October 2019


The AIA|LA Advocacy Platform


As an organization of 4500+ architects, designers, and emerging professionals, the mission of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA|LA) is to give the power of design and architecture to every corner of Los Angeles. Our vision is for a city that flourishes from thoughtfully designed buildings and the spaces in between.

As architects, our role is to protect the public interest through the lens of design. Our programs and initiatives foster aspirations, capabilities, and regional leadership through advocacy, education, inspiration, the advancement of core-values, programs that support individual practices, and pathways to design excellence.

Since 1857, the AIA has represented the professional interests of America’s architects. With a nationwide membership of over 94,000 licensed architects, designers, emerging professionals, and allied partners, AIA is committed to improving the environmental stewardship of the design, construction, and preservation of buildings and spaces.


We believe architecture connects communities and empowers people to live healthier and more enriching lives. AIA|LA advances a set of best practices to achieve greater equity, inclusion, and diversity in the profession, which serves as a roadmap for greater civic engagement. We believe compassionate and well-designed architecture creates healthy, walkable, hyper-local, decentralized, strong and connected communities that are authentic, flexible, adaptive and resilient with passive, natural and technologically-responsible systems.


We ask civic leaders to implement policies and procedures to:

1. Implement LA’s “Green New Deal” with Incentives to Decarbonize the Built Environment

2. Optimize Processes & Procedures to Build Affordable Housing More Quickly

3. Achieve Greater Literacy for Alternative Project Delivery Methods

4. Ensure More Equitable & Inclusive Procurement

5. Embrace an “Open Building” Approach for a More Resilient Future


Implement LA’s “Green New Deal” with incentives to decarbonize the built environment.

Our climate crisis is urgent and deserves collective action. To meet our Paris Agreement 1.5 degrees C goal, the architecture profession is committed to meeting more aggressive emission reduction targets in the building sector. We must take bold actions to decarbonize our built environment and accelerate our transition to a zero-carbon future – one that strengthens economies, the social justice of people, and the health of the planet.

Our Recommendations:

  • Invest in resources to implement the City of LA’s “Green New Deal” sustainability pLAn.
  • Adopt a zero-emissions building code for greater energy efficiency standards.
  • Embrace zero-net carbon (ZNC) building design and mandate an equitable path towards renewable energy in all buildings.
  • Achieve ZNC operations for all new buildings, major renovations, and retrofits.
  • Reduce embodied carbon 65% by 2030 for all new buildings and infrastructure.
  • Aim to transition the entire built environment to zero carbon emissions by 2040.
  • Allow for the wide-scale adoption of bio-degradable building materials such as mycelium and rammed-earth walls.
  • Reward locally sourced materials.
  • Foster an ecosystem of equitable workforce development to facilitate more off-site construction.
  • Switch from concrete to structural, cross-laminated timber (CLT).
  • Re-examine the LADBS’ Los Angeles Research Report (LARR) process and embrace innovative technologies.
  • Invest in ecologies and expand tree canopy to cool the public realm, clean air and purify watersheds.


Our Request:

To incentivize zero-net carbon strategies with a menu of bonuses (density, FAR, height-limits) and fast-track permitting processes with ‘by-right’ entitlements and immediately implement a ‘reach’ code to establish greater market certainty.


Optimize Processes & Procedures to Build Affordable Housing More Quickly.

To solve our housing crisis, we need to take immediate steps to streamline and clarify the entitlement process. A cleaner, more easily understood process will expeditiously deliver more homes to the market at lower costs and at a better value to the neighborhoods in which they serve.

Our Recommendations:

  • Clarify and consolidate the multiple sets of design guidelines and funding-source compliance specifications that impact affordable housing production, i.e., NOFA, HCID, TCAC and eliminate any conflicting or unnecessary conditions and requirements.
  • Eliminate and/or create flexibility in the definition of “Substantial Conformance”.
  • Focus design concerns on core zoning parameters such as parking, density, floor area ratio, height, setbacks, open space, etc.
  • Raise the threshold for Site Plan Review to 200 units.
  • Review, update and/or remove “design language” that hinders housing production in CPIO’s and specific plans, such as the Station Neighborhood Area Plan.
  • Allow 100% multi-family housing in every commercial zone.
  • In zones where multi-family housing is permitted by a community plan, allow a minimum of 3:1 FAR and 45 feet in height; exempt multi-family housing from CEQA review, as well as from ‘discretionary’ review.
  • Promote density-bonus incentives in order to encourage the development of workforce housing (80% to 120% AMI).
  • Set the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) target for the SCAG region to 1.3 million, as recommended by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
  • Embrace innovation in housing typology, design, construction, materials, and planning.
  • Protect the authenticity of existing neighborhoods with smart, sensitive in-fill development.
  • Eliminate on-site parking minimums within a mile of major transit stops


Our Request:

For Los Angeles City Council, DCP, HCID and the Office of the Mayor to assemble an ad hoc working group to identify pro-active steps to build broader consensus and assemble resources to implement these recommendations.


Achieve Greater Literacy for Alternative Project Delivery Methods

At a time when we have so much infrastructure to build, it is vital that we deliver these complex capital improvements in a way that optimizes value, ensures environmental health, and returns greater prosperity to communities. The manner in which these projects are funded, contracted and delivered directly relates to their success. Therefore, a better understanding of alternative delivery processes such as Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), Progressive Design-Build, Construction Manager at Risk (CM-R), Design-Build-Operate-Maintain (DBOM), Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) and other public-private partnerships (P3), will empower architects, builders, and owners to create better outcomes for public projects. All sectors will benefit from more knowledge exchange.

Our Recommendations:

  • Connect with AIA California on IPD best-practices
  • Utilize the “Design-Build Best Practices Manual” published by DBIA
  • Commit to certify more public agency officials in Design-Build methodology
  • Develop literacy programs for the rank and file public agency project managers
  • Develop appropriate alternative project delivery contracting instruments
  • Integrate phased permitting with public approval agencies
  • Modify small business requirements to encourage SBE growth and industry diversity


Our Request:

For public agencies to coordinate a professional development literacy program for public employees in partnership with AIA, DBIA, AGC and other A/E/C stakeholders. A literacy program will ensure better decisions are made about the appropriateness of alternative delivery and to incorporate best practices into the procurement and contracting processes.


Ensure More Equitable and Inclusive Procurement.

Small and local business enterprises, including minority-owned, women-owned and disabled veteran-owned businesses, are challenged with a complicated and expensive process to win public and private contracts. AIA|LA is committed to advancing greater equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace and in our neighborhoods as we all work together to design, build and sustain complete and healthy communities. Small business inclusion is a fundamental tenet to ensure equitable access to the marketplace, as well as, a key mechanism to obtain the best-value results delivered by diverse contracting teams.

Our Recommendations:

  • Establish a regional framework and resource platform that will consolidate and streamline the certification process.
  • Invest in the information technology required for a smarter Business Assistance Virtual Network (BAVN).
  • Create a match-making tool to foster deeper connections between public agencies, prime contractors and small firms.
  • Reward firms that manage effective mentor/ protege programs and inclusive best-practices.


Our Request:

For Los Angeles City Council to fully support a regional procurement platform, such as recommended by the Los Angeles Business Council and their “Compete4LA” initiative (Council File 19-078). In addition, we’d like to see the City of Los Angeles partner with Los Angeles County and the LA Chamber of Commerce on the OneLA Regional Collaborative program.


Embrace an “open building” approach for a more resilient future.

Too often we demolish rather than re-purpose our existing buildings. Likewise, when certain buildings do reach the end of their functional life-span, disassembly is wasteful and inefficient. We tend to build for the functions, places, and environments we urgently need today, but what happens in the near future when those needs shift? “Open Building” is a movement among design professionals, public officials, builders, and clients, aimed at assuring that built environments at all levels of intervention – from buildings to urban districts – can live and flourish for a long time. By designing in advance for adaptive-reuse in the future, we create more resilient communities.

Our Recommendations:

  • Reward designs for buildings that can more easily be adaptively-reused, re-programmed and re-purposed.
  • Utilize building materials that can more easily be disassembled and recycled.
  • Offset any potential added up-front expenditures with markets that support the total life cycle cost of a building and its embodied energy.
  • Analyze and repair any potential code-related conflicts that hinder an ‘open building’ design.
  • Integrate criteria that will specify greater adaptability in all public facilities.
  • Explore ‘core and shell’ typologies for multi-family housing projects.
  • Embrace the design of change-ready residential, educational, healthcare, mixed-use projects, and urban neighborhoods
  • Allow neighborhoods to transition naturally as cultural and societal needs change.


Our Request:

For the City of Los Angeles to establish a multi-disciplinary task force and “Open Building” pilot-program, which will promote resilience and adaptability, as well as, to ensure that the design, construction and building product manufacturing industries adopt practices that make variety efficient.

For more information, please contact:

Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
Director, Government & Public Affairs
AIA Los Angeles
3780 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 701, Los Angeles, CA 90010
P (213) 639 0764
E will@aialosangeles.org
W aialosangeles.org