Designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios, the park is awarded by ASLA in 2006. Created as a part of the City of Glendale’s efforts to redevelop its downtown core, the 418-square-meter Chess Park provides residents, the Glendale Chess Club, and other community organizations with a multi-functional urban pocket park that fosters and celebrates artistry, gamesmanship, intellectual debate, and challenge.
The park is located in a previously underused passageway which runs between two retail shops in the Brand Boulevard business district, connecting a city parking structure to the bustling streetfront shops, restaurants, and theaters on Brand Boulevard, Glendale’s main thoroughfare.
The Glendale Chess Club was instrumental in creating the Chess Park, having approached the city government as a group to request that the City designate a space where its club and others could play. The City’s solution was to utilize the undeveloped Brand Boulevard passageway. In an unusual partnership, the City of Glendale brought the Landscape Architects together with the Chess Club to ensure the design program met the organization’s playing needs and celebrated the rich history and traditions of chess.
The Landscape Architects’ design program for the park found its roots on the history, lore, evolution, and rituals of the game of chess and its pieces. Ideas about form, function and meaning that describe the game as an instrument of culture drove the development of the park elements.
The park’s spatial patterning is reminiscent of the strategic movements made in chess. Distributed along the length of the park are five giant light towers that are abstractions of the shapes of the King, Queen, Knight, Rook, and Pawn. Inspired by Isamu Noguchi’s famous lanterns, the 8,5 meters high lanterns – clad in gray, recycled-wood/polymer siding and topped with synthetic mesh canvas – represent an evolution of the ancient chess figures. Fabricated by a fine art engineering and fabrication firm with roots in the Glendale community, the towers have a dual function of providing space for performances, signage, and storage, in addition to being a symbolic presence.