Craig Hodgetts and UCLA Students Hope to Make the Hyperloop a Reality

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More and more Angelenos – frustrated with traffic or simply falling out of love with the car – are trading in the automobile for bikes, buses and. . . the Hyperloop?

More and more Angelenos — frustrated with traffic or simply falling out of love with the car — are trading in the automobile for bikes, buses and. . . the Hyperloop?

Well no, not yet, but a group has come together that is hoping to turn Elon Musk’s concept for an ultra high-speed system — that would propel you in sleek pods through low-pressure tubes from LA to San Francisco in 30 minutes — from sci-fi fantasy in to reality.

The coalition includes the newly formed Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc. and JumpStartFund, a crowd-funding site, Dr. Marco Villa, the former director of mission operations for Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Dr. Patricia Galloway, the first woman president of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a graduate “Suprastudio” at UCLA’s school of architecture and urban planning. The group reportedly has Elon Musk’s “blessing” if not — yet — his money.

Craig Hodgetts, professor of architecture and urban design at UCLA, will co-lead a “Suprastudio” in which graduate students will spend a year working on the urban design and planning of the Hyperloop.

Craig argues that while the physics and engineering of the Hyperloop concept are “bulletproof,” the real challenge lies in integrating the system into the urban and rural environment, in the face of politics, NIMBYISM and other obstacles.

On the segment, we discuss whether the Hyperloop concept is really “bulletproof,” the need for the ride to feel like a “luxury” experience and how to turn mobility across a crowded city into a “seamless experience.”

Along the way, we learn that this studio is the perfect project for Craig, who has been drawn to transportation design for many years, starting with designing a “Studelac” — a cross between a Studebaker and a Cadillac — when, as a self-described “wimpy” young man, he felt a monster machine would help attract the opposite gender!

In a back to the future touch, the studio will take place in UCLA architecture school’s gritty new graduate space at Playa Vista, in the former Howard Hughes aircraft complex where the Spruce Goose was built.

Note: This segment was originally aired as part of a show about changing mobility in Los Angeles, and also featured interviews about the hydrogen fuel cell car, the autonomous car and an Everything Talks featuring feuding bicycles. You can hear the entire show here.

Images: Above, Craig Hodgetts in his Culver City office with Frances Anderton; behind them is La Citta Pulpa, an installation created by Craig and partner Ming Fung for the XIX Milan Triennale in 1995-96; below sketch of the Hyperloop concept presented last August by Elon Musk.