A lot of money and political energy has been spent on the 32-acre Cornfield site, and much more will be spent ["Fielding Dreams" by Christopher Hawthorne, Oct. 16]. But is it money and energy well spent? How many Angelenos will actually benefit from developing a state park on the site?
A better use would be to build facilities on the site to deal with the immense homeless problem. The leaders of Los Angeles can do the right thing and build facilities designed to transition the poor and homeless back into society. If you just put in a park, the large homeless population, only blocks away, will migrate there anyway. With facilities and a game plan, you will have the means to manage the problem.
I'VE not seen the competition entries for the Cornfield site, so I cannot comment on their respective flaws and merits. But I do take issue with the sentiment put forward by Christopher Hawthorne, who praises Thom Mayne's entry and his role as urban provocateur.
In any other competition, an architect would be disqualified for violating the rules. In this one, though, Mayne wins (our awe, at least) by proposing the impossible: exchanging and rebuilding huge swaths of the city not included in the competition. I guess he was bored, so he decided to play Haussmann, the architect who transformed Paris under Napoleon III.
More important, though, is the message that such grandiosity is the only way to solve the urban problems of Los Angeles. Most architects, planners and landscape architects engage the world in modest, often extremely limited circumstances. Some of them find significance in these contexts and do very compelling work. Are we saying they shouldn't bother?
I'd rather believe that it's possible to turn ordinary landscapes into places of quality -- and to do so in small, achievable steps. According to Hawthorne, though, if Mayne loses, we'll be forever disappointed if they just build a park on the site intended for it.
\o7San Luis Obispo