Blog: Updates on Urbanology

A Year of Urbanology

Jack Skelley and JSPR thank colleagues, clients and cohorts for another inspiring year. May 2015 be even more awesome! This super-speed video grabs just some of the highlights of the year. 

Urbanology Updates: UCLA to 'The Art of Go'

UCLA’s Alarming Rent Report: When it comes to rent, Los Angeles is the most unaffordable market in the country – worse than even San Francisco and New York. This dire situation has been growing for decades, as affordable housing dwindled and wages stagnated. UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate published a paper summarizing the data on this crisis. The news has been covered in Los Angeles Business Journal, Curbed LAKPCC, and major financial media. 

Creative Cooperation: There is a natural synergy between good PR and good branding. However, many marketing firms are missing in-house PR. JSPR is filling the gap. Since launching just over a year ago, JSPR has collaborated with SoCal’s best marketing teams in the realm of placemaking. These alliances are propelling high-profile developments in the region: With HEXA (L.A.’s top Asian media agency), JSPR helped make The Ritz-Carlton Residences at L.A. LIVE the best-selling highrise in Southern California. InterCommunicationsInc and JSPR are highlighting the innovative Elevon office masterplan in El Segundo. With Greenhaus and Sandra Kulli, JSPR is establishing a strong identity for the revitalization of downtown Anaheim. And with Gunn Jerkens we are building a whole new level of buzz for Playa Vista. Other collaborators are Urbana and Looking




Elevon: Be honest. Are you excited about going to work? Maybe more people would be if their offices were – you know – exciting. That’s the concept underlying Elevon at Campus El Segundo: SoCal’s only new work environment allowing businesses to own their space. (A huge financial advantage, at today’s interest rates.). The innovative design is by Steven Ehrlich, the renowned residential architect. It translates how people love to live to how they want to work. The for-sale spaces of Elevon are moving quickly.





Transit-Oriented L.A.: JSPR continues its affiliation with Urban Land Institute Los Angeles and its ToLA events – Transit-Oriented Los Angeles. Last year ToLA made news when Mayor Eric Garcetti announced his Great Streets initiative: transforming city boulevards through creativity and economic power. Here is a video from the event. ToLA will host world-famous names in transportation design, November 12, at Japanese American National Museum in Downtown L.A. The event is themed: The Art of Go: Active Transportation for Healthy Cities. Here is a quick preview.





Huffington Post: In New York, biking is a contact sport. That’s the takeaway from a recent NYC visit comparing bike infrastructure in Manhattan and L.A. Both cities are lacking and that’s dangerous for all of us. You can read my monthly HuffPo column here.

The Perils of Biking in Manhattan... and L.A.

By Jack Skelley

This story originally published in Huffington Post:

This story originally published in Huffington Post:

Biking in Manhattan is a contact sport. It includes confronting cabbies and dodging pedestrians (who in welcome ways have a supremacy of the street). It demands nano-second reflexes, a sense of daring, and nerves stronger than your bike frame. For adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers, I’d guess it rightfully vies with bull riding or wind surfing.

Let’s put it this way: I would not allow my 16-year-old daughter to dare the streets of Manhattan on two wheels.

I learned from my recent visit – riding from Midtown to the north end of Central Park – that bikes are still on the low, desperate end of Manhattan’s transportation food-chain.

Allegedly, bikes have jurisdiction in bus lanes. But all other vehicles shoot through these lanes as well, eliminating any advantage. And these lanes are sure to be blocked by double-parked trucks and eternal street construction. Only in bike lanes that are physically separated from rest of traffic can one travel safely. The problem is, in Midtown such lanes are rare. There is one on the far East Side (First Avenue), but it only travels north.  Another separated lane on the West Side is wide and beautifully landscaped, along the West Side Highway, with views of the Hudson River.

So, enjoy the freedom of these routes if they are going where you are. But just try to jag over to Central Park, for example, and it’s back to bare-knuckled confrontations.

It’s worth getting to Central Park, however. That’s where you’ll find the best ride of all. The hundreds of pedestrian paths are off-limits for cyclists, but a six-mile bike loop near its perimeter is carless. It takes you all the way to north edge of Central Park, then back down again, with exhilarating hills, dips and endless diversions. There are also certain throughways for runners, walkers, bikes and limited cars. Here is where you’ll hear runners and riders get verbal revenge on the cabbies that otherwise rule the city.

“This is my lane, not yours!” they bark at drivers obliviously drifting into their lane.

The same lack of bike infrastructure that plagues New York is increasingly alarming in L.A. It seems that almost every Angeleno knows of a bike rider who has been injured (or killed) by a car.

In fact, Chris Walker at L.A. Weekly recently wrote that Los Angeles is the most dangerous city in the world for bikes. 

He points to statistics showing an average of two bicyclists per month are killed in traffic. A figure that multiplies as more cyclists hit the road… and more cars hit them.

Some positive news: Bike advocates the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition seems to have gotten the ear of Pasadena planners to create a set of east-west protected lanes

And the much-discussed My Figueroa plan will include cycle-ways. 

As usual, Long Beach leads the way in bike progress, with 40 miles of Class I routes (bike paths dedicated to bike and pedestrian traffic). 

But setbacks continue too. In a move the riled bike advocates, L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo recently cancelled long-planned bike infrastructure through North Figueroa Street. 

Cedillo claimed his veto was to improve safety, but his rationale defies reason. It’s an area that Los Angeles Times research showed is one of the most dangerous in the city. Over a 10-year period, David Zahniser and Armand Emamdhomeh report, the street had 68 car-vs-bicycle collisions, and 153 car-vs-pedestrian collisions. Nine of these resulted in death. 

More, not less, bikeways are needed for safer streets.


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Urbanology Updates: Downtown to Dairyland

One Santa Fe: JSPR is now repping the iconic One Santa Fe. Designed by starchitect Michael Maltzan, this new Arts District landmark is L.A.'s longest building (nearly 1/3 of a mile!), with 438 view residences. Its cool retail (The Yards) is from Runyon Group – the city's most adventurous retail team. One Santa Fe is an architectural mind-blower. Pure horizontality and odd angles render dozens of unique floorplates and views. OSF brings the long-blossoming Arts District to full flower. Just around the corner, former MOCA curator Paul Schimmel and international gallery powerhouse Hauser & Wirth will open a seven-building arts compound. One Santa Fe’s first phase opens in September.

Anaheim: If you think Anaheim is just Disney, the Ducks, The Angels and Convention Center (that’s not enough?), then visit The Packing District. It's where LAB Holding and the City of Anaheim created The Packing House. The beautifully restored, historic Packing House is packed with indie eateries. It’s a scene! SoCal’s answer to SF’s Ferry Building. The surrounding Packing District includes Farmer’s Park (with entertainment and farmers market) and urban dwelling at The Domain. Created by Brookfield Residential – and joining 1,500 new homes in downtown Anaheim – this is the residential centerpiece of The Packing District, and a true foodie mecca. Here is ABC7’s coverage.

Huffington Post: Look for my monthly reports on design in the public realm. A recent visit to New York City inspired an upcoming post comparing bike infrastructure in Manhattan and L.A. Both cities are dangerously lacking! Most recent column is about how major cities are suffering the worst from – and doing the most about – devastating climate change.


The Farm Campus: It was a blast working with writer Jessica Blotter andCuningham Group Architecture on this Fast Company article. The healthcare software campus is as green and innovative as any Google or Apple HQ, but it’s in the heart of rural Wisconsin and astonishingly disguised as a huge dairy farm!