Grand Avenue getting Gehry makeover in $650 million development

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Frank Gehry's angular, reflective Walt Disney Concert Hall has served as a backdrop for countless weddings, photographs and tourist visits. So who better to design the buildings across the street from this landmark than Gehry himself?

The renowned architect’s design was introduced to the public on Monday by Related Companies.  The $650 million development will include shops, restaurants, a hotel and a residential tower. 

“This three-acre block will create a vibrant destination that will serve as a northern anchor for downtown, complementing the already completed and spectacular Grand Park as well as The Broad and our residential tower both under construction across Grand Avenue,” said Bill Witte, president of Related California, in a statement. 

Gehry's work is one part of the ongoing Grand Avenue project. The effort has faced repeated financial hurdles but is intended to revitalize Grand Avenue and the Bunker Hill neighborhood.

Bob Harris, director of landscape architecture at USC, said Gehry’s design looks like it will help achieve just that. 

“If we imagine what the life of L.A. Live is like, then we might have a second L.A. Live," he said. "This one not so sports-oriented but rather culture-oriented."

But the current design does have its drawbacks. Harris said that nearby First Street has been overlooked for decades, resulting in a very "uninteresting" street. And this new development does nothing to change that.

“While there’s all this attention to Grand Avenue and to Disney Hall and the relation of that to the new piece, first street is a remarkable street in terms of where it goes and what kind of district it goes through," he said. "But it’s an uninteresting street generally because of the way it's been treated."

Gehry Partners' preliminary design shows two towers made of stacked squares and rectangles. There's multiple rooftop terraces and outdoor space.

Related submitted the concept to the the Los Angeles Grand Avenue Authority, and when approved, designers will work on a more detailed master plan.

“What’s been missing is the excitement and fun of a hotel, nightclubs, restaurants, shops, places to hang out," said Gehry in a statement. "Now our plan has the potential of becoming an incredibly dynamic partner to the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the other arts and cultural institutions on Grand Avenue.”

Construction is expected to begin in 2015.

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