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Metro Provides Updates on Purple Line Construction…and Station Art Program

Susan Gray, Metro’s Creative Services Manager, presented information at Thursday’s meeting about the artwork being developed for the three new Purple Line subway extension stations.

At its quarterly Purple Line construction community meeting last Thursday, October 18, Metro provided the usual updates on its subway construction progress, but also an extensive overview of its art program for the new stations now being built on Wilshire Blvd. at La Brea Ave., Fairfax Ave. and La Cienega Blvd.

According to Metro art program representatives Susan Gray and Zipporah Yamamoto, Metro has now chosen the artists who will be designing art for several different areas of the three new stations.  The chosen artists are Ken Gonzales-Day, Todd Gray, Soo Kim, Eamon Ore Giron, Fran Siegel, Susan Silton, and Mark Dean Veca.

The artists will be designing original works to fit several specific areas of each station.  They include:

The entry pavillion (the area above ground where riders enter and exit the station) will be adorned with glass panels that are illuminated at night to vary their look:


This example was designed for Metro’s Expo/Crenshaw station:

The immediate landing (along the escalators that go down into and up out of the station) will be decorated with 18″x36″ glass panels:

This example is from a station in New York City:


The concourse (where the first escalators end and passengers move on or down toward the train platforms) will host “massive” murals (some up to 1,000 square feet) made of glass tile panels:

This example was designed for Metro’s Martin Luther King, Jr. station:

And the train platform itself will be decorated with a long row of porcelain enameled steel panels on the wall behind the train tracks.

Like this design, which will soon be installed at Metro’s Leimert Park Station:

The goal, said Gray, is to bring color, drama and vibrancy to the stations, and to give each one its own, unique character with the specially commissioned works. Metro’s Director of Arts and Design, Zipporah Yamamoto, noted that Metro has also learned a lot from its 20+ years of installing and maintaining distinctive art works in its other subway stations, and is making special efforts to choose materials that are durable, easy to clean and maintain, and modular for easy replacement if any elements are damaged.  The new artworks will also be installed in places that are harder for vandals to reach, and will include anti-graffiti coatings.  “We’ve learned that lesson the hard way,” said Yamamoto.

On the construction side, the big news is that the giant new Tunnel Boring Machines – nicknamed Elise and Soyeon – have been installed and assembled at the Wilshire/La Brea station, and have begun making their way east toward the Wilshire/Western station.  The machines move slowly (only about 30 feet in the week or so since they began), but in addition to digging the tunnel, they also construct the tunnel’s concrete lining as they go.  Once the machines reach Western, they will be removed, transported back to La Brea, reinserted, and begin their journey west toward Fairfax. The tunneling work along Section 1 (Western to La Cienega) will be in progress until the fourth quarter of 2020.

In addition to the tunneling, station construction is well underway at La Brea, station excavation is nearing completion at Fairfax, and station excavation is in the early stages at La Cienega…all of which is right on schedule for the planned 2023 opening of the segment.

And finally, in addition to the underground work, construction contractor representative Scott Donohue noted that Metro has started restoring several bus pads along Wilshire Blvd.  This work is beginning at Bronson Ave., and will then move west, with additional pads restored at Lorraine, McCadden, Citrus, Cloverdale, McCarthy Vista, and San Vicente.  The work will involve some weekend lane closures, but not full closures of Wilshire Blvd.

The next Purple Line Section 1 construction community meeting will be held on Thursday, January 17, at the SAG/AFTRA building, 5757 Wilshire Blvd.


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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

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