Downtown L.A. Comes of Age With Opening of 'Grand Park'

This weekend's opening of the 12-acre park stretching from City Hall to the L.A.'s cultural acropolis marks the maturation of a downtown transformed from office park to vibrant neighborhood, reports Sam Allen.
July 26, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Envisioned as a "green room" in the middle of a transformed downtown, the $56-million park, which was originally supposed to open in concert with a $775-million Frank Gehry-designed mixed-use development now stalled by the financial downturn, provides the neighborhood with its first sizable amount of open space. "To city leaders, Grand Park provides this new community with much-needed open space, a respite from the grind of city life as well as a hub for community events. They also hope it will play a big role in downtown's future growth, helping spur more development in the area and create more of a residential feel," writes Allen.

Some are concerned, however, that the homeless and activist groups will outnumber other park users due to the relative lack of adjacent street life, at least when compared to the areas of downtown that have seen the bulk of the new residential development. Intense programming, security guards, and strategic lighting are some of the solutions mentioned.

In his review of the park, Christopher Hawthorne, architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, credits the designers at LA-based Rios Clementi Hale Studios for making "exuberant use of a tough spot." Although Hawthorne recognizes the challenges offered by the park's location and grade, and a less than successful integration with surrounding streets, he praises the park design as a whole as "a breakthrough for a resurgent downtown and a step forward for Los Angeles."

For Hawthorne, Grand Park is "an attempt, imperfect but encouraging, to chip away at the rigid infrastructure of the car-dominated city and make a private city a little more public."

 

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Published on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 in Los Angeles Times
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