A HALF CENTURY
We are in the belly of a 50-year nationwide crisis of public disinvestment. Though it's a time of fervent activity, heroic posturing, and record-keeping, significant physical, cultural, and human development have drawn to a near-standstill.
Most of our institutions - from the family to the school to media to corporations and seats of governance - have made themselves irrelevant to the crisis by the bickering smallness of their civic generosity, daring, and vision.
And those historic civic achievements of more robust times - universal education; connective infrastructure; public libraries; the great, continuous built and landscaped interventions into our cities - are widely in a state of neglect and deterioration.
In the context of the great international cities, ours are primarily a sprawl of ranch houses and yards.
Played out in the public forums of companies, institutions, and cities across Southern California, my career in public architecture has been, literally, a half-century front-line witness to - and opponent of - the long, slow strangulation of our public life.
In this context, and in the context of a growing national oligarchy, architecture is a political act that can't be practiced responsibly without an acutely pained awareness of the state of things; and an impassioned advocacy for those issues that make the city and its public institutions more dense, more alive, more sustainable, more sheltering, and more equitable.