Jon Adams Jerde

Chairman and Founder, Jerde Partnership International Inc.


Specialty: Large-scale urban retail projects

Notable projects: Universal CityWalk, Horton Plaza

Perhaps no other local architect has had more of an impact in reinventing Southern California urban public spaces in the late 20th century than Jon Jerde, creator of Universal CityWalk, the look of the 1984 Summer Olympics and San Diego's Horton Plaza.

"He invented themed environments for architecture. Outside Disney, no one understands how popular environments have changed more than Jerde," said Dana Cuff, professor of architecture and urban design at UCLA.

Jerde's style has a festive, interactive quality, especially apparent in CityWalk with its shops, restaurants, nightclubs, offices and theaters. The concept has its detractors, though, who call it an inauthentic rendering of a real city.

Since Jerde founded his 120-member urban planning and architecture firm in 1977, he has been developing new ways of designing humanistic multi-use, communal spaces. He says Jerde Partnership International practices a new architectural discipline called "experiential design and placemaking."

He said his ideas synthesized when he was selected to create the architecture and design for the '84 Olympics. He organized a group of designers, artists and architects who developed everything from the look of the sporting facilities to the event programs and street decorations.

The following year, Horton Plaza shook up the world of retail architecture with its post-Modernist design, and revitalized a decaying San Diego neighborhood. "It's like a Rube Goldberg machine," Cuff said. "It's disorienting. It shifts your perspective. It's a complete world within a world."

Jerde studied fine arts and engineering at UCLA and received his bachelor's degree in architecture from USC in 1964.

The Westside Pavilion, Fashion Island in Newport Beach, Fremont Street Experience and Mall of the America in Minnesota are Jerde projects. He has also designed large-scale, mixed-use projects in the Netherlands, Australia and Asia. One of his next local assignments is to jazz up the Los Angeles Zoo.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.