Grasscrete at the Los Angeles Downtown Home Savings

GrassCrete at the Los Angeles Home Savings, 7th and Figueroa (demolished). 1977 Home Savings calendar, courtesy of George Underwood

GrassCrete at the Los Angeles Home Savings, 7th and Figueroa (demolished). 1977 Home Savings calendar, courtesy of George Underwood

When discussing the mosaic panels once at 7th and Figueroa, I thought of this image, of the Grasscrete parking surface once used at this location. (It also confirms the mosaic’s placement at that site, before removal.) A colleague at the L.A. Conservancy said this was her strongest memory of visiting this branch in the 1970s and 1980s.

As the caption from this 1977 calendar proclaims, “combining real grass with concrete patterns that support the weight of cars, GrassCrete brings much-needed green belts to the central city.”

GrassCrete seems to be the brainchild of the Bomanite corporation, one of their ways to create “ornamented concrete.” Boman was an artist turned industrial contractor — clearly, a career path Millard Sheets would have admired.

The number of marketers and technical papers online suggest it is still possible to order and install GrassCrete, which I have encountered, here and there, in public plazas.

One wonders why (cost? impracticalities? mud?) this simple way of greening parking lots and sidewalks did not catch on.

2 thoughts on “Grasscrete at the Los Angeles Downtown Home Savings

  1. Grasscrete and similar concrete mat systems are still out there to be used. While settling from faulty installations may be one reason that they don’t get employed in design more often, I think the larger reason has to do with City and County Fire Departments. In several large campus projects that I have been a part of, the architect struggled to get approval from the Fire Marshal. The issue that the Fire Marshal has is with the ability of the concrete system to evenly support the outriggers of hook and ladder or boom trucks. We have been successful in about 50 percent of these projects, but it was an uphill battle to get the approval.

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