A large-scale permanent art piece will be soaring into Downtown Los Angeles this summer. Giant paper airplanes, at least in shape and style, will be installed above Olive Court in Grand Park. Made of mesh material, the planes will act as a shade structure for the park's central mid-day gathering area. This utilitarian art installation was made possible by the LA2050 grant challenge, which Grand Park won last year by proposing the need for a shade structure that they would bring to fruition through an open-call design competition and public vote. It's an innovative, important project for many reasons.
The design alone merits praise – it's eye-catching, engaging, and - no pun intended - uplifting. But better, the design was ultimately chosen by the public. Through successful civic engagement, it uses art as a practical means to solving a critical urban design issue the park has been facing. As a new park, drought-friendly by design with concrete and streets crossing through it, it lacks sufficient large shade-bearing trees. Grand Park has solved this problem with not just infrastructure, but bold creativity. We look forward to seeing the planes soar above Civic Center and will be thankful to stay a little cooler while standing underneath it.