ABOUT PHIL BROWN
I became committed to the idea that until the large scale of design, urban design, was set on the proper course, architecture would not be able to truly advance the level of environment in Los Angeles. Until the city had its circulation in order, architecture would be limited by two dimensional organization. The better future belongs to three dimensional organization of infrastructure. Then the new architectural forms and the new environment can blossom on a grand scale.
A Brief Professional History.
I received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Southern California in 1965. By this time it was clear to me that urban design was where I wanted to make my contribution. I then took a Masters of Architecture degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (essentially an urban design course) in 1967. After working in and studying Boston, Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia, I returned from the east coast in 1971. I then completed my apprenticeship time for the architectural license with local architectural firms (DMJM, and Maxwell Starkman). I passed the architectural exam first time around, was licensed in 1973, then set out to open my own office and pursue my design philosophy.
The Flow Boulevard Concept
Having been brought up in Los Angeles and being a L.A. person, I set about applying what I knew. I invented, created, whatever you care to say, the Flow Boulevard concept, not only from my previous design experience, but by recognizing the unique urban form of Los Angeles, -a grid of corridors in a sea of single family residential-.
My first proposal of a Flow Boulevard was for the Wilshire Corridor between downtown and the 405 in 1973. There was some good professional recognition, Cal Hamilton (Director of the L.A. City Planning Dept.), Sam Taylor (Director of the L.A. Traffic Dept.), D.H. Roper (District 7 Director of Planning/Cal Trans and some political recognition as well; Alan Sieroty (State Assemblyman Los Angeles Regional Transportation Committee) and John Ferraro (L.A. Wilshire District City Councilman).
My main interaction developed with the citizens working on the Wilshire District Community Plan. Years were spent working with the commercial interests, represented by the Chamber of Commerce and the residential interests, represented by the Citizen’s to Save the Wilshire District. When I arrived the participants were divided into the pro-rail commercial group and the anti-rail residential group. My Flow Boulevard concept allowed the two opposing groups to agree on my transportation improvement approach because traffic could be kept out of residential areas but could get to the commercial areas in the high capacity Flow Boulevard of Wilshire and 6th Street. Western and Vermont were to be part of the Flow Boulevard Plan as well. In that the Flow Boulevard evolved in three stages, improved circulation could be made where needed as needed. Everyone was reasonably happy that an agreed upon Citizen’s Plan could be submitted to the Planning Department. Then Mayor Bradley cut his deals for downtown running the metro rail out through Wilshire Center. Then I was unhappy.
In 1986, after metro rail construction delays, the cost over runs (200% plus the yearly deficits), the low ridership (one half the amount projected), the cry became “Stop the Insanity!”. The insanity was stopped by a ballot measure to ban the use of local sales tax for further subway construction. Well this made me somewhat optimistic, that the nineteenth century regressive planning would give way to creative ideas. Then however, a period of non-planning set in for the urban design scale.
Over the years my professional practice has involved commercial buildings, condominiums and now mainly custom homes in the mountains and on the beaches. This brings me to the present. I am still trying to get better environment; transportation improvement supporting environmental improvement. I am hoping this internet phenomena can affect the many people involved and convince them of the merits of the Flow Boulevard concept.