After decades of neglect, the city’s revitalized downtown core has become its new cultural epicenter. Natives who until recently couldn’t imagine visiting the area’s gritty streets after dark now clog them daily to visit its bars, restaurants, galleries and concert halls. But that’s just the first wave; the city’s civic leaders have ambitious plans to keep downtown’s cultural renaissance alive well into the future.
The Ace Hotel and L.A.’s Broadway
When it opened in January, the Ace immediately became the headquarters for the tragically trendy and hopelessly hip on Broadway, L.A.’s once famed theater row. The Ace acquired and rehabbed the renowned United Artists Theatre (which hosted Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project in February; see “The New Guy”), the latest in a wave of proprietors restoring the lavish movie palaces along Broadway to use as premier performance spaces. Rooms start at $210; 929 S. Broadway; 213-623-3233; acehotel.com.
The Wilshire Grand
AC Martin—one of the three architecture firms responsible for the L.A.’s iconic City Hall, among other landmarks—is undertaking what may be its crowning achievement: When completed in 2017, Korean Airlines’ Wilshire Grand hotel will be the tallest building west of the Mississippi. The structure has already set one record; in February, Guinness certified its foundation as the longest continuous concrete pour. At 900 Wilshire Blvd.
Eli Broad shocked the art world when he announced he would not bequest his collection to LACMA. Instead, he’s building his own museum across from the Walt Disney Concert Hall and MOCA. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, The Broad will feature a honeycomb fiberglass-reinforced concrete veil and a column-free, 50,000-square-foot exhibition space on the first and third floors. Best of all: When it opens in 2015, it will be free.At 221 S. Grand; thebroad.org.
The Grand Avenue Project
Around the corner from The Broad, the Grand Avenue Project will transform an old parking structure into an architectural gem when it is completed in the next few years. Designed by Frank Gehry (to complement his Walt Disney Concert Hall across the street), the complex will feature two towers—one an SLS hotel and office building, the other residences—and a terraced plaza lined with tony restaurants and shops.
The Sixth Street Viaduct
The Depression-era Sixth Street bridge has starred in numerous films, like Drive and Transformers. However, decay is rendering the structure unsafe, so the city will replace it with a stunning new bridge graced by arching ribbons of concrete. With a design team including AC Martin and Michael Maltzan, the project will also create parks around L.A.’s concrete-clad river, which is perhaps more famous for its cameo in Terminator 2 than for its use as a public space.
Michael Maltzan’s Iconic New Apartments
Downtown may be in the midst of gentrification, but the homeless encampments of Skid Row are an enduring reality. However, Maltzan has added architectural flair with his stacked, prefab Apartments, which provide housing and social services for the chronically homeless. To the north, in the Arts District, Maltzan has also designed One Santa Fe, a train-shaped development that will set aside units of below-rate housing for artists. At 230–330 S. Santa Fe; mmaltzan.com.