Friday, March 29, 2013

A Freeway Design Inspired By Aviation History

As you drive around southern California, you may have noticed that some freeway structures have a little something extra — a design of some sort rather than just plain ol’ concrete. Freeways have to be safe and functional first and foremost, but that doesn’t mean they can’t look good. Frequently, the Caltrans landscape team will look to local history for inspiration in developing designs for aesthetic details. For example, here’s the new northbound I-5/SR-170 connector, which will open in a few months:

For the design along the top of the bridge, Caltrans Landscape Associate Keith Sellers was inspired by the old Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale near I-5 and Sonora Avenue: 

The terminal, which opened in 1929, is one of the last intact original structures associated with the Golden Age of Aviation in the San Fernando Valley. Howard Hughes, Amelia Earhart, Wiley Post, Will Rogers and Charles Lindbergh took off from here. Here’s a shot of the old control tower:

Take a good look at the design along the top of the wall:

Keith’s interpretation of the air terminal design now graces the I-5/SR-170 connector, which, appropriately enough, is a flyover connector.