Playa Vista Central Park

Light ignites access and visual connection for a site with colorful history.

Once inhabited by native Tongva people and then centuries later, by the Hughes Aircraft Company, the planned community of Playa Vista is gradually rising on LA’s West Side. In the 1940’s, Howard Hughes built a private airfield and his famous wooden “Spruce Goose,” an aircraft with the greatest wingspan in history.

This new park features lush gardens and tree groves, water features, a soccer field, sand volleyball court, basketball court, children’s play area, and a striking fabric shell and grass amphitheater. With goals to support the bold landscape and architectural features through intimate, ambient, and dramatic illumination, a unique luminaire palette was employed. Indirect vertical illumination reflected off adjacent surfaces addressed ambient lighting for pedestrian safety and comfort. Carefully placed low level bollards, step lights, and pole luminaires provide additional pathway lighting.

The amphitheater shell, comprised of fabric architecture, represents the “diamond” in this gem of a park. Goals included uniformly illuminating the complex volume while also providing general lighting for the stage. Despite tight wattage and budget restrictions, the team succeeded in crafting a vibrant, premier space that, with a unique use of light, enlivens and celebrates the Playa Vista community.

Project Highlights

• Flexible light levels
• Metal halide luminaires highlight dense fabric


• Michael Maltzan Architecture
• The Office of James Burnett


Project Background

• 8 acres
• $8.7 million

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