Rios Clementi Hale Studios’ Revamp of L.A.’s Music Center Plaza Debuts

L.A.'s Music Center Plaza reopened August 28. Photography by Tim Street-Porter.

Music Center Plaza, the once-sunken nexus between three of Los Angeles’s cultural landmarks—the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Ahmanson Theatre, and the Mark Taper Forum—has undergone a $41 million renovation by Rios Clementi Hale Studios. The project took almost two years to complete and officially debuted today, August 28.

When designed by Welton Becket in the mid-1960s, the complex, situated atop Bunker Hill overlooking Grand Avenue, was precisely that: a hilltop site removed from street life with little consideration for pedestrians in car-centric L.A. In fact, most people attending shows and events would go from subterranean parking directly to their venue without seeing the light of day or the lights of evening. RCHS’s revamping of the site has changed that. Accessibility and connectivity were the chief goals.

Music Center Plaza by Rios Clementi Hale Studios joins three music venues. Photography by Tim Street-Porter.

Under the leadership of principal and creative director Bob Hale, RCHS raised the plaza to be level with its surrounding buildings, widened the stairway at the Grand Avenue entrance, and installed a pair of escalators. Now, drivers are ushered out of the parking garage onto the street and reach the plaza by one of these access features.

On the plaza, landscaping encourages lingering, as does the addition of three new food and beverage facilities: The Mullin Wine Bar, the sit-down restaurant Abernethy’s, and café Go Get Em Tiger. Also new are a water feature, a welcome center, permanent restrooms, and two large LED screens. They’re part of the overall scheme to transform the plaza into a destination of its own, a vibrant programming and events space that will also be attractive to visitors to MOCA, Disney Hall, and The Broad, all located nearby.

The Mullin Wine Bar is one of three new restaurants in Music Center Plaza. Photography by Tim Street-Porter.
Another restaurant, Abernathy's, features outdoor seating on Music Center Plaza. Photography by Tim Street-Porter.

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