Syska Arrives at Destination Crenshaw, Powering a New Outdoor Museum that Celebrates Black Los Angeles
Client: Destination Crenshaw Civil and Structural Engineering: KPFF Landscape Architect: Studio-MLA Architect: Perkins&Will Lighting: Frances Krahe & Associates Traffic Engineering: V&A
At Syska, we take pride in all of our projects. But some are especially meaningful to us. Destination Crenshaw, for which we’re providing electrical and plumbing design, is one of them.
As described by its creators, Destination Crenshaw is “a 1.3-mile-long public art project featuring a mix of permanent and rotating art works that will celebrate Black life, culture, and contributions” year-round. Situated along Crenshaw Boulevard where an extension of LA Metro Rail is underway, the $100-million project encompasses 10 new public parks, the planting of more than 1,000 new trees, and 30,000 square feet of new green space.
Architect Perkins&Will based the design of Destination Crenshaw on “Grow Where You’re Planted,” a theme inspired by African giant star grass that thrives in inhospitable environments. The site is separated into four consecutive sections -- Improvisation, Firsts, Dreams, and Togetherness -- and ends at Sankofa Park, a two-story outdoor plaza with an observation deck.
Syska’s role isn’t all that visible, but it’s certainly essential. Project manager Chai Tusakul explains that the team’s work will result in full electrical service for the parks, lighting for art installations and exhibits, and audiovisual capabilities for concerts and shows. Plumbing is also required for Sankofa Park because the park has two stories and requires drainage.
Furthermore, lighting will affect the perceptions of observers riding the Metro Rail at night. As they view the backlit exhibits, they’ll gain a quick but meaningful glimpse into Black history in Los Angeles through the ages. “We expended a great deal of effort to ensure that the lighting and the background of each environment will stand out as you travel through Crenshaw,” says Chai.
“We expended a great deal of effort to ensure that the lighting and the background of each environment will stand out as you travel through Crenshaw,”
“It’s such an important addition to Los Angeles”
“Destination Crenshaw showcases the culture and community of the neighborhood, and it inspires unity and collaboration.”
The project was highly complex because it involved so many stakeholders and required coordination with multiple trades, but Chai welcomed every aspect of the work. “It’s such an important addition to Los Angeles,” he states.
His colleague Michael Adebanjo, a member of the project team, agrees. Michael, who is African-American, grew up in Los Angeles and is eager to combat the stereotypes of African-American communities in South Central LA. He notes: “Destination Crenshaw showcases the culture and community of the neighborhood, and it inspires unity and collaboration.”
Like Chai, Michael appreciates the ability of train passengers to get a bird’s eye view of the neighborhood. As he points out, “They’ll see different murals, sculptures, and installations at different stations along the way, all of which speak to the culture and contributions of Black Los Angeles.”
He continues: “Destination Crenshaw offers a tour through history. But through the design process, we’ve come to realize that Destination Crenshaw itself is historic. We feel fortunate to be a part of it.”
Photography © Perkins&Will