I'm Rarely Home: A Note on Micro-Units in Downtown

NOTE: This event will not take place at NAVEL.

Farmers & Merchants Bank
401 South Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

As Los Angeles becomes more urban through new patterns of density, lifestyle, and transportation, it is imperative that innovative development must follow. For L.A., this is a unique opportunity to rethink many existing structures, both in our social fabric and our built environment. The micro-unit is one such typology that represents new imaginaries for both the domestic space of the room and the urban space of the city. These efficient dwelling units are especially appealing to single urban dwellers who constitute a new type of middle class. The panel discussion will explore the myriad issues around smaller, denser urbanization in Downtown L.A., including how the city will address current regulations that limit the viability of micro-units. A three-part installation by Karim Saleh, Sasha Tillmann, and Spencer Daly will encourage a re-evaluation of the body occupying space and the rituals that take place throughout the city.

A panel discussion with Barbara Bestor, Dana Cuff, Joe Day, Daniel Paul and Shane Phillips will take place on Friday, February 1 at 7PM. Doors at 6:30PM.

The exhibition will open with a discussion on Friday, February 1st and remain through Sunday, February 3rd.

This program is organized by NAVEL’s Collective Member Sasha Tillmann.


Barbara Bestor, FAIA, is the founding principal of Bestor Architecture. Since 1995, Bestor Architecture has actively redefined Los Angeles architecture with a practice that rigorously engages the city through design, art, and urbanism. Increasingly, the firm applies L.A.’s lessons to national undertakings. She has designed new ways of creating accessible urbanism in her “stealth density” Blackbirds housing, groundbreaking retail and restaurant flagships, dynamic workspaces for Beats by Dre, and award-winning experimental residences and pioneering arts projects deeply rooted in their communities and cultural context.

Dana Cuff is a professor at UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design, an author, and a practitioner in architecture. Cuff has published and lectured extensively about the modern American metropolis, the architectural profession, affordable housing, and spatially embedded computing. She has written and edited a number of books, including The Provisional City (2000) and Fast Forward Urbanism (with R Sherman, 2011). Cuff founded and directs the think tank cityLAB-UCLA which has become the leading voice of Southern California urbanism, particularly around issues of affordable housing. Following a decade of such collaboration and research into “backyard housing,” Cuff co-authored Assembly Bill 2299 (Bloom) to legalize accessory dwelling units in single-family zones throughout California.

Joe Day is a designer and architectural theorist in Los Angeles, where he leads Deegan-Day Design LLC and serves on the design and history/theory faculty at SCI-Arc. The work of Deegan-Day Design examines the intersections of contemporary art, urbanism and architecture. Day contributed an additional forward to the 2009 edition of Reyner Banham’s seminal study, Los Angeles: Architecture of the Four Ecologies and his Collections & Collections: Architectures for Art and Crime (2013) explores new polarities in contemporary institutional architecture.

Daniel Paul is a senior architectural historian with ICF: a global consulting firm. He has authored built environment regulatory documents and listed landmark nominations at all levels of US government agency. Present projects include the authorship of multiple Caltrans technical reports, he is the principal architectural historian for California High Speed Rail: Los Angeles to Anaheim segment, and has recently drafted the Post-Modern and Late-Modern historic context statements for the City of Los Angeles historical resources survey project. Daniel Paul is native to Southern California, and resides in Glendale-La Crescenta.

Shane Phillips is the Director of Public Policy for Central City Association (CCA). He helps manage the organization’s advocacy across a range issues, including housing and land use, transportation, homelessness, environmental sustainability and resiliency, and economic development. Prior to joining CCA, Shane served as the Project Director for Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc and worked in the office of Councilmember Jose Huizar. Shane is currently a steering committee member for Abundant Housing LA and on the advisory committees of Genesis LA and FASTLinkDTLA.


Sasha Tillmann is a Development Associate at Gilmore Associates, a real estate development and management company that was the first to utilize the Los Angeles Adaptive Reuse Ordinance. She is the Project Manager of a 2-acre Tier 4 (TOC) mixed-use development in Chinatown, L.A. and an active member of policy-oriented working groups organized by Central City Association (CCA). Sasha serves as the architectural programming committee member for the non-profit collective, NAVEL, and received her Master of Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in 2017.

Karim Saleh is a French and Lebanese architectural designer. He recently received his Bachelor of Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), where he was the recipient of the Blythe and Thom Mayne Best Undergraduate Thesis Prize. His thesis explores the relationship of drawing not as a representational tool but as a spatial implication. Prior to his current position at Morphosis Architects, he has been part of the design team at Tom Wiscombe Architecture and Zaha Hadid Architects.

Spencer Daly is an American designer and image maker. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles and for the previous seven years has worked with a series of developers and architects as an entitlement and zoning specialist to identify sites and promote more efficient housing in the continually densifying Los Angeles area. With a Bachelor of Literature from Loyola Marymount, a Master of Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), and experience in real estate, Daly’s work focuses on the intersection of narrative, space and image, and economy.

Image by Sasha Tillmann and Karim Saleh