Spring Preview: L.A.'s 7 Most Anticipated New and Updated Venues

By Alesandra Dubin March 11, 2010, 11:04 AM EST

The Natural History Museum's rotunda is slated to reopen this summer and will be available for events.

Photo: Courtesy of the Natural History Museum of L.A. County

As a rainy winter gives way to spring, here's a look at some significant new venues and renovation projects slated to debut in the coming days and months.

1. With the opening of the 878-room JW Marriott Hotel in February, the L.A. Live complex downtown moved ever closer to completion. The opening of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Los Angeles—previously slated for March—has been pushed back a couple of weeks to April, and the Ritz-Carlton Residences are planned to open within a couple months of that date. The Ritz has 123 guest rooms, a signature restaurant, a club lounge, and a Ritz-Carlton spa. The 3,400-square-foot club lounge also serves as the 23rd floor check-in area. A small boardroom is adjacent. There is also a rooftop swimming pool and terrace.

2. Also opening at the Ritz in April will be a restaurant known as WP24 by Wolfgang Puck. On the 24th floor of the hotel, WP24 will offer Asian fare, with skyline views. Puck, with chef Lee Hefter, managing partner and executive corporate chef of the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, created the menu and has brought on Spago Beverly Hills veteran David McIntyre to be executive chef. ICrave is designing the space, which will have a wine cave and two private dining rooms.

3. The first U.S. Rolling Stone venue is slated to open at the Hollywood & Highland Center this summer. The venue’s founders, Lucky Rug Group principals Niall Donnelly and Joe Altounian and Rolling Stone editor and publisher Jann Wenner, announced the plan last December. The multilevel space will encompass more than 10,000 square feet with restaurant, bar, lounge, and private event space components. Brodin Design is handling the interior, which will have exposed black brick, tufted leather, vaulted ceilings, and an antique iron staircase.

4. Also planned for the Hollywood & Highland complex is a new Hard Rock Cafe. In May, Hard Rock International announced the new project is slated to open this summer at 6801 Hollywood Blvd. The 500-seat Hard Rock Cafe Los Angeles will take over more than 20,000 square feet of space, including seating, a live concert area, and a Rock Shop offering limited-edition merchandise and rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia from Hard Rock’s collection. The Rock Shop opened in November and displays artist renderings of the whole venue.

5. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles expects to reopen the new “Age of Mammals” exhibit on July 11, inside the museum’s newly restored 1913 building. The historic rotunda, which has been closed for renovations since 2006, is also set to open this summer, with event bookings being accepted for August 2010 and beyond. Originally dedicated when the Natural History Museum opened its doors in 1913, the rotunda is lined with marble columns and topped by a stained-glass dome and coffered ceiling. The room is also the home of the first piece of public art funded by Los Angeles County: a Beaux-Arts statue called “Three Muses.” The space can be used in conjunction with the Exposition Rose Garden. It holds 250 for receptions or seats 120.

By 2013, nearly half of the Museum’s public space is expected to be renovated, and five new permanent exhibits will have been created, including a new dinosaur hall in 2011 and an exhibition about Southern California’s natural and cultural history in 2012.

6. Also undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation is the Laguna Cliffs Resort & Spa in Dana Point. Slated to be complete by May, the property has already completed meeting and convention upgrades, and remains open during construction. The project includes upgrades to the interior design, exterior structure, and amenities at the resort. In all, Laguna Cliffs will unveil refurbished guest rooms, 20,000 square feet of expanded indoor meeting and banquet facilities, a new entrance and marble lobby with a waterfall, a new pool and activity area for families, and eco-friendly landscaping. The resort's 377 rooms will get new ocean-inspired furnishings, flooring, and beach house decor with amenities like LCD TVs. In addition, the Vue restaurant will be redesigned. Fire pits and accent lighting will highlight a new outdoor lounge offering views of Dana Point.

7. And in the longer view: The Fairplex in Pomona held a groundbreaking ceremony in February for its new Fairplex Conference Center, an 85,000-square foot high-tech venue suited for trade shows and meetings. The ceremony marked the beginning of a yearlong construction project that is expected to generate nearly 500 jobs during construction and nearly 300 full time when the center opens. It will have large seminar rooms, additional breakout rooms, and teleconferencing. Incorporating the conversion of a 33,600-square-foot exhibit building with the development of a new 50,000-square-foot structure, the new center will play up the existing Art Deco qualities of the Fairplex grounds as well as the parklike setting.

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