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Encore! Celebrating 25 Years Of The Music Center : A Grand Design

September 10, 1989|JUDITH MICHAELSON

The ambition is that Grand Avenue becomes the grand avenue of Los Angeles.

Notes Charles I. Schneider, chairman Music Center Operating Company: "A quarter-century from now, I see downtown so built up that the Music Center will become a focal point, a pleasure point, with the Music Center as the north anchor and the Museum of Contemporary Art as the south anchor."

He alludes to current designs plans to bridge Grand Avenue from the Music Center Plaza into the County Mall--a broad low bridge "where county employees will feel perfectly comfortable and invited to walk onto the Music Center Plaza."

The president of the Music Center, Esther Wachtell, hopes for a lively plaza. "The fountain has done a marvelous job," she says, "but if you added colorful awnings and cappuccino shops and poster shops . . . We want people to be living and laughing and eating and enjoying all in an environment very much like Paris."

Frank Gehry thinks the street "could be like no street in the world. And what we're trying to do is to find what the form of that is."

The question, he says, is "what kind of commercial activity is appropriate and how much density there is to serve it."

If Gehry is given his "druthers," the street should relate to the arts. "You could put in some galleries," he says. "You could get some music stores; you could get some things that relate to the cultural life, some restaurants."

He suggests special paving, special lighting and special street furniture and special plantings for the avenue.

"And sculpture. I'd love to see Calders. It would be nice if it started out home-grown with Los Angeles artists, and then flourish with some work from other places. I'd like to see an ability to close the street so we could have street dances and parties."

He would prefer something other than asphalt: "Brick, tile, stone . . . Sure, it's expensive . . . Is this a city that we love or not? Let's put a few bucks into it. It's going to pay off. It will reinforce the place as a cultural center. People are going around and patting themselves on the back that Los Angeles is becoming this great center of culture.

"I tell a little story: When I lived in Paris in 1960, I went to the Jeu de Paume Museum looking for the Monets and I got lost as to where the entrance was, and I asked a street sweep to show me the entrance. He not only knew the entrance, he knew where to stand and which rooms to go in, and he kept talking to me about all the art and, when I was through with that, I should go across the street to this gallery and that, and that's never happened to me in L.A.

"We've made big strides since I came here in '47. The cultural intensity has gotten greater . . . I think (we should) make a commitment to this kind of street, and it's here already . . . MOCA, the Chandler, the Taper, the Ahmanson, Disney Hall--all the pieces are there, can we knit them together?"

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