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Friday, March 26, 2010

Cap Freeway Ideas Abound

 (image from The Architect's Newspaper.  All Rights Reserved.)
Freeways everywhere and not a cap in sight.  Well, maybe not much longer in Los Angeles.  The Architect's Newspaper provided a great profile of the 4 freeway cap projects under consideration that have the potential to drastically improve the urban character, and re-introduce some much needed open space in LA . Two of them are in downtown, one is in Hollywood, and most recently a new study in Santa Monica has begun near the new proposed civic park awarded to James Corner's Field Operations.  AECOM is handling the all of the conceptual efforts in LA, but the article also points to Don Scott as one of the influential forces behind LA's flourishing efforts to caps some of its ubiquitous freeways.

The cap park frenzy here can largely be credited to Don Scott, an investment banker and former chairman of the Hollywood Central Park coalition, also former chairman of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Scott said that his inspiration for the Hollywood Central Park cap came from an article he read about Boston’s Big Dig. “I remember driving over the Hollywood freeway and thinking about the connection between the two environments.”

After some research, Scott discovered other freeway cap parks in various phases in Cincinnati, Seattle, Phoenix, the District of Columbia, Boston, Hartford, CT, and Charlotte, NC. In LA, a small freeway cap park was built over the 210 Freeway in La Canada-Flintridge; another is under review in Ventura County. The rest of the chamber was quick to support Scott’s idea, and it took off.

Despite the immense cost of decking over freeways, such projects are seen not only as boons to urban planning but also economic development. The lots in pink are potential development sites, which could even help pay for construction.
Although the projects are a long way away from realization, the opportunities to create new, green cores  throughout LA is seductive, especially given the dearth of public space available. Hopefully, funding can be arranged in the near future to push the projects towards reality.

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