Housing is an essential, but complex, product, so complex that professionals involved in its production, namely, architects, real estate developers and urban planners, have difficulty agreeing on “good” housing outcomes. Less-than-optimal solutions that have resulted from a too narrow focus on one discipline over others are familiar: high design that is costly to build that makes little contribution to the public realm, highly profitable but seemingly identical “cookie-cutter” dwellings with no sense of place and well-planned neighborhoods full of generically designed, unmarketable product types.

Differing roles, languages and criteria for success shape these perspectives, which, in turn, influence attitudes about housing regulation. Real estate developers, for example, prefer projects that can be built “as-of-right” or “by-right,” meaning that they can be approved quickly because they meet all current planning, zoning and building code requirements. Design-focused projects, heretofore “by-design,” by contrast, often require time to challenge existing regulatory codes, pursuing discretionary modifications meant to maximize design innovation and development potential. Meanwhile, urban planners work to establish and mediate the threshold between by-right and by-design processes by setting housing standards and determining appropriate housing policy. But just what is the right line between “by-right” and “by-design”?

By-Right, By-Design provides a historical perspective, conceptual frameworks and practical strategies that cross and connect the diverse professions involved in housing production. The heart of the book is a set of six cross-disciplinary comparative case studies, each examining a significant Los Angeles housing design precedent approved by-variance and its associated development type approved as of right. Each comparison tells a different story about the often-hidden relationships among the three primary disciplines shaping the built environment, some of which uphold, and others of which transgress, conventional disciplinary stereotypes.

chapter |16 pages


Housing Values

part 1|109 pages

Housing Perspectives

chapter 1|33 pages

Type in Transition, Proto-Dingbats

Cheviot Manor Apartments vs. National Apartments

chapter 2|37 pages

Value Out of Balance, Single-Family House Tracts

Hirsh Tract vs. Modernique Homes

chapter 3|37 pages

Lost in Translation, Garden Apartments

Chesapeake Rodeo Apartments vs. Baldwin Hills Village

part 2|107 pages

Collaborative Models

chapter 4|35 pages

Proliferating a Product Type, House Courts

Clark Court vs. Horatio West Court

chapter 5|33 pages

Design Well Timed, Four-Flats

1060 S. Cochran Avenue vs. Mackey Apartments

chapter 6|30 pages

Crafting Cost Benefit, Stucco Box/Podium Apartments

1411 N. Hayworth Avenue vs. Hollywood Riviera Apartments

chapter |7 pages


Collaborative Prospects