6th Street Viaduct wins grand prize
Nearly 500 architects, designers, building owners, developers and public officials gathered on Dec. 1 to honor over four dozen projects recognized for their design innovation at the LA Business Council’s (LABC) 52nd Architectural Awards.
The 6th Street Viaduct took the grand prize. The eight other project winners from Downtown LA included 7th & Witmer, 843 N. Spring Street, 8th & Broadway (Restored Merritt Building), Beaudry, Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel, Downtown Women’s Center, Grand Avenue, and SP7/San Pedro House.
“The design of the new Sixth Street Viaduct is an architectural, engineering and cultural triumph,” said Deborah Weintraub, AIA, the city’s chief architect and the chief deputy city engineer, as she accepted the award. “It reflects the city of Los Angeles’ ambition to create a new standard for infrastructure that is a community destination, a key element of our multi-modal transportation network, and visually captivating.”
The 6th Street Viaduct, also known as the 6th Street Bridge, is a 3,500-foot network of ten tied arches that connects the Downtown LA Arts District with the Boyle Heights community. The project replaced the Historical 6th Street Bridge, originally built in 1932, which the city demolished in 2016 due to concerns about its structural integrity and seismic capabilities.
The original art deco bridge was beloved, with an impromptu memorial wake taking place the night before its demolition. But the new “ribbon of light,” which took six years to build and cost $588 million, has been well received as a public space.
The main controversy over the new bridge stems from the community’s enthusiasm to climb, tag and race on the bridge, which many say the city should have expected. Since its opening, the bridge has garnered a heightened police presence and several nighttime closures. There is also concern that the bridge opens the door for gentrification in Boyle Heights, a predominantly Latino community.
The 6th Street Bridge is not the only project honored at the Architectural Awards amid concerns about gentrification. Destination Crenshaw, an outdoor museum that features permanent and temporary art from the Black community, walked away with the Community Impact Award.
The 1.3-mile public space runs along Crenshaw Boulevard and the new Crenshaw/LAX Metro line. Although the project was conceived as a “reparative development project” in celebration of Black Los Angeles, the new development and metro line play into concerns about rising property values in South LA that could push out the local Black community.
Mayor-elect Karen Bass and LA Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson support the project.
“Destination Crenshaw is a bold infrastructure project that encapsulates the aspirational and political experience of the Black community while stimulating the conversation around equity and urban development,” said Harris-Dawson as he accepted the award.
Bass, who could not attend the ceremony, said, “Los Angeles continues to set the standard for design and construction that strengthens our communities, and celebrates cultural and social change. … Projects like Destination Crenshaw are important because they work with communities to plan and design their shared future. Together, we will continue to build a better, more livable Los Angeles for all.”
Downtown LA architect Mia Lehrer honored with Legacy Award
This year’s Architectural Awards also took the opportunity to honor Mia Lehrer, president of Studio-MLA, with the second annual LA Community Legacy Award. She earned the award based on her utilization of landscape architecture to improve the quality of life for Angelenos.
Lehrer’s public and private projects include the Hollywood Park Racetrack redevelopment, SoFi Stadium, the LA County Natural History Museum Gardens, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and the Annenberg Community Beach House.
In her keynote speech, Lehrer emphasized how her upbringing in the rural parts of El Salvador inspired her love for landscape architecture. Lehrer also highlighted Studio-MLA’s commitment to advocacy through design and working with the local community on pro-bono projects.
“Advocacy by design is about the power of imagination in making and remaking the world. This year’s LABC awards offer the people of Los Angeles a legacy of projects that center on nature and generate social dividends for our communities,” Lehrer said.
“As landscape architects and urban designers, our team at Studio-MLA is privileged to collaborate and be recognized alongside our incredibly smart and like-minded project partners: bold and visionary clients and developers, contractors, leaders in government agencies and nonprofits, architects, artists, engineers and designers.”
In one of their pro bono projects, Studio-MLA has taken a lead role in revitalizing the LA River. Studio-MLA also designed and oversaw the construction of Eagle Rock Elementary School’s new green schoolyard (LAUSD), the first of LAUSD’s schools to utilize funds from Proposition 84 Urban Greening Planning Grant Program.
About LA Business Council
For over 80 years, LA Business Council has been an advocate and educator for public policy and progress for energy, housing, transportation and economic development. With over 500 members, LABC consists of business and civic leaders across all industry sectors. Their mission is to promote environmental and economic sustainability in the LA region.
LABC’s Architectural Awards on Dec. 1 is just one of several events aimed at promoting community impact and sustainability. Other events include their Annual Sustainability Summit, Mayoral Housing, Transportation and Jobs Summit, in addition to other workshops and special events.
LABC’s advocacy extends to meeting needs amid the homelessness crisis, housing reform, renewable energy and creating a more inclusive economy.