Howard Troller, the Mall's landscape architect, designed a pedestrian bridge over Temple Street to connect the North and South malls. Rather than create a merely functional structure, Troller incorporated a taper, reminiscent of a keel of a ship, into the bottom of the bridge, and asked Tom Van Sant to further enhance the bridge's appearance. Van Sant suggested incising a fluting pattern into the bridge's cement surface. The Municipal Arts Commission, however, rejected the proposal because they felt it made the walkway look like a serphant. They accepted his later proposal for curving steps leading up from the street and handrails on the bridge. In order to accommodate the steps, the arc of the bridge over Temple Street was increased. The bridge cantilevers out from the sidewalk toward the middle of the street. A rubber filler connects the two sections and allows them to move during an earthquake. This small bridge was a pioneer in Los Angeles of a type of public art that increasingly has been commissioned in the United States, in which art serves as both an aesthetic embellishment and a practical and functioning part of the urban landscape.
The text has been provided courtesy of Michael Several, Los Angeles, September 1997.
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