Destination Crenshaw

Los Angeles, California
Celebrating Black LA

During planning of the LA Metro Rail extension connecting LAX to central LA, the decision to route the underground line above ground at Crenshaw Boulevard could have negatively impacted the Crenshaw community, the heart of Black LA. Instead, an opportunity emerged to foster the area’s strong arts culture.

Imagine a captivating and memorable experience of sound, color, energy, and the arts. This outdoor gallery will be the nation’s largest art and cultural celebration of African American contribution to world culture. Anchored by permanent and rotating art installations, ten new public parks, exhibits, and entirely new streetscapes, this public art and cultural experience will run along Crenshaw Boulevard and celebrate the long-standing reputation of the neighborhood as a creative incubator as well as Black LA’s impact on popular culture and social change.

Thematic Lenses
Four interpretive nodes/thematic lenses correlate with a specific locale of urban growth along Crenshaw Boulevard and anchor that location with unique experiences that celebrate the area's heritage.
Improvisation

The theme of “improvisation” provides a common ground where art merges the virtuoso with the immediate and instinctive.

By anchoring the Southernmost edge of the project area, adding significant three-dimensional art elements and a new Crenshaw monument as a landmark which announces the start of the experience, this area becomes a major point of arrival from the southern and northern sections of the city.

54th West Pocket Park and the future Council District 8 headquarters building.
Firsts

Key interventions at this area include two new pocket parks anchoring the Southern corners of the intersection and the future Council District 8 headquarters.

Dreams

“The Wall” represents the oldest art asset to be featured in the project. Adding a new parklet above the area will create a visual connection between it and the pocket park on the other side of Crenshaw Blvd.

New weathering steel marquee identifies The Wall and access to the parklet above.
View from elevated platform at 50th pocket park to “The Wall.”
New observation platform provides visual connection between east and west sides of Crenshaw Blvd.
Togetherness

This portion of the project will create a significant new public space just south of the existing, historic Leimert Park and serve as the threshold for the northern end of the experience, promoting gathering, and showcasing commissioned art, exhibit content, and programming at multiple scales.

End Highlight of the Experience: Sankofa Park Aerial View.
Like the Giant Star Grass, the Black LA community has irrepressible roots that have flourished and spread across the globe.
UNIFYING DESIGN CONCEPT
Grow Where You’re Planted

The design for Destination Crenshaw was driven by a unifying theme: “Grow Where You’re Planted” which is inspired by African Giant Star Grass. Used by slave traders as bedding in their ships, the grass thrives in alien lands despite inhospitable conditions. Today, it remains a profoundly resonant reminder of African American history, the patterns of global dispersion, and black resilience in the face of violence and racism.

The unifying design concept connects the project’s many design components: architecture, landscape, interpretive design, art, and the metro.

Project Team

People
Zena Howard
People
Gabrielle Bullock
People
Kenneth Luker
People
Yan Krymsky
People
Malcolm Davis
People
Martin Leitner
People
Bill Schmalz