OMA Vies for Victory in Los Angeles’ Civic Center Park Competition

Pat Finn Pat Finn

The competition to design the First & Broadway Civic Center Park in Downtown Los Angeles has come down to four finalists: OMA, AECOM, Brooks + Scarpa andEric Owen Moss Architects. From cantilevered restaurants to undulating strips of raised gardens, each of the remaining proposals includes features that would dramatically change the landscape of America’s second-largest city.

OMA’s proposal was designed in collaboration with landscape architects Mia Lehrer + Associates and New York design firm IDEO. At the center of its scheme is an elevated restaurant in the midst of a giant central plaza. The seating options for this restaurant are varied. In addition to a garden rooftop, visitors can also sit in bleacher-style seats, which are shaded by the restaurant’s cantilevered design. Taken together, the bleachers and the plaza form an amphitheater that can be used for public performances. Oak and sycamore trees abound on the outskirts of the plaza, lending the park a natural feel.

“The proposal for the FAB Civic Center Park introduces a new type of park space,” said OMA’s Jason Long, “a respite for Downtown LA that celebrates the city’s diversity as its greatest asset and promotes civic engagement through highly versatile spaces to experience art, enjoy food and revel in the unique urban setting.”

AECOM’s proposal puts green space at the center of its scheme, placing its buildings around the perimeter. Two kitty-cornered structures nicknamed “The Paper Plane” and “The Wingnut” will house restaurants, galleries and other attractions for public use. Outside the Paper Plane structure, AECOM plans to build a latticed awning to provide shade.

Brooks + Scarpa’s design features raised strips of grass that, together, form the contoured roof of an event space. The ribbon-like design is echoed throughout the park in the elegant pattern of interweaving elevated paths, which open up to provide spaces for gardens and art installations.

Eric Owen Moss Architects submitted a proposal featuring a contoured landscape that includes two amphitheaters built into hills and an underground restaurant covered with a garden rooftop. The centerpiece of the proposal is a public event pavilion of a minimalist design: just a steel frame covered by a translucent material that can also be used as an outdoor movie screen. An interactive sculptural installation nicknamed the “hide and seek forest” completes this imaginative design, which is somewhat reminiscent of the Shire of Tolkien’s novels.

Watch this space to find out who wins this major commission and make sure to cast your vote in the Parks category for the 2016 A+Awards.

Pat Finn Author: Pat Finn
Pat Finn is a high school English teacher and a freelance writer on art, architecture, and film. He believes, with Orwell, that "good prose is like a windowpane," but his study of architecture has shown him that a window is only as good as the landscape it looks out on. Pat is based in the New York metro area.
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