After Stick, the Carrot

If you wonder why the buildings turned out by Los Angeles’ public agencies over the past four decades have been so mediocre, you might have figured out that nobody in authority cared.

But in the last few years there has been a quiet revolution at City Hall. The Cultural Affairs Commission, which must approve the designs of all public buildings, has beaten the Department of Water and Power and other agencies with a club.

Recently, they offered the agencies a bunch of carrots in the form of 15 awards for design excellence.

The awards were handed out by commission President Merry Norris at a City Hall event titled “How to Work With the City: Architectural Excellence, Architectural Selection.” More than 400 architects and officials attended.


Among the honored projects were the Bureau of Engineering’s Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant, designed by DMJM; the Port of Los Angeles Fire Station No.11, designed by Vernon E. Hall; the DWP’s Valley District Headquarters, designed by Ellerbe Becket; the Shatto Park Recreation Center, designed by Steven Ehrlich, and the DWP North Hollywood Pumping Station, designed by Barton Phelps.

“These awards demonstrate that the opportunity for design excellence in Los Angeles has never been greater,” Norris said. “We are truly pleased.”