|Los Angeles Convention Center|
It seems that Los Angeles Mayor Eric J. Garcetti has grands plans for the city. First, the latest in city's effort to become the American bidder for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. Today, an Los Angeles Times article reported that a proposed budget for the summer games which includes funds for facilities renovations and new construction. Second, there is the ongoing saga of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art redesign and, the proposed Frank Gehry master planned Los Angeles River. Christopher Hawthorne recently reported in his recent Times article, "L.A. Convention Center's proposed design screams 'conventional thinking,'" the venerable Los Angeles Convention Center is being eyed for renovation. The problem, according to Mr. Hawthorne, is the proposed renovation is, well, conventional.
|Rendering of proposed Los Angeles Convention Center|
The Anschutz Entertainment Group, the
|Aerial view of proposed LACC redesign|
Populous and HMC, architects
|Los Angeles Convention Center West Hall|
On February 18, 2015, the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering announced a design competition for the expansion and renovation of the LACC. (eng.lacity.org/projects/laccexpansion) From the field of eleven architecture firms, including AC Martin Inc. and LMN Architects; Gensler and Lehrer Architects, and the eventual winner HMC Architects and Populous. Mr. Hawthorne notes, " Still, even without the stadium attached, this is a plum commission and a major civic project with a total budget of $470 million." The chosen design, for which the City Council will discuss in November, calls for a dramatic makeover of the West Hall, the portion of the complex nearest Staples Center and L.A. Live. The proposed design will add a concourse spanning Pico Boulevard and redesign Gilbert Lindsay Plaza along Figueroa, named for Los Angeles's first African-America Council member.
|Chick Hearn Court with statue|
A 70,000-square foot open-air ballroom would replace the current lobby and meeting rooms in the West. Above that would be another ballroom, 100,000 square-feet, wrapped mostly in glass. Both would offer dramatic views. Lindsay Plaza would get a much needed energy boost with colorful new paving and plants by landscape architecture firm Olin. The open space would stretch toward L.A. Live and wind its way behind Staples. The East and West halls, would be connected by a bridge-type building spanning Pico. Where the complex buts up against the noisy 110 Freeway, a new sound wall with thick plantings would provide updates to drivers and reduce traffic noise spilling into the convention center.
|Gilbert W. Lindsay Plaza|
Los Angele Convention Center
One of the questions Mr. Hawthorne poses is "what the convention center owes downtown and nearby neighborhoods, architecturally or otherwise." The cynic says since AEG, in spite of losing the NFL plan secured a five-year contract to run the convention center, has some that the complex renovations will nicely complement the L.A. Live architecture, so that traffic between the sites becomes seamless. Blogger thinks that frenetic Pixar movie architecture of the proposed design would complement Ginza-at-night architecture of L.A. Live (Blogger's own description).
|Northbound on Pico Boulevard and Figueroa Street|
|Los Angeles Convention Center East Hall|
|McCormick Place Grand Concourse|
Los Angeles Convention Center
The stakes in this case are high not just for downtown but for the entire city and county of Los Angeles. Instead of relying on new construction, the convention center's additional square footage will be woven into and on top the existing mid-century buildings. Mr. Hawthorne observes, "This more and more the kind of condition architects face in L.A., a site where what's required, rather than some original or boldly eye-catching state of purpose, is a sustained, strategic effort to rehabilitate, re-clad, or even redeem older buildings in a languishing or under-performing corner of the city."
|Los Angeles Convention Center interior|
Convention centers seldom make a profit in their own right...Essentially they are architectural machines designed to generate business for the city.
This is still true. Nevertheless, as the city runs out of empty land and tries to revive its long ignored civic realm, it no longer has the luxury of considering a project of this scale as solely as a generator of tourist revenue or economic development. Christopher Hawthorne writes, "We have to consider what it means for public space, neighborhood character and -as a horizontal city turns ambivalently more vertical-the shape and personality of the skyline as well." The machine needs to function at a higher capacity.