In the Green Room

Grand Park Designer Tony Paradowski

An Aesthete With An Ugly Sofa

Tony Paradowski

Landscape architect Tony Paradowski of Rios Clementi Hale Studios was one of the lead designers of downtown’s Grand Park. Before participating in a panel on whether downtown L.A. will ever work, he confessed in the Zócalo green room that despite his passion for design, he is in possession of a hand-me-down sofa so ugly he covers it with blankets.


Q:
What did you get into trouble for as a kid?

A:
Probably digging up the backyard too much. We had a pretty big backyard, and I always would dig. We dug a grave-sized hole one time. People used to bury a lot of trash, so we’d be archaeologists and dig stuff up. I think my mom was happy I stayed busy, but it was always a mess out there.

Q:
What’s your favorite tree?

A:
I really like the Chorisia—we planted some on block three [of Grand Park]. It’s sometimes called the money tree, and it’s got all these spikes up the trunk. It’s got a greenish trunk. In September or October it’s blooming pink flowers; it’s really beautiful.

Q:
What’s your favorite park besides Grand Park?

A:
I have to go with Central Park. It’s amazing: this really huge chunk of urban green space in the middle of such a dense city. You can almost get lost in it. But then you’re also completely connected with everything around it.

Q:
What weapon would you choose in a zombie apocalypse?

A:
Probably a bazooka.

Q:
What’s the ugliest piece of furniture you own?

A:
We have a sofa—we just added onto our house and didn’t have enough money for furniture—a cream-colored sofa donated by a friend of ours. We always cover it with blankets.

Q:
What do you proselytize for?

A:
Just design in general. I was trained as an architect, I work as a landscape architecture, and I work at a firm that does everything: graphic design, interior design. I’m interested in making people’s lives better through design.

Q:
It’s your last meal. What’s on the menu?

A:
I don’t have to worry about cholesterol, so a rib-eye steak, broccoli rabe, and a glass of red wine. Maybe a bottle.

Q:
How are you different from who you were 10 years ago?

A:
I have three kids, and they’re teenagers now, which makes life a lot different than when they’re younger and clinging to you. They’re like, “See you, Dad!”

Q:
Have you played in the Grand Park fountain yet?

A:
Many times. Before it was open, when they first did the lighting, and many times since then.

Q:
Who’s the one person, living or dead, you’d love to have a beer with?

A:
Probably Samuel Beckett. I read a lot of his books, which were kind of intense to get into and interesting—I like them a lot, and I used to sit there and stare at his chiseled features. I don’t know what he would say …