FROM THIS EPISODE
For more than a half a century, Parker Center in downtown Los Angeles served as the LAPD’s headquarters. And during that time it represented the best and worst of the Los Angeles police force: both modernized and racially divisive.
Since its final occupants moved out in 2013, the Welton Becket-designed building appeared to be heading for demolition.That all changed when the Cultural Heritage Commission nominated Parker Center for landmark status in January.
If City Council now approves the nomination, demolition might be on hold, indefinitely. But could that put the breaks on the ongoing transformation of LA’s civic center? And is the building -- and its history -- worth preserving?
We weigh the pros and cons with Cindy Olnick of the LA Conservancy, Hal Bastian, former Director of Economic Development for the Downtown Business Improvement District, Jon Regardie, executive editor of Los Angeles Downtown News, Gail Kennard, president of Kennard Design Group, and real estate developer and consultant Dan Rosenfeld.
For several years now the Office of Historic Resources has been making a survey of buildings and districts of note -- and now the findings are available to you at HistoricPlacesLA.org -- a web site created in collaboration with the Getty Conservation Institute.
Ken Bernstein heads the Office of Historic Resources and says they created the site to bring people into the preservation process so buildings of note are flagged before they are threatened. But what merits preservation, especially when buildings have difficult histories or look ugly to some?
Bernstein talks about why Parker Center wasn’t among the city’s local landmarks, the challenges of cultural memory, and when buildings are most susceptible to demolition.
Earlier this month, postmodernist architect and designer Michael Graves died at age 80. His Portland Building was a game changer when it appeared in 1982, and since fell out of favor.
But perhaps his greatest contribution to the field of design came after he became paralyzed and dedicated himself to designing wheelchairs, hospital furniture and homes for Wounded Warriors.
In memory of his contribution, we revisited a DnA interview in which he talked about that period of his life.