Poor Design Threatens L.A.'s Quixotic Grand Avenue Quest

With a key deadline looming today for downtown L.A.'s Grand Avenue project, a "little-noticed" decision last week by a public agency to reject the developer's most recent design has thrown the future of the elusive effort in doubt.

"In a little-noticed meeting last week, county Supervisor Gloria Molina and other officials unanimously rejected the conceptual plan for the $650-million [Grand Avenue] project, with Molina criticizing the design and saying developer Related Cos. had failed to create an enticing public space that went beyond expensive shops and restaurants," report Seema Mehta and David Zahniser. The decision is just the latest setback for the beleaguered project, which once had Frank Gehry attached as the lead designer.

"Molina, who heads the [Los Angeles Grand Avenue Authority], criticized the proposal's 'boxiness' and complained that one entry facing Grand Avenue lacked 'any architectural interest whatsoever.'"

"There's nothing there that lends itself in any aspect to a design that promotes any kind of pedestrian activity, any street activity or anything," she told the panel. "It is still a continuation to me of the fort-like conditions down Grand Avenue."

"The move put the long-awaited project in jeopardy, according to alarmed business leaders and government officials," note Mehta and Zahniser. "At midnight Monday, an agreement between the authority and Related will expire."

Full Story: Grand Avenue project at turning point

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