By Adrienne Luce, Designing Futures Foundation Executive Director

The HMC Designing Futures Foundation board recently approved a Community Project grant to fund the restoration of the Micheltorena Steps in Silver Lake. The steps are a main pathway to Micheltorena School for children in the neighborhood, and are unsafe and in disrepair.

Scott Plante from our LA Studio proposed this project, and although Scott doesn’t have kids, he lives near the school and uses these steps. He is committed to improving the quality of life in Silver Lake, and has served on the Silver Lake Urban Design Committee for six months. After an inspirational moment while he was sitting in traffic on the 101 staring at a freeway overpass, Scott went to the Silver Lake Urban Design Committee with a design proposal to light steps and underpasses throughout Silver Lake. A creative lighting scheme would highlight anonymous infrastructure, making it more visible and a part of the community rather than an obstacle. Recognizing the safety issues with children and the adjacent school, the Micheltorena Steps were selected as a prototype for repairing and relighting similar steps throughout the neighborhood.

The project will be completed in two phases. The first phase will involve clearing overgrown landscape, restoring a failing retaining wall, and installing new lighting at the Sunset Boulevard entrance. The second phase will install new lighting over the remaining portion of the steps as well as the installation of new pavers in selected locations. Approval is currently being coordinated with the Los Angeles Department for Public Works.

The Designing Futures Foundation board members were very impressed with Scott’s leadership with this project as well as the potential for the pathway to improve the built environment. In addition to requesting DFF funding, the Friends of the Micheltorena Street School have also requested a grant from the federal Safe Routes to Schools program.