Christopher Hawthorne is Senior Critic at the Yale School of Architecture, with a secondary appointment in English. He is a writer, architecture critic, and filmmaker. He served from 2018 to 2022 as the first Chief Design Officer for the city of Los Angeles, a position appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti. In this role he provided design oversight for major building and infrastructure projects across the city as well as launching initiatives related to housing, architecture, urban design, civic memory, and public art.
From 2004 to 2018 Hawthorne was the architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times. His writing on architecture and the arts has also appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harvard Design Magazine, Architect, Architectural Record, Domus, and many other publications. With Alanna Stang, he is author of The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press). His many book chapters include contributions to Maynard L. Parker: Modern Photography and the American Dream (Yale Univ. Press) and A Companion to Los Angeles (Wiley-Blackwell), as well as to a forthcoming volume on affordable housing edited by Alexander Gorlin and Victoria Newhouse.
Hawthorne’s earlier teaching appointments include positions at the University of Southern California, Occidental College, the Southern California Institute of Architecture, and U.C. Berkeley. A frequent collaborator with KCET-TV, the PBS affiliate in Los Angeles, he wrote and directed the documentary “That Far Corner: Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles,” for which he received an L.A.-area Emmy Award. He also received an Emmy for his work his as executive producer on KCET’s “Third L.A. with Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne.” From 2015 to 2022, first at Occidental and then at USC, he led the Third Los Angeles Project, a series of public conversations about architecture, urban planning, mobility, and demographic change in Southern California.
Hawthorne was the Fall 2022 Bernadette Ma Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the U.C. Berkeley College of Environmental Design. He has been a Mid-Career Fellow at Columbia University’s National Arts Journalism Program and a Resident in Criticism at the American Academy in Rome.