ULI Los Angeles News

Taking the Highway Out of PCH Malibu

Along with a group of urban thought leaders, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined ULI Los Angeles last month for Transit Oriented LA. Since Mayor Garcetti’s signature Great Streets Initiative was launched at last year’s ToLA, 15 streets have been slated for improvements embracing upgrades that are neighborhood-friendly, bike-friendly, and pedestrian-friendly.

“The Great Streets Initiative is about strengthening neighborhoods one ‘main street’ at a time,” said Mayor Garcetti in an official statement. ” Angelenos are looking for dynamic and safe places to meet, to shop, to spend time with their families. This is what the Great Streets Initiative is all about.”

Highly progressive in its charge to revitalize Los Angeles’ major transportation corridors, creatives, designers and planners have taken inspiration from the initiative, envisioning its application on thoroughfares yet to be examined.

Complementary to Great Streets and emphasizing its safer streetscape strategy, one recent ideation workshop was led by film producer Michel Shane, honing in on a stretch of Malibu’s famous Pacific Coast Highway. Motivated by personal experience, Shane’s scrutiny of the PCH evolved upon an accident in 2010 when his thirteen-year-old daughter, Emily Rose Shane, was walking along the side of the highway after leaving a friend’s house and was tragically struck and killed by an out-of-control driver. This became the touchstone for Shane’s Kickstarter-funded documentary titled, PCH: Probably. Cause. Harm., currently in production.

In collaboration with The Jerde Partnership, Selbert Perkins Design, and Arup’s transportation division, the team convened a day-long “visioning” workshop at Jerde’s Venice beach office. Political and regulatory issues were set aside to consider the full PCH potential, allowing the team to explore conceptual approaches through a lens of design, planning, programming and technical modifications, including a list of creative interventions that would develop a “sensory drive” and multimodal street experience.

“PCH can become a place for people,” says Jeri Oka, Jerde senior VP and senior design principal. “We need to get back to this idea of a walkable corridor, a walkable city where cars, pedestrians, and cyclists can mix in harmonious ways. This is part of the history of PCH and through design we can tell this truly California story.”

While the single session think tank initiated necessary discourse on one of the most scenic yet deadly highways on the coast, it also begins to tap into the creative potential of LA’s future street initiatives.

By Matt Heller, The Jerde Partnership

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