AIA|LA Design Conference 2011: The Architecture of Transportation - Join the Discussion with Fred Clarke, FAIA

Last Updated: June 8, 2011

3780 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010, USA

Narrated by Peter Coyote, the video looks back at the history of the Transbay Terminal and details the plans to return the San Francisco Bay Area to a culture of mass transit with the construction of the new Transbay Transit Center designed by Cesar Pelli and Fred Clarke of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects.

"The Architecture of Transportation" Design Symposium
Friday, June 24 (8:30 AM - 5:00 PM)
Los Angeles Convention Center, West Hall

Please CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

On June 24th, as part of the annual AIA|LA Design Conference at Dwell on Design, we are coordinating a series of candid discussions about how to design transportation systems that will support and strengthen healthier, more functional and more livable neighborhoods.

In an effort to inspire advance dialogue, Will Wright reached out to several of the participating speakers to hear their thoughts.

Here is an in-depth response from Fred W. Clarke, FAIA of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects.

Fred W. Clarke, FAIA
Senior Principal, Pelli Clarke Pelli

A founding member of the firm, Fred W. Clarke, FAIA is a Design Principal for all the New Haven studio projects. Over the past 33 years, he has been responsible for commissions with widely varied programs and locations, from San Francisco to Dubai, from Tokyo to Miami.

Mr. Clarke's significant project experience includes serving as Design Principal for the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the World Financial Center in New York, One Canada Square at Canary Wharf in London, Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower in Tokyo, and the International Finance Centre in Hong Kong.

A career-long teacher, Mr. Clarke has been a faculty member of Yale University, Rice University, and the University of California at Los Angeles. In addition, he has chaired design juries and panels for many professional organizations, including the Urban Land Institute and national, state and regional affiliates of the American Institute of Architects.

In 1992, Mr. Clarke was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects. In 1997, he became a Registered Architect in Japan. He received a Fellowship from the MacDowell Colony in 1998 to research and write on social responsibilities in large scale urban projects. He is now a member of its Board of Directors.

From a regulatory framework, what needs to change so that we can facilitate a transportation system that supports healthier, more functional and more livable neighborhoods?

My experience has been that the process of building consensus among local, state and federal entities responsible for the funding and implementation of transit-based projects is exceedingly complex, time consuming and unpredictable. If our country, not just in California, is genuinely interested in a rail network, we must find ways to foster better decision-making mechanisms.

How can we maximize our investment in the next round of transportation improvements?

The investment in sophisticated transportation infrastructure is quite high. I believe that one of the best ways to leverage this investment is to capitalize on the natural affinity between public and private development around transit hubs. Transit station districts are classically good for commercial and residential development and this linkage should be promoted in the future.

From a global perspective, how far behind/ how far ahead is California?

California is quite far ahead of any other region outside the Northeast corridor, which makes it among the most advanced in the US. However, California and our country lag far behind the other developed countries of the world as well as some emerging economies when it comes to advanced public transportation.

What do you most enjoy right now, when it comes to our current transportation system? What's working well? What's the 'baby' you don't want to throw out with the murky bathwater?

My only basis of judgment is the Northeast region of the U.S., particularly transportation between Boston, New York, Philadelphia and D.C. The convenience of being able to go directly from one downtown to another and be able to work and eat on the train are all enjoyable. Also, obviously it is great when the trains run on time.

What is your vision for the year 2050 ? Share a glimpse of a day-in-yuour-life as it relates to your personal mobility.

I have some concerns about 2050. Climate change and other apparently unalterable environmental processes now underway could dramatically alter the shape and even locations of some of our major urban areas, particularly on the coasts. My concern is that we have not accepted the inevitability of these forces in a powerful enough way to plan now, in 2011, to alter our future.

Transportation planning is a critical ingredient in the design of our future cities and environmental change is the context of the future. We must bring these forces and interests together.

My personal mobility story is quite simple. I live in a small, compact New England town: New Haven, Connecticut. I can walk to work (45 minutes), bike (15 minutes) or drive (10 minutes). I am as close as I need to be by train to Boston, New York, Philadelphia and D.C. and their airports. In contrast, I used to live in Los Angeles and when I visit the city I remember so fondly, I am greatly concerned at how difficult it has become to get around. Clearly California has come to recognize this problem and fortunately it is beginning to deal with it.

Describe one of your more memorable mobility experiences, i.e., a specific bike-ride, walk, train ride, urban hike, road-trip, plain-trip or sea-faring adventure that still resonates even after all these years. What made it special? How can we create equitable opportunities for others to enjoy these types of experiences?

I grew up in a farming community in rural Texas not far from Houston. Every summer, I would go with my mother and sibling for extended visits to relatives in Cincinnati. We always traveled by train. I remember vividly the names of each train line and the architecture of the great stations. Train travel, unlike air, still has the potential for being not only convenient and environmentally responsible, but also an extraordinary human experience. In many ways, trains and their stations are gateways to our great cities, unlike airports. What we are attempting to create in San Francisco with the Transbay Transit Center is to combine the latest thinking in transportation with powerful architecture appropriate to the importance of San Francisco. This benefits all citizens.

Join the Discussion, Share Your Perspective

You're encouraged to share your own perspective with AIA|LA. Answer the following six questions: (or feel free to add your own)

  1. From a regulatory framework, what needs to change so that we can facilitate a transportation system that supports healthier, more functional and more livable neighborhoods?

  2. How can we maximize our investment in the next round of transportation improvements?

  3. From a global perspective, how far behind/ how far ahead is California?

  4. What do you most enjoy right now, when it comes to our current transportation system? What's working well? What's the 'baby' you don't want to throw out with the murky bathwater?

  5. What is your vision for the year 2050? Share a glimpse of a day-in-your life as it relates to your personal mobility.

  6. Describe one of your more memorable mobility experiences, i.e., a specific bike-ride, walk, train ride, urban hike, road-trip, plain-trip or sea-faring adventure that still resonates even after all these years. What made it special? How can we create equitable opportunities for others to enjoy these types of experiences?

The author of the most compelling response will receive a complimentary pass to the "Architecture of Transportation" Design Symposium.

Share your perspective by writing Will Wright at will@aialosangeles.org with "The Architecture of Transportation" in the subject line.

"The Architecture of Transportation" Design Symposium
Friday, June 24 (8:30 AM - 5:00 PM)
Los Angeles Convention Center, West Hall

Please CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

Last updated: 11-Dec-2012 08:46 AM
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