issue : 042003

Near the northeastern edge of the Historical District of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, there is a block long residual space formed by facades of three museums: the old (Pavilion) and the new Japanese American National Museums and the Geffen Contemporary Museum at MOCA. This space is normally a simple pedestrian pathway between the museums, but often serves to provide an interesting ambiance for ephemeral outdoor events. Here, it's important to point out that these museums transform a typical monotonous void into eventful spaces using distinctively different methods.

At the southern intersection of First and Central Streets, the new Japanese American National Museum designed by HOK forms an interesting metamorphic space achieved by an elegant curved facade. The facade with its donors' names, acts as a permeable screen between the pathway and a 4000+ sq. ft. of an atrium space called, "Aratani Central Hall" to work as extensions of one another, thus providing an informal backdrop for public events to unfold both internally and externally. Don't forget to spend more time munching on snacks from a café that faces a smaller, (unfortunately) semi-private garden called, "Stone and Water Garden", designed by a landscape architect Robert Murase.

The northern end of the pathway ends with the Geffen Contemporary Museum at MOCA (used to be a city warehouse and service garage, can you tell?) and the Broke Memorial (for the patriotic Japanese Americans who joined US Armed Forces during WWII) with large public parking space/structures that forms another public space. Frank O. Gehry's design of the exterior space is atypically identified as a singular and independent space, away from the surroundings by the use of the steel canopy (although only covered with simple wire mesh) that covers its entire plaza. The effect of these vertical structures help define the otherwise harsh warehouse front with a giagantic parking space.

:: REF ::
Panoramic photographs of the open plaza(s), atrium, garden, and details are included, so please explore!

HOK Los Angeles
The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design
Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

*open daily except Mondays and major holidays, check for special group discounts and free nights