The LA Landscapes of Mia Lehrer | February 16

Citizen scientists come to do research in the Nature Gardens at LA County’s Natural History Museum | Image courtesy of MLA

Los Angeles is in the midst of two great shifts. The first is ecological: public and private landowners here, and indeed all across Southern California, are adjusting parks and landscapes for drought resistance. The Metropolitan Water District is putting hundreds of millions of dollars into a rebate program for residents who eliminate lawns.

The second is civic: The movement for public space is booming. Mayor Eric Garcetti has a Great Streets program; Grand Park has a New Year’s party. And the LA River, one of the most underutilized assets in any American city, is on the cusp of a revitalization.

No one stands at the intersection of those trends quite like Mia Lehrer, the El Salvador-born landscape architect and founding principal of Mia Lehrer + Associates. For 20 years, she has been a leading advocate for redesigning the concrete river viaduct (of Grease fame), which runs 32 miles north from Long Beach, past Downtown LA, and into the Valley. She helped write the LA River Revitalization Master Plan, which was released in 2007 and won an Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Elsewhere in the city, her influence is inescapable: Her firm designed acres of outdoor exhibits and gardens at the Natural History Museum of LA County and the revitalization of the San Pedro Waterfront. Vista Hermosa Park, another MLA project, was the first new public park in Downtown LA in over a hundred years. She’s also doing work at LAX, Dodger Stadium, Union Station, and around the planned NFL stadium in Inglewood that will soon welcome the (formerly of St. Louis) Rams.


The living wall at Los Angeles County’s Natural History Museum | Image courtesy of MLA

In all of those designs, she pushes the city towards embracing its unique ecological profile. That means fewer lawns. But it doesn’t mean gravel or astroturf.

On Tuesday, February 17th, join The Architectural League and The Cooper Union to hear Lehrer and Kate Orff, director of the Urban Design Program at Columbia University’s GSAPP,  in conversation. They’ll be talking landscape design, drought, sustainability, and public space in the context of Lehrer’s extensive LA portfolio.

Visit the League’s website for more information on Mia Lehrer and the upcoming lecture.

Current Work Lecture: Mia Lehrer
Recalibrating the City: Advocacy by Design
Moderated by Kate Orff
1.5 AIA and New York State CEUs
Organized and presented by The Architectural League and The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union

Time & Place
Tuesday, February 17, 2016
7:00 p.m.
The Great Hall, The Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street

Tickets are free for League members; $15 for non-members. Members may reserve a ticket by e-mailing: Non-members may purchase tickets here. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door, cash only, space permitting.

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.