The man understood the power of design and color long before most—one just has to regard his wonderfully symmetrically vertical design of DTLB’s Bikestation.
Who honestly would have thought after the fallout of 70s pea green’n’orange that orange could be cool again? Who could have looked at studies that contend there are enough parking spaces in the US to fit a half-billion cars and that, maybe—just maybe—we should reevaluate what parking means?
Fernando Vazquez did and sadly, the innovator has passed at the young age of 59 due to stomach cancer.
Though the famed architect is (and will always be) widely known for the $1.2B Levi’s Stadium in NorCal and USC’s Galen Center, it is the Bikestation that becomes his most underrated project.
Sitting at 223 E. 1st and built in 2011, the Bikestation in DTLB was another incarnation of the the Bikestation that launched in 1996. At the time, the new building had amenities that wowed bicyclists and baffled most car-based Southern Californians: 24-hour indoor bike parking, bike rentals and repairs, free air for tires, a retail bike shop, and even shower and changing room facilities.
The thing with Vazquez is this: he was into bike parking even before Bikestation was into it. He completed a temporary bike parking facility in 1995 right here in Long Beach. The facility was so successful that the City of Long Beach, through the now-dissolved Redevelopment Agency, commissioned Vazquez for the permanent, 2,290 sq. ft. structure currently gracing DTLB.
“The building itself is dedicated to the notions of healthy, green living by emphasizing cycling and public transportation,” Vazquez once told the American Architects. “The openness and lightness of the structure serve as a metaphor of those values.”
Can we get an amen to that? And even more, rest in peace, Fernando. The world needs more innovators like you.
Disclosure: the opinions expressed in this piece are exclusively that of its author, Mr. Addison.