Think piece

5 broken things about LA for the next mayor to fix

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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 A jumble of mismatched, outdated terminals, LAX gives visitors a resounding first impression of civic dysfunction."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."

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