2022 Grants Challenge

Architecture Inspires Urban Exploration and Community Engagement

FORT: LA’s mission is to provide easily accessible information to deepen appreciation for and engagement with residential architecture that can be found in Los Angeles County, and to create an opportunity to engage with the region as a whole. Much as the late Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold inspired residents to venture beyond their normal boundaries to explore the city, FORT: LA leverages the region’s distinctive residential structures to encourage Angelenos to learn about and celebrate the full dynamism that is Los Angeles.


Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

UCLA USC Loyola Marymount University the Getty Conservation Institute the David Hockney Foundation the Society of Architectural Historians, Southern California Chapter Members from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Project Restore Artadia The Glass House the VDL House the Hollyhock House Architectural Resources Group the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation the MaddocksBrown Foundation the Gamble House City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs the City of West Hollywood the Los Angeles Public Library

What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Most Angelenos are unaware of the significance of their region’s residential architecture. As a result, they lack the curiosity to leave their “urban village” and explore nearby neighborhoods. Those who do wish to explore the area through its architecture encounter logistical hurdles, since an online search of Los Angeles County’s residential architecture leads to a disparate collection of obscure archives. There exists no central database providing information about buildings, architects and homeowners, as well as photos, blueprints and maps of LA’s significant residences. There is no resource that links architecture – and the stories they tell through their owners and creators – together to provide narratives and connectivity across time and distance. This leaves both locals and tourists in the dark about the impact that residential architecture has had on Los Angeles’s culture and history, depriving them an opportunity to form a deeper engagement with the region.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

FORT:LA seeks to develop a mobile app to promote the exploration of Los Angeles County’s residential architectural treasures, allowing anyone to seamlessly access information on residential architecture through a central clearinghouse. The app will be designed to feature FORT:LA’s award winning program, FORT: LA Trails, which highlights architecture through an easily accessible walking tour guide. A mobile app is the ideal medium for experiencing FORT:LA Trails, as it can easily synchronize the trail walking, reading, and viewing experience. Not only will users be able to experience the Trails, the app will also allow for users to listen to oral histories of homes or relevant podcasts, download maps, and watch video tours of the featured homes. FORT:LA plans to develop a visually-compelling and user-friendly design with a focus on ease of use to find Trails (via location and via search features). The app will have a thoughtful, simple, user-friendly CMS backend for non-technical editors to add content with ease. The UI/UX will be scalable, flexible, and sustainable so that it does not require frequent UI/UX updates. The app will integrate with other social platforms to maximize social engagement. Users will be able to check off where they have visited, save favorite locations, and synchronize their experience with an online community.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

We believe that the impact of FORT Trails mobile app will extend beyond touristic and scholarly appreciation of Los Angeles’ architectural marvels. Visiting architectural wonders can lead to discoveries of the food, music, art, and lifestyles of other urban villages, prompting a greater appreciation for the region’s cultural diversity. In the short-term, we believe that our app will greatly enhance the experience of our audience, who regularly utilize our website to download Trail resources. The app will integrate all the information necessary on our website into a seamless tour experience. However, in the long-term, we believe that through our beneficiaries utilizing the mobile app and sharing their experience on their social platforms, that they will slowly expand awareness of residential architecture among their social groups, and as a result instill a greater sense of appreciation of Los Angeles’ culture and history communicated by its residential treasures.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

As an online clearinghouse of content, FORT:LA’s success is measured by our online metrics, including website pageviews, newsletter subscriptions, and social media following. All of the content that FORT: LA produces is freely available on its website, and distributed to its supporters through various social media channels and a monthly newsletter. In the last fiscal year, FORT: LA’s website has received over 60,000 page views. Its mailing list has nearly 7,000 subscribers, and its Instagram page has over 2100 followers. The FORT Trails mobile app’s impact will be calculated similarly through online metrics including downloads and user reviews.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 2,000

Indirect Impact: 3,000

Describe the specific role of the partner organization(s) in the project, program, or initiative.

The collaborating organizations are all represented within the leadership structure of FORT:LA, which includes project advisory groups that provide strategic oversight over the development of all FORT:LA programs, including the development of a mobile app. The advisory panel is made up of architecture, nonprofit, and arts experts that includes the Chief Design Office from the City of Los Angeles, the City Library from the Los Angeles Public Library, the Executive Director of the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Executive Director of Artadia, an Award-winning documentary filmmaker, the Curator & Special Projects Mager at The Glass House, the resident director of the VDL House, the Director of Communications at The Gamble House, and other leaders.