Two new parks exemplify how creative thinking and great design can advance social equity and environmental health in overlooked open spaces.
As master plans for the Los Angeles River continue to be hotly debated, two new urban parks designed by SWA are quietly suggesting another layer for the development agenda: transforming remnant landscapes along the infrastructural corridor into a coherent necklace of open spaces dedicated to their respective, diverse neighborhoods.
Two small parks on the fringes of infrastructure—the freeway and the river—are packing more punch than their size. Once leftover, unremarkable land along grade-separated barriers, today they are thriving green spaces offering places of respite and recreation for surrounding communities that have long been underserved by parks. Bicyclists and birdwatchers share common recreational space at the 1.2-acre Milton Street Park, along the concrete-lined Ballona Creek in Del Rey. Native plantings promote habitat for wildlife there while pass-through planters filter storm water.
Lynwood’s Ricardo Lara Park transforms a formerly vacant 5-acre stretch along the I-105 freeway into a neighborhood amenity that draws children for play, adults for exercise, and whole families for community planting days. The park contains a robust storm water management system that helps to educate its users about their environment which, in turn, promotes a sense of ownership within the community.
Both parks exemplify how creative thinking and great design can advance social equity and environmental health. “Open space should not be a privilege,” says SWA landscape architect Ying-yu Hung. “Everyone deserves the benefits that come from having access to parks and gardens in their neighborhoods.” Hung is eager to describe for your audience how two small city parks in marginalized settings can serve as precedents for populating the ‘leftover’ areas along the LA River. She is the managing principal of SWA’s Los Angeles studio.
About SWA, Ying-yu Hung, and the ASLA Blue Ribbon Panel on Climate Change and Resilience
International landscape architecture and urban design firm SWA celebrates 60 years of creating robust, sustainable landscapes throughout the world. A member of the American Society of Landscape Architects Blue Ribbon Panel on Climate Change and Resilience, Hung designs spaces that provide both environmental and social amenity for their users. Her design practice bridges the policies and funding mechanisms that enable cities to create places of human comfort, beauty, and sustainability. The American Society of Landscape Architect’s (ASLA) Blue Ribbon Panel on Climate Change and Resilience is composed of 11 experts from various disciplines. In January 2018, the panel will make comprehensive public-policy recommendations for mitigating and adapting to climate change through resilient design in order to save lives and protect cities from future natural disasters. From the ASLA: http://bit.ly/2wuBQlF
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