Local Architect/Urbanist David Wolf is Dead at 54

Published : Monday, January 6, 2020 | 8:25 PM

David Wolf seen at a May, 2017 gathering above the Arroyo to discuss how Pasadena should evolve and where he delivered "My City," his presentation telling the story of how generations of residents have kept the spirit of “City Beautiful” alive for over a century here in the City of Roses.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, a local architect/urbanist committed suicide last month.

David Wolf was found dead at his home in Altadena on Dec. 21.

Wolf would have turned 55 on Jan. 1.

According to an alert by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Wolf suffered from depression and was last seen alive on Nov. 29, 2019 about 6 a.m. near his home on Taos Road in Altadena.

“This is shocking and distressing,” said Sue Mossman of the Pasadena Heritage Society. “I have been viewing his extraordinary work over the past year and been so taken with his research skills and out of the box thinking about how about the past and present and future could interweave.”

Wolf created the “My City” project which sought to get people to rethink the way the city is planned.

In 2017, Wolf said, “Today’s planning is top-down. That is, the city planners and leaders tell the citizens how the city will be planned, when it really should be the other way around.”

According to a written report, Mayor Terry Tornek agreed with that idea.

“David was passionate about Pasadena and its roots in the City Beautiful Movement of nearly 100 years ago,” said Marsha Rood. “David wanted to bring Pasadena closer to those roots in planning for its future. Pasadena has lost a great champion.”

The City Beautiful Movement was a reform philosophy of North American architecture and urban planning that flourished during the 1890s and 1900s. It was a part of the progressive social reform movement in North America under the leadership of the upper-middle class concerned with poor living conditions in all major cities.

The movement, which was originally associated mainly with Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Washington DC, promoted beauty as a means to create moral and civic virtue among urban populations.

Advocates of the philosophy believed that such beautification could increase the quality of life.

“Much of Pasadena’s model city reputation can be found in the City Beautiful Movement and the work of George Damon, Dean of Engineering,” Wolf wrote in his book My City: The Model to Emulate. “In creating a more participatory process during the early visioning stages of planning, community aspirations were shared, finances were measured and an ambitious set of proposals were set in motion.”



The National Suicide Hotlines are available 24/7 at 1-800 SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) and 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Additional help is available at the Didi Hirsch 24-hour Crisis Line: 1-877-727-4747 (en Español: 1-800-628-9454)
LGBTQ – The Trevor Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
Trans Crisis Line: 1-877-565-8860
Crisis Text Line: Text HELLO to 741-741
People of Color Crisis Text Line: Text STEVE to 741-741




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