Named for former NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson in 1994 and known as the largest park in South Los Angeles, the 126-acre Magic Johnson Park has recently undergone a sustainable renovation. Some of the updates include a stormwater capture and recycling system as well as a new landscaping design focused on the native plants of California.

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The project is led by a partnership between landscape architecture company AHBE and Berkeley-based multidisciplinary firm Moore Iacofano Goltsman (MIG). “The inspiration behind this project has been to transform a widely-used community-based park into something much more: an interactive and dynamic center of learning, nature and engagement that is powered through environmentally sustainable design,” said Gary Lai, Principal and Director of Regenerative Design for AHBE | MIG. “We believe that the enhancements for Phase 1-A of the Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson Park ensure its standing as a world-class urban park for the community while also serving as a model for sustainability and conservation for the County of Los Angeles.”

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native flowers and grasses in a park

At the forefront of the project is an innovative stormwater recycling system that captures and diverts rainwater runoff. The freshwater is then treated with natural biofiltration through the wetlands inside the park. The park’s two lakes, which also feature a half-mile-long walking trail with picnic areas, act as storage for the water until it can be used for irrigation. The wetlands also benefit urban wildlife by creating a habitat for local birds and insects.

paths around large blue, green and yellow playground
kids swinging on yellow swing set

New landscaping highlights native flora and includes a coastal sage scrub and freshwater marsh wetlands. The park will also offer a new, 20,000-square-foot community event center, which is not yet open to the public. Additional features include indoor and outdoor social spaces and a children’s play area with a splash pad. A series of scenic viewpoints are complemented with outdoor “classrooms” and educational graphics to help visitors understand the park’s natural environment.

+ AHBE | MIG

Images via AHBE | MIG

ducks in a pond in a park