The Los Angeles State Historic Park and the area around it are central to the history of the city. UCLA's Center for Research in Engineering, Media and Performance has been working for seven years on finding new ways for communities to use public space for the discovery and interpretation of culture, history and nature.


A groundbreaking at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 15, will celebrate the first phase of construction of permanent park facilities at the Los Angeles State Historic Park and spotlight a fruitful collaboration between the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT) and California State Parks to research, develop and maintain innovative interpretive approaches for the new park.

Dean Teri Schwartz, Assistant Dean of Technology and Innovation Jeff Burke, associate professor Fabian Wagmister and members of TFT’s Center for Research in Engineering, Media and Performance (REMAP) team will be present at the event, to be held at the 32-acre park located just east of Chinatown.

Planning for the historic park has been going on for the past 12 years. The area has been central to the history of Los Angeles, which developed around it, since its very beginnings. At the center of all this planning is REMAP, which, for the past seven years, has been collaborating with the state parks department to create the Interpretive Media Laboratory (IMLab) as a permanent part of the park. The lab is located at 1635 N. Spring Street in the historic Raphael Junction Block building. A brief presentation will be held there during Saturday’s event.

Visitors to the new Welcome Pavilion being planned for the park will be able to see REMAP's Cultural Civic Computing System under development by UCLA and California State Parks at the IMLab.

The IMLab at the Los Angeles State Historic Park is a uniquely powerful living laboratory for TFT’s faculty and students to explore new forms of media expression about, for and by the people of Los Angeles, organizers said.

Founded by Wagmister and Burke, IMLab harnesses emerging technologies, cutting-edge research and media creativity to generate new ways for communities to use public space for discovery and the interpretation of culture, history and nature; to engage civic processes that transform neighborhoods; and to share their stories. REMAP came up with an approach called Cultural Civic Computing that uses participatory design to create physically interactive, multimedia esxperiences and location-based mobile applications.

Pilot projects to date have produced workshops, university courses, technology development and prototype multimedia installations in the park, all designed to engage the public in envisioning and building technologies that promote community participation and exploration of the local environment.

“During the year of construction of the park, we will focus our efforts on the creation of a powerful immersive interactive storytelling system for the park’s Welcome center,” said Wagmister, who's vice chair of production/directing at the school. “TFT faculty and students will integrate physical computing, interpretive databases, collective authoring and navigation interfaces, and a uniquely powerful multi-touch large screen to allow the park’s surrounding communities and visitors in general to explore the history, natural resources and urban dynamics of Los Angeles.

“The idea is to create a ‘park with memory,’ reflective of the past, dialogic about the present and fully engaged in the future,” Wagmister said.

Speaking at the March 15 groundbreaking ceremony will be Dean Schwartz; retired Major Gen. Anthony L. Jackson, who is director of California State Parks; State Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles; Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, D-Northeast Los Angeles; and Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo, among others.

On Thursday, March 13, state parks staff will host an open house at the Goodwill Metro North WorkSource Center, located at 342 N. San Fernando Road in Los Angeles, from 7 p.m.-8 p.m. to provide an overview of construction. On hand will be TFT staff with information about the interpretive resources and innovative applications being created for the historic park that the public can engage with during construction.

For more information on the project, visit the park’s website. Learn more about projects at the IM Lab.