Exposed and Concealed
Submitted by Naomi Sanders, Ray Nagahata, Catherine McLaughlin, Veenu Jayaram, Meredith Drake Reitan, USC Landscape Architecture program
Vision & Conceptual Framework
In developing our plan, the team wanted to acknowledge the complexity of living, working and visiting Los Angeles. The city’s entertainment image, its iconic status as a center of car culture, and diversity of population informed our early brainstorming. The team also considered legacy of disinvestment in the Los Angeles downtown area and the emerging residential population.
We are all strongly attached to vibrant urban spaces, yet appreciate the need for quite places of reflection. We see the park as an opportunity to contribute to the resolution of issues that have challenged Los Angeles urbanists for decades, including a shortage of greer space, the need for public parking and the declining quality of public space in the city center.
Water is a connective feature of the park. It courses through the site, offering both scenic and functional appeal. In its path from Grand to Spring Street, the water serves as a tool to reveal and veil archeological and structural elements. The park’s various contours and terraces speak to Los Angeles nature at a variety of perspectives, from the basin’s striking tectonic ruptures to the delicate scales of fish found in the river.
The team used the dramatic topographical elevation changes to highlight two possible views of Los Angeles: the pastoral and urban. Viewed from above at Grand Avenue, the user looks down on a pastoral view of meandering pathways and dense foliage. Los Angeles City Hall serves as the focal point of this view. From Spdng Street and City Hall, the view has an urban orientation: windows into the subterranean parking structure both reveal and conceal the space’s functional infrastructure.
In general, we propose to maintain the strong linear and "axial" orientation of the site. In it’s current form, the space between Grand and Spring Streets is divided by heavily traveled streets that create three separate zones of use. We propose to retain, but link these three zones. Users will be able to occupy one small portion of the park, or traverse its entire length. The largest zone, from Grand to Hill, can accommodate commercial activity, including cafes and restaurants, the middle zone, from Hill to Broadway will be open for more passive recreational uses. A mix of shaded and open areas will encourage sunbathing, reading and relaxing strolls (with or without dogs). The lower and smallest zone, from Broadway to Spring will function more strategically as programmable, open public space for concerts, performances and demonstrations.
Site access is conceived in two ways: vehicular and pedestrian. We will retain the existing parking between Grand and Hill and build underground parking between the L.A. County Law Library and the Hall of Records between Hill and Broadway. Within the park, a mix of walkways, stairs and elevators, ensure access for a wide number of users.