Gallery: Greening Downtown Los Angeles: Park 101


Amidst an endless expanse of concrete and asphalt, Park 101 looks to provide Los Angeles with a much needed green space atop a half-mile length of the infamous 101 Hollywood Freeway. The proposal was assembled in an intense two-week workshop by interns in the 2008 EDAW Program. It provides a link between the city’s historical and financial cores, adding a much needed walkable public space to a downtown area burgeoning with renewed vitality.

Park 101 looks to connect the historical districts of the city including Olvera Street, Chinatown, and Union Station with LA‘s growing downtown government and business districts. It’s an effort to re-knit the city’s urban fabric in a fashion similar to the greatly successful Millennium Park in Chicago.

Park 101 is anchored by four elements. The first is the ½ mile park capping the 101-Freeway which will include an amphitheater, a large space for public gatherings, 101 swings, and a city forest. The second aspect of the park is a massive underground parking district on the freeway level, offering ample opportunity for people to park their car and enjoy the park. The third is an Iconic gateway of two green towers at the top of the park on Grand Avenue, one of which will be the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. The final aspect of the park will be a cluster of mixed-use development on par with the scale of the current historical neighborhoods.

“One implemented, Park 101 will provide the previously separated local communities north and south of the 101 freeway with not only new connections, but also new possibilities of merging, meeting and transforming the local cultures on the new grounds or Park 101.”

Recently presented to a large crowd in front of the Caltrans building this past June, the proposal is getting a serious look from the Planning Department of the City of Los Angeles and California Department of Transportation.


+ EDAW 2008 Intern Program


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  3. JM August 11, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Personally, I think this is a great idea, particularly the freeway cap. I’m encouraged that some people are starting to think outside the box and contemplating new ideas for Downtown. As a resident, I would welcome more open, walkable spaces and a connection between Chinatown (including Union Station) and the rest of Downtown. At the moment, this is a roach- and rat-infested concrete heaven and any change for the better should be applauded. I just hope it doesn’t get bogged down in the usual politics of Downtown, which starts with suggestions to include everyone in the process. Although it’s well-intentioned, it means that nothing ever gets done (or it takes a couple of decades of hand-wringing and meetings). Good luck!

  4. starvingarchi August 8, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Well said dianejwright.

    Before my addition to your comment, I would like to say that I was born and raised in LA and love the city despite the abundance of indifference and/or hate for it. I too, see a need to add more green public spaces throughout the city. However, I question the feasibility of Mayor Viaraigosa’s “Million Tree” plan as well as the pushing of “green spaces” that usually equate mega-lawns, water features, big evergreen trees,etc.

    I question the viability of these good intentions because no one seems to acknowledge the fact that Southern California – specifically L.A. on southward – was (is) a desert and evergreen plants such as the grasses & trees typically used for parks and lawns are not indigenous to this area. Trees such as Ficus’ and grasses such Bermuda, Carpet or St. Augustine require a lot of precious water that we are in dire shortage of. It is unfortunate that our politicians and worse, our professionals, are ignorant of this fact.

  5. dianejwright August 8, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Hey there. I was at this presentation and while the idea is terrific, I seem to be the only one unsettled by the fact that the city will be seriously considering a $700 million proposal put together over 2 weeks. Yes, a park is valuable and needed. That’s a given. What I’d like to see is a bringing together of a wider group to create something that is not only architecturally significant but meaningful on a broader scale.

    Let’s see input from:
    – cultural groups (exhibits, vendors booths for economic benefit, a pavilion for community activities, etc.)
    – the parks commission (multi-faceted forms for green space rather than endless lawn, public safety considerations, accessibility for all, shade!)
    – the water people (connection to the natural stream and river system, plant-based filtering/groundwater systems)
    – the tree people (for varieties that provide interest, shade, drought resistance, etc)
    – xeriscapers (low water use, indigenous, low-maintenance, hardy varieties rather than the “plants from around the world” as mentioned, green roofs on the proposed new buildings could elevate park space and extend much-needed greenery beyond the Park 101 borders and into the city)
    – transportation people (for mixed levels of transport through and across the greenspace–a trolley, a shady paved arbor, a bus lane on the edge, etc.)
    – air quality people (to handle the fumes from a busy covered freeway)
    – lighting people (to uphold dark sky initiatives while preserving public safety, to light the cavern below)
    – energy people (the tall towers are to power the park but what about the park powering the rest of the city? Solar installations along the way and on the new buildings would feed the grid.)
    – arts people (to add flavor of LA’s strong art community)

    And one personal wish: well-designed public restrooms that discourage loitering and vandalism.

    Yes, cities get mired in endless planning never to realize the results but the answer is not to slap something together in a few days and pass it through. A broad, inclusive approach would foster the “Wow-factor” the students desire and ensure the 100-yr longevity of which they spoke. Insular groups love to pat each other on the back and this is an effort well worth the praise. Now, the bigger, more worthwhile effort, would be to invite in the community and broaden the proposal’s horizons.

    Contact me for connections to some of the leading visionaries in some of these groups.

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