• The Platform
    The Watts House Project

A street view of the Platform, 1726–1750 E. 107th Street, Los Angeles, CA.

In May 2009, the Watts House Project (WHP) purchased the Platform, an abandoned and blighted property on E. 107th Street, to maximize its investment in the community. The three structures that constitute the Platform have weathered the gradual decay associated with decades of neglect, a lack of maintenance, and re-investment. WHP is committed to the revitalization of these structures and has formed a talented design team to address the ravages of time. Due to its close proximity to the Watts Towers, the revitalization of the Platform has been designed from the project's inception to be complementary to the design and spirit of the historic monument. The Platform serves as WHP's hub and base of operations for a number of projects and community programs. Its full renovation allows for the development of an office, exhibition space, and an artist-in-residence, and therefore strengthens WHP's capacity to provide a wealth of services to the neighboring community.

Born in 1972, Los Angeles-based artist Edgar Arceneaux has an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. He's participated in artist-in-residencies at Art Pace in San Antonio, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, Project Row Houses in Houston, and at the Fachhochschule Aachen in Germany. Edgar's work was included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial and California Biannual 2008, and resides in public collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Walker Art Center, the Hammer Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Since 1999, Edgar has been the director of the Watts House Project.

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Victor Jones is assistant professor at the University of Southern California's School of Architecture and is the lead architect for the Platform's fence, pocket park, and façade improvement. As a scholar, educator, and practitioner, his work lies at the intersection of architecture, art, and community building, concentrated in the United States and France and extending to Brazil. He has published articles, been invited to speak nationally, and led a critical design practice for over ten years. Issues of art and community building have been of primary concern to his work.

Managing director Will Sheffie brings to WHP a wealth of civic experience, having worked for local elected officials and a number of departments within the city of Los Angeles. Will is familiar with the Watts community, and been involved in numerous projects and programs with community groups and local nonprofit agencies. Will brings to WHP strong strategic thinking, capacity building, organizational management and a willingness to help foster community enhancement and growth.

John Umbanhowar directs the Los Angeles-office of hughesumbanhowar. Born in New York in 1970, Umbanhowar brings a dose of rigorous intensity tempered by levity to the architectural work process, which contributes to the distinct work and close knit relationships for which the office is recognized. His daily routine is the assembly of clinging logic, wild intuition, inherent responsibility, and dumb luck which he calls architecture. He has been entrusted with several historically significant Los Angeles buildings during his career, such as the renovation of the Troxell House by Richard Neutra, and EastWest Recording Studios, in collaboration with Philippe Starck. Prior to forming hughesumbanhowar, he was founding partner of the lauded firm Design Bureau in 1998. He has designed award-winning furniture and continues to pursue prefabrication and mass-produced design within the office. He received his MArch degree from SCI-Arc in Los Angeles.

Incorporated as a 501(c)3 in 2009, the Watts House Project (WHP) is an artist-driven neighborhood redevelopment organization, wherein artists and design professionals, in collaboration with the Watts Towers–area residents, employ art as an economic and community development engine to promote and enhance the quality of residential life in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Inspired by the neighboring Watts Towers, WHP brings residents together in a creative partnership with artists, architects, design professionals, and volunteers to revitalize the neighborhood and reimagine the environment through inventive programming, community involvement, and functional and creative housing renovations.