Music Center Plaza reopens with flair, fanfare

| October 3, 2019 | 1 Comment

OPENING weekend at The Music Center Plaza followed a 20-month, $41 million renovation of the public square.

An Indian chief joined civic leaders at a lavish four-day unveiling of The Music Center “Plaza for All.”

The event also included cumbia dancing until midnight with Dance DTLA, a sing-along with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and a Dodgers baseball away game shown live on LED screens.

The party, held over Labor Day weekend, followed a 20-month, $41 million renovation for the public square.

“After nearly 20 years of imagining what The Music Center Plaza could be, our dream has finally become a reality,” said Lisa Specht, Music Center board chair.

More than 120 Los Angeles-based percussionists, joined by a diverse array of dancers, accompanied the splashy restart of The Music Center’s historic fountain — redesigned as 280 jets that shoot recycled water into the air amid 140 colored lights of every hue in the rainbow.

The event also launched two towering 12-foot-by-20-foot LED screens.

Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center, gave a nod to Dorothy Buffum Chandler, long of Windsor Square who, 55 years ago, “aimed to ‘democratize’ the arts by creating a place where the public can join together as a community through mutual appreciation of arts and culture.”

The Music Center’s three original buildings — Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson Theatre — were designed by architect Welton Becket (Capitol Records Building, Cinerama Dome and Beverly Hilton Hotel are among his designs).

Award-winning Los Angeles-based architecture and design firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios (formerly across Larchmont Boulevard from the Chronicle and now next to the Expo Line just east of Crenshaw Boulevard) updated the infrastructure and designed five new buildings — the Lisa Specht Welcome Center, permanent public restrooms and three dining locations (Abernethy’s, The Mullin Wine Bar and Go Get Em Tiger) — as part of the redesign.

The Plaza was raised to a single level, and the Grand Avenue stairs, now the Terri and Jerry Kohl Stairs, were reconfigured, allowing for more open space.

The Jacques Lipchitz “Peace on Earth” sculpture (formerly in the plaza’s fountain) was relocated along Hope Street, and Robert Graham’s “Dance Door” bronze sculpture was repositioned in The Fredric Roberts Garden.

“The Music Center Plaza is a key component of the renovation plan for Downtown Los Angeles, securing Grand Avenue as a multicultural corridor and destination where L.A. County residents and visitors are welcome,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, who represents the First District, which includes The Music Center.

County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl also spoke at the opening, and members of the Gabrieleno Tongva San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians marked the occasion with a land acknowledgment and ceremony. 

As the first renovation of the plaza since The Music Center opened in 1964, the 36,000- square-foot plaza re-design doubles the occupancy of the space from 2,500 to 5,000 people. The expanded infrastructure creates a fifth venue, offering a new food destination, and provides a space for free and low-cost programming. California native and low-water evergreen plantings complement the space and provide vistas of Grand Park and the civic center.


Just to the south, view the new outdoor installation by artist Larry Bell at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), 250 S. Grand Ave. “Bill and Coo at MOCA’s Nest” was designed for the sculpture plaza at MOCA Grand Avenue.

Spend an evening listening to songs and stories dark enough for the Halloween season with Nick Cave at Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave.,  Tues., Oct. 15.

See a survey exhibition of art by Shirin Neshat at The Broad, 221 S. Grand Ave., Sat., Oct. 19  through Feb. 16, 2020. This is the artist’s first major exhibition in the western United States.

Russia’s Mariinsky Ballet comes to the West Coast for five performances of the classic “Jewels” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., Thurs., Oct. 24 through Sun., Oct. 27. Originally choreographed by George Balanchine in 1967 and set to the music of three different composers, it comprises a trio of dances — “Emeralds,” “Rubies,” and “Diamonds.”

Even further to the south, put on your favorite costumes for the free, family-friendly Halloween Festival at Grand Hope Park, the lawn at FIDM, Thurs., Oct. 31, 5 to 8 p.m. Besides face painters and bounce houses, there will be arts and crafts stations and trick-or-treat doors to visit.

Glide on ice under the palm trees when the Bai Holiday Ice Rink opens at Pershing Square, 532 S. Olive St. beginning Thurs., Nov. 14.

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Category: Entertainment

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