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Famed mural to be removed from Parker Center ahead of expected fall demolition

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Installed in 1955, the mural depicts a panorama of Los Angeles, from the port to Griffith Observatory

Civic Center’s former LAPD headquarters Parker Center is barreling toward demolition—work is scheduled to begin this fall, the Los Angeles Times reports—but before the building is razed, a unique art piece within the structure will be removed.

The art work is “Theme Mural of Los Angeles,” a 36-foot-long, six-foot-wide mosaic mural that’s been in the building since it opened in 1955.

The six-ton mural by noted sculptor and mosaic artist Joseph L. Young is described as “the panoramic history of Los Angeles.” The mosaic depicts recognizable landmarks of the city—Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Griffith Observatory, City Hall—as well as stylized oil derricks, a freeway interchange, and waterfront.

The mosaic was Young’s first work in a public space, though he went on to design many more, the Times noted in the artist’s 2007 obituary.

The artwork will be removed in one piece this Saturday, according to the artist’s estate. The public is invited to attend the event and watch as the mural leaves the building for good.

Though the mural is being preserved, its future is a little unsure: the large piece does not yet have a permanent new home.

Courtesy of the Estate of Joseph L. Young

Young was a sculptor and mosaic artist with work spread across Los Angeles, but two of his more prominent pieces remain in Downtown.

Young worked with architect Richard Neutra, who designed the Hall of Records in Downtown, to create an exterior mosaic for the building that “includes a topographic map of the city.”

Young also designed the dynamic, space-age Triforium sculpture in the Los Angeles Mall. That piece is expected to be renovated and relit.

A June 2018 photo of the mural being prepped to move out of Parker Center. Photo by Larry Underhill.
Courtesy of the Estate of Joseph L. Young

Empty since 2013, when the LAPD moved to a new headquarters, Parker Center is slated to be razed to make way for a new 27-story office tower for city employees. That project, previously projected to cost $438 million, is now expected to cost about $700 million, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

A new report out from the Chief Administrative Officer says the cause for the discrepancy is that the earlier estimate did not include “soft costs,” like design work or project management.

Young’s daughters Cecily and Leslie with the mural. Photo by Larry Underhill.
Courtesy of the Estate of Joseph L. Young
Courtesy of the Estate of Joseph L. Young