The 2015 Presidential Awards Q&A: John Simones AIA; CEO, Design Director, The Jerde Partnership

Name a pivotal moment for Los Angeles? We’ll provide you with this one: The Olympics, 1984. 

Never mind those crazy pre-event rumors—traffic! lines!—all that, once the Olympics began the world, and Los Angelenos, were immersed in a mythical, efficient, beautiful, and, actually, highly profitable event. More than thirty years later, the enduring influence of these Games is being honored with this year’s AIA|LA Presidential Honoree 25 Year Award. 

At the heart of the event’s success was design: specifically, the innovation and ingenuity of two offices, The Jerde Partnership, and Sussman/Prejza. Rather than construct ground-up stadiums and dorms, the collaborators created a new Olympic model, in which they reconsidered existing structures such as the LA Memorial Coliseum and other venues, through design elements, rehab, and, often, temporary installations. But their ideas, and execution, demonstrate that the impermanent may last. 

In 1984, John Simones, AIA, joined The Jerde Partnership to specifically work on the Games. Today he is Jerde’s CEO and Design Director. Here are his Los Angeles firsts, lasts, and favorites--his contribution to our Presidential Honoree interview series. 

Celebrate John at the 2015 AIA|LA Design Awards, Thursday, October 29, 2015. Purchase tickets here.

What was the first Los Angeles building (and relevant architect) to influence you?
John Simones, AIA: The 1984 Olympic Games and how it brought everything together with co-creativity – architects, graphic designers, illustrators, artists, set designers, etc; and was used for a specific time then taken down. There was something surreal and visceral about creating festivity rather than permanent architecture.  
 
Name a Los Angeles person, place, or thing that inspires you today and tell us why (as briefly or in as great detail as you wish).
Jon Jerde and the mentorship he provided.
 
Favorite book or website/blog or Instagram feed?
A book – The Universe: From Flat Earth to Quasar by Isaac Asimov
 
What's the thing you'd most like to change about Los Angeles in the future?
Bringing back the urbanity of what downtown was - i.e. old Broadway; and increased walkability to enhance our urban core.
 
What should never change in this city?
Diversity
 
Where is your favorite place to go in LA?
Walk along the beach; hiking trails through the mountains, and all the natural wonders we have here
 

Last updated: 26-Oct-2015 11:45 AM
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