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Saturday, December 21, 2013
Metro rail stations are being planned with design in mind
The stations of three new Metro projects will give the rail service a
uniform identity, rather than current stations' varying designs.
The system's 80 train stops
play host to more than one thousand design variations, from
architectural differences to a range of trash cans and paint colors. In
Chinatown, Gold Line riders see pagodas; in Highland Park, chairs that
resemble dice. The Norwalk Green Line station is bee-themed, including
As a part of the county's nascent rail boom, which over the next
decade will double the number of Metro train stations, officials have
adopted one signature look. The aim is to eliminate the previously
scattershot approach to design and make the system feel more
sophisticated and durable. The template, which staffers call "a kit of
parts," calls for simple, even utilitarian, elements that can be
rearranged to fit underground, ground-level and elevated stations.
"The philosophy is, 'Less is more,'" said Brian Knight of Johnson Fain, the architecture firm that drafted the plans.
The new design marks the first truly cohesive look in the 25-year
history of Los Angeles' modern rail network. It should appear by 2023 in
three key projects: the Crenshaw Line, the Downtown Regional Connector
subway and the first phase of the Purple Line extension.
Most recognizable will be a paneled canopy of fused ceramic and
glass, hanging at the entrance to each station. Previously, entryway
design ranged from circular, space-age structures in downtown Los
Angeles to a band-shell-like design in North Hollywood.
"There's a lot of visual chaos in Los Angeles transit," Welborne
said. She said the agency's 80 existing stations won't be changed. Nor
will the lines already under construction: the Gold Line extension and
the second phase of the Expo Line, which are both scheduled to begin
service in 2016.
About 1% of every Metro-project budget goes toward station artwork.
Artwork will give each station a unique sense of place, Johnson Fain
"Good stations have elements that are consistent," said UCLA urban
planning professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris. "Although it's OK, even
fun, to have an element of surprise."
The designs are intended to help passengers find their way through
the system. Every station object, from televisions to turnstiles, will
have a uniform look. Like elements will be grouped together.
The changes also should make maintenance easier and cheaper, Welborne
said. Currently, some stations use 10 colors of paint. Gates and tiles
vary from station to station, and some art installations need light
bulbs that are no longer manufactured.
Yet to be decided: color, if any. A hue can be so defining, Welborne
said, that making that decision will likely be "sort of a minefield."