| Co-Visioning Urban Futures | Speculative Fiction | Systems Strategy |  Rapid Prototyping | AR/VR/XR | UI/UX | AI | Strategic Foresight
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With a population of 10 million and at least 107 cities, LA County has a big responsibility in providing residents with the latest information about new policies about ADUs. While individual cities in LA County develop and pass their own ADU Ordinances in the next couple of years, most cities are still operating under state law. Representatives from the LA County Homeless Initiative and the i-team in City of Los Angeles thought it would be a great idea to spread this information through a joint website that would act as a clearinghouse and direct people to the respective ADU Ordinance website per city. 

While the content was very similar to that of the LA ADU Accelerator Program, this website was meant to:

  • Be simple (act as mainly a clearinghouse) and not have too may pages
  • Not look like the LA ADU Accelerator Program in style, color pallette, and branding
  • Provide county-wide stories and content
  • Provide accessible resources (as provided by LA County)

Using some content provided by county staff and some provided by me, I created this mockup and held several meetings with LA County to confirm branding style, palette, and content type. 

 Initial Designs

With a “go” from county and my fellowship ending within a couple of weeks, my goal was to finish the Drupal template with ITA. After an initial design meeting with the same developer team and learning that development would be  faster using some coded components from the LA ADU Accelerator Program website, I negotiated different design options. 

I changed the ‘experimental’ graphic elements such as the blob-shaped buttons and backgrounds, as well as off-grid layout. Feel free to check out the cleaned up verison of the prototype below:

View Adobe XD Clickable Prototype






Website is set to go-live in January 2020!


laadu.org



Website + Homeowner Application + Internal Scoring Process


Live Website: Los Angeles Accessory Dwellng Unit Accelerator Program
Team: i-team, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office of Budget and Innovation

Summary
The Los Angeles Accessory Dwelling Unit Accelerator Program (LAADUAP) incentivizes ADU homeowners with a $10K grant to lease their Accessory Dwelling Unit to a housing insecure Angeleno. I joined a Program Manager, Design Researcher, and Research Intern within the i-team at the Mayor's Office of Budget & Innovation to co-develop content, prototypes, and manage production of the website towards completion along with the city's Information Technology Agency (ITA).
Role
Content Design
Visual Design
High Fidelity Click Through Prototypes
Design Implementation on Drupal
Project Management
Timeline
2.5 Months

Tools
Google Suite (Docs, Sheets)
Adobe XD
Adobe Illustrator
Drupal 7 Editor
Whimsical

Venice ADU by Duvivier Architects, featured on LAADAUP’s website

Why We Built this Website
  • To provide accessible and accurate resources for homeowners looking for information about building an ADU in Los Angeles
  • To provide prospective applicants information about our incentive program and application process



Process
Initial design inspirations for the content architecture came from similar programs in the ADU space:


What is the Process to getting an ADU in Los Angeles?
This was the key question our website sought to demistify for the public.

As this was year two of the Mayor’s Challenge project, I looked through the archive of documentation from past workshops that the previous designers and researchers had done with different city departments to map out the ADU process. Using Whimsical, a web-based diagramming tool, I digitized and compiled several documents: photos of post-it notes, the beginnings of a high-level digital diagram, and transcripts and notes from other stakeholder interviews. 

ADU Process, version 1

In this process, I diagrammed the main phases and length of time a homeowner would go through from empty lot to new construction of ADU : 
1) Checking to see if their property was in an eligible zone
2) Finding an architect to design the ADU
3) Getting all required permits and paying fees
4) Construction
5) Getting their Certificate of Occupancy from the city inspectors

After I created this flow, I cross-checked with several of our champions in the city departments and, to my surprise, learned that there was a lot had changed over the year, and would continue to change with the new ADU Ordinance. Moreover, this was a general flow, but the time it would take a homeowner really depends on the type of ADU project zone, and power line site conditions. 


ADU Process, version 2

After getting feedback from different departments, I cleaned up the flow, and created new hierarchies for the major steps (in purple). These would become the main steps in the ADU Process content we would put online.



Design Principles
As a team, we wanted content to be:
  • Informative: including only the most pertinent information that minimizes confusion and points to additional and up-to-date points of contact
  • Accessible: from web accessibility standards to making sure the ADU Ordinance was written in layman's terms  
  • Official: at the end of the day, all our copy would ultimately go through an extensive review process checking for tone, punctuation, and nonpartisanship by the city’s Communications department
  • Visually appealing: but not to be confused with competitors' brand or style








See an Early Adobe XD Clickable Prototype



In addition to creating accordions of information, I wanted to create printable resources that Angelenos could print out. Since the process of getting a CofO is so long and there are many considerations when moving towards the next steps (i.e. do I have the financing to build my project?), I wanted homeowners to feel that they could track where they were in the process. While an online case management system seemed like an intuitive solution, 1) it wasn’t feasible (development and timeline-wise) and 2) it would be too hard to integrate with other systems/databases. A low-tech solution that was equally as powerful was a printable checklist homeowners could keep throughout the duration of their process. 



Example of printable PDF resource I co-designed: Building an ADU Checklist


Continuous Iteration
As our content was running and undergoing several rounds of internal and departmental reviews, testing, and edits, I held status meetings and frequent check-ins with a team of developers and managers from the city's Information Technology Agency; meticulously making sure the Drupal template they were preparing for us adhered to the design style guide we had provided.



Example of additional style guide I made and shared with developers




Homeowner Application Process


We went through several technological approaches to the homeowner application which changed as we had more meetings to determine feasibility. The following flow was prototyped first in Google Docs by a program manager and then designed in Whimsical. The application was broken into screener/eligibility questions, and then some sections for each department to score. 




Homeowner Scoring Process



The program manager and I workshopped the overall flow with a strategist from Delivery Associates and I created a quick digital rendering for quick handoff for approval.


Concepts




Me leading a group brainstorm on creating scoring rubric criteria



Other Visual Concepts




On slow days, I got to play with ideas for a t-shirt. ︎



Early Concepts for an interactive page to learn about ADU typologies





Summary


As a continuation of my research, I've iterated the design of my mobile AR app PLANNAR to adhere to new spaces and stakeholders. The following two are recent engagements I’ve had with the Chinatown Sustainability Dialogue Group and the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale, CA. 




Context 1: Short Visioning Workshop with CCED


Summary
Chinatown Sustainability Dialogue group was working on reaching out to different community groups in Chinatown to get their input and sponsorship of a People's Plan they had put together. Not wanting to worry about ownership of large analog papers, they asked me if I could design them a mapping AR app.
Role
UX/UI Design
Facilitator
Timeline
3 days

Tools
Unity 3D
Adobe Illustrator

Iteration
For this new context, the purpose was not to ask the community for what they wanted from scratch, but to have a pre-populated library of assets that reflected the new policies written in the People's Plan and see if there was consensus among the community.

Constraints
  • Audience: CCED is comprised primarily of high school - early college students who were tenant activists and familiar with Chinatown's issues.
  • Short time slot: Since these meetings ran on a tight schedule, I was given 10 minutes on the agenda to engage
  • Pre-defined assets: CSDG had developed a written document with desires from the community expressed in a number of other meetings.

Agenda

I facilitated this short activity and asked members to for the first five minutes, talk amongst their group and pin down at least 5 items in certain parts of the Chinatown map, and ultimately photograph their creations. I made sure to design an activity where everyone was engaged--while one person pinned and photographed, the rest looked and pointed on the map where to place it. During this activity, I walked to each group and demonstrated how to place the pins, while also playing a looping video tutorial of how to use the app on the powerpoint slide.



Part 1: Mapping Community Desires (5 minutes)

I facilitated this short activity and asked members to for the first five minutes, talk amongst their group and pin down at least 5 items in certain parts of the Chinatown map, and ultimately photograph their creations. I made sure to design an activity where everyone was engaged--while one person pinned and photographed, the rest looked and pointed on the map where to place it. During this activity, I walked to each group and demonstrated how to place the pins, while also playing a looping video tutorial of how to use the app on the powerpoint slide.

Part 2: Feedback (5 minutes)

For the second part of the activity, I asked them to put ‘ipads down’ and write on post-it notes elements they thought were missing and place the post-it notes in the allotted “Additional” area adjacent to the map. I asked them to hold on to the post-it’s during the remainder of our presentation in case they thought of something else. Later on in the presentation, we asked them to report back on what they pinned and wrote down.
Pins I created for this workshop


Demo I displayed on the screen as participants familiarized themselves with the task




Conclusion
This exercise was surprisingly successful in terms of setting the tone for the conversation about asking for community sposorship of a community plan. The participants found the activity to be engaging and fun, and felt that it gave them a quick way to express their desires. One of the participants had tried PLANNAR app's first iteration and mentioned to me afterwards that this version "made more sense" and seemed more "actionable."

Next Steps
I was not able to continue the workshops because of scheduling conflicts, but if I were to continue this, I would create and upload 2D pins based on the post-it notes and other feedback given from the participants.










Context 2: Pop-up Exhibit @MONA


Summary
I was invited to participate in Glendale Tech Week's "Floating Signifiers" exhibit and introduce my work with PLANNAR as a pop-up at the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale, CA.
Role
Artist
Facilitator
Timeline
2 weeks

Tools
Unity3D
Adobe Illustrator




Iteration
This context was similar to the workshop I led at CCED, only that this time, there was more loose facilitation and self-initiated participation.

I designed the table to have three main calls to action:
  1. Pick up the iPad to place AR objects on the map
  2. Pick up the pens and post-it notes and place them in two sections (less of and more of)





Since I wanted to attract visitors to participate in the visioning exercise and discussion, I designed a poster explaining what the purpose of the pop-up was and used bright colorful palettes. I curated some assets to include smart city infrastructure (I had seen some article tlak about how 5G is killing birds as a contentious subject) and cubes to symbolically represent "affordable housing."

As the output of the AR maps did not have utilitarian use, I envisioned the out of the maps to be more of spatial collages and less informative/diagrammatic maps.


Constraints
  • Audience: Everyday visitors to the Museum of Neon Art, participants of Glendale Tech Week of all ages and ethnicities.
  • Time slot: I was given two hours to exhibit this work.
  • Assets: In my initial conversations with the curators of the exhibit, I was told of existing tensions with specific developments (i.e. the cultural history and strong Armenian influence, burgeoning 'Silicon Mountains' branding


Insights
  • People were generally very excited about their ability to participate in the discussion, but had expectations that this information would be spread on social media or would reach the Mayor of Glendale in some way
  • People of all ages were really interested in seeing the 3D representations of their maps
  • Young people understood the concept of the app better than adults, and were more willing to generate ideas
  • The quick AR engagement triggered lengthly conversation about what they wish existed more and less in their community
  • Interesting to see transplants refrain from participating in the exercise altogether


Conclusion
One persistent limitation of this method is that there is not a quick way to create 3D assets that represent all of people's ideas - so more thought into the assets as a commnunity vocabulary would have to be redesigned. For the time being, I'm using post-it notes as an additional way to participate in the discussion. With more participation, it would be interesting to see patterns emerge and see how the conversation can reach different scales on social media.

Next Steps
There is potential for PLANNAR to exist as a new form of community engagement in Glendale's Urban Design studio! I’m excited to see how this project will evolve with access to insights from planners, continuous engagement, and better pool of participants (residents from the community).






PLANNAR: Co-Visioning with AR


Summary
Plannar is a mobile AR approach to cultivating a generative urbanism, specifically mobilizing long-term residents of Chinatown, Los Angeles to participate in the visioning of their neighborhood through the placement and “hearting” of literal and symbolic virtual objects around the neighborhood.
Role
Conceptual Design, Research, UI/UX, Visual Design, Coded Prototyping, 3D Assets, Motion Design, Video Editing, Community Outreach
Tools
Unity 3D, Rhino 3D, After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch





Background
This project arises from my discontent with community engagement strategies typically used in master planning, where conventional visioning methods entail brief workshops with only a few residents and use their participation as a proxy for consensus. In contrast, PLANNAR facilitates the generation of many site-and time-specific visions for the future, asserting bottom-up model of urban planning. Rather than ask residents to show up at a workshop, PLANNAR leverages what residents are already doing--walking around and using social media. In so doing, I propose that virtual space is new territory for meaningful public participation.



PLAY WALKS


The platform’s playful and resonant AR object language expresses cultural values and preferences through the use of emoji’s, symbolic objects, or ‘literal’ virtual objects. Residents collectively create and evaluate and a shared set of neighborhood visions through weekly “Play Walks.”



Key Features
During a week of generative urban play, residents can:
  1. View objects from multiple perspectives (not just literal vantage points, but others’ perspectives)
  2. Live with the objects over time and notice their simulated changes in context (i.e. a tree that grows or shifts with season)
  3. Learn the cultural significance of objects requested by different groups in the community
  4. Form new social connections, whether creating relationships with strangers over a shared idea, concern, or simply being silly and imagining these futures with others in them
  5. Be informed of the visioning discussion by reviewing weekly recaps, going back in time to see top highlights like most placed objects, most “liked” visions, resident feedback or requests for objects








AFFORDANCES OF AR PLATFORMS


 


Geo-Fenced Hearting Privileging Long-Term Residents
There’s a difference in the set of actions that residents, visitors and commuters can perform on the platform. While anyone can view visioning activity on a map and in the different locations in the neighborhood, only residents are allowed to “heart” or “dislike” visions, giving them power to have final say in what objects are featured in the next round of “Play Walks.” This feature prevents passive participation or astroturfing and enables ideologies and preferences of long-term residents to be integrated in the system before those of newer residents’, thereby slowing down the ways in which technology colonizes the urban environment.  



Conclusion
With greater adherence of AR as a common language among residents coupled with greater technological progress in the AR cloud and spatial mapping, Plannar proposes that these objects-as-preferred-visions be used as data points to inform urban development policy recommendations, creating counter blueprints to today’s mixed use development trends and foreground the local imagination and ways of knowing.





NEW WORKFLOWS FOR THE FUTURE OF MAKING/PLANNING












ARTCENTER GRAD SHOW
@Pasadena Convention Center



^ Magical moment


Team: Radha Mistry (story strategist), Yime del Santiago (illustrator)
External Media:
The Autodesk University 2018 Opening Keynote with Andrew Anagnost, featuring the Los Angeles Winter 2030 scenario.
Redshift Article Smart Reuse of Olympic Infrastructure Could Bring Home the Gold for Host Cities
Radha Mistry’s speculative fiction based on the four scenarios:
“Winter 2030: A Metropolis in Transit”
“Spring 2030: Robot Trainers and Small Town Mayors”
“Summer 2030: Micro-factories as First Responders”
“Autumn 2030: Rapid Recovery”

Summary
The Future of Work Worldbuilding Project was completed during a 3-month internship at Autodesk’s Office of the CTO with the Corporate Strategy team during summer 2018. The purpose was to employ strategic foresight and develop four finely textured and researched speculative scenarios about the implications of automation on Autodesk’s tools and customers, using fiction to prototype the future. What emerged were scenarios that included a season, terrain, artifact, and set of characters that used technology to adapt their career paths to new circumstances. Each were based on many in-person stakeholder interviews, reports, and current events. Set roughly in 2030, the scenarios are not meant to be a perfect prediction of the future, but rather serve as provocation for further tailoring Autodesk’s corporate strategy to a preferred future that has been stress-tested with stakeholders in the industry.

Frameworks



Workshops

Process