Gehry's Latest Downtown L.A. Project Rises While Workers Stay Home

A high-profile project in the heart of the cultural and civic center of Downtown Los Angeles is rising quickly, and practically in secret, as the area's daytime population stays home during the pandemic.

2 minute read

September 2, 2020, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Los Angeles, California

More Gehry, coming soon to Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles. | Apostolis Giontzis / Shutterstock

Roger Vincent reports on a long-awaited, game-changing development in Downtown Los Angeles, designed by Frank Gerhy and proceeding with construction at pace throughout the pandemic with high hopes for a recovery.  

While the COVID-19 pandemic forces Americans to avoid each other and challenges the desirability of offices, museums and other shared institutions, the builders of a $1-billion project in downtown Los Angeles are betting that the city will revive and people will come together again in large numbers.

The project has stopped and started again numerous times since before the Great Recession, but unlike the last time around, it doesn't appear that the current economic downturn will derail progress on the project. Scheduled for delivery are a "towering collection of apartments, stores, restaurants, movie theaters and a luxury hotel," writes Vincent. Despite the construction occurring "a full city block across Grand Avenue from Gehry’s famed Walt Disney Concert Hall," the pandemic means "few are around to witness its creation."

"So in this uncertain time, the aptly named Grand has turned almost into a stealth project, an audacious potential landmark dreamed up by one of the world’s most famous architects coming together with all the fanfare of a five-story apartment building," writes Vincent. 

Vincent notes the current status of construction on the big project, speaking with Gehry by teleconference, who at 91 has not been visiting the construction site. The outlier of the project's construction is also juxtaposed with data about high vacancy rates at hotels and office buildings downtown, shared in detail here by Vincent.

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