Programs and Initiatives

The Urban Design Studio leads several initiatives at the Citywide and neighborhood scale. These work programs support the City’s mobility, housing, and environmental sustainability objectives.

Current Initiatives

Citywide Design Guidelines: The City’s Guiding Urban Design Policy Framework

As part of Los Angeles’s overall strategy for incorporating environmental and high-level design considerations into new developments, the Citywide Design Guidelines advance the City’s goals for creating pedestrian-first, climate-adapted, and context-sensitive site design.

Low-Rise Design Lab

Building upon the Low-Rise Design Competition that former Mayor Eric Garcetti initiated in 2021 to foster creative housing solutions for Los Angeles, the Low-Rise Design Lab will undertake an effort to identify targeted code amendments, engage public stakeholders and design professionals, develop prototypes and standard plans for new multi-unit housing options, and examine financing models with the aim of making low-rise design attainable. Priorities include delivering well-designed low-rise infill housing at scale, promoting cost-effective construction, and proposing context-sensitive infill solutions that respect the importance of retaining neighborhood stability and character while allowing for creative infill housing solutions.

Landscape and Site Design Ordinance: Creating Healthy Buildings and Healthy Places

To address health disparities in Los Angeles, City Planning initiated the Healthy Buildings, Healthy Places program, which examines the various design factors that contribute to residents’ and neighborhoods’ well-being. As an outcome of this initial research, the Urban Design Studio has prepared updates to current zoning codes to reflect the latest strategies that address building design and foster healthy communities.

Placemaking and Wayfinding

The Studio has developed wayfinding signage to improve access to open space and neighborhood amenities. To promote the active use of public spaces, the Studio has developed a branded sign program to identify Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) as accessible spaces in Downtown and across the city. The Studio is also involved in implementing the Los Angeles River Wayfinding to promote accessibility, safety and community expression near the LA River.

Past Initiatives

The Studio recently completed two transformative Complete Street concept plans that improve safety, deliver shade, and beautify major corridors in South LA and the San Fernando Valley.