Posts tagged with "Los Angeles":

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In L.A., this modular steel frame house doubles as a bridge over a secret stream

Half a block south of Los Angeles’s ritzy Hancock Park neighborhood, a secret underground stream that draws its water from the mountains of Griffith Park runs across the backyards of several unassuming homes. On a quizzical block where each house provides a corresponding bridge to span the stream, Los Angeles–based architect Dan Brunn is busy erecting a 200-foot-long house that doubles as its own bridge. The 4,500-square-foot home is being built using the BONE Structure prefabricated steel construction system, a modular product developed by an eponymous manufacturer based out of Laval, Quebec, Canada. The all-steel system is fabricated entirely off-site and put together on-site, each element assigned an individualized bar code designating its placement. Brunn utilized a five-by-five-foot module “designed around experience, not transport or manufacture” to create the home. The three-bedroom, shotgun-style house is arranged with a carport facing the street. From there, a living room, kitchen, and courtyard extend into the site, followed by a bathroom sandwiched between two smaller bedrooms. A master suite caps the back end of the home, concealing an office space located below that is accessible to the banks of the stream. Brunn said, “The precision of the BONE Structure system is so evident and clear, it’s like seeing the inside of a Swiss watch.” The home is currently under construction and is expected to be complete late 2018.
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Gondolas could link Dodger Stadium to L.A.’s Union Station by 2022

Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies, LLC has announced plans to construct a gondola system that would take passengers from the Los Angeles Union Station to Dodger Stadium.  The $150 million plan was submitted to L.A.’s transit agency—Metro—as an unsolicited bid proposal, in line with Metro’s innovation-driven procurement efforts, The Source reports. The plan would link Los Angeles’s central transit node with the city’s baseball stadium located just two miles away in the hills above Echo Park. This gondola route is envisioned as an additional transit route meant to augment existing rapid bus service to the stadium and would ferry between 30 and 40 passengers per pod, shipping up to 5,000 passengers per hour during peak frequency. The proposal comes from former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and other private investors—McCourt sold his stake in the team in 2015 but continues to own a stake in the sea of parking lots that wrap the stadium. The gondola line would presumably serve to augment parking revenues, perhaps freeing up some of that land for other types of development. The Los Angeles Times reports that while ticket prices have not been pinned down for the gondola, it is expected that fares would fall below the cost of parking at the stadium, which currently stands at roughly $20. Regarding the unsolicited bid, Metro’s chief innovation officer Joshua Schank said, “We set up the unsolicited proposal process to encourage outside-the-box thinking when it comes to mobility and building new transportation infrastructure,” adding, “The Dodgers’s proposal is intriguing and we’re looking forward to reviewing the details.” The propsal is the latest urban gondola scheme proposed for an American city in recent months and the second such project envisioned for the hills surrounding Los Angeles. Earlier this year, officials in the city began weighing weather to construct a gondola system to reach L.A.’s Hollywood sign. Project backers are looking to Metro to help prepare environmental reviews for the project with the hope that a final route will be decided by 2019 or 2020. Ultimately, the gondola team is hoping to have the line running by opening day of the 2022 Major League Baseball season. 
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For L.A.-based start-ups, a downtown tech incubator offers a boost up

Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue.  At the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), participating members get a lot of bang for their buck. Originally started in 2011, the outfit moved in 2016 into a 60,000-square-foot complex, known as the La Kretz Innovation Campus and owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The campus is one of the inaugural public amenities of a new Cleantech Corridor planned by the City of Los Angeles for a vast area stretching from the Lincoln Heights neighborhood, in East L.A., to the Arts District, downtown. The complex is made up of an adaptively reused and seismically retrofitted historic warehouse, among other components, designed by John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects. The mix of offices, labs, and makerspaces offers LACI's portfolio of cleantech companies access to cutting-edge fabrication and prototyping tools. With six specialty labs, the LACI-managed Advanced Prototyping Center (APC), is also open to the public through memberships starting at $250, making more than $10 million in specialty equipment available to budding innovators and entrepreneurs. The innovation hub is being marketed by LACI as a one-stop shop for ambitious, tech-savvy groups and individuals looking to develop and test new industrial-scale ideas and products. The one-of-a-kind APC offers some of the most advanced, industrial-grade fabrication and research tools, as well, including professional-grade laser cutters, CNC mills, water jets, and even a full-blown biochemistry lab. The facilities allowed the designers behind Hive Lighting to model, test, and fabricate prototypes of their high-performance, energy-efficient plasma and LED lights. Kay Yang, APC director, explained, “This is where you come to get off the ground if you’re an L.A.-based start-up;” the incubator also boasts a new artist-in-residence program and a slate of professional advisers, who hold office hours, as well as mentorship for members. Yang added that, for certain participating companies, “LACI has cut 12 to 18 months off start-up times” while also allowing these groups to maintain full intellectual and copyright protections, part of LACI’s “intellectual property–neutral” setup. According to LACI’s calculations, in the past six years, the incubator has helped 72 portfolio companies raise $165 million in start-up funding, generate $220 million in revenue, and create 1,700 jobs across the region.

Current portfolio companies include:

Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing

An all-electric bus manufacturer with goals to create 100 percent zero-emission transportation.

Ampaire An all-electric airplane fabricator.

Avisare

A cloud-based software-procurement platform.

Connect Homes

A prefab home company based in California.

Perception Robotics

A touch-and-vision-based industrial robot manufacturer.

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Studio Gang unveils renderings for sinuous tower in Los Angeles’ Chinatown

Chicago-based Studio Gang, French real estate investment company Compagnie de Phalsbourg, developer Creative Space, and European lifestyle brand MOB Hotel have unveiled plans for a towering hotel and apartment tower complex slated for Los Angeles’s Chinatown neighborhood.  The sinuous, glass-wrapped tower will rise diagonally from a site currently occupied by a pair of commercial buildings and a parking lot, among other uses. A rendering released by the development team depicts a tower that grows wider as it rises from the site, revealing larger, cantilevered floor plates containing balcony spaces along its uppermost floors. The project is among the first high-profile developments in the neighborhood following recent new construction and the completion of the Los Angeles State Historic Park. The project will likely transform the neighborhood, replacing a modestly-scaled commercial area with plazas, a 149-key hotel, and 300 new residences. It does not contain an affordable housing component.  “This project transforms a parking lot and commercial strip into an architecture that opens up the potential of the site to connect neighborhoods,” Studio Gang Founding Principal Jeanne Gang explained via press release. Gang added, “Responding to the growing needs of the city, we designed the footprint to enable new generous outdoor public space at ground level while simultaneously creating a curved upper volume to capture views, light, and air for the building’s inhabitants.” The project comes as development around the new state park heats up, with several other multi-phase, mixed-use developments currently in the pipeline. The project will be Studio Gang’s first project in L.A. and represents the changing tenor of development in the city’s urban core, which is becoming more star-studded and international in nature than has prefiously been the case. Nearby, Johnson Fain and SWA Group are working on the 355-unit La Plaza de Cultura development, while efforts are made to create a new master plan for the surrounding neighborhood and adjacent Civic Center areas. Studio Gang’s project will now head into the community review phase; a timeline for construction has not been announced.
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Frank Gehry donates $1 million to Los Angeles River schools for arts education

Turnaround Arts: California recently announced a $1 million donation from architect Frank Gehry. A leading figure behind the proposed redesign of the Los Angeles River into a mixed-use district with substantial parkland, Gehry will direct his donation towards underserved communities abutting the river just south of Los Angeles. As he said in a statement, "I have been working on the Los Angeles River, and through this work, I have discovered the great need for this program in the districts closest to the river, especially south of the city of Los Angeles." Founded in 2014 by Malissa Shriver and Frank Gehry, Turnaround Arts: California is the state chapter of a larger initiative championed by First Lady Michelle Obama. Coordinated by The Kennedy Center, Turnaround Arts strives to improve academic performance and improve schools through the arts by providing arts education to nearly one hundred underperforming schools in seventeen states and Washington D.C. With Gehry's donation being matched by an anonymous donor, Turnaround Arts: California’s program will be extended to ten more schools in the next five years, with the first of these three participating as of April 16. In total, 17,000 K-8 students in California will now be served by educational programs led by Turnaround Arts. In a statement, Gehry added, "Over the last forty years, I’ve spent time with kids in the classroom using architecture and art to get them engaged, focus their attention, and even introduce mathematics, civics, and other subjects that they might not have otherwise been receptive to."
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L.A. Mayor to declare “shelter crisis,” earmarks $20 million for emergency housing

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has announced his intention to declare a so-called “shelter crisis” in the city, announcing $20 million in new funding for emergency shelter services like tents, trailers, and temporary shelters. The new program—called “A Bridge Home”—will pave the way for the municipality to speed up the approval of new emergency shelter and transitional housing projects, as well, The Los Angeles Times reports. The announcement, made during Garcetti’s annual “State of the City” address, comes amid ever-increasing rates of homelessness among the city’s residents. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, there were at least 34,189 Angelenos experiencing homelessness in 2017, up 20 percent from the previous year. In Los Angeles County, the number was much higher, with 57,794 county residents living in unsheltered conditions. With millions of Angelenos overly burdened by their rents and a state-wide housing affordability crisis that has no end in site, the extent of the city’s homelessness crisis is likely to continue to grow.  That is, unless new efforts undertaken by city leaders can prove to be effective. Garcetti’s declaration comes on the heels of a series of new initiatives following the passage of Proposition HHH and Measure H in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The two homelessness alleviation measures aim, respectively, to utilize a $1.2 billion bond to build 10,000 new supportive housing units but while also directing resources toward preventing rent-burdened and recently-rehoused households from falling back into homelessness. While those 10,000 units make their way through the planning, design, and construction process, Measure H initiatives will work toward addressing the causes of homelessness on the ground today. The measure consists of 21 interconnected strategies aimed at tackling affordability issues and includes rental subsidies, job training programs, and funding for case management services while also promoting County-wide coordination between agencies on where new transitional and supportive housing developments can be located.  Last week, the Los Angeles City Council moved to untangle regulatory approval for new shelters from conventional community review processes, a move that will convert these developments into by-right projects that do not require the types of tedious reviews that have slowed down their development across the city. The City Council also moved to pass a new ordinance allowing for existing motel properties across the city to be converted to rapid-rehousing sites. Los Angeles County is working to facilitate the rental of Accessory Dwelling Units to individuals and families who were formerly experiencing homelessness by allowing homeowners with ADUs on their properties to accept housing vouchers, as well. The pilot project is currently underway. All told, Garcetti aims to earmark nearly $430 million toward homelessness alleviation measures next year, including more than $238 million in funds generated from the Measure HHH funds. 
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Elon Musk to bypass environmental review for test tunnel in L.A.

Billionaire Elon Musk and his Boring Company are moving forward with plans to build an underground network of personal vehicle tunnels below the streets of Los Angeles.  After drilling a preliminary tunnel below the Tesla and SpaceX company headquarters in nearby Hawthorne, California, the company is now moving forward with an additional 2.7-mile “proof-of-concept” tunnel for a “zero-emissions, high-speed, underground, alternative means of transit for personal vehicles and/or single-rider use” that will run under Sepulveda Boulevard on L.A.’s Westside. The test tunnel will begin at 2352-2356 South Sepulveda Boulevard, a property owned by The Boring Company, Urbanize.LA reports. From there, it will run roughly 30-70 feet below ground to an area below the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard in Culver City. The tunnel will not daylight at this point, according to initial documentation.   The tunneling depth will allow the engineers to avoid underground utilities and other potential obstructions and is subject to change as conditions closer to the surface permit. Though the route has been vetted for the potential existence of archeological and paleontological materials, plans for independent monitors will be put in place should any sensitive resources be discovered over the course of work on the tunnel. In order to build the tunnel, The Boring Company has received a preliminary reprieve from California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) restrictions at the behest of the Los Angeles City Council, which will also take up the final approval for the concept on behalf of the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering if the test tunnels are successful. Further sections beyond the test tunnel will be subject to a variety of environmental and community reviews.  The test tunnels will not be available for public use and will be used solely for testing of a proposed “skate” technology that could eventually be used to ferry automobiles and passengers throughout the system.  The test tunnel is expected to be completed in nine months; a final timeline for approval and construction of a usable tunnel has not yet been released. 
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Architect Neri Oxman is hanging out with Brad Pitt, and the internet is going wild

The rumor mill is buzzing around the purportedly budding relationship between Boston-based architect and artist Neri Oxman and actor Brad Pitt. According to Page SixOxman met Pitt when he was referred to her for guidance on an architectural project. Since then, the two have developed what the publication called a "professional friendship." Celebrity gossip mag US Weekly took it a step further, claiming the two have been secretly rendezvousing for months, with Brad even tagging along on Oxman’s professional trips across the globe. The Israeli-American Oxman, a professor at MIT and founder of design group Mediated Matter, is known for her forward-thinking approach to architecture and design that fuses natural, biological forms with the growing capabilities of digital fabrication. Oxman has produced acclaimed pieces such as “The Silk Pavilion,” a CNC-fabricated scaffold coiled with silk thread produced by 6,500 silkworms, and “Gemeni” a solid wood chaise crafted to resemble a cocoon, adorned with cells of varying colors and rigidity. Her ventures into 3-D printed wearables also include a design for Björk's Vulnicura tour, a movable mask that mimicked the musician's own bone and tissue based on scans. Oxman’s work is exhibited widely, including at MoMaSan Francisco's Museum of Modern Art, and the Centre Pompidou. This is not Pitt’s first flirtation with the world of architecture. The Hollywood star met and befriended Frank Gehry in 2001, leading to an internship focused on computer-aided design at the international architect’s Los Angeles office. Since then, Pitt has gone on to found Make it Right, a non-profit focused on delivering environmentally-friendly housing to post-Katrina Louisiana. During this venture, Gehry designed a duplex in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, his only residential project in the state of Louisiana. While Pitt has dabbled in architecture and design, he has nothing on Oxman’s impressive record of academic and design accolades, including the 2016 MIT Collier Medal, the Textiles Spaces 2015 Award, and the 2014 Vilcek Prize. Whatever the truth about their relationship is, Oxman is probably too good for Pitt.
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OMA unveils dramatically sloped cultural center for historic L.A. temple

OMA’s first cultural building for California has been revealed, as the firm provided a first look at the forthcoming Audrey Irmas Pavilion in Los Angeles, a cultural center for the neighboring Wilshire Boulevard Temple. OMA New York was commissioned for the project after winning a design contest in 2015, and the completed cultural center will sit next to, and dialogue with, L.A.'s oldest synagogue. The historic Wilshire Boulevard Temple was built in 1929 in the Byzantine-Revival style, and deference to the institution informed the Audrey Irmas Pavilion’s design. The serious slope on the building’s west façade will push it away from the existing temple, while it also leans south and away from a historic school. Located on an intersection, the dramatic forces that influenced the building’s orientation have also resulted in the pavilion “reaching out” to Wilshire Boulevard. “We wanted to focus on communicating the energy of gathering and exchange,” said lead designer Shohei Shigematsu in a statement. “The pavilion is an active gesture, shaped by respectful moves away from the surrounding historic buildings, reaching out onto Wilshire Boulevard to create a new presence. Within the building, a series of interconnected meeting spaces at multiple scales provide ultimate flexibility for assembly while maintaining visual connections that establish outdoor indoor porosity and moments of surprise encounters.” The pavilion will hold three distinct gathering spaces throughout, including a main event space, smaller multi-purpose room, and a sunken garden. Each of the interior spaces will be stacked vertically and arranged to give visitors specifically framed views, while remaining interlinked. The scattered openings across the pavilion’s hexagonal façade are meant to filter light to each gathering space while also reorienting guests to the rest of the campus. “Audrey Irmas Pavilion, designed by OMA—the firm’s first cultural building in California—will offer an irresistible invitation to gather, celebrate, learn and reach out to others,” said Rabbi Steve Leder in a statement. “In a city so large and diverse, we need community, and we need inspiring, welcoming places. Los Angeles deserves a modern masterpiece devoted to bringing people together, located in the heart of the city’s most diverse neighborhood. We are very proud that Wilshire Boulevard Temple will be a vital part of a cultural, religious and socially conscious conversation that is defining 21st Century Los Angeles.” The Audrey Irmas Pavilion is named after philanthropist Audrey Irmas, who spearheaded the capital campaign for the project in 2015 with a $30 million donation. The L.A.-based Studio-MLA will be serving as the project's landscape architect, while Gruen Associates are cited as the executive architect. OMA expects to break ground on the center this year, with plans to open in 2020.
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Renderings unveiled for 1,200-unit development slated for L.A.’s Westside

Solomon Cordwell Buenz, TCA Architects, and developers Carmel Partners have unveiled renderings for the 1,210-unit Cumulus development, a new mixed-use project slated for the former KLOS and KABC radio broadcast facilities at the La Cienega/Jefferson Expo Line stop in Los Angeles. The tower-and-slab project will bring a cluster of seven-story courtyard apartment blocks as well as a 30-story housing tower to a transit-adjacent area currently populated mostly by industrial structures and single-family homes. The structures will feature ground-floor retail spaces and will also surround a new one-acre public park designed by Studio MLA. Renderings for the 11-acre project depict the mid-rise apartments laid out in a perimeter block formation, with the central green wrapped by an internal street and overlooked by the units above. The apartment blocks themselves are sheathed in various finishes and feature articulated massing, shifting floor plates, and collected amenities along various rooftop levels. According to a draft environmental impact report, the development will contain 300,000 square feet of commercial floor area, including 200,000 square feet of office space, 50,000 square feet of grocery store, 20,000 square feet of restaurant space, and 30,000 square feet of general retail. Despite being located along a transit stop, the project contains 2,371 vehicle parking stalls for all the combined uses that are arranged throughout the complex in a five-level parking podium. The project will also contains 1,500 bicycle parking spaces located in an indoor bike room. The apartment tower has its own dedicated two-story parking podium and does not connect to the mid-rise blocks. The tower is slated to rise 330 feet and will join the forthcoming 17-story (W)rapper tower coming to the area by Eric Owen Moss Architects. Urbanize.la reports that excavation for the project’s parking is set to begin in two months. A final construction timeline is not available
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Cyprien Gaillard’s 3-D “Nightlife” offers mesmerizing look at cities and their histories of resistance

Marcel Duchamp Prize-winning artist Cyprien Gaillard’s film Nightlife (2015), currently on view for the first time in the United States at Gladstone Gallery in New York, is a portrait of the living city. Gaillard, who was born in Paris and lives and works between New York and Berlin, practices across media, including photo, film, and sculpture. He is known for his meditations on memory, history, and failure—including work on the legacy and present of modern architecture. His latest film, Nightlife, was filmed with advanced imaging techniques and drones, and the camera flows and glides between close-up, abstract shots to floating arial views with ease. Upon entering the gallery, a nautilus shell in a recessed light box mounted in a black wall marks the entrance to the screening area. Viewers are offered 3-D glasses, which enhance the hallucinatory, ecstatic nature of the piece. Though comprising seemingly abstract shots—swaying trees, fireworks, city streets, aerial views of buildings, all, of course, shot at night—the film is deeply allegorical, telling a complex history of revolution and resistance through objects, plants, and buildings that live and breathe as characters. Presented without caption or narration, the film advances in what might be described as four acts through Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Berlin, coming full circle in Cleveland again. The film opens on an almost indiscernible closeup of a plant before moving on to Rodin’s The Thinker, outside the Cleveland Museum of Art. The spinning camera revels in the sculpture’s apparent decay, the result of a 1970 bombing by the radical left-wing organization the Weather Underground. Nightlife then advances to Los Angeles, where it depicts dancing, rioting trees on the streets of the city—primarily the Hollywood Juniper, a non-native species that has been a recurring motif in Gaillard’s work. Shored up against the architectural forms, the trees not only trouble the boundaries of natural and artificial, but also evoke notions of indigeneity, migration, and belonging. The trees' movements might also be read more explicitly as a reference to the so-called L.A. riots of 1992 and to other forms of civil action and resistance. Though arguably all of Nightlife depicts the city as protagonist, the most explicitly architectural moment is the third act, which features the Berlin Olympiastadion. Built for the 1936 Olympics, the stadium served as a monument to the Third Reich. It now functions as a space for a variety of events, including an annual fireworks competition, the Pyronale, which is displayed in the film in explosive technicolor. The film returns to Cleveland, landing on American runner Jesse Owens's Olympic oak tree planted at the Ford Rhodes High School. Owens, whose four gold medal wins as a black athlete at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany flew in the face the Third Reich’s extensive racist propaganda campaign, was awarded an oak sapling for each of his gold medals (the oak tree serves as a symbol of Germany). In lieu of the sound of its settings, the film loops a sample of Alton Ellis's Blackman's Word (1969) throughout, its repetition pulling the viewer into Nightlife’s self-contained world even more completely and unifying the disparate scenes. (Originally featuring the refrain “I was born a loser,” it was re-recorded in 1971 as “I was born a winner.” Critically, both versions feature in the film.) Not merely a vibrant portrait of cities at night, Nightlife traces the residue of history left on the landscape—be it "natural" or built. Nightlife originally appeared at Sprüth Magers in Berlin and is on view at Gladstone Gallery through April 14th. Cyprien Gaillard: Nightlife Gladstone Gallery, 530 West 21st Street,New York, NY Through April 14th
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Why we need architecture critics more than ever

Earlier this week we learned that Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne would be stepping down to take on the city’s newly-created role of Chief Design Officer. The move is a bold, encouraging one that should go a long way toward, as Hawthorne put it, “raising the quality of public architecture and urban design across the city—and the level of civic conversation about those subjects,” through his employment of oversight, advocacy, competitions, forums, and more. But it’s the second part of that statement, regarding civic conversation, that, regardless of this positive development, is under siege in the architecture world. Until Hawthorne is replaced — and given the turmoil at the L.A. Times that’s no certainty— our country will have still fewer regular architectural critics at its major metropolitan news outlets. You can count them on one hand in fact: Blair Kamin at the Chicago Tribune, John King at the San Francisco Chronicle, Mark Lamster at the Dallas Morning News, Julie Iovine at the Wall Street Journal, and Inga Saffron at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Beyond these dailies, while New York Magazine’s Justin Davidson and Curbed’s Alexandra Lange offer regular critiques, the New York Times’ critic Michael Kimmelman is M.I.A., the New Yorker has never replaced Paul Goldberger, and at The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, The Nation, The San Jose Mercury News, and Vanity Fair, Robert Campbell, Alastair Gordon, Michael Sorkin, Alan Hess and Goldberger—all talented voices, as are all the people listed above— haven’t appeared for at least half a year.  Papers like The Seattle Times, the Providence Journal, and the Washington Post never replaced their outgoing critics, USA Today has never had one, and half of the nation’s ten largest cities have no critic. It goes without saying that the L.A. Times absolutely must name a new full-time architecture critic, particularly at a time when the nation's second largest city is undergoing unprecedented transformation. Without a well-positioned critical voice, the city will lack a professional to alert them to and analyze these tumultuous built changes, or an advocate to critique decisions that, as they so often do in the developer-driven city, advance private interests over the public good. (Or, on the other end of the spectrum, marginalize design through discourse and work that most people can't relate to.) A critic can and must do much more, from awakening us to triumphs in sustainability and technology to suggesting ways to minimize sprawl or enhance public space. We don’t have to always agree with them, but he or she plays an essential role in instigating and informing a vital public discourse and to alerting us to the critical role design plays in our lives. The same goes for so many of the country’s cities, where nobody is minding the store, architecturally. The results speak for themselves: an overwhelming majority of architecture, both public and private, that’s ok, fine, serviceable. But not enough. It’s an architecture that, like most of our economy, excels for the very richest individuals, corporations and cultural institutions, but offers mediocrity to almost everyone else. Architecture should and must be for everyone, across the board, from housing to retail to schools to government buildings to civic parks. It must help propel our society, and our spirits, forward through inspiration and innovation, not just provide luxury, comfort, or status. Of course, architecture criticism isn’t limited to major commercial outlets. There are fantastic voices at many design periodicals, like this one. But critics at general interest publications still, even in this fractured media landscape, have the greatest ability to reach a wide audience, outside the bubbles of design or niche journalism, who are often preaching to the converted. While the news, sports, fashion, entertainment, and financial media promote and dissect the minutiae of their fields before millions, prompting debate, feedback, and change, the architecture and construction industry — a significant force in overall U.S. GDP—is largely on the fringe of the public conversation. (One example: If you watch March Madness this week, you’ll see more college basketball critics on one telecast than you’ll find countrywide speaking to architecture. Aline Saarinen was once NBC News’ full time architecture critic, but those days of elevated exposure are long gone.) Meanwhile, critics, as with so many players in the ailing journalism world, are increasingly being sidestepped for computerized engines like Rotten Tomatoes or for blogs that aggregate other work and churn out press releases. Or even worse, for abbreviated Facebook or Twitter posts. Algorithms and big data have their place in showing us where we are, but they can’t replace analysis, critique, understanding, common sense, and heart. Having Hawthorne— along with advocates like Deborah Weintraub at the L.A. Bureau of Engineering and Seleta Reynolds at the L.A. Department of Transportation— stationed at City Hall will be bring a keen eye and a valuable voice to the official conversation. But that conversation needs to extend to a much wider public, through experts outside the city payroll. As for his new job, Hawthorne must, as he suggests he will, make his work to improve the civic realm as public as possible, ensuring that design involves everyone, not just those in power. This is a fantastic opportunity for a gifted communicator to bring the public inside a generally opaque realm through his writing, speaking, and facility for public engagement. But he also needs a partner or two (preferably more) in the media, and as more chief design officers (hopefully) pop up around the country, so must they. Architecture is not art in a gallery. Along with landscape architecture and urban design, it is a public profession. It is for the public, not despite them. We need to empower more informed voices to keep it that way.