THE PEOPLE OF OUR CITY:  a summer series by Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA

Are you curious to learn more about the individuals who work in city government?  

Over the course of the summer, as a way for our membership of 3200+ architects and designers to further connect with the people that work for public agencies in the Los Angeles region, I am reaching out to a few dozen government employees and asking them each to share their personal thoughts about architecture, design and what Los Angeles means to them as a place.

Over the course of the next several months, we will feature these short profiles to further inspire a dialogue with our design community about the personal contributions we all make to the public realm.

If you'd like to share your thoughts or have suggestions for individuals that you'd like to hear from, please contact me at Will{at}

Director, LA River Project Office, Department of Public Works/Bureau of Engineering

How long have you worked for the City of Los Angeles: 10 years
What project are you working on right now that you're most excited about? The Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan and the LA River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study's recommended project: Go. River.

Describe some of your favorite features that give Los Angeles a sense of place:
The LA River, Sunnynook footbridge over the LA River, Griffith Park, views from the Observatory, the Santa Monica Mountains, the Hollywood sign, the Rose Bowl, the Coliseum (Fight On), the Getty-on-the-Hill, the Disney Concert Hall, the weird house down the block, ever-present helicopters, the Museum of Jurassic Technology...

What's your daily connection to architecture and design like?
I live among some amazing Craftsman bungalows in the former Indiana Colony of Pasadena and work in Downtown LA South with a view of the Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival LA Herald Examiner building next door, which is right next to a demolished structure with a gutted steel frame basement that is an almost daily backdrop to filming with murder scenes...
In your opinion, what makes Los Angeles "Los Angeles"?
Our people! I like to remind myself that the name means "The Angels" and then look for angelic qualities in the city's people--they're really not hard to see them helping each other on a daily basis and all kinds of new things are happening that bring them together--like Ciclavia, art walks, scavenger hunts, runs/marathons, farmers' markets, flea markets, food trucks, cemetery movies, zombies...(All of these take place in areas that already exist; let's create more shared-use experiences--Hello: weekend education sessions or parties at post offices!)

It's the year 2113 - describe what you see from the front steps of City Hall:
The evacuation ship landing on Grand Park (kidding!)...fewer cars and more people of all ages out and about interacting in public spaces...more trees and music, less crime, better energy, a greater sense of well-being, more wildlife, more people visiting, more people staying, a revamped Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center with street- and roof-level activity mirrored by the same in other buildings all around...I mean, really, someone needs to restore respect to Clara--she raised 5 children alone when her husband deserted the family, became the first female lawyer admitted to the California bar (in 1878!), and was an undaunted champion of women's rights--something that better be a no-brainer for folks standing on the steps of City Hall in 2113.

In your opinion, who is tomorrow's most interesting Angeleno?
The returning veteran--who defended our culture abroad in an era of considerable domestic fracture and global uncertainty--who, with very little thanks or recognition, still works hard every day and stands out with dedication and perseverance in a society that is more focused on the fleeting...(Let's make housing more affordable and ensure the availability of diversified, mixed-skill jobs closer to homes and schools!)  

What's your favorite building/ place in the world?

Can you share a photo with us? Phanom Rung, a Khmer temple in Buriram Province, Thailand--I lived nearby when I was in the Peace Corps in my early 20s and visited it many times. I was so impressed with how it stood out majestically in the rural landscape...little did I know that it was a very small-scale example of the almost-unimaginable phenomenon that is Angkor Wat, which I experienced a few years later. I also really love my Dad's cabin (he built!) in Indiana...

Last updated: 13-Aug-2013 11:01 AM
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