It was just eight weeks ago that Frank Gehry told an audience at a KCRW/LA Phil panel at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, that “we are going to make it happen and we are going to make Gloria Molina very happy.”
The “it” was a long-awaited complex of shops, housing, hotels and eateries developed for Parcel Q, the site opposite the hall on Grand Avenue, by Related Companies. Gehry’s office had designed a scheme for Related several years ago that evaporated in the recession; the latest, a preliminary plan by A.M. Stern and Gensler, was rejected by an oversight committee helmed by Supervisor Gloria Molina.
Now the incorrigible 80-something architect (also working on new overseas offices for Facebook and recently partnered up with Sir Norman Foster on a redevelopment of London’s beloved Battersea Power Station, below) and his talented partners have delivered a new proposal that faces Molina’s committee Monday.
It is a challenge to make a corporate megaproject seem warm and welcoming (witness Rem Koolhaas’ firm OMA’s new De Rotterdam ‘vertical city’ in Rotterdam, the Netherlands; image left.)
But, to the extent it is possible, Gehry is among those more adept at reducing the scale and humanizing large commercial complexes, perhaps because underlying his outwardly idiosyncratic work is a classical sense of order and proportion.
According to Christopher Hawthorne, writing in the Los Angeles Times, this new plan, shown in the image above, incorporates some of Gensler’s planning moves but is both “significantly more exuberant and suggestive of L.A. culture” than the previous design, and “simpler and more efficient than Gehry’s original scheme of 2006.”
For the architect, this project represents a long-awaited chance to essentially complete his Walt Disney Concert Hall, opening it up towards an attraction with “terraces, restaurant patios and pool decks, many of them generously landscaped” that would cascade down the hill with what appears to be Baroque theatricality.
At the KCRW/LA Phil discussion about Grand Avenue, LA Phil president Deborah Borda emphasized that the Related development on the opposite side of the road be “aesthetically and intellectually” compatible with the concert hall.
Maybe this will be the entertainment destination that achieves that, assuming it made Gloria Molina “happy” Monday.
Battersea Power Station: Photo courtesy David Samuel/Wikimedia Commons