Mayor Garcetti appoints Christopher Hawthorne as Chief Design Officer

LOS ANGELES—Mayor Eric Garcetti today named Christopher Hawthorne as the city’s first Chief Design Officer, a new post created to improve the quality of civic architecture and urban design across Los Angeles.

In this role within Mayor Garcetti’s Office of Economic Development, Hawthorne will help bring a unified design vision to projects that are shaping Los Angeles’ urban landscape, by collaborating with City departments and public agencies to promote welcoming, economical and ambitious architecture and urban design. A key part of this effort will be ensuring that transformative infrastructure and architectural projects under development today — from housing to parks to transit lines — are inclusive, accessible and cost-effective.

Through public programs and other forms of outreach informed by the diversity and dynamism of Los Angeles, Hawthorne will also work to foster a broad civic conversation about architecture and urban design across the city.

“We are investing billions in new infrastructure and public spaces that will transform how Angelenos and people from around the world experience our city,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Anyone who’s familiar with Christopher’s work knows that his creative eye, and his understanding of urban design are unparalleled. I am proud to welcome him to my administration in this important new role.”

Hawthorne comes to City Hall from the Los Angeles Times, where he has served as the architecture critic since 2004, writing extensively about public space and civic architecture in Southern California and around the world. He is also a professor of the practice at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he has led a wide-ranging dialogue on architecture, urban design, and the city through the framework of his “Third Los Angeles” project.

“Los Angeles has an incredible opportunity to reshape and reanimate our public realm in the years to come,” Hawthorne said. "I’m thrilled that Mayor Garcetti has underscored the importance of civic architecture and urban design by creating this new role, and even more thrilled that he has asked me to fill it.”

Hawthorne is a native of Berkeley, Calif. and an honors graduate of Yale, where he studied political science and architectural history. He will begin work as Chief Design Officer next month.