From the Desk of the AIA|LA Board President - WHAT WE’RE DOING

This is a big year for architects in Los Angeles. The AIA|LA is working to address the current trifecta of major events which will soon affect the quality of life in our city and the level of opportunity for thoughtful and creative design here.   An imminent mayoral election will identify the city’s next policy leader and we need to insure that he or she has vision and cherishes our city’s extraordinary physical and cultural qualities as we do. Planning is underway for a final public symposium with the two candidates focused on the issues that architects and the design community care about.   At the same time that these campaigns are ongoing, a massive multi-year effort to revise the citywide zoning code has commenced.   This work will attempt to define both land-use issues and comprehensive design guidelines for the most diverse city in America.  Finally, while it’s tentative news, indicators suggest that the economy is slowly restoring itself with consumer confidence, home absorption and unemployment all moving in positive directions.  Project initiations and construction starts are markedly up.

AIA|LA has been active on two additional fronts which affect the profession’s ability to work efficiently and creatively.  Today, the process to entitle projects and pull building permits is an un-navigable   labyrinth.   In its current form, it is unsustainably costly to petitioners and the City, inordinately time-consuming and unpredictable.  AIA/LA is advocating a reorganization of City departments to minimize redundancy and ensure greater clarity in the process.  Simultaneously in another area of concern, we are working to inform public agencies who solicit professional work to broaden their understanding of various procurement methods.  As many forms of the Design-Build delivery model are now understood to be flawed and inequitable, we are in the process of informing these agencies of the benefits of a larger array of alternative methods including Design-Assist, CM-at-Risk and Integrated Project Delivery, among others.

Additional activities are underway including our Small Firm Workshop Series which coordinates quarterly workshops to assist these practitioners.  Our City Leaders Breakfast Series brings forward accomplished civic leaders from many walks of life who contribute to the quality of our built environment.  In intimate settings, they relate their views, goals and accomplishments to our colleagues.  With regard to the environment, one of our most important initiatives is helping to shape a better Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure for Los Angeles County to ensure that design leadership is placed on the oversight board and that implementing the measure will benefit our communities with more parks and open space.  This measure, if properly constructed, will have a real impact on which projects are selected for financial support and their relationship to meaningful improvements to the infrastructure of the regional watershed.

At this year’s AIA|LA Board Installation, I invoked the theme of Theory & Practice for this year’s particular focus.  To that end, we are initiating a new series of conversations entitled “What’s Where?   Academia  &  Practice.”  This series will invite each of the Deans of the five architectural schools here to present their thoughts on the relationship between theory and practice and the territories of research, design and construction.  And finally, in the interest of these themes and with the larger goal of broadening the practice of architecture, this year inaugurates the strategic planning for CALA, the Center for Architecture & Urban Design Los Angeles.  The Center will constitute a new home for the Chapter, a location to gather professionals across many disciplines and a place to educate and inspire the public about architecture, urban design and the built environment in Los Angeles.  We welcome your participation.


Scott Johnson, FAIA
2013 AIA|LA President
Johnson Fain
Last updated: 19-Mar-2013 10:53 AM
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