Future of
Work: DTLA

In a 3-year collaborative effort between cityLAB + Gensler Los Angeles, the Future of Work project evokes a new conversation about the future of office work, office buildings, and their impacts on downtown Los Angeles (DTLA). This investigation takes place during an era of urban resurgence in the city and increased mobility in contemporary life. Office work in Los Angeles has been sheltered by multiple versions of the mono-functional office building, both high and low-rise, situated within many different settings; from the office parks and low-rise industrial buildings of the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys, to the landscape of logistics that is the Port of Los Angles, to the autotopia of Century City, to the creative offices spaces of the Westside, and to work-live spaces in a re-imagined downtown. The variety of Los Angeles’s office landscape is the result of decades of architectural experimentation, and, according to some boosters, has contributed to its resilience to broad economic change.

The first year of the project has sought to review the planning history of downtown Los Angeles and the political and economic regimes attached to various Los Angeles downtown planning ideals and evolutions of work in downtown Los Angeles at the scale of the city, the building, and the desk. Year two continued to identify new opportunities for design and reinventing the urbanism of downtown through architectural and urban design interventions. While an array of innovative ideas and designs can be imagined for the future of work, implementation remains elusive. Such interventions seek to address the office work of the future and the role the city plays as a place where technology facilitates the doing of such work, and imagines alternative futures for downtown’s obsolescent office building fabric. In turn, the third year focused on promoting new design ideas that address these opportunities. The intention will be to provoke new conversations among the downtown and metropolitan leadership about the future character of downtown as place and point of exchange.

As the culmination of a three-year collaborative research project on office work in downtown Los Angeles, cityLAB-UCLA and Gensler LA collaborated to create "Work on Work," an exhibit at the A+D Museum in downtown Los Angeles, that interprets the history of downtown and offers paradigmatic scenarios for re-conceptualizing the structures, locations, and scalar boundaries of workplaces within the city. Threading together historical research and speculative design, "Work on Work" evokes a new conversation about the trajectory of office work, office buildings, and their impacts on Los Angeles more broadly.

To mark the opening of this exhibit, Dana Cuff (cityLAB), Shawn Gehle (Gensler) and Li Wen (Gensler) participated in a panel discussion moderated by KCRW's Madeline Brand on July 24th. The exhibition will be on view from July 24th to August 2nd.

Download PDFs:
• 2013 The Future of Office Work: How We Got Here (cityLAB-UCLA & Gensler Publication)

• 2015 The Future of Office Work Vol. 2: Re-Wiring Work (cityLAB-UCLA & Gensler Publication)

Student Project Downloads:
• Hyper-mobility
• Open Expo
• Slip City
• Urban Desk

Work on Work Exhibition Opening  


The Future of Office Work Vol. 1: How We Got Here

The Future of Office Work Vol. 2: Re-Wiring Work