Last week, KPCC's Air Talk with Larry Mantle hosted the first-ever live radio broadcast from The Broad. The theme of the special hour-long show was "The future of downtown Los Angeles" and featured six well-rounded panelists. Aside from the last few minutes of the radio show, the program, while full of interesting discourse, makes it sound as if the future of Downtown LA is really bleak. The vast majority of the conversation focused on homelessness, followed by economic development, resulting in a talk that had a lot of blame-throwing and presented a lot of lose-lose scenarios. The panelists, with very dynamic and differing opinions, articulated Downtown as dangerous and scary thanks to homelessness, increasingly boring thanks to economic development, and morally reprehensible thanks to both. Once again, as it too often seems, art, culture, and history were largely left out of a conversation that was intended to discuss the future of Downtown, not just the perils of Downtown. It's vital for opportunities to hear a wide range of opinions on Downtown issues like this to exist, but Downtown's cultural context and innovations deserve to have a prominent spot in any meaningful discussion about the future of our city - especially one carried out at a place like The Broad.
The 1970's were not a great time for urban planning achievements in Downtown LA, but no project may have been stranger or more ill-conceived than the Los Angeles Mall. Its intention was to add a town square-like shopping area into the fabric of Civic Center, a final hope that maybe people working Downtown would want to stay Downtown if they were to build a suburban-seeming sunken-below-street-level mall. That hope, of course, didn't happen. But one glimmer of creative goodness did come out of the Los Angeles Mall development: the Triforium. Designed and built by LA artist Robert Young, the Triforium is a beaming "polyphonoptic" sculpture that - in its most realized working form - lights up in bright colors, plays music, is interactive from the sidewalk around it, and shoots lasers to the sky. When built, it was way ahead of its time and widely panned. And over its 40 year history, it's fallen into major disrepair. But now, a team of arts advocates, urban planners, and historians being led up by the band YACHT are helping restore and celebrate the installation. Follow their progress and join us on Friday 12/11 4-8pm for a Triforium 40th birthday party.
The Triforium sits proudly a block above LA City Hall at the corner of Temple and Main Streets.
(photo via the late BlogDowntown)