The Itinerant Interchange
Submitted by Paulina Bouyer-Magana, Adam Harwell & Crystal Wang, Cal Poly Pomona Architecture
Before its current resurgence, downtown Los Angeles had been experiencing a steady decline for decades. Residents left and the transients took over. Commuters and filmmakers breathe temporary life into downtown at certain times, but when they are not using the city it is left abandoned and dead. Downtown is a rare stop for the nomads of L.A.; an unfortunate victim of the automobile culture.
Recent attempts have been made to give substance and vitality back to the downtown. New civic, commercial and residential projects are under way. Yet still, at its heart, hidden between civic buildings, lays a forgotten park. Cut in three parts by busy streets, the schizophrenic plan is now a shadowy garden, a pitiable monument and a bleak parking lot. The park reflects the nature of the neighboring government bodies: Static, vague, encumbered by rules and misused power and indifferent to the public it is meant to serve. There is no sense of the mobile culture so connected to Los Angeles other than one rundown parking lot.
The existing park is important to the revitalization of downtown because it is adjacent to many of the most important civic and cultural buildings in Los Angeles. It is a buffer between some of the major social and political spaces of the city and county: City Hall, the county courts, DWP, Cal Trans, Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral, and the Music Center with Disney Concert Hall. However, the park must assert its position and connect to the city in order to bind the diverse functions surrounding it.
A park for Los Angeles in the 21st century must embody the modern culture of Los Angeles rather than simply apply traditional planning methods. This culture, one of speed and mobility, requires a place that offers convenience and choice, while also allowing a feeling of familiarity and accessibility.
A solution presents itself in the infrastructure of mobility so representative of Los Angeles: The freeway and automobiles. The freeway offers circulation, infrastructure ? evocative forms that are both familiar and accessible. The automobile has attributes that lend to the development of a program that is both convenient and interchangeable. This project uses a central spine and a network of off-ramps. The spine is laid along the long axis of the park, bridging streets, and acting as a permanent platform for a variety of event programs and circulation patterns. Parts of the park will remain static; acting as buffers between existing buildings and the ?freeway? and providing a foundation for the network of off-ramps.
The plan of the new park is gradated between temporary to completely permanent. The temporary spaces provide a place for events such as markets, concerts and rallies. The permanent spaces will be used as leasable retail space housing shops, restaurants and cafés. The spaces that are in between permanent and temporary will be taken up with more traditional green park programs: gardens, lawns and pathways. This park will allow for change as both vendors and patrons will determine the use and direction the park takes as downtown evolves.