Soft Landing - d.esk and Now Here  

Sunday, March 31st – 5:30pm

Please join us for the third event of Soft Landing: d.esk and Now Here in conversation at the  VDL Research House.


The Series

Historically, Los Angeles was seen as a place both free from tradition and a fertile ground for experimentation. Architects in the 1970’s and 80's, faced with a different regulatory environment than today, practiced with a sense of looseness. They borrowed both the artists’ attitudes and the logic of Southern California’s standard and vernacular construction. Architecture at that time found a soft landing in the city, yielding a wealth of experimental buildings that became part of Los Angeles' architectural DNA.

Today, an emerging generation of architects find themselves practicing in a wholly different environment. With byzantine bureaucratic constraints, heightened awareness of growing social and environmental challenges, and more recently, a world still reverberating with the effects of a global pandemic, the L.A. Forum and VDL’s new event series Soft-Landing asks a group of emerging practitioners to discuss their work in the face of these circumstances: What embedded knowledge does one need to have in one's practice to create a soft landing today?  How do architectural practices find opportunities for experimentation while navigating various economic and bureaucratic constraints as well as  pressing social and environmental challenges? How does the built environment of Los Angeles influence their work? 

Each event of the series invites two practices to present their work in pairs. Speakers will discuss one of their projects and a building in Los Angeles that informs their work. A conversation with the public will follow the presentations.

The Speakers


d.esk is a practice that makes and learns and experiments and fails, over and over and over again. It uses paper, compares things, and designs buildings through open-ended inquiry and client-based projects. Our work begins with long standing conundrums or assumptions about how architectural form is conceived, and we then tease out techniques for alternatives. We choose tape over glue, tone over hue, coherence over style, abrupt over transitional, creativity through convention, soft and hard, things provisional over things fixed, and over or, strange over weird, subtle over obvious, considered over neglected, now over new, cheap as luxury, and alliances over commitments. We value good taste, deep thought, and ethical imagination.

David Eskenazi leads d.esk, a practice based in Los Angeles that designs buildings, installations, and objects, with completed projects in California, Mexico, and the American Midwest. d.esk’s work has been exhibited at venues that include the Cooper Union, Harvard University, the Architecture and Design Museum, and Yale University, amongst more than fifteen public installations and exhibitions. In addition to the design practice, David pursues research through teaching and writing; he’s published work in journals including Log, Project, Disc, Offramp, and Pidgin.

David received a Bachelor of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Architecture from SCI-Arc, where he graduated with distinction. He’s a recipient of the Architectural League of New York’s 2020 Young Architects Prize and is a MacDowell Fellow. David was previously the Oberdick Fellow at the University of Michigan Taubman College and the LeFevre Fellow at the Ohio State University’s Knowlton School of Architecture.

Now Here

Katy Barkan is a Los Angeles-based designer and educator. She is the principal of the

design practice Now Here and is faculty at UCLA School of Architecture and Urban Design. Her practice operates at the intersection of abstraction and materialism, looking for reciprocity between ideas and things, to loosen convention and generate new forms of engagement with architecture. Recent projects include several houses in Los Angeles, exhibition design and collaboration with artists, as well speculative installations and writings. She is the recipient of the 2020 Rome Prize in Architecture at the American Academy in Rome, and her work has been recognized with honors from the Los Angeles Chapter of the AIA and the AN Best of Design Award. Her work has been published in Architectural Record and Log, and has been exhibited at the 2010 Venice Biennale, the American Academy in Rome, and Harvard Graduate School of Design, among others. She has held teaching appointments at Harvard Graduate School of Design and UCLA and has lectured and juried at institutions nationwide. Katy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Barnard College and a Master of Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design.


This program is presented by the L.A. Forum for Architecture and Urban Design and the VDL Research House.

Image Credits:

Image 01: Ziggurhut, 2023, d.esk. Photographed by Onnis Luque (Instagram: @onnisluque_fotografia)

Image 02: 1-2-3 House, Now Here. Photographed by Katy Barkan

Image 03: A House-Bath Appearing Twice, Crudely, 2023, d.esk. Photographed by Brian Guido (Instagram: @brianguido)

Image 04:  6 Work Surfaces, Now Here. Photographed by Joshua White