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Shortlist for major new Santa Monica park includes Gehry, Peter Walker, James Corner, and others

The project is planned for the patch of land just north of the elliptical RAND building, at lower center.
Courtesy the City of Santa Monica

Yesterday, Santa Monica selected an impressive list of architects, landscape architects, and urban designers to create one of its most high-profile public projects ever: the Palisades Garden Walk and Town Square. The project, currently a patch of dirt not far from the Pacific Ocean, will include 7 acres of park space between Santa Monica City Hall and the Santa Monica Pier that will be bordered by future residential development and connect the Santa Monica Civic Center to the rest of the city. Land for the project was made available when the RAND Corporation relocated its headquarters to the southernmost location of its 15-acre site in 2004.

Of the 24 teams that submitted for the RFQ, the six shortlisted contenders are: Peter Walker and Partners, Gehry Partners, James Corner Field Operations, Studio Works, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, and SWA Group.

The park will become a central public space in downtown Santa Monica (click to enlarge).
Courtesy the city of santa monica

The teams will interview with the project selection panel in mid-January, and a winner will be chosen shortly afterward, said Jean Bellman, an architect for the city of Santa Monica. The selection panel includes Santa Monica officials as well as USC architecture dean Qingyun Ma and landscape architect Ken Smith. The winning team will participate in several public workshops to help develop their final plan, said Bellman, who declined to list some of the other teams that submitted for the RFQ, but said that “all of our submittals were very high-profile.”

According to the project’s RFQ, the Town Square, adjacent to Santa Monica’s City Hall, is set to be a space for cultural and civic events, while the Palisades Garden Walk, to its south, will focus on the city’s unique “cultural” and “horticultural” offerings, including a botanical element and water features. Adjacent streetscape improvements, as well as pedestrian and bicycle paths, will connect the parks to the city, while Moore Ruble Yudell’s Santa Monica Village will sit just adjacent. The city has committed $25 million for design and construction of the project, and construction is planned to begin in August 2011.

Sam Lubell