Los Angeles Civic Park conceived as urban core in tradition of world's great city parks
Rios Clementi Hale Studios’ design for the new Los Angeles Civic Park will result in a transformational urban space in the tradition of the world’s great city parks. Unifying a 12-acre linear site across four blocks in the heart of downtown Los Angeles’ civic and cultural centre, Civic Park is envisioned as an iconic destination celebrating the city’s multicultural and horticultural diversity. It is part of the larger Grand Avenue Plan to revitalise the entire area. The project broke ground on July 15, 2010.
“It’s a great honour to be working on the Los Angeles Civic Park with the Grand Avenue
Committee, Related Companies, the County of Los Angeles, and the people of Los Angeles,” says Mark Rios, FAIA, FASLA, founding principal of Rios Clementi Hale Studios. “Our firm believes Los Angeles is one of the most exciting global cities today. We are exposed to, and connected by, amazingly diverse and authentic cultural experiences and communities. Our intent is to design Civic Park as a cultural crossroads, a dynamic common public space that contributes to and celebrates the peoples and cultures of Los Angeles.”
To conceptualise Civic Park, Rios Clementi Hale Studios engaged in an award-winning, multi-year planning process that included interactive workshops and forums with community groups, arts entities, civic and governmental bodies, and neighbourhood constituents. Throughout, Rios Clementi Hale Studios aspired to foster an overarching flexibility to accommodate a wide range of events, performances, and occasions, for all times of day—and allow the space to grow with the city and evolve over time.
Tree-lined perimeter promenade paths forming a 2/3-mile pedestrian loop, along with 'meridian' paths that connect the promenades at varied intervals, unify the site’s four distinct blocks. The landscape architects used the existing park’s significant grade change as an asset, rising to the challenge of softening Bunker Hill’s natural incline with pedestrian-friendly and ADA-accessible ramps and broad steps. New multi-use event, community, and performance spaces in the form of plazas, terraces, and lawns serve as settings for diverse cultural, civic, and social functions. The landscape design preserves many of the site’s mature trees, and also establishes new patterns of both sun and shade plantings. The historic Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain will be restored and revamped to enhance its sustainability as well as its viability as a dynamic water feature. Elements also include a 'New York-style' dog run, play areas for children, and quiet places of shade for reading and contemplation.
Along with the landscape architecture, Rios Clementi Hale Studios is designing two modern support structures featuring interior spaces for café, gatherings, and park services, along with shaded space beneath sloping roofs. The multi-discipline design firm is also creating custom site-specific furnishings—chairs, benches, tables—in brightly coloured metal. Civic Park will provide a neighbourhood park for downtown Los Angeles’ burgeoning residential community, and a daily respite for many government workers and visitors. At the same time, Rios Clementi Hale Studios has designed it to serve a multi-cultural, future-oriented, and sprawling city—and to be a beautiful outdoor destination to complement a diverse population’s visits to downtown’s civic institutions and growing mass of cultural landmarks.