By MATT SANDERSON
SILVER LAKE — City officials broke ground this week on a $1.75-million Sunset Junction project that will repair broken curbs and sidewalks and add curb bump outs, bike racks and other amenities. But what about that $125,000 public sculpture shaped like a saddle?
The Silver Lake saddle – officially known as BLOOMRS – was the winner of a design competition held 3-1/2 years ago. The steel sculpture was to anchor a new public plaza planned for what is now a patch of asphalt at the junction of Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards. The office of Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said “the construction of a 13th District-funded permanent architectural installation” will be part of the second phase of the streetscape project that will begin later year.
BLOOMRS, selected from a pool of about 60 entries, was shaped like a giant saddle of woven steel. The flattened mid section of the saddle, designed by the firm All That is Solid, would provide room for seating and landscaping while the raised tip of the structure would provide shelter for visitors.
City officials initially said that the entire project was to cost no more than than $100,000. But the City Council eventually boosted the budget to $125,000. In addition, the designers received a $2,500 contest award financed by the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council for the sculpture.
Matthew Mooney, chairman of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council’s transportation committee, said he still believes the art installation will be included, but no further details were provided.
Mooney, who attended Thursday’s groundbreaking, said the start of the long-delayed Sunset Junction improvement project will encourage more pedestrian and bike-friendly improvements.
Additional parts of the project include adding trash cans, crosswalk striping, removing and replacing one driveway, relocating a traffic signal, adding trees, adding access ramps and installing a plaza and art element at Santa Monica and Sunset. According to the Bureau of Engineering, the project completion is anticipated for December, with work beginning this month on the west side of Sunset with sidewalk removal and replacement.
“I am pleased with this project as it will bring about greater visibility and safety for pedestrians,” Mooney said.
Matt Sanderson is a journalist, photographer and digital media producer. A native of Rhode Island, he received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of New Hampshire and moved to Los Angeles in 2012 with Patch.com/AOL