Who Was Mary Louise Schmidt?

In 1936, little-known housing advocate and shrewd businesswoman Mary Louise Schmidt organized what might be the most significant architecture show of the 20th century — right here in Los Angeles. Long before the celebrated Case Study House program of the postwar years, Schmidt utilized her extensive knowledge of the architectural industry and new federal housing policy … Continue reading Who Was Mary Louise Schmidt?

Alta Live interview: “Three Groundbreaking L.A. Women You Don’t Know but Should”

In honor of women's history month, Beth Spotswood interviewed me for Alta Live about "Three Groundbreaking L.A. Women You Don't Know but Should." In the interview, I discuss trailblazers Miriam Matthews, Dorothy Chandler, and Grace Simons. You can read Jessica Blough's summary and watch my interview with Beth Spotswood on the Alta website. Are there … Continue reading Alta Live interview: “Three Groundbreaking L.A. Women You Don’t Know but Should”

Kobe Bryant’s Death gave us a real “LA Moment”

Last January, Los Angeles was reeling from the news of Kobe Bryant’s sudden and tragic death, as well as the deaths of eight others. At the time, it felt like we were marinating in the shock of it all - the unspeakable tragedies of life gone too soon, the knowledge it could have been prevented, and the death of a legend just beginning to build his post-career legacy. A colleague remarked to me that Kobe was “giving us a real LA moment.” Her words resonated with me, and I’ve been mulling over why this statement struck a chord with me. What was it about Kobe’s death that made for an ‘LA moment’?

The Impermanence of LA’s Built Environment?

What deserves protection? With every announcement I read about the construction of a new building, new museum, or a park redesign comes my inevitable questions: what was there before? Is there anything worth saving? And how will these new spaces shape L.A. in the 21st century? My latest pondering of these questions has to do with L.A. … Continue reading The Impermanence of LA’s Built Environment?

Everybody Loves L.A.

Last November I attended my first Society for American City and Regional Planning History (SACRPH) Conference, and I walked away with one conclusion: everybody loves L.A. Now, I already knew how great Los Angeles is, but it was both refreshing and exciting to hear that sentiment over and over from visitors. The conference featured numerous panels that discussed … Continue reading Everybody Loves L.A.

Future of Cities LA has launched. What’s next?

Future of Cities launched last month with a large gathering at LACMA to discuss civic leadership and the future of Los Angeles. I was skeptical of what an initiative like this could really achieve, but I have to say, I was impressed by the breadth and depth of the topics and speakers. I think my … Continue reading Future of Cities LA has launched. What’s next?

Is L.A. Designed to Work?

Outgoing L.A. Deputy Mayor Rick Cole recently remarked that "L.A. is not designed to work." Could he be right? Is L.A. too big for true civic engagement? Or do projects like CicLAvia and the L.A. River Revitalization prove this contention wrong? Before I delve into my opinion regarding this question, let me provide a little context for Cole's remark. … Continue reading Is L.A. Designed to Work?

The Day Angelenos Lost Elysian Park…Almost

March 10, 1965: The L.A. City Council votes in favor of a proposal to construct a convention center and exhibit hall in Elysian Park, on 63 acres of the park's most popular play and picnic grounds, which include the recreation lodge and the Avenue of the Palms. At the Council Meeting, retired journalist Grace E. Simons vehemently … Continue reading The Day Angelenos Lost Elysian Park…Almost

The L.A. Music Center Turns 50!

 The Music Center is…both highly accessible and highly visible, giving Los Angeles a new visual axis….the center is recognized as a milestone in the city’s cultural aspirations….[making the city] a new center of culture that has passed Chicago and is getting ready to challenge New York. [1]  - Time Magazine, 1964 Los Angeles…is a center of … Continue reading The L.A. Music Center Turns 50!