“Failed public space… a zone of repulsion… where retail goes to die.”
Such is the perceived wisdom about the Los Angeles Mall, an underappreciated and underutilized shopping, dining and public plaza development which is in the cross-hairs of the same City Council-driven redevelopment plan that calls for the demolition of Welton Becket’s Parker Center.
Join us for an afternoon exploring the history, integrated artwork and possibilities of a cultural landscape that is worth reconsidering – before it’s too late! This Sunday Salon and walking tour will be hosted by Richard Schave & Nathan Marsak with contributions from Joseph Young’s daughters, Cecily & Leslie Young.
The entire Los Angeles Civic Center, which includes the Los Angeles Mall, is being re-imagined, and the Civic Center Master Plan (PDF link) has just been approved. The Master Plan calls for the the Department of Cultural Affairs to produce a report on the public art in the Los Angeles Mall (The Public Art District Plan) which is sensitive to its history and comprehensive in scope. We believe this document should set a new bar for how DCA is to take the lead on advocating for and preserving public art throughout Los Angeles.
The goal of this Sunday Salon is identify and to advocate for the public art and landscape of the Los Angeles Mall, and for Joseph Young’s “Theme Mural of Los Angeles” (1955), slated for removal, restoration and relocation, in the adjacent, soon-to-be-demolished Parker Center.
The Los Angeles Mall was constructed between 1973 and 1975 and occupies 1.5 square blocks on the east side of City Hall, from Main to Los Angeles Street, running north to Aliso. Stanton & Stockwell were the architects, and the landscape architects were Cornell, Bridgers, Troller and Hazlett. The two plazas which make up the mall are surrounded by civic buildings. At Temple Street, a stunning 120’ cantilevered pedestrian bridge by the Mall’s landscape architect Howard Troller and artist Tom Van Sant connects the plazas.
The South Plaza, dominated by the Brutalist City Hall East, includes the Eleanor Chambers Memorial Fountain (also known as Dan-de-lion for its effect when running) designed by Howard Troller and Hanns Scharff. A sunken palm court features Jan Peter Stern’s stainless steel Cubed Square and arcing paths which lead off to retail and food court options in the subterranean North and South Malls. There are four levels of below-ground parking.
The North Plaza, called Fletcher Bowron Square after the reformer mayor (served 1938-53), is defined by Joseph Young’s neglected 60-foot-tall Triforium (1975) a free-standing computerized sound and light sculpture comprised of 1,500 blown-glass prisms synchronized to an electronic glass bell carillon. The adjacent sunken plaza has a food court, a collection of mature palms, and the Robert J. Stevenson Fountain, which consists of a carved and painted obelisk set in a tiled pool of centrifugal jets.
Doug Dunn is a specialist in legacy, enterprise, and proprietary computers. In practice, this really just means anything that is not a server, desktop, laptop, or phone – in other words, “weird computers”. Starting as an e-waste reseller in college, he turned a fascination with computing history into a career path. After an unsatisfying stint with a tech “start up”, he decided to start his own business focusing on support for the IBM AS/400 and z/System product lines. Legacy computing consultation is a very niche field, so he hopes to get some high-profile exposure from his first major project, the Triforium restoration. During the initial review, he found the original paper software tapes, and believe that the system can be made to appear functionally identical to its intended design.
Come explore a true time capsule of Imperial California and get to know this endangered landscape and its integrated artwork, fixtures and vistas while you still can.