James Corner and Field Operations have beaten out formidable competitors including Gehry Partners and Peter Walker to design Santa Monica’s new Palisades Garden Walk and Town Square. The high profile project will include 7 acres of park space between Santa Monica City Hall and the Santa Monica Pier that will connect the area’s 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 back in 2004.
Out of the 24 teams that submitted for the RFQ, the six shortlisted teams in Philadelphia; and the massive Fresh Kills Park on Staten Island, which is transforming the former landfill of the same name.
Passing over Gehry Partners was not easy, said Miriam Mulder, from Santa Monica’s Architectural Services Department. But the selection committee decided it was best to choose a team that focused on landscape architecture. “This particular piece doesn’t really have much architecture associated with it,” she said. “It’s nice to imagine there might be more architectural pieces that come up.”
Stinchfield said the project is being funded through $25 million in redevelopment agency funds, while the city hopes to tap into additional design department money. They hope to finalize the team’s contract and make a recommendation to the City Council at its last meeting in March. But Mulder thinks that the recommendation might not be made until the council’s April 13 meeting. From there, she said, the city hopes to have the design finalized by late 2011 or early 2012 and have construction begin in 2012.
The Town Square portion of the project, 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.
We’re pretty built up at this point, so it’s definitely one of the last open spaces that we may have to develop for a long time,” said Mulder.