Music Center Plaza Aerial

135 North Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA

Date and Time

Tuesday, November 27 2018 - 6 PM

Event Details

SPIRE members and guests enjoyed a presentation of the $40-million renovation of the Music Center Plaza, followed by a reception at Vespaio.

Home to some of the world’s greatest artistic programs and events, the Music Center is LA’s designation for performing arts and important urban hub. The Music Center Plaza, which had not been renovated since it opened in 1964, is now in process to become the physical expression of the Music Center’s commitment to access and inclusion. The goal is to create an open public space where the center can present artists, festivals and events that will attract and engage audiences of diverse backgrounds, resources and age.

Rios Clementi Hale Studios, who also designed Grand Park, is leading the renovation with the goal of creating a type of town square and better integrating the raised outdoor space with the city – making it more accessible and inviting to pedestrians walking by. This project is one of many in the city following a design trend that focuses on foot traffic over car access. The ultimate goal for the new Music Center Plaza is to provide a warm inviting public space that is a destination in and of itself, and a space that everyone can access and enjoy.

Howard Sherman, EVP and COO, The Music Center, gave an overview of the plaza renovation, discussed the goals of the project and vision for its place in the community. Naseema Asif, Studio Director, Rios Clementi Hale Studios, discussed the overall design of the plaza, trends and other factors that influenced its design. Jodie Mendelson, Project Manager, Cumming provided and overview of the project, discussed how the company works with The Music Center and discussed some of the project's challenges and opportunities. Nick Griffin, Executive Director, Downtown Center Business Improvement District (DCBID) provided the big picture of what's happening across Los Angeles and how The Music Center Plaza renovation fits in with other revitalization projects across the city.

After the speakers delivered an incredibly insightful and informative program, the group engaged in a rousing discussion before taking a look at the project from the balcony and then moving onto Vespaio for a fabulous cocktail reception and Italian dinner.


Howard Sherman

As executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Music Center, Howard Sherman is responsible for the daily operations of the four-theatre Music Center facility and Grand Park. He oversees all maintenance and construction projects, including the current Plaza Renovation Project- and an annual operations budget of more than $36 million.

Having joined The Music Center Operations Department in 1986, Sherman has been an integral part of the facility’s transitioning from contract to in-house staffing and creating an environment of total customer service. He was named vice president of operations in 2000. In 2003, the operations team doubled in size and budget, preparing for the successful opening of The Music Center’s fourth venue, architect Frank Gehry’s critically acclaimed Walt Disney Concert Hall. In 2007 and 2008, Sherman led the architectural and construction teams for the renovation of the Mark Taper Forum. In 2012, the County of Los Angeles contracted The Music Center to manage and operate Grand Park, and Sherman assumed the daily operations of the park as part of his responsibilities. He also oversaw an upgrade of the proscenium arch of the Ahmanson Theater as part of his work to promote the improvement and modernization of The Music Center’s venues.

In January of 2015, Sherman was named interim president and CEO of The Music Center and was central in the search for the center’s new president, Rachel Moore, a former dancer and longtime top business executive of New York’s American Ballet Theatre.

In addition to his duties as COO, Sherman is currently leading the multi-faceted renovation of its 225,000 square-foot plaza space, which serves as the site for numerous public programs and special events. The plaza is a critical part of The Music Center’s efforts to achieve is vision of deepening the cultural lives of all residents of Los Angeles County. This project will not only double the plaza’s capacity, it will also increase access to The Music Center campus and serve as a new “front door” to The Music Center. As part of this project, Sherman is overseeing the creation of six new buildings, including four new restaurants.

Prior to joining The Music Center, Sherman served as business manager at the Goodman Theatre and as a stage manager for Steppenwolf Theatre, both located in Chicago. He earned a BFA from the University of Illinois.

He currently sits on the Executive Committee of the Downtown Women’s Center’s Board of Directors and on the Board of Trustees of the Idyllwild Arts Foundation.

Naseema Asif

Naseema is a Studio Director at Rios Clementi Hale Studios. She has been the Project Architect on commercial and institutional projects ranging from a community center in Playa Vista to the transformation of a 1980s office park into creative office space.

She is a trusted architect and manager, orchestrating complex project teams and projects with a focused vision on the end result. These projects track an ongoing exploration into the integration of tools from architecture and landscape architecture to shape spaces that respond to the unique relationship between a proposed program and the site’s environment. She adeptly blends disciplines to create places that blur traditional boundaries and redefine our conceptions of place.

Naseema is inspired by the notion of craft and tectonics. Her personal interest in making manifests through construction as an art form, exploring the juxtaposition of materials and textures in projects which transcend disciplines.

Her expertise and experience with sustainability is evident in her work on the Resort at Playa Vista. The green building strategies she instituted for this project led to a LEED Platinum certification, the highest level of environmental recognition. Her current projects include Music Center Plaza Renovation, which will enhance the Center’s connection to the community by making it more accessible to the public, and The Park, a transformation of San Diego Tech Center into and amenity-filled active landscape to augment the workplace community.

Nick Griffin

As the Downtown Center Business Improvement District’s (DCBID) Executive Director, Nicholas ‘Nick’ Griffin spearheads the organization’s marketing, economic development and strategic initiatives, to attract new businesses, retailers, investors and residents to what has grown to become one of the nation’s most dynamic urban centers. Hailed the “next great American City,” by GQ Magazine, Downtown LA has experienced unprecedented growth over the past 16-years, in large part due to the efforts of the DCBID’s economic development team.

Prior to the DCBID, Nick spent more than 25 years in business development in the real estate, media/entertainment and technology industries. For the previous 10 years, Nick was a leading commercial leasing and sales broker in New York City, where he was responsible for more than $100M in transactions. Prior to his rise in real estate, Nick spent a decade as a marketing and sales executive in the creative media and technology industries. Nick is a graduate of UCLA and holds an MBA from Ohio State University.

Jodie Mendelson

Jodie Mendelson is a licensed architect who has 12 years of experience providing project management and architectural design services for a wide variety of clients. Focused on healthcare and culture and entertainment projects for the past eight years, Jodie enjoys fostering strong collaboration among diverse team members. Jodie also enjoys hiking and geeking out on public transportation with her husband and 2 year old daughter and volunteering on the board of the Jewish Women’s Theatre. Although she went to Berkeley for her undergraduate degree, she won’t hold your going to Stanford against you.