Grand Park, Los Angeles: One Year Later

The first half of this post was from September 4, 2014. The park was still about halfway finished – there was no splash pad or play place. Please scroll on past until the “UPDATE” 

This past Labor Day Weekend, I attended the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles. The two-day concert featured headliners such as Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Weezer, Steve Aoki and more. This was the first major event to be held at LA’s very own Grand Park and required street closures. Being a native Angeleno, I’m ashamed to say that this show was actually my first time visiting Grand Park.

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The Welcome Totem Photo by Jim SImmons

The 12-acre park spreads across four blocks and is located on Bunker Hill. At the park’s northern end is the Los Angeles Music Center. The 90-foot grade change allows park-goers to see clear through to the southern side and Los Angeles City Hall. LiveNation, the event’s promoters, used the 90-foot grade change to their advantage. They intentionally separated the two main stages at City Hall which featured hip hop and rock artists, while keeping the EDM stage at the top of the hill. This set up prevented unwanted sound from bleeding over to other stages.

While exploring the venue, I realized how well put together the park was. A team of 11 architects from Rios Clementi Hale Studios, a multi-disciplinary design firm oversaw the $56 million dollar renovation of the Civic Center Mall. What used to be mostly dirt fields spreading several blocks was transformed into a unified, colorful plaza featuring more than twenty-four gardens (inspired by the six Floristic Kingdoms of the world) with drought-resistant plants and hot pink benches. These architects wanted the park to reflect Los Angeles’ diverse community and included welcome totems that feature 25 different languages.


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Photo by Jim Simmons

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Grand Park’s unique hot pink benches Photo by Jim Simmons

The crowning landmark of Grand Park is without a doubt the newly renovated Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain. The redesigned fountain shoots water 50 feet into the air and features a splash pad with interactive water jets giving park users a way to cool off and have fun in the most brutal SoCal summer days. For Made in America, the fountain set the stage for the EDM performers – lighting up at night while spraying water which danced to the heavy bass.

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The Fountain before its renovation


Although the renovated park is only two years old, it is still far from finished. Plans to add $1 million playground are already underway. Rios Clementi Hale Studios is designing the 3,700-square-foot play place to resemble a forest complete with slides, tunnels and its very own tree house.  It will be located on the southern end of the park and is set to be completed in November 2014.

Grand Park is LA’s answer to New York’s Central Park. Although it may not be as green and spacious, Los Angeles needed a park in the heart of Downtown for all Angelenos to enjoy. Next time you’re in the area, be sure to swing by and soak in the sun and cool scenery, or even get soaked at the fountain!

And if you want to see more of Rios Clementi Hale Studios work check out their work here!


One year later, Grand Park is definitely looking a lot more polished.

While walking around, I noticed these “Little Libraries.”



These operate on the same basis as those “Take-a-penny,Leave-a-penny” trays you’ll see at a convenience store. Pretty cool idea, and best of all – no library card is needed!


This time around, the playground was also finished!



I hadn’t noticed it before, but there are now little motivational markers if you decide to take a few laps around the park for exercise:




What is a park without art? These pieces were painted by Angelenos at this year’s 4th of July Block Party.





Best of all, the redesigned fountain is open complete with splash pads for visitors to play in!







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