Submitted by Douglas Alandrobish
CONCEPT: The most essential component of any civic attraction is its ability to attract people. Foot traffic should be the first priority. It must have a sense of place that is unique unto itself. It should have a distinct design that is immediately identifiable to anyone in the world once they have been there. It has to be a destination unto itself. It must be self-contained in that it needs nothing else outside of itself to be a complete experience. And it must be an experience separate and apart from anything within the city. It must be a space that has the ability to transform not only the physical location but also the visitor who steps within its environs. What is the great idea The Grand Avenue Project will have that is of lasting value, the captivating concept that stimulates visitors to return time and time again? It must become a landmark on the world architectural map. The Grand Avenue Project should have the ability to embrace residents and visitors by defining Los Angeles through its past, present and future. It should be the opposite of the lyrics of the song that says, “L.A. break down and take me in.” It must be a place that opens its arms and takes us in: into its heart, its mind and spirit.
ELEMENTS: The design should bring together two main elements for a successful site: people and nature. As a gathering or meeting place, or as a solitary rendezvous within the context of the Civic Center, this central site should give the visitor a sense of relief, relaxation, meditation, contemplation and stimulation. The Grand Avenue Project should be designed to bring the diversity of the city together as one mind, heart and spirit. This landmark should have universality, giving the visitor a connection to the city, while at the same time allowing the city to connect with the visitor. In this respect, the visitor becomes a participant: an active part of The Project. The four natural elements interacting in that context would be the use of:
Light Water Stone Foliage
EFFECT: As one steps onto the proposed design, they should immediately feel they have been transported to the very heart of the city. From the height of Bunker Hill, the visitor should feel a spatial sense of infinity. As future development rises above and around The Project, a visitor should have the sensation they are on a pediment overlooking the center of the universe. Looking east, from Grand Avenue, out over the vista toward City Hall, one should have the impression of standing in the presence of the past, present and future. The Civic Center Buildings should become the arms embracing The Grand Avenue Project down to the area surrounding City Hall. The eyes of the visitor should meet with the creative expression that reflects a city that brought the magic of cinema and the creative genius of art, music and literature to the world. There should be representation of all these creative efforts on a scale that fits a metropolis as large as the City of Los Angeles.
The Grand Avenue Project must be multi-dimensional and user friendly, not only to the eye but to the touch. The project should take into consideration the weather patterns, which create their own natural effects on the environs. With sun, fog, rain and wind, the project should have kinetic designs that play on each element of nature. What effect does the rain have on a sculpture, which allows the rain to create new dimensions on the design? The interaction of the wind should play a part in the effect of the project. Large banners, flags, kites or windsocks designed to rest in quiet times are released to fly during the blustery days of the year. Shade can also be utilized to great effect with specific calculations of the sun throughout the year. Large umbrellas as suspended sculpture can be incorporated to enhance The Project, giving added dimension. When looking either from Grand Avenue toward City Hall or from City Hall to Grand Avenue, the visitor should be met with colorful, colossal floating artwork that delights the eye. Huge inflatable sculptures called SkyArt, designed by local artists or corporate sponsors with titles like: Clouds, The Piñata, St. Jerome’s City or the sports-themed The Rookie, would be floated from cables attached to the Civic Center buildings, soaring high above The Project floor. These playful or serious inflatables would amplify the California image and promote tourism to the city. Because Los Angeles has a recreation-friendly climate, these floating symbols of the Los Angeles lifestyle would imprint themselves onto The Grand Avenue Project as yet another dimension of our enviable way of life. In times like these, it would also lift the morale of the population and make a strong statement as to the nature and vitality of Los Angeles. To reflect the more whimsical character of Los Angeles, inflatable characters like Bugs Bunny, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Dumbo or the memorable icons from the Wizard of Oz can also soar hundreds of feet over The Grand Avenue Project. At night, these inflatable sculptures would be illuminated and seen for miles around giving the residents of Los Angeles a sense of place, pride and ownership. These installations would be on rotation giving the park a fluid dimension and encourage visitors to revisit. Celebrations during the year should be planned that reflect the diverse cultural heritage of the city?s residents. This would also include cultural and entertainment venues that travel to Los Angeles as part of their itinerary.
DESIGN: There will be five  designated sites within The Project: 1) The Grand Concourse; 2) The Cascades and The Arbor; 3) The Common; 4) The Gardens and Rain Walks; and 5) The Forum and Ice Rink. Each site will retain a unique individuality and yet a continuity that unifies the project as a whole. Starting from Grand Avenue to the west, and then moving toward the east, the following describes the features and concepts of each designated site: [Please see the last segment that addresses the issues regarding the Civic Center buildings].
THE GRAND CONCOURSE
The Grand Concourse is designed to be the continuum of the Music Center: the cultural heart of Los Angeles. Special events will be held on The Grand Concourse, independently or in conjunction with events at Disney Hall, the Music Center (pictured below) and/or nearby museums or institutions. Its close proximity to the Music Center makes it a natural extension for auxiliary events such as large dinner galas, concerts or mixed venues for festivals and celebrations of all types. A large colorful canopy can be unfurled over The Concourse for special events creating a pavilion-like atmosphere.
The Grand Concourse will be situated directly across the Music Center on the eastern side of Grand Avenue. It will be reached by descending a series of eight to 10 steps from Grand Avenue, strategically placed between cascading fountains. From The Music Center, The Concourse will be reached by a wide, gently arched promenade extending out over Grand Avenue from the Music Center’s Plaza and leading to the steps and cascading fountains that mark the Grand Avenue Concourse Entrance. From this point, The Concourse will extend east from Grand Avenue to a third of the way between Grand and Hill Street. The northern and southern boundaries of The Concourse will extend between the Los Angeles County Municipal Court Building and the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration (pictured below). The Grand Concourse will be surrounded by water on three sides: north, east and south.
The Concourse’s focal point will be its stone floor. The design of the floor will be a sculpted tapestry of color, depicting either a: 1) Anthropological Map of Los Angeles illustrating the historic timeline of the city; 2) a colorful mosaic of the cultural and geographical areas of the city that have contributed to the flavor of Los Angeles, or even; 3) a vast rotating sundial of spectacular design, commissioned by a designated committee or won through a competition by a worthy artist.
On the north and south sides of The Concourse floor will be stone-stepped berms, slowly rising out from the floor’s edge to ten feet in height. These steps will be a place where people can sit and enjoy lunches or dinners before a concert, play or opera or view events on The Concourse from a comfortable height. The upper berms will be lined with lighted Sycamore trees adjacent to rectangular pools of water that cascade off the outer edges creating an infinity effect. [This echoes the architectural design of the Water & Power Building (pictured below) on North Hope Street.] Rising out of the center of these pools and towering above the sycamore trees, will be 50 flags representing the United States: 25 flags on each side. An additional flag of the State of California and City of Los Angeles will be strategically placed with the flag of the United States at the center of the cascading pools and fountains at the Grand Avenue entrance, while nearby tall wind catchers reverberate with the sound of wind chimes.
At the eastern edge of The Concourse will be a soaring Glass Sculpture Fountain symbolizing the essence of Los Angeles. During the day the Glass Sculpture will glisten off the sunlight. At evening, the Glass Sculpture will become a light show. With the marvel of advanced technology, the sculpture will change color patterns much like a cuttlefish. And so as not to be taken too seriously, there will be whimsical touches where the Glass Sculpture becomes psychedelic, paisley or punk, appearing and disappearing like a Cheshire cat. The Glass Sculpture Fountain will also feature holograms of historic people of Los Angeles. They will appear to float on top of the surrounding water. Being on the higher eastern edge of The Grand Concourse, the Glass Sculpture Fountain will be seen from all points of The Grand Avenue Project. The Fountain will also serve as the crowning point above the waters of The Cascades rushing off The Concourse’s eastern edge, to the The Common below.
The Cascades, an innovative water feature, will highlight vertical jutting rock formations like columnar basalt [the Devils Pile Posts], pools of rushing water, geysers and glass walkways that snake through this water feature, ascending and descending from The Concourse above. The Cascades will serve as a powerful transition from The Concourse above to The Common below. The walkways will be enclosed in glass tubeways, called Arteries, that use special lighting effects in continuity with the Glass Sculpture Fountain above. The light effects from the glass Arteries will cast multi-colors on the falling water, adding another dimension to the water feature. The jutting rock formations that resemble the Devils Postpiles National Monument south of Mono Lake in California, will be tall squared shards of rock (columnar basalt), in varied standing clusters, ascending and descending the eastern face of The Concourse. They will be designed so the adventurous may climb the face of the rock formations safely to the top or wade in the pools that pocket the rock formations on the way up or down. There will be special glass elevators to take visitors from the top of The Concourse into the the caves below, giving the water feature a Niagara effect. There will be geyser-like spouts and sprays. The Cascades will be known for its capricious capacity to entertain.*
*[NOTE: The added feature is the movement of the lip of the waterfall as it moves forward and backward, revealing more rock formations as it moves backward. As it moves forward it also creates different effects with the rock formations as it falls upon them. The waterfall will divide itself as it moves like a curtain opening on a stage, changing from a curtain to a series of louvers to individual streams of water falling at different currents and formations: triangular, circular, rectangular and crenulated forms. From behind the Cascades, special lighting effects result in different images and colors as the waterfall changes position and formations in a series of random variations. There will be innumerable combinations of water formations throughout.]
At the lower Cascades’ edge, where the waters pool, will be an area called The Arbor which will curve along the entire expanse of The Cascades from waters edge to the border of The Common. The Arbor will extend 75 feet from The Cascades’ edge to the beginning of The Common. Made of hard-packed sand, with simple stone benches surrounding Japanese maples or California maples, planted in a precise, checkerboard pattern, The Arbor will accommodate visitors wishing to spend time at the shaded waters edge. Concaved steps, extending the entire width of The Arbor’s eastern edge, will gently lead visitors to the lawn of The Common below.
The lush expanse of lawn at the foot of The Cascades, better known as The Common, will be the playground of The Grand Avenue Project. The great lawn will be uninterrupted by trees, shrubbery or foliage of any kind. The Common will be distinguished by its simplicity. Along its northern and southern corridors will be two winding pathways of hard-packed sand lined with groves of sycamores leading down to Hill Street. The boughs of sycamores will lean gently out along the edge of The Common and over its pathways at varying degrees. Surrounding the sycamores will be carpets of leafy green plants giving the feeling of a forest floor with periodic pedestals holding large Victorian Birdhouses**, replicas of homes that, at one time, lined Bunker Hill (pictured). Stone benches strategically placed along the pathways will provide a respite for visitors. There will be suspended sculptured lanterns to light the way. Their main purpose is to light the pathways below without shining light directly into the eyes of the visitor. The light from these lanterns will splash up against the petticoat of the trees. Other special lighting will be fixed to the trees above and at ground level along the pathways creating a unique ambience at night. During special calendar events the pathways will be lined with additional lanterns and banners created by artists of the Los Angeles area, sponsored by corporate funding, celebrating Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July or any other widely held calendar event. Within the Sycamore Grove will be two brooks, made up of large and various boulders that source at The Cascades and gently flow and cascade toward Hill Street. The Grand Avenue Project will become the event capital of the city: a light and art festival at the center of Los Angeles.
**[NOTE: The birdhouses can be sponsored by any Los Angeles County city, corporation, organization or private citizen wishing to contribute to The Grand Avenue Project. The birdhouses are recommended to be proportionate in scale to the height of three to four feet. They should be authentic down to the last detail. A plaque giving the history of the house will be placed near the replica for the visitors’ information.]
The Gardens of the Grand Avenue Project [between Hill Street and North Broadway] will be divided into two main sections: the Lower Garden and Upper Garden areas. The main attraction of the Upper Garden will be The Ecliptic Pool; the highest point [30 feet] of The Gardens will act as a calendar clock. The floor of The Ecliptic Pool will be a circular, sculpted fan design that captures sunlight and shadow giving the time of day and month of the year. This will be achieved by strategically planting near the pool, a group of stainless steel spires representing the 12 months of the year, that will cast their respective shadows across corresponding marked designs of the pool floor, indicating the current month and time of day. There will also be representations of the phases of the moon in the pool design. Like Stonehenge, The Ecliptic Pool will mark the Spring Equinox and Winter Solstice with the sun’s light and shadow. At the center of The Ecliptic Pool will be a triad sculpture grouping of a Lucite/crystal Obelisk, Orb and Pyramid. At night, the Pyramid becomes a mega-spotlight that soars into the night sky. The circular edges of The Ecliptic Pool will be surrounded by rotating prism-shaped lights that create a kaleidoscope of color and movement under the water.
Immediately surrounding the pool is The Terrace, made of limestone and lined with smooth marble benches along its bermed, square-shaped perimeters. The elevation of The Terrace and pool will provide a panoramic view of Downtown from its lofty position [30 feet] in the Upper Garden region. The Terrace will be bathed in indirect lighting along its edges. Leading up to and surrounding The Ecliptic Pool will be undulating, intertwining walkways with spiraling ramps and serpentine mounds of sculpted earth that, in turn, lead to the Lower Garden regions.
In the Lower Garden, grassy, hedged and floral formations will create optical illusions in juxtaposition to the Upper Garden. The concept of The Gardens is to surprise and delight the eye using precision and illusion from every vantage point whether high or low. Each design element works in conjunction with the other. The idea is to display precision designed floral beds consisting of globular flowers of individual uniform color. As one views these geometrically shaped floral beds from different angles, they will appear to transform into varied colors, changing forms and multi-dimensions. Strategically planted ornamental trees will adorn the area. The Gardens will possess an ambience of ancient times and modern space. Molded contours of earth will simulate ancient mounds held sacred to cultures of long ago. Amid the garden design will be stone sculptures with the engraved names of writers, artists and composers whose works have had their origins here in Los Angeles. The stone walkways will be engraved chronologically with names of civic leaders and historic figures that made an impact on the city of Los Angeles. In addition, a bell sculpture will capture the wind and add another dimension to the audible sensory experience. And, again, special lighting will add to the nighttime visual effect of The Gardens. Illuminated myrtle trees will line both Hill Street and North Broadway.
THE RAIN WALKS
Along the northern and southern borders of The Gardens will be two corridors of winding and zigzagging Rain Walks with 10-foot-tall, manicured zigzag hedges on the left and 8-foot-tall serpentine hedges on the right. In front of these hedges are specially designed fountains that mist onto brightly colored suspended sculptured plates that in turn let the accumulated moisture rain gently down onto geometrically design pools filled with koi. Water Sculptures that collect the rain and create kinetic movement will be placed at the various centers of the pools. The Rain Walks are a series of steps that gently slope down toward North Broadway, designed after the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching: 32 hexagrams on each side, north and south. Above the walkways will be suspended arbors of hanging wisteria. Benches will be placed along the corridors for visitors to rest or enjoy the walkways. The Gates to these walkways will be four, 12-feet high double doors of wrought iron or bronze, depicting California native Indians, settlers, flora and fauna. The Gates will be programmed to close at midnight and open again at 6 a.m. The main areas of The Gardens can remain open 24 hours or whatever the city deems appropriate.
The main function of The Forum will be the meeting place for citizens of Los Angeles to attend special events that will include Civic Ceremonies, Cultural Events, Holiday Celebrations, Multimedia Presentations, Festivals, Commemorations and Ice Skating. The backdrop for these events will be the ubiquitous City Hall. The Forum will also become the showplace for movie-industry innovations.
The Forum will be located between North Broadway and Spring Street. The design will be a table floor that rises 10 feet above street level. The surrounding walls of The Forum will be of cubist sculpted marble with cascading water over several stepped tiers into pools that run the entire length and width of The Forum, at street level. There will be four main staircases on each side of The Forum, each 100 feet wide, that lead up from street level to The Forum floor. At the top of the stairs, The Forum floor is surrounded by a 20-foot-wide mezzanine terrace. The Forum floor is five steps below the mezzanine level.
The Forum will have two staging areas, one at the north end, and the other at the south. This will allow expedience in logistics for events that need to utilize both stages for nonstop performances with several performing groups or events that need two types of setups simultaneously [civic speakers on one stage and musicians on the other]. These stage areas will extend out onto The Forum floor for an additional 10 feet in depth, from the edge of the mezzanine floor, and 75 feet in width, all at mezzanine level. (A total of 30×75′.) [Additional staging can be set up as needed for each event and then removed.]
The Forum floor will be of multi-purpose design. It will be built on special hydraulics so that it can be easily raised or lowered for certain events and uses. During warmer seasons, the floor will be filled with umbrella tables for public use. Potted trees will be incorporated for shade and ambience. For other events being held at The Forum, the floor will be lowered and all tables and trees can be removed as equipment for the scheduled event will be set up; then the floor is raised to its usual level. The floor can also be raised to mezzanine level if an event requires a completely level space. Each event will be set up separately and then dismantled so The Forum is always ready for the people to use the next day.
There will be eight  hydraulic controlled posts that will hold special lighting and sound equipment for evening events. They will be evenly placed at the four corners and sides of the floor at the top of the mezzanine steps. These posts will also be designed to hold between them large screens for multimedia presentations. When not in use, these posts will be lowered and concealed below mezzanine level with only their capitals, crowned as lanterns, remaining as the only evidence that they exist. These lanterns will be 3 feet high [about the size of fire hydrants] and will illuminate The Forum floor throughout the night. There will be additional hydraulic posts located around the outer edges of The Forum to clasp uniquely designed canopies or streamers to protect the floor from the sun or any other weather elements. These posts will rise to the height of 75 feet or more depending on the design of the canopy and can be raised or lowered at different levels placing the canopy at any angle desired. The Forum will be designed to hold as many events as possible with all the technology incorporated so that it becomes one of the most valued venues in the city. Special lighting at floor level will cast light upward giving The Forum an almost UFO effect. In fact, The Forum will have the ultimate in stage lighting and special effects. During the evening, the lighting changes formations in random patterns creating different atmosphere effects so that no event needs to be happening at The Forum for a visitor to be enchanted and entertained.
THE ICE RINK
During the colder winter months The Forum floor would be transformed into an Ice Skating Rink. The Ice Rink would be in operation during the winter holiday season from Thanksgiving Day through New Year?s Day. The Ice Rink could become the focal point of special events starting the holiday season. Special holiday lighting would become a spectacular counterpoint at The Park Project for the rest of the year. [The Ice Rink would rival Rockefeller Center?s skating rink in New York through the use of special technological effects.] Using multimedia screens and surround sound, skating on ice in Los Angeles would become a whole new experience for those visiting The Forum. With lasers, lights, and on cold nights, the use of falling snow, it would be an experience visitors would rave about that would perpetuate interest and captivate a jaded public.
The Forum Ice Rink would develop into a multi-dimensional site where citizens would bring their families and start a new tradition for the holiday season. There would be live music and/or recorded music available during Ice Rink hours. Other related events would be scheduled throughout The Grand Avenue Park Project around the opening of the Ice Rink. There will also be parameters of operation for the Ice Rink.*** When the Ice Rink is not in operation The Forum could be the venue for Dance, Music and Art events. The Forum could be in use all during the year.
***[NOTE: The Ice Rink would be limited to the number of skaters allowed at one time. Reservations would be made for local workers wishing to use the Ice Rink during lunch hours. Private parties would be available only after public hours. After New Year’s Day, the Ice Rink would be only open to corporate parties and civic organizations during the week and open to the public on weekends only through the month of January. Any further use during the season would be decided by the city based on public demand. Other precautions would be taken to protect the environment at The Forum. The mezzanine and steps would be covered in protective materials to avoid damage from skate blades. Skates would be prohibited in certain restricted areas and fines would be given to violators. Security would be highly visible and injuries would be the responsibility of the skater.]
The walkways along the north and south perimeters of The Forum will be lined with double diagonal rows of 100-foot- tall palm trees or Canary Island Palms. The palm trees would be surrounded at their bases by hard-packed sand and drought-resistant ground cover. The overall effect would be a more desert-like ambience. At night, these palms would be floodlit from below and during holidays, special lights wrapped around the trunks in symmetric designs would create a uniform spectacle. The walkways themselves would be of translucent material that allows for illumination beneath the pathways creating a soft glow around The Forum.
The Forum will be designed to augment and compliment the architecture of City Hall. It will become its podium and pomp. Because The Forum will be architecturally an outdoor venue, the City Hall tower will resonate as the backdrop for all events. They will have a symbiotic relationship. With the use of artistic ornamentation, The Forum will become like a flower on the ear of an exotic beauty. The energy level surrounding The Forum and City Hall will create a unique site to visit in Los Angeles. As part of The Grand Avenue Park Project it should remain one of the most definitive venues for years to come.
Bunker Hill photo courtesy of the Regional History Collection, University of Southern California.