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

We trust you had a relaxing Labor Day weekend and survived the heat wave.

LADWP & On-Site Staging Requirements

Last week, we hosted a preliminary roundtable to discuss a strategy for how we can provide recommendations to LADWP to improve site feasibility for affordable housing that is presently impacted by LADWP’s on-site requirements for staging and access to energy transformers, vaults, and customer service stations. Transformer placement requirements are also creating detrimental urban design impacts and de-basing our sidewalks and public realm.

Next steps: We’d like to solicit more feedback from the AIA membership and to populate a survey initiated by Ian Sanchez and Dry Utilities Experts about the number of housing units lost to these on-site staging requirements, as well as, the additional cost burden caused by LADWP delays, etc.  Please share your response via a survey we’re coordinating to better understand the scale of these impacts.


If your projects are being impacted by LADWP requirements, please connect with me directly so that we can prioritize our response.


Thank you to everyone that was available to join us last week for our 4th annual ENCOMPASS: Inclusive Architecture conference, which was led by the newly launched JEDI Committee.

If you were unable to join us or, would like to revisit the discussion, we have access to the recordings here.

September 2 – “Inclusive Profession in the New Normal”

September 3 – Urban Resilience: Planning for Equitable & Healthy Communities

In early 2017, after 14 months of outreach, the AIA’s Equity in Architecture Commission released “The Equity in Architecture Commission Report”. It was the recommendations included in that report which led to our first Encompass in May of 2017.

Our first three ENCOMPASS conferences focused on:

  • Inclusive procurement opportunities and procurement reform recommendations.
  • Best Practices in Human Resources for hiring and assembling diverse teams.
  • Workshops on adding empathy & integrity to the design process.
  • Personal stories & mentor/ protege partnerships.
  • The added-value of diversity and how inclusive firms out-perform other less inclusive teams.

As a result of many of those conversations, AIA Los Angeles released the EDI Best-Practices Guide in 2018 as a roadmap with actionable steps to support design practitioners advance EDI initiatives.

This year, with the support of the newly launched JEDI Committee, Encompass focused on urban resilience, environmental justice, and the systemic disparities caused by our zoning and land-use policies. We also examined the stressful impacts that our ongoing pandemic is placing on students, faculty, and emerging professionals. The disparate impacts of the pandemic have placed in stark relief our urgent need to diversify the AEC profession and attract and encourage more people of color to pursue careers in architecture.

As a collaborative effort between AIA|LA and So Cal NOMA, we encourage all firms to commit to the So Cal NOMA DEI Challenge, which is a 10-point plan “that delivers a pathway to diversity for Los Angeles firms through touch-points including: mentorship, recruitment and promotion, and pro bono services to underserved communities.”

Our 2-part conference concluded with an interactive session where we discussed candid responses to the following questions:

  • How do you define the business case for diversity, equity and inclusion in the AEC industry?
  • How do you define the design case for diversity, equity and inclusion in the AEC industry?

To keep our momentum, the JEDI Committee will be coordinating additional programs and initiatives and your involvement will be essential to our success.

Measure J (Re.Imagine LA)

I’m working with the JEDI Committee to organize a roundtable on Measure J (Re.Imagine LA), which will be on the ballot in November.  The objective of this roundtable will be to get a better understanding of the Re.Imagine LA initiative and its direct connection to the core values of AIA Los Angeles and the architecture and design community. If Measure J passes in November, it directs the County of LA to prioritize investments in health, housing, and economic justice in their annual budgets.  We’ll have a date confirmed for this roundtable ASAP.


As a collaborative forum with So Cal NOMA and the JEDI Committee, we hosted a roundtable on Prop 16 (Prop 209 repeal) and heard experiences from black-owned architecture firms. As a follow up, we are scheduling a meeting with Deputy Mayor Brenda Shockley on September 11 to identify an opportunity to share recommendations for procurement reform in the way City of LA contracts professional services in anticipation of Prop 16 passing in November.

To watch a recording of the Prop 16 roundtable, please CLICK HERE.

“Designing the Future”

Last month, we concluded the 7-part “Designing The Future” series, with a panel discussion on hospitality design. My five main take-aways as a result of the comprehensive series include the following observations:

A.  There’s a need for more outdoor learning environments and flexible facilities that will provide access to fresh light, air and open space.

B.  With multi-family residential, there’s a desire for larger balconies, more indoor/outdoor private space, and flexible areas of the residence that can be easily converted to support working from home. We need to examine our zoning code and our building code more closely to identify opportunities for healthier improvements.

C.  There’s a trend towards more innovative hospitality typologies — beyond hotels, restaurants, bars, and existing typologies towards experiential places such as sound baths, healing centers, and other uses that focus on interactive activities.

D.  There is an urgent need for more equitable investments in mass transit, active mobility, and parks/ open space. The blunt unfairness of decades of previous investments has resulted in marginalized communities and disparate public health impacts.

E.  What everyone misses most: the serendipity of interaction and sensorial discoveries. Therefore, there is a need to elevate the experience of a place and design for specific emotions that can lead to lasting memories.

Los Angeles City Planning & Healthy Building Design

In August, we hosted the first in a series of four roundtable/ idea-exchanges with the LACP Urban Design Studio focused on healthy building design features that we felt need to be incentivized more readily on our citywide design guidelines. The next three to be scheduled with the Urban Design Studio and LACP planners will include discussions about adaptive re.use 2.0, private open space, courtyards, and rooftops, and the DTLA 2040 community plan update. If you’re interested in contributing to these discussions, please contact me at

Legislative Day at City Hall

We are presently finalizing our plans for our annual Legislative Day at City Hall, which this year will be a virtual event.  Tentatively scheduled in mid-November, we’ll have an exact date and the annual advocacy platform confirmed soon.

Stay tuned for more details.