I’m a big fan of the John Cage | Fluxus Happening | guerilla urban architecture mashup Frozen Grand Central. I’m also a fan of public transportation. So you can imagine my delight when I stepped off the metro at UCLA’s Westwood & La Conte and stumbled upon this:

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30 Seconds of Awesome, tug of war segment, May 12, 2010

The frenzied activities—including tug of war, ultimate frisbee, and jump rope—took place during the 30 second “walk” periods for pedestrians, creating a distinct negative space in the brief periods between humans and autos.

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30 Seconds of Awesome, transition to thru traffic

30 Seconds of Awesome was directed by UCLA architecture masters student Krisztina Jozsef,  who developed the project to inspire urban active landscapes.  She notes that LA is not a walkable city, but could be if more people begin to find enjoyment in the urban environment.

In the rare moments of our pedestrianism, it is possible and enjoyable to interact with the existing … infrastructure to activate our environment.  When pedestrians physically engage with the public space made available to them, they activate themselves in the content of the city, thus activating the city.

Though I have a tendancy to walk a lot, I often take for granted the wonderful potential experiences city streets have to offer along the way.  Fortunately projects like 30 Seconds of Awesome serve as a reminder that it’s not the destination but the journey.

A great tactic for raising awareness without alienating drivers, the intros and outros of the intersection activities were meticulously choreographed to make sure traffic wasn’t disrupted.  Armed with a loudspeaker and rotating activity banners, the class’ professor, architect Mark Mack (dressed in an orange road-worker’s jumpsuit), counted down from 30 seconds prompting the participants to clear the sidewalk before the lights turned green.  Another great move, after the water balloons Jozsef worked in a clean-up round to remove the residue of their performances.

30 Seconds of Awesome, ultimate frisby segment

30 Seconds of Awesome, ultimate frisby segment

The relative calm of the concluding yoga activity had a much different tone than the others. The passerby pedestrians seemed to become more apparent (statuesque?) than during the frenzied activities earlier.

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30 Seconds of Awesome, yoga segment

I hear a rumor that 30 Seconds of Awesome will be reprised at the same place on May 21st between roughly 1-2PM. If in the LA area then, see you there!

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