At the close of Black History Month, over 2,000 community members, business owners and artists gathered for the groundbreaking of Destination Crenshaw, an outdoor cultural experience to celebrate the heart of black Los Angeles. Designed by international architecture and design firm Perkins and Will, the beautification project will take on the appearance of an open-air, linear art museum that stretches 1.3 miles along Crenshaw Boulevard. In addition to streetscape transformations — including new public artworks, pocket parks and landscaping improvements — Destination Crenshaw also aims to use community-driven means to offset gentrification.
Located along Crenshaw Boulevard from Leimert Boulevard to 60th Street, Destination Crenshaw will transform 1.3 miles of streetscape into an outdoor arts and culture experience with hundreds of new trees, 100 permanent and rotating art installations and 10 pocket parks. The project is organized into four distinct nodes that will serve as thematic design lenses. “Improvisation” at W. Slauson Avenue celebrates the community’s resourcefulness. “Firsts” at 54th Street honors past and present black pioneers, and “Dreams” at 50th Street highlights the community’s placemaking abilities. “Togetherness” at West Vernon Avenue focuses on the area’s significant cultural infrastructure, before culminating at Sankofa Park, an elevated outdoor plaza with views out onto Crenshaw Boulevard and beyond.
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“Our work on Destination Crenshaw has always centered on the theme ‘Grow Where You’re Planted,’ which is inspired by African giant star grass,” said Gabrielle Bullock, managing principal of the project. “Known to thrive in inhospitable environments, the grass reminds us of the history and resiliency of Black L.A., whose deep community roots have strengthened over the decades despite facing years of root shock.”
Over 200 years of black history in Los Angeles will be documented, preserved and exhibited in the project. In the process, Destination Crenshaw will provide construction career opportunities for residents while supporting existing local businesses and regional artists. The 1.3-mile beautification project will run parallel to a section of Los Angeles Metro’s upcoming Crenshaw/LAX light rail line.
Images via Perkins and Will