Dick Riordan, risk-taker

| April 27, 2023 | 0 Comments

Guest Editorial By Martha Welborne, FAIA

Since the death of our former mayor, much has been said about how he successfully led the city through crises. While that was certainly true, Dick Riordan also was noteworthy in areas where he was willing to take a risk on a good idea and trust his team to carry it out.

I was fortunate to be involved with him on two such initiatives. First, when I was envisioning the Metro Rapid system (the red articulated buses), I convinced Mayor Riordan to come with me to Curitiba, Brazil in 1999 to see the bus system that officials there had built because they could not afford a subway. Within two years of that trip, Metro had several successful demonstration lines up and running in Los Angeles and now has hundreds of miles in operation.

Then, in 2000, with construction underway on the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Riordan’s friend Eli Broad persuaded the mayor to collaborate with the County to develop the parking lots that then surrounded the Hall, a collaboration they had me manage for the next 11 years. Today, with many thanks due to Dick Riordan, we have the Gloria Molina Grand Park, The Broad Museum, the Conrad Los Angeles hotel, and 707 residential units in The Emerson and The Grand, 20 percent of which are low income.

Dick Riordan was willing to take on ideas others might have thought impossible or foolish. He also was a lot of fun to work with.

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