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Bunker Hill Refrain

Project Details

Project Year: 2021-2022

Project Type: Collaboratory


Meredith Drake Reitan, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Sol Price School of Public Policy and School of Architecture
Suzanne Noruschat, Southern California Studies Specialist, USC Libraries Special Collections
Andy Rutkowski, Visualization Specialist, USC Libraries

Innovation Scholars

Uma Chatterjee, Cinema and Media Studies & Documentary
Will Forker, Geodesign & Music Recording
Ashley Espinosa , Urban Studies and Planning & Landscape Architecture.

The Collaboratory

Terraforming Mars Collaboratory
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Led by Meredith Drake Reitan (Architecture), Suzi Noruschat (USC Libraries), and Andrew Rutkowski (USC Libraries) and supported by Ahmanson Lab staff, this 2021-2022 Collaboratory sought to bring the social complexities of the early 20th century Bunker Hill, a neighborhood lost to redevelopment in the 1960s, to light while contributing to contemporary debates about community and economic revitalization practices.

Students spent fall 2021 investigating the archival record of Bunker Hill in order to document the scale and character of displacement. In spring 2022, Ahmanson Lab staff, along with students and faculty in the Collaboratory researched, designed, and fabricated a 3D, fully immersive, reconstruction of Bunker Hill from the late 1930s and early 1940s. (“The Historic Bunker Hill 3D Experience”).

To document displacement, students examined household survey cards from USC Libraires Special Collections (compiled by the Works Progress Administration in 1939). To design our 3D reconstruction, the team used historical photographs from the period accessed primarily from the USC Libraries Special Collections, Huntington Library, Los Angeles Public Library, and the Getty; architectural drawings produced in 1939 by WPA artists and held at the Los Angeles City Archives; Sanborn maps from the Library of Congress; and aerial photography from 1941, housed at UC Santa Barbara’s Aerial Photography Collection.

The Outcomes 

Terraforming Mars Collaboratory
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The Historic Bunker Hill 3D Experience covers twelve contiguous blocks of the neighborhood (3D models of 172 buildings, terrain, and street features) and includes an annotated layer of information about individual residences (researched and written by students), allowing visitors to immersive themselves in the lost neighborhood while accessing stories about people and places. The interactive experience was made available as a prototype on the Web, as a stand-alone app for PC and MAC, and as a VR experience via the Oculus Quest 2 headset.


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