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Cleantech Ideas Object of Design Contest

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, August 09, 2010, at 03:26PM
Arts District Eric Richardson [Flickr]

This neighborhood of converted factories and low-slung warehouses in the southern Arts District is part of the "Cleantech Corridor," which runs along the LA River from Chinatown to just south of Downtown.

Faced with the challenge of redeveloping a seven-mile swath of industrial land along the L.A. River, the city is turning to public for ideas.

A contest launched today by SCI-Arc, the Architect's Newspaper and the Mayor's office seeks plans both large and small for how to transform the former industrial areas being called the Cleantech Corridor into what Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hopes will be "an incubator for green jobs, technology and the growth of L.A.’s economy."

Professionals and students -- as well as anyone else who can put together a drawing -- are asked to "challenge conventional wisdom about civic development, green architecture and regulatory constraints, deploying fresh design strategies that reset the relationship between industrial, living and public space in Los Angeles."

The city's own efforts in the corridor, which includes parts of the Industrial District, Arts District and Chinatown, haven't gotten very far in the year and a half since it was branded with the cleantech name.

Residential development was first stopped in early 2008 when a policy of preserving land for industrial uses was put into place. A May report from a panel of experts convened through the Urban Land Institute countered that strategy, saying that it would take mixed-use neighborhoods to lure high tech companies and incubators.

The panel also challenged the Cleantech Corridor name itself. Jim Held, founder of UrbanGreen, LLC in San Francisco, noted that the group "observed a critical amount of confusion around the terms."

Contest entrants are asked to illustrate designs for a model Cleantech Facility, a multi-block "Green District" and a master plan for the corridor as a whole. The entry fee is $100 for professionals and $50 for students, and up to $11,500 in cash prizes will be awarded. Entries are due September 30, with winners announced on October 9.

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