue about the defining characteristics of Los Angeles; however, 3 stand out:
One of Los Angeles’ most visible immigrant groups is its Koreans, notable for reviving urban life in the heart of Los Angeles. This project, a new urban gateway in the center of “Koreatown”, was conceived as a marker of Korean identity as well as of the longstanding friendship between Los Angeles and South Korea. It is designed to reference Korean cultural traditions without resorting to mimicry.
The beauty and usefulness of this approach is that it speaks to many complex issues. First, it suggests the inevitability of assimilation. Second, it is inclusive, rather than exclusive, of the many ethnic peoples who live and work in Koreatown. Third, it is open to interpretation, and as neighborhood “boundaries” shift, it will remain as a celebration of urban living regardless of who lives there. Finally, its use of programmable LEDs, which can generate any sort of image, exemplifies the kind of technological innovation referenced above – which also speaks to the forces of technology and globalization that unite, rather than separate, this dynamic metropolis.