Carolyn Adventure Tours
offering bespoke adventures in the greater San Diego area and beyond
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DTLA Art and Architecture Adventure (part 1)

I am only now getting back to last week's 7 hours in downtown LA (DTLA) having taken a trip to Philadelphia right after (see previous post). You could say it's been busy, but in a good way!

My client wanted to visit The Broad Museum on Grand Avenue and Angels Flight. I was to fill in the rest of the itinerary. We fit so much into our day that I am going to split this post into 2!

So, without further ado, there is how our day played out...

Surfliner from San Diego

I walked to the Sante Fe Depot station to catch the Amtrak Surfliner north. The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) building in downtown San Diego next to the station was a renovation of the 1915 Santa Fe Depot baggage building by architect Richard Gluckman. While waiting for the train, I was able to enjoy the Richard Serra installation on the platform. Each block, forged in solid steel in a German foundry, is 52-by-58-by-64 inches and weighs 25 tons! Fun fact: The blocks are arranged in two axis, mirroring the idea that there are train tracks running both directions. Each block is aligned and turned differently, so looking down the row creates a rising and falling set of rectangles and planes.

Arrival at Union Station in LA (John and Donald Parkinson, 1939)

From downtown SD to downtown LA, it's a 3-hour ride; a good part scenic and along the coast. Union Station is a unique combination of Spanish Colonial Revival and Art Deco styles. It was completed in 1939 as train travel began to be surpassed by other modes of transportation. Union Station was the last grand railroad station built in America. Today it serves not only Amtrak trains but also as a station to the city's Metro Rail lines.

The Intercontinental Hotel in the Wilshire Grand (AC Martin, 2017)

The Wilshire Grand Center, which opened in June of this year is the first Downtown high-rise to be built since the Los Angeles City Hall in 1928  that does not have a flat roof. At its apex, is a glass crown and spire that rises above the 73rd floor.  The curved shape of the crown was inspired by Half Dome, a massive granite formation in Yosemite Valley. Because of that unique roofline, LA is home to the tallest skyscraper west of Chicago.

The InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel occupies the 31st to the 68th floor of the 73-story tower. The other floors are devoted to restaurants, bars and office space. Ordinarily, I don't specifically make it a point to visit tall buildings but for some compelling reason, I wanted to make this our first stop.

One day I would like to have a cocktail on the 73 floor rooftop bar, Spire 73, and stay in the hotel. For this visit, my guest and I made do with coffee and flaky pastries at Dekkadance on the 69th floor. To get to Dekkadance, we had to take the elevator to the 70th, where the lobby is, then walk down a curved staircase to the restaurant floor. By the way, it was a very smooth, fast elevator ride.

 It was great fun peering down at rooftops and helipads, a nice way to start our time in DTLA. After our continental breakfast, we enjoyed perusing the lobby and seating areas in the Intercontinental Hotel lobby.

Bonaventure Hotel (John Portman and Associates, 1976}

Fortified by our breakfast and views, we headed towards our next destination - Angels Flight on Bunker Hill.  Our route took us through the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, a unique "atrium hotel" structure presenting a 1970s vision of the future. 

The exterior of the hotel is comprised of four mirrored cylinders surrounding a slightly taller central tower. Inside, massive circular concrete forms rise from reflecting pools to connect with curved walkways. Pedestrian sky walks above the city streets connect the hotel to buildings in the surrounding area.

The third photo above shows some of the downtown buildings, including the Central Library in the foreground and the previously discussed Wilshire Grand in the center. 

Angels Flight (reopened August 2017)

I devoted a previous post to Angels Flight Railway which reopened only recently in August 2017, four years after state regulators shuttered the historic funicular. Here are some pics. Do check out the post and do plan a ride if you happen to be nearby. It's totally fun!

Lunch at Otium

We lunched at Otium which is adjacent to The Broad Museum before our mid afternoon museum ticket time. Such a great place to dine and people watch. So far, all my visits to The Broad have included a pre- or post- stop at Otium :)

The Broad (Diller Scoffidio + Renfro,  2015)

The Broad is a contemporary art museum built by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, it has a “veil-and- vault” concept that merges the two key programs of the building: public exhibition space and the vault storage space. The vault stores the portions of the collection not on display in the galleries. Viewing windows allow visitors to get a sense of the depth of the collection and peer right into the storage holding. The vault is enveloped on all sides by the “veil,” an airy, honeycomb-like structure that spans across the block-long gallery and provides filtered natural daylight.

Whenever at The Broad, I make it a point to view my favorites artists' works such as Ellsworth Kelley, Cy Twombly, Sam Francis, and Mark Bradford.

Free admission tickets to The Broad are released the prior month.  I highly recommend pre-planning and getting tickets. There is a wait line for those without tickets, but it's a gamble how long the wait may be.