LA’s Subway Offers Beauty in the Belly of the Beast

Written by | Travel

LA Subway Station

Photo by Edwin Santiago

A few years back, a client asked me to photograph the Hollywood and Highland Avenue subway station for publication in her coffee table book. I thought she was losing her mind there for a minute. To be honest, I have never been. Most Los Angelenos have cars, and would never stoop to public transportation.

Descending beneath the touristy and glitzy Hollywood & Highland Center, a shopping mall and entertainment complex in the Hollywood district, was not something I’d ever do otherwise. What’s in the underbelly of this 387,000-square-foot center that includes TCL Chinese Theatre and the Dolby Theatre (formerly known as the Kodak), home to the Academy Awards? Surprisingly, an artfully done subway station like no other.

LA Subway

I was taken aback by the aesthetic of the subway station. This creation was conceived by three different firms: The designer of the station is Sheila Klein, and the station was built by CannonDesign. The lighting, materials, and the mechanical design were assigned to HLB Lighting Design. The entrance to the station is executed with a sweeping metal canopy. Passengers entering the station are greeted by a dynamic display of artist-created images projected from theatrical lights suspended from a sculptural ceiling truss. Designer Sheila Klein, of CannonDworsky wanted to give the station bones, a pelvis, a hairdo.

LA Subway

The lighting pillars of the station were meant to bring to mind a flower, and it was carefully sized to match well with the smooth, curved ceiling which ‘resembled a belly’. Sheila Klein named the architecture of the station, “Underground Girl”. Being inside, you’ll feel like Jonah wandering the insides of the Biblical whale.

Hollywood/Highland is a heavy rail subway station in the Los Angeles County Metro Rail system. With its entrance on Hollywood Boulevard, the Hollywood/Highland Station is located near such tourist attractions as Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and the Hollywood Museum. As in New York City’s Times Square, costumed characters on the sidewalk outside offering themselves for photos with tourists. Next time you’re in LA … definitely have a look!

Last modified: June 20, 2017

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