Streetscast: Emily Gabel Luddy
In 2006, the City of Los Angeles opened the Urban Design Studio in the Planning Department to create what the LA Downtown News referred to as "Special Places" but what Streetsbloggers would call Livable Streets. Basically the studio, which currently consists of two full-time staff members and many volunteer interns, was responsible for turning Los Angeles into a beautiful city.
The Studio has produced three visionary documents, the Walkability Checklist, the Downtown Design Guide, and the draft Urban Design Principles for 21st Century Los Angeles, (an earlier version can be found here.
I recently had a chance to sit down with the Studio’s director, Emily Gabel-Luddy about the Downtown Design Guide which, when implemented, will change the character of Downtown Los Angeles. The plan widens sidewalks from 12-15 feet, caps road widenings and doubles the bicycle amenities in the Downtown.
There are plenty of highlights in this interview, which is available in its entirety via mpg files below, but my favorite fact is this. Before this plan, there were only two street design standards that existed for every street in Downtown Los Angeles. The new plan maps out a new design for every street in the Downtown that will, when its realized, create a downtown that more closely resemble the great streets that we see in Europe than the ones we see in the Downtown today.
The Downtown Design Guide and the new Street Standards are available on-line through Planning and the City Engineer’s websites. Click here and query the address "426 S. Spring St." for a sample. Put your cursor over the centerline. The link will lead you to the Design Guide and new Standards.
Also, we’re trying something new here in Los Angeles. Instead of having you read through a wall of text for our interviews, I downloaded mp3’s of the interview, broken into three parts, below.
In the first part of our interview, we discussed the new street standards, what that means for the Downtown, and how they are different than what we see on the ground right now.
Then we talked about the transportation mode split for the Downtown. While it’s more diverse than I thought, we still have a ways to go.
In the third piece, we talk about the process of creating these sorts of standards. If nothing else, listen for the story about her favorite moment of the process. We are starting to get through!
Last, we discuss how to take the new plans for the Downtown and spread them through the rest of the city. It sounds like the city has exciting plans for Chatsworth Boulevard.