photo: Michael Maltzan Architecture

Michael Maltzan, FAIA, the AIA|LA Presidential Honoree Q&A

2016 AIA|LA Gold Medal recipient Michael Maltzan, FAIA, has reinvented the architectural texture of Los Angeles, with buildings such as New Carver Apartments, Star Apartments, and Inner-City Arts, which also change social interaction in highly urbanized landscape.

What would he never change in our city?  What would his dream commission be?

These were among questions we asked Maltzan in a Q&A that’s become a staple of our coverage of the AIA|LA Awards season.  In these brief interviews we pose the same questions about Los Angeles, design, and the profession to each prestigious Presidential Honoree—to illuminate topics from different perspectives.

We’ll be post other responses from the visionaries who are the 2016 honorees in the coming weeks. As for something we’ve always wanted to know, what is the dream commission in Los Angeles for the Gold Medal recipient--the highest honor the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles Chapter bestows--Maltzan's answer is right here:

(Honor Michael Maltzan, FAIA, at the 2016 AIA|LA Design Awards.)
(Find out more about Michael Maltzan Architecture’s work which includes the Hammer Museum Master Plan & Projects.)

AIA|LA:  Dream Commission. What current site in Los Angeles would you reconceive to serve our future, and how or why?
Michael Maltzan, FAIA:   I would start with the buildings surrounding the Civic Center downtown. In their current form they are outdated and isolated. They seem disconnected with the City physically and psychologically.  Making a new form of our "Civic Center,"  one that is a more connected and accessible expression of the contemporary spirit and future of Los Angeles would be extraordinarily motivating work.

AIA|LA:What Los Angeles building, site, place or idea should never be changed?
MM:   Los Angeles is a city of constant change, reinvention, evolution. This is such an important part of our identity. I hope the idea, and reality, of restless change never changes.

AIA|LA:  What project of yours, or detail of your work, you hope most influences Los Angeles.
MM:  The Sixth Street Bridge has, as one of its ambition, to influence the conversation about infrastructure's capacity to do more, by taking on broader civic, social, cultural, and environmental responsibilities.

AIA|LA:  What book, website, blog or Instagram feed about Los Angeles should we all be reading or following?
MM:  Los Angeles is best understood by seeing it for yourself.  I don't know that I have one book or a blog that I would point out, but a navigation app like Waze is interesting. Its goal is to create shortcuts through the city but, it often turns you down streets and neighborhoods you would pass right by. Paradoxically, in trying to minimize the City it expands the space and understanding of the City. 

AIA|LA:  Where is your favorite place to go in LA?
MM:  The top deck of the Sheriff's parking garage in downtown. From there you can see almost the entire story of Los Angeles. It's hard to get into though,  for obvious reasons, so...
The plinth of the DWP building, overlooking the 110 freeway. Is it too much to say that it's one of the great, existential moments in the city?
Last updated: 15-Sep-2016 11:27 AM
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