Frank Gehry Rides to Grand Avenue's Rescue; Will Officials Cheer or Jeer?

Christopher Hawthorne reports that Frank Gehry is back in charge of the design for the quixotic $650-million Grand Avenue redevelopment after a disastrous redesign nearly scuttled the star-crossed project.

"After soliciting plans from other architects in recent months, Related has put Gehry back in charge of the design team for a $650-million retail, hotel and residential complex on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles," reports Hawthorne. "On Monday the New York-based developer will submit a new proposal by Gehry's firm to the committee overseeing the project."

"Gehry's design is significantly more exuberant and suggestive of L.A. culture than designs for the site by the firms Gensler and Robert A.M. Stern Architects, which Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, chair of the committee, blasted in September as bland and uninspired," he notes. "It calls for a stacked collection of shops and restaurants forming a U-shaped plaza directly across from Walt Disney Concert Hall."

While Hawthorne praises Gehry's vision of a set of "boxy towers" that "step up from a jumble of forms at ground level" for better relating to its neighbors, he observes that the architect "has work to do to unify this collection of stacked forms". And while the project is "better developed at street level than in any of the previous designs," he cautions that "[t]he last thing pedestrians on Grand or concertgoers coming out of Disney Hall want is a sense that the street design itself is funneling them straight into an open-air shopping mall."

Full Story: Frank Gehry's Grand vision to go before project committee

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