The Museum of Neon Art (MONA), adjacent mid-block pedestrian paseo and the beautification of the parallel alley and parking lot represents the first phase of the Central Park Master Plan. The design by AECOM links the civic facilities at Central Park with the Americana at Brand shopping center across Brand Boulevard, and features the historic “Clayton Plumbers” sign as a counterpoint to the neon diver on the roof of the MONA building by Shimoda Design Group.
Located at the south end of the “Maryland Off Broadway” Art & Entertainment District, and at the mid-point of a long-anticipated pedestrian promenade between The Americana at Brand and Central Park, this site is an important “keystone” property in the downtown, appropriate for unique and memorable architecture and landscape. Aligned with Caruso Avenue across Brand Boulevard, a new public east-west promenade joins the Americana and Park into a combined commercial and civic center. The Museum of Neon Art is located on the north side of this promenade, where its lobby, book store and cafe is contained within a double-height glass box, which provides a dramatic display area for the Museum’s collection of large neon signs and artwork. Cantilevered over the promenade into the view corridors from the Americana and Park, and topped off with the iconic “diver” neon sculpture, this glass box marks the Museum’s main entrance and establishes a prominent visual landmark at the south end of downtown.
Within the promenade, a row Pink Trumpet trees echoes the street trees on Caruso Avenue and shades a hard wood deck intended to be a visual “carpet” for receptions and events spilling out from the Museum’s lobby, cafe and gallery. The south half of the promenade, with doorways into the neighboring 224 S Brand building, is paved in the diagonal brick pattern of Brand Boulevard, extending the sidewalk into the promenade. Down the middle of the promenade is a reflecting pool, which like the reflective materials of the building itself will mirror the light and colors of the Museum’s neon collection. The pool also unifies the two neon sculptures in the promenade into a single (and wryly humorous) design – the iconic “diver” sculpture is poised to leap off the MONA building into the pool, which is fed by the dripping neon water from the “Clayton Plumbers” sign.
Behind MONA, the existing alley and parking lot are combined into a single parking court, with a simple two-way traffic pattern. Sidewalks are located on both the west and east side of the parking court, with a new double allee of trees extending and defining the west edge of Central Park. The intersection of the promenade and parking court is marked by a stand of 12 palm trees, creating a vertical skyline feature that will be seen from within the Americana and across Central Park – anticipating the extension of the promenade east across the Park.
As Principal Urban Designer at the City of Glendale, Alan Loomis was the lead urban designer for “MONA and the MONA Paseo” project team. Shimoda Design Group was the architect for the MONA Building; the Los Angeles office of AECOM was the landscape architect for the Paseo.
2016 San Fernando Valley Business Journal Commercial Real Estate Award for Greater Community Revitalization
“Peek Inside the New Museum of Neon Art Before Its Official Grand Opening” Curbed Los Angeles [January 22, 2016]
“Glowing Future in Glendale” Architect’s Newspaper [March 28, 2011]