Chain link fence and orange barriers went up around Santa Monica City Hall lawn a few weeks back and work has now begun on Ken Genser Square, the one-acre park designed by Field Operations (the hot hot landscape architects behind New York's High Line). Work on the neighboring six-acre Santa Monica Commons, also by Field Ops, has been going on for about a year now. To start things off in front of Town Hall, workers have taken down the old awning "revealing the beautiful entryway facade to our historic City Hall," according to the parks' blog. It's been years since the facade was visible.
According to a story earlier this month in the Santa Monica Mirror, construction of the Square will be split into four phases; phase one, now underway, will include demolition and grading. Meanwhile, there will be temporary pedestrian walkways built on Main Street and Olympic Drive to help get around construction. Phase one should be finished in the spring; the rest "are scheduled to be completed a few months later." The space is meant to serve as a welcome for riders arriving on the Expo Line (scheduled to open around 2015) and as a location for civic events.
And here's how things are going with the Santa Monica Commons construction, via the park's construction webcam: