Statement from AIA Los Angeles 2012 President, Stuart Magruder, AIA

Last Updated: January 25, 2012

Statement from AIA Los Angeles 2012 President, Stuart Magruder, AIA

3780 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010, USA

While I am personally honored by the opportunity to lead the AIA|LA as its president in 2012, my focus this year is less an agenda of my own and more the agenda that is the Chapter's. Our Chapter is lucky to have active participation of architects from the full spectrum of the LA architecture scene. Consistently on our Board of Directors are world-class designers from both big and small firms, architects who are experts at the business side of our profession, and architects focused on academic pursuits. So the agenda of our Chapter is really the collective wisdom that comes from a Board made up of the top architectural talent in Los Angeles.

Currently the Chapter is focused on three key efforts:

  • With a year of preparatory work under our belt, 2012 marks the official start to our efforts to create a Center for Architecture Los Angeles (CALA). CALA will be a new home for the Chapter and ideally several other allied groups in the design and construction industry. With a street level presence, proper exhibition space, and significant space for meetings of all sizes, CALA will become a hub for all issues relating to the built environment. It will take a village to raise this child so be ready to help!
  • The AIA exists to engage the governmental entities that dictate how the built environment is built. Our ongoing advocacy with the multitude of Southern California governmental groups - especially those in the City of LA - is a high priority. Look for us to weigh in on the key issues surrounding the built environment.
  • For the last year, the Political Outreach Committee has been working to create a City of LA position responsible for design advocacy. A Deputy Mayor for Architecture and Urban Design would report directly to the Mayor and be charged with pushing design excellence as far and wide as possible. Modeled after the Federal Government's GSA 'Design Excellence' program and New York City's 'Design and Construction Excellence Program' this Deputy Mayor position would bring the idea of quality back into a discussion that is dominated by cost and time.

Our members are the lifeblood of the organization. In hopes that the Chapter will grow this year the story of my introduction to the Chapter may be useful.

I became active when I started attending Political Outreach Committee meetings. My family is more in politics and business than they are in architecture and the arts, so I was glad to find a group of architects committed to the political process. As all of us are aware, architects live and die by the rules that govern the built environment. When we engage our political leaders not only are we listened to, but with patience and persistence, we can make a difference. Our engagement in politics is as important as our engagement in design.

At this time, our city is under intense pressure. The Planning department has been eviscerated. Specific area plans meant to be revised every decade or so sit for much longer. Our zoning code - written in the 1940's - is a byzantine mess in need of a complete overhaul. Billboards and so-called 'sign districts' go where ever the money is not where they make sense for the life of the city. Electronic billboards - energy hogs that suck around 35 kW of power - are getting turned into building skins that will consume even more power to say nothing of the degradation to the visual environment. City buildings are designed and built primarily under cost mandates; architectural and urban design issues are a sidelight. The quality of our built environment is under siege with some factions arguing that maintaining it is a luxury that we cannot afford.

But there is hope and it lies in the work of our colleagues, channeled through this Chapter. With Bill Roschen, FAIA, chairing the Planning Commission, we are doing a lot to advocate for the value of planning by design as opposed to planning by shotgun. Angie Brooks, AIA, is working closely with the City to gather momentum to re-write the zoning code. I am working with our Legislative Affairs staffer, Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA, to influence the Sign Ordinance currently winding its way through the City. Jim Favaro, AIA, and Chava Danielson, AIA, current chairs of the Political Outreach Committee, are working with the Mayor to create the Deputy Mayor of Architecture and Urban Design position I mentioned earlier.

So we need you. We need your engagement. We need your participation. Get involved in a committee that appeals to you. Come down with us when we advocate for change at City Hall. Push us as an organization to be as relevant and useful as possible. Help us improve the built environment by affecting the rules that govern the process. Help set our agenda by being involved. Together we can help make Los Angeles live up to its image.

- Stuart Magruder, AIA
2012 AIA Los Angeles President

Last updated: 11-Dec-2012 09:33 PM
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