Best of 2015: Who will design Obama’s library? Key questions in architecture as 2015 wraps up

The new federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles is by the architecture firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

The new federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles is by the architecture firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic

These are not the 10 best buildings of 2015. These are the most pressing questions for architecture and architecture criticism as 2015 comes to a close.

Who are Donald Trump’s architects? Who have been Donald Trump’s architects? Who (God forbid) will be Donald Trump’s architects?

Will one of the L.A. architecture schools follow the recent lead of Columbia, Yale, Princeton and Berkeley and appoint a female dean?

READ MORE: For architecture in 2015, the world’s ‘soft targets’ prompt a reevaluation

Who will President Barack Obama choose to design his presidential library?


Who will prevail in the nasty battle for public opinion pitting Omar Brownson of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corp. against Lewis MacAdams of Friends of the Los Angeles River?

Will 2016 be the year that we can finally, definitively tell whether Bjarke Ingels, the Danish wunderkind whose pyramidal apartment block for the Durst Organization is soon to be complete, is an architectural genius or a marketing one?

Will it be the year Mecanoo (a firm from Delft in the Netherlands), Annabelle Selldorf (New York) and William Rawn (Boston) get some (deserved) wider acclaim for recent work?

Why does the new federal courthouse under construction in downtown L.A., by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, look like such a good building? Because it actually is? Or because Los Angeles, awash in mediocre new architecture, is desperate for even moderately ambitious civic buildings of the type we once produced as a matter of course?

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Is China, soon to be building three bridges by Santiago Calatrava in a single city, Huashan, be where starchitecture goes to die, or where it goes to live forever?

Will Alejandro Aravena, director of this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, be able to jump-start the show? (I suppose the answer depends on whether you think Rem Koolhaas, the 2014 head honcho, merely left the headlights on or removed the engine entirely.)

Will the Pershing Square design competition be for real or for show? (Related: Who is going to pay for the new Pershing Square?)

Bonus question on reviving the work of architects who were big in the1970s and early ‘80s: Is anybody planning an exhibition on Charles Moore? What about Gunnar Birkerts? Anybody?