Posts tagged with "Downtown Los Angeles":

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A Mexican food-themed museum is coming to downtown L.A. in 2019

The Downtown Los Angeles-based LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, a cultural center located in L.A.'s El Pueblo Historical Monument, is pushing for a new Mexican food-themed museum to open in early 2019. The museum, dubbed La Plaza Cocina, is slated for the forthcoming LA Plaza Village, a new, mixed-use affordable housing development designed by Johnson Fain. The 355-unit complex has been under construction since 2016 and is nearing completion. Designed with landscape architects SWA, the development will bring 71 low-income units to the area, as well a variety of neighborhood-serving retail and cultural spaces, including La Plaza Cocina. The Los Angeles Times reported that the new 2,500-square-foot museum will focus on the history and evolution of Mexican food, with a particular emphasis on the development of Mexican-American cuisines in the Southern California region. It will also house a demonstration kitchen and host programs, events, and exhibitions associated with Mexican food and culture in L.A. L.A.’s Rodrigo Vargas Design is designing the interiors for LA Plaza Cocina. “Los Angeles is the Mexican food capital of the country, and it deserves a place that celebrates the history and culture that we have with Mexican food.” John Echeveste, CEO of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, told The Los Angeles Times. “It’s important, not only to Latino families, but anyone who eats.” Echeveste described the museum as a “multipurpose space centered around Mexican cuisine in all of its ramifications." It will even feature a separate specialty store on site where visitors can buy spices, foods, and cultural media. According to the report, the museum will offer a slate of cooking and history classes taught by some of the region's best and most well-known Mexican chefs. In the future, it will provide cross-cultural programming with Mexican chefs via live broadcast in Mexico. The entire development is slated for an early 2019 opening.
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L.A. looks to rebrand its Metro lines using letters and colors

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is moving to rename its new and existing rail and bus rapid transit lines. Metro staff this week recommended a new plan that aims to create a “clear, consistent, [and] uniform wayfinding system” for the transit authority and its 34 million annual riders. The proposed changes would replace the existing color-based nomenclature—Blue, Red, Purple, Gold, Orange, Silver—with letters and colors for the system’s major lines. If adopted as proposed, the transition to the new naming system could begin as early as 2019 when the Blue Line re-opens as the A Line after extensive renovations. In coming years, the so-called Regional Connector project currently being built to connect a pair of lines that dead-end into Downtown Los Angeles will come online, as well, reorganizing and consolidating the number of existing transit lines. Officials hope that the new naming system reduces confusion and makes traveling across the system smoother for local strap-hangers and tourists alike. The proposed policy is a result of extensive study and ridership polling that asked respondents to choose between different configurations of numbered, colored, and lettered options. Eventually, it was decided that a combination of approaches worked best and allowed for the most flexibility, considering that many of the forthcoming lines and extensions are still in the early planning stages and the ultimate configuration of the transit system is still unknown. The changes come as the city works to dramatically expand L.A.’s transit system before the 2028 summer Olympics. Before then, Metro aims to complete 28 major transit projects across the region, including the construction of several new lines and extensions, in addition to the Regional Connector project.
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Gehry’s long-awaited Grand Avenue Towers are headed to construction

At long last, The Grand, a Gehry Partners–designed mega-project slated for a site across the street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, is finally moving toward construction. Having been in the works since 2004, the proposed $1 billion complex has faced various delays and funding hurdles over the last 14 years despite the project's high-profile status. When initially envisioned by architect Frank Gehry and developer Related Companies, the mixed-use high-rise complex was considered a marquee development that would anchor a forthcoming, multi-block arts and entertainment district. But as delays piled up, smaller ancillary projects like the Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed Broad Museum and The Emerson, a 19-story apartment tower, came online first. Now, instead of starting up the district's transformation, the complex might end up capping it off. After laying dormant for years, the project stirred back to life in 2017 after Chinese real estate firm CORE infused the development with $290 million in much-needed financing. In a surprise move, the developers filed for construction permits in August 2017. This week, the Related Companies announced it has amassed the $630 million needed in financing for the project, The Los Angeles Times reports, indicating that construction could begin as soon as the end of this month. If the timeline sticks, the complex is due to finish construction in 2021 and will eventually feature a 430-seat cinema, a 309-room hotel, and a 39-story residential component with 113 condominiums and 323 apartments, 20 percent of which will be subsidized. Renderings unveiled earlier this year depict a block-long terraced complex that steps back from the street as it rises. A pair of deconstructed, multi-faceted towers rise on either side of a central retail corridor. The project's three above-ground podium levels front the Disney Hall and are shown brimming with retail and restaurant establishments in renderings. These spaces feature broad, open-air shopping terraces and a central courtyard designed with seating areas and a sculptural awning. The two-tower complex will join a growing number of mixed-use developments that are on the way to sites scattered around the Grand Avenue district and the adjacent Civic Center area. City and private entities are working across these areas in an effort to break down the mono-functional post-war zoning plans that reshaped Downtown Los Angeles during the 20th Century and severed much of its residential uses. Other residential projects on the way nearby include a mixed-use tower from Gensler, a pair of condominium towers from AC Martin, as well as a new park designed by Office of Metropolitan Architecture and Studio-MLA.
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New renderings dropped for Arquitectonica’s pool-topped Jenga tower in L.A.

Arquitectonica and JMF Development Co. are moving forward with their plans to building a striking 53-story tower adjacent to Pershing Square in Downtown Los Angeles. The City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning recently published a draft Environmental Impact Report for the so-called 5th and Hill project that includes a new rendering for the transformative 789-foot tower, Urbanize.LA reported. Two potential options for the tower could be built-out depending on economic conditions. Option A for the project calls for a mix of residential and hotel programs, a scheme likely developed in anticipation of a potential recession, which could depress property values and therefore, lower the final sale price for each of the condominium units. This plan includes a 190-key hotel, 31 condominium units, and 29,232 square feet of restaurant space. Option A would include automated parking for 126 vehicles. Option B would bring 160 one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom condominiums to the site along with 20,431 square feet of restaurant space. The scheme would include automated parking for 187 vehicles. The tower is planned for a tight, L-shaped site that wraps the historic Pershing Square Building, which is also owned by JMF. The lower levels of the complex would feature staggered floor plates and multi-story cut-outs that would contain amenity spaces, including the building's restaurant. A more regular, glass curtain wall–wrapped volume is set to rise above the podium levels. MJS Design Group will provide landscape architecture services for the project. As the tower rises, however, the outline of the spire is set to explode in a collection of protrusions, including cantilevered swimming pools and other amenity spaces. The protrusions start off as balconies around the midpoint of the tower and gradually increase in size and depth as the building climbs. The uppermost levels are cross-crossed by projecting swimming pools and overhanging floor plates. The project represents a modest but practical update to an earlier scheme for the project developed by CallisonRTKL. The scheme will join the nearby Park Fifth development as one of two new structures slated for sites surrounding L.A.'s Pershing Square. A team led by French landscape architects Agence Ter is working to renovate Pershing Square as surrounding blocks undergo an upscale transformation. The 24-story, two-building Park Fifth project is designed by Ankrom Moisan Architecture and will feature 660 apartments and 14,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. It is slated for completion in 2019. A project timeline for 5th and Hill has not been finalized.
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New renderings reveal a slim, triangulated hotel tower for downtown L.A.

A new 58-story tower proposed by Los Angeles–based architects Nardi Associates has taken another step forward this week. The thin, diagrid-supported Olympic Tower will feature 373 hotel rooms, 374 condominium units, 33,498 square feet of offices, and more than 65,000 square feet of retail and commercial spaces, Urbanize.LA reports. The building is also slated to include an astounding 12 parking levels—with half of those levels located above ground in the building’s podium—despite being located between two busy transit stops. The above-ground parking areas are to be wrapped in residential units, however, so the podium’s presence on the street will at least include an element of liveliness. The project team has unveiled a bevy of new renderings for the development in conjunction with the publication of a draft environmental impact report. The renderings depict more detailed views of the tower’s amenities, which include several carved-out, multi-story loggia spaces and a collection of landscaped pool terraces. The new views also showcase LED signage along the tower’s lower levels, similar to those proposed and already built for many of the surrounding projects on the way to neighboring sites. The 742-foot tower will join a growing spine of high rise towers rising along Figueroa Street in Downtown Los Angeles, a new linear tower district capped on one end by the AC Martin-designed Wilshire Grand tower. Over 20 towers are planned for the area, which borders the L.A. Live, Staples Center, and Los Angeles Convention Center complexes. The new developments constitute part of the city’s effort to add badly needed hotel accommodations around the convention center, which has seen business suffer over the years due to the relative dearth of nearby lodging. A construction start date has not been announced for Olympic Tower, but the draft environmental report states that once construction begins it should take about 34 months to complete the project.
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A proposed 1,100-foot tower in L.A. could become the tallest in the west

The Los Angeles skyline continues its upward climb as developers Shenzhen New World Group and Dimarzio | Kato Architecture (DKA) forge ahead with plans for a new 77-story tower that could cement L.A.’s claim as the home of the tallest building west of the Mississippi.  A recently submitted project proposal aims to bring a 1,108-foot-tall mixed-use tower complex to 333 South Figueroa Street, the site of the existing L.A. Grand Hotel Downtown in Downtown Los Angeles. The site is just a few blocks north of the current tallest-in-the-west title holder, the AC Martin-designed Wilshire Grand Hotel. The proposal would convert the existing 13-story, 1980s-era hotel tower into 224 apartments while adding the new 77-floor tower at the northeastern corner of the site. As proposed, the segmented, glass-wrapped tower would contain 599 hotel rooms, 242 condominiums, and 28,705 square feet of commercial space, among other features. The hotel section will be complimented by 36,674 square feet of amenities that include a rooftop swimming pool and a two-level bar that would occupy the uppermost stories of the complex.  Renderings included in a submittal to the Los Angeles Department of City Planning depict a sheer tower that steps back slightly at the top to provide space for a swimming terrace. The tower touches down on the site where a three-story podium containing seven subterranean parking levels and 552 parking stalls is also planned.  If completed as currently designed, the glass and steel tower would become the fourth tower in the city that rises above 1,000 feet in height. It is the second 1,000-foot-plus tower announced in recent months, with the forthcoming Angels Landing development by Handel Architects slated to rise 1,020 feet in height just around the corner. The U.S. Bank tower—designed by Pei, Cobb, Freed & Partners in 1989–rises 1,018 feet. While the Wilshire Grand’s spire rises to a heady 1,100 feet, the building’s roof only hits 993 feet, a fact that has caused some to doubt the tower’s claim to the tallest building title. The 333 Figueroa tower would quell that conversation, however, as the spire-less tower would top-out roughly eight feet above the top of the Wilshire Grand’s spire.  A timeline for 333 Figueroa has not been announced. 
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SOM to replace Halprin’s only atrium with $60 million amenity plaza

Brookfield Properties and SOM have unveiled new renderings for a forthcoming $60 million renovation of the Lawrence Halprin-designed public plaza and atrium spaces located at the foot of the Wells Fargo Center towers in Downtown Los Angeles. Originally designed as an “urban, indoor Garden of Eden” with developer Robert Maguire and Modernist sculptor Robert Graham, the Halprin-designed atrium space was demolished in late 2017 without announcement and will now give way for a new kind of “amenity-rich” Eden populated by two restaurants, a fitness center, an indoor-outdoor bar, and other small-scale food vendors. Gone are the Robert Graham-, Joan Miro-, and Jean Dubuffet-designed sculptures that once populated the fountain-laden atrium, to be replaced with wrap-around booth seating, a stepped amphitheater, and a bar. Renderings for the new SOM-designed plaza spaces surrounding the ground floor atrium project depict a more open frontage along the site’s Grand Avenue edge, with existing pink granite-clad knee walls to make way for new planted areas and rounded bench seating. The formal atrium structure will also be softened via the introduction of a new open-web metal awning structure along its front. Areas overlooking Hope Street on the opposite side of the complex will also receive upgrades, with renderings depicting shady terrace spaces and new cabana structures wrapping the second story retail spaces above the street. Halprin’s atrium was designed in 1983 as the first component of the Los Angeles Open Space Network, a string of indoor-outdoor plazas, gardens, and parks linking the new Bunker Hill area with the South Park neighborhood to the south. The network was bookended on its northern edge by the atrium and includes the nearby Bunker Hill steps at the foot of the Pei, Cobb, Freed-designed US Bank Tower, the adjacent Maguire Gardens Park, and Grand-Hope Park. The network was not listed as a historic resource either locally or nationally prior to the demolition of the Halprin-designed atrium. Regarding the atrium demolition, Charles Birnbaum, CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation said, “It’s remarkable and disturbing that the atrium was demolished with no public notice or input,” adding, “By the way, in 2016 the water channel that runs the length of the Bunker Hill Steps was also fundamentally altered (again with no notice or public input); the rocky features over which water once cascaded (a design element Halprin abstracted from the California wilderness) have been replaced with something benign.  The entire Los Angeles Open Space Network is at the tipping point." SOM originally designed the twin 54- and 45-story story towers on the site in 1981–they were completed in 1983–amid Bunker Hill’s initial transformation from Victorian-era upper class suburb to the purpose-built postmodern business district in existence today. The austere, reflective granite-clad towers present an angular presence on the skyline and are memorialized in Fredric Jameson’s seminal tome Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism as prime examples of the era’s new “depthless” and “literal” architectural mode. Jameson wrote:
The great free-standing wall of Wells Fargo Court—a surface which seems to be unsupported by any volume, or whose putative volume (rectangular? trapezoidal?) is ocularly quite undecidable. This great sheet of windows, with its gravity-defying two-dimensionality, momentarily transforms the solid ground on which we stand into the contents of a stereopticon, pasteboard shapes profiling themselves here and there around us. The visual effect is the same from all sides: as fateful as the great monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 which confronts its viewers like an enigmatic destiny, a call to evolutionary mutation. If this new multinational downtown effectively abolished the older ruined city fabric which is violently replaced, cannot something similar be said about the way in which this strange new surface in its own peremptory way renders our older systems of perception of the city somehow archaic and aimless, without offering another in their place?
The changes to the Wells Fargo Center come amid explosive change in the city’s Bunker Hill area, with a massive Gehry Partners-designed $1 billion mixed-use complex, a new Colburn School complex—also by Gehry—and renovations to the Music Center Plaza led by RCH Studios all currently under development. SOM’s renovations are already underway and are expected to be complete by 2019.
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With new concert hall, Gehry’s Downtown Los Angeles cultural district takes shape

Frank Gehry has been selected to design a new expansion to the Colburn School performing arts center in Downtown Los Angeles, marking the architect’s third high-profile project in the area following the Disney Concert Hall and the long-forthcoming Grand Avenue mixed-use project. For this latest project, Gehry Partners will add a 200,000-square-foot structure containing three new performance venues, including an 1,100-seat, full-scale, orchestra-caliber concert hall, a 700-seat flexible studio theater for dance and vocal performances, and a 100-seat “cabaret-style” space, according to a press release. Gehry will be joined on the project by Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics—the same acoustician who worked on the Disney Concert Hall—and Michael Ferguson, principal of TheatreDNA, whose former office—Theater Projects—consulted on Gehry’s New World Center in Miami, Florida. The project comes as the second expansion to the Colburn School, following the addition of a 326,000-square-foot facility designed by Pfeiffer Partners Architects in 2007. The school’s original 102,000-square-foot home was designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates in 1998. The Colburn expansion will further boost Grand Avenue’s status as a premiere cultural district in the city, with the project joining the Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Music Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Broad among other cultural venues and institutions In the area. Now that the project team has been announced, the designers will move into the conceptual design phase of the project. A detailed timeline or estimated completion date for the project has not been unveiled.
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These four developments will reshape L.A.’s storied Solano Canyon corridor

Four forthcoming developments planned for areas immediately surrounding the recently-opened Los Angeles State Historical Park in Downtown Los Angeles's Chinatown and Solano Canyon neighborhoods have the potential to completely reshape the industrial, working-class area into a new node for mid-rise, mixed-use urbanism. According to various reports and an environmental review, the four projects detailed below will bring up to 1,690 housing units, 92,406 square feet of retail and office spaces, and 2,962 parking stalls to several transit-adjacent lots currently occupied by industrial warehouses, parking lots, or hillside brush. The new 32-acre state park opened earlier this year after a lengthy approval and renovation process and will eventually link to a fully-restored Los Angeles River greenway. The largest of these developments will be the two-phase Elysian Lofts complex by developers Lincoln Property Company, S&R Properties, and architects Newman Garrison + Partners. The linear development will be located on a long, narrow site bounded by the Gold Line and Broadway. The southern end of the 8.08-acre site closest to the Chinatown transit stop will be developed first. That section will include 451 residential units—including seven live-work suites— and 9,871 square feet of ground-floor retail. This phase will also include 3,465 square feet of office spaces and a three-level subterranean parking garage containing 880 parking stalls. Phase one of the project will be distributed across three mid-rise towers rising between 7- and 14-stories in height with the tallest tower topping out at 155 feet. The second phase of the project will improve the northernmost section of the site with 469 units, 8,070 square feet of retail, and 2,000 square feet of offices. This phase of the development will also include 10 live-work units. This second three-tower complex will sit atop a three-story parking podium with 903 parking stalls and will bookend a linear park located between the two development parcels. Phase two will be distributed across three mid-rise towers rising 7-, 8-, and 14-stories in height with the tallest tower topping out at 170 feet. The northern section of the site will also host a two-story structure containing a rooftop pool for use by residents. Renderings for the project depict grouped clusters of variegated mid-rise towers clad in large expanses of glass with views oriented over the State Historic Park. The development also features tree-lined sidewalks along Broadway and internal walkways but does not physically connect to the State Historic Park. According to currently available materials, the development does not include an affordable housing component. Just below the transit stop at the foot of the Elysian Lofts site, architects Workshop Design Collective is working on a 50,000-square-foot adaptive reuse project aimed at transforming the historic Capitol Milling Building. The brick- and timber-truss structure dates to 1881 and is being designed to include an artisanal food hall, a microbrewery, and creative offices among other uses. The five-building complex will be connected by a series of indoor-outdoor spaces that include a mezzanine level, dining terraces, and a public staircase. Across the street, architects Johnson Fain and developer Atlas Capital Group are working on a new mixed-use complex called College Station that will contain 770 dwelling units, 51,000 square feet of ground floor commercial spaces, and parking for 1,179 cars and 899 bicycles. The development will be spread out across six structures situated above a two-story podium containing parking and retail. The cluster of mid-rise housing blocks would be connected by a terrace level located above the podium. Renderings of the project depict a mix of linear apartment blocks featuring projecting balconies, metal panel cladding, and vertical louvers. The controversial project has been scaled down over time due to community concerns that it would jump-start gentrification in the area. Chinatown’s median household income is roughly $22,754 per year according to Preserve LA, and while the development is expected to contain some affordable housing, it is unclear whether those units would be affordable to current longtime residents. Just down the street from College Station, Omgivning is working on a 19,000-square foot adaptive reuse complex that would transform an existing poultry processing plant into a creative office and retail complex for developer City Constructors. The project involves designing the creative office portion of the building into a new 10,000-square-foot headquarters for the developer with the remaining 9,000 square feet of space dedicated to restaurants and retail. These projects are currently in various stages of development and will join a growing number of long-term proposals for areas surrounding Chinatown, the Los Angeles River, and the adjacent Olvera Street and Civic Center neighborhoods that include a new master plan as well as a speculative proposal by AECOM to add 36,000 housing units to areas around the L.A. River. With construction ramping up and new schemes coming to light almost weekly, it’s clear that the areas around L.A.’s Chinatown will soon look very different than they do today.
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City Market of Los Angeles project approved by L.A. Planning Department

A plan crafted by developers City Market of Los Angeles and architects Hanson LA to drastically reshape a large section of the Los Angeles Fashion District in Downtown Los Angeles was unanimously approved by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission (LACPC) yesterday afternoon. In all, the roughly ten-acre development includes 16 development sites that will ultimately render up to 945 residential units, a 201-key hotel, 312,000 square feet of educational and creative offices, 225,000 square feet of retail spaces, and 272,000 square feet commercial office areas if built according to current plans. Hanson LA is serving as the master plan architect for the project, and the firm has developed the site plan for the project as well as written design guidelines for the development that will guide “what we do for the next 100 years” on the site, Doug Hanson told The Architect's Newspaper (AN). Hanson, a principal at Hanson LA, said the plan includes establishing a site-spanning amenity level roughly 20 feet off the street that will connect various blocks by spanning over the sidewalk. The elevated park is set at the height of neighboring industrial structures in order to maintain a contextual relationship with the neighborhood. The terrace, according to Hanson, will “speak to the history of the site” as an industrial district populated by warehouse structures. The designers hope that the elevated park spaces can provide much-needed public seating and gathering spaces for the neighborhood. The two-block-wide development will be bisected along the ground floor by a series of retail-lined pedestrian streets, with the terrace level above spanning between new structures to create an outdoor mezzanine promenade. The designers released a set of new and updated renderings for the project in anticipation of the LACPC meeting that highlight the multifaceted urban dynamic the firm has sought to articulate across the site. Site design for the project has been guided by a desire to have “quality architecture” populate public and semi-public open spaces while maintaining view corridors toward iconic downtown vistas. “These aren’t massive, big buildings,” Hanson explained as he described the articulated and setback low- and high-rise placeholder forms that show up in the renderings. Structures will ultimately be designed by a variety of architectural teams according to Hanson’s guidelines and will rise from a single story up to 454 feet in height. The plans envision a sizable portion of the site dedicated to housing a satellite campus for a local university as well as a 744-seat multiplex theater, Urbanize.la reported. The developers are also seeking to transform the complex into a so-called “sign district,” a local designation that allows for the installation of large-scale, electrified advertisement and mural billboards like those coming to nearby areas. The Skid Row–adjacent development does not feature an affordable housing component but will pay over $11 million toward a funded dedicated to preserving and creating new affordable housing in the neighborhood. The project will next be reviewed by the Los Angeles City Council for final approval. A timeline for the project’s implementation has not been released, but the developers envision a roughly 20-year construction timeline for the development, depending on market conditions.
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Lawrence Halprin’s L.A. projects star in landscape architecture symposium this weekend

The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) will be holding a day-long symposium on November 4 at the Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles in conjunction with the opening of The Landscape Architecture of Lawrence Halprin, a photographic exhibition based on Halprin’s body of work. As its name implies, the symposium—titled Landscape as Catalyst: Lawrence Halprin’s Legacy and Los Angeleswill focus on the seminal landscape architect’s lesser-known Los Angeles–based projects. The symposium will “examine the influences and accomplishments” of Halprin’s Los Angeles work and will be held as part of a series of national public events organized by TCLF honoring Halprin’s local and national legacy. The Architect’s Newspaper's West Editor Antonio Pacheco will be moderating a panel discussion at the event titled Focus on SoCal: Maguire Gardens, the Open Space Sequence, and Plaza Las Fuentes. The panel discussion will delve into key works from Halprin’s Los Angeles–area legacy. Speakers on the panel include Robert Maguire III, the Los Angeles developer who commissioned several of Halprin’s L.A.–based projects; Merry Norris of Merry Norris Contemporary Art who led the art and sculpture programs for these projects; Douglas A. Campbell of Campbell & Campbell landscape architects; and Patrick Reynolds, Parks Manager and City Landscape Architect for the City of Culver City. Campbell served as the associate landscape architect for the Grand-Hope Park and Maguire Gardens. Los Angeles Open Space Sequence Halprin’s work in Downtown Los Angeles is typified by the so-called Los Angeles Open Space Network, which was an outgrowth of a 1980 proposal by developer Maguire Partners for “A Grand Avenue,” a linear spine of parks and civic spaces that would be both “people-oriented and activity-generating,” according to the TCLF website. The 11-acre plan was never fully realized but helped to lay the foundation for a collection of four public open spaces along Hope Street that work in tandem to further the urban and social life of the downtown area. Included in this sequence are Crocker Court (now Wells Fargo Court) at the base of SOM-designed, 54-story Crocker Tower complex from 1983; the Bunker Hill Steps at the base of the Pei, Cobb, Freed, & Partners' 73-story Library Tower from 1989; Library Square (now Maguire Gardens) surrounding the Bertram Goodhue–designed Los Angeles Central Library from 1926; and Grand Hope Park surrounding the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) from 1993. The sequence of spaces was designed to stitch Bunker Hill's postmodern towers together with a forthcoming apartment and condominium district to the south known as South Park. The public open spaces—designed alongside other skyscraper and plaza complexes in the area—were meant to create a series of leisure and recreational nodes throughout the district and came to fruition hand-in-hand with postmodern-style architectural projects designed by nationally-recognized firms. The open space projects represent landmark works of Halprin’s late career that utilize water features, dynamic and carefully-staged processions, and symbolic planting and architectural configurations to shape the perception of open space in L.A.’s downtown area. Much like Freeway Park in Seattle, the entire sequence was designed as an interconnected trail of plazas, forecourts, and parks that offer a variety of leisure spaces while also navigating the 100-foot difference in elevation between the top of Bunker Hill and the FIDM campus. The difference here is that by the early 1990s, Halprin was engaged full-tilt with multiple facets of the postmodern style—softening austere, mirrored corporate abstraction at the Crocker Court end of the sequence while repurposing historical symbols and elements in the Bunker Hill Steps and Grand-Hope Park projects. Plaza Las Fuentes Plaza Las Fuentes in nearby Pasadena, on the other hand, was built in 1984 as part of a new mixed-use development for the satellite city’s downtown core. The plaza accompanied an eight-story office tower and 12-story hotel and shopping complex—also developed by Maguire Partners—designed by architects Moore Ruble Yudell. The plaza features Moorish Revival arcades, decorative tile walls designed by the artist Joyce Kozloff, and is populated with sculptures created by Michael Lucero. The park’s geometric fountains guide occupants through the plaza’s stepped site, incorporating sculptures, fountains, and plantings throughout. For more information on and tickets to the Landscape as Catalyst: Lawrence Halprin’s Legacy and Los Angeles symposium, see TCLF’s website.
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Los Angeles approves massive two-tower City Center development

Steinberg Architects, Gensler, and developer Shenzhen Hazens Real Estate Group have released a new batch of renderings depicting a slew of design changes for their $700 million L.A. City Center project, a two-tower luxury development planned for Downtown Los Angeles that was recently approved by L.A.’s City Planning Commission. The new renderings depict the latest iteration of a continually-changing project that has morphed from a three-tower complex into one containing only two spires. Previous schemes showed a collection of 32-, 34-, and 38-story towers clustered over an eight-story parking podium. The new images depict a pair of towers, one 29 stories tall, the other rising 49 floors. The 29-story tower, which sits on the southern corner of the site, will contain a 300-key hotel operated by W Hotels and will be designed by Gensler. The 49-story edifice, designed by Steinberg, will contain 435 condominium units. The scheme has also jettisoned the parking podium connecting the towers. Parking will now be located underground and a shorter podium structure filled with hotel public amenities, commercial spaces, and a hotel spa will ground the towers instead. Like several other developments in the quickly-changing area, the L.A. City Center’s base will be wrapped with massive LED displays. Both towers have grown significantly more conservative in their massing and articulation throughout the design review process. Gone are the towers’ soaring pitched roofs, angled articulated massing, and vertically-oriented patterning. Instead, the towers now feature minimally-broken curtain wall facades, vertically-oriented setbacks, and expressed floorplates. AHBE Landscape Architects is designing the project’s open spaces along the parking podium and at street level, as well as each of the tower’s rooftop amenity deck areas. The complex will contain 5,000 square feet of retail functions along the ground level organized along a public shopping plaza fronting Figueroa Street. When compared with previous iterations of the project, the plaza space appears to have been enlarged and deepened, with less LED screen coverage than previously designed. The plaza’s central area will be dotted with trees that extend along the sidewalk in paired sets. According to Urbanize.LA, the first phase of the multi-phase project will construct the hotel tower, with the residential component following after an existing hotel structure on the site is cleared. The complex will add to the ever-growing set of construction cranes in the area. Construction crews are currently wrapping up work on the Harley Ellis Devereaux-designed Circa Towers located nearby and partway through construction on the Oceanwide Center complex by Gensler. A final timeline for the L.A. City Center project has not been announced.