The City of West Hollywood has selected Ric Abramson, a West Hollywood-based architect who has long been active on city-related boards and commissions, to lead its new urban design and architecture studio.
The Urban Design & Architecture Studio is a new division within the city’s Community Services Department. the Studio will oversee the design review process and closely examine future design aspects of the city’s streets and public spaces. He will also be responsible for helping to develop and implement an urban design strategy to improve architecture, infrastructure and the relationship between private developments and public spaces in West Hollywood.
Abramson has lived in West Hollywood since 1989. In 2003, he launched his architecture firm, WorkPlays, and has designed numerous residential, multi-family, and mixed-use projects throughout the city. In an interview with Nate Berg for West Hollywood Magazine in 2016, Abramson said he saw two forces at work in the city: one that wants new growth and more density, and another that wants the city to maintain its modest population and neighborhood. Abramson said he saw room in the middle. He also stressed the importance of keeping in mind the neighborhood in which a new project is proposed.
“Unfortunately the way we zone cities is usually city-wide standards,” Abramson said. “I’m much more interested in what makes sense not on a city scale, but on a neighborhood scale.”
Abramson holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Cal Poly SLO and a master’s degree in architecture from UCLA. A Fulbright scholar in Italy, his studies also included a stint at the American Academy in Rome. In addition to his private architectural practice of over three decades, he has taught history and theory courses and architecture and urban design studios for over 18 years at SCI-Arc and USC School of Architecture.
Over the years, Abramson has served on the Master Plan Advisory Committee, Green Building Committee, Environmental Task Force, Sustainable City Committee, Public Facilities Commission, and Board of Directors. of the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation – in addition to running WorkPlays, its Paris-based West Hollywood architectural agency. He recently completed a three-year term representing the California region on the National Strategy Council of the American Institute of Architects in Washington DC.
Abramson is known as a strong advocate for affordable housing, sustainable design, and innovative infill development. He recently completed new design guidelines intended to promote greater access to more affordable homeownership in underserved communities in LA County. For the past two years, he chaired the AIA Housing Congress in California, which explored new design-based approaches to solving the state’s housing crisis.
Abramson initiated two state bills signed by Governor Brown. Most recently, AIA Los Angeles honored him as the first recipient of its Citizen Architect Award for his political and legislative efforts, leadership, advocacy, and civic engagement. He has also worked closely with national, state, municipal and county officials and employees on environmental, sustainability, green building, economic development and housing initiatives.
Abramson will assume his new role on Monday.