On Monday, April 8, 2019, Fast Company released the projects and concepts selected in its third annual World Changing Ideas program. The contest, which focuses on ideas aimed at bettering both society and the planet, named Woods Bagot’s MORE LA study as both a Finalist in the “Spaces, Places and Cities” category and an Honorable Mention in “AI and Data.” The research, compiled by CEO Nik Karalis, Design Council Chair James Sanders, SUPERSPACE Director Christian Derix and Associate Principal Lucille Ynosencio, focuses on how areas of Los Angeles, shaped mostly by vehicle ownership, can transform underutilized parking into places.
Using the advanced data capabilities of the firm’s SUPERSPACE group, the MORE LA study explores the potential repurposing of surface parking lots found across the metropolitan area. The report precisely maps the amount of surface area given over to parking in the core of the Los Angeles metropolitan area—over 25.4 square miles, or more than the entire size of Manhattan. Ultimately, the effort leads to an extraordinary conclusion: that the Los Angeles region could accommodate at least from 750,000 to 1.5 million new inhabitants if its surface parking were substantially unlocked for more valuable purposes (thus underscoring the first and most obvious sense of its name, “MORE LA”).
According to Fast Company, the magazine drew nearly 2,000 submissions across 17 categories from around the world. Its reporters and editor created lists of honorable mentions and finalists which were then presented to a 31-person panel of judges with diverse backgrounds in technology, business, sustainability, transportation and other areas of expertise.
Back in November of 2018, Fast Company interviewed CEO Nik Karalis on the impact of parking on Los Angeles and explored how it can be repurposed in a more conducive way. As noted in the article, with more young people choosing to live in urban areas and forgoing car ownership in favor of car-sharing services—which keep the flow of traffic moving rather than idle in a parking spot—this has opened up an opportunity to explore how cities previously shaped by vehicle ownership will adapt. Because Los Angeles has over 100 square miles of surface parking, which is almost one-quarter of the city’s total size, it is an opportune location to study this trend.
MORE LA first initiated this discourse at LA CoMotion, a mobility conference in the city’s Arts District that took place from November 15-17, 2019, with an interactive exhibit and a workshop with leading experts in transportation and architecture at the adjacent Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. During both events, Woods Bagot invited conference guests and workshop attendees to reconsider three local typologies in Inglewood, Downtown Los Angeles and East Los Angeles, which focused on lessening or adding green space, housing and parking.