Vice Mayor Lowenthal Receives “Community Design Advocate Award”

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Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal

Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal

Long Beach Vice Mayor and Second District Councilmember, Dr. Suja Lowenthal will be honored by the Long Beach/South Bay American Institute of Architects (AIA) as the first ever recipient of the “Community Design Advocate Award” for her leadership and “significant contributions in improving the built environment in Long Beach”. Lowenthal has championed several architectural projects and initiatives during her two terms in office, including the Downtown Visioning Plan, new Civic Center project, Long Beach’s Adaptive Reuse and Mills Act policies, bicycle and pedestrian friendly infrastructure and street Parklets. Michael Bohn (LB/SB AIA Director, Senior Principal at Studio One Eleven) commented on Lowenthal’s impact saying, “Her efforts to improve the built environment in Long Beach ranges from large scale, such as visioning the future of downtown, to incremental projects, such as promoting the first Parklets in Southern California. Without her leadership and passion, Long Beach would not be as vibrant as it is today.”

Lowenthal is often credited with initiating the Downtown’s shift toward higher quality architecture and pedestrian friendly projects through her creation of a Downtown Visioning Task Force in 2006. This group’s efforts ultimately led to the Downtown Plan, which set zoning standards for development as well as incentives for projects with alternative mobility options, building height and energy efficiency. She is also considered the political force behind Long Beach’s embrace of being a leading bicycle and pedestrian friendly city in United States.

Upon news of her recognition, Mayor Robert Garcia said, “My congratulations to Vice Mayor Lowenthal for receiving this prestigious honor. I’m pleased that her excellent work in Long Beach has been recognized, and I know she’ll continue providing expertise and advocacy to improve the built environment in our city.”

Drawing upon her background in urban planning, Lowenthal advocates for projects that seek creative solutions to shared public space in a built out environment like Long Beach. Those projects include street Parklets and separated bike lanes – both firsts among cities in southern California. Most recently, she has partnered with DLBA, Downtown Long Beach’s business improvement district to activate a high profile corner with pop-up retail and activities. “I’ve learned that the first question to ask, when approached with an idea by staff or community members is, ‘Why not?’ And for those of us fortunate enough to have a hand in city-making to constantly ask ourselves, ‘Whose streets are these? The answer should be ‘everyone”, said Lowenthal.

The American Institute of Architects held their awards at Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach on Saturday, October 10. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) ( has served as the leading voice for architecture professionals since its founding in 1857. The AIA Long Beach / South Bay Chapter is the local voice of the profession and is dedicated to serving and inspiring its members and the public through education, advocacy, and design excellence.

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