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Christopher Hawthorne

Columnist

Christopher Hawthorne has been the architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times since 2004. Before coming to The Times, he was architecture critic for Slate and a frequent contributor to the New York Times. He is the author, with Alanna Stang, of “The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture.” Hawthorne grew up in Berkeley and has a bachelor’s degree from Yale, where he readied himself for a career in criticism by obsessing over the design flaws in his dormitory, designed by Eero Saarinen.

Recent Articles

  • Why the time is right to re-examine the L.A. freeway

    Why the time is right to re-examine the L.A. freeway

    In 1981, a young writer named David Brodsly described the Los Angeles freeway as one of the city's indispensible metaphors, “one of the few parts capable of standing for the whole.” He argued that the freeway had expanded “the realm of the accessible” for drivers in Southern California — that it...

  • L.A. Convention Center's proposed design screams, 'conventional thinking'

    L.A. Convention Center's proposed design screams, 'conventional thinking'

    Over the last couple of years, Plan A for expanding the Los Angeles Convention Center has been slowly morphing into Plan B. Unfortunately, the proposed design for the expansion, though there's still time to improve it, doesn't deserve much more than a gentleman's C. AEG, the company that owns L.A....

  • $1.14 billion later, expanded 405 Freeway is a hodgepodge of design

    $1.14 billion later, expanded 405 Freeway is a hodgepodge of design

    Imagine if the ancient Romans, late in their empire-building days, had suddenly forgotten how to design aqueducts. Or if Chicago started filling the Loop with a collection of ungainly skyscrapers, each more of an eyesore than the last. Something similar — a sad reversal of infrastructural fortune...

  • An Appreciation: Architect Donald Wexler made Palm Springs modern

    An Appreciation: Architect Donald Wexler made Palm Springs modern

    By the time Richard Neutra, R.M. Schindler and other modernist architects began making a noticeable mark on Los Angeles in the decades before World War II, a good number of the city's major public buildings were already in place. A certain strain of handsome revivalism had solidly established itself:...

  • Is Craig Ellwood's beachfront Hunt House in jeopardy?

    Is Craig Ellwood's beachfront Hunt House in jeopardy?

    According to documents filed with the city of Malibu, the owner of a legendary beachfront house by architect Craig Ellwood wants to demolish it. Last fall, the Malibu Planning Commission considered (and ultimately postponed a decision on) an application to replace the house on Malibu Road with...

  • Visionaries search for key to civic engagement in L.A.

    Visionaries search for key to civic engagement in L.A.

    The 3-year-old house owned by Jeanne and Anthony Pritzker, high on Angelo Drive in the upper reaches of Beverly Hills, is a vast and imposing neo-modern chateau, loosely Richard Meieresque in feel, that holds a notable collection of contemporary art and covers 49,000 square feet. It opens onto...

  • A low-key Facebook building? In Gehry's hands, Zuckerberg has it both ways

    A low-key Facebook building? In Gehry's hands, Zuckerberg has it both ways

    There are a couple of ways to explain how Frank Gehry came to design a very large but surprisingly plain-spoken building for Facebook in Silicon Valley. The first is that the 86-year-old Gehry and Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's 31-year-old founder, bonded over a shared appreciation of informal, unpretentious...

  • Chris Burden's architectural intelligence

    Chris Burden's architectural intelligence

    I remember very clearly the first time I heard Renzo Piano describe the new plaza he was planning for the expanded Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It must have been 2005. The Italian architect told me he wanted to create a spacious, classically proportioned space stretching between the museum's...

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