Starchitect Spotlight: Lorcan O’Herlihy

We’re mapping the work of the masterminds—some famed, some lesser-known—whose works have shaped the L.A. cityscape, a star of the A+D Museum’s new exhibit

Screen capture courtesy

Lorcan O’Herlihy (1959-)
Firm: Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects

Last week the Architecture and Design Museum opened the doors of its brand new downtown location for the show Shelter: Rethinking How We Live in Los Angeles.

The exhibit tracks our city’s shift of priorities away from privacy and the single-family home toward a sharing-economy-driven focus on urban density and collaboration. With an eye on the near future, the museum enlisted ten design firms to produce concepts for overcoming the unique challenges Los Angeles faces in the here and now. One of those firms, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, brought WATERshed to the table; it’s project that reevaluates and reimagines the way we think about land use, water use, and urbanization—a speculative vision for better capturing and recycling water in a drought-prone city. It’s also not the first mindful contribution LOH Architects have made to L.A.

Born in Dublin and educated at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and the Architectural Association in London, Lorcan O’Herlihy has been working in Los Angeles since 1990, when he moved here and started his own firm. Prior to that he had worked under IM Pei Partners on the Grand Louvre Museum in Paris, a project that allowed him to develop the artistic sensibilities that give his work a sense of spontaneity. In his practice, he tackles the difficulties of urban spaces, seeking to accommodate the increasing push for density in a way that is socially conscious and aesthetically thoughtful. Of O’Herlihy, architect Thom Mayne told the L.A. Times, “He’s one the most thoughtful, intelligent architects working in L.A., always exploring and doing interesting, committed work.”

 Santa Monica’s solar powered, rainwater-capturing Big Blue Bus stops are the work of LOH Architects.

• O’Herlihy is a painter and sculptor as well as an architect, and he brings an artist’s eye to his work, drawing inspiration from the “looseness” of abstract art.

• His father Dan O’Herlihy, was an actor. Among many other roles, he played the scaly Grig in The Last Starfighter.

Click the turquoise pins for images of Lorcan O’Herlihy projects across the city. 
The other pins denote the work of architects from our Starchitect Spotlight archives. You can hide them in the dropdown menu on the left.