SCI-Arc design faculty John Southern’s critical field survey, Wilshire Star Maps, is part of the Archizines exhibition on view at the University of Hong Kong/Shanghai Study Centre through March 9th, 2014. The two-part, limited-run publication produced by Southern and his LA-based office, Urban Operations, presents the latent formal and programmatic potential of the otherwise unnoticed skyscrapers along Wilshire Boulevard.
Often described as L.A.'s main street, Wilshire represents a cross-section of both the cultural and economic components in the city, with Korean puppy-mills sharing floor space with high-priced Hollywood attorneys, many of whom are ensconced within the same nondescript office towers that make Wilshire easily identifiable from above. While Wilshire may be a flimsy stand-in for L.A.'s missing urban skyline, it represents a fertile breeding ground for future zoning mutations which will no doubt manifest themselves as Los Angeles densifies.
Taking this into account, the Urban Operations-produced Star Maps, much like those used in the tourist industry to find the homes of Hollywood film stars, present a pliable fiction that exists in real time, offering up the potential for dreams to spring from an overtly banal reality which unfolds along Wilshire's 17-mile traverse from Downtown to the Pacific.
Both editions of the Wilshire Star Maps have been archived at the UCLA Fine Arts Library and the National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
The critically acclaimed touring exhibition Archizines celebrates the resurgence of alternative and independent architectural publishing around the world. Curated by Elias Redstone and initiated in collaboration with the Architectural Association, Archizines now features 100 architecture magazines, fanzines and journals from over 20 countries that provide an alternative to the established architectural press. Edited by architects, artists and students, these publications provide new platforms for commentary, criticism and research into the spaces we inhabit and the practice of architecture.
More about John Southern and Urban Operations at urbanops.org.