Glendale’s Urban Design Studio

Should Pasadena have an Urban Design Studio? A Discussion with Glendale’s Urban Designer.

A recent article in the Baltimore Sun discusses the AIA’s bid to test whether Baltimore should have a place for architects and planners to come together to shape their city. “Paris has one. Copenhagen has one. San Francisco has just opened one,” says the Sun. But Los Angeles, West Hollywood, and Glendale have gone even further to improve the quality of its architectural design and urban planning. In recent years, these So Cal cities have officially added an Urban Design Studio to their municipal planning departments. Should Pasadena do the same? Through better design and planning can Pasadena maintain its edge as a premier regional center, especially with rising competition from bordering Glendale and Arcadia?

AIAPF member Alan Loomis is the City of Glendale’s first Principal Urban Designer and least the Glendale Planning Department’s Urban Design Studio and Historic Preservation Section. In addition to historic preservation, General Plan support, and special studies, city staff under his direction are responsible for design analysis and design guideline development. Most notable is Glendale’s Downtown Specific Plan, adopted in November 2006 and a 2007 AIACC Urban Design Award winner. Essentially a form based manual for development, it calls for walkablity, adaptive reuse of Glendale’s historic resources, and context sensitive design.

Speaker: Alan Loomis, a graduate of SCI-Arc, was formerly a senior urban designer with Moule & Polyzoides Architects and Urbanists in Pasadena and has taught urban design at Woodbury University. A leader in the Southern California Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism, he is actively engaged in the public debate on urban growth and development and how cities should respond in terms of design, character, and the creation of public space. His exhibits and provocative essays – from critiques of the latest lifestyle malls to possibilities for the LA RIver – are available on his website at

AIA Pasadena & Foothill First Friday Forum, July 11, 2008