January 26, 2021.


Dear LAForum Community,

Your LAForum Board of Directors never let up in 2020, despite an exceptionally challenging year. Through their dedication, perseverance, and Zoom fatigue, the Board continued LAForum’s mission of instigating dialogues and offering diverse programming in the city by organizing socially distanced events, and supporting projects over virtual platforms and in new publications.

I’m proud to announce that the LAForum 2021 Board of Directors will be the most diverse in the organization’s history in terms of members’ backgrounds, professional expertise, and in their personal passions and interests.

Also in 2021, the LAForum will be helmed with exceptional talent in leadership by Nina Briggs (Co-President), Greg Kochanowski (Co-President) and Jose Herrasti (Vice President).

I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to have served as the President of the LAForum over this past year. As everyone very well knows, business was not as usual in 2020.

In June, the LAForum Board re-committed ourselves and our organization to unequivocally denouncing racism and to confronting racism in our own organization and in the broader professional sphere. Through our platforms, programming and actions in our ever-evolving city, we promised to make a greater and permanent commitment to change.

Our first completely digital 2020 Summer Newsletter was launched in September, and featured the team at the Southern California Library — an anti-racist resource — in conversation with LAForum on learning about the impacts and foundations of racism in the built environment. The Newsletter also featured protest posters by designer Luis Montoya and a collection of 2020’s most memorable ‘Delirious L.A.” interviews from our bi-weekly, emailed Newsletter: Some of those interviews included artist Lauren Halsey, critic and curator Mimi Zeiger, environmental journalist Mark Olalde, and author Geoff Manaugh discussing his new publication on quarantine architecture. Join the ‘DLA’ mailing list here, and stay updated on all 2021 events and conversations.

In August and September, LAForum hosted our Summer Exhibition, Every. Thing. Changes. with 20 artists, writers and designers offering 20 new works that speculate on LA’s new decade and possible futures. The newly commissioned texts and visual works were developed over the course of spring 2020, and were the outcomes of a “call and response” process. The new works were exhibited in physical sites and on the exhibition’s virtual platform site. The LAForum was honored to be the steward of such innovative, thoughtful and impactful works by so many talented creators. The exhibition was featured on KCRW, Archinect, The Architect’s Newspaper and SCI-Arc Live.

Greg Kochanowski’s book The Wild was released in October. It is the second in LAForum’s continuing pamphlet series which was re-launched last year after a 10-year hiatus. The Wild was generously funded by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and we are thankful particularly to County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and her staff for their ongoing support in projects like these. The Wild explores the urban periphery of Los Angeles, where the city meets the mountains — a landscape inherently vulnerable to wildfire and its secondary and tertiary effects, including flash floods and debris flows. The publication seeks to document the policies that have incentivized growth at the exurban periphery and reveal the risks produced by the urbanization of the fire-adapted landscape. Purchase a digital or hard copy here.

Board Members Aaron Vaden-Youmans and Jose Herrasti headed up our new ‘Think-In’ series — a transorganizational, knowledge-sharing conversation with other like-missioned non-profits and design organizations around the country and around the world in an effort to support the profound, positive change required post COVID-19 in our cities. The first of the series occurred in November with Mexico City’s EL CIELO MX and Elena Tudela of O-RU Oficina de Resiliencia Urbana on housing futures and urban realities in both L.A. and Mexico City.

Former LAForum 2019 Vice President Christopher Esteban Torres, 2020 Vice President Nina Briggs and I collaborated with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office and L.A. City’s Chief Design Officer, Christopher Hawthorne, this year to help draft the brief and provide counsel for the recently launched $100,000 Low-Rise Housing Competition. We are honored and grateful to have been a part of making this exciting competition a success for Los Angeles.

Over the summer, our physical and digital archive — with some of the LAForum’s earliest publications and newsletters — were migrated to our laforum.org website for researchers, students and the curious to review and access there in future. To access the archive, visit http://laforum.org/publications.

Thanks to Vice President of Membership Lilian Pfaff, LAForum’s fall fundraising campaign was a success despite a very challenging fundraising climate in late 2020. We also thank our dedicated Advisory Board Members for making this campaign a success. It is because of these efforts, that the 2021 LAForum Board will be able to execute the great work and programming they have planned this year. Our members, participants, and supporters are what make the Forum thrive. If you haven’t already, please become a member and join us during our 34th year in 2021!

Thanks as well to our outgoing Board Members: Katrin Terstegen, Aaron Vaden-Youmans, Aaron Neubert, Mitchell De Jarnett and Anthony Fontenot.

For me it was an honor to serve as President and as a Board Member over the last four years, I look forward to seeing the LAForum move into a new decade, with new leadership, and I am especially excited to witness the LAForum’s next insights, collaborations and approaches towards framing and challenging what architecture means in an evolving city.

It is my great pleasure to introduce the new 2021 LAForum Board of Directors and Executive Leadership below. Congratulations to all!

Very best wishes,
Wendy Gilmartin, AIA

2021 LAForum Board of Directors and Executive Leadership:
Nina Briggs, Co-President
Greg Kochanowski, Co-President
Jose Herrasti, Vice-President
Emmanuelle Bourlier, Co-Vice-President of Information
Antonio Pacheco, Co-Vice-President of Information
Anders Bjerregaard-Andersen, Vice-President of Grants Development
Lilian Pfaff, Co-Vice-President of Membership Development
Michelle Frier, Co-Vice-President of Membership Development
Ismaelly Peña, Vice-President of Operations
Edward Ogosta, Treasurer
Evan Bliss
Maria Esnaola
Kian Goh
Souris Hong
Lisa Teasley
Luciana Varkulja
Jayna Zweiman
© 2023 LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design
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