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Architecture teams present visions of Union Station in 2050

By Andrew Lopez
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012, at 09:21AM
Courtesy of Metro

Grimshaw/Gruen



A well-attended crowd met at the Old Ticket Room in Union Station Wednesday to catch a glimpse of what the station, owned by Metro, might look like in a few decades.

Six architectural teams vying for a bid to create the master plan for Union Station unveiled their “high concept” vision of the transportation hub in 2050. This was intended to begin a conversation with the public about what the space could represent for transportation and the community surrounding it.

A common theme among almost all of the teams was a desire to create open spaces for the community, including better utilization of already existing courtyards which expand out to properties not owned by Metro.

"This is not about architecture, it's not about design, it's about Los Angeles," said Ben Dieckmann, with the architecture firm Ingenhoven.

Metro executive planning director Martha Welborne said the goal of the “vision boards” was to excite not only Metro and the public, but also test the ability of the six teams to come up with “something spectacular and have some fun.”

On the design side, the hope of the boards was to open up the teams' imaginations before they deal with the real constraints of the project, Welborne said.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who also serves as Metro’s chairman, said the expansion of transit and the station would mean more people shopping, interacting and exploring a better-connected city.

“(It is) not a novel idea for those architects who work all over the world, but a novel idea here, a city known for sprawl,” Villaraigosa said.

Councilmember Jose Huizar, whose district includes the area where Union Station resides, said another important element of the station's future is its connection to the rest of Downtown.

“Each and every day we have about 500,000 people who come to Downtown to work,” Huizar said. “We know the importance of this place will play in getting those people to work in the future.”

Though the “vision boards” will not factor into choosing who ultimately gets the bid and the visions themselves are not what an actual master plan would look like, attendees seemed excited about the project’s potential.

“I would rather see the plan for Union Station dream big than dream small,” said Eve Sanford, an urban planning student at Cal Poly Pomona. “Even if they have to scale them down, just the fact that they are wanting to do something really innovative with this area is good news.”

General Jeff, member of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council and Skid Row resident, said he thinks all of the developments taking place with Metro are important because many of the people he represents rely on public transportation to get around.

“We just want to have Skid Row’s presence throughout this whole process representing the ridership,” Jeff said.

Welborne said there will be several meetings in which the public can provide feedback about Union Station's proposed transformation once a team is chosen and approved by the Metro board, which is scheduled for June.

The master planning process is set to begin in July and is expected to be completed in two years.

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