Ever since the LAPD moved into their new headquarters in 2009, questions have lingered about the future of the department’s former home. Now we finally have a chance to get a look at the options on the table. Yesterday, the LA Downtown News linked to the city’s long awaited draft environmental impact report studying the potential uses for Parker Center. The DEIR focused on three different alternatives for the site:
To judge these alternatives, the DEIR used the following criteria: If you think that the above criteria seem to point towards “Demolition and Build,” you would be correct. The DEIR ranks B3 as the preferred alternative, as it allows the city to consolidate the most employees under one roof. A very tall roof, at that. At 450 feet from head to toe, this hypothetical tower would be roughly the same height as LA City Hall. The DEIR does raise concerns over the demolition of Parker Center, noting that the building has some historical significance. Parker Center has served as a backdrop for film and television shows, including Dragnet and Perry Mason. The building was also designed by Welton Becket, one of the most prominent architects in the history of Los Angeles. Of course, how many buildings in Los Angeles have served as filming locations at this point? We can’t preserve every building that made it onto television. It is true that Welton Becket designed Parker Center. However, would anyone consider Parker Center a Becket masterpiece? Los Angeles is home to many architectural icons, but I would not place Parker Center on that list. The mid-century design is cold and insular; completely antithetical to the future that the city desires for Downtown. Unfortunately, I need to throw in a small reality check here. While it’s fun to imagine shiny new office towers, how realistic of a proposal is Alternative B3? Los Angeles has difficulty maintaining city services and suffers from chronic budget problems. It is not unrealistic to assume that many Angelenos will have a problem with investing nine figures in city office buildings while streets go unpaved for decades. Especially since it was just a few years ago that construction of the Police Administration Building went close to 50% over budget. So there you have it: tempered enthusiasm and cautious optimism. Hopefully the city can deliver a quality project to the Parker Center lot. Preferably without the extreme cost overruns that plagued the construction of its replacement facility.