Preserving Parker Center | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photos (l-r): by Gary Leonard, Gary Leonard Collection/Los Angeles Public Library; by Hunter Kerhart; by Larry Underhill

Preserving Parker Center

The Stories You Are About to Hear Are True: Preserving Parker Center

Sunday, March 22, 2015
3:30 p.m.

FREE Panel Discussion and Reception
LAPD Police Administration Building, Ronald F. Deaton Civic Auditorium
100 West First Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

The Conservancy and community stakeholders engaged in a conversation about the many layers of history at Parker Center (originally the Police Facilities Building, Welton Becket & Associates and J. E. Stanton, 1955). While many know it from the hit 1950s television police drama Dragnet, this building has a deeper and controversial history. 

The City of Los Angeles, through its Bureau of Engineering, pressed for a redevelopment project that would demolish and replace Parker Center. The Conservancy believed that Parker Center could have been preserved and integrated into new construction. 

Watch a video recording of the panel discussion

Part 1

Part 2

The Conservancy's executive director, Linda Dishman, and director of advocacy, Adrian Scott Fine, shared historical context and explained the demolition threat and the Conservancy's position. Additional remarks were given by Cecily Young, daughter of artist Joseph Young who created the mosaic Theme Mural of Los Angeles, located in the lobby of Parker Center. A moderated panel discussion followed. Panelists spoke from a number of different points of view about Parker Center’s significance:

  • Innovative modern design by one of L.A.’s most prolific firms, Welton Becket & Associates, and its integration of public art and landscaping
  • Importance as the most modern and state-of-the-art police facility of its day
  • Construction as an early urban renewal project that demolished a major portion of Little Tokyo, as well as subsequently affecting the development of that neighborhood
  • Association with Chief William H. Parker, whose time as police chief reduced corruption in the force, but also resulted in strained relations with the African-American and Latino communities
  • Significance as a site of important historic events, such as the 1992 Los Angeles riots

Panelists: Richard Barron, Chair of the City of Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission; Cheryl Dorsey, retired LAPD police sergeant, community advocate, and author of The Creation of a Manifesto: Black and Blue; Alan Hess, architect, historian, and author of nineteen books on modernism; Glynn Martin, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Police MuseumMichael Okamura, President of the Little Tokyo Historical Society.

Moderator: Trudi Sandmeier, Director, Graduate Programs in Heritage Conservation, USC

Audience Q&A and an outdoor reception with light refreshments followed the panel discussion.