Park 101 - Students Design Connects Historic LA to Modern LA
â€śIn Los Angeles, a great idea doesnâ€™t get up and walk; it gets up and runs!â€ť - District 7 Director Douglas R. Failing
District 7 hosted 24 international students last month for an intensive two-week internship workshop through EDAW, a global urban design firm.
Their assignment was to present one realistic, usable and workable idea for covering a ½ mile portion of the downtown Hollywood (U.S.-101) freeway in such a way as to connect urban, downtown with the culturally rich El Pueblo, Union Station and Chinatown Districts. Phase One encompasses Alameda Street to Broadway; Phase Two extends east from Alameda Street to Grand Avenue.
The students selected to participate in the coveted EDAW internship program are considered “top” in their chosen fields of urban design and planning, landscape architecture and economics. At the end of the two-week program, each continued their internship at one of the firms’ offices around the world, including Australia, England, Asia, Middle East and the USA.
Caltrans District 7 is one of many sponsors along with Metro, Los Angeles Department of City Planning and Southern California Association of Governments. The Department provided a large meeting space, work studio, computer terminals, facilitated through the Planning Division’s Jim McCarthy, Deputy District Director, and assisted by Linda Taira, Senior Transportation Planner.
Daring the students to take a fresh, bold approach in achieving potential solutions, Caltrans District 7 Director Doug Failing was included on panel discussions that provided input to help the interns focus on things like: How will traffic be impacted with this project? In what condition will downtown workers, dwellers and visitors find downtown Los Angeles in the next 100 years?
By the end of the first week, the students, working in teams, presented six bold concepts to a panel of professionals from public agencies, private industry and neighborhood councils for guidance, direction and comments. The panel included Los Angeles City Council Member Jose Huizar, District 14; Gail Goldberg, City of Los Angeles Planning Director and Joe Brown, CEO, EDAW. The six “visions” were: “The Corridor,” “City Common,” “The Boulevard,” “Hillside Campus,” “Common Ground” and “Re-Texturizing Los Angeles.” Each brought something new and fresh to consider. Seven days later, these six ideas morphed into one concept, bringing the best of all, and they called it, “Park 101.”
With their diverse backgrounds, interns were equally skilled at drawing, design, and public speaking and presenting concepts as a united team. Along with hand gestures and pointing to examples on large cardboard boards, they used words like “interconnectivity,” “nodes,” “conscious connections,” “scattered spaces and people,” “stitching urban fabric,” and “sustainability.”
Failing used these words when he addressed the students, “In Los Angeles, a great idea doesn’t get up and walk; it gets up and runs!” Quoting Failing, it was these words that the students remembered as they began their final presentation to the a public crowd of 100 people on Friday, June 27 in the Caltrans Plaza.
They presented “Park 101” and challenged the panel to make their concept a reality and offered Failing a shovel, the ultimate symbol of a groundbreaking ceremony yet to come.
“We’ve done the automobile, now the automobile has done us,” said Goldberg in her closing remarks to the student’s final presentation. “We accept your challenge to complete the project and invite you (the students) to come back.”
Failing invited them back, too, but as Caltrans employees.