If you have been to City Hall, you have undoubtedly noticed the Triforium across the street in Fletcher Bowron Square. The Triforium Sculpture is a six-story, 60-ton public artwork by Joseph Young. The design includes 1,494 multicolored glass cubes.
From the ground, the sculpture with its colorful glass cubes does make an eye catching artwork. However, looking at it from the observation deck at City Hall, it reminds me a bit of a rocket ship on a blast pad!
Originally the colorful glass cubes glowed in synchrony to music from a 79-note glass bell carillon (a set of bells played by using a keyboard), making it the largest musical instrument of its kind on Earth. Unfortunately it was decades ahead of its time Built in 1975 the computer that ran the carillon bells and the light show was plagued with problems. Technology simply wasn’t up to it yet. The light bulbs have burned out. The instrument was removed and sold. The control room was locked down.
There is a group, The Triforium Project, that has been working to raise funds to restore the massive artwork to its original intent. The group believes, rightly so, that with new long lasting LED light bulb and inexpensive computers (the computer Young used in 1975 was the size of a refrigerator) that it can become what it was originally intended to be. The group says, “We want the Triforium to be Los Angeles’ instrument, available for everyone to play, by creating an app to compose and send “polyphonoptic” compositions straight to the Triforium.”
The group also believes that if the Triforium is restored to its intended grandeur, it will create new movement that encourages people to reclaim and celebrate public artworks in their cities.
The fundraising has been going on for some time and considerable money has been raised, but I don’t have any information on what the status is for restoring the artwork. More information is available at The Triforium Project website.
Fletcher-Bowron Square and the Triforium are across the street to the northeast of City Hall. It occupies the south end of the Los Angeles Mall which is located between Main and Los Angeles Streets north of Temple Street. The mall address is 201 Los Angeles Street. The portion of the grounds now considered Fletcher-Boron Square was dedicated in 1975.
Fletcher Bowron was an American lawyer, judge, and politician. He was the 35th mayor of and longest serving Mayor of Los Angeles. He was elected to the position in September 1938 where he remained until defeated in 1953.
While he was initially viewed as a man of integrity who cleaned up the corruption that had moved into the office, actions he took later in his career – while they may have been popular during war years – contributed to a decline in his popularity.
During World War II he supported the removal of Japanese Americans from California and their detention in Internment camps. In January 1942 Bowron began to call for relocating Japanese Americans away from the coast and putting them to work in farm camps. He forced all Japanese American employees of the City of Los Angeles to take a leave of absence and circulated propaganda targeted at people of Japanese descent. He aggressively pushed for internment on his radio show.
He was defeated in the 1953 election. In September 1968 he suffered a fatal heart attack while driving home. It’s reported that few people came to pay their respects when his body lay in state in the Los Angeles City Hall rotunda.