Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Visitors gather around the Park 101 model, the centerpiece of an exhibit currently on display at the District 7 Museum.

The Park 101 Vision is on Display in Caltrans Museum
by  Judy Gish
Issue Date: 06/2009

A "cap" over the Hollywood Freeway could become L.A.'s equivalent to New York's Central Park.

Close to a year ago, 24 interns with international design firm EDAW came to District 7 to change the face of downtown Los Angeles.

They worked here for two weeks and their designs for a one-half mile “cap” over the Hollywood Freeway (U.S. 101) just east of the Harbor Freeway (SR-110) interchange became Park 101, a revolutionary urban design solution to create a leafy oasis in the downtown urban core.

On May 28, Caltrans and EDAW recognized publication of a book comprising the Park 101 designs with pictures, artwork and commentary at a gallery opening in the District 7 museum space.

“I grew up in a rural area of the Midwest,” said District Director Doug Failing. “Even though I love downtown Los Angeles, one thing I miss here is trees. Park 101 would inject some welcome greenery into this starkly-concrete, urban area.”

The centerpiece of the gallery display is a large scale model of the Park 101 concept. Various color posters have been hung from the museum ceiling, detailing the vision and explaining both the process and the next steps to get from concept to reality.

EDAW principal and Director of Urban Design Vaughan Davies also attended the gallery opening, along with several other EDAW designers. Davies has pointed out that Los Angeles has less parkland per resident than any other large U.S. city and that many of its parks are in difficult-to-access locations. “No U.S. downtown has become a thriving city center without attractive and easily accessible public open space for its residents,” he stated.

Davies likened the freeway to a “Big Trench” separating landmarks such as Olvera Street, Chinatown and Union Station from the rest of downtown, creating isolated neighborhoods rather than a unified space. Comparing Park 101 to Central Park in New York City, he said, “Los Angeles’s new urban park would attract billions in downtown real estate investment that would generate housing, commercial space, cultural venues, jobs and increased tax revenues for years to come.”

The Park 101 gallery will be on display in the museum through June 30. Employees are encouraged to view the exhibit, which includes numerous photographs of old Los Angeles, and envision what is possible for the future of this city. Special thanks to Linda Taira, Corridor & Special Studies Branch Chief with the Division of Planning, for her tireless dedication to Park 101 and her implementation of the Gallery Opening.

The next step for the Park 101 Steering Committee is to obtain sponsorship and funding. To this end, the committee will consider a resolution to pursue formal entitlement and approval of the district plan at its June meeting.

Display cases (foreground) house fascinating photographs of old Los Angeles and its people. EDAW principal and Director of Urban Design Vaughan Davies addresses the Park 101 gathering. Planning Corridor & Special Studies Branch Chief Linda Taira (L) has been a tireless champion of Park 101. Gaurav Srivasta, EDAW  Senior Urban Designer, with daughter Stella (wearing her own event nametag.) Srivasta submitted Park 101 to the American Planning Association, where it won the Special Award of Merit for Focussed Issue Planning.