Think piece

5 broken things about LA for the next mayor to fix

Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne observes that the candidates for mayor have been short on future vision for the city. That's too bad, he writes in a front-page critic's notebook, since there are "some major holes in the civic fabric."

Los Angeles has become as well known for its high-profile architectural and urban-planning failures — for the buildings, institutions and public spaces we can't seem to get right — as for its innovations or breakthroughs.

This is particularly true for our civic architecture, which has never matched the ambition and allure of the region's private houses and high-end commercial enclaves....

But the city needs far more than small improvements around the margins. It is broken in some fundamental ways.

Here's a look at the most glaring embarrassments of all — and some straightforward ideas about how the next mayor can start fixing them.

It starts, Hawthorne says, with LAX and the failure to connect the airport to mass transit: "As a gateway to the city, Los Angeles International Airport could hardly be more dispiriting. A jumble of mismatched, outdated terminals, LAX gives visitors a resounding first impression of civic dysfunction."

He also calls for embracing the Los Angeles River, fixing Pershing Square — he would keep AEG far away from the designs and do away with the underground parking garage — finishing the Subway to the Sea and dropping "the pretense that Grand Avenue deserves lavish subsidy and extra political attention."

LA Observed photo

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