Equity and Inclusion Take Center Stage at 50th Anniversary LABC Architectural Awards

·5-min read

City of L.A. takes home grand prize for transformative park renovation in South Park neighborhood

The Los Angeles Business Council today announced the winners of its 50th Anniversary Architectural Awards, saluting projects that contribute to a more socially inclusive society by designing buildings and spaces that are accessible, safe, and remove barriers to once-excluded communities. Epitomizing this year’s emphasis on inclusive design, the Grand Prize was awarded to the South Park Historic East Area Renovation in downtown Los Angeles, which transformed a once-blighted park in a historically underserved community into a welcoming greenspace that fosters well-being by giving residents a safe place to relax, exercise and play.

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The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles, the winner of this year's Community Impact Award. (Graphic: Business Wire)

"Urban design is a vehicle for equity and a vital way for government to serve as a force for good in the life of our neighborhoods," said Mayor Garcetti. "The real winners of this award are the Angelenos living across the South Park Historic East Area – the families, friends, and households with a new community space that will lift up the quality of people’s lives, improve public safety, and promote a healthier future."

A municipal design team led by the L.A. Department of Water and Power and the city’s Bureau of Engineering’s Architectural Division bested some of the most notable designers and architects in the world to win the Grand Prize for the park renovation. Their efforts transformed a grassless, dormant park into an expansive greenspace, framed by winding paths and towering palm trees that is inviting to the community for healthy recreation, gatherings, and quiet reflection. The park is dedicated to the late R&B singer Barry White, who grew up nearby.

The win distinguished itself as the first time in the awards’ long history that a landscape or park design has received top honors.

Overall, 23 winners emerged from an esteemed pool of hundreds of submissions in categories ranging from civic buildings to education to sustainability. Jurors comprised industry experts, including architects, construction firms, owners, and developers.

"In a difficult year that has challenged many of us to rethink the enormous value of safe public spaces, the winners of this year’s Architectural Awards set a new standard for how inspired urban design can uplift life in our city," said Mary Leslie, president of the Los Angeles Business Council. "These projects are outstanding examples of how good design can play a vital role in including often-excluded communities, and advancing social, cultural and economic equality in our society."

The Los Angeles LGBT Center, which opened last year, received the illustrious LABC Chairman’s Award. The two-acre Anita May Rosenstein Campus launched as the world’s first intergenerational facility serving LGBT seniors and youth. The 180,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in Hollywood includes more than 100 beds for homeless youth, a senior community center, a youth drop-in center and space for social services.

"This project sends a clear message that Los Angeles is better when we look out for our neighbors," said Nadine Watt, LABC chair and president of Watt Companies. "At the campus, youth and seniors will live together, learn from each other, and help one another in a safe environment surrounded by support services."

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, an architectural tour de force under construction in Exposition Park, won the Community Impact Award. Accepting the award on behalf of the Lucas team was Sandra Jackson-Dumont, director and CEO of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. The museum is designed by former LABC Architectural Award keynote speaker and winner Ma Yansong of Mad Architects. The Lucas museum is committed to hiring a diverse and local workforce, sourcing and hiring local, minority, and women-owned businesses. More than 70 percent of construction workers on the project live in L.A. County.

Thom Mayne, founding partner of Morphosis, received the Legacy Award. Founded in 1972, the firm has been recognized for its imaginative and sustainable designs for cultural, civic and academic institutions. Mayne’s many design recognitions include the prestigious Pritzker Prize and AIA Gold Medal.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the LABC hosted the event as its first virtual award ceremony, with hundreds of participants logging onto the digital celebration. Speaking live from Copenhagen, the international architectural icon Dorte Mandrup – whose portfolio includes an unprecedented five UNESCO World Heritage-related buildings – delivered the keynote address. Her remarks centered on architecture shaped by unique natural environments and the threat of climate change.

In another departure from past ceremonies, the LABC changed the rules to award one winner and one finalist for each category. For a full list of honorees and pictures of the winning projects, please visit the Los Angeles Business Council website at labusinesscouncil.org/2020-architectural-awards.

About the Los Angeles Business Council

The Los Angeles Business Council is one of the most effective and influential advocacy and educational organizations in California. For over 70 years, the LABC has had a major impact on public policy by harnessing the power of business and government to promote environmental and economic sustainability in the Los Angeles region. To learn more, please visit www.labusinesscouncil.org.

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Malina Brown
(310) 717-2208 | Malina@sugermangroup.com