Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square
Location: Santa Monica, California
Owner: City of Santa Monica
Designer: James Corner Field Operations
Project website: tongvapark.squarespace.com
Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square embody a new type of urban landscape that is active, innovative, resource-conscious, and natural. Shaped by extensive public participation, the design creates a contemporary and transformative series of gardens and active spaces that symbolically redefine and interconnect the center of Santa Monica.
The parks form a pedestrian and cultural corridor linking City Hall with surrounding commercial and recreational areas. Inspired by the southern California arroyo landscape of washes and ravines that once defined the site, a series of braided pathways appears to organically emerge from the footsteps of City Hall, extend west, and weave the park into the fabric of the city. Dramatic rising and falling topography reinforces the fluid pathway system and organizes the site into four thematic hilltop areas, each calibrated to a different primary use and experience.
As a whole, the project offers a new model of sustainability for similarly scaled projects, one that carefully balances environmental and cultural considerations. From abandoned parking lots to the largest-scale Mediterranean meadow garden of its complexity in a public space, Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square have restored valuable ecosystem services and social vibrancy to a once derelict and degraded urban site.