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L.A.'s CleanTech corridor: new visions for the riverfront

October 8, 2010 | 10:31 am


Visions are developing of what the proposed CleanTech Corridor might look like when it eventually begins to emerge in downtown Los Angeles.

The Southern California Institute of Architecture launched a competition that invited entrants to reconceptualize the crumbling, 4-mile stretch of land adjacent to the Los Angeles River. The school, known as SCI-Arc, announced more than $10,000 in prizes Friday for the winners.

The city-run Community Redevelopment Agency has also asked companies to submit proposals by Dec. 3 for revitalizing a 20-acre section of the corridor.

Los Angeles officials, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, have long planned to convert the dilapidated area into a booming and innovative clean technology district. Proponents imagine the area as an incubator for start-ups and an industrial park stuffed with jobs-providing and environmentally sustainable companies.

SCI-Arc’s campus is a former freight depot sitting in the planned 2,000-acre CleanTech Corridor space.

“We live in this district and we want a voice in the discussion, a dog in the fight,” said Peter Zellner, a program coordinator at the school. “Until now, it’s been focused from 10,000 feet in the air. We want to talk about the impact on the ground.”

The competition, co-sponsored by The Architect’s Newspaper, attracted 70 entries from 11 countries, including China, Germany and Russia. Jurors including working architects, Princeton University’s architecture dean, a representative from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a Los Angeles deputy mayor.

Participants included landscape architects, urban planners, designers, engineers, environmental professionals and students.

A team from Oslo with a project named “UMBRELLA” won $5,000 in the professional category. Constantin Boincean, Ralph Bertram and Aleksandra Danielak envisioned mushroom-like structures that look like massive street art but are actually solar-powered evaporators.

Through a system of evaporation and condensation, the structures would collect and clean up water from the sewage system and distribute it through city streets to create lush, green urban landscapes.

Students from the architecture school at the University of Virginia were awarded $2,000 for their MessyTECH project. Randall Winston, Jennifer Jones and Renee Pean suggested a flexible, local infrastructure using solar and wind power as well as treated water gathered from community sites.

Winners will be feted at a community celebration at the SCI-Arc campus at 2 p.m. on Saturday and then featured in an on-site exhibition until Oct. 27.


-- Tiffany Hsu

Photos: Excerpts of the winning proposals. UMBRELLA project (top) and MessyTECH (bottom). Credit: SCI-Arc.