Los Angeles County and City leaders joined with civic and business leaders and Los Angeles County residents today to celebrate the official opening of the first two blocks of Grand Park with a civic dedication. The event marks the culmination of 12 years of planning and collaboration championed by Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina in her work as chair of the Grand Avenue Authority, established to create and implement the vision for Grand Park and commercial developments on Grand Avenue.
"I have long dreamed of seeing a great park in this location, and, today, my dream is a reality," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina. "Grand Park was designed around a grand theme–the amazing diversity of our county’s many ethnic communities, where 244 languages are spoken. Our goal was to make sure that each of these communities feels like this is their park. With Grand Park’s powerful yet playful iconic fountain, relaxing promenades and multi-dimensional performance spaces, Los Angeles now has a place where all county residents and visitors can gather in a park that is truly for everyone. And thanks in large part to Related Companies’ $50 million upfront contribution, we have made this park happen."
In a highly symbolic representation of the many diverse communities Grand Park will serve, Supervisor Molina was joined by Los Angeles Councilwoman Jan Perry; Eli Broad, founding co-chair of the Grand Avenue Committee; Bea Hsu, vice president, development, Related California; Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors; Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas; Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe; and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich to cut the ribbon that officially opened the park.
Then, Supervisor Molina ceremoniously turned a wheel to restart the newly restored Arthur J. William Memorial Fountain, which had been turned off at the park’s groundbreaking two years ago. The civic dedication featured a colorful procession of 88 children and youth from each of the five districts in Los Angeles County, representing the county’s 88 cities. Guests were treated to an original poem in honor of Grand Park, written and read by California’s Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera.
The event culminated with the premiere of "A Fanfare for Grand Park"—an original composition by David O and performed by world music artists and alumni of the LAUSD All City Honor Marching Band—and a dance performance choreographed by Jacques Heim, artistic director of Diavolo Dance Theater.
"Today, we can all celebrate Grand Park as another step toward uniting the diverse communities and cultures that make up the fabric of Los Angeles," said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry, who served as vice chair of the Grand Avenue Authority. "This expansive green space, with its history as well as its beautiful, creative design and landscaping, is now a park that welcomes all visitors with open arms. I look forward to seeing our vast community come together for public celebrations and starting some new holiday traditions here at Grand Park."
"Related is extremely proud to be a partner in this achievement," said Bill Witte, president of Related California, which provided both funding and project management for the development of the park. "We have long believed that the success of Grand Avenue relies on great public spaces, and Grand Park is a major milestone in achieving that vision. As we look forward to the next chapters—completion of The Broad and Related’s first phase of residential construction, which will begin later this year—Grand Park will be yet another iconic civic gem that will draw visitors, residents and new life to Grand Avenue."
A 12-acre public park in the heart of downtown’s cultural and civic center, Grand Park brings much-needed green space to the area. Stretching from The Music Center to City Hall, Grand Park is expected to become a central gathering space for the diverse communities of Los Angeles County, similar to New York City’s Bryant Park and San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens.
A unique piece of real estate that was challenged by grade changes and underground garage access ramps, Grand Park’s transformation is a credit to the leadership of Supervisor Molina and the Grand Avenue Committee. The park’s $56 million construction budget was comprised of $50 million in pre-paid rent for ground leases from Related Companies, the Grand Avenue developer, plus other city funds and interest.
Los Angeles-based Rios Clementi Hale Studios designed the park after a multi-year planning process that engaged community groups, arts entities, civic and governmental bodies and neighborhood constituents. The end result is a vibrant, lively outdoor destination that unifies four distinct "blocks," with a number of new features. Blocks One and Two feature the Fountain Plaza and the restored fountain and interactive water features, including a splash pad; new buildings, which house the park office and public restrooms; Olive Court, a plaza space with olive trees and Mediterranean plantings; and the Performance Lawn, which has a small stage.
Blocks Three and Four will open in fall 2012. The park’s nearly 140 different species of plants create an intertwined landscape of native plantings as well as drought-tolerant species. There are 24 gardens from the world’s six Floristic Kingdoms that are a salute to the many who have made Los Angeles their home. Many existing trees were preserved and are now complemented by the addition of more than 300 new trees planted throughout the park.
New pedestrian-friendly steps and ADA-accessible ramps create a series of broad terraces leading down into the park from Grand Avenue about 30 feet above. This creates a dramatic view and physical connection to Grand Park and reveals the regal fountain. Movable café tables and chairs in hot magenta add bright splashes of color and act as a consistent ―bloom to complement the foliage.
The park is operated and programmed by The Music Center, which is working closely with the county to ensure the park is a dynamic and inclusive environment for all to enjoy. The Music Center will handle all maintenance, operations, public programming and private party rentals under the guidance of the Grand Park Advisory Board, which will include one appointee from each county supervisor’s office; one appointee from each relevant Los Angeles City Council district; and one appointee from the county’s Chief Executive Office.
The Grand Park Advisory Board is expected to evolve to 501(c) 3 status and operate the park on behalf of the county. Park spaces also will be available for rent through The Music Center for public and private events. From community events, cultural experiences and festivals, to holiday celebrations, theater and musical performances, as well as engaging outdoor activities, Grand Park is on track to becoming an urban oasis for downtown and a destination for county residents and visitors alike. Grand Park public inaugural activities are scheduled for Saturday, July 28, 2012, and Sunday, July 29, 2012.
Festivities include the West coast’s flagship National Dance Day Celebration on Saturday, July 28, 2012, presented by The Music Center and The Dizzy Feet Foundation. The event welcomes all park visitors, young and old, to participate in a free, interactive dance experience and to enjoy free community dance classes and performances as well as a special performance by IRIS from Cirque du Soleil, other family-friendly activities and a number of food trucks. The public celebration continues on Sunday, July 29, 2012, with "Sunday Music in Park," featuring inaugural musical events with regional musical performers presented by Grand Performances in partnership with The Music Center.
About Grand Park: A vibrant outdoor community gathering place for all, Grand Park adds a new spirit and vitality to downtown and is a beautiful public park for the entire community in Los Angeles County. With expansive green space for gatherings large and small, Grand Park celebrates the cultural vitality of Los Angeles County and is host to community events, cultural experiences, holiday celebrations and many other activities that engage and attract visitors from all communities throughout the county. One of the biggest parks in all of Los Angeles County, the 12-acre Grand Park stretches from The Music Center on the west to City Hall on the east. Under the direction of the county, Grand Park was developed through Grand Avenue Park Development, LLC (Related Companies) with an award-winning creative team, including landscape architect, Rios Clementi Hale Studios; general contractor, Charles Pankow Builders; environmental graphic design firm, Sussman/Prejza; and fountain design consultants, Fluidity Design Consultants.