Youth orchestra program finds a home in Inglewood

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By Rachel Parsons
Hub Correspondent

A century-old Los Angeles cultural icon has chosen the City of Inglewood to expand a seminal youth music program.

Last year, the Los Angeles Philharmonic announced that it plans to build the first permanent, dedicated space for its signature education program Youth Orchestra Los Angeles in Inglewood. The decision brings the artistic influence of design heavy-hitters to a part of the city that has been overshadowed by the NFL stadium development across town.

That the LA Phil chose to repurpose a building in the flagging downtown area is significant, according to Dana Cuff, director of cityLAB-UCLA, a professor and specialist in urban design and design psychology.

“I think a building like this, which is really dedicated to the community, brings a kind of dignity and attention to the community,” Cuff said.

The renovation, with renowned design architect Frank Gehry at the helm, will transform the old Security Pacific Bank building on La Brea Avenue near city hall into a state-of-the-art rehearsal and performance space for music students from kindergarten through high school. Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, the symphony’s winter home.

The construction comes as part of a larger push to revitalize the historic core of Inglewood.

“As much as Inglewood can use revitalization, that’s often a code word for gentrification,” Cuff said.

But she thinks bringing an existing space back to life can sometimes combat that.

The decision not to build a brand new building or worse, raze an existing building to do so, will create a space, she said, that’s “open to the community and is the very best without seeming like it’s for like people other than the neighborhood … the reason this might be anti-gentrifying is because it actually adds to the lives of the children there. When you design a building like that it feels public, but it’s community public not destination public. It’s really supposed to be a working heart for the neighborhood.”

Construction on the site is scheduled to begin in the spring.

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