*Yeah, the pun is terrible. Blame it on the heat, but it had to be done.
If you’ve been spending any time in the DTLA block that includes Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Mark Taper Forum, the Ahmanson Theater, etc., you’ve seen the construction and the hubbub: something big is in the works. The folks at the Music Center of Los Angeles County announced their confirmation today that the work on the iconic plaza that joins the venues is almost done, and ready for its unveiling.
Why are we so excited about open space? Most of us spend a significant amount of time on this plaza, and that common entry point can make or break the overall experience for a lot of theater- and opera-goers. With new food options and features installed and more to come, “The Plaza for All” is one more step in revitalizing LA’s downtown culture, and will serve as further extension of the focus on inclusion and openness that has gone into the construction and development of Grand Park and other parts of this district. This type of urban renewal is absolutely essential to the health of major arts organizations like LA Opera, based at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and LA Phil, whose home is just down the street at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
You, too, can be part of various celebrations scheduled before, during and after Labor Day weekend. See full details below — there’s plenty to choose from!
Press release follows. (This is the updated version of this release.)
THE MUSIC CENTER TO RE-OPEN ITS PLAZA IN AUGUST 2019 WITH FREE PUBLIC CELEBRATION FOLLOWING $41 MILLION RENOVATION
Dynamic Urban Space Becomes “The Plaza for All” with New Welcome Center, Full-Service Restaurant, Wine Bar, Coffee Bar, Gardens with Expansive Vistas, and Interactive Arts Installation
Go Get Em Tiger, Los Angeles’ Preeminent Boutique Coffee Company, Becomes First Third-Party Operator Invited to Open at The Music Center
LOS ANGELES (July 11, 2019) — The Music Center today announced it will re-open The Music Center Plaza with a civic ceremony on August 28, 2019 and free public festivities throughout Labor Day weekend (from Friday, August 30–Sunday, September 1, 2019) following a 20-month $41 million renovation of the expansive outdoor space. The 53-year-old Plaza has been updated into an accessible, welcoming outdoor urban space as a “plaza for all” to enjoy. Serving as a principal public square for Los Angeles County, the reimagined Plaza creates a fifth venue at The Music Center campus, providing a place where people can not only dine and gather, but also connect with friends and colleagues. The Plaza will be home to free and low-cost events and activities that showcase the talents of the many artists and distinctive communities that comprise the culturally rich County of Los Angeles.
Along with significant infrastructure improvements and improved ADA access, the Plaza renovation involved construction of five new buildings, including the Lisa Specht Welcome Center, permanent public restrooms and three dining locations. Now offering a wide range of culinary options and price points, the Plaza’s new food and beverage options include Abernethy’s, a full-service restaurant that will feature an innovative emerging chef program; The Mullin Wine Bar with wine lists curated by local wine shops and cocktails created by a featured mixologist; and Los Angeles-based third wave coffee bar Go Get Em Tiger (GGET), recently selected by The Music Center to operate the Plaza’s new coffee bar. The new dining establishments complement two existing plaza level restaurants—Upstage Burger and Cocina Roja—which opened on the southeast and northeast sides of the Plaza as construction began, bringing the total number of culinary choices on the Plaza to five. New casual gardens complement the space, offering places to relax and enjoy beautiful vistas of Grand Park and the civic center.
“The redesign of The Music Center Plaza creates an inviting, wide-open space and provides Angelenos with an urban oasis, whether they are in between meetings in the busy civic center or just looking to relax and enjoy the sights of Downtown L.A.,” said Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center. “We are thrilled to see the Plaza become a location that welcomes guests from all corners of our great county to enjoy the new dining options and future programming planned for this engaging space. We hope everyone will join us as we inaugurate this beautiful new outdoor venue with free community events over Labor Day weekend.”
The award-winning, Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary architecture and design firm, Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH Studios), which also designed Grand Park, Grand Avenue Streetscape and led the renovation of The Music Center’s Mark Taper Forum, was at the helm of the Plaza redesign. Construction began in January 2018 and will be completed this month. In its efforts to update the infrastructure and construct the five new buildings, RCH Studios created tranquil, landscaped vistas that face Grand Park on the eastern end of the Plaza; featuring native and drought-tolerant plants, the gardens will allow wining and dining al fresco adjacent to The Mullin Wine Bar and Go Get Em Tiger. In its design approach for The Music Center Plaza, RCH Studios raised the Plaza to a single level and reconfigured the stairs to Grand Avenue allowing for more open space during public events and performances. As a result, the redesign enhances the connection to the community providing accessibility and visually connecting The Music Center to Grand Park, leveraging the synergies between two major county assets.
The Plaza re-opening will also mark the return of The Music Center Plaza fountain, a centerpiece of the space, while the Jacques Lipchitz-designed “Peace on Earth” sculpture was relocated to a more prominent position within The Music Center complex. In addition, guests can interact with two new 12’ x 20’ LED screens along with sensors and cameras to create their own art in new and iterative ways. The Music Center is working with long-time partner yU+co, a Hollywood-based digital design studio, to develop interactive software that will allow the screens to become a platform for crowd-activated art. The screens also will be used for live events, simulcasts, programming information and more. The Lisa Specht Welcome Center will also feature a 6’ x 20’ interactive screen with visitor information and special surprises.“
After many years of envisioning what The Music Center Plaza could be, we can’t wait to share the outcome of the renovations, as we turn the fountain back on and light up the LED screens this August,” added Howard Sherman, executive vice president & chief operating officer, The Music Center Ops. “We’ve worked with amazing partners, including the County of Los Angeles, Rios Clementi Hale Studios and Matt Construction, to develop a dynamic space that is not only ahead of schedule, but also exceeds expectations by providing a platform for infinite opportunities and experiences.”
Major funding for the $41 million Plaza project came from the County of Los Angeles, which provided $30 million. In addition, The Music Center has raised over $10 million in private funds and is raising $1 million for the LED screens. Lead gifts were received from Lisa Specht, current chair of The Music Center, and vice chairs Robert J. Abernethy and Cindy Miscikowski and the Ring-Miscikowski Foundation/The Ring Foundation. Significant support was also received from The Blue Ribbon, Mimi and Marie Song, Fredric Roberts, Merle and Peter Mullin, and Eva and Marc Stern. Major grants were awarded by The Ahmanson Foundation, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and The Rose Hills Foundation. As The Music Center completes fundraising for Plaza capital needs, it turns its attention to raising funds for programs that will bring the Plaza to life. To date, The Music Center has raised $3.3 million toward a goal of $5 million in support of free and low-cost community programs.
The Music Center Plaza Grand Opening Festivities
The Music Center will officially open the Plaza with a civic dedication and then welcome the public to celebrate the newly renovated space with a number of free public events:
Wednesday, August 28, 2019: 10:30 a.m.
Civic Dedication: The Music Center Plaza
The Music Center will hold a civic dedication for invited guests and the media. The event will feature remarks from Music Center leadership and board members, elected officials and community leaders along with other special surprises.
Thursday, August 29, 2019: 4:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.
Go Get Em Tiger and The Mullin Wine Bar: Grand Openings
Both Go Get Em Tiger and The Mullin Wine Bar will host special grand openings with music, games and special treats for Grand Avenue residents, businesses and neighbors in Downtown Los Angeles.
Friday, August 30, 2019: 7:00 p.m.–midnight
The Music Center’s Dance DTLA
The Music Center will bring its highly popular, free Dance DTLA back to its Plaza “home” to celebrate the official grand opening of The Music Center Plaza. This evening of The Music Center’s Dance DTLA is made possible with support by Bank of America. Dance lovers will enjoy an evening of Cumbia under the summer stars with beginner dance lessons, followed by extended hours of dancing and music until midnight. The Music Center’s Dance DTLA series is generously funded by The Ring-Miscikowski Foundation/The Ring Foundation.
Saturday, August 31, 2019: 4:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m.
Plaza for All Celebration featuring
Los Angeles Master Chorale’s Big Sing 2019
- 4:00 p.m. Event begins in Grand Park
- 5:00 p.m. Procession from Grand Park to the Plaza
- 6:00 p.m.–7:15 p.m. Big Sing 2019
The Music Center is partnering with Los Angeles-based LA Commons, which engages communities in artistic and cultural expressions, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, The Music Center’s longest-standing resident company, for a big community celebration of the Plaza. Complete with singing, music, dance and visual art, the Plaza for All Celebration will invite Angelenos to commemorate and embrace the new public space as the county’s “plaza for all.” The free event will include a public procession featuring performers and members of the many communities that comprise all five districts of Los Angeles County, with the event commencing at Grand Park and culminating at The Music Center Plaza. The celebration will continue in a giant sing-along as the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s annual Big Sing event brings thousands together as one community to sing popular songs under the direction of Grant Gershon, Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director, and special guest conductors. Food will be available for purchase from local food trucks. Big Sing 2019 is made possible by generous support from The Lovelace Family Trust, Terri and Jerry Kohl, and Philip A. Swan.
Sunday, September 1, 2019: Noon–6:00 p.m.
The Music Center’s Splish Splash Plaza Bash
All are welcome as The Music Center Plaza becomes a free, fun casual hangout on a long holiday weekend. The newly renovated space will be transformed into a giant, fun backyard party filled with free games and activities, splashing in The Music Center fountain, great food and more. Abernethy’s first five emerging chefs will be on hand, preparing and selling their individual versions of backyard bites and treats.
Thursday, September 5, 2019: 5:00 p.m.
Abernethy’s: Grand Opening
New to the Plaza, Abernethy’s restaurant opens featuring the first of the chefs (to be announced) in the restaurant’s highly innovative emerging chef program. More information about the Plaza renovation can be found at musiccenter.org/plaza. Additional details regarding the free Labor Day weekend events to be announced. More information about Big Sing 2019 may be found at https://lamasterchorale.org/big-sing-2019.
About The Music Center
The Music Center convenes artists, communities and ideas with the goal of deepening the cultural lives of every resident in Los Angeles County. The non-profit performing arts organization has two divisions: The Music Center Arts (TMC Arts) and The Music Center Operations (TMC Ops). TMC Arts, The Music Center’s programming engine, provides year-round programming inside The Music Center’s four theatres, on The Music Center Plaza, outside at Grand Park—a 12-acre adjacent green space—and in schools and other locations all over Los Angeles County. TMC Arts presents world-class dance with Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, free and low-cost public concerts and events, as well as K–12 arts education programs. TMC Ops manages the theatres, the Plaza and Grand Park on behalf of the County of Los Angeles. The Music Center is also home to four renowned resident companies—Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Master Chorale, LA Opera and LA Phil.
For more information, visit musiccenter.org. Follow The Music Center on Facebook, and follow @MusicCenterLA on Instagram and Twitter.