Who will ride to the rescue of the Silver Lake saddle?

Last year Silver Lake residents selected a saddle-shaped steel structure to serve as the focus of a new public plaza on what is now a patch of asphalt at Sunset Junction. But after the creators of the winning entry spent several months refining their design, the entire project is on hold until the city finds sufficient money to build the saddle – officially known as BLOOMRS – and the surrounding plaza, which is to anchor the western-end of $1.5-million worth street improvements along Sunset Boulevard.  “We are looking into alternative sources of funding,” said Council District 13 spokeswoman Julie Wong.

Meanwhile, the $1.5 million worth of street improvements on Sunset between Edgecliff and Santa Monica Boulevard have been pushed back yet again, with construction not expected to start late this summer, said Wong.

After winning the Sunset Junction Design competition, Heather McGinn of the firm All That is Solid worked with city engineers to refine the design of BLOOMRS, which was presented as a saddle shaped structure made from Corten Weathering Steel. The flattened mid section of the saddle would provide room for seating and landscaping while one of the raid tips of the structure would  provide shelter for visitors. Last month, McGinn said the new, scaled down version of the BLOOMRS would be shorter than originally envisioned but still use the same materials and retain the same shape.  The estimated cost to build the saddle now falls under the $100,000 budget, McGinn said.

However, there seems to be a misunderstanding  over what the $100,000 budget was to have included. Wong at Council District 13 said the $100,000 was to cover the entire cost of the centerpiece sculpture or artwork as well as a surrounding small plaza at the intersection of Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards. But, during the initial design phase of the contest, McGinn said that she and the other designers were aware that the $100,000 budget was to include the cost of their entry and the repaving the ground immediately underneath but not the reconstruction of nearby curbs and other elements of the streets and sidewalks.

Neither McGinn or Council District 13 provided any figures as to how much money needs to be raised to complete the entire Sunset Junction plaza and sadde.  Who is going to cough up that extra cash? That’s not clear. Officials with the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, which provided $2,500 to the winning entry, said they had not been approached about providing more money to close the budget gap.

Meanwhile, as the city works to come up with cash to build the Silver Lake saddle and plaza, Silver Lake merchants between Santa Monica Boulevard and Edgecliff should prepare for construction on street improvements – including from new crosswalks and street furniture and landscaping – to begin in late summer and “take several months,” said Wong. While that project will be disruptive, the enhancements should create a more attractive environment to attract more pedestrians and visitors to the area, she said.


  1. They should ditch the pointless saddle, save the $100k, and do it on the cheap with some potted plants and trees, a few tables and some paint like the new plaza up the street… preferably not puke green polka dots though. And add stone bollards to both plazas to deter drunk drivers and idiots who drive into pizzarias.

    • The fact that it already has a common unintended reference – “the saddle”- pretty well points out the limitation of architecture that aspires only to abstract shapes.

      This is the problem with architecture that is all about (not so) new “shapes” – it is arbitrary and meaningless- and doesn’t warrant the expenditure.

      The right design would not have a problem atracting the funding.

  2. Simple and sentimental is me, but should this saddle design be shelved, I would absolutely love it if the plaza-to-be paid homage to the Pacific Red Car. After all, that railway system is why Sunset Junction is so named. Bonus if the tracks are still there under the asphalt.

  3. So Roberto, if a project get’s a nickname it invalidates it? It seems as though you prefer a more classical style. Please, what is not arbitrary about carving acanthus leaves into a column? Why not grape or fig? Those figurative representations are still abstractions of the real thing. How do you determine at which point you are no longer permitted to abstract a form? With regards to meaning, it is nearly impossible to create art that is meaningful to everyone in the same way or at all. This is because in a diverse and multicultural environment there will not be a common visual language allowing everyone to decode the imagery the same. Some will interpret red as anger while others as love, for example.

    That said, I was never a fan of this piece, but of course we won’t get this piece so what does it really matter. If they want support, they should show people what it is really going to look like with the design revisions. At this point it sounds as though, and I didn’t think this could be the case, even more underwhelming than the original design.

    • You make some funny assumptions- I am not suggesting LESS contemporary work. . . I am actually suggesting more contemporary work.

      There is a lot of very interesting contemporary architecture that has happened since 1990 when we all fell for the “big sculpture” idea. Gehry was pretty great in the 1990’s but a lot has happened since-you should check it out.

      Formalist architecture is actually the thing that is conservative and passe. . . the claim that some see a saddle and some see a pringles chip . . . and therefore we should just ignore all meaning and pretend it is “pure form” (and that we’re still avant garde 20 years after the fact)- it’s just kind of unambitious for architects and for an interstingand smart community like silverlake.

      • Roberto,

        You’re not “suggesting” anything you’re just rejecting everything.

        Show us what you’d like instead please. Then we can all bemoan the fact that you didn’t enter the contest.

        • Just rejecting the new conservatism in architecture that defends this kind of unchallenging work. I am not an architect, I have no dog in this show, I just read and pay attention to what is happening and this isn’t it.

  4. Use the money to recreate the vintage shops that were torn down.

  5. Waste- of-space modern sculptures – like this saddle- tend to age very rapid, and badly.

    A couple of boulders/ planters, chairs, trees, a small fountain would do wonders.

  6. This entire selection process kind of slipped by until the very end, when people had only one of five choices — NONE OF WHICH WERE ANY WHERE NEAR SOMETHING ANYONE WOULD WANT. They were all too big, and far too OBNOXIOUS. This saddle is obnoxious — is that what you want this area known for?

    Let this money problem be the end of the saddle. We can pretty up that triangle very nicely — but this was not it. Corner Soul has a very good idea — some potted plants and other greening, and leave it at that. We don’t need to make Sunset Junction obnoxious.

    Also, this is how public projects ALWAYS go. I don’t think there has ever been a public project completed for anything near the bid price. Change orders are built in to drastically inflate the price and line pockets — and when corruption is involved (I am NOT alleging that here) change orders are where it is done. And here this one starts already.

    I want to also take this opportunity to mention the proposal for a bus depot next to this. Looking at that in a shallow manner, you might think that a good idea. But in fact, it will only delay bus rides by making the buses stop there every time they go down the street, whether someone in getting on or off or not. And crossing back and forth across Sunset Boulevard to do it too!

    Also, there are only three lines here — no need for a depot! A depot is for when a lot of line all come into the same spot, like at the Red Line North Hollywood station, or the depot outside LAX. A depot for three lines is not a help; it is a burden.

    I also note, and perhaps most importantly, depots are ALWAYS cited as reasons for the city to justify much, much higher density buildings. If you want Sunset Junction to be built to 15-20 stories all through here, then put in a bus depot! This is a back door way of setting this place up for drastically higher density here. This is how these things work.

    I will also say, there is no need to change a bus here. The buses going from downtown westbound through here go down either Sunset or Santa Monica boulevards. You get on the right one when you start, and no change needed. Same going eastbound from west of here. So, tell me, why ever would we have any use for a depot — other than to falsely cite as justification for much higher density construction?

    Of course, with a depot there, MTA probably would eliminate the leg of the Santa Monica Blvd bus from here to downtown, making everyone crash onto the Sunset Blvd. bus, making that change here. Now, how is that desirable? And paying an additional fare for the change of bus as well.

    Better wake up before it is too late — stop this bus depot.

  7. Perhaps a corporate sponsor could be found. Pringles seems like an obvious choice.

  8. I heard the money is still there, 3 years down the line, to put in a plaza on the entire Jiffy Lube site. Makes sense to me to use the $100k on something else now. Then a design could be developed for the entire big plaza, without the chance for a piece-meal result. If the money has to be spent now maybe it could go to the polka dot plaza?

  9. Even in that ‘pretty illustration”-
    the family appears to be blocked from reaching the historic ( destroyed)
    shops by a large dead piece of pretentious junk.
    Squint and you see how quickly the plants will be gone, replaced
    by trash and bird shit.

    I agree- a homage to the Pacific Red Card would be excellent.

  10. kill the saddle, just plant some trees and be done with the whole mess.

  11. Roberto, this is not Formalist and formalism has nothing to do with an understanding that universal meaning is a quixotic goal in a diverse society. To which new movement are you referring? The most recent stuff is based on emergence and their algorithms are just as arbitrary as everything that came before, which according to your previous argument would seem to invalidate it. I’m not sure why you would think I am unaware of this after a fairly detailed response to your initial criticism. I am an architect after all. Besides, if you think you are going to get challenging work from a public works project, well the odds are really remote. I mean, people actually think a railcar that oozes a static nostalgia is a good idea.

    • this is fun, you sound like a smart guy and I guessed that you were an architect. But there might be a blindspot- who says meaning needs to be universal? That’s a very limiting assumption. It’s a street corner in silverlake. My favorite music isn’t univerally meaningful and doesn’t care to be. . but still strives to be as meaningful as possible to it’s small audience. Bands don’t throw up thier hands and say “well everyone doesn’t speak english, on know who “sweet jane” is, so we’ll just play instrumental music” Architecture seems to have the least ambition and courage of all arts lately- so much playing it safe.

      I also love that you asked what “movement” I am referring to. . . oh what is with architects always wanting a “movement” . . . just look for people making interesting work and you’ll find it.

      Anyway, I think we can agree that this thing looks like somebody looked at all othe architecture magazines last year – turned the page to Metropol Parasol and “got inspired”.

    • No one here said that an actual railcar should be sitting there.
      Just some thing/space relating to the history and name of the place-
      Sunset Junction.
      At the same time, I guess even the street lamp forrest outside LACMA
      “ooze a static nostalgia” to you.

  12. Oh Roberto, I only have a quibble with the arbitrary and meaningless part of your comment. I don’t like the project either.

    • much respect by the way- and thanks for the replies- I am a musician and there isn’t much chance to discuss architecture.

  13. this thing is pointless. when the developers come and knockdown the corner of sunset and sanborn the bus lines will be redirected. the density increased, the old neighborhood feeling gone, and rent will be higher.

  14. For $100,000 you could put plants and trees and drip irrigation. Done.

  15. whatever ends up there will be dwarfed by the new Colossal Condominium Complex that will tower over that corner anyway.

    so why spent the money?

    • Maybe the new Condo Complex can contribute to the cause and create some bicycle parking as well. (to make up for the future parking issues)

  16. Sunset Junction Curse

    Is Sunset Junction cursed? It sure is having a rough couple of years. CD13 was asleep at the switch when Frost/Chaddock supposedly got their demo permit to knock down the landmark-eligible red car building: oops, we’ll never get those back. And there’s that stupid wall: still there. Can’t go to the EPL because they funded Prop 8. The Tsunami coffee people made SJ festival tix mandatory and then octupled the price, but still managed to run it into the ground, so that’s over. That scrappy little triangle of asphalt was the only thing left of the whole intersection that might have gotten better, not worse.

    Yes, the competition was poorly managed, and barely publicized, but I took the time to look and the designs, make comments, and vote because I like the Junction and I really wanted something nice to go into that spot. Now the joke is even on the people who took time out of their busy lives to hate on ALL the proposals: the whole competition was a cruel joke on the designers and on the public and a waste of everyone’s time.

    Now that most of the cool parts of the intersection are torn down or walled up, I guess I don’t much care if this thing gets built or not. But I really am sad that people wasted their time designing, debating, and attending silly meetings about this project if the organizers never really had funding for it in the first place. $100K to repair the curbs is stupid: they repair curbs every year along the LA Marathon route. There’s no need to sell out an art project for curb repair.

    The last great thing about the Junction is that giant wall socket thing in front of EPL, but I’m sure its days are numbered too. Instead of the saddle, the new design next to Jiffy Lube should be a big bathtub filled with water; then let’s plug a giant hair dryer into the wall socket, throw it into the tub, and put the Junction out of its misery.

  17. $100,000 worth of trees is the best idea I’ve heard! Especially if the Jiffy Lube could be removed and that plot added to the mix.

  18. Oh my gosh, $100k worth of trees IS the best idea I’ve ever heard for this space.

  19. One other thing. Any asshole reading these comments will see clearly that the community only wants trees and green space. That’s it. Why not provide that? Why does everything have to be pseudo-urban-architecture-groundbreaking-design-bullshit that nobody wants?

    I’m telling you, I was back in NYC this year, and the biggest difference between now and when I lived there 8 years ago is not all the new condos or new statues or new whatever, it’s the new trees. They are everywhere! Planted even in little three foot triangles along 9th avenue in Chelsea. WE SHOULD JUST DO THAT.

    • great idea, but doubt Garcetti can fund a run for mayor with contributions from tree vendors. if he becomes mayor, the level of new development will double. guaranteed.

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