Mexican American cultural center in downtown L.A. sets 2011 opening

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Several years in the works, downtown Los Angeles’ new Mexican American cultural center, known as LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, has set an opening date for April 15, 2011.

The cultural center will occupy space in the historic Vickrey-Brunswig Building and the Plaza House on Main Street and will also feature 30,000 square feet of public garden space. The L.A.-based firms Chu+Gooding Architects and Rios Clementi Hale Studios worked on the interiors and exteriors, respectively.

The outdoor space is expected to include a stage and performance space that will be able to entertain up to 1,500 people.

LA Plaza will be located near the Olvera Street marketplace and El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, both of which are popular tourist destinations.


For its inaugural exhibition, LA Plaza will produce a show titled ‘LA Starts Here!’ that explores Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the founding and shaping of the city’s history and culture, from 1781 to the present. Another exhibition, titled ‘Calle Principal,’ will examine the historic roots of Plaza House through a re-creation of Main Street during the ‘20s.

A spokeswoman for LA Plaza said the final price tag for the center is estimated to come in at around $20 million. The bill for operations and maintenance is being footed in large part by taxpayers, since the center became an official project of Los Angeles County in 2007. Additional funding for the center will be covered by private and corporate donations.

Miguel Angel Corzo, an arts administrator who has held top positions at the Getty Conservation Institute and the Colburn School, serves as president and chief executive of LA Plaza.

-- David Ng