Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park

Historic-Cultural Monument #1157 has served the Koreatown community for over 50 years

Courtesy Save Liberty Park


Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park has been a fixture of the Koreatown community for over 50 years and represents one of Los Angeles’ most significant cultural landscapes on corporate property. It tells a remarkable story of postwar development in which a corporate business allowed the ideals of aesthetics and community open space to guide the design of a headquarters project.

On March 7, 2018, the Los Angeles City Council voted to declare Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park in Koreatown a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM). It is locally designated as Historic-Cultural Monument #1157 and has been identified as eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Conservancy supported the HCM nomination and participated in meetings with Save Liberty Park, the property owner, and Council District 10 to secure support for the designation of this cultural landscape.


About This Place

About This Place

When Beneficial Standard Life Insurance Company’s new headquarters was completed in 1967, the concept of dedicating private corporate property as community open space, particularly on a major commercial corridor such as Wilshire, was unprecedented. Liberty Park remains the only landscaped community space on corporate property along Wilshire Boulevard.

Beneficial and its founders recognized the general lack of landscaping around office buildings on Wilshire and wanted to prevent the Wilshire Center business district from becoming “another high-rise asphalt jungle.”

In planning its headquarters, founder Edward D. Mitchell and son and CEO of Beneficial Insurance, Joseph N. Mitchell, decided on a 315-foot setback for the office tower (reported in the LA Times as the deepest setback of any major office building in the nation at the time) and created the 2.5 acre Liberty Park as an asset to the community and the aesthetics of Wilshire Boulevard.

The 11-story Late Modern office tower and Liberty Park were conceived as a unified, cohesive design, which was collaboratively designed by master architects Gordon Bunshaft and Edward Charles Bassett of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and noted landscape architect Peter Walker, FASLA, of Sasaki, Walker & Associates.

Peter Walker, who also designed the National 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site, created a sophisticated symmetrical design for Liberty Park that incorporates a hardscaped plaza, a lush lawn, and an off-centered grove of Canary Island pines. A horseshoe-shaped border and promenade frames the central lawn and opens to embrace Wilshire Boulevard. The plaza contains an exact replica of the Liberty Bell cast by the same London foundry and in the same molds as the original.

Beneficial Plaza was dedicated on Veterans Day, November 11, 1967 and served as the headquarters of Beneficial Standard Life Insurance through 1985, when the property was sold and the insurance firm was acquired by CalFed, Inc. The property is now known as Wilshire Park Place and is owned by Jamison Properties, Inc.

The Conservancy featured the site on our 2016 Koreatown tour as well as in our 2010 people’s choice poll, the Top 60 of the ‘60s. The poll was part of an initiative by the Conservancy and our Modern Committee, The Sixties Turn 50, which raised awareness of Los Angeles County’s rich legacy of 1960s architecture.

Our Position

The December 2016 release of a mitigated negative declaration (MND) for 3700 Wilshire that would destroy and replace Liberty Park triggered public outcry and prompted Koreatown residents to form the advocacy coalition Save Liberty Park.

The Conservancy submitted comments on the MND and testified at the December 7, 2016 hearing officer meeting to highlight the flawed analysis of the environmental review. The Conservancy argued that the City misinterpreted the 2009 CRA Wilshire Center and Koreatown survey and incorrectly concluded that Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park had been evaluated as not historically significant, when in fact it had never actually been evaluated for eligibility at the local, state, or national levels. The scope of the 2009 survey was buildings constructed before 1962, while Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park was completed in 1967.

Save Liberty Park submitted a nomination for Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park in 2017. In addition to successfully nominating the property for listing as HCM #1157, the coalition also commissioned a Historic Resource Evaluation that identified the property as eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

The recognition of the property as a historic resource in 2018 will require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report for the 3700 Wilshire project or any others proposed for the property.