by Paul R. Spitzzeri
This intensive look at the planning document for the “Civic-Recreational-Industrial Project No. 1,” launched under the auspices of the City of Industry Urban-Development Agency, the redevelopment arm of the City and written by the influential planning firm of Gruen Associates, comes to a close by examining the “Design Concepts and Guidelines” section.
The importance of this area of the report is that it established the template for aesthetics and practical applications (safety and security, primarily) of design that not only was largely utilized within the City but reflects similar uses in other cities with industrial and commercial zones. The ways in which streets were lit, landscaping created and laid out, and signage and graphics employed were identified as core compoents that would remake the city through use in the project plan.
With respect to street lighting, the report noted that “it should be efficient without being obtrusive, complementing the street improvement and landscape programs.” Current conditions were, in a word, “inadequate.” There were a number of streets that had no lighting at all.
The recommendation was to utilize a standard type of fixture to make installation and maintenance easier. Given our radically different lighting types, it is interesting to note that the type suggested was either a mercury vapor or a sodium discharge lamp. The Homestead, in fact, utilized the high intensity sodium light fixtures for many years before switching to much more energy efficient ones.
The report also recommended standard pole heights of 32 feet, with an exception at the Civic-Financial Center and at Industry Hills where it was suggested that a 15-foot pole be used. Spacing and positioning of poles would vary depending on the type of fixture, width of streets, levels of traffic, and design of sidewalks, to maintain an average intensity of light. Underground installation of wiring was recommended where feasible. Wattage would also be uniform at 250, except for the major arterial roads (Valley Blvd., Hacienda Blvd., and Azusa Avenue), which could be as high as 400 watts.
Landscaping was viewed as “one of the most important elements in the revitalization program” because “thoughtful landscaping will provide visual continuity and materially upgrade the environment of the City and surrounding areas.” There were three defined objectives, including
- enhancing aesthetics, which would “establish an improved investment climate for industrial development”;
- have a pleasing climate for driving, walking, eating and rest areas; and
- provide barriers from yards of industrial properties, storage areas and parking lots
To start with, the landscaping element would be introduced on streets and public facilities, but “the ultimate success of the program will depend on the joint efforts of the Agency and property owners.”
Finding plants that were low maintenance and fast growing were desirable and “should be related to the scale of the environment” with respect to height and spread as well as avoiding spreading roots to keep cracking and breaking of sidewalks and curbs limited.
Sidewalk widths and property setbacks needed to be examined to determine where to plant trees, preferably behind the sidewalks, which would allow for larger trees. Moreover, a planting area allowing for other materials with trees would have “a greater visual impact” and allowed for different grading and plant selection. Finally, costs would be lower by having irrigation and planting together.
Looking back to the analysis of physical factors earlier in the document, Gruen observed “that buffering and screening will be a requirement in many locations,” though these could include walls and fences, as well as landscaped berms, with an ideal height of six to ten feet suggested. Property owners, supervised by the Urban Development Agency, would handle these components.
The tree type cited was eucalyptus (lemon and white gum, particularly), while shrubs like carob, oleander and acacia were cited for “excellent screening ability together with low maintenance.” The preferred ground cover, because of a “neat appearance and dependibility,” was Hahn’s ivy.
Concerning signage and graphics, “a phased program of visual and graphic identity, parallel and in conjunction with the landscape program, will play a major role in upgrading the visual image of the City and its surroundings, and will have an immediate impact.” This branding element was comprised of:
- new transportation and public signage;
- coordinated street furniture (such as benches and trash cans) and the look of the street; and
- a graphic system for printed items, like business cards, letterhead and so on.
Developing a city logo, Gruen stated that it “is a key aspect in promoting this new image, and through its consistent use it will create an identity for the City which wil be readily recognized by potential developers and the public at large.” The logo adopted in 1971 remained in use for over forty-five years when a new one was created in time for the City’s 60th anniversary (and which is why this series of posts was launched.)
Then, there was a recommendation to install “major identification signs”, including a sample that showed the city logo and name atop very tall poles, at main city entrances, including the junction of the 60 and 57 and 60 and 605 freeways, the 60 freeway at Hacienda Blvd. and Azusa Ave., the 605 at Valley Blvd., Valley Boulevard at the city’s eastern limit, and at Industry Hills and the Civic-Financial Center. This idea, however, was not adopted.
The document then concluded with a section of “Development Guidelines.” By setting these standards to help the Urban-Development Agency in the application of them, the idea was to “enhance the physical environment, establish a unified City image, strengthen existing assets and stimulate new development.”
Areas include permitted uses by
- proper zoning;
- no limitation of the height or number of buildings on parcels;
- the provision for off-street parking throughout the city with detailed requirements for paving, landscaping, space sizes, and others;
- setback lines of at least 20 feet from the curb;
- signs that met design standards set by the Agency, including for aesthetics;
- screened roofing elements like exposed ducts; screened or enclosed storage areas;
- loading spaces that would not conflict with use of sidewalks and streets and which were not to be unsightly;
- placing utilities underground where possible;
- a standardized plan review process;
- and an organized, detailed set of controls for the carrying out of standards.
We’ll conclude this series of posts next week with a detailed look at a fascinating satellite view map of the City of Industry and its Plan of Development. This map was tucked into a back pocket of the project plan as “illustrative material,” but shows the entirety of the city and includes elements and suggestions not covered in the plan.