Architecture Is a Social Act: Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects [LOHA]


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Good architecture is no longer about simply designing a building as an isolated object, but about meeting head-on the forces that are shaping today’s world.

Architecture Is a Social Act: Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects [LOHA] addresses how the discipline can be used as a tool to engage in politics, economics, aesthetics, and smart growth by promoting social equity, human interaction, and cultural evolution.

The book features 28 projects drawn across LOHA’s nearly 30-year history, a selection that underscores the direct connection between the development of consciously designed buildings and wider efforts to tackle issues that are relevant in a rapidly changing world. LOHA’s projects range from tiny Santa Monica storefronts to vast urban plans in Detroit, Michigan, and Raleigh, North Carolina. From activating main streets, to designing housing of all shapes and sizes, to bringing hope to the homeless, to developing strategic plans for the future growth of cities, all of the work featured is represented within a larger social framework. Each case study is evidence of LOHA’s mastery of scale, form, light, and space that gives people a true sense of place and belonging. Architecture Is a Social Act: Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects [LOHA] points the way ahead for both people and architecture.


  • A collection of 28 projects completed over nearly three decades gives readers thorough insight – both visually and conceptually – into the work of LA and Detroit-based firm Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects.
  • An important contribution in a post-pandemic world, the book’s main goal is to spark creative ideas and important questions about how architecture can be used in political engagement, smart growth and social structures, in order to improve our urban landscapes and elevate the human condition.
  • Texts by O’Herlihy (Foreword), Frances Anderton (Introduction), Sinéad Finnerty-Pyne and Greg Goldin (project narratives and Afterword) are accompanied by illustrations and renderings by LOHA, and photography by Iwan Baan, Lawrence Anderson, Paul Vu, and others.
  • The book is organized chronologically (starting in the 1990s and ending in 2020) and broken up into six sections, each representing a tipping point for the practice – periods in which LOHA’s work was launched in new directions that brought new sets of challenges, all of which parallel significant historical events.
  • Readers will gain insight into the practice’s process when engaging a new project/site; understanding its history and context, and how it is informed by the culture and ecology of the people who live there.

Publication Details

Release date: October 2020
Frame Publishers
Written by Sinéad Finnerty-Pyne and Greg Goldin, with contributions from Lorcan O’Herlihy and Frances Anderton
Graphic Design by Barbara Iwanicka
200 x 265 mm
272 pages / full colour / softcover
ISBN 978-94-92311-45-0

About Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects [LOHA]

Founded in 1994 by Lorcan O’Herlihy, FAIA, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects [LOHA] is a multidisciplinary practice of 25 designers, with offices in Los Angeles and Detroit. Collectively and collaboratively, driven by O’Herlihy’s passion and creative vision, the firm has built a robust portfolio of work that is rooted in embracing architecture as a catalyst for change and making cities more dynamic, more equitable, more liveable.

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