from the desk of Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA

AIA|LA City Leaders Breakfast Series

Upcoming AIA|LA Breakfast receptions include the following:
July 17 - Mayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles
August 11 - Grayce Liu - General Manager, Department of Neiborhood Empowerment, City of LA
August 31 - Joshua Schank - Chief Innovation Officer, METRO
September 8 - Thomas Safran - Chairman - Thomas Safran & Associates
September 22 - Richard Llewelyn - Chief Administrative Officer, City of Los Angeles
September 27 - Ben Allen - State Senator - California, District 26
October 20 - Kevin De Leon - President pro Tempore, California State Senate
November 17 - Phillipe Vergne - Director, MOCA
November 30 - Christopher Hawthorne, LA Times & Special Guest TBD

DESIGN FOR DIGNITY: Housing and Inclusive Community 

On the AIA’s connection to the venue:

”We shall build bridges to all those who seek a connection with the Lord by God…we will join other churches, we will join community partners, we will join government officials fighting for justice, we will join bearers of the truth and light…We are going to build bridges to the future.”
- Pastor Edward Anderson, May 21, 2017    - McCarty Memorial Christian Church 

We were connected to Pastor Anderson via Christine Aghassi of the Dolphin Group.  Christine connected with him via Jackie Dupont-Walker because she was advising the Lucas Museum on area community groups and faith-based organizations - to deepen those relationships.  I know Christine as a fellow board director on the Los Angeles County Business Federation.  

In addition to it’s architectural heritage, the McCarty Memorial Church serves as a natural forum to host a conversation about how housing, shelter and architecture can uplift the human spirit and deepen the core connections we all share in common.  All of our policies, resources and collective professional and civic efforts should strive to lay a strong foundation of health, beauty and happiness.  These efforts also need to deepen our connection to the natural environment, celebrate cultural diversity and ensure dignity for all.

We are fractured.  Our foundations are no longer as strong as they once were.

In addition to our need to build more housing, we also are experiencing a dire need to better connect our communities.  Yes, we may have 55,000+ homeless people countywide.  But we also have 55,000+ empty bedrooms.  Our housing crisis is a symptom of a deeper problem.  It’s a symptom that we are no longer as deeply connected as we once were.  Many are disenfranchised from their families, from their friends.  Their social networks are weak.  Their professional networks are fractured.  Mental health is the ultimate challenge and so much of our built environment today places so much stress on the individual that our collective mental health is further deteriorating.

Therefore, there is a need to place a stronger emphasis on a built environment that is less stressful (more beautiful, more inclusive).  What are those long term solutions that will dignify the human spirit and further connect us to each other and to our natural habitats that we depend on for our health and prosperity?

The City owns a lot of land.

How do we best utilize our public assets (real estate portfolio, visual bandwidth, place making) to ensure that we are optimizing revenue and setting forth a leadership example for how to achieve higher environmental performance in all of our public facilities - especially our permanent supportive housing facilities?

Are the Affordable Housing Opportunity Sites receiving the leadership resources of more design-thinkers?  If not, how can the AIA provide critical input?

Complete Communities.

By the year 2040, Alzheimer’s is anticipated to have a $1 Trillion dollar annual cost impact nationwide.  How do we turn that challenge into the ultimate opportunity to direct resources towards building communities in LA where children can grow up healthy, families can live with less stress and financial burden and our aging population can continue to enjoy their neighborhood’s with purpose and grace?

A Meeting with the Mayor of Los Angeles
As part of on ongoing annual breakfast series, we had an opportunity to meet with Mayor Eric Garcetti for an interactive conversation.  

Discussion points include: 
  1. From the Mayor’s perspective, what is a “beautiful” city?  What defines "beauty”?  What initiatives do we need to develop, champion and fund to ensure we have a more “beautiful" city within the next 25 years?
  2. How can the Mayor better leverage the creative resources of the AIA and its membership of 3200+ architects and designers?  What are a few very specific action-items we can commit to over the course of the next 12 to 18 months?  What are the next steps?  The measurable outcomes?  
  3. How can the AIA|LA be a fundamental leadership resource to LA 2024 and ensure a successful Olympics in 2024/ 2028??
Additional topics to consider:
  • Innovative Housing Typologies - cheaper/ faster modular future??
  • City of LA real estate inventory and how to optimize its assets and facilities 
  • Municipal Facilities Committee, workspace design, joint-use facilities with County, State, LAUSD, METRO, et al.
  • TFAR, EIFD and other value-capture tools (especially for the Los Angeles River)
  • Convention Center (AIA National will host it’s annual convention in LA in 2020 (2021?).
  • How architects can better serve to help neighborhoods agree to progressive community plans.

On July 12th, we coordinated our fifth and final workshop to discuss innovative ideas to make our in building codes more resilient.  This final outreach event served as a forum to where City agencies discussed what they are doing to encourage advanced, sustainable design. Representatives from Building & Safety, Fire, Water & Power, Engineering, Sanitation, and City Planning were there to share their perspectives on the codes, processes and policies that inform our buildings, and the opportunities and challenges they're exploring.

MADCAD.COM - A comprehensive building code reference library 
I had a series of conference calls with National Streamline Institute’s Robert C. Wible and Madcad's co-founder Pelin Atasoy.  We are in the early stages of discussion opportunities for how AIA|LA can leverage the resources of MADCAD and how we can help raise greater awareness for the resources available on their website. 

MADCAD is a web-based clearinghouse to access over 80,000 building codes and standards.

Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, City of Los Angeles (DONE).
On July 11th, I met with Grayce Liu, the General Manager of DONE.  DONE manages the 97 neighborhood councils throughout the City of Los Angeles and coordinates their annual knowledge sharing conference.  We discussed opportunities to place more architects on neighborhood councils, and to have an Architecture 101 presentaion shared with N.C.s to better communicate the value of architecture and design to the community leaders and volunteers that participate as N.C. Board Directors.  We also considered additional tools that would help N.C/s better leverage their budgets and their investments in neighborhood beautification projects, etc.  The AIA|LA will have an opportunity to take a deeper dive on these strategies at our upcoming City Leaders Breakfast Reception with Ms. Liu on August 11th.

LA METRO Sustainability Council
On July 11th, I was officially nominated to serve as an alternate on METRO’s Sustainability Council as a representative of the real estate and development community.  Anthony Bower of Gensler will also be serving on the council representing the real estate and development community.  The mission of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) Sustainability Council “Council” is to advise LA Metro regarding its sustainability-related activities and projects; and to continually improve sustainability efforts by developing targets, metrics, and strategies to assist LA Metro achieve stated sustainability program goals.

Urban Design Review Sessions with the Department of City Planning
We are still coordinating two sessions per month to review substantial development projects that are either 50+ units of housing or 50,000+ sq.ft of commercial development.  This is a vital opportunity to share critical design input with City Planners.  I highly encourage more architects to participate in these sessions.  

Upcoming dates include: (10am - 12pm) = Los Angeles City Hall, Room 501
July 11
July 18
August 1
August 15
August 29
September 5
September 19
October 3
October 17
November 7
November 21
December 5
December 19

Last updated: 01-Aug-2017 09:49 AM
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