Replacing L.A.’s beloved bridge

How do you replace one of the most recognizable bridges in Los Angeles? With a dramatically different design that aims to be the next iconic infrastructure in the city. Architect Michael Maltzan’s “Ribbon of Light” structure is scheduled to open in late 2020.

So long, 6th Street Bridge 

Built in 1932, the Sixth Street Bridge was world famous thanks to appearances in more than 40 major films (“Grease,” “Colors,” “The Mask,” and “Transformers” among them) and dozens of music videos (Madonna’s “Borderline,” Maroon 5’s “Payphone,” Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.”). Chemical deterioration in its concrete made the historic Art Deco structure unsafe and seismically-deficient, necessitating demolition in 2016.

New arches rise

The largest bridge project in the history of Los Angeles, “Ribbon of Light” is a transformative infrastructure project extending nearly a mile over the Los Angeles River and connecting the Boyle Heights community to the east and the Arts District and Downtown to the west.

Wider and straighter than the previous bridge, the 100-ft-wide viaduct will have 10 pairs of continuous arches that will be illuminated at night. The arched trusses will support the cabled bridge and, as Maltzan notes, the new structure is intended to be “more than a simple replacement thoroughfare.”

When the project is complete, it will become more of a destination than a structure. In addition to providing access to vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, it will also include a 12-acre park underneath, allowing access to the river, recreation areas and public art. Five staircases will provide pedestrian access and ramps at either end allow for bicycle accessibility. The design is intended to increase connectivity, not only at its endpoints, but along the entirety of the span.

The project is funded by the Federal Highway Transportation Administration and the California Department of Transportation, as well as City funds. 

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