“ CRIT> LA’S GRAND PARK
Sam Lubell. 7.26.12
The renovated public space, by Rios Clementi Hale, is an important step for a city shedding its old ways.
Often the difference between a good city and a great one is its defining public park, which becomes a destination, a refuge, and a transformer of peoples’ conceptions of the place. Can you imagine New York without Central Park? Paris without the Tuileries or the Luxembourg Gardens? Contemporary Chicago without Millennium Park?
But when you think of Los Angeles, central urban spaces do not spring to mind. Downtown, which has been undergoing a metamorphosis in the last few years, is still culprit number one in this shortage. Its most notable park is Pershing Square, a concrete-dominated postmodern monstrosity that draws more vagrants than tourists or residents. Other small parks in the area suffer similar fates.
But the new Grand Park, whose first phase opens today (the second half should be done by the fall) is a huge step in the right direction.
Designed by local architects and landscape architects Rios Clementi Hale, the $56 million park, funded mostly by the Related Companies (who chipped in $50 million as a trade off for being able to develop their largely-on-hold Grand development) begins to mend the deep scars created by the city’s auto-centered, modernist planning dogma and changes one’s perception of its neighborhood, and to some extent, of the city at large.
What was once an off-putting, sterile, unfinished, and overlooked space called the Los Angeles County Civic Center Mall is now inviting, vibrant and, yes, transformative. While it’s not perfect, it’s an example of how for once the city’s public realm has aspired to greatness, not good-enoughness. It’s also a perfect example of how LA’s attitude toward urbanity has transformed in recent years, however the city kicks and screams.”
Via: The Atlantic Cities
Photo: LOS ANGELES’ GRAND PARK WITH CITY HALL IN THE BACKGROUND. SLICES OF LIGHT/FLICKR