Urban Design Principles

The Ten Urban Design Principles for 21st Century Los Angeles are broad and create the framework for the built environment. The Urban Design Principles link policy and the built/open environment. The principles deal with connecting single properties to blocks, blocks to neighborhoods, neighborhoods to communities, and communities to the city. They will establish a design program from which to promote and guide change in urban, suburban and rural neighborhoods unique to our city.

The Urban Design Principles represent a set of values to be expressed in the built environment and set a direction for the city of Los Angeles. These principles are about defining the space between buildings and not just the space within property lines. They are about enhancing the connections to and the transitions between buildings, modes of transportation and the public realm. They are also about assisting the many city departments and agencies to understand the vision for the city.

Inevitably, even the greatest cities change over time. New development brings changes, as do new laws, policies, regulations, development, technology, and shifting economic markets. The city has a responsibility to make the Ten Urban Design Principles for 21st Century Los Angeles an active part of the process of dealing with change. By adhering to these principles we can see an overall increase in the quality of life by nurturing our neighborhoods and providing safe and convenient access throughout Los Angeles.

On June 25, 2009, the City Planning Commission approved citywide Urban Design principles and recommended City Council adopt them into the General Plan Framework in order to bring urban design formally into the city's planning process.

Urban Design Principles Illustrated

Table of Contents

Download: High Res | Low Res

Chapter 1: MOVEMENT

A city of mobility - A large city like Los Angeles is in constant motion. You can see it, hear it, feel it and smell it. It surrounds you. It plays a major role in your life. Unfortunately, movement in our city is usually rushed, oblivious and apathetic. As a result, destinations matter, but not the journey. What does that say - that these spaces are not important? The Urban Design Principles state that spaces are vital to the health and sustainability of our neighborhoods. Neighborhoods are where we meet; they keep us connected, they are what we love and dislike about our city and they make us Angelinos. We need the ability to move through and around our spaces. We need Los Angeles to be a city of mobility.

The Urban Design Principles aim to improve how we move in and around Los Angeles; to provide freedom of movement through connections, between and within neighborhoods, and through the city as a whole, through choices in modes of transportation, through safety and security and through the beauty of urban ecology. We want a Los Angeles that embraces the saying, “It’s not where you go, but how you get there.”

Download: High Res | Low Res

Chapter 2: HEALTH

A city of activity - The relationship between public health and urban design has it roots in a time when cities tackled the problems of major disease epidemics with a reorganized infrastructure that incorporated access to light and air as prominent features in its design. Today, mental, social and physical health deficits still plague our cities. With physical inactivity and pollution as major contributors to poor health, it is time for urban design to contribute to the improved well-being of Los Angeles and its residents.

The Urban Design Principles will address the health of our city at many levels. New and improved parks, playgrounds, trails and plazas provide open space in which people are able to increase their activity levels and interact with one another. The health of neighborhoods is addressed by the recognition of the importance of historic and cultural character. Encouraging sustainability and innovation contributes to the well-being of present and future Angelenos. Overall, a healthier urban environment will be realized for Los Angeles.

Download: High Res | Low Res

Chapter 3: Resilience

A city of responsibility - An important quality for a sustainable city is resilience. The Urban Design Principles provide guidance for creating a liveable and adaptable Los Angeles. The city needs to be able to adapt to change; whether it is economic, environmental or social; whether it is large scale or localized; and whether it is temporary or permanent.

With the Urban Design Principles, Los Angeles can be proactive and create spaces that welcome different uses and varied groups. We need to consider how we use all our resources--existing and new--and use them more efficiently. We need to consider the full life cycle of each component of our development puzzle and allow the Principles to guide a project from inception, through implementation and include its continued usefulness and amenity when the project has been completed.