Officially the Frank Gehry design scheme for the downtown Grand Avenue Project won't be released until 11:30 this morning. But Times reporter Cara Mia DiMassa and critic Christopher Hawthorne got early looks. The news story in today's paper says Gehry and partner Craig Webb wants "a translucent, glass-curtained tower rising 47 stories above his landmark Walt Disney Concert Hall as the centerpiece...a bold statement that would alter downtown Los Angeles' skyline and reinforce the civic center area as a hub of cutting-edge architecture." There would be two L-shaped towers, including a 24-story building also on the block east of the hall. An excerpt from Hawthorne's take:
The relationship between the towers — Gehry's first L.A. high-rises — promises to be highly effective as well. The 47-story building at 2nd Street and Grand, which will contain high-end condos on its upper floors and a luxury hotel below, will be fluid and feminine, encased in a loose drape of glass. (Gehry hasn't decided exactly what kind of drape: It may be a pleated form or it may be a curtain-wall with a pinstripe effect created by a vertical ceramic frit.) The 24-story tower, at 1st and Olive Streets, will be squared off and less expressionistic: a foil, the architects say, to the dramatic forms of its neighbor.
It is precisely this collection of assured urban gestures, though, that throws the stubbornness of the remaining challenges into high relief. Particularly on its lower levels, the design is clogged with retail space — 250,000 square feet of it in total above a labyrinth of underground parking. As a result, the project is shaping up as something of a commercial cul-de-sac: a place that's designed, like a casino or a mall, to make getting in easier than getting out or walking through.
Hawthorne sees some nods to commercialism and other things not to like, but overall the Times coverage cheerleads for the expensive project.
Photo: Los Angeles Times/Al Seib