downtown los angeles, financial district

Colorful New Murals Sprucing Up The Bloc’s Blank Walls in Downtown LA

A new mural on the backside of The Bloc by SF-based artist Chris Lux began going up near 8th and Hope on Tuesday, Nov 4

A new mural (one of three coming) on the backside of The Bloc by SF-based artist Chris Lux began going up near 8th and Hope on Tuesday, Nov 4

For those following The Bloc makeover project, we’ve seen a lot of new exciting developments that show a very bright future ahead for a once very dreadful place that stifled Downtown LA’s urban revitalization progress. We’ve seen what The Bloc will be like on 7th Street, Flower, and Hope. But very little was known about the 8th Street side of the project — until now. Yesterday, work started on three exciting permanent murals commissioned by The Bloc’s ownership, The Ratkovich Company, that will adorn the bland fortress-like walls, transforming the streetscape into a colorful and artistic urban experience.

The first of two murals by San Francisco artist Chris Lux started near the corner of 8th and Hope directly across the street from where future Philz Coffee customers will be sipping their cup of joe. Another mural by Lux will go up on the other opposite side near 8th and Flower. Finally, one very large mural by LA-based Sumi Ink Club will begin going up next Tuesday that will be centered around a driveway located toward the middle portion of the block. The entire three-part mural project will be completed in early December.

Even though work has just begun on the first mural by Chris Lux, which consists of a colorful array of cartoon-like figures representing the diversity of Los Angeles, there is already a surprisingly significant visual impact on the street. Because of the way the bright colors pop from the white-painted brick wall, it has already made walking down 8th Street a much more interesting and dynamic experience for the pedestrian. If you can’t have actual stores activating the street (because it was logistically impractical from the 8th Street side of The Bloc), then the next best thing is to activate the street with art. You can just imagine in a month how much more interesting it’ll be when the entire mural project is done.

As great as it is, that won’t be the end of upgrades for 8th Street. Apparently, a few more colorful (possibly neon) signs for stores in The Bloc will go up as well in addition to parts of the upper brick walls being completely ripped out, exposing the spiral ramps that take cars up to the parking structure.

More details will be revealed soon.

The walk along this portion of 8th Street is already a much more dynamic and interesting experience because of the new mural going up

The walk along this portion of 8th Street is already a much more dynamic and interesting experience because of the new mural going up

A closer look at the new colorful mural by Chris Lux going up near 8th and Hope

A closer look at the new colorful mural by Chris Lux going up near 8th and Hope

Spray cans artist Chris Lux is using to cover the wall in colorful artistic figures

Spray cans artist Chris Lux is using to cover the wall in colorful artistic figures

Another angle shows you the view from a pedestrian's perspective walking along 8th Street

Another angle shows you the view from a pedestrian’s perspective walking along 8th Street

Where the other large mural will go by LA-based Sumi Ink Club

Where the other large mural will go by LA-based Sumi Ink Club

As downtown continues to be revitalized, it becomes even more important to address the needs of pedestrians, including the addition of public art

As downtown continues to be revitalized, it becomes even more important to address the needs of pedestrians, including the addition of public art

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19 Comments

  1. Topher says

    Love it! I think one of many things that make LA unique is the street art and murals. And I notice it’s becoming more and more apparent. Super cool. This makes DTLA super cool, edgy and artsy…aka art centric. I hope they will up light the murals so they can be enjoyed in the evenings.

    Brigham, do you think you can convince the owner of the fig&7th to up light the parking murals facing the 110? That would be a beautiful art addition in the evenings.

    • Raymond3000 says

      Soo basically an inland Venice circa 1991, which REALLY was a COOL place, I concur!

  2. wildstar says

    Sorry, those are awful. What is this, a kid’s rec center? I’m not exactly against murals, but these are just bad and inappropriate.

    • Raymond3000 says

      As with many things in life, we should all wait to see the finished product before criticizing or judging it.

      • wildstar says

        Yeah, you’re right. I’ll reserve final judgement. I’m definitely not against all murals – there’s some awesome work over in the Arts District, just not a huge fan of this one yet.

  3. Better than the brick, but i hope they are thinking long term and trying to create some life along the god awful frontage all along Hope and 8th?

    They need to try and bring the street back from the dead by creating retail up and down the building. Such a great corner I would hate to see it live out’s it life as a brick bunker.

  4. Sebastian says

    It looks nice now, after a year there will graffitti over that mural and maybe a homeless guy or two sleeping there. The better option would have been to put retail there, and don’t tell me it can’t be done. Santa Monica put retail all around one of their parking structures. Go to Google Maps on the Corner of Broadway and 4th street and you will see what I’m talking about.

    • Lawrence says

      Adding retail here is problematic on multiple levels. This side of the structure serves as the primary loading area for most of the complex. To reconfigure, you would literally have to demolish the whole garage and start over, which isn’t going to happen. Santa Monica’s garages are different animal and are more akin to some of the others you see around downtown, which can be reconfigured to add retail in the future. I will take some colorful murals over empty brick walls any day though Ratkovich will need to invest in upkeep.

      • Shabaz says

        If not actual retail, how about an entry portal or two into the mall and/or Macy’s? A real city department store requires multiple entrances to keep the stream of pedestrian flow balanced within the store as well as limit traffic bottlenecks that limit ease of access to the various department spaces. This can also add to pedestrian activity at the street level on 8th Street.

        Also, in addition to the murals, Macy’s (and other mall stores) would do well to consider department store-type window displays as seen on the other sides of the Bloc. This add a commercial sense to the building that is not prevalent on the 8th Street side.

        • Lawrence says

          Street fronting entrances and windows for Macy’s will be added to the Hope and Flower sides of the structure – and not the creepy inset entrances that currently exist, but actual doors in addition to the main entrance on 7th St. I would love it if there were an entrance to the store on the 8th street side as well, but the actual store footprint doesn’t come all the way back to 8th street and Macy’s isn’t expanding into the garage space. Logistically the 8th Street side of the structure was always going to be challenging given the fortress-like setup.

        • Last week I went to the Bloc’s open house where the developer, the architect, the landscape architect, designers, and a design anthropologist discussed the project. It was a discussion loaded with detail and structural diagrams. Here’s a few take-aways. 1) Retail activity and entrances will punctuate roughly 3/4 of the length of the structure from 7th toward 8th on both the Flower and Hope sides. 2) Two factors prohibit opening the structure at ground level for the remaining 1/4 distance on Flower and Hope and all along 8th. The first factor is elevation change. The site slopes downward from 7th to 8th in such a way that near 8th the street is a half level lower. The second factor is the wide, high ceiling for the semi-truck down ramp to the subterranean loading dock. Its volume cannibalizes retail opportunity at street level on 8th. 3) The whole project will have much larger side entrances to Macy’s and common areas. Macy’s will have plenty of access. 4) Macy’s currently occupies the whole footprint of the parking garage, though some of Macy’s will be carved out to create real-estate for the Alamo Draft House. All of the parking is above Macy’s, too much in fact. They have 2,000 spaces and plan to make money off parking for visitors to neighborhood (Bottega Louie diners for example) until possibly developing the roof of the parking structure.

          Also, the murals do seem a bit weak, but I guess its a matter of taste, kind of like IKEA and Hello Kitty had a child.

  5. Sun Ra says

    Hooray for fresh street art and murals that brighten up and liven the neighborhood.

    @wildstar seems like a tool.

  6. Totally subjective, but this looks promising to me so far.

    I certainly find this guy’s work more appealing than some on-the-nose Banksy or Shepard Fairey piece.

    Be thankful, at least it’s not more adverts. LA has enough billboard blight to fill up 10 cities.

  7. Sebastian says

    A vertical garden would look nice there. People will go there to stand in front of it and take pictures of it. It can be the worlds largest Vertical Garden.

  8. I think the murals look fantastic and will be a great addition. My question is the movie complex will take up the third floor of Macy’s, where will the third floor of Macy’s go? I actually like their towel and bedding dept and I also love their kitchen dept. Please tell me those depts will remain.

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