WE DID IT!
With overwhelming heartfelt support, the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee voted, with the full support of our City Councilman Herb Wesson, to approve the inclusion of Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park in the list of Historic-Cultural Monuments. Today, March 7, 2018, the designation was approved unanimously in City Council meeting. Liberty Park will remain as it is for the foreseeable future.
History of Liberty Park
The property at 3700 Wilshire Boulevard, originally Beneficial Plaza and now known as Wilshire Park Place, was developed by Beneficial Insurance Group as the company’s $16.7 million international headquarters and completed in 1967. The 11-story office tower was designed by the nationally prominent architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with master architects Gordon Bunshaft and Edward Charles Bassett serving as lead architects. The building’s exterior is comprised of modular units of precast shocked concrete finished in granite aggregate.
A unique feature of the property is Liberty Park, an expansive, 2.5 acre integrated landscape fronting the office tower containing hardscape and softscape elements and a replica of Philadelphia’s Liberty bell. A central grassy expanse with an off-center grove of Canary Island Pines is framed by a U-shaped promenade and spatially linked to the office tower by a plaza featuring patterned paving. Liberty Park is designed by nationally prominent landscape architect Peter Walker, the architect who designed the National 911 Memorial at the World Trade Tower site in New York City. Peter Walker designed Liberty Park when he was with the firm Sasaki, Walker and Associates.
The concept of the 315-foot building setback and park as community open space came from President and CEO of Beneficial Insurance Group, Joseph N. Mitchell, and was noted at the time of completion as the deepest setback for a commercial building in the nation. Mitchell’s and Beneficial Insurance Group’s grand gesture of community open space on corporate property was a response to the paucity of green space around office buildings at the time. Mitchell was honored by a proclamation from the City of Los Angeles for his contribution to the community-decades ahead of his time when developers now insert pocket parks for community benefit.