Thursday, October 17, 2013

Grand Avenue Project Opinions

The Grand Avenue Project involves the lot across the street from the Disney Concert Hall.

What to do with it? No one has presented a plan that all--or even the majority--can live with.

According to this summary on Zócalo Public Square, the original plan for the plot of land, also called Parcel Q, was a design by Frank Gehry, architect of the Disney Concert Hall. That got tanked with the economy around five or six years ago.  New plans were developed (pictured left and below) but nixed by a three-person board called the Grand Avenue Authority. The reason? It lacked public space and perpetuated a "fort-like condition" common on Grand Avenue (Supervisor Gloria Molina's phrase).

However, the architectural firm Gensler has another four months (from September 30)  to adjust and resubmit a plan.

Here's what the Los Angeles Times' Christopher Hawthorne had to say about it:

Still, the recent uncertainty may turn out to be a good thing for the project and its architecture. It may make a lackluster or ill-advised design less likely to win approval or move uninterrupted toward construction.

And it will bring a fresh round of scrutiny to a development process that in recent months, as the long-delayed project gained new momentum after the recession, had faced far too little.

So like the enigmatic Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Parcel Q project appears and disappears, often telling us things about ourselves we don't want to hear, and more often behaving badly overall. Of course, on Star Trek Voyager, Q jumped the shark and became not-so-comic relief but that's another story, and non-Trekkies are no doubt hoping I'll just stop, so I will.

Zócalo features four essays by men with expertise in urban planning, some from a real estate perspective, and some from studying public use and public spaces. There's also an interview with Grand Park designer Tony Paradowski, and following that link leads to sidebars of other interviews with designers of public spaces--you can spend a very pleasant hour educating yourself on the ups and downs of a career path you probably never even considered before.

It would be fun to design parks, wouldn't it?

Zócalo Public Square, I just learned, is the brain child of my alma mater, Arizona State University (well, one of my alma maters. Another is UCLA--I've only lived out of LA County for two years of my entire life.)  It is a public forum of ideas, often partnering with local public radio to bring up great ideas and present lectures, like a recent one on whether we'll have enough water in the future, or will resort to warring over it.

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