February 26, 2013

Better, But It's Still a Chained-Linked Fence

New side of freeway and fence, Southbound 110 Arroyo Seco Parkway
Anyone who travels southbound down the 110-Arroyo Seco Parkway is probably as disgusted as I am with the trash, broken fences, graffiti, downed signs (and sometimes lightpoles) etc. that line the freeway from South Pasadena all the way downtown.  Ugly.  There are plastic bags that have been stuck on the same ugly stump branches by the freeway for YEARS.

Well, at least there's one semi-beautification effort going on.  It looks like Caltrans is currently fixing the side of the freeway from Orange Grove to York Bl., laying stones/river rock (it was previously just broken asphalt) and putting up new fences.  Ugh, we just can't seem to move away from fences.  In any case, according to Caltrans' planned lane closures this work is to extend to Marmion Way.  Let's hope it goes beyond that.  The rock bed looks nice and it's laid out and angled in a way where litter and debris would have a tougher time accumulating and just sitting there.  But again, those damn fences.  We're still a couple years away from implementing any of the proposals laid out in Caltrans' recent Arroyo Seco Corridor Partnership Plan.  In the meantime, any work is better than leaving it as it is.

February 25, 2013

It Can Be Done

We were all fixated with moving the Space Shuttle from LAX to it's final destination at the Science Center, but how does it compare with moving a very large 3-story, 260 foot, 6200 ton brick building built in 1889?  Well, they did it in Zurich, Switzerland.  Ok, so it was moved only 200 feet and not across the city, but they moved it!  And intact!  I guess if there was ever a need to move one of Pasadena's old buildings we now know: it can be done. I will never again doubt man's engineering prowess.

Moving of the MFO building in Zurich 2012, time lapse from Patrick Gautschy on Vimeo.

February 21, 2013

Development Watch: Pasadena Humane Society

Construction on Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA campus
The new addition to the Pasadena Humane Society campus is coming along nicely, albeit slowly.  The new facility's architecture will blend with the existing structures and become a beautiful landmark on the corner of E. Del Mar Blvd. and Raymond Ave.

February 17, 2013

Home of the Week - 1695 Poppy Peak Dr.

photo: MLS
Folks, check out this stunner!  Designed by the famed Buff, Straub and Hensman architecture firm (their masterpieces are Case Study House #20 in Altadena and #28 in Thousand Oaks), this mid-century jewel has been lovingly restored by historic home renovation specialists, Lander Design.  This is an early example of the architects' Post-and-Beam work and, man, is it a beauty or what?  Located in the Poppy Peak historic district this house fits right in among other notable house, but this one definitely stands out.  The house is covered under the Mills Act, so whoever ends up buying it will also save a bunch on property taxes.  What high-tax bracket individual wouldn't like that?

February 14, 2013

Bicycle Boulevard: Not Just Access But Connecting Communities

photo: LA Times
Pasadena recently unveiled Bicycle Boulevard, a small stretch of Marengo Avenue, between Orange Grove Boulevard and Washington Boulevard.  According to officials, this is the first of many new bicycle-friendly additions to the community.

This is a good start, albeit one that should have happened long ago.  Planners on city, county and regional levels should prioritize improved and exclusive bicycle and pedestrian access on all projects whether they be new developments or improvements to existing infrastructure.

This is more than a safe bikeway access issue.  The flip side of the coin is that the city and, specifically, neighborhoods, benefit from this.  We all know that northwest Pasadena has it's share of problems.  Poverty, crime, neglect and a host of other issues have plagued this area of Pasadena for many years.  However, many people have also seen the potential this area holds.  There are wonderful neighborhoods with proactive individuals and associations in this section of Pasadena.  Real estate prices are still reasonable and a growing number of young professionals and families are starting to recognize the value of this area.  Take a closer look at this particular bikeway on Marengo on a map and you will see this particular bikeway serves almost as a barrier-breaker between the surrounding neighborhoods and it's more prosperous neighborhoods and businesses to the south.  Bikeways such as this is a net positive improvement.  With proximity to the Gold Line biking becomes more of an attractive transportation alternative and encourages more people to explore this part of the city and consider it as a place to live in.  When you connect neighborhoods you connect people.