Should Cultural Values Outweigh Commercial Interests?

L.A. Times' architecture critic charges that Los Angeles' plan to revitalize downtown's cultural core is driven more by the bottom line rather than good planning.
April 5, 2004, 1pm PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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The landscape of downtown Los Angeles is about "to be radically altered by one of the largest developments in downtown's history. Covering a total of 8 acres, nearly the size of Universal CityWalk, the development site includes four critical parcels that envelop two sides of Disney Hall. It is the most visible piece of publicly owned land slated for development in Los Angeles. No single project will do more to define the city's rapidly changing civic identity.... If Gehry's Disney Hall set a new standard for the avenue's future, the current process represents a return to mediocrity. As a government-appointed entity, the Grand Avenue Committee's main responsibility is to balance the interests of private development and the public good. Instead, the committee has repeatedly pushed aside cultural concerns. In a striking display of narrow-minded thinking, it has told developers that the selection will primarily be made according to financial — not design — criteria. And it has refused to allow teams to submit the kind of detailed urban planning proposals that could spark an intelligent discussion of the site's future." [Editor's note: Fee or subscription required to view this article.]

Thanks to Chris Steins

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Published on Sunday, April 4, 2004 in The Los Angeles Times
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