The Grove is a unique and exciting retail, dining, and entertainment complex in Los Angeles, adjacent to the historical Farmer's Market, a landmark loved by local residents. When word got out that the area was to be redeveloped, prompting fears that the market would be razed, Caruso Affiliated Holdings stepped in to soothe the worries of local residents. Town meetings were held, concerns were listened to, and feedback was solicited from the community about what sort of shopping center they would prefer. The resulting design for The Grove was based on this information, to offer strollers and shoppers alike the atmosphere of a small town center that had evolved from the '30s and '40s.
For years, numerous development plans had been soundly defeated, but Caruso's plan was welcomed by locals because of its pledge to complement the Farmer's Market with streetscape architecture complete with trees, fountains, extensive landscaping, and even a double decker, open-air trolley. Built on a platform taken from a 1950s Boston streetcar, the trolley is painted green to celebrate its clean, inductive technology: the car is propelled by a magnetic field, the first such use of the system in the United States. Although the technology is modern, the look is intentionally old, with red-oak running boards, brass rails, internal spiral staircases, and other period fittings. The trolley runs along vintage streetcar tracks embedded in the ground.
The Grove is a meticulously designed 575,000-square-foot neighborhood center. Its traditional Main Street thoroughfare is complemented by sidewalks, curbs, custom-designed cast-iron streetlamps with handmade stained-glass lanterns, and small side streets with a European ambiance. Distinct, richly detailed building facades give the impression of a village through a variety of building heights and designs including art deco, classical, Italianate, and mission. Limestone imported from France, granite cobble and flagstone imported from Italy, mosaics, copper, and other quality materials were used throughout, down to the aged and tumbled brick paving used to reproduce an old city street. Custom-designed decorative lighting sconces reflect the architectural style of the building to which they are mounted.
Many of the buildings have been finished with artistic painting techniques, distinctive metal or stone railings, special window moldings, and metal or glass canopies to carry the dedication to architectural variety down to the smallest level of detail. The landmark Banana Republic building has highly articulated corners, copper cornice decoration, and backlit ornamental bronze grilles. The handsome Barnes & Noble building features a tower with an internally lit lantern, molded bronze storefront surrounds, and a faceted parapet with embedded ornamental castings at the top of its piers. The 3-story classical art nouveau FAO Schwarz building is visually prominent, with a bright copper patina mansard and elegant balconies. The classical multi-tenant building fronting the east end of the Town Square is reminiscent of a romantic civic structure with a three-story arched window and monumental copper dome, flanked by bell towers and topped with a cupola. The crowning jewel is a magnificent eight-foot diameter Glockenspiel (animated clock) with moving figurines that sound bells on the hour.
At the center of the open-air complex, Main Street winds around a Town Square that features a grassy park, meandering walkways, generous plazas, and kiosk structures. A handsome pedestrian bridge arches gracefully over waterfalls where animated, dancing waters are choreographed to music. The square is lushly landscaped with over 1500 rose bushes as well as a variety of mature trees brought in from remote locations, including a large number of one-of-a-kind specimen trees and shrubs, flowering perennials, elaborate hedges, and potted trees and plants. Fully-grown, mature trees reinforce the feeling that the village grew up around them and the buildings have been there a long time. These lovely, spectacular large trees include a 55-year old, 50-foot diameter jacaranda tree in Town Square, seven large magnolia trees in the main valet court, and a row of 45-foot tall date palms.
A lovely art deco-style 14-screen cinema re-creates the grand movie palaces of the golden age of Hollywood through the abundant use of mahogany, limestone, onyx, and bronze. The effect is enhanced by a dramatically curved façade, a soaring, brightly lit entrance with buttress-like piers, a classic cantilevered theater marquee, and a grand staircase rising to the mezzanine level. The lobby's original art, club chairs, art deco Venetian glass chandeliers, Italian marble mosaic floors, and carved and cast moldings evoke the style of a grand hotel. Contrasting the urbane elegance of the building is an entertaining and dynamic four-story rotating, scintillating, animated projecting sign that identifies the theater.
The parking structure offers over 3,400 parking spaces, with even more cars accommodated by extensive multi-point valet drop-off stations. Despite its bulk, the parking structure is visually blocked from within the project by the storefront facades. Even more impressive than its size is the ease of operation and luxury felt inside; guests are directed by automated equipment to the most convenient parking, using an innovative ramp system that provides two lanes of continuous vertical traffic flow, easily understood flat parking decks, and multiple points of ingress and egress. The pedestrian arrival experience is enhanced by carpeting, potted plants, and pleasant indirect lighting. Guests know they've arrived at The Grove when they emerge in the luxurious hotel-quality lobby at the ground floor, complete with concierge, fresh flower arrangements, marble-topped focal table, custom chandelier, and indulgent public restrooms that exceed all expectations.
With its nostalgic design and meticulous attention to detail, a trip to The Grove transports visitors to a different kind of place―a unique blend of style, substance, and quality reminiscent of a bygone era.