Grand Intervention: Flexible Connections

Grand Avenue Intervention:
Submission Gallery

Flexible Connections 

Submitted by Page Robbins, Andrew Takabayashi & William James Volbrecht, Cal Poly Pomona Architecture

When you think of popular places to go in the Los Angeles area, your mind starts to envision places such as 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Sunset Strip in Hollywood, and Universal CityWalk, but what about downtown Los Angeles? Many people would have to agree on the fact that there is no such a place with the exception for the Dorothy Chandler and the Mark Taper Forum. Many people associate downtown as a place of work, and if people live in downtown they usually venture out of the city to many entertainment destinations. By analyzing tourism, city revenue, demographics, interviewing the users of the surrounding areas, talking to residents and workers we came to the conclusion that downtown L.A. lacked a reason for people to go there. We realized that downtown caters to the people that worked there and to a small amount of people that come to the cultural centers around the area, but this could change.

We wanted to develop a park that could cater to the existing uses of the area but also have the capability to change over time depending on how the city grows and changes over the next 10 to 20 years and beyond. We wanted to create flexibility with the park that would allow for more green space or more retail spaces to be built if that is what the area calls for at the time. Right now tourism is not as big as it could be with in the downtown area, but there seems to be a trend moving toward that in the near future. With all the construction that is going on and the cultural centers that are around, there are a variety of people that come to downtown for a variety of different reasons. We wanted to create a park that people would want to come to, venture into it and feel safe, and explore what is around them and what downtown can offer. Many other metropolitan areas have very successful parks within their busy city that people go to for different reasons. Bryant Park in New York is a perfect example. Over 20,000 people a day go to Bryant Park for a variety of reasons because the park offers different functions for the different users. 

The park would serve a multitude of functions such as retail shopping, café-like eateries, civic, cultural and public events. We realize that we need to revitalize and refresh the park, by designing a park that touches the five sense of the human being. A park in the 21st century needs to be more interactive with the people. Just walking though the park isn?t enough; people are attracted to lights, sounds and things to touch. Different experiences keep people interested and intrigued. New York captures the best of both and creates a multitude of spaces within a vast city that people can sort of escape to. Los Angeles has nothing along those lines and could be one reason why there are so few people in any one area at one point or another. Big or small, each park in New York gives the users something to look forward to and a reason to go, and that is what downtown needs. 

To encourage this current exploration through the park, we have designed a series of experiences with the aid of a series of terraces that moves the user through the park. The user is able to choose different paths depending on what they wish to encounter on their journey. Each space is designed to cater to different ideas that attract tourism both from people in the L.A. area as well as people from out of state and abroad. Giving people a reason to come and enjoy the space is something that is hard to do, but by giving a variety of options for people to choose from, you give them all an opportunity to come and enjoy what they want. This pattern of terraces is directed by a series of rules that will allow the integration of restaurants; retail shops; civic, social and cultural events; specialized and green spaces spread throughout. In addition to the pattern of terraces and placement of these individualized spaces there is a need to make a secondary connection that will join these specialized spaces together, which would provide a basic service (such as places to sit near or at the restaurant/retail, green spaces, restrooms and events, etc.) between them and thus helping to draw the user deeper into the park to see and experience what the park has to offer. By creating these different experiences for the users, it keeps the people interested and wanting to come back and try to experience the park in a different way at different times. The constant change of the park from day to night and night to day gives the user the opportunity to experience a variety of different choices depending on what their mood and or motivation was for coming to the park ? be it for recreation, work, lunch or entertainment. The idea for the park is to accommodate a number of different choices for the users, thus creating flexibility for the park as well as the user.