I Love Third L.A.

Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne brings the city's future into focus in a series of public talks

The title of the Urban & Environmental Policy class Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne is teaching this spring sounds pretty conventional: Architecture and the Built Environment in Los Angeles. But there's nothing conventional about the concurrent series of citywide conversations about the future of the city it has inspired.

The Third Los Angeles Project, a series of six programs presented in partnership with Southern California Public Radio, is designed to give Angelenos an opportunity to discuss and debate the cultural, political, and policy changes they are now experiencing. "Los Angeles is turning into a markedly different kind of place: more public, less in thrall to the automobile, and more willing to test out various kinds of shared or collective urban space—from pocket parks and bike lanes to light rail and vertical living," says Hawthorne, an adjunct professor in the UEP department. "But these are not new ideas here."

In fact, Hawthorne points out, the project is called Third Los Angeles to mark the third distinct era in the city's development. In the first, which extended through 1940, the city established a coherent civic identity around a dense downtown, streetcar lines, and apartment living. In the Second Los Angeles, through roughly 2000, the city pursued a sprawling experiment in building suburbia. Now, in the Third Los Angeles, we are seeing a reimagining of many of the features of the city's first era.

"We're in a new phase of our civic development, and this is the time to have a conversation about the future of our city," says President Jonathan Veitch, himself a native Angeleno. "There are very few existing platforms for discussing Los Angeles and our collective idea of the city. That's what we want to create."

Hawthorne's students will play an active role in the series, which reflects the course syllabus. Free and open to the public, three will be held on the Oxy campus, with the others at various locations around the city. 

The Third Los Angeles Project Series Schedule 

Welcome to the Third Los Angeles  
How the shift away from car and single-family homes relates to the city's urban, ­architectural, and political history. 
February 12, Choi Auditorium

Post-Immigrant Los Angeles 
How foreign-born residents, and their expectations about how cities work, influence the architecture and urbanism of Los Angeles.
February 18, Line Hotel, Koreatown

City of Quartz at 25
A critical view of the impact and controversy of Mike Davis' City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (1990) and what it means for architects and writers a generation later.
March 4, Choi Auditorium

Los Angeles County Museum of Art Director Michael Govan, journalist/ critic Carolina Miranda, and others discuss Swiss architect Peter Zumthor's controversial plan to remake the ­museum campus. 
March 25, Choi Auditorium

The Future of the Single-Family House: New Housing Models for Los Angeles 
A debate on the future of multi-family residential architecture in the city.
April 8, MAK Center at the Schindler House, West Hollywood

What Do We Want the L.A. River to Be?
A walking tour along the Bowtie ­Project in the Glendale Narrows ­section of the river followed by a discussion of its emerging role as public and park space. 
April 22, Clockshop Los Angeles

For reservations and more details, visit oxy.edu/3rdLA.