James Corner Field Operations is well known for designing New York’s High Line - and the firm just unveiled Santa Monica's new Tongva Park. Opened to the public on October 19th, Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square bring a green urban landscape to Santa Monica’s Civic Center. The park was inspired by Southern California's native arroyo landscape of washes and ravines, and it features native plantings, a variety of dynamic gardens, water features, and play areas that all work together to create a new civic heart for the city.
Tongva Park‘s site was previously an unused dirt lot that broke the connection between City Hall and the Santa Monica Pier. The new park is a beautiful, nature-filled space the bridges this gap and serves as the new heart and lungs of the city. James Corner Field Operations turned the flat dirt lot into a dynamic park with undulating hills, water features and fun play areas. Four main areas: Garden Hill, Discovery Hill, Observation Hill and Gathering Hill, each provide a different experience for children, residents, and visitors.
Taking inspiration from the Southern California landscape, the park is filled with native and adapted plants. Original plants on the lot were preserved, and over 300 trees and thousands of plants were added to flush out the landscape. Irrigation water is provided by the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURRF) water reclamation facility, while stormwater is processed on-site with the help of bioswales and retention areas. Water features are potable, so children can play in them, and they only loose water from evaporation. LED lighting reduces energy use, and materials were carefully selected to focus on non-tropical hardwoods that have been sustainably forested, local aggregates and stone, recycled content materials, low-VOC paints, sealants, and adhesives, and soy-based anti-graffiti coatings.
James Corner describes the project as “creating a new heart for Santa Monica—a new destination and gathering place of great social, ecological, and symbolic value.” He says, “We have sculpted a dramatic topography of hills and hollows that incorporate, and incorporated a very large number of native plant species to create a spectacular horticultural garden, replete with generous furnishing, water fountains, play elements, and activity areas. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with the people of Santa Monica to create a place together that feels so fresh and dynamic.”
Images Courtesy of James Corner Field Operations