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Gehry Candid on Grand Avenue During LA Phil Talk

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, January 07, 2008, at 08:58AM
Disney Hall Eric Richardson [Flickr]

The parking structure in front of Disney Hall is where phase one of the Grand Avenue Project will rise.

Frank Gehry was one of four panelists Saturday afternoon for the symposium held as part of the LA Phil's Concrete Frequency series. Gehry, after all, designed the building that the Phil calls home and is the lead architect for the Grand Avenue Project, slated to rise on two sides of the concert hall. The panel discussion was tasked with addressing the place of symphonic orchestra in today's culture, but most interesting to Downtowners were Gehry's critical comments comments about the billion dollar development next door and his ideas for how to better integrate the Civic Center park.

The star architect was openly skeptical of the project's timeline and critical of its developer, Related Companies. He told the assembled crowd that he expects the financing market to create a major project hurdle. "Money is not available and the developer is in denial," Gehry said. Gehry criticized Related for wanting the Grand Avenue Project to be a reprise of the Time Warner Center in New York City, a project he called "frigid."

Civic Center Park and DWP Building The Civic Center park runs from City Hall to the Music Center.

While a potential financing slowdown would be a major blow to those pushing the project, Downtowners should take heart that Gehry continues to push for a better interface to the project's Olive street side. The corner of 2nd and Olive would be the major access point for those who live in the Historic Core, and current designs have presented little that would welcome those from the area up to the project's retail and restaurants. At one point Gehry had proposed a wide staircase climbing up into the project but it was opposed by Related.

Gehry's wildest idea: Scrap plans to redevelop the Civic Center park and instead build a park along the Olive street axis that bisects phases one and two of the project. His plan would close Olive street to traffic and use the right of way to connect into the project rather than hiding it on a parallel axis that doesn't directly connect into the development.

Additional reporting by Mike Palecki.

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