An Iconic Puff Pastry

An Iconic Puff Pastry

On a mile-and-a-half long strip of flat land at the west edge of Los Angeles, California, there is a massive development under way, as it has been for nearly two decades. Formerly the site of Hughes Aircraft, the Playa Vista community is a complex of residential and commercial buildings – including the repurposed hangar where the Spruce Goose was built – punctuated by several highly planned park spaces. Near the east end of Playa Vista is the strangely-named Central Park, designed by Michael Maltzan, which has at its center a light, airy, translucent bandshell.

It is described by Maltzan as “an iconic bandshell” and it may well fulfill that bold claim. When illuminated at night, it resembles a glowing puff pastry. In aerial photos, it is a bit like looking down on a soft-serve ice cream cone. On a bright, blue southern California afternoon, it looks like a cloud about to float off.

The shell is a steel frame covered in a stretched fabric composite of fiberglass and PTFE.  The frame is dominated by three large hoops, with crosspieces that are not are radial, but bent more towards being tangents to the circle, giving the interior a visual twisting effect, heightening the sense that the structure is floating, or perhaps even rising.