Friday, 7 December 2012

Los Angeles: The Sun-kissed City


Los Angeles is a modern, sprawling urban expanse. With a population of almost eighteen million in the Greater L.A. Area, the city is the second largest metropolitan in the United States, only taking a back seat to New York. (http://geography.about.com/od/lists/a/csa2005.htm) R.M. Schindler's home, as part of the Los Angeles Area, is blessed to embed itself in a spectrum of landscapes. Southern California is a land of inviting beaches, expansive coastal plains, verdant foothills, tortuous canyons, rugged mountains and endless valleys, all under the sun. (Kaplan, 19). In terms of landscape, few regions of the world can match to the variety of terrain within Los Angeles; a semiarid desert facing an ocean coastline encircled by four mountain ranges. (Kaplan, 19) The city is surrounded by the San Gabriels, San Bernardinos, San Jacintos, Santa Susanas, and peirced by the Santa Monicas and Santa Anas. (Kaplan, 19). These mountain ranges, although scenic, also perform tasks far more important than appearing in Hollywood films. It is because of the city's many highlands that L.A. is fortunate to have a rare micro-climate. Winter storms are blocked from the north, and sea breezes from the west are contained. (Kaplan, 21) As a result, L.A. has a semitropical climate, appropriately compared to the Mediterranean. In fact author Lorin Blodget stated in 1859 that the climate of Southern California can be compared most easily to Italy, its warm hospitable conditions were perfect for those suffering from asthma. (Kaplan, 39) Ironicly, the smog that has since settled in California is quite detrimental. Despite the micro-climate's presence, Los Angeles surprisingly contains even smaller climate zones. Any news report in the city will reveal different forecasts for the beaches, financial district, east and west sides, the low and high deserts, and of course the mountains. (Kaplan, 23). Meteorologists have noted the distinct regions' unique smaller climates, in total, they've recognized over two dozen distinct climate zones within the city's immediate area. (Kaplan, 23) In fact, it is common for citizens in two different neighbourhoods to experience large temperature differentials. While someone at home may be sitting in a sweater, a neighbour at the bottom of a foothill may be swimming in a backyard pool.

Overall, Los Angeles is warm year round. It's the sun that attracts the masses to visit and often move to the metropolis. If it weren't for the sun, L.A. would not be the same, and definitely it wouldn't have boomed the way it did. Schindler took advantage of Los Angeles's unique climate. It allowed him to plan a space that could incorporate the outdoors more seamlessly than previous cities he'd worked in such as Vienna and Chicago. The opportunity allowed Schindler to create a new style of architecture in his house, one that better reflected California's unique conditions. His "California Scheme" was evident in the studio rooms, where "concrete walls on three sides" were accompanied by "a front open (glass) to the outdoors." (Kaplan, 21)
Take a look at the lack of mechanical heating and the placement of outdoor sleeping baskets and it becomes easy to see that Schindler fully embraced the California heat.

The following graph displays daily temperature ranges in central L.A.

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