Watts Community Studio: Wilmington Ave Placemaking
How can a design re-envision the role of environmental beautification to create a holistic economic corridor in Watts?
The Watts Community Studio is an economic development and planning project sponsored by LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino that seeks to inform policy and investment based on robust youth engagement. But what started as a participatory research project evolved to increased collaboration and organization between small businesses, community-based organizations and faith-based organizations to further support community development.
Based on the Watts Community Studio findings and report, LA-Más was invited by Council District 15 to address issues identified by the community. Community members expressed their desire to feel safer on Wilmington Blvd; at the same time, the many small businesses along the corridor did not attract the passersby headed to the Watts Towers just a few blocks away. LA-Más proposed a storefront facade program to support the many businesses on Wilmington Ave from 110 St. to 113 St. In less than six months, LA-Más helped 10 businesses design, permit, and install new business signage that included a custom graphic icon and business name, as well as a new painted facade The result was a cohesive corridor identity that also promoted the unique products and services of each business.
This project featured many partners. In partnership with Woodbury University's ACE Center, LA-Más worked with architecture students to design street furniture. Local youths from Yo! Watts were hired for the summer to help with outreach. LA Trade Tech students spent two weeks hand painting the signage for the businesses. Marjory Garrison served as a design consultant for the storefront signage and icons.