Hot Spots and Heat Waves: Rethinking Resiliency in East Los Angeles

Austin Kronig

Reassembling the Earth


Jazairy El Hadi


This thesis investigates the intersections of climate justice, inequality, and the physical environment through the phenomena of urban heat islands in the context of the city of Los Angeles. Extreme urban heat is the most ubiquitous climate change related urban stressor in Los Angeles, yet its impacts are felt differently across the city.

Extreme urban heat, an invisible-like condition, is largely framed and problematized through the lens of public health and not as thoroughly scrutinized as an architectural and urban crisis of its own making and disregard. Marginalized communities and communities of color like the Boyle Heights neighborhood in East Los Angeles bear a disproportionate amount of the burden when it comes to combating extreme heat. These hot spots register high concentrations of inequality that are only exacerbated by heat vulnerability and environmental risk, especially among the elderly, the poor, the isolated, and the unhoused.

As the city pushes towards deep decarbonization and a just transition, how do neighborhoods beset by common challenges assess and address inequities in carbon form and the built environment? While adapting to a hotter climate, what infrastructures of care, land-use policies and practices, and just public spaces are essential for communities to survive, adapt, and grow more autonomous?

This thesis reimagines resiliency and urban livability across multiple scales and actors, intermediating between stories of grassroots vernacular responses and civic infrastructure projects and interventions. Critical attention is paid to how disadvantaged neighborhoods safeguard and weather against imminent climate emergencies, like episodic heat waves. Furthermore, this thesis speculates on the axiomatic role of urban cooling and its capacity to create wellness and relief. Utilizing animated storytelling as an interactive communication tool and medium, this thesis seeks to reinstate architecture’s advocacy role and orient awareness and advocacy towards collective action.