Union Bank Square
Union Bank Tower is an impressive sight, soaring forty stories above the Harbor (110) Freeway in downtown Los Angeles. Yet its most compelling aspect is the landscaped plaza nestled at its base.
Renowned landscape architect Garrett Eckbo designed the three-acre paved plaza in 1968, siting it three stories above street level atop the complex's parking garage. With its juxtaposition of soft green foliage and hard concrete paving and edging, the square is a modern update of an ancient rooftop garden. Eckbo created the landscape with an eye toward two distinct user experiences: one for pedestrians enjoying the park at ground level, and one for employees viewing it from their offices in the tower above.
The resulting design intersperses regimented rows of trees (including ficus, jacaranda, sycamore, and coral) in round concrete planters with organic, undulating islands of grass and pools of water.
The water, which is barely ruffled by quiet fountain jets, is crossed by a central curving concrete bridge offering a pleasant ramble for plaza users.
Artist Jerome Kirk's fin-like metal mobile sculpture "Aquarius" was added to the landscape in 1970. Union Bank Square is accessed by small staircases near the freeway, a large staircase and elevator at Fifth Street, and even a pedestrian bridge from the neighboring Bonaventure Hotel. It is a hidden piece of 1960s Los Angeles, calling for visitors to come take a peek.