Describing the American suburb
Describing the American suburb
Can the people of southern California still instigate experimental collectives on the margins of ex-urbia? How could it conspire with mundane civic needs? My thesis was that by using the highly successful logic of large scale real estate development and twisting it to suit our quixotic agendas, indeed we could. The proposal: The Soveriegn Victor Devolpment Complex, located in Victorville, CA.
Comparison of Durations, Socialist vs. Religious Communes, 1850-1970
Victorville's sole economic driver, the U.S.military, intially used George AFB to train Phantom Jet pilots. When the base closed in 1992, 40,000 jobs were lost, readying the town for its inevitable shift towards.... Globalisation? Inertia? Exploitation? Advancement?
The entire airport was bought by a prominent Orange County developer. It lies across the street from the local federal prison, and 1/8 of a mile away from our site. It is this husk of military infrastructure that we hinge our hypothetical futures on. There has been too much invested in this carcass of the cold war to ignore. So we visited the Newport Beach offices of the new owners and asked what their scenarios of success were for the airport and the town.
Three scenarios were described by the developer who owned most of Victrville: The first scenario, (S) is taking place presently: nothing much. The abandoned housing is in the same state it was left in 1992, when 40,000 jobs were cleared out of town. This is stasis, and is defined primarily by ground transport and freight at discrete intervals. The second scenario (R), involves the strategic placement of Victorville along the Alameda rail corridor, the second stop from San Pedro, the largest cargo hub on the Pacific Rim. If even 10% of cargo movement were shifted from San Pedro to Victorville, the impact locally would be enormous and quite steady, creating stong conditions for healthy growth. The third scenario (T), the one most ambitious in scale, would be if aviation freight traffic were picked up from LAX and other Southern California airports. Victorville is outside of the flight cone of heavy air traffic, and certainly has the space and the labor for it. This would triple the size of the current base and create an immediate service labor class demand around the terminal.
Each of these potentialites would yield varying scales of growth. How the citizens would respond to these opportunities is where our invervention picks up.
Embroyonic Urbanism: The method of depicting the potentialities lay beyond the city was to use storyboards. This collapsed the agenda of the thesis, which were to employ scenario planning as a tool for reappropriating the formless frontier for the advancement and expansion of experimental living, with its inspiration, found in 3 films.
Red Desert (Antonioni, 1978), Over the Edge (Kaplan, 1979), Three Women (Altman, 1979)
Mutiny at the Office Park
The population of this desert utopia would be the 30% (estimated in the 2000 census) of American workforce left out of things like benefits, economic security and 8 hour days. There's a great deal of diversity within this group, a lot of dreamers, a lot of laborers, a lot of hustlers.
Scenario 2: Airport becomes rail hub, local and global business mix
This scenario is the most economically stable for our emerging city. Residential flourishes like it has everywhere else in Southern California, small businesses have work, and global business is mediated by local agents.
Infrastructure and mobile, flexible small offices
1/32"=1'-0" Site Model
Scenario 3: A Cog of Global Enterprise
The third scenario resembles the first: big business comes to the local airport, and the prison grows, but capital flows out of reach of the townsfolk.
Rendering of abandoned transition
Managers base their operations in small, mobile offices, overlooking the
site as it piles
of material transform into buildings. Perhaps they pass the time by watching Antonioni
movies on their laptops.
Office and Bog Box relationship shown in the site model.
The program of this site allows for any enterprise whatsoever, legal and illegal, with the variable and fluctuating densities of a small group or thousands, depending on the success of the town's economy.
study of sugar block
Scenario Lightbox Models
Each of the three projected scenarios effect each other.
My 2005 Sci_Arc thesis was an investigation of the scenarios confronting a small town military economy when a base is closed and sold to a private developer. The central idea was that a socialist utopia can be successful in such a town if it makes use of the language of real estate and calls itself an office park. This required research into scenario planning and past utopian settlements of Southern California.