JULY 26, 2018
PHOTO: Photo: Will Wright

From the desk of Will Wright, Honorary AIA|LA
Director of Government & Public Affairs


Design For Dignity

On Friday, July 13th at our third annual “Design For Dignity” conference, speakers and participants shared insight and best-practices at a multi-disciplinary gathering that served as a forum to identify a set of achievable action items, which we (AIA|LA staff, Board, volunteer leadership and collaborative partners) can immediately begin to implement.


Our current housing crisis is the explicit symptom of a multitude of dire and inter-related challenges (housing, health & community).  For us to uplift our collective human spirit and to restore a sense of dignity to the lives of us all, we must take pro-active steps to solve each of these unique challenges with custom-made tools tailored to the exact challenge at hand.  Some of these solutions will conflict with the priorities of other solutions, indeed.  But for us to make immediate progress we all must be willing to embrace a shifting dynamic of priorities and hold within ourselves a high tolerance for opposable ideas that demand integration, compassion, flexibility and forgiveness.

Here are the top ten action-items I heard at Design For Dignity #3:

  1. Architecture Firms:  Commit to hiring student interns that are at risk of being homeless, or are indeed already living without a place to call home.
  2. Decriminalize homelessness.  Decriminalize drug addiction. Declare a Human Right to Housing – and let’s advocate for that at the national level when we vote on November 6, 2018.
  3. Let’s immediately act to dignify the current condition of our streets with bathrooms, showers, shade structures and hygienic amenities for those that are currently living on our sidewalks and in our neighborhood encampments.
  4. Establish a “Housing Innovation Ordinance” that facilitates a pilot program to advance swift, innovative and cost-effective solutions to affordable housing, and exempts these projects from the various regulatory conditions that are slowing projects down and/or over-burdening them with unnecessary costs and complexities (e.g., We live in Southern California.  Not all rooms need mechanical air-conditioning! Passive systems work just fine in many conditions)
  5. Expand housing typologies and embrace mixed-use backyard homes that enable live/work conditions, agriculture and commerce.
  6. Establish a set of pre-existing kit-of-parts to expedite plancheck for ADUs, tiny homes, etc.  Create Type V sheet for garage conversions, etc.
  7. Re-brand the narrative and develop a series of public service announcements to help change the general public’s attitude towards our collective housing crisis.
  8. Create a well-designed, compelling and accessible “catalogue” of best-practices, precedents and successful projects to show stakeholders.
  9. Coordinate a series of listening sessions, which will continue to allow architects to hear from the diverse array of “clients” that are currently without a home and with existing communities that may not realize the added benefits of integrating affordable housing and/or supportive housing into their neighborhoods.
  10. Create a series of training courses that will help architects expand best-practices with community outreach and to learn how to be better listeners and to tell better stories.


Many, many more ideas were shared, so please write me back at will@aialosangeles.org so I can add to this list.  Also, I need volunteers to help me advance each of the above 10 action items.  Please write me back with your level and area of interest.


The Change Maker Challenge

Are you a 501c3 non-profit working on homelessness issues?  If so, please consider applying for the $5,000 grant Change Maker Challenge from the Jewish Foundation of Greater Los Angeles.



Proposition HHH Program2018/19 Call for Projects Round 1


The Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department (HCIDLA) announces the release of the 2018/19 HHH Program Call for Projects Round 1. Starting today, July 20, 2018, HCIDLA will accept online project applications up to, but no later than August 20, 2018 at 11:59 PM (PDT).

Applicants may access HCIDLA’s Proposition HHH online application at https://hcidapp.lacity.org/NOFA.  Applications received after the close of the application period will not be accepted.

To view the Proposition HHH Permanent Supportive Housing Program Regulations, Policies, and Procedures 2018-2019 and other relevant HHH Program materials approved by the City Council and Mayor, please visit the HCIDLA LibraryThe most current questions and answers received by HCIDLA regarding the 2018/19 HHH Program Call for

Projects may also be viewed at the HCIDLA Library.

You may submit questions related to the 2018/19 HHH Program Call for Projects to hcidla.hhh.cfp@lacity.org, no later than August 13, 2018.  HCIDLA periodically updates and posts new responses to the HHH Program Call for Projects Frequently Asked Questions section of the HCIDLA Library.


AIA California Council’s 5 Minutes With: Ric Abramson, FAIA

Ric. Abramson, FAIA, has a vast amount of knowledge and passion when it comes to the Housing Crisis, which is why he is an ideal member of the AIACC Housing Congress. Here’s a bit more insight into this man and where his ideas originate.

When did you decide to become an architect?
Actually this happened more by happenstance. I had always enjoyed process of making things and had studied ceramics, puppetry, painting, cartooning, geometry and graphic design before taking a drafting class in high school. One day was summoned to the office and Guidance Counselor asked, “What are you doing with the rest of your life?”  Hadn’t given it much thought but after talking it through with one another he concluded, “You should be an architect.” Figured I would give it a try. Applied and was accepted to Cal Poly, SLO. As college years progressed, I grew to love architecture more and more and realized I had found a true passion be happenstance as opposed to careful planning.

If you weren’t an architect, you would be…
Family lore contends that when I was seven years old I insisted I would be a farmer when I grew up. Prior to moving towards architecture, I thought briefly about oceanography as I was so curious about the majority of the planet about which we know so little.

What did you listen to on this morning’s commute?
Actually don’t listen to music much. Sort of strange I suppose. Also do not listen to news commentary much either. Cannot be trusted so why waste the time. Generally spend the commute catching up with friends or making business calls.

Coffee or tea?
Both/and. Find coffee a good way to get up and going or stay somewhat alert when needed and tea for relaxation.


Why are you serving on the Housing Congress?
The older I get, and the more experience I garner, the more I realize just how little influence architects actually have in making cities. In affecting policy and, strategizing growth of the city itself.
Yes, architects design housing, and even win some awards, depending on design or technical innovation or aesthetics. But when it comes down to influencing how cities are made through housing and land-use policy, I feel as though architects generally do not have a proverbial seat at the table. (At least this is what I have learned from my experiences.)
Which leads me to believe there has to be a different, more inclusive way. I’m interested in how this process might change. Housing is a fundamental human need, yet the process of designing and producing new housing seems a bit backwards. Policy is set first based on arbitrary round numbers (or what I construe as arbitrary round numbers. Can anyone decode or translate how these numbers are really determined?) And then designers are asked to somehow make it fit. (As if we have Tim Gunn from “Project Runway” over our shoulder chanting, “Make it work.”) Instead, in my opinion, design thinking and creative typological and lifestyle-based solutions geared towards crafting more livable, dense urbanized areas should be led by architects and urban designers first. Innovative ideas are more effective when absent arbitrary and prescriptive constraints. Once effective, situational and performance-based housing solutions are generated then necessary policy and collaboration can follow.  I see the Housing Congress as a first step in discussing how these types of housing solutions might start to emerge through leadership by architects.

One place you want to visit from your bucket list:
Too many places on the bucket list but first one that comes to mind would be the Mesa Verde Cave Dwellings. Something so clear there about housing a large population in concert with nature, day and night, and the changing seasons.


To read more from AIA California Council, PLEASE CLICK HERE.



Architects applaud reauthorization of Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act

Legislation will help grow diversity in the architecture profession and allow states to modernize and promote architecture curricula.

WASHINGTON – July 26, 2018 – Today the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is applauding Congressional reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (H.R. 2353), which gives states more than $1 billion in career and technical education grants annually.

In response to the legislation’s passage – which is now awaiting the President’s signature – 2018 AIA President Carl Elefante, FAIA, issued the following statement:

“Passage of this legislation marks a significant victory for bipartisanship on Capitol Hill and for the architecture profession.

“With employment opportunities in architecture projected to grow over the next decade, for the first time this legislation clarifies that states can use federal career and technical education funding to modernize their architecture curriculums, which 49 out of 50 states have not updated in years. In so doing, it also legally recognizes architecture as part of a STEM education.

“Improving CTE architecture curriculums will help increase diversity in the profession, better prepare aspiring architects and open pathways into the profession for a generation of architects capable of bringing solutions to some of society’s biggest problems.

“It is very good to see bipartisan action on this important legislation. Our nation needs more of it to solve the problems our country is facing. Thank you Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Il), Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) as well as members of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee and the House of Representatives’ Education and Workforce Committee for your bipartisan efforts to pass this bill.”

Learn complete details of the legislation online.

Call for Submissions: 2018 AIA Upjohn Research Initiative Grants 

It must address one or more of these areas:

  • Methods for efficiently monitoring or tracking health outcomes of design interventions or materials toxicological exposure
  • Consistent metrics for reporting health impacts or risk reduction vis-à-vis databases and tools (e.g., productivity calculators, materials databases, lifecycle assessment tools)
  • Policies that could be used to promote health, well-being, and equity through design and construction
  • Innovations that measurably improve environmental quality, sensory experiences, social connectedness, safety, and access to nature or physical activity

To learn more about the UpJohn Research Grants and to apply, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

The AIA Upjohn Research Initiative supports applied research projects that enhance the value of design and professional practice knowledge.This AIA program funds up to six research grants of $15,000–$30,000 annually for projects completed in a 6-to 18-month period. The funds must be fully matched with hard dollars, with a maximum of 10% allocated for overhead. Grant recipients’ research findings and outcomes are published by AIA both online and in a nationally-distributed publication.At least one Upjohn Research Initiative grant (up to $30,000) will be dedicated to design and health principles.  The proposed research under this category should focus on the human health impacts of design at the community, building, or product scale. Research should be relevant and applicable to practicing architects.



Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
Director, Government & Public Affairs
American Institute of Architects- Los Angeles Chapter

3780 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 701
Los Angeles, CA 90010

(o) (213) 639-0764
email:  will@aialosangeles.org