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Year-End Awards: Streetcars, Parks, and Everyone's an Armchair Planner

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The Curbed Awards roll on...and now we turn to the increasingly popular categories of transportation and planning. Who needs architectural renderings of skyscrapers, anyway? (Actually, we very much miss posting renderings of never-to-be built towers.)

Best reason to look forward to living in LA in 2050: Subway to the VA. Given the lack of actual building that went on this year, everyone’s attention turned to transportation, be it the controversial Wilshire bus-only lane, the proposed downtown streetcar, the Expo Line, or the ups and downs of the high-speed train. By far, the approval of the new subway line was the best thing to happen in Los Angeles this year, even if it's increasingly unclear what will happen to the plan to accelerate the subway's construction (hmm, thanks, Republicans). But we're already looking forward to chatting up strangers on the first subway ride to the Westside.

Don't Play in the Streets Awards: Actually, do play in the streets. We weighed in on what Broadway might look like if it was closed down for pedestrians, showed off streetscape designs for Boyle Heights, and watched as San Diego planned to make Balboa Park's main square, the Plaza de Panama, into a landscaped pedestrian-only plaza. With CicLAVia, bikers and walkers took over a piece of Los Angeles for a day. We're digging these new ways of seeing the city's streets. How about a giant game of street hockey--Eastside vs. Westside--next?

Parks, Parks and More Parks: Did we mention that nothing was built this year? But that also meant we turned our attention to coverage of area parks. The Grand Ave park broke ground, while landscape architecture firm Field Operations unveiled the first design concepts for Santa Monica's civic parks. Designs for Spring Street's park were unveiled, the idea for Downtown's Park 101--the freeway cap park--is still kicking around, while Cornfield Park's makeover will come in 2013.

Who Doesn't Fancy Themselves a Planner at this Point?: Given events like the exit of Planning Dept. head Gail Goldberg and the emergence of a possible NFL stadium, planning issues were front and center this year. Additionally, events like this summer's “Future of the L.A. City Planning Department" panel, an event hosted by Michael Woo, planning commissioner and dean of Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Environmental Design, brought out lots of interesting voices on the topic of planning. Let's hope for more such panels and more discussion about planning (from lots of different sources) in LA in 2011--we'll bring the spinach dip.
· Curbed LA-Transportation [Curbed LA]
· Curbed LA-Planning Archives [Planning]