The Sixth Street Viaduct was designed for the City of Los Angeles to replace an iconic but rapidly failing structure built in 1932. Through an international competition conducted by the City of Los Angeles’s Bureau of Engineering under the leadership of City Engineer Gary Lee Moore, with guidance from a distinguished nine-member Design Aesthetics Advisory Committee, Michael Maltzan Architecture was selected as the Bridge Design Architect for the new Sixth Street Viaduct with HNTB as the Engineer of Record. The original bridge was demolished in 2016, and construction on the new Sixth Street Viaduct began in 2017.
The viaduct creates a new urban symbol for LA and brings with it much needed community resources. It evolves the monoculture of a single‐use bridge into an intermodal multiculture welcoming motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. It overcomes the silo effect caused by past infrastructure, countering it with the vibrancy and connectiveness of a “civic structure.” The new 12-acre park below will connect Boyle Heights, the Arts District, and the LA River. It will be served by improved streets, intersections, and bike lanes and will be an inviting green space with opportunities for sports, performances, recreational programs, and public art that will benefit the community and the whole city.
The viaduct’s 10 pairs of arches are constructed segmentally, the deck has an efficient, thin profile. Foundations at each pier are nearly identical, improving efficiency. The project was cast-in-place with locally sourced concrete. It will serve L.A. for the next 100 years with minimal maintenance. Awards: 2023 ACEC Golden State Honor; 2022 ACI SoCal Concrete Pankow; 2022 Envision Platinum sustainability; 2022 LABC Grand Prize; 2022 AN Best of Design; 2022 ACEC Engineering Excellence Honor; 2022 American Public Works Association BEST Award for Transportation Project; 2022 Civil+Structural Engineer Media Most Popular Infrastructure Project; 2022 Roads & Bridges Magazine Top 10; 2022 Women Transportation Seminar Innovative Transportation Solutions; 2013 LABC Design Concept
Equal parts architecture and engineering, the new viaduct is a tied arch bridge, defined by 10 pairs of arches that rise and fall along the edges of the structure as it extends 3,500 feet east to west. Paying homage to the design of the earlier bridge, the new viaduct places the tallest pairs of its sculptural arches over the LA River, where the original arches stood, and positions another taller pair as a gateway on the east. The segmentally constructed arches cant outward, appearing to embrace the deck and open to the sky. The repetitive forms create sequential views of the city for travelers moving along the bridge, like frames in a film. In addition to providing lanes for motorists, the design incorporates dedicated bicycle lanes and 8‐foot sidewalks for pedestrians. The paperclip and helical ramps and 5 sets of stairs serve as a connection from the deck to the neighborhood and PARC below. Linear LED lights are built above and below the deck into the traffic barriers, providing low-to-the-ground street and pedestrian lighting, adding to the drama of crossing the bridge and giving the viaduct its name, Ribbon of Light. Accent lighting from below the deck illuminates the undersides of the arches. The bridge, visible from many parts of the city, will have the ability to be illuminated as a civic beacon.
“As an Angeleno, these are the moments we live for. We lost a dear old friend but now we have a shining new star that represents what our community is all about. These beautiful arches are a nod to our past and a bridge to the future. To the city of LA, this is a love letter to you.” Mayor Eric Garcetti
Founded in 1995, Michael Maltzan Architecture is a Los Angeles architecture and urban design practice of approximately 25 people, led by Michael Maltzan. Our studio is focused on cross-discipline partnerships to integrate social and environmental sustainability, construction innovation, and architectural form. The practice has been recognized with five Progressive Architecture awards, 47 citations from the AIA, and the Rudy Bruner Foundation’s Gold Medal for Urban Excellence. Our work has been featured in publications and museum exhibitions worldwide, including monographic exhibitions at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, the Harvard GSD, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Carnegie Museum’s Heinz Architectural Center. Our work was selected for the 2006, 2018, and 2020 La Biennale di Venezia and is included in the permanent collections of Carnegie Museum of Art, MoMA, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art.