An exploration of place 
through memory,
history, and scent.

The project:

Whether natural, related to the local flora and fauna, or artificial, in the sense of revealing the presence and activities of man, odour constitutes an essential component of the character of a place. There really are smellscapes. The moment you get off an airplane, Korea smells of kimchi (pickled cabbage with garlic and hot pepper), Tahiti smells of its indigenous gardenias, Dakar smells of dried fish: for natives or frequent visitors, this guarantees an emotional response of the “Proustian experience” variety; for newcomers, it results in a more or less pleasant shock because of its unfamiliarity.  Almost everything still remains to be understood in this area... A whole segment of a society’s imaginative world is revealed in the odour of its environment.
-Jean-Robert Pitte, 1998

The heart notes, or middle notes, of a fragrance are the primary notes that define the way a scent is described and categorized. The heart notes generally assert themselves in the first 10 to 20 minutes of wear as the top notes fade, and they make up the strongest impression of the scent.
- Scent Bar Glossary


The site of ROW DTLA has a long and rich history whose layers are concealed today through the vast asphalt parking lots, bustling markets, and recently adapted American Apparel headquarters. As landscape architects and designers, we are interested in the relationship between landscape as it relates to memory, and what the history of a site might reveal. Through this exploration, we hope to distill the cultural narratives and forgotten ephemera embedded in this ever evolving site.

We have invited a few people who have personal or family connections to the site in its earlier manifestations to join us in a series of workshops at the Institute for Art and Olfaction (IAO) in Chinatown prior to LA Design Week. These folks may have worked for American Apparel or in the preceding food markets or railways. There may be someone who has family that owned or worked in the early orchards or farmlands there or they may be historians. Through research, conversation and collaboration we seek to identify and extract both the tangible and intangible elements related to particular moments in time and capture it in the creation of a unique series of scents under the guidance of the experts at IAO. These scents are meant to evoke discrete segments of the site's history - manufacturing, rail yard, orchard, or other aspects we will uncover in our research.

We will have SALT team members at the Block Party who will be in custom aprons, or some other distinctive clothing element, who will each have one of the unique scents we have created with the workshop group. They will have small cards with a brief narrative about the particular segment of history attached to the particular scent. The staff will offer to spray the card and hand them to attendees through the evening.

The research:

SALT Landscape Architects would like to thank the Institute for Art and Olfaction, the LA Design Festival team, the librarians at the Downtown Central Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, our fantastic photographer Michael Wells, and all of our workshop participants.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of Los Angeles, here are a few of the remarkable resources we uncovered:

Downoad the poster:


Alameda Heart Notes
An investigation of place through history, memory, and scent.

A SALT project
in collaboration with new friends and neighbors.

In partnership with:

932 Chung King Road Los Angeles, CA
(213) 616-1744