Renewing the Dream

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A love letter to Los Angeles past and present—and an urgent call to action for its future—Renewing the Dream: The Mobility Revolution of the Future of Los Angeles offers an illustrated exploration of America’s second largest metropolis, viewed through the interplay of movement and place that has long defined its sprawling landscape—and reshaped much of the modern world along the way.

Having led the world astray, L.A. can teach it to undo its mistakes, a responsibility that gives Renewing the Dream an epic cast. Glossily illustrated, lucidly written, and thoroughly reported, the book makes an argument that is simple yet—pardon the expression—seismic….The authors of Renewing the Dream don’t just complain or fantasize. They sharpen their pencils and come up with a vision reminiscent of a time when architects used such primitive implements. L.A. doesn’t need another furious sermon or soft-focus fantasy. Wishful thinking won’t make it more livable. Despite the title, this book is no dream. It’s a practical, panoramic collection of ideas that are already in play and reports on steps already taken.
Justin Davidson, New York Magazine
Superbly informative and important...a revelation…a timely and well-written and beautifully designed book.
Phillip Lopate, essayist and critic
#Interpreting the City
Renewing the Dream Cover

Produced in association with the global architecture studio Woods Bagot, Renewing the Dream draws together groundbreaking research, cutting-edge design studies, cultural and historical essays, and surveys of technological innovation, Renewing the Dream offers the first comprehensive look at the changes that are remaking the mobility landscape of Southern California—and the remarkable opportunities they offer to re-appropriate vast tracts of the city for uses that are more socially and economically productive as well as architecturally appealing. Above left: book cover, featuring photography by Dennis Keeley, Blue Bus, 2016. Above right: Ed Ruscha, ”Thirtyfour Parking Lots,” 1967

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Having brought the world the seductive model of freeways, private cars, single-family homes, and endless parking that defined the postwar era, Los Angeles now stands at the threshold of a new era—pioneering a different but potentially no less influential urban prototype for the future of the cities everywhere. Above: Production still from La La Land, 2016.


Renewing the Dream explores the powerful forces propelling this momentous shift: from dramatic tech-enabled advances in urban mobility, to the rapid adoption of electrified vehicles and changing stations, to massive public transportation initiatives. And it looks at the profound and often controversial impact of this new mobility on Los Angeles, as a city once famed for its car-oriented, low-rise landscape is transformed, year by year, into a denser, more diverse, and more complex kind of place. Above: Comparative mapping of bus service catchment, Metro catchment, and combined Metro and $7 Uber ride catchment, 2018.

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To capture a many-sided portrait of this city in change, the book offers essays by a distinguished group of writers and thinkers, including Frances Anderton, popular author and former KCRW radio host and producer; the urban futurist Greg Lindsay; the city planner Mark Vallianatos; and the distinguished UCLA professors Donald Shoup, Eric Avila, and Michael Manville. Above: Rendering of Sankofa Park at Destination Crenshaw, with statue by Kehinde Wiley, 2022.

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The book features design case-studies offering striking and often provocative visions of the city’s future and several original research studies by data teams at Woods Bagot (above), along with some of the first systematic data studies of how the new mobility might allow extensive areas of the city now dedicated to parking and gas stations to be re-imagined for other purposes (below).


Complementing its core of writing, design and research—and rounding out its portrait of one of America’s greatest cultural capitals—the book offers a rich array of images, from rare historic photographs, to interpretive maps and diagrams, to contemporary artwork and Hollywood film stills. Above left: Production still from Safety Last (1923) with Harold Lloyd, filmed in downtown Los Angeles. Above right: Wayne Thiebaud, “Heavy Traffic,” 1988.


A contemporary panorama of one of the most exciting cities in the world, Renewing the Dream also offers crucial lessons for its future. And because of the critical role that Los Angeles has played for nearly a century—as pioneer of influential new ways of living in and moving around a city—those lessons will carry resonance to cities all around the globe. Above: Banksy, “Swing Girl,” 2010, street mural in Downtown Los Angeles. Below: Rendering of The Twist, proposal by Woods Bagot for the Sunset Strip, 2021.

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Justin Davidson, “Los Angeles After the Freeway A less car-dependent L.A., already in motion, may have something to teach the rest of the country,” New York Magazine/Curbed, November 29, 2023

Elissaveta Brandon, “Cars broke Los Angeles. Could a new form of transit fix it?,” Fast Company/Co. Design, November 30, 2023.

John Hill, “On the Future of Cities,Archidose, November 6, 2023

Bonface Landi, “From the urban tapestry of Los Angeles to a sustainable city,Inhabitat, November 23, 2023.

James Sanders, Julie Lasky, and Matt Ducharme at the Rizzoli Bookstore
, November 3, 2023

  • Edited and Produced by:
    James Sanders Studio
    James Sanders, FAIA, Principal
    Linnea Soli, Production Associate
    Susan Johnson, Photo Editor
  • Preface by:
    Nik Karalis
  • Produced in Association with:
    Woods Bagot
  • Graphic Design by:
    Pure + Applied
  • Published by:
Next to New York: An Illustrated History