I just got back to LA after spending a week in New York. Every time I visit America’s largest urban center, I am inspired by the incredible urbanism that defines the city. The infrastructure and built environment, mix of architecture, diversity of businesses, and strong pedestrian culture never ceases to amaze me. For us in LA, as we continue to press for change — improving our own urbanism in a city still dominated by a suburban, car-oriented mentality — it would behoove us to look at successful models and examples from other cities that could be applied to Downtown LA. One of those prime examples is Grand Central Terminal in Midtown at 42nd Street, which has experienced an amazing turnaround from irrelevancy and near demolition in the 1960s to one of the greatest rail stations in the world today.
Currently, the public is encouraged to provide feedback for the LA Union Station Master Plan, where hired architect firms Grimshaw — with extensive experience in designing rail stations — and LA-based Gruen Associates will oversee and design the new master plan with a summer 2014 completion time line. Ultimately, the goal is to elevate the position of Union Station to a much higher level and make it as relevant as possible to more and more Angelenos as we continue to expand our rail network. As I described in a much earlier post from March 2011, I would like to see Union Station become a destination in itself, and not just a big transfer point. How that will be accomplished depends on putting in a lot more businesses (restaurants and shops) into the station itself like Grand Central Terminal, which has 68 shops including a beautiful flagship Apple store.
Grand Central Terminal has been successfully rebranded and marketed as a destination, which I believe LA Union Station can become as well.
The Shops at Grand Central can give us an idea what the future of LA Union Station can be like as well by making it into a destination and not just a transfer point: