Posts tagged with "METRO":

As Westweek wraps up in West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center, developer floats an unlikely expansion scheme

The Pacific Design Center (PDC), designed by Cesar Pelli, is celebrating its 40th year, and last week it wrapped its biggest yearly event, Westweek, which featured panels, lectures, and the debuts of furnishings and interior resources from over fifty companies. We just learned from Curbed LA and the LA Times that the PDC's new Red Building, which opened in 2013, just signed its first three tenants (which will include retailer AllSaints and media company Whalerock), occupying 65,000 square feet of the 400,000 square foot building. Despite this recent track record, PDC developer Charles Cohen hopes to build an ambitious new project, called Design Village, on the Metro-owned bus yards adjacent to his property. According to Curbed, the complex, designed by Gruen Associates, would include 335 residential units, a 250-room hotel, a movie theater, outdoor amphitheater, and restaurants, clubs, and bars. But they report that WEHO city council has voted to asked Metro not to extend their contract (set to expire next month) to Cohen, so the project seems likely to remain unbuilt.

Displaced by subway construction, Los Angeles’ A+D Museum finds a new Arts District home

Los Angeles' often-mobile A+D Architecture and Design Museum, which has been displaced from its perch on Museum Row by Metro's Purple Line Extension, has found a new home in city's Arts District. Its new building, at 900 East 4th Street, is across the street from SCI-Arc. It features 8,000 square feet of space, brick walls, and a bow truss ceiling. The museum's two year lease began this month, and they hope to complete buildout by May. The effort will be led by Gensler, RTKL, and Matt Construction, but others will soon get involved, explained Executive Director Tibbie Dunbar, who appears thrilled to be out of limbo, despite regrets to be leaving the city's museum center. "It feels terrific," said Dunbar. "I'm excited to be near SCI-Arc, and I'm excited about what's going on in the Arts District. We'll be a big part of attracting people to the area." The A+D will be the burgeoning neighborhood's first museum. They also plan to sublease space to a design-focused tenant, such as a retailer or cafe. The museum, which depended on pro bono spaces early in its life, has a history of traveling. After starting in the Bradbury Building, its trajectory has involved a lot of numbers: 8560 Sunset Blvd, 5900 Wilshire Blvd, and 6032 Wilshire Blvd. After the museum's lease expires, it hopes to join forces with the AIA's Center for Architecture and Urban Design (CALA), which is still undergoing a search for its home.

Pedal to the metal at Los Angeles’ Union Station

After refining their master plan over the last several months, Metro, Grimshaw, and Gruen are ready, as Metro Deputy Executive Officer for Countywide Planning Jenna Hornstock put it, to "put the pedal to the metal." They're asking the Metro Planning and Programming Committee to approve several recommendations (PDF) to begin the implementation of their Union Station Master Plan, including the development of a Program Environmental Impact Report. Yesterday they presented to the committee, and a vote is expected at the next gathering on October 15. After sitting down yesterday with Hornstock, Grimshaw partner Vincent Chang and Gruen partner Debra Gerod, AN has an even clearer idea of their plans. The ambitious scheme, which will be carried out in stages, will greatly improve connections to Alameda Street and the Pueblo de Los Angeles to the west and to Vignes Street and the Los Angeles River to the east, vastly expand  and upgrade the station's concourses, map out mixed-use development site-wide, and plan for the eventual incorporation of High Speed Rail. Renderings are beginning to look much more real, as is the whole endeavor. To the west the team is planning a large forecourt, or "outdoor room," replacing what is largely surface parking in front of the station. They're heavily programming it with open space, tables and seats, a cafe, community amenity kiosks, bike facilities, water features, and shade trees. Street improvements will calm traffic on Alameda and rows of trees will connect the station to the Plaza. The concourse behind Union Station, programmed with more retail and amenities, will be significantly widened and opened to natural light, with openings cut between platforms and elevators and escalators improving access to tracks. Its flaring shape will trace not only the path of trains but of local subways. Above the tracks the team is investigating a planted, criss-crossing bridge structure providing another level of access across the site. A new east portal behind the tracks–largely open to the sky–will open to another plaza, creating a new public face east of the station where Patsaouras Transit Plaza currently sits. If the plan is approved the facility will be moved to the center of the station, branching into a north/south open space and a lower west terrace (inspired by Union Station's lovely courtyards) forming, pending approvals, where the Mozaic Apartments and a facility for Amtrak currently sit. The team is mapping out about 3.25 million square feet of commercial, retail, residential, and hotel development over the more than 40 acres that Metro owns around the station. With the support of the California High Speed Rail Commission the team will also move to accommodate High Speed Rail, perhaps on a site east of Vignes Street that encompasses the city's aging Piper Center. That move is still pending issues like funding and track alignments. "This is a completely new way of engaging the city," commented Chang, who sees the station as a centerpiece and growth catalyst not only for its neighborhood but for all of Downtown Los Angeles. His team hopes to proceed first with the development of the forecourt and other perimeter spaces, which he calls a "quick win," then move on to more challenging task of rebuilding the concourse, the transit plaza, the east portal, and so on .

And Now A Gehry Tower For LACMA? What’s Next?

The surprises keep coming at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). After learning that the museum plans to shift its proposed Peter Zumthor–designed building southward (partially bridging Wilshire Boulevard) to avoid damaging the La Brea Tar Pits, now comes news that the museum is hoping to partner with LA's transit agency, METRO, to build a tower across the street. LACMA Director Michael Govan's choice for an architect? Frank Gehry. "That's my dream," Govan told the LA Times' Christopher Hawthorne. "I'm jealous that New York has a Gehry tower and we don't." The tower would be located near Wilshire and Fairfax, near the site of the current A+D Architecture + Design Museum, which is being torn down to make way for a staging ground for Metro's Purple Line expansion. Ironically Govan said he hopes to build his own Architecture and Design wing there. No word on the tower's design or height, or on whether it will even happen. But Gehry has acknowledged discussing the plan with Govan. "I'm open to it," he told Hawthorne. So far Govan and Gehry have been unavailable for comment to AN. There are so many obstacles standing in the way of these grand schemes. But a post on LACMA's blog points out that if they go ahead, one block of LA's Miracle Mile will contain designs by three Pritzker Prize winners— Gehry, Zumthor, and Renzo Piano, who not only designed two new buildings for LACMA, but is designing (now solo) the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences museum.

Finally, Los Angeles moving ahead with rail connection to LAX

At long last, it appears Los Angeles is getting its train to the airport. Last week, the board of LA County's transit agency, METRO, agreed to proceed with a $200-million light-rail station, part of the new Crenshaw Line, connecting to a proposed people mover that will usher passengers to their terminals. The new station would be located about a mile and a half east of LAX's central terminal area, and about a half mile north of the Crenshaw Line's Aviation/ Century Stop,  at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard. As AN previously reported, plans for a rail connection to the airport have been on the boards for some time, but the move is one of the final pieces in the LAX transit puzzle. Metro had also been investigating, among other options, a light rail line direct to LAX and people mover locations at other sites. The station—which at this point is only considered Metro's "Locally Preferred Alternative," or simply "Alternative A2"—will need to go through environmental review and other analysis before construction can begin. Furthermore, METRO is waiting for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to finalize its people mover plans before finalizing the 96th street location. That decision should come by December, said METRO spokesperson Rick Jager. LAWA is considering an intermodal transit center and a centralized car rental facility as hubs on the people mover route. No designer or architect has been chosen yet for the new station, added Jager. A preliminary sketch given to the METRO board depicts a multi-level, glass enclosed space with a direct connection to buses. But that image, said Jager, was "a penciled quick draw that was done the night before. It was to give the board a quick glimpse of what type of a station it could possibly be, but it was in no way shape or form the final draw." The current contractor for the Crenshaw line is Walsh-Shea Corridor Constructors, which consists of Walsh, Shea, HNTB, Comstock, and ARUP. There is a chance that team could wind up designing the station, but that remains to be seen. If work proceeds as planned the new station could be completed by 2022. Meanwhile LAX, long derided as outdated, is about to undergo renovations to terminals 2, 3, 4,  5, 7, and 8, accompanying new roadside improvements and a major addition to Tom Bradley International Terminal by Fentress Architects.

The New Paris Underground: Mayoral Candidate Proposes Reusing Abandoned Subway Stations

Paris mayoral candidate Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet is attempting to forge a new underground scene in the French capital. In conjunction with her 2014 campaign the politician has commissioned a series of mock-ups that re-imagine abandoned subway stations as cultural and recreational gathering spaces. The designs were executed by Manal Rachdi of OXO architects + Nicolas Laisné from Laisné architecte urbaniste. The renderings transform the Arsenal metro station, one of 16 dating between 1930 and 1970 to have either fallen out of use or never open following construction. While some of the their tracks still bear witness to train traffic and are used as dumping grounds for the Paris Metro, Kosciusko-Morizet is hoping to attract more than just subway cars and unused equipment to the stations. The renderings show the transit catacombs filled with the likes of a theater, swimming pool, restaurant, nightclub, and sculpture gallery. Sleek visuals aside, questions about sanitation, safety, and even acoustics immediately come to mind when one considers the logistics of implementation. Ultimately the mayor hopes to create some kind of platform that would allow the public to submit ideas for the subterranean spaces. The plan would not mark the first re-purposing of an out of use station, nor is it the only stab in recent weeks at giving new life to rusting public transportation infrastructure found within the city. Though the proposal has garnered a fair bit of buzz, any hopes of realization are contingent on Kosciusko-Morizet, a former minister of transport for the French government herself, actually ascending to the mayor's office. For now the center-right candidate remains a firm second favorite behind her socialist adversary Anne Hidalgo.

Video> Los Angeles’ Regional Connector Subway Line Coming Into Focus

A new video released by LA METRO gives us all a much clearer conception of the construction sequencing of the Regional Connector, the 1.9 mile downtown underground light rail line that will connect Los Angeles' now-dispersed Gold, Blue, and Expo lines. The $1.3 billion connector, funded largely by 2008's Measure R sales tax increase, is set to begin construction later this year. It will travel primarily under Flower Street and 2nd Street, and is set to open by 2019. Movement of utilities around the line began in December. Yes, more transit in Los Angeles. This is really happening!

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.

Voters Approve Streetcars Tax Measure in Downtown Los Angeles

This week, Los Angeles voters approved a local tax on downtown landowners to help pay for a downtown streetcar, which could begin running as early as 2016. The $125 million project would—yes—run on tracks, just like the streetcars that used to dominate the city. Cars haven't been chosen yet, but their primary route would go south on Broadway from 1st Street to 11th Street, west to Figueroa Street, north to 7th Street, east to Hill Street, and north, terminating at 1st Street. LA's transportation agency, Metro, began work on the project in 2011 with the city's former Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA), with the city itself, and with Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. After the votes were counted, 73 percent of downtown voters approved the measure. Now the project needs to get federal approval before officially moving ahead. See more images of the historic Pacific Electric streetcars, which once dominated the city, below.

Could LA’s Transit Measure Still Pass?

By all accounts Measure J, the LA County ballot proposal to extend 2008's Measure R funds and speed up transit projects around Los Angeles, appears doomed to failure. But it seems that the vote counting isn't done, and it's getting closer. According to LA Metro's blog, The Source, the measure now has 65.66 percent of the vote (up about a half percentage point from earlier tallies), about one percent shy of the 66.67 it needs for approval. There are about 100,000 votes yet to be counted, and by Metro's own admission it's unlikely, but possible, that it will pass. Stay tuned for the final update by December 4.

Downtown LA Streetcar Nears Approval

The dream of again riding a streetcar in Downtown LA is one step closer to reality. Blogdowntown reports that an environmental review is now underway for two potential routes. The two paths, each four-miles long, were selected as part of the federally-required Alternatives Analysis (AA) process and were recently sent to METRO’s Planning & Programming Committee and Construction Committee. According to a press release from LA Councilmember Jose Huizar’s office, the primary route "proceeds south on Broadway from 1st Street to 11th Street, west to Figueroa Street, north to 7th Street, east to Hill Street, and north, terminating at 1st Street. The route would also include the ability to travel up 1st Street and into Bunker Hill on Grand Avenue as funding becomes available.” The alternate route would travel east on 9th Street instead of on 7th Street. If approved the streetcars would run 18 hours a day, seven days a week, according to blogdowntown, and would service the 500,000 workers and 50,000 residents in the area. The site describes the streetcars’ expected style as sleek and modern, similar to those of Portland and Seattle. Cost estimates for the project are in the area of $110-$125 million, according to published reports. While city sources have raised $10 million so far, a tax on property owners near the route must be passed before federal grants (covering half of the cost) can be requested. Passage of the tax would require two-thirds approval from the area's roughly 7,000 voters. Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. (LASI), which is heading up the project’s development and fundraising, is a public/private non-profit partnership composed of Downtown LA stakeholders. The formal environmental review and preliminary engineering process is estimated to take about a year, while groundbreaking is planned for 2014 and completion for 2016, according to the Huffington Post. Councilman Huizar’s press release cites an AECOM study estimating that the streetcar "would generate 9,300 new jobs, $1.1 billion in new development, $24.5 million in new annual tourism and consumer spending, and $47 million in new city revenue – all above projections for Downtown’s future without a streetcar.”

LA Union Station Shortlist Announced & The Notables That Missed The Cut

It's official: the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) has revealed the shortlist for its Union Station Master Plan RFIQ (Request For Information & Qualifications), which seeks a team to oversee the redevelopment of 42 acres of land and up to six million square feet of entitlements around the station. "In addition to creating a model for Transit Oriented Development in the region, it is now important that the property be planned with an eye to its role as the center of regional transportation," said METRO in an official document released by its executive management committee. Shortlisted teams include: EE&K, a Perkins Eastman Company; Gruen Associates/ Grimshaw Architects; IBI Group/ Foster + Partners; Moore Ruble Yudell and TEN Arquitectos; NBBJ/Ingenhoven Architects; and Renzo Piano Building Workshop/ Parsons Transportation Group. An impressive list, but perhaps even more notable are those that didn't make the cut. They include heavyweights like Morphosis, OMA, RTKL/Zaha Hadid Architects, SOM, Gensler, AECOM, Johnson Fain, Sasaki Associates, and Barton Myers Associates, to name just a few. Also missing was ARUP, who according to multiple sources was conflicted out of the competition at the last moment, leaving several teams scrambling to find new engineering partners. Each shortlisted team, which METRO said "were evaluated for qualifications and technical competency," will receive a stipend of $10,000 to complete their plans for METRO's RFP. According to METRO, a winning team will be selected next March or April and the master plan should be completed by August 2013.