Still Motion Park
Submitted by Courtney Hukel, Kee-Hyun Nam, & Lisa Pidgen, Cal Poly Pomona Architecture
Locals and tourists never even think of visiting the existing downtown civic park. Hardly anyone knows about this piece of green, surrounded by government buildings in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. Having a vacant site in the middle of this important area is a problem, and it is imperative that the city fills this void and activates the site.
The main problem with the current park is the lack of physical and perceived security. Physical security is the actual equipment and people protecting and watching over the park and the people that occupy it. Currently, there is no problem with the physical security of the civic park. Many police officers patrol the site, and the people working in the surrounding government buildings have access to their building, floor, and sometimes their office by a security card system. There is no question that the site is physically secured. On the other hand the perceived security of the park is lacking. Perceived security is how safe a person feels, based on noise level, how far one can see in the distance, and the number of other people that are in the area. As it stands, the park usually lacks much sound, clarity of vision, and a comfortable amount of people, and therefore most of the time the park does not feel secure.
However, on one visit to the current park we witnessed a time the park was used. At twelve-noon all the jurors came out of the courthouses around the area and flocked to the Starbucks kiosk in the center of the park. Having this small portion of the park being used made the rest of the park feel activated and secure. We decided to capitalize on this simple idea. Our proposal will activate the entire park by animating two or three portions of the park at a time. This will create a feeling of security and the park will become friendly for usage because of that partial stimulation. Each one of these activity nodes will have at the least one restroom, a food attraction, an information kiosk, and some type of small entertainment element. The size of the cluster will depend on where it is located, and what time of the day it will be activated. Animating the site at different times and locations will be an economic way to attract people to this site. Given the resources for the park, this will also be a more flexible solution.
As previously mentioned this site in downtown Los Angeles is surrounded by government buildings. As such, the park has an opportunity to draw in the users and workers of those areas to occupy the site. And right now, with the exception of jurors, the park does not meet that goal. Most of the people that occupy the spaces outside of the area either do not even know of the park, or do not wish to visit. This is a site of civic people, civic actions, and civic needs. And therefore this park can accomplish what other important civic areas have, the idea of voyeurism. Voyeurism is the act of viewing humans; it is otherwise known as "people watching." This action is what promenades across the United States are all about, the purpose of seeing and being seen. Our design has the idea of watching others ingrained within. We have created a series of paths that connect the government buildings on the perimeter of the park together. These connections are based on what structures we thought had the most active interchange of people. For example, the Criminal Justice Center has a direct path to the County Courthouse. These two buildings have a connection based on similar activities and the amount of people that go from one area to the other.
The paths from one building to another we split into smaller segments. The portions were then changed in elevation generally no greater the five feet from one division to another. This simple action created the element of voyeurism, because each person has a clear view of other paths, their sections, and the people occupying them. Also when two paths cross, their parts weave together, giving a greater element of voyeurism. These paths create a network of choices for the user of the park. And they also give the opportunity for the loved hobby of people watching.
The area surrounding the site of the park has the second highest concentration of government buildings in the United States, Washington D.C. being the first. Keeping this fact in mind, people that wish to protest the government in Los Angeles usually gather in Pershing Square, the park across downtown. The civic park as of today does not have an area that is made for or could be easily converted into a place for political activism.
To counter this problem we have included in our proposal a series of terraces that gradually step down the site. These flat pieces of ground, in between and surrounding the proposed paths, get larger as the park descents in elevation towards City Hall. The lawns towards City Hall are ideal for many people to gather for political objection.
Another form of activism is shown in the creation of an open microphone, on the intersection of the paths closest to City Hall. And also the creation of a live video feed, near the Hall of Records. The microphone would be controlled by City Hall, but when turned on a protestor, government worker, or another person can have his or her opinions heard though-out this area of the park. This is the soapbox of the twenty-first century. The live video feed would be controlled by either the Hall of Records or the Los Angeles County Law Library, and when turned on would project the image of a small specific area near the two buildings to a screen connected to the Hall of Records. This small area would be a high traffic zone of the site, therefore projecting the people going through the space, making there activity and selves larger then life.
The proposal based off of security, voyeurism, and activism touches on the major issues that the site either has or should have. Solving the problems of security brings more people to the park. The movement of the paths creates a connection between individuals and an opportunity for people watching. And with the integration of technology, new options are made for the activism of today’s citizen. Still Motion Park is a civic destination for the civic persons of Los Angeles.