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Gold Line Extension Making Utopian Visions Dance in Hawthorne's Head

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Can you read another take on the Gold Line extension? What if it's coming from LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne and he's pretty upbeat about the line's impact on the city? While he admits that no station on the route is "world-beating," and that some show "the deadening effect of endless design-review meetings," he calls it "in general more refined than the first stretch of the Gold Line." In particular he's a fan of the last two stops: the Atlantic station, designed by an architect team from AECOM and artist group Adobe LA (it has "a lacquered, floridly painted robot sculpture"!) and the East LA Civic Center station by lead project architect Frank Villalobos and artist Clement Hanami.

But what Hawthorne's really excited about is that transit to new places means Angelenos will see new places, or see old places in new ways, and that the line will create more pedestrians, making "a growing constituency for shared space in Los Angeles." He writes: "Commuters will better understand, simply by seeing this landscape out the train window, how improvements to Boyle Heights relate to plans to remake the banks of the river."

And while a lot of development around the line is on hold, he points out "important urban ripple effects" the extension has made: "the repaving of 3rd Street, the widening of the First Street Bridge and the construction of a pair of public high schools." And here's the most utopian of visions: "At the same time, as trains trace new paths across the city, some of the divisions that for generations have made Los Angeles a balkanized collection of neighborhoods may begin to wobble or fall away." Happy weekend!
· An extension of more than the Gold Line [LAT]
· Gold Line archives [Curbed LA]