This section of Grand Avenue is raised on platforms, but the plaza’s platform will be turned upside down so that its base sits on the ground below and its columns point upwards, allowing more depth for the roots of trees and plantings. The technique will help create one of the few green public spaces in the immediate vicinity.
Improvements to Grand Avenue itself will include wider sidewalks in front of the Broad, new Chinese Pistache and Olive trees, LED street lights and in-ground uplights, and a mid-block traffic signal, pedestrian crosswalk, and planted median. The plaza will also connect the street to a new metro station on 2nd and Hope streets for the upcoming Regional Connector line.
“We felt it was important to create a plaza that would connect all these disparate parts on Grand Avenue,” said Heyler. “We want to make the pedestrian atmosphere as lively as the cultural atmosphere here.” Programming will likely include film screenings, concerts, and educational events, but management of such activities “is yet to be fleshed out,” said Heyler.
The new plaza will be paid for with $10 million in funds set aside by the former Community Redevelopment Agency and with $8 million from the Broad. Construction has already begun, and the plaza is expected to open this fall. But the museum, which was supposed to open this year, now won’t be opening until sometime in 2015. The delay, noted Heyler, came as a result of complications in the fabrication and delivery of the “veil,” the heavy latticed structure
Some have speculated that the plaza’s unveiling is meant distract from the museums delayed debut. But regardless, it’s another big step for a street whose public spaces are finally starting to catch up with its splashy architecture—which includes Gehry’s Disney Hall, Arata Isozaki’s MOCA, DSR’s the Broad, and Raphael Moneo’s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Just a block north Frank Gehry and Related Companies are finally beginning to move forward with the Grand Avenue Project, which will organize retail, residential, and hotel along a U-shaped plaza on the other side of Grand Avenue. And another block north Rios Clementi Hale’s new Grand Park has helped activate the zone around the Music Center.