Q&A: The New York Review of Architecture Takes on LA


March 23, 2024


Environment, News


(LOS ANGELES) — The New York Review of Architecture celebrated the launch of its Los Angeles Review of Architecture special edition issue on Feb. 24. Architects, writers and others gathered at The BAG Gallery at Bestor Architecture in Silverlake to celebrate and raise money for future prints of the review. Publisher Nicolas Kemper spoke to The Click about the future of the magazine, differences between New York and LA, and LA’s architectural quirks. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

The Click: What is this special edition of NYRA that you are calling the Los Angeles Review of Architecture?

Kemper: We talked about the idea last spring first, and the idea was that the New York Review of Architecture was very specific to [that] city. When we named it, the idea was to think what’s the most boring possible name that tells you exactly who we are. There is this tendency in design publications to think of very obscure names and obscure graphics. We decided on NYRA for a few reasons. First, we might be able to reach a larger public. Second, it would be on us to produce a really good magazine, because we would prove we are cool by publishing great pieces, having a sense of humor, and having great art and design. We were intrigued if we could take this same model to Los Angeles.

We’ve only committed to doing a single issue, so this is just a special issue of LARA. There’s a possibility that it continues to live afterward. One of the things we say is that every publication is a community on some level. And so it is very important you find yours.

What makes LA architecture special?

LA architecture is very much its own world. There is a regional school of architecture in the United States, and there is an LA pool that has been extremely successful and has a very distinct method. And I think a few of the pieces talk about that, too, and whether that model still works or not. I have always thought it was a nice kind of counterpart.

There’s a tendency for LA to play itself. So there are all these tropes that go around about LA, and we were kind of looking to see if there is something stupid that we’re missing here,but LA is kind of down with its own tropes.

What sorts of tropes?

For the centerfold, [for example, we] asked a bunch of people in LA to give us quintessential LA architecture moments thinking that we will come across more of the obscure gems that we haven’t necessarily come across before. But many of them said “The Griffith Observatory, or the freeway, or the LA River.” And so all of these kinds of famous and iconic places in LA are what people in LA turn to. I think that is different and [shows LA is] more comfortable with its identity.

Do you see similarities between the housing issues that come up in New York and LA?

Absolutely. There is a long article about the tenants’ rights organizations in LA, but I think there are a lot of pressing questions that are similar. LA is kind of a school or a club of architects who have their way of designing architecture but it is also a place of varied needs, so both of those are discussed in the issue. 


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