What's happening around cityLAB


As Southern California evolves from the era of postwar suburban expansion into a network of 21st century cities, our public institutions must be proactively reimagined in light of public needs. cityLAB’s ongoing research examines the design of infill affordable housing for K-12 and community college schools.

In an effort to address California’s affordable housing shortage, lawmakers recently passed statewide legislation removing barriers to the development of accessory dwelling units (ADU). Through interviews conducted with emerging ADU service providers in Los Angeles, this paper identifies how digital technologies and regulatory change are enabling emergent forms of practice and production for addressing a significant housing shortage. Specifically, it asks what role digital technologies may play in facilitating the mass production of affordable housing in the post-suburban city.

Access the PDF here.

In an effort to combat high levels of student homelessness and housing insecurity cityLAB and SCANPH study the feasibility of developing affordable housing on underutilized parcels of land owned by LACCD. This report is to inform District leadership and relevant stakeholders with a basic but detailed overview of why, how, and where such residential developments could proceed.

This summer, students in the Big Data for Justice Summer Institute used digital tools to explore and present urban issues as they relate to criminal justice in Los Angeles. Students examined urbanism and spatial equity in the context of Los Angeles through spatial technologies that can be deployed to research and document urban experiences.

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Events and conversations

Urban Humanities Institute Alumni Group Hosts Second Annual Exhibition+Symposium

SAVE THE DATE: May 24-26, Salon 02 Exhibition & Symposium is coming to UCLA's Perloff Hall. This year’s Salon will critically and creatively engage the idea of the “plan” in and across our various disciplines. RSVP for the Friday Launch and for the Saturday Symposium.

Salon_Poster_02_FINAL IMAGE.jpg

cityLAb, times 10 LABtalk Panel Discussions


1. Organizing: Designing an Inclusive LA


2. LA Emerging: Six Ways Forward


3. The Genius of Making       


Past Headlines

07/12/2019 - Dana Cuff Comments on Miracle Mile Makeover

Dana Cuff, professor of architecture, urban design and urban planning, commented in a Los Angeles Times story on a number of new and updated cultural venues — including museums and a Metro Purple Line station — set to open in the early 2020s in the western portion of L.A.’s Miracle Mile

Read the article here.

3/19/2019 - The Growing NIMBY Movement

While NIMBY (an acronym for the phrase “Not in My Backyard”) has become a common position, rising housing costs have spurred a new grassroots YIMBY movement, whose members favor development, density, and accessibility. YIMBY activist Sonja Trauss, housing advocate and Abode Communities president Robin Hughes, and moderator Dana Cuff of UCLA cityLAB discuss the intersection of class and economic issues surrounding urban development.

02/26/2019 - Rice Architecture Tête - à -Tête : Interview with Dana Cuff

Dana Cuff discusses how she has drawn from her own education to inform her approach to architectural education, how her work at cityLAB pulls architecture, urban design and sustainability together and how these practices can be influential all over the world.

Listen to the interview here.

12/18/2018 - "What's the Buzz" Furniture on display at UCLA School of Arts and Architecture Opening

#WhatstheBuzz furniture was on display at the annual @UCLAarts party. The design and construction of the optical acoustical furniture was led by architect and artist Gabriel Fries-Briggs in collaboration with Remap, @cityLABucla and @UCLA_AUD students.

09/13/2018 - BuzzFeed features cityLAB in 11 ways UCLA tackles the challenges of tomorrow

With topics ranging from lifesaving gene-therapy procedures to transforming pollutants into building materials, Buzzfeed discusses 11 ways how UCLA is using cutting-edge technology to rise above some of the biggest hurdles of the future.

Read the article here.

06/01/2018 - cityLAB Receives Two National Awards for Affordable Housing

cityLAB was awarded two national awards for its work related to affordable housing. The American Institute of Architects awarded cityLAB the "Small Projects Award" for the BI(h)OME, an experimental prototype lightweight accessory dwelling unit. Read more here.

cityLAB, along with partners LA MÁS and Mayor Eric Garcetti's Innovation Lab, was the recipient of the Fast Company World Changing Ideas award for their project that aims to streamline the process by which residents can conceive of and build an ADU. Read more here.

Read the article here.

4/18/2018 - Learn about cityLAB summer institute

Professor Todd Presner leads an Info Session on the 2018 edition of the cityLAB Summer Institute. If you’re interested to learn about innovative ways to deploy tech and design thinking to research, analyze and transform the city of Los Angeles, this course might be for you. This intensive summer course is open to community college, undergraduate and graduate students around the world. Application closes soon.

More info here.

4/12/2018 - UHI students present final CDMX Projects

Students from the current UHI cohort presented final works from their spring fieldwork in Mexico City to fellow UCLA colleagues. Check out their work here!

4/09/2018 - LA's Bold Plan to Pack its Backyards with More Housing

cityLAB, along with collaborators at LA-Más and Mayor Eric Garcetti's Innovation Team, is making it easier to build backyard homes in Los Angeles and across California.

More info here.

3/20/2018 - Dr. Aaron Cayer Appointed to Tenure-Track Teaching Position

cityLAB’s Senior Research Associate, Dr. Aaron Cayer, who has worked at cityLAB since 2012, has been appointed as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Architectural History at the University of New Mexico, where he will begin teaching in the Fall of 2018. To continue to follow Aaron’s post-cityLAB teaching and research link here.

01/01/2018 - cityLAB Hosts Makes UCLA Magazine Cover Story

UCLA Magazine reports on some of cityLAB's projects and procedures in the cover story for the latest issue.

Access the press release and learn more about this publication by clicking here.

10/17/2017 - "Act Like An Architect" - Dana Cuff publishes in POOL

cityLAB's Dana Cuff delivers a political call to action for architects in the second issue of the A.UD student journal, Pool: http://www.pool-la.com/cuff-act-like-an-architect

10/16/2017 - NPR's Marketplace features cityLAB on issue of affordable housing and ADUs

“There’s a lot of free land in the city, and it’s in people’s backyards.” Check out the full article and national broadcast by NPR’s Marketplace, featuring cityLAB's Dana Cuff on the issue of affordable housing and the new California ADU bill: https://www.marketplace.org/2017/10/16/world/california-law-relaxes-backyard-building-rules-ease-housing-crisis

8/06/2017 - cityLAB Co-Authors CA Assembly Bill 2299

Ensuring that accessory dwelling units, or backyard homes, can be built on more single-family lots throughout California, the bill will increase neighborhood environmental benefits, stability, and affordability.

8/02/2017 - cityLAB Publishes Guidebook to Constructing an ADU in Los Angeles

Building an ADU - Guidebook To Accessory Dwelling Units In The City Of Los Angeles

The ADU guidebook was produced in conjunction with AB2299, the land use bill that makes it much easier to build an accessory dwelling unit in the state of California. This guidebook helps you to get started and to prepare the basic information you will need to give the City (at the Dept. of City Planning and the Dept. of Building and Safety), your lender, your designer, and your contractor. When you have taken photographs, measured your backyard, and sketched your idea for an ADU, as this guidebook illustrates, you will be well on your way.

Access the press release and learn more about this publication by clicking here.

7/28/2017 - cityLAB's Dana Cuff interviewed by Curbed LA

Curbed LA interviewed Professor Cuff on gentrification and "how to be a good neighbor" in Los Angeles: https://la.curbed.com/2017/7/28/16053522/gentrification-definition-boyle-heights

7/3/2017 - LA Tech City Summer Institute Begins

UHI launched its first-ever undergraduate summer institute: “LA Tech City”. Students will spend the next three weeks investigating ‘spatial justice and injustice’ in the multi-ethnic city through the lens of three thematic technologies that have literally built and transformed LA into a global metropolis: cars and highways; networking technologies culminating in the internet and World Wide Web; and film and broadcast media.

6/18/2017 - UHI Publishes Ghost Guides to Tokyo 2020

These nine pamphlets offer an alternative reading of nine sites in Tokyo, so that those who come in 2020 will see beyond the Olympic spectacle to its ghosts and monsters.

6/17/2017 - UHI Tokyo Cohort Presents Final Projects and Celebrates Graduation

The students from 2016-17 present their final projects and are awarded a graduate certificate in the Urban Humanities.

4/9/2017 - cityLAB, times 10 Exhibition Closes

The cityLAb, times 10 exhibition at the A + D museum provoked debate about the way forward for LA.

3/24/2017 - The Urban Humanities Initiative Visits Tokyo During Spring Break

UHI students and faculty take off for ten days of intensive field work in Tokyo. Building off their investigations of urban and cultural erasure in Los Angeles, students will apply their toolkit of field-based and scholarly practices in Tokyo proper, focusing on the erasure for Tokyo of the 1964 Olympics and the future archeology of the 2020 Olympics. UHI students will collaborate with students from Waseda University on their research endeavors.

10/28/2016 - cityLAB forms UC-LA Partnership

cityLAB is partnering with LA city agencies and UCLA departments to implement a new project series that engages urban issues in Los Angeles. In our inaugural meeting, we came together to discuss precedents, ideas and feasibility of potential projects. The criteria for the project includes implementation in one year, a transformational nature, replicability, and engagement of community stakeholders. We believe that collaboration across disciplines, agencies, and jurisdictions will allow us to create a multifaceted project that addresses the changing needs of Los Angeles in the 21st century.

5/18/2016 - BIHOME Wins Design Merit Award from the Westside Urban Forum

The Backyard BIHOME recently won a "Design Merit Award" from the Westside Urban Forum in the category of Plans/Public Policy!

The BIHOME project, designed and built by AUD faculty member Kevin Daly, cityLAB,and AUD graduate students, continues with two further versions. The original BIHOME is being repurposed as an elementary school outdoor classroom and a new, fully-habitable version will be built in the City of Los Angeles as a backyard home demonstration project.

To learn more about this project, visit the BI(h)OME website.

04/01/2016 - Dana Cuff and Aaron Cayer Published in Ardeth

Dr. Aaron Cayer and Dr. Dana Cuff of cityLAB were both published in Ardeth's second issue aimed at grasping the socio-material dimension of architectural practice. Check out our publications page to read their articles.

Acess Publications here.

3/15/2016 - BIHOME Selected as a Finalist for Two Architizer A+ Awards

cityLAB's Backyard BIHOME has been selected as a finalist in the Architizer A+ Awards in the category for Concepts - Architecture + Low Cost Housing!

3/19/2016 - The Urban Humanities Initiative Visits Mexico City During Spring Break

UHI students and faculty travelled to Mexico City over spring break to conduct ten days of intensive field research. During the trip, students collaborated with three local organizations, Casa Gallina, Laboratorio Para La Ciudad, and LIGA (special thanks to Carmen Cuenca, Michael Krichman, Gabriella Gomez-Mont, Wonne Ickx). These collaborations will drive the UHI projects, which aim to imagine how interventions in the cultural and physical landscape of Mexico City might address challenges of spatial justice.

Dana Cuff, professor of architecture, urban design and urban planning, commented in a Los Angeles Times story on a number of new and updated cultural venues — including museums and a Metro Purple Line station — set to open in the early 2020s in the western portion of L.A.’s Miracle Mile.

3/17/2016 - cityLAB visits Jet Propulsion Laboratory for Workshop on Designing Workspaces for 'Deep Think'

With the workday punctuated by constant meetings, attention distracted by steady digital communication, and the 24/7 workflow made possible by mobile technology, it is increasingly difficult to find the time and space for heads-down, concentrated, disconnected work. cityLAB has partnered with Jet Propulsion Laboratory to conduct research on these barriers to productivity and discover the ways in which the physical environment at JPL can be designed to overcome them.

cityLAB gathered a group of UCLA architects and technology design experts (Marta Nowak, Guvenc Ozel, Jeff Burke, and Randy Ilum) to participate in a design workshop at JPL to brainstorm innovative design solutions. Check out the results here.

2/17/2016 - cityLAB Hosts Book Launch on Informal Market Worlds

cityLAB recently hosted a roundtable discussion and book launch to mark the release of Informal Market Worlds - The Architecture of Economic Pressure (Atlas and Reader) edited by Teddy Cruz, Fonna Forman, Peter Mörtenböck, and Helge Mooshammer. The discussion focused on what Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman have termed, 'informal public demands', i.e. the changes in urban policies and planning practices required to engage with informality in a productive and fair manner.

Access the press release and learn more about this publication by clicking here.