issue : 022003

As a prominent example of an automotive metropolis, Los Angeles is filled with millions of vehicles which act like cannibals that slice the city with their tentacle-like infrastructure; a web of freeways and highways leaving behind only fragments of undesirable spaces. What remains within the residual spaces are infills contained by the retaining walls, public storages and parking lots, which are all functional but inhabitable environments. Here lies an interesting condition that can only be described as an Urban Gothic, an opportunity to provide both a functional and a habitable gathering space.

In South Los Angeles, two major freeways (I-110 + I-105 FWY), rail systems (Blue + Green Line), and major arteries seem to intertwine at a junction called, 'Harbor Freeway Station'. There are three layers of empty vertical voids that form the station: the bottom layer serves as an island for bus stops in the middle of I-110 FWY, the ground level lets users identity the place and park their cars, and the top level, an open platform for the Green Line Metro Rail that disects west and east bound I-105 FWY... and the noise!

In the heart of these dramatic interchanges of people and machines, there lies a Gothic cathedral-like space (without the stone walls and stain glass of course) where a forest of concrete columns soar high (some over +100ft.) to accommodate several automotive arteries in mid-air. They form large in-between voids that are infiltrated with beams of light, shadow, and panoramic views of the interchanges. Why not celebrate these heavily congested spaces and take advantage of the multiple viewpoints in the flat city of Los Angeles? Unfortunately, the only attempt to humanize the space comes through some public art, but they mostly fall short of attempt and are mere decorations.

People move endlessly here, but no one can stay and mingle, or do anything except to sit and wait for the next bus or train because the space works only as an utilitarian machine. It is truly a modern engineering marvel, but an urban nightmare.

:: REF ::

Detail Photos
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)

Station Art
Docent Tour Program
MTA Metro Rail General Map

*open daily : 5 am - midnight, a large free parking lot can be entered from Figueroa St.