The long-vacant, fenced-off lot at First Street and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles will soon be developed into a two-acre public park.
The $28 million sand-covered parcel next to City Hall and Grand Park will be designed by a team led by the architectural firm Mia Lehrer + Associates.
Councilman Jose Huizar said today that the park will meet the public’s need for green space in the downtown Civic Center area.
Huizar said that after reaching out for public input, “the number one thing that people wanted to see was shade.”
In the adjoining Grand Park, “it’s a beautiful open green space, but not a lot of trees,” Huizar said. “Not a lot of place where people can relax, get under a shade and feel like you’re in nature. And that’s what we wanted with this park. And that’s what Mia Lehrer brings.”
The winning team’s proposal includes a grove of native oak and sycamore trees as well as sculpted shade canopies topped with solar panels.
When Huizar was a member and President of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education, he worked with Lehrer’s office to design Vista Hermosa Natural Park, located near the intersection of the 110 and 101 in Historic Filipinotown.
The team also includes the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), co-founded by architect Rem Koolhaas, California-based design think-tank IDEO, civil engineering firm Psomas and public art curator Marc Pally.
It was chosen out of four finalists, beating out Eric Owen Moss, AECOM and Brooks + Scarpa.
Lehrer said one challenge was to design a park that is situated between government office buildings, world-class art museums, and the Los Angeles Times building.
“It’s an intense energy in this one space,” Lehrer said, adding, “there’s this new community that’s brewing. Not only people who come to work here or lead here, but also the… people who live in the downtown area.”
The city’s Request For Proposals asked entries to incorporate such features as stormwater management, space for public art and a restaurant.
The two-story restaurant is designed to sell food at different price points, a rooftop vegetable garden, a beer garden, and a test kitchen for up-and-coming chefs. Revenue from the restaurant will help finance maintenance of the park.
The park at First Street and Broadway will be built on the former site of a 13-story state building that was demolished after it was damaged in the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. The removal of the two-story underground parking structure was completed in late 2014.
The site was purchased by the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks from the state in 2013, and was made a dedicated park land for the development of a new park under the city’s “50 Parks Initiative”.
The park’s ribbon cutting is expected to take place in mid-to-late 2019.
The Bureau of Engineering, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office, Councilman Huizar’s office, and the Department of Recreation and Parks, has led the planning effort.
“The revival of downtown, which we’ve seen in the last 15 years, is a commitment to having an urban core. And I see the investment the city is making in this park space. Because there were discussions of this being another building site. And the city, the mayor and the councilmember said no, we would really like to commit this to open space,” said Deborah Weintraub, Chief Deputy City Engineer for the City of Los Angeles and the Chief Architect for the Bureau of Engineering.
“We’re park-poor in downtown, so the investment made here speaks leaps and bounds about the kind of priorities that the city is making,” she added.
The project will be funded with $21.9 million in Quimby fees paid by developers to build and improve nearby parks. Another $3.65 million came from the Department of Recreation and Parks.
The total cost will be $28 million to acquire the property and design and build it.
The announcement comes less than a month after Huizar’s office announced that a team led by Paris-based architecture firm Agence Ter will redesign Pershing Square in downtown LA’s historic core. Funding for that $50 million project has yet to be secured.
“I think they’re both equally important for creating a vibrant and user-friendly downtown,” Weintraub said.