Friday, June 16 brought a day that many in Los Angeles had eagerly awaited for the better part of a decade: the debut of the Regional Connector.
The $1.8-billion project, which broke ground in 2014, adds 1.9 miles of new subway tunnel beneath Downtown Los Angeles, allowing through routing for both the A Line (which now runs 50 miles north-south between Azusa and Long Beach) and the E Line (which runs a more modest 23 miles between east-west between East Los Angeles and Santa Monica). In addition to eliminating the need for transfers at two of L.A. County's busiest transit hubs - 7th Street/Metro Center Station and Union Station - the project also includes three new stops of its own: the rebuilt Little Tokyo/Arts District Station, Historic Broadway Station, and Grand Av Arts/Bunker Hill Station.
The Grand Av Arts/Bunker Hill Station, which will be the first stop for northbound trains from the longtime A and E Line terminus at 7th Street/Metro Center Station, is perhaps the most architecturally significant of the three new stations. The station is located roughly 10 stories below street level, making it one of the deepest subway stops on the West Coast. It sits one block the west of Grand Avenue, and sits within walking distance of The Broad contemporary art museum, MOCA, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Music Center, and California Plaza.
Located on a triangular patch of land at 2nd and Hope Streets, the station sits downhill from Grand Avenue to the east. To provide a means of access without a walk up and down a hill, the elevators can be accessed via a new pedestrian bridge which connects to a currently unused space at the back of The Broad. Inglewood-based (fer) studio designed the overcrossing, which could one day be coupled with new green space built at the rear of the adjoining contemporary art museum.
Given the steep drop and relatively compact dimensions of the station, there are no escalators. Vertical circulation is provided entirely by elevators and an emergency staircase. The long path down to the station mezzanine leaves room for new artwork - High Prismatic by Pearl C. Hsiung - a mosaic which stretches 60 feet high and is composed of more than one million glass pieces.
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