Santa Monica’s new civic park, Tongva Park, designed by noted High Line landscape architect James Corner of the firm James Corner Field Operations, is soon to be opened to the public. Santa Monica has a generous number of parks, supplying neighborhoods with play and recreational facilities. But this new space is intended to be a more contemplative “people’s park,” situated near 3rd Street Promenade and the future terminus of the Expo Line.
In his LA Times review Christopher Hawthorne notes that plays it “safe” and “naturalistic” compared to his Manhattan work –though it’s hard to create something as striking as the High Line when you are dealing with a piece of flat land, without any rusting industrial infrastructure to play with, and a design process that involved extensive outreach with Santa Monica’s engaged and opinionated residents (Listen to this DnA for a story of how Corner navigated the politics of Santa Monica to achieve his design).
The Civic Park is actually two parks in one — the small Ken Genser Square at the foot of City Hall, and, on the other side of Main Street, on a six-acre site of the old Rand Corp. headquarters, the larger “Tongva Park” — a name that resulted from a local poll, after one of the L.A. basin’s original Native American populations.
Despite reservations, Hawthorne says the project is “unquestionably a rare example of farsighted urban planning in Southern California, which may in the end be its most important legacy. . . Certainly the park is poised to be hugely popular both as a place to walk and as a shady refuge from the lively, aggressive commercialism of the pier and nearby Third Street Promenade.”
Meanwhile, in Wilmington and Harbor Gateway, new parks demonstrate that some parks are being built in part to keep an unwanted community out. Read about how communities are creating parks so as to prevent released sex offenders from living nearby.