With its spartan budget, circus-like decor, and emphasis on moving people through the city by bus, the vision of Los Angeles’s 1984 Summer Olympics seems timely all over again, especially as the extravagant spectacle—and potentially negative impact—of the games has become so heavily criticized.
While LA’s organizing committee has hinted at similar plans for the 2028 games, the previous games owe a great deal of their impact to the design team for LA84, led by Jerde Partnership, Sussman/Prejza, and a who’s who of contemporary Los Angeles designers.
In the spirit of that collaboration, Curbed tapped its own network of local designers to brainstorm how LA 2028 might look, feel, and create positive change that could leave the city better than before.
What colors would you choose, since magenta, aqua, and tangerine are taken?
“Considering climate change, we should look east to the native plants that can grow in the drier canyon areas and even the desert. Orange poppies, purple lupine, desert marigold, firecracker fuchsia, sage, even ocotillo, cholla, and creosote.” — Colleen Corcoran, Place and Page
“Black, white, gray, light blue, and yellow—colors that speak to our history of infrastructure and traffic but also honor the more supernatural aspects of living in Los Angeles: the seemingly permanent sunniness of our skies and the endless blue of the Pacific Ocean.” — Elizabeth Timme, LA-Más
“Golden hills (yellow/tan), jacaranda (purple/blue), agave flower (red).” — Brendan Ravenhill, Brendan Ravenhill Studio
What mascot could top Sam the Eagle?
“We’re in love with the parrots that are all over the city. We like that they are (or their progenitors were) transplants from different places, once housed in theme parks, pet stores, and private homes, depending on the story, that thrive in the city as a wild collective.” — Brooke Irish and Armando Mtz-Celis, Father Madre
“The story of the parrots of LA is so compelling, and speaks to the non-native nature of nature in our city. Gender-neutral, fun, a survivor.” — Geoff McFetridge, Champion Studio
“The California grizzly bear or the California sea lion.” — Meg Wells, Flux
“Vaquita and Bernice, a two-headed animal that is part bear, part porpoise. Vaquita and Bernice represent our close proximity to Mexico, as well as the range of our ecosystem from forest to sea.” — Elizabeth Timme
What should the hosts wear?
“Denim! Its origins began here in California during the Gold Rush.” — Meg Wells
“Made in Downtown LA everything. Instead of boxes of merchandise being shipped from overseas, these items would be made onsite. This is what we sold to the world, and it is our indigenous craft. This might look like workwear, ball caps, T-shirts, and simple windbreakers. Embroidery, silkscreen, and dye-house colors. Some of the event spaces could even have adjacent glass-walled factories for printing and embroidering items. We are a culture of makers.” — Geoff McFetridge
“Please, let’s go nonbinary! Rudi Gernreich unisex caftans.” — Louise Sandhaus, Louise Sandhaus Design
“Guayabera shirts of all colors, like you can buy on Olvera Street.” — Daveed Kapoor, Utopiad
How should athletes, spectators, and Angelenos get to the games?
“Since car traffic will be gridlocked anyway, the city should also close a network of streets, adjacent to transit, and open them to bicyclists, skaters, walkers, and all nonmotorized transport—a permanent CicLAvia route throughout the Olympics.” — Colleen Corcoran
“Experiences that allow athletes, visitors, and Angelenos alike to move through a Los Angeles that is experientially more communal, accessible, and granular via biking, scootering, and emerging modes of transportation not only bring visitors to the games, but bring them through the neighborhoods of our transforming city.” — John Chan, Formation Association
“Transit and bicycles. In 1984, the only way to get around was the freeway. In a sense, everyone had to learn to be Angelenos just to navigate. Now the infrastructure is more analogous to the way our city really works.” — Frank Clementi, Rios Clementi Hale Studios
“Electric scooters powered by the sun!” — Louise Sandhaus
“Autonomous vehicles equipped with augmented reality to tell stories about place, and virtual reality to tell even deeper stories about history. These would be neighborhood-created objects, each of them an art piece based on what the neighborhood wants them to look like—regionally designed and locally built.” — Ben Caldwell, KAOS Network
What would spectators use, carry, or wear as a ticketing system to be admitted to the games?
“Enamel pins. Each pin would represent an event and have a digital fingerprint or signal that would work to admit the user.” — Geoff McFetridge
“RFID sunglasses.” — Brendan Ravenhill
“10 years from now? Face scan for sure will be out of date. Amazon maybe should step in and try to help with sales.” — Dixon Junliang Lu, MAD Architects
“All events should be free and unlimited, which would do away with the need for any ticketing system whatsoever.” — Rachel Allen, Rachel Allen Architecture
The 1932 Games populated the city with palm trees. What tree, or plant, could offer future shade or storm water absorption?
“What if our parkways became agricultural and could feed people? We could bring back the orange groves and, in the process, provide a commodity that could serve the community.” — Bob Hale, Rios Clementi Hale Studios
“Succulents that retain water effectively—such as cacti, aloes, and agaves. Hopefully they flower, too.” — Jimenez Lai, Bureau Spectacular
“Temporary follies could be built to highlight our stormwater systems and groundwater recharging points, covered by bougainvillea in different shades and densities—drawing from the invisible resources that lie just beneath the surface of our city of pavement.” — Elizabeth Timme
“Climatic uncertainty means we can’t rely on our current information. Greg McPherson of the U.S. Forest Service says that due to climate change and higher water salinity, ‘We’re witnessing a transition to a post-oasis landscape in Southern California.’ We need diversity, experimentation, and analysis.” — Allen Compton, SALT Landscape Architects
“We should cover the city with pepper trees for shade and spice.” — Daveed Kapoor
The games are often a way to share a city’s culture through food. What signature menu item should be served, packaged, or branded?
“LA is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, especially with food. We should serve as we are: American, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, and many, many more.” — Dixon Junliang Lu
“Bulgogi tacos, or similar cultural-hybrid food items, possibly pastrami ramen or koobideh pizza or khash soup dumplings, the list can go on. Cauliflower fritters, or similarly delicious health-conscious vegan options, can be mixed with the above.” — Jimenez Lai
“Tacos in every ethnic configuration.” — Louise Sandhaus
“We can’t get away from tacos. It may be a cliche, but the opportunities for fusion recipes, individualized garnishes, and portability make them the forever LA food.” — Brooke Irish and Armando Mtz-Celis
If LA builds for the Olympics, what would do the most for the city afterwards?
“Housing, lots of it, and of many different kinds. Hostels and low-budget tourist campgrounds could be converted to safe-haven camps for the homeless, with ample sanitary facilities and free laundromats.” — Rachel Allen
“Anything and everything that can be converted or repurposed to address the housing shortage or homeless crisis in Los Angeles. Permanent housing, shelters, health or activity centers, educational spaces.” — Brooke Irish and Armando Mtz-Celis
“Using the leftover Olympics money from 1984, every four years they would do a celebration of arts and culture. If we build up to the games that way, and every four years from now have an arts and culture celebration, you can tie in the openings of things like the Lucas Museum in a way that will interlace them with the arts locally.” — Ben Caldwell
“The 2028 Games should give LA the solar and water infrastructure to make it a model for future self-supporting growth”. — Brendan Ravenhill
Casey Wasserman, who is chair of LA 2028’s organizing committee, is also a board member at Vox Media, Curbed’s parent company. Vox Media board members have no involvement in Curbed’s editorial planning or execution.