MTA SANTA MONICA/VERMONT
issue : 032004


Although the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of Los Angeles has built (and is still building) one of the most expensive subway systems in the country, it is difficult to see how our urban landscapes are being affected by the implementation of these large infrastructures. Once in a while, you can see these public spaces, with great potential, (i.e., "Urban Gothic" : 022003 issue) peaking out, as in case of Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard (from RED line) junction. A UFO-like oval, shiny aluminum canopy (somewhat "stylish") can be seen from far away, demarcating its entrance/exit to a busy intersection of major arteries.

The station was designed by the San Francisco Ellerbe Becket team lead by Yazadani (the current head honcho of Cannon Dworsky) and Robert Millar, an urban (scale) artist. Its planning was inspired by neighboring Braille Institute and Los Angeles City College bringing texture and theatrical stage-like plaza. There is a wonderful juxtaposition of natural lighting through glass blocks on the plaza surface, which brings natural light into its deep -40ft+ cavity below. In return, at night, it lights up the entire plaza from within the cavity below with artificial and whimsical lighting systems, which are reminiscent of elaborate canopy/lighting systems of Parc de la Villette in Paris.

Inside its monumental volume, Robert Millar used its internal concrete wall and structural surfaces as canvases for his art work, integrating with the space seamlessly. Simple, and yet thought provoking questions (10,000 of them) are "written" on the concrete which gives it an interesting effect of aged and diverse texture to the otherwise monotonous gray concrete surfaces. As you can see it in its details and incredible scale, it took Robert Millar about 6 or so to figure out how to do them in a way that could work, and another couple of years to study it enough that he was confident that it would work.


:: REF ::
MTA station text
Public Art Online (bio: Robert Millar)
Information Outlook
Ellerbe-Becket, Inc.
Portland Cement Association
Los Angeles Magazine
ArchitectureWeek


*simply ride the RED line