Sunset Triangle Plaza opens in Los Angeles on March 4

Rios Clementi Hale Studios-Los Angeles-Sunset Triangle Plaza
Image Credit: Rios Clementi Hale Studios

Rios Clementi Hale Studios has transformed a dull space into a vibrant community plaza in Los Angeles by creating the new Sunset Triangle Plaza under the auspices of Streets for People (S4P), an initiative of the City of Los Angeles Planning Commission and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.  Rios Clementi Hale Studios contributed its time and talents to transform an underutilized public right of way into a safe, pleasant, and vibrant public space for pedestrians and cyclists alike.  Located at Griffith Park and Sunset Boulevards in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles, Sunset Triangle Plaza opens on Sunday, March 4, 2012, at 11AM, for a community celebration.

Rios Clementi Hale Studios-Los Angeles-Sunset Triangle Plaza
BEFORE Image Credit: Margot Ocañas

A key concept of S4P is to quickly and inexpensively reclaim under-used street space and involve local residents and businesses in the design and maintenance.  “Using paint and planters allows us to recapture streets for people in months rather than decades, and for thousands—rather than millions—of dollars,” says William Roschen, FAIA, president of the Los Angeles Planning Commission.  “Now that we have the process, template, and cooperation of city departments and the community, we have several key variables in place to do upward of 40 projects a year,” continues Roschen who sees S4P as a way “to make great open space in a city that is amazingly park-poor.”

Rios Clementi Hale Studios-Los Angeles-Sunset Triangle Plaza
Sunset Triangle Plaza will be outlined by rows of planters working as bollards to demarcate the 11,000-square-foot site.  In addition to planters containing drought-tolerant plants (generously donated by Monrovia nursery in Azusa, CA), moveable bistro tables with umbrellas and chairs, and a whimsical painted street surface help create a community atmosphere and a respite in the middle of a busy neighborhood.  Grass and trees—as well as a fountain—of an existing pocket park will complement the new plaza.

Literally a “green space,” the Sunset Triangle Plaza surface is painted in two tones of green in an enlarged polka-dot pattern.  The playful dots are open to interpretation, according to Frank Clementi, AIA, AIGA, principal at Rios Clementi Hale Studios, the Los Angeles-based architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, urban planning, graphics, and product design firm that is known for its creative use of color and pattern in corporate, municipal, and entertainment designs.  “In pre-digital printing, dot patterns created halftones, and Sunset Triangle Plaza represents a site in transition—a halfway point—from street to plaza,” he notes.  “Also, the dots play off of D.O.T., the abbreviation for Department of Transportation, which is integral to the Streets for People program,” continues Clementi, who collaborated on the design with Tony Paradowski and Sebastian Salvadó, both senior associates at Rios Clementi Hale Studios.

At Sunset Triangle Plaza, the twice-weekly farmer’s market will continue to operate uninterrupted, additional parking spaces will be created along Sunset Boulevard to accommodate for some of those lost in the planning, and all street furniture will be brought inside each evening to maintain its quality and cleanliness.  The pilot project will be in place for approximately one year.

Streets for People is spearheaded by the City of Los Angeles Planning Commission and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, working closely with the Departments of Transportation, Planning, and Public Works; the Office of Councilmember Eric Garcetti; community-based organizations, including the Silver Lake Improvement Association (SLIA) and the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council; and local businesses.  Green LA has also been integral to S4P, providing staff support and acting as its fiscal agent.

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Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at