Posts tagged with "Gold Line":

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When Artists Design Infrastructure: Basket-like Bridge Energizes San Gabriel Valley

The expansion of LA's Metro Rail Gold Line is well underway with a stunning new piece of infrastructure: The Gold Line Bridge. Completed last week, the 584-foot dual-track bridge, stretching over the eastbound lanes of the I-210 Freeway, will provide a light rail connection between the existing Sierra Madre Villa Station in Pasadena and Azusa’s future Arcadia Station. The rail line itself is scheduled for completion in 2014. Made from steel reinforced concrete with added quartz, mica crystals, and mirrored glass, the monochromatic, abstract design, conceived by artist Andrew Leicester, pays homage to the region’s historic American Indian basket-weaving tradition and includes a carriageway and a post-and-lintel support beam system. The 25-foot baskets adorning each of the posts, “metaphorically represent the Native Americans of the region...and pay tribute to the iconic sculptural traditions of Route 66,” wrote Leicester. The  bridge is is also designed to withstand significant earthquakes. Equipped with "Time Domain Reflectometry" technology and an electrical feedback smart column technology system, engineers can initially assess damage following a tremor. The structure replaces one removed after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and is truly an exception to the norm of form follows function. The 11.5-mile Foothill Extension project, overseen by the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, is being built by Skanska USA and their subcontractor AECOM.
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LA's Little Tokyo Gets Its Moment

  Ever wonder what LA will look like in 30, 50, or 100 years? Little Tokyo Design Week, which launched last night in downtown Los Angeles, captures a glimpse of the future city through the eyes of  innovative designers and companies inspired by technology from Japan. The four-day celebration takes place in one of the country's few remaining Japan-towns and includes panels, exhibitions, parties, pop-up stores and even pub crawls. It opened last night with a forum from LA architecture school leaders Hitoshi Abe, Qingyan Ma, Ming Fung, and Andrew Zago, an outdoor screening of Hayo Miyazaki's beloved anime classic My Neighbor Totoro, and a discussion of urban life as a customizable, sustainable existence with Tim Durfee, Ben Hooker, Keiichi Matsuda, Jon Rafman and Sputniko! Basically, this design week is about how to face the future of a more populated globe. Familiar names like Toyota and Daiwa House stand out above the city lights with displays based on alternative energy and what happens when housing meets technology. But have no fear – designers are still the heart of design week. This includes Professor Tatsuya Wada's exhibit of interactive robots by Flower Robotics, Honda, Toshiba, and Sony called Robot Box; Brandon Shigeta's 3D photography ArtCube; and Victor Jones' and USC students' Food Futures (suspended nylon particles and rice representing the relationship between data and food production). The week's most tantalizing exhibits feature Stan Sakai's (informally known as the Japanese Stan Lee) Usagi Yojimbo, an eye-catching geometric behemoth by UCLA's Hi-C program, and a section dedicated to  1960s Japanese housing projects. An Astroboy-themed awards presentation featuring Tokyo/LA House Container and local theatre group East West Players will crown the most visionary designs and speculate on a “Future City." Little Tokyo has not forgotten its Japanese roots, including a photojournalism gallery at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center about the 2011 tsunami and earthquake. Festivities will help support Japan Platform, an organization helping Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims, and are made possible with help from the US Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. But wherever you decide to spend your time, use it wisely. This is “Carmageddon” weekend and the freeways will be packed. And isn't design week one more step towards sustainability and away from an urban nightmare?  
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A One of a Kind Line

After more than a decade of waiting (up to 15 years, depending who you ask), a light-rail Breda train will depart for East L.A. from Union Station this Sunday, November 15 as part of Metro's new Gold Line Eastside Extension. The eight-station line, with stops in Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles, will offer continuing service on the first phase of the Gold Line, which heads northeast through Pasadena and was completed in 2003. And today, I got to ride the shiny new rails on a private tour with 25 or so of my newest, closest friends, including Frank Villalobos, who acted as the lead architect for the project with his firm Barrio Planners. The Gold Line is the only train that heads north and south out of Union Station (the rest of the trains, no matter what direction they come from, all terminate in the station, meaning they all roll into the railyard in the same direction and must reverse to get out). So this S-bridge that travels over the 101 freeway to the south is especially unique. The bridge was also built in a way so it never stopped traffic over the 101. After swinging through the Little Tokyo/Arts District station, designed by Ted Tokio Tanaka, the line travels over the 1st Street Bridge, the 1929 structure which is currently being widened to accommodate the extra lanes of traffic. Bizarrely, all the historical elements from the bridge have been removed and are sitting down near the Los Angeles River below, like some kind of ruins. The train then heads up into Boyle Heights and its first Eastside station, Pico Aliso, where the bright Mendez Learning Center on the corner was also designed by Barrio Planners and has obviously laid a cornerstone for new development. Each station has its own architectural team and artist that created a neighborhood-appropriate vision; for example, here Korajack Srivongse designed the arched canopies and Rob Neilson picked 25 faces from the community to place in their ironwork. After traveling along 1st Street, due to Boyle Heights' narrowing roads, we plunged underground for two of the below-grade stations. We had to remain in the train so we couldn't explore what these stations from the top down but it was a trip to see one of the Eastside's most famous destinations rendered in Metro signage. William Villalobo and Alejandro de la Loza collaborated on Mariachi Plaza; Aziz Kohan and Nobuho Nagasawa did the second underground station, Soto. The Indiana station, where the line heads back into the right-of-way established by an old 1920's electric car, includes a station designed by Larry Johanson with artwork by Paul Botello that references the carvings and patterns by Central American craftsmen. We traveled down 3rd to Maravilla station (designed by Aspet Davidian with art by Jose Lopez) and then continued on to what is by far the most exciting station on the entire line, if not completely due to its design alone. A few blocks before arriving at the East LA Civic Center, the neighborhood explodes with bright mosaics from the Roybal Comprehensive Health Center, which zig zag into a bright green park with a lake at its center. The canopies here (designed by Villalobos with art by Clement Hanami) borrow from the vibrant colors as bright orange California poppies. Finally, the tensile canopies of the Atlantic station (the end of the line, for now) point towards the future with a purposeful angle, designed by DMJM with art by Adobe LA. The tent-like structures--which look more than a little like Denver International Airport's abstracted peaks--also hint at the San Gabriel Mountains in the distance. Multiple celebrations (including mariachis, of course) will be taking place this Sunday to celebrate the Gold Line's eastward advances. Stay tuned for a full AN review of the line and station design--including an all-important stop at King Taco--after it opens this weekend.
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Metro Finally Gets It Right (sort of)

As the LA Times and Curbed LA both reported yesterday, the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) finally voted yesterday (after several postponements) to approve its Long Range Transportation Plan. The plan outlines  how METRO will spend  about $300 billion over the next 30 years, focusing on mass transit projects like the Westside subway extension of the Red Line to Santa Monica, for which the county will be seeking substantial federal funding (most of the projects will need support from the feds, although LA County is aided by its new sales tax increase approved last year). Other major initiatives include the Gold Line extension east from Pasadena, a downtown regional connector, the continuation of the Expo Line to Culver City and Santa Monica, and a Green Line extension to LAX. Of course before Angelenos get too excited about all this rail-related news,  it's worth noting that more than 2/3 of the plan is dedicated to highway (widening and surface improvements) and bus-related expenditures (rail makes up about 1/6). And then there's the timeline: is there one? We haven't seen it yet... Please help us find it!