Glendale Plan Framework

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Drawing by Antonio Piralyan for Glendale Urban Design Studio

We have attempted in our work in Glendale, to quote the legendary planner Edmund Bacon, “to develop design principles capable of influencing future action. We have endeavored to establish a design idea of such potency that it welds the work of individual architects designing in fragmented areas into a cohesive whole.”

Inspired by Bacon, this diagram combines multiple individual projects executed over the past ten years and conjectural ideas imagined for the next twenty years into a single urban design structure. Fundamental to this framework is a transportation network, ranging from statewide high speed rail to neighborhood pedestrian paseos, which establishes a range of territories for future development.

Pinwheeling out of the downtown, dominated by a twin pair of malls (shown as dark red figures), are a series of growth corridors, each defined by a various types of urban transit.

High speed rail (indicated with a solid gold line) will eventually run along the city’s west edge, redefining the parallel commuter rail into a local service (solid blue line), creating the opportunity for an additional mid-city stop at Colorado Street.

Running north-south is Brand Boulevard, home to signature retail and auto dealers south of the downtown. Here the plan imagines a median-running streetcar (dashed blue line), linking the existing rail stop at the south end of the City with the downtown retail core. At the north end of downtown, the streetcar connects with a new east-west light rail line (solid blue line), running in the centerline of the existing depressed freeway, which in turn is covered with a 30-acre “freeway cap park” called Space134. Continuing past the downtown, the streetcar turns west, heading towards the Burbank airport and future high speed rail station, passing by downtown Burbank on the way.

Parallel to Brand, two blocks west, Central Avenue is imagined as mixed-use corridor with mid-rise residential buildings, redefined with bus rapid transit (dashed red line) and protected bike lanes (green dots). Buses running south head to Hollywood; buses running north on Central connect to the movie studios in Burbank’s Media Center.

In the east-west direction are two bus rapid corridors, with service east to Pasadena. Like Central Avenue, Broadway is imagined as medium density mixed-use streetscape with a protected bike lane, connecting the downtown with the civic center (indicated with black figures). Two blocks south of Broadway, Colorado Street receives new bus rapid transit service, allowing the re-definition of this traditional main street as another mid-rise mixed-use development corridor.

Surrounding these bus corridors are existing multifamily neighborhoods, which are identified as an “Affordable Housing Overlay Zone” (indicated with a hatched orange/yellow pattern). Here, the City will promote affordable housing through up-zoning, entitlement incentives, and targeted reinvestment.

Connecting the surrounding neighborhoods into this transportation network are a series of bike corridors and new pedestrian paseos.

This network of transportation infrastructure thus unifies the downtown with existing neighborhoods, village retail centers, parks, schools and specialized activity centers such as Forest Lawn Cemetery and Hospitals.

This design structure establishes the framework for our current planning efforts in Glendale. To conclude with Bacon again, “a central design idea, well developed and clearly expressed, can of itself become a major creative force, and can make more meaningful the work of individual architects in various parts of the city. The mature resolution of the center city plan is not the work of one man. It is the cumulative effect of the individual efforts of a great many people, over an extended period of time, each one building on the work of the ones before. In definition and form, it begins to emerge as a total image, encompassing all the projects developed thus far and outlining the projects which lie ahead.”

Written for the South Glendale Community Plan.

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