'Everything Can Be Dreamed Better'
Annie Chu, FAIA, Answers the Presidential Honoree Interview


Few architects have embraced new media platforms as well and as much as 2016 Presidential Honoree Annie Chu. (Need to confirm that for yourself? Check her twitter and insta both under the @chugooding name.) So, when we opened her answers to her 2016 AIA|LA Presidential Honoree Q&A, we thought we already knew how well she communicated. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Take these plumb quotes for instance: “LA is change.” Or “…everything can be dreamed better.”

We’d say we were giving her responses away, but we’re just beginning to let you in on the Educator of the Year’s eloquence. So, read on to discover her own favorite Instagram feeds and what project she considers her love letter to the city.

AIA|LA: Dream commission. What current site in Los Angeles would you reconceive to serve our future, and how or why?
Annie Chu, FAIA: The intersection of Figueroa and Pico is a (and is at a) critical juncture in LA. It is the crossroads of downtown’s urban core with the low-rise frontier of suburban density that lies beyond. Multiple voting districts representing diverse populations converge on the spot. And, it is a zone of rapid transition; as downtown’s development pushes outward, the southland is experiencing increasing commercialization and privatization.

The site, however, is so much more dynamic, and really demands more than an overhaul by economic forces. It has all of the ingredients to prompt a revolution in building typologies, to be the grounds for fleshing out a uniquely LA density. My partners Rick Gooding, Michael Matteucci and I, together with our team would love to play a part in rethinking the Figueroa / Pico intersection as a public square and catalyst to a civic gateway to downtown.

(Honor Annie Chu, FAIA, at the 2016 AIA|LA Design Awards.)

AIA|LA: What Los Angeles building, site, place or idea should never be changed?
AC: LA’s embrace of change is the only thing about the city that should never be changed. LA is change. The city’s history is one of pushing limits, setting precedents, going big. For LA to be true to its originating motivations, it cannot fear upturning itself. There is nothing too precious to be challenged or reconceived; everything can be dreamed better.

AIA|LA: What project of yours, or detail of your work, do you hope most influences Los Angeles?
AC: The work that my firm (Chu+Gooding Architects) did (with Populous, HMC Architects, and Olin) for the LA Convention Center design competition was a love letter to the city. It was the re-gifting of a huge complex at the center of the city to the people and spirit of Los Angeles.

The proposal, in concept and form, drew referentially on the artifacts and histories of LA’s design legacy. It embraced both the sun and smog of the local environment, encouraging a fluidity between interiors and exteriors and playing with both polish and grit. It tried to reconcile monumentality with intimacy. And, it made spaces for making, calling for the inclusion of local creative talent in both the outfitting and programming of the facility. We hope these ideas are contagious.

AIA|LA: What book, website, blog or Instagram feed about Los Angeles should we all be reading or following?
AC: As with everything in LA, it’s so hard to pick just one. We follow the happenings at Arcana, Hennessey & Ingalls, The Last Bookstore, LA Review of Books, Libros Schmibros, Skylight Books, …

We loved the recent texts, Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles, by David Ulin and Waiting for Lipchitz at Chateau Marmont: A Novel, by Aris Janigian. Everyone, of course, should be checking in on Jonathan Gold’s “101 Best Restaurants.”

And, well, Instagram, a handful of the good LA ones are @mmeviolette, @stonesthrow, @thismintymoment, @the_thejgold, @cmonstah, @superarchitects and AIALA’s very own @willrobwright (Mr DTLA)

AIA|LA: Where is your favorite place to go in Los Angeles?
AC: I frequently find myself sitting with friends and family in the back booth at Winsome, at the base of the William Pereira designed tower (formerly Department of Water and Power, now the Elysian Apartments) in Echo Park. I am biased about Winsome, but for me with my back against the wall papered in Echo Park Lake like images, looking out at seated diners in the sunken patio and people walking on the elevated sidewalk always evoke a warm and fuzzy.
Last updated: 06-Oct-2016 03:16 PM
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