The search for a new neighborhood symbol in Silver Lake is over. Earlier this month Silver Lake residents selected LA firm All That Is Solid’s “Bloomrs” as the winner of the Envisioning Silver Lake competition. The contest, organized by LA City Council President Eric Garcetti, the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, and Silver Lake community groups called for designs for a plaza and permanent installation at the corner of Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards.
“Bloomrs” is a saddle-shaped lattice structure made of Cor-ten steel that doubles the possible green space of the triangular median where Sunset meets Santa Monica Boulevard. The two upturned ends act like canopies that provide shade, while the lowest point of the hyperboloid can become a community patio. Bike racks also hide underneath one of the upturned ends.
“We wanted to avoid inserting another billboard into the landscape. We realized that a community-populated lush green site in such a prominent location is in itself the best possible advertisement for the pedestrian and bicycle-friendly lifestyle that Silver Lake embodies,” said Danielle Wagner, one of four partners at All That Is Solid. The firm’s four members all earned their Master’s in Architecture at UCLA, where they formed their partnership.
The competition received 59 entries in all. A jury of locals and designers trimmed those down to their top five, which were presented in a community meeting. The designers were each given five minutes to present their concepts, after which community members were asked to rank the designs.
Among the other finalists, Bau10’s took a more colorful route with parasols of different heights congregating at the plaza, representing the area’s diversity and vibrant social scene, among other things. The parasol also came up in BplusU’s more formalistic concept. In celebration of Silver Lake as “a place renowned for its otherness and for cultivating difference,” the firm designed a multicolored sculpture made of recycled acrylic panels that sits on top of a meadow. And rather than designing an abstract sculpture, design firm Meter went with a classic arrow rendered in a light steel structural frame and overgrown with bougainvillas.
Patrick Tighe Architecture’s Black Cat Garden scheme paid homage to the Black Cat protesters, who in 1967 (at the Black Cat bar, located across the street from the site) participated in possibly the largest gay protest to be held in the US at the time. The firm’s design was meant to be an urban oasis with shooting bamboo set on a plinth. Concrete planter walls would keep order in the manmade forest while also providing shaded seating.
With the winner announced the next step is to actually build. With a $100,000 budget (from the $1.5 million set aside from the state’s Metro Call for Projects program), the winning firm, engineers, and LA Street Services will need to work out how the design will come about, said Ryan Carpio of Garcetti’s office. As of this writing, the parties have yet to meet and discuss feasibility and implementation, but Carpio shared that the city will likely break ground this winter or early spring of 2012.