DnA: Design and Architecture is a multi-platform exploration of design, buildings, and the cityscape.

A DnA-produced series, Wasted is airing weekly through early March 2021 on KCRW’s Greater LA. It is sponsored by the California Arts Council, and explores neat solutions to the dirty problem of waste in the Golden State. Think packaging and food, human waste and e-waste. The series starts with plastics, and a young man who tries to get the plastic out of Barbie's Dreamhouse.

DnA launched in 2002 on KCRW, and ran there until 2020, as a mix of podcast, curated listings, newsletter, and broadcast reports. Through interviews with designers, builders policymakers, critics and users, I told stories about the built fabric of Los Angeles and beyond. My goal was to humanize design and architecture. Metropolis magazine called DnA the "voice of the city."

The show also featured many design luminaries including Elon Musk, David Adjaye, Rodarte, and Ruth E. Carter. It regularly made “Best Of” design podcast lists and won honors including the LA Design Festival 2020 ICON Award.

A variant of DnA may relaunch in 2021, with support from Helms Bakery District.

I also produce podcasts for people and institutions including Rodeo Drive: The Podcast and Desert X 2019 and 2020. I have other podcasts in the pipeline, including a pet project called Goat Wisdom To Go, about life lessons from fascinating people I have met. Scroll down for more information. Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles is a book I am writing currently, for publication by Angel City Press. I will make the case that living in multi-unit buildings can be a highly desirable alternative to the much-mythologized LA single family home, They provide human connection in a sprawling, fragmented, and sometimes lonely region. The book will explore residential complexes that work as great design and great social condensers, dating from the past, present, and future. Think “Melrose Place” meets Modernism!

Other writing includes, most recently, Architecture is a Social Act, about the work of Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA); Grand Illusion: A Story of Ambition, and its Limits, on LA’s Bunker Hill, based on a USC class I co-taught with Frank Gehry and his partners; and You Are Here, on the work of the late Jon Jerde. I have written for many publications, including The New York Times, LA Times, The Guardian and design journals, including Dwell, Metropolis, and The Architectural Review.
Starting in 2021, I will produce events and exhibitions for Helms Bakery District campus wide, as well as inside the Helms Design Center, in collaboration with Angela Anthony. The focus is design and land-use in Los Angeles.

In past years I have moderated public conversations with designers including Jony Ive, Elon Musk, Frank Gehry, Elizabeth Timme, Paula Benson and Daniel Libeskind, and moderated panels about pressing issues including housing, climate change, and transportation.
I have curated exhibitions, including Sink or Swim: Designing for a Sea Change at the Annenberg Space for Photography in 2015. This was a film and display of images of resilient buildings by Iwan Baan and other leading photographers. I also co-curated the 2010 California Design Biennial at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Following the civil unrest of 1992, KCRW launched the current affairs shows Which Way, LA? and later To The Point, both hosted by Warren Olney. I became a producer of those shows. Warren was the voice of fearless and fair journalism. I learned from him invaluable lessons in media literacy and openness to all stakeholders. Teaching is a passion; I have been an adjunct teacher and sat on student reviews at USC, UCLA, Yale, and SCI-Arc, and at New Roads High School. I am especially keen to share what I have learned about communicating design ideas to the general public. Honors include the 2020 ICON Award, awarded by LA Design Festival in recognition of “iconic women who have made an indelible mark on Los Angeles, culture, and society in general,” and the USC Architectural Guild 2010 Esther McCoy Award for educating the public about architecture and urbanism. I was the SCI-Arc’s Honored Guest at its 2018 Main Event. The DnA series Bridges and Walls won the 2019 LA Press Club award for investigative reporting. I grew up in the UK but I came into my own in LA. After architecture school in London, I was sent to LA by The Architectural Review to report on the daring new West Coast architecture by Gehry, Morphosis, Eric Owen Moss, Hodgetts + Fung, and other talents.

I moved here in 1991 and in April, 1992, the region erupted in the Rodney King riots. KCRW launched the radio show Which Way, LA? in response, and I became a producer there in the late 90s. DnA followed on from that.

For the last 30 years my work has been about Los Angeles (hear more about that in this conversation at the Los Angeles Design Festival).

So I am very involved with LA's development. I am currently on the West Hollywood Design Excellence Review Committee, a new member of the Modernism Week board and a juror for the City of Los Angeles’ Low-Rise Housing Challenge.


Goat Wisdom To Go, is a pet project in the pipeline.

When the news broke that I was taking a buyout after 22 years at KCRW, I ran a tweet saying I would likely continue covering design and architecture, “unless I go start my fantasy goat farm.” The remark about goats got such a big reaction — clearly, a lot of us like goats! — that I decided the next best thing to becoming a goat farmer is to create a podcast in their honor.

In each episode I will talk to a smart person — often on the older side, having garnered some wisdom that is worth sharing — about their lives and challenges they have overcome.

The concept is that goats see through the miasma of overthinking that pervades human life and distill things down to the fundamentals, like munching on weeds while not doing much else. Goats also like butting heads, which I, a natural born Capricorn, am destined to do — with affection, of course.
© Copyright 2020-21 Frances Anderton
Image © copyright 2019 Kremer Johnson; Website: David Stein; Thank you to Tyrone Drake.