Can you picture a freeway that’s good for the environment?
That collects storm water? That produces clean energy instead of pollution, quiet instead of noise?
That stitches a neighborhood together instead of slicing it apart?
I wrote a series of essays last year raising some of these questions — and in a broader sense wondering how we might reconceive the Los Angeles freeway, the aging product of 20th century infrastructural logic, for the 21st.
This year — which happens to mark the 60th anniversary of the interstate highway system — we’re taking that inquiry an important step further, publishing two design proposals that dramatically remake stretches of L.A. County freeway.
The proposals are meant to act simultaneously at the local and regional levels. Carefully tailored to their sites, they’re also prototypes for a new way of thinking in Southern California about the relationship between the freeway and the public good.
The first comes from Michael Maltzan Architecture, a Los Angeles firm best known for the One Santa Fe apartment complex in the Arts District, the Star Apartments near Skid Row and the forthcoming Sixth Street Viaduct spanning the Los Angeles River. It will be followed by a proposal from Stoss Landscape Urbanism, a firm led by Chris Reed, associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, to remake the stub end of the 2 Freeway.
Neither firm was paid by The Times for this work. In each case the designers were eager to help the public better understand how a reimagined L.A. freeway might look and how it would operate. […]