From car park to award winning community asset
Santa Monica’s Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square are another of the honour winners from the American Institute of Landscape Architects most recent Professional Award series.
James Corner Field Operations, the landscape architects behind New York’s High Line, designed the transformation of a parking lot outside Santa Monica’s City Hall into a community park.
Inspired by the native arroyo landscape of ravines and washes found in Southern California, the six acres cater to a range of activities, and have become the heart of the community by bringing nature into the city centre.
Tongva Park consists of four main hills: Observation Hill, Discovery Hill, Garden Hill and Gathering Hill, providing views of the ocean and pier. It features braided paths and a water-feature which begins at the front steps of City Hall.
The park includes more than 30,000 plants from 170 unique species. Shrubs, grasses, succulents and flowers make up a plant palette that changes slightly with the seasons. While many of the plants are native, some have been drawn from areas with similar climates, including New Zealand. This gives the park the benefit of a varied and unusual mix of flora.
Existing trees were either protected or transplanted, and new trees were brought in to provide shade and create enclosures protected from the surrounding streets.
Ken Genser Sqaure is the redevelopment of the entrance to City Hall, making it more inviting with the inclusion of shade trees, integrated seating and a central water feature.
Being ecologically sensitive was hugely important to James Corner Field Operations in their design process. Sustainably forested wood, local stone and aggregate, and recycled materials have all been used. Stormwater is processed on-site by bioswales and retention areas, and irrigation water is provided by the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility.
The sustainable ecology and use of water in Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square, as well as their variety of gardens and water features, have contributed to making them, in the words of their landscape architects, “enormously successful and popular with both residents and visitors to Santa Monica.”