Thursday, October 20, 2016

Will the Silver Lake saddle ever get built?

Early rendering of Silver Lake saddle

Early rendering of BLOOMRS – aka Silver Lake saddle

SILVER LAKE —  City officials and community leaders were scheduled to gather this morning to dedicate more than $1 million in street improvements in Sunset Junction. But one of the highlights of that improvement project remains missing: a $125,000 public artwork in the shape of a saddle.

In fact, the dedication ceremony will be held near the spot where The Silver Lake saddle – a  metal structure officially known as BLOOMRS – was to have anchored a public plaza at the intersection of Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards. Instead of a sculpture, the site next to a Jiffy Lube has been landscaped with some shrubs and a few trees. Is the saddle, which was the winner of a design competition held nearly five years ago, dead?  Not so say city officials and the sculpture’s designer. But no one can say when BLOOMRS will make its Sunset Junction debut.

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.

Council District 13 spokesman Tony Arranga said council staff met with the designer/fabricator last week to discuss BLOOMRS.

“They are facing some challenges in regards to complying with City guidelines and staying on budget for the project,” Arranaga said in an email.  “The project is not dead, however, we have not received a timeline on how the designer plans to get things back on track.”

Designer Heather McGinn said that BLOOMRS is “very much alive” and has always been on budget as presented in the competition.  Part of the problem, she said, is that the city has imposed other requirements that have boosted labor costs.

The “delay in getting this project underway and the city’s additions to the project scope have resulted in increased labor costs, but luckily nothing insurmountable,” McGinn said in an email.  “We are still working tirelessly with Bureau of Street Services (the project managers) and CD13 to make this project a reality in 2016.”

Sculpture is to rise in Sunset Junction

Site of Sunset Junction sculpture

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  1. Why do we need this?

  2. I love this design. I hope it gets built!

  3. How about planting some shade trees and a few rocks to sit on instead… surely that’d cost a helluva lot less than $125k (and serve more of a purpose.)

    • For reals, screw your precious Saddle Sculpture, and invest the money instead for mature trees to plant. What the city needs is more shade trees!

  4. Has anyone considered contacting Pringles “You Don’t Just Eat One” about paying for this?
    If they can get corporate sponsorship to pay for the snack chip shaped structure and then maybe city money to pay for trees I would be fine with this. Otherwise I am in full agreement with corner soul that shade trees and some rocks to sit on would make for a better park.

  5. Apologies, the Pringles tag line is “You Don’t Just Eat ‘Em”

    I should have looked it up before posting the incorrect tag line in the comment above.

  6. No way! The budget of a simple project ballooned when different special interest groups got their grubby little fingers in the pie. Shocking.

    How much is that trimodal bridge across the river that was supposed to be paid for by a private benefactor going to cost now?

  7. Make it green, dump the steel. Better to produce oxygen than have it used up by rust.

  8. It would seem very hard to bring in a steel sculptural object of this scale, that will have people under it, for $125K, given the time you will burn in project reviews.

    It also sounds like there are conflicting interests. The BSS desires for easy maintainability and low risk will conflict with the basic design premises of “big and interesting”.

  9. this looks like an accident waiting to happen. Rusting steel sculpture with a ton of edges that you can climb on? How long before one of the precious children of Silver Lake hurts themselves on that?

  10. It was approved and won 5 years ago. Talk about a bureaucracy. Sheesh. Very iconic sculpture to welcome this stretch of Sunset. Get er’ up already!

  11. Anyone else notice the buildings in the background of the “early rendering”? Yeah, those historic buildings got knocked down by a developer without a permit, with no legal or financial consequences to their development plans. And now more recently we had the billboard company illegally killing trees, also without a permit, and the permits for the billboards in question haven’t been yanked, and won’t be as far as I can tell. In both cases, the Police, CD13, and the SLNC were all asleep at the switch until it was too late. Apparently megabucks and a willingness to break the law are the only way to get stuff done in Silver Lake.

    I wish the various spokespeople quoted in this article would be more forthcoming about the specific cause of the delays for the saddle project. It’s all pretty vague. From the outside, it just looks like there’s some back-room influencers that are planning on holding this up indefinitely until people just give up or forget about it. No idea who they are or why they’re doing it, but it’s pretty clear that they don’t like the saddle design and their votes count a LOT more than ours do. I’ve come to the sad conclusion that regular-people voting doesn’t matter in LA. The fix is in. Public input is a sham, a fig leaf, a beard. Shady rich people don’t get in trouble when they break the law, and they get to veto democratically selected public art projects if they don’t like the outcome.

    I’m bummed that I even spent time reading and thinking about the proposed designs and participating in the voting process. The saddle wasn’t the one I voted for, but I really was excited to participate in the process.

    I feel like the City lied to us when they said we could have a say in the design.

    Next time I will just stay home. At least that way they won’t be able to say they got public input.

  12. The sad thing is if this really has been in the works for five years if some good old fashioned trees were planted back then we would have some pretty decent shade trees by now. Of course that is assuming the billboard companies didn’t come by and hack the trees back….

    I am starting to wonder if this terrible trend for treeless parks in LA has anything to do with our city council members being corrupted by the billboard companies that would be happy if there wasn’t a single tree in our city that could potentially interrupt a view of one of their advertisements.

  13. Frankly, I’ve been relieved to see this saddle idea not come to life, and I hope it never does. Something about it just points to the twee hipster reputation that we all know is not really this community. Unless it’s a tribute to the diverse rancheros that used to live in the area and no one is saying that…

    That said, if people are soooo gangbusters about this design, instead of constructing a saddle out of metal, how about city planners/neighborhood council folks look at some of the green building projects that are constructed from photocatalytic cement that removes smog? Given that every month/year sets a new record for “hottest ever” we sure could do our part to offset some of the pollution from all the cars and buses that idle at that intersection.

    Even better–call up Daan Roosegaarde who is innovating in the intersection of green design and get one of his smog-sucking towers installed. I would be down with that.

  14. Once again, the trolling comments demonstrate the central problem of Los Angeles any time there’s an attempt to create Nice Things. There is this strange attraction to attack efforts that in so many other cities with aspirations to urbanity would be welcomed improvements, whether it’s public art, parks, mobility or environmental betterment. Even this public art project has been whittled down from its original scale and intent, by a combination of budgetary challenges, the endless fear of Liability!, and general inertia. It’s impressive enough that the design team and the city are still trying to achieve something.

    • Public art is great, but it’s not unreasonable to question the six figure price tag on a stationary slab of metal. Most of the commenters here are obviously calling for improvements to the area in the form of park space and shade trees. If you take tons of public money for your artwork, you’re fair game for public criticism. As for liability, I just hope that the taggers get tetanus shots before they inevitably start spraying this thing.

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