From Architecture Critic to 'Chief Design Officer'

Christopher Hawthorne, the Los Angeles Time architecture critic whose broad role at the paper included much needed focus on streets and the public realm, has announced that he will be joining the staff at City Hall.
March 12, 2018, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Jon Bilous

The big news to hit the wire today comes from Los Angeles, where Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne wrote a column announcing change of job.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has asked me to fill a new post called chief design officer for the city. In that role, beginning next month, I'll be working in the mayor's office to raise the quality of public architecture and urban design across the city — and the level of civic conversation about those subjects.

As Hawthorne notes, Los Angeles is at a crossroads in its history—struggling with growing numbers of homeless, rising housing prices, dwindling transit ridership, and a 2028 date with the Olympics. Hawthorne writes that Los Angeles is trying "to establish a coherent post-suburban identity and deal with a severe housing and homelessness crisis and the specter of climate change, among other challenges."

In the new job, Hawthorne says he will be working with the city's leading planning officials, like "Planning Director Vince Bertoni, Gary Lee Moore and Deborah Weintraub of the Bureau of Engineering and Transportation Department General Manager Seleta Reynolds, among others," to support "creative zoning change" and other work.

Garcetti has a tradition of creating "chief" positions for high profile hires, like chief sustainability officer and chief innovative technology officer. Antonio Pacheco picked up on the news already this morning for The Architect's Newspaper, and urbanism Twitter has turned into a steady stream of support for Hawthorne and the city of Los Angeles.

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Published on Monday, March 12, 2018 in Los Angeles Times
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