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Mobility and Design

When Dwell and Volvo set out to format our discussion around the Future of Mobility at the Palm Springs Art Museum during Modernism Week last month, we studied the ways in which our cities are designed around mobility. In turn, we explored how our mobility needs affect our urban, suburban, and rural environments. In Los Angeles, for example, each and every city block, save for green space, is set on a grid around streets and freeways. Lanes extend as far as they can from the foot of the L.A. basin’s mountains to the edge of the sea (one unbuilt design from 1965 suggested a freeway extension into the Santa Monica Bay—wisely it was scrapped). However, the city is slowly undergoing changes to prepare for our mobile future, which leads us to wonder how this will affect urban architecture and design in the coming years. “We have to stop thinking in existing paradigms, and rethink new paradigms,” says architect Alvin Huang, who was joined on the panel by columnist and architecture critic Greg Goldin, Anders Tylman-Mikievich of the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center in Los Angeles, and automotive editor and writer Paul Meyers. Huang cited the mobility systems in cities such as London, whose transportation system continues to serve as a model for more gridlocked cities.

To both welcome and bid bon voyage to passengers headed into and out of LAX, artist Paul Tzanetopoulos, as part of an airport redesign led by architect Ted Tokio Tanaka, created columns of light that he calls "color therapy" for travelers. "The colors are all taken from our cultural fabric—the flags of the nations. We have many more liknesses than differences," says Tzanetopoulos, who spoke at Dwell on Design in 2013. The sculptures elevated LAX to an instantly recognizable travel hub honoring the ways in which air travel connects our world.

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