ArtCenter Campus MakeOver, with Controversial Digital Gallery, Goes Before City Council Monday Night

Published : Monday, July 16, 2018 | 5:35 AM

The Pasadena City Council will conduct a public hearing on Monday, July 16, about the ArtCenter College of Design’s Master Plan, a 15-year comprehensive development plan that charts a vision for the future of the college’s physical campuses and establishes the framework for planning essential renovations at the Hillside Campus and an expanded South Campus at Pasadena’s gateway.

Discussions spanning the past three years about the Master Plan have been extensive.

The Pasadena Department of Planning and Community Development has recommended the adoption of a resolution certifying the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR), a resolution approving the Master Plan, a Minor Conditional Use Permit for Reduced Parking, a Minor Conditional Use Permit for Tandem Parking, and Private Tree Removals on both campuses.

Also recommended for adoption is a resolution allowing construction activities above and below the Metro Gold Line to occur outside the hours specified in the Pasadena Municipal Code.

The City Council is also being asked to consider approving a Development Agreement for the project, and a Zoning Code amendment to the municipal code to allow for the construction of a digital gallery on the southeastern façade of the South Campus.

Some residents and one neighborhood association oppose the planned digital gallery, citing transportation safety and light pollution concerns.

The plan includes installing an 8,000 square-foot digital display – essentially an electronic billboard wrapped around the corner of the building facing East Glenarm Avenue and the Arroyo Parkway – that is envisioned to show images, video, and animation advertising Art Center programs, but could also carry other forms of commercial advertising in the future.

The Madison Heights Neighborhood Association (MHNA) that said the “enormous digital screen” could create safety hazards and light pollution at the busy intersection where cars, Pasadena Transit buses, pedestrians and the Metro Gold Line converge. The association said the “additional distraction” should be very seriously considered.

The Association also warned the illuminated display could significantly impact residential neighborhoods since it will be visible from kitchen and living room windows, balconies and yards of the homes around the campus.

In May, the Planning Commission asked the City Council to further review the plan especially since it could set a precedent for other structures in the area and around Pasadena to apply and seek approval for similar digital sign projects.

Past of the Master Plan calls for an amendment to the Zoning Code to allow for the installation of the digital display.

Monday’s public hearing will be part of the weekly City Council meeting and could start at around 7 p.m. during the session.

City Council hearings are held at the City Council chamber, Room S249 at the Pasadena City Hall.

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