Jenny Holzer, artist
AIJK, urban designers
The general goal of the 101 Pedestrian Bridge Project Design Competition was to develop an efficient, enhanced pedestrian environment between Union Station, Olvera Street/El Pueblo and Civic Center/City Hall, which are currently cut off from one another by the 101 Freeway. Metro sponsored a two-stage design competition in which teams with expertise in architecture, pedestrian design, engineering, and public art were invited to address this challenge. A prestigious panel of architecture, art, and engineering experts, joined by stakeholder agencies, evaluated the submittals and selected four teams to develop conceptual designs, scale models and presentation boards. After a series of lengthy presentations and challenging questions, the panel selected the team of Morphosis, AIJK, and Jenny Holzer to proceed with the project.
The selected design widens the existing Main Street overpass and would visually weave together the very pedestrian-oriented Olvera Street/El Pueblo (a designated historic district and the City's birthplace) and the Civic Center/City Hall job center. A widened walking area/mall with display-wall sides and innovative landscaping would significantly improve the pedestrian experience. An extraordinary armature would rise from the freeway median and seemingly fill the center of the 101 Freeway; the armature would support flickering LED readouts and changeable signs that speak to the historic and contemporary centers of the City. This portion of the work would initially be programmed with text compositions by the artist Jenny Holzer, and later programmed by other artists' work curated through MOCA. The proposal also includes a restaurant that dramatically cantilevers over the Freeway, offering patrons unparalleled views and a truly Los Angeles experience.
The team's design received a prestigious Progressive Architecture 2000 citation award and was featured in the MOCA exhibition, "At the End of the Century: 100 Years of Architecture."
“The project has always been very interesting to me...the bridge is a visual link. It's in balance with [Disney Hall, the Cathedral, and the new federal courthouse] and ties them together. I'm very interested in architecture that can respond to the human being in a positive sense. Architecture is something that can change society, and it represents the collective good in a civilized society. It's a literal connection, gluing together the old and the new. It's actually a very symbolic project. It could become part of the lexicon, like the Ferris Wheel in London or the Eiffel Tower in Paris.” Thom Mayne, Morphosis
“Jenny Holzer...is the quintessential American pragmatist, a realist who usurps the mass media and uses it to make a concrete statement about culture. In swift, accessible, consumerist language Jenny Holzer's assertive, sometimes outspoken texts provoke heightened drama, a sense of urgency highlighting many of society's most deeply rooted prejudices and urging her audience to confront topics of overriding concern.” Morphosis/AIJK