bunker hill, downtown los angeles

Grove of 100-Year Old Olive Trees Now Planted at New Broad Museum Plaza in Downtown LA

A new grove of fifteen 100-year old Barouni olive trees from Northern California has been shipped down as part of the new Broad plaza on Bunker Hill in Downtown LA

A new grove of fifteen 100-year old Barouni olive trees from Northern California has been shipped down as part of the new Broad plaza on Bunker Hill in Downtown LA

Bunker Hill is shaping up to be one of the most culturally powerful centers in the country. A centralized cultural collection along Grand Ave consisting of the LA Music Center, MOCA, and the Colburn School will finally be joined by The Broad contemporary art museum — a cultural gem in the making now under construction next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall and slated to open sometime in 2015 after a frustrating 15-month delay. When completed next year, The Broad will house billionaire Eli Broad’s contemporary art collection with over 2,000 pieces of art from the likes of Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Cindy Sherman, and Ed Ruscha. But beyond the amazing art itself, it’s also just as much about making Downtown LA an enjoyable existence for the pedestrians of Los Angeles. The Broad will be adding an exciting outdoor plaza that will make Grand Ave more pedestrian-oriented, and ultimately, help make Downtown LA a cohesive walkable community — the urban oasis Los Angeles yearns for.

The new Broad Plaza will be over half an acre large sitting between the museum and a new 19-story, 271-unit residential tower called The Emerson that is slated for occupancy later this summer. A total of fifteen Barouni olive trees all around 100 years old have been transported down to LA on large trucks from their original home near the Shasta Cascade in Northern California. The trees will provide the Broad Plaza with shade and aesthetic beauty that will enhance the museum and pedestrian experience on Bunker Hill.

Designed by the museum’s architect firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (the same firm that co-designed The High Line in New York) and Hood Design, the Broad Plaza also sits elevated above General Thad Kosciuszko Way (aka GTK Way) like the elevated High Line. Looking into the future by 2020, this plaza will play an important role not only as a gathering spot on Bunker Hill, but also an exciting and convenient access point for the future Regional Connector subway line where a new elevator and bridge from the station will be connected directly to the Broad Plaza.

And speaking of exciting pedestrian enhancements, a new crosswalk with a landscaped median will also be installed this year connecting the Broad Plaza (and museum) directly across Grand Ave to MOCA and the Colburn School.

Thank goodness we won’t have to wait until the museum is completed before we can enjoy the new Broad Plaza as it is slated to open by the end of summer around the time when The Emerson residential tower opens next door.

The Broad Plaza sits between The Broad museum and The Emerson, which is a new 19-story apartment tower slated for occupancy later this summer

The Broad Plaza sits between The Broad museum and The Emerson, which is a new 19-story apartment tower slated for occupancy later this summer

A view of the grove of 100-year old olive trees from Grand Ave

A view of the grove of 100-year old olive trees from Grand Ave

The steel beams in the background is where the new restaurant will be (a collaboration with Bill Chait)

The steel beams in the background is where the new restaurant will be (a collaboration with Bill Chait)

A view of The Broad museum's facade going up along the south side of the building

A view of The Broad museum’s facade going up along the south side of the building

The Emerson (on the left) and The Broad Plaza (on the right) will basically be connected

The Emerson (on the left) and The Broad Plaza (on the right) will basically be connected

The front entrance to The Emerson, off to the side of the tower, will face the new Broad Plaza

The front entrance to The Emerson, off to the side of the tower, will face the new Broad Plaza

The last batch of olive trees arrived on Friday morning from Northern California

The last batch of olive trees arrived on Friday morning from Northern California

As soon as the trees arrived at their new home, they were planted and watered to help stabilize them

As soon as the trees arrived at their new home, they were planted and watered to help stabilize them

Renderings of The Broad Plaza courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro

(Click to enlarge) A map showing The Broad in relation to other cultural venues along Grand Ave on Bunker Hill

(Click to enlarge) A map showing The Broad in relation to other cultural venues along Grand Ave on Bunker Hill

A view looking into the grove of olive trees with the museum on the right

A view looking into the grove of olive trees with the museum on the right

The view of the plaza from the future museum restaurant

The view of the plaza from the future museum restaurant

The Broad Plaza will become a gathering spot on Bunker Hill with programmed activities

The Broad Plaza will become a gathering spot on Bunker Hill with programmed activities

Encouraging pedestrian activity and convenience with a new crosswalk and landscaped median along Grand Ave connecting The Broad to MOCA and Colburn School

Encouraging pedestrian activity and convenience with a new crosswalk and landscaped median along Grand Ave connecting The Broad to MOCA and Colburn School

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17 Comments

  1. Topher says

    Very cool. Regarding the museum facade, I thought it was suppose to be porous so light can filter through. From your picture and I’ve driven by, it looks solid. Not so attractive like we were led to believe in the renderings. Did I miss something Brigham?

  2. Topher says

    Ok I get it now. Only the front half is porous. I thought the entire veil would be porous.

    • Jake says

      I’m no architect, but the designer probably figured that walls of glass on all three sides probably wouldn’t be that great for an art museum.

  3. Sebastian says

    I thought so too, from what I know the company putting the faucade screwed up, causing millions for Eli, and that’s why he’s suing them now.

  4. This is gorgeous. Just beautiful. Grand Park and now this have really made the Music Center one of the best downtown cultural centers in North America imo. Just look at how this area has improved from just two years ago. Love it.

  5. LAifer says

    This is really beautiful. The final game-changing pieces for the area will be once the regional connector and the Grand Ave plaza open several years down the road. But these intermediate pieces show a deft understanding of the importance of public space as it interplays with the built environment. Nicely done!

  6. Lawrence says

    Agreed that this looks great! The crosswalk is perhaps one of the best inclusions as it allows easy traffic flow between the various cultural institutions that define Grand Avenue. It would be a great to see an additional road diet of some sort on Grand or a nice landscaped median of some type. The street can feel unnecessarily wide at points.

  7. SoCalKid says

    This is awesome. Lol I love how much nicer and more civil the commenters are here than on Curbed. You attract a classy crowd, Brigham.

  8. Gordon Moore says

    Beautiful, they should turn Bunker Hill into a “garden district” with all kinds of trees and plants, flowers, etc, with paseos, bistros & cafes all with outdoor seating. Trading alot of the hardscape for lush greenery along with the cultural amenities will make this an even bigger destination for all LA!

  9. Robert Nordstrom says

    Lovely, very nice post, BY, thank you for thoughtfully sharing such a wonderful development for DTLA!

  10. Antonette DeVito says

    Yay, real trees downtown that provide shade (unlike palms).

  11. chillwill says

    does anybody know where the trees were grown?

  12. Fakey McFakename says

    Great – now they just need to renovate the streetfronts on Grand and Hope. Feels too sterile at the moment – not enough street life. If they put permanent markets on some of the plazas and a few more buses going up and down the hill so it’s not so isolated from the lower downtown…

    • wildstar says

      There just aren’t many storefronts on Grand to begin with. Lots of corporate towers at the bottom of the hill by 5th. Sadly, the MOCA contributes nothing to street activation, and many people don’t even know where it is given the subterranean entrance. I know it was designed by a famous architect, but it’s very street-unfriendly. It also doesn’t do them any favors in terms of presence and recognition. You don’t even know it’s there from the street.

      The best we could hope for would be more night time activation of Cal Plaza. They have events there, but only Blue Cow is open at night. They could use more restaurants that are open for dinner.

      • Topher says

        True. There are a lot of unuse wated front space at these corporate towes. They should build out storefronts.

  13. Sebastian. says

    I know Brookfield will be changing things around on Hope, to make the store fronts more appealing.

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