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HNTB, Maltzan, AC Martin win 6th Street bridge competition

October 19, 2012|By Christopher Hawthorne | Times Architecture Critic
  • The winning design for a new 6th Street bridge, to be completed by 2019.
The winning design for a new 6th Street bridge, to be completed by 2019. (HNTB/Michael Maltzan Architecture/AC…)

A team of designers led by HNTB and local firms Michael Maltzan Architecture and AC Martin Partners has won the design competition for a new, $401-million 6th Street bridge over the Los Angeles River, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Friday morning.

The existing bridge, built in 1932 and designed, like many of the city’s most famous river spans, by city engineer Merrill Butler, is afflicted with a degenerative structural problem known as “concrete cancer” and needs to be replaced. The city’s Bureau of Engineering considered building a replica or a simple viaduct before switching gears and announcing a major design competition.

The winning design, easily the most ambitious of three finalists announced last month, calls for a repeating series of concrete arches that both refer to and exaggerate the Butler design as the bridge stretches from downtown Los Angeles on the west to Boyle Heights on the east, spanning the L.A. River and the 101 Freeway on its way.

With paths for pedestrians and cyclists, it's a sign of the city’s accelerating shift from car-dominated public-space design and puts an emphasis on connections both to the banks of the river and to proposed park space (included in the winning design) at the foot of the bridge.

The winning team includes the landscape architect George Hargreaves, a frequent collaborator with Maltzan’s office. The other finalist teams were led by AECOM and Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Paid for mostly by federal highway money, with a smattering of state and Measure R funding, the bridge, 3,500 feet long, is expected to open in 2019.

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