A decade of urban design in Los Angeles: my take on the most influential city-making projects of the past decade, including this most recent and consequential year.
The Los Alamitos Town Center Strategic Plan provides a framework to revitalize, reimagine, and strengthen the heart of Los Alamitos. The Strategic Plan aims to establish a pedestrian-oriented Town Center at the intersection of Katella and Los Alamitos Boulevards, in the physical center of the City.
In late 2020, Kelsi Maree Borland talked with me about planning and development in Glendale and Santa Monica, the two cities where I worked between 2005 and 2020. My perspective from inside City Hall resulted in four short articles published with Globe St.
How does trade shape our cities? Do you want to learn new perspectives on Los Angeles Urbanism? The future of housing – especially in fire and coastal zones? Finally, how the city itself is dealing with the pandemic. Stig Terrebonne and I discuss LA urbanism, housing, and the impacts of COVID on Human City Podcast.
“Share knowledge freely — your influence is expanded when you share what you know. Mentor and elevate the people you work with — you’re only as good as your team, and your first job as a team leader is to make your team members successful.” Reflecting upon the ideas and influences that animate my work in an interview with Authority Magazine.
I’m joining PlaceWorks as Principal of Urban Design. I’ll be responsible for growing the firm’s urban design practice from the Los Angeles office while also playing a key role in marquee projects throughout California. After 15 years of practicing urban design in the public sector, I’m looking forward to applying the knowledge and experience I’ve gained in Santa Monica, Glendale and Pasadena to a wider range of communities in California.
Simultaneously silly and seriously somber, Michael Graves’ Clos Pegase Winery is one of the few self-conscious works of architecture in Napa Valley. Designed in Graves’ mature postmodern style, the winery freely mixes neo-Palladian, Roman and Tuscan architectural motifs, with a hint of rural barn vernacular forms and resides comfortably within Calistoga’s Mediterranean agricultural landscape of vineyards and oak scrub.
Designed in the early 90s, when transit-oriented development was nascent in California, Rob Wellington Quigley’s Solana Beach Rail Station packs a significant civic punch.
“In Glendale, The Americana pioneered the concept of mixed-use urban residential in a downtown and inspired a 10-year building boom that added over 3,000 new residential units across 20-plus projects to the immediate area.” My essay about The Americana at Brand is one of the many entries in the online SAH Archipedia.
Third Street Promenade 3.0 is an urban design vision for the reinvention of this historic, popular, and influential public space, in the heart of Downtown Santa Monica.
There are three obvious and immediate precedents to Moore Ruble Yudell’s Church of the Nativity in Rancho Santa Fe: the monastery, the California Mission, and the rancho hacienda. Like its antecedents, the public life at the Church of the Nativity is open only to initiates who make the architectural journey into its protective cloister.
The goal of the Parks Master Plan is to establish a framework for long-range guidance and planning of parks, open space, beach, and community recreation for the next 20 years.
The Beverly Hills Civic Center is a wildly ambitious, yet flawed, project that one imagines would never be built in today’s environment of hard-nosed spreadsheets. Betraying Charles Moore’s signature theatricality, it is packed with idiosyncratic and mannerist architectural expressions, and draws more inspiration from Rome’s Baroque period than the more obvious local traditions of Spanish Revival or City Beautiful movements.
State Senate Bill (SB) 827 would densify housing along transit; Alan Loomis explains the debate for the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design.
In memory of Hassan Haghani
St Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Pacific Palisades is one of the more prominent projects in Charles Moore’s oeuvre, perhaps more as an illustration of his inclusive and interactive community-based design process than for its architectural form. However, St Matthew’s confidently expresses more architectural ideas and a larger urban presence than its suburban location would suggest.
We have attempted in our work in Glendale, to quote the legendary planner Edmund Bacon, “to develop design principles capable of influencing future action. We have endeavored to establish a design idea of such potency that it welds the work of individual architects designing in fragmented areas into a cohesive whole.”
The Downtown Parking branding and wayfinding program unifies all signs and information graphics related to Public Parking in Downtown Glendale into a single coherent brand, designed around “Blue Circle P,” the universal symbol for parking.
Plaza Las Fuentes, located just east of City Hall, is one of the more under-appreciated works of architecture in Pasadena. Its 360-room hotel and adjacent office tower slip into the Civic Center quietly with a comfortable grace. Much of this comfort – which is architectural but also tactile – is derived from a masterful site plan, organized around public courtyards, gardens, fountains, terraces, arcades, and lobbies.
Archinect hosted their 5th Next Up podcasting event at the inaugural Arroyo Seco Weekend festival inside Bureau Spectacular’s “Field House.” Conversations focused on temporary architecture, installations, festival design and planning, and the festival’s host city of Pasadena, CA. Archinect spoke with me about the current state of urban planning as a profession, my experience of working in different parts of LA County and the evolving architectural identity of Pasadena.
The Glendale Arts Colony is the result of an RFP for development issued jointly by the City of Glendale and the Glendale YMCA. The program, affordable housing for artists, aligns with the goals of the Maryland Arts and Entertainment District one block away, while the design, by Studio One Eleven, resolves a number of site constraints and brings coherency to the Y campus.
After a $15 million renovation, the Glendale Central Library re-opened to the public this past Monday, May 1. Originally designed by Welton Becket Associates in 1973, the renovation by Gruen Associates modernizes the Library’s technology infrastructure for the 21st century. The renovation is also part of a multi-phased strategy to redevelop the Central Park, bringing both the Library and Park into a the urban design framework of the Downtown as a whole.
Glendale Central Library Re-Imagined is the $15 million renovation of the 1973 Welton Becket-designed Brutalist library. The Library renovation is part of a multi-phased strategy to redevelop the Central Park, bringing both the Library and Park into a the urban design framework of the Downtown as a whole.
In the spirit of the recent “Never Built” or “UnBuilt” exhibits and publications, a look back at some the more interesting projects that didn’t happen during my eleven year tenure as Glendale’s chief urban designer.
I am excited to announce that I will be joining Santa Monica as their new City Urban Designer beginning in April. Santa Monica’s outstanding commitment to urban design is an opportunity too compelling to ignore – I am honored that the City has challenged me to expand this reputation and legacy.