Steve in Baja California with Marcos SantaAna, AIA, during a break from constructing housing for a family in need.



Steve Tanner gets Elevated
Membership Director answers Presidential Honoree Q&A as an Hon. AIA|LA


If you follow AIA|LA Membership Director Steve Tanner’s Facebook page, you know that his knowledge of off-the-path restaurants rivals Jonathan Gold’s. But his Facebook page also offers an enlightened and adventurous what-to-do guide through our city and points beyond. An achievement made larger given that the fact that he’s gone without his own car for ten years of explorations.

At this year’s AIA|LA Design Awards Ceremony, Tanner, who has ushered members through the Fellowship process for more than 12 years, receives a much deserved elevation of his own, Hon. AIA|LA. It’s no surprise, that, responding to our Presidential Honoree questionnaire, he discussed Metro.


AIA|LA: Dream Commission. What current site in Los Angeles would you reconceive to serve our future, and how or why?
Steve Tanner, Hon. AIA|LA: I’ve been in Los Angeles for 18 years and owned a car for five of those years. So if the powers that be were to hand me a dream commission (and the resources to realize it), it would have to be the Metro system. We’ve come so far since 1998 and there are massive improvements in the works, but I’d love to eliminate at-grade crossings so trains can operate at the speeds they were designed for. Create better connections with Metrolink, Amtrak, and buses. Make more dedicated bus lanes and busways. Make the whole experience of using transit easier, more fluid and more enjoyable.

(Join us in celebrating Steve Tanner, Hon. AIA|LA, at the 2016 AIA|LA Design Awards. Register Here.)

AIA|LA: What Los Angeles building, site, place or idea should never be changed?
Tanner: I’m going to twist the question a bit to encompass two things that will inevitably change, but that we must preserve and make better, and nominate our air and our water. We may never be able to go back to the pristine state before industry, overpopulation and fossil fuels, but we need to use the knowledge and the means we have to slow and prevent further damage and deterioration.  

AIA|LA: What project of yours, or detail of your work, you hope most influences Los Angeles.
Tanner: My day to day work is so often focused on the minutiae—it’s challenging sometimes for me to think “big picture” or “enduring legacy.” It’s extremely rewarding to help solve a problem for a member (or direct them to an expert who can.) Or when I see our members speak passionately and wisely about pressing issues at Chapter programs like Powerful and Design for Dignity. We’re really here to create those opportunities for community and connection, and help architects and designers succeed and prosper. If I get to have a small part in furthering your success, that’s a great kind of influence to point to.

AIA|LA: What book, website, blog or Instagram feed about Los Angeles should we all be reading or following?
Tanner: Before I moved here, I was devouring books and films about Los Angeles without knowing that the AIA was in my future…City of Quartz and The Architecture of Four Ecologies are both provocative and great for starting arguments about L.A. On Instagram, I’m drawn to feeds that show an eye for design and for the built environment, not just by architects, but also photographers, artists, filmmakers and musicians. I recommend @ball_nogues_studio, @design_bitches, @djw73153, @t_yanai, @modernism_week, @synthesisdna, @themuska, @tiwest, @danielnorris18 and @gilllandry.

AIA|LA: Where is your favorite place to go in LA?
Tanner: One is Griffith Park, or any of our wild or semi-wild gateways to the mountains. If I can stretch the boundaries of L.A. a little, the other is Catalina. 
Last updated: 13-Oct-2016 04:00 PM
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