Locations: 630 W. 5th St.
Size: 2.5 acre
The Robert H. Maguire III Gardens are one of Los Angeles’ most beautiful downtown spaces. Located at the west entrance to the Los Angeles Public Library, the gardens are just one of the many memorable urban spaces designed by celebrated landscape architect Lawrence Halprin.
Completed in 1998, the Maguire Gardens were part of Los Angeles’ ten-year effort to renovate and expand the historic Central Library, an iconic Egyptian revival building designed by Betram Goodhue in 1926, of which the garden design draws influence from. Built over a parking structure, the renovated elements of the Maguire Gardens include a series of terraced pools, fountains, public art, restaurant, and an outdoor dining terrace.
Drawing upon Goodhue’s original design, Maguire Garden’s postmodern features are spatially organized along the building’s central axis. To strengthen the existing axis, the garden design restored and extended Goodhue’s stepped reflecting pools, planted formal rows of Italian cypress and olive trees, and aligned walkways and steps with that central axis. In addition, a series of outdoor rooms were designed to break up the space for various uses, both active and passive, and were delineated by use of formal, “classical” plant massing and low walls.
Amongst the distinctive features of the gardens are the site-specific public art installations set along the central axis, some elevated above the stepped reflecting pools with others at the terminus of each. These symbolic sculptures enliven the space and allude not only to the wealth of learning in the Los Angeles Public Library, but also to the diversity of languages and cultures that make up the fabric of Los Angeles life.
The garden is also visually linked and physically linked to the Bunker Hill Steps, another iconic downtown LA space designed by Lawrence Halprin.