Encompassing Aiso

John O'Brien

2011, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles.

Toriumi Plaza is named after Reverend Howard Toriumi, 1916-1987. According to the dedication plaque, "He was a dedicated leader who galvanized the community and helped save Little Tokyo from the wrecking ball during the turbulent redevelopment years of the 1960s-1970s. He established several community service organizations that expanded and flourished. After WWII incarceration at Topaz Relocation Center in Utah, he graduated from Princeton Seminary, and served as Senior Pastor of Union Church of Los Angeles from 1961-79."

The plaza contains a permanent public art work by John O'Brien. It is called "Encompassing Aiso", and was commissioned by the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles. It is integrated into the plaza and was completed in 2011. "Encompassing Aiso" was designed in collaboration with Telemachus Studio, the overall site was done by 010 Architecture Studio, particularly Li Wen. The integrated elements are made of stainless steel, lights, cut concrete and the plaza itself occupies approximately 2000 square feet at the corner of Aiso and 1st Street in downtown Los Angeles. "Encompassing Aiso" has two main features that are inter-related: portals and pathways. Together they function as an integrated site-specific artwork that is sequentially revealed as a visitor moves through the plaza. The portals are metal cylinders that pierce the plaza. In the portals, there are silhouettes of images culled from the selected iconic Los Angeles sites. Around them, there are vector arms etched with the latitude and longitude of other important sites. During the day these images are seen against the backdrop of the level below, and at night, the portals are illuminated with a circular lighting from below. Each pathway originates at a portal and heads out (in an immense imaginary ellipse) to two points in LA. When a pathway reaches the bounding walls, lights have been inserted into cuts in the wall; blue for minor axes, white for major. The portals and pathways are distributed throughout the plaza esthetically and complementary to the geometric concrete coloring, cutting and glass block patterns inserted by the project architect.

This photograph courtesy of John O'Brien:

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