We weren’t surprised that Jenna Hornstock’s responses to the 2018 Presidential Honoree Q&A included a multimodal transportation menu: bike, train, walk. This recipient of an Hon. AIA|LA—which will be bestowed her at the AIA|LA Design Awards this October 30—is Metro’s Executive Officer, Transit Oriented Communities. But Hornstock’s responses also incorporated an “insanely delicious snake dog.” To find out how she got there from here, step into the interview below.

AIA|LA: Favorite place to eat in Los Angeles.
Jenna Hornstock, Hon. AIA|LA: Baco Mercat…in particular I like to use Bike Share to get there from Union Station, makes for a great lunch getaway! Or it’s a great place to have dinner before seeing some music down the street at the Regent Theater.

(Celebrate Jenna Hornstock, Hon. AIA|LA at the 2018 Design Awards Ceremony + Party. Here’s how.)

Dream Commission. What current site, project, or building in Los Angeles would you reconceive? Why and how?
I would love to continue the work we started at Metro, with the redevelopment and reinvigoration of Los Angeles Union Station. I had the privilege of acting as Metro’s project manager for the Union Station Master Plan, and working with world class architects on that project. As Metro continues to work toward realizing a world class transit facility and destination at LAUS, I want to stay involved in that process. My team will eventually oversee procurement and selection of a master commercial developer and that will be a dream project.

Okay, a commission or project that you’ve done. Tell us a story about it that we don’t already know.
There are so many stories from my days at CRA/LA (the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles). Redevelopment can be really messy and complicated work but it led to so many great things. One project near and dear to my heart was working closely with the California Hospital Medical Center Foundation to develop the Hope Street Margolis Family Center.

I worked on that project for about 6 years, and did everything from negotiate and execute a land swap to assemble adjacent properties to hiring a team to do a feasibility study to see if the constrained site could fit all of the needs of the hospital foundation to working on the agreements that transferred the land to the medical center so that they could build the facility – along with predevelopment funding.

One of the hardest things was working through agreements for a relatively small $200,000 Prop K grant that had so many strings attached – that should have been much simpler!

The team at the CHMC Foundation were so dedicated to the vision of serving low income families in the area and so great to work with. I went through an entire pregnancy and my son was at the groundbreaking when he was 4 years old! That center provides childcare to low income families, English literacy classes, primary health services and a host of other programs to support wellness. It provides needed recreational space in a constrained urban environment – they managed to fit a basketball court on the site using those challenging Prop K funds…and the building is a great, fun design that involved the kids at the facility in its development. It is often hard to quantify and showcase how deep a role the public sector plays in these complicated projects, and it’s those kinds of outcomes that make me really proud and committed to keep at it.

If you had four hours off and could spend it anywhere in Los Angeles, where would it be?
There is a walk/hike/eat adventure that I have done with my son and sometimes a group of other parents and kids. Starting at the western entrance to Griffith Park, you can walk north from Los Feliz Blvd up Fern Dell Drive. You pass through tree canopies and less than a mile up you come to the Trails Café. There you sit on hay bales and have coffee, fresh made pastries and the insanely delicious snake dog, a hot dog wrapped in a fresh-baked biscuit. We then cross over to the playground where the kids run around in the ravines and use the playground and I hang out and chat with friends. When we are ready, we do a short hike – all uphill – to the Griffith Park observatory. Its about 30 minutes. If you are hungry again you can get great food at the café there, or you can go into the Observatory. Eventually you hike down, chasing the kids. This part of LA feels like a secret oasis – it’s not usually that crowded and it is hidden away. You forget that you are in the middle of the City.

Been to the Design Awards before? Tells us about moment that stands out, whether it’s inspirational, behind-the-scenes, or lighthearted.
I have been twice, when I was a Public Director for AIA/LA. What stood out for me, and continues to stand out, is the talent, passion and dedication of the professionals in the AIA/LA, their love of Los Angeles and commitment to the built environment, civic engagement and making a difference. I felt honored to be part of the leadership team representing this organization and even more so that I am being given this design award.