Trio of abandoned Los Angeles skyscrapers covered in graffiti

A trio of incomplete skyscrapers in downtown Los Angeles have been covered with graffiti, sparking debate about the development, which has been abandoned since 2019.

Graffiti artists began covering the Oceanwide Plaza development with tags in late January, scaling the buildings’ unfinished exteriors to mark them with spray-painted names and phrases in a variety of colourful designs.

Oceanwide Plaza
A trio of abandoned towers in Los Angeles have been covered in graffiti over the last month

The incomplete development, which is located adjacent to an entertainment complex most notable for hosting the Grammys and sporting events, consists of three mixed-used skyscrapers set atop a large podium.

Original renders of the project show three towers clustered together towards the back the podium that’s topped with green spaces and outdoor terraces. Two towers were planned to reach 40 stories, while the third tower would be 49 storeys.

Oceanwide plaza graffiti
The towers are part of a construction project that has been halted since 2019

The graffiti has sparked debate about the abandoned development, with comments categorising it as both “art” and “vandalism”.

“We are disturbed by the images of the vandalism of Oceanwide Plaza,” said the Central City Association of Los Angeles organisation in a statement. “This is a representation of the very real neglect that downtown Los Angeles has gone through over the past decade.”

“We urge the City to take steps to address this blighted property before it becomes a further nuisance,” it continued.

Oceanwide plaza graffiti
They sit across from an entertainment complex in downtown Los Angeles

Meanwhile, the People’s City Council of Los Angeles collective called it “a perfect depiction” of the current state of the city.

“It’s a perfect depiction of Los Angeles – political corruption, real estate, ‘crime’ + LAPD, the people making beautiful art,” it said in a statement on X.

“The graffiti is beautiful. Seize the towers,” it continued.

Oceanwide plaza graffiti
Since late January, graffiti artists have been spray-painting tags on their exterior

According to the Los Angeles Times, construction of the towers was halted in 2019 due to a lack of funds from Oceanwide Holdings.

Construction on the project began in 2015, but after the developer defaulted on a loan it was stalled, with the development sitting unfinished in the centre of Los Angeles.

More recently, Los Angeles City Council passed a motion to have the buildings cleaned and secured after the project’s China-based developer Oceanwide Holdings was given the ability to act with no response.

Now, graffiti artists are regularly breaking into the building to create layers of artwork on the building’s facade, concreted most heavily on what appears to be unfinished terraces.

Oceanwide plaza graffiti
The act has drawn criticism and praise from a host of parties

Base jumpers have also begun using the building, with a video of a person paragliding from the towers going viral on February 12th.

The City of Los Angeles has struggled to contact Oceanwide Holdings, which has meant the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has largely been tasked with securing the building.

This has put a strain on the police force’s resources, according to NBC News. In mid-February, the LAPD was “monitoring the towers 24 hours a day”, after making 18 arrests since the beginning of the month.

Oceanwide plaza graffiti
The City Council of Los Angeles most recently passed a motion to have the towers cleaned and further monitored

“Our people remain at the site as the City mobilizes resources to remove the graffiti and fortify the location,” said LAPD chief of police Michel Moore in a post on X. “All of this in an effort to avoid a tragic fall or other calamity. This isn’t art. It’s a crime.”

The most recent motion to clean and further secure the buildings includes allocating 3.8 million dollars to hire private security and the installation of a roughly 10-foot metal wall surrounding the buildings’ perimeters.

According to LA Weekly, the city will continue to take “further action” should Oceanwide Holdings continue to neglect the buildings.

Other projects and news surrounding graffiti include advertising agency BETC converting a graffiti-covered warehouse in Paris into an office building while French artist Mathieu Tremblin translated graffiti tags into typography as part of his Tag Clouds project.

The photography is by Kelvin Cheng

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