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Ban Cars In L.A.'s Downtown? An Idea That Just Might Work

A new film made by three architecture students wants to make L.A.'s downtown a car-free zone. It just might be crazy enough to work.

As Los Angeles's downtown continues its steady trajectory towards becoming a vibrant, livable community (heck, they're even getting a Target!), more companies are looking to relocate there to take advantage of its uniquely dense environment. One such company is Gensler, one of the largest architecture firms in the world, who will move from Santa Monica to City National Plaza later this year. And they've already got some ideas for how to make their new neighborhood better.

The Architect's Newspaper points us towards a new film made by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo architecture students Sarah Fleming, Tam Thien Tran, and Toon Virochpoka in partnership with the firm which pairs nicely with our commitment to drive less this month. (How's that going, by the way? Be sure to keep us posted.)


Their ideas for transforming the city's most vertical community were mostly motivated by a pretty overwhelming fact: A baffling 36 percent of downtown's land is parking lots or parking structures. By replacing this poorly-used space with cultural institutions, education, or housing, the area will automatically become more energized.

After surveying the history of driving and public transportation in L.A.'s downtown, the students present ideas like making downtown a car-free zone by pushing all parking to the perimeter, and then building a series of gondolas and skyways to get people from building to building. They also have some clever ideas for how to reorganize the manufacturing districts to move their products more effectively out of the city. What do you think? Can downtown residents swear off their cars? Will these ideas make downtown a better place to live and work?

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