LA’s Grand Park recognized as a great public space by APA

What happens after a $56 million investment in a mixed-use project to revive the downtown Los Angeles area and create a thriving city center? A recent article in the Los Angeles Times details the result and how LA’s Grand Park earned a coveted place on the American Planning Association’s (APA) 2013 list of Great Public Spaces in America.

The APA praised the park, which opened in July last year, for moving “an aspirational vision of a civic and cultural center for downtown Los Angeles” closer to reality.

“Grand Park not only is one of Los Angeles’s most popular places for daily exercises, lunch breaks, and family activities,” the group said, “it also is a hub for surrounding communities of historic Chinatown, Little Tokyo, El Pueblo, and the Old Bank district.”

Influencing change in a car-dominated city.

Designed by the Los Angeles firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios, Grand Park replaced a tired and rather anonymous county park wedged on a hill between the Music Center and City Hall. It was financed by the developer Related Cos. as part of its deal with the city and county to build retail and residential complexes on Bunker Hill.

LA Grand Park

Los Angeles Grand Park | Photo by Francine Orr, Los Angeles Times



As LA Times Architecture Critic, Christopher Hawthorne, wrote when Grand Park opened, “It was an attempt, imperfect but encouraging, to chip away at the rigid infrastructure of the car-dominated city” and in the process “make a private city a little more public.”

Public Space needs beyond architecture.

The architects faced a number of design challenges in removing or mitigating the presence of a series of concrete ramps leading to underground parking garages. To address the planning, activation and programming needs of this new Public Space, MJMMG was retained to:

  • Develop a Management Plan for day-to-day Civic Park operations including staffing, organization, job descriptions, and management policies and procedures
  • Develop a Capital Budget for the Civic Park and a preliminary projection of the annual revenues and expenses for Civic Park operations under conservative and optimistic assumptions
  • Provide a summary of three alternative organizational structures for the Civic Park
  • Conduct an Event Market Study to evaluate the market potential for a financially sustainable program

The result of all project participants is an award-winning public space that visitors and LA residents can take pride in. As the newest member of APA’s list of worthy public spaces, Grand Park now joins others in the Great Places in America program including: Forest Park in St. Louis and the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage, Alaska.

What’s your public space challenge?

For over 20 years, MJMMG has planned, activated and managed world-class public spaces across the US including: Union Square Park and Yerba Buenna Gardens in San Francisco, Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, TX  and Independence Mall in Philadelphia, PA.

Contact us to learn more about the MJMMG Grand Park Case Study and our unique approach to Integrated Public Space Services. And if you have a public space challenge, let’s discuss how we can help.


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