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The board of directors for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (LMNA) recently chose Los Angeles as the latest—and potentially final—site for its troubled museum proposal.
The decision marks the third attempt by the LMNA museum board to find a location for the nearly $1 billion museum—resulting in multiple design schemes by MAD Architects. The LMNA will house a growing and expansive collection of graphic art, including works by Zaha Hadid, Edgar Degas, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, among others.
MAD Architects’ initial designs for a site north of San Francisco were rebuffed in 2015 after community outcry. The LMNA team made a try for a site in Chicago in 2016, only to eventually scrap the plans in the face of fierce opposition to the project’s proposed location on the Chicago’s lakefront by a local community group. Most recently, LMNA’s board made parallel pitches for two sites in California: one on San Francisco’s Treasure Island and another in L.A.’s Exposition Park.
L.A. won out this round, gaining another cultural amenity for a site already home to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, California African American Museum, California Science Center, and the Museum of Natural History of Los Angeles County. The new museum, if built, will also be located along the city’s Expo Line light rail line, and will help—along with a forthcoming Gensler-designed Los Angeles Football Club soccer stadium—extend a leg of transit-oriented development from a growing entertainment and hotel district in the South Park neighborhood nearby to one of L.A.’s core working class neighborhoods.
In announcing its decision, the Lucas Foundation’s board of directors extolled the virtues of the urban park and its surrounding neighborhood, saying in a statement: “While each location offers many unique and wonderful attributes, South Los Angeles’s Promise Zone best positions the museum to have the greatest impact on the broader community, fulfilling our goal of inspiring, engaging, and educating a broad and diverse visitorship.”
In an effort to preserve the park’s green spaces, the selected scheme will include public open space on its rooftop. Renderings for the proposal show the curvaceous museum located in a leafy, park setting topped with tufts of greenery. The museum also appears to gingerly touch the ground by coming down in a series of large, discrete piers.
It’s still unclear what sorts of developmental hurdles the museum will need to surpass prior to construction, but the project clearly has a fan in L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who after learning of the decision, remarked to the Los Angeles Times, “It’s a natural place to have this museum in the creative capital of the world and in the geographic center of the city. It’s a banner day for L.A.”
Detroit citizens take preservation into their own hands to save a historic Negro League stadium
Automobiles and baseball: Not much else is more American. And Detroit has been defined by both for the last 100 years. Notably, Detroit was one of the most important cities in the negro baseball leagues of the first half of the 20th century. Hamtramck, a town surrounded by the city of Detroit, is home to one of the last remaining Negro League stadiums, along with Birmingham, Alabama, Paterson, New Jersey, and Indianapolis, Indiana. Now, after years of neglect, the Hamtramck Stadium may see America’s favorite pastime once again.
It all started six years ago when a group of baseball-loving Detroiters decided to save, at the very least, the memory of Navin Field. Located in the Corktown neighborhood, Navin Field was home of the Detroit Tigers from 1912 through 1999. Despite being a Michigan Historic Site and on the National Register of Historic Places, the field was razed in 2009. The land was quickly overgrown and, as a result, the Navin Field Grounds Crew was founded. After repeatedly being chased off by the police, the NFGC eventually convinced the city to maintain the diamond on the site of the old stadium.
The NFGC is made up of volunteers and is funded completely out of the pockets of those volunteers. Even so, the crew has been out at the Navin Field diamond most Sundays for the last six years. Now they are taking on a new challenge, revitalizing the Hamtramck Stadium. As with Navin Field, the crew plans to roll out their personal lawn mowers and rakes, and get to work this spring.
The difference this time is that the NFGC won’t be alone its efforts. In January, the National Parks Service announced a $50,000 African American Civil Rights Grant for the redevelopment the stadium. Even before that, a new group, Friends of the Hamtramck Stadium, was making plans to raise funds this coming summer to repair the stadium’s grandstand.
Built in 1930, the Hamtramck Stadium was home to the Detroit Stars and Detroit Wolves throughout the 1930s. The site of the 1930 Negro National League Championship Series, the stadium saw its share of famous baseball players, including Satchel Paige and Cool Papa Bell. The stadium was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. Currently, the stadium is in the configuration that was established in the 1970s. The main remaining structure, a large grandstand, has not been used since the 1990s.
Like Navin Field, the hope is to bring baseball back to the neighborhood. As originally built, the Hamtramck Stadium could hold upward of 8,000 spectators. Much of the grandstand is original, but over the years it has been reduced from its original size and is now able to hold about 1,500 spectators.
The stadium wouldn’t be the first in Hamtramck to be revitalized. Last year the Detroit City FC soccer team redeveloped the Keyworth Stadium, bringing another classic civic space back to life. In a time when nearly $2 billion is being spent in Detroit’s downtown to build the Little Caesars Arena and entertainment district, Detroiters are demonstrating what they really value with their lawn mowers and weekends.