By Cook, Nancy
Newsweek , Vol. 156, No. 05
Byline: Nancy Cook
In the Los Angeles of the future, workers might live in 'retail communities' or commute via elevator.
In the year 2030, few Americans will toil in cubicles for eight hours a day. Instead, they'll write e-mails or take phone calls in sleek "collaboration centers"--large buildings equipped with Internet access, lounge chairs, and private spaces for one-on-one videoconferences. Employees will live, work, and play in the same complex, taking the elevator downstairs for a jog in a second-floor park. Running into a colleague in the elevator could lead to an impromptu meeting. At least that's the vision of Eric Stultz, an architect at the firm Gensler. "Problem-solving can now happen in a much broader area," he says. "The whole community will now become a place where work happens."
What will our cities look like in 20 years? Already, roughly 36.4 million Americans work flexible schedules, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The fixed 9-to-5 schedule no longer suits the round-the-clock demands of finance, business, and professional services. The Great Recession, and the resulting corporate cost cutting, has hastened the shift toward telecommuting and a freelance lifestyle. All these changes will inevitably transform the way we work, commute, and play.
NEWSWEEK asked three major architecture firms--Michael Maltzan Architecture, Gensler, and cityLAB-UCLA--to reimagine the future of work in Los Angeles. The city, with its sprawling highways, mega-entertainment and cultural centers, and diverse population, is the perfect place to experiment with the idea of a community built for residents who work remotely. Each firm offered its own vision, but they agreed on a few points: L.A. architecture will become more dense and multipurpose; community hubs will replace the disparate spaces where Angelenos now live and work; and even commuting will involve traveling through public parks, pools, and retail spaces. "The relationship between work and living needs to be thought of as overlay," says architect Michael Maltzan.
Maltzan's firm believes the traditional office spaces scattered throughout the city will be replaced by all-purpose buildings, where people move between floors from their apartments to offices to outdoor recreation spaces. …